Laura Sharman 05 June 2020

Infrastructure could be left in a worse condition when PFI ends, watchdog warns

Infrastructure could be left in a worse condition when PFI ends, watchdog warns image

Infrastructure could return to the public sector in an 'unsatisfactory condition' when PFI contracts come to an end, the public spending watchdog has warned today.

In a new report, the National Audit Office (NAO) said there are currently over 700 PFI contracts, with most sent to expire from 2025.

However, the report found many local authorities have underestimated the time, resources and complexity involved in managing the end of PFI contracts.

The NAO said this could result in assets being returned back to councils in a worse condition than agreed in the contracts, leading to extra costs for repairs and maintenance.

The report calls on the Government to take a more strategic or consistent approach to managing PFI contracts as they end.

Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said: 'With the bulk of PFI contracts expiring from 2025 onwards, there is still time for government to make changes that will help public sector bodies to exit from contracts successfully.

'If government does not provide strategic support and public bodies do not prepare sufficiently, there is a significant risk that vital infrastructure such as schools and hospitals will not be returned to the public sector in the right condition and taxpayers and service users will bear the brunt of additional costs and service disruption.'

Alison Ring, ICAEW public sector director, said: 'Public bodies are very experienced with handling ongoing PFI contracts, but with most contracts not due to finish until 2025 or later they have much less experience of managing those that are expiring. The Infrastructure & Projects Authority will be critical in supporting the bodies responsible for the contracts, and ensuring lessons learned are shared across the public sector.

'Millions of pounds are at stake, so it’s extremely important that the Government invests to get the best value for money for taxpayers as PFI contracts come to an end.'

Pushing for real reform image

Pushing for real reform

The pandemic was a game changer for the central/local government relationship, says Joanne Roney, who has started her two-year stint as president of Solace.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Social Worker - Adoption Team

Essex County Council
£30906 - £42254 per annum
Social Worker - Adoption TeamPermanent, Full Time and part time£30,906 to £42,254 per annumLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Health Protection Specialist x2

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£35,745 - £40,876 per annum
We are looking for an experienced and enthusiastic person to join our public health team. Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Wandsworth Grants and Project Support Officer

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£28,452 to £34,479 per annum
This is an exciting new role within the Wandsworth Voluntary Sector team and wider Community and Partnerships Team. London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Performance and Management Information Support Officer

Brent Council
£30,048 - £31,557 p.a. inc.
We have an exciting opportunity for an enthusiastic individual to join our Children and Young People’s Performance Team. Wembley, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Assistant Director - Inclusion

Suffolk County Council
£75,745 - £93,245 pa
We are seeking a highly skilled Assistant Director Ipswich, Suffolk
Recuriter: Suffolk County Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue