Writing this post on my shiny new computer, after the old one gave up the ghost and left me bereft of data, that I still have to retrieve, and of course the means to post anything. Should have gone to 'laptop savers' ie; Angus Dei's Kitchen but took it to my local poxy computer shop, where it still resides.
Andrew Lansley has been bemoaning the dreadful position of NHS Trusts who have been burdened by huge debt born of the Private Finance Initiative 'foisted' upon them by the 'previous lot' ( Blair and Brown). In the process conveniently forgetting that, for all their faults, which were legion, it was an inheritance of Conservatism of the Neo-Thatcher era, who actually 'spawned' the beast. Politics has a dreadfully short memory.
PFI was the invention of a certain Norman Lamont (with others) upon the relaxation of the Ryrie Rules in 1992. In fact a number of major projects were well under way or had even been completed prior to the victory of the Blair Administration in 1997.
The M6 Toll Road (1992)
The Second Severn Crossing (1990)
Croyden Tram link (1996)
Northern Line Trains (1995)
And many others, including the Channel Tunnel.
Blair of course embraced PFI with almost evangelistic zeal and built further upon it, to the extent that almost every public project on his 'watch' was financed in this way. Graham Allen's paper from 2003 details the position taken by 'NuLabour' in its flawed construct to sell off our childrens' futures, to finance grandiose plans, that would make them look good, but conceal the real cost. Even to the extent of selling the Army's estate along with that of HMRC, then leasing it back at guaranteed rates. The company involved was of course based off-shore so we don't even get any tax back for that which we pay. Which is that which all parties involved in PFI actually factored into the cost, so as to represent the deals as 'better', than less complex vehicles for funding that were cheaper, and at least left the taxpayer with an asset at the end.
What has happened, is that the Governments Advisers, both now and then, (KPMG) factored in the taxation element into the cost analysis for public consumption, then were retained by the PFI outfits to advise on how then, to avoid the tax. Some might call them treacherous bastards, but I could not possibly comment. What is sure is that Government, both central and local were queueing up to get deals brokered and operated by the 'usual suspects' ( Carrilion, Serco, Interserve, Capita et al) which were then often sold to offshore equity' finance outfits and they then 'pocketed' the difference, or simply refinanced once the rates got lower. After all, the new owners were looking at profit stream of the order of 15% to 17% per annum and the operators were able to charge £200 to change a light bulb, or £500 to hang a picture, (I've just hung 12 in 1.5 hours for £6 in hooks) as well as exorbitant service charges.
As all these participants were and are contributors to the Tory party 'coffers' and a number of the cabinet have either worked for them directly or indirectly, and they objected little about the use of PFI during Nu-Labours years, it seems a little hypocritical to 'cry wolf' about at this stage. And of course Gove has just sold the Governments share of the 'Building Schools for the Future' LLP, (as reported in Private Eye) which owns the 700 schools already built under the PFI scheme, he recently closed on the grounds of "massive overspends". And to whom were they sold? Yet another 'offshore' investment outfit called International Public Partnerships, based in Guernsey. So no tax there then!
This Government, despite all the rhetoric they spout about about PFI, seem to be just as hell bent on utilising this highly flawed model of financing, as the 'last lot', and they did after all both invent it and facilitated the legislation needed to allow its rise. So I would posit that Lansley's complaints are really for 'public consumption' only, with a whole different agenda, being planned behind the scenes. So is anything safe in the ConDems hands? Well probably not; they are politicians after all. A treacherous breed at best!