Private Finance Initiative

Treasury written question – answered on 11th June 2018.

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Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the report entitled PFI and PF2, published by the National Audit Office on 17 January 2018, what assessment his Department has made of the implications for his Department's policies of that report's findings that PF2 costs are around 40 per cent higher than similar projects financed by government borrowing; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Robert Jenrick Robert Jenrick The Exchequer Secretary

The vast majority of PFI projects were signed under the last Labour government – 620, or 86% of all PFI projects in the UK. Since coming to office in 2010, this Government has reformed the approach so that now, PF2 contracts deliver better value for money for the taxpayer.

We have also improved the VfM we get from existing PFI contracts, and this will deliver over £2 billion in efficiencies over the remaining life of the contracts.

The Treasury Green Book is clear that, to compare the costs and benefits that occur at different times between different projects, a discount rate must be applied to the cashflows. This is standard practice in all economic appraisals as it provides a Net Present Cost for the different projects, which enables a proper comparison of the costs and benefits occurring at different times on a consistent basis.

The NAO report’s finding that PF2 costs are around 40 per cent higher than similar projects financed by government borrowing is based on undiscounted cashflows and has not followed the Green Book guidance. It is not, therefore, an appropriate comparison.

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