Outlook: Private finance

THIS IS a Government mighty keen on policy reviews, so it was only a matter of time before a minister ordered a re-review of a review. Sir Malcolm Bates, chairman of Pearl Group, has been asked by Geoffrey Robinson, the Paymaster General, to revisit his original review of the private finance initiative to see how the PFI might be further improved.

This was perhaps inevitable. Last week the Chancellor announced an pounds 11bn target for PFI projects over the next three years. If the Government is to meet its public spending plans, the PFI is going to have to start delivering.

Unfortunately, as the Exchequer piles on the pressure for more PFI projects on the one hand, it is undermining their likelihood with the other by giving trade unions the right to vet these things for impact on public sector jobs. Sir Malcolm is going to find this review even more difficult than his last.

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