Private finance initiative 'terrible' for taxpayers

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The Independent Online

A leading union called today for a moratorium on the private finance initiative after claiming that taxpayers were "locked" into £250 billion of payments on hundreds of projects.

The GMB said there were 641 PFI projects, with 100 more in the pipeline, hitting the public purse with payments worth four times the value of the assets.



The union said PFI costs were higher than normal public finance as private firms added maintenance, cleaning and other charges on top of design and construction.



National officer Brian Strutton said: "This research shows what a terrible deal PFI is for taxpayer. Rising debt levels are forcing hard-hit public agencies to cut services.



"The public is paying over the odds on PFI projects, with debt ratios in most areas at over 500%. This is like paying for schools and hospitals by credit card.



"Exorbitant costs are creating a PFI funding blackhole of £250 billion that many hospital trusts and other public bodies are already finding impossible to fill. It's a bill for £8,400 for every taxpayer in the land.



"GMB calls on all the political parties to join us in declaring PFI bankrupt. We should stop any more PFI deals and bring others back into the public sector to relieve the taxpayer of the huge potential cost."



A study by the GMB showed that Scotland had £30 billion debts on PFI assets worth £6 billion, while the South East stood to lose £23 billion on 53 PFI projects.

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