A senior private finance initiative project legal expert has claimed that the PFI model is essential for infrastructure funding and has warned whoever forms the next Government not to scrap it.
Law firm Dickinson Dees Public Services head Tim Care also urges the next Government to free the PFI model from red tape, encourage competition for the system, find more funding sources and standarise it.
His comments come after Shadow Chancellor George Osborne told the Observer (15 November) that PFI is flawed and must be replaced.
Osborne stressed: We need a new system that doesnt pretend that risks have been transferred to the private sector when they cant be, and which genuinely transfers risks when they can be.
A prime example of a prominent waste PFI was the £3.8bn contract which was completed by the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority in April this year.
Care said: Osbornes comments are an unhelpful simplification of a complex issue.
Rather than throwing this tool [PFI] in the bin, whoever forms the next Government must concentrate efforts on making it more efficient by delivering the big projects by removing red tape. Any new models could be an open invitation for red tape to strangle project funding.
He added that many attempts to improve the PFI model had resulted in increased bureaucracy and slowed the system down. Care explained that Osbornes plans could merely exacerbate the red tape problem.
He added: PFI is one of a number of infrastructure funding options, and at its best delivers projects with lower risk and better value than traditional public sector procurement a system which is synonymous with spiralling costs and poor delivery. If whoever forms the next Government cares more about improving infrastructure and keeping costs down for the taxpayer than about demonising perfectly good tools, it has no choice but to protect and promote PFI.