Tag Archives: pfi

Radical Ideas for the Future

At the moment, virtually all of our policies – save for our stance on the EU – amount to tinkering at the edges of a flawed, if not broken, political system. This is a result of the fact that there is generally a fair amount of consensus within mainstream politics on a number of key issues.

All parties agree that we need to build more housing, that we need more funding of schools, the NHS and the police, and that we need to protect the environment. The major policy debates at the moment concern immigration, nationalisation of public infrastructure, the EU, education and public sector borrowing – most of which are couched in simple binary yes/no terms, depending on whether you support Labour or the Tories.

Rather than trying to join in the political consensus or meet Labour and the Tories halfway (e.g. see our current policy on housing), I genuinely believe that we have an opportunity to pursue an alternative set of policies that will mark us out as distinct.

Along with electoral reform and being pro-European, six policy ideas from various places within the liberal political tradition, come to mind:

1. A national housebuilding company

A national construction company set up to build houses, with the government taking a majority stake and offering financial guarantees. Instead of just pledging a high-sounding number of homes to be built each year and leaving it to the private sector, a government-backed company would have the opportunity to take responsibility for recruiting and training construction workers (with a focus on British workers), building homes and maintaining homes – with profits going back to the Treasury.

Combined with relaxing the rules preventing local authorities from borrowing to fund social housing, a national housebuilding company would be an exciting yet pragmatic way of building homes while balancing the risk and reward of construction projects.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 39 Comments

Opinion: What Andy Burnham didn’t tell you about NHS privatisation

nhs sign lrgAndy Burnham’s recent set-piece speech on the NHS, the latest instalment of Labour’s “summer offensive”, opened with a neat bit of scene-setting. By briefly championing a group of Darlington mothers who are presently marching 300 miles in protest at the use of private providers in the NHS, he conjured a mood of protest while subtly co-opting their campaign. Thereafter he sought only to reduce the 2015 general election to a “binary choice” between “a part-privatised, two-tier health market under David Cameron” and “a public, integrated national health and care service under Labour.”

In terms of how he defined that choice, though, Burnham could hardly have done worse than to frame his argument with an example from Cambridgeshire, singling out for particular criticism its attempt to integrate care services for older people.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 74 Comments

Opinion: Cameron’s road plan is a terrible idea

David Cameron’s announcement that he was planning on getting private enterprise to fund roads in the UK has to be a contender for the worst idea since the Potassium Teapot.

While, in principle, the idea of private enterprise building new roads isn’t necessarily a terrible idea, any private involvement in refurbishing existing roads, widening motorways or improving junctions would be a financial mess.

In this case, private enterprise would borrow some money (probably from a pension fund), widen the motorway or make the junction better, then get some sort of pay off from the Government based on road/junction usage.

Unfortunately, private businesses …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 17 Comments

£1.5 billion needed to sort out Labour’s PFI mess

The Guardian reports:

Seven hospital trusts struggling with crippling private finance initiative debts are to receive £1.5bn in emergency funding from the government to help them avoid cutting patient services to pay their bills.

The Department of Health is making the £1.5bn available – in grants, not loans – to the seven hospital trusts in England with some of the heaviest PFI debts through a “stability” fund. Trusts will be able to use the money to meet PFI repayments, rather than their usual budgets, as long as they meet four conditions set out by the department.

The move will help trusts such

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

Chris White writes: Hodge’s troubling amnesia

Margaret Hodge was on the Today programme yesterday morning on behalf of the Public Accounts Committee. She lambasted the Government for its policies on the widening of the M25. Money had been wasted, we were told, because the option of using the hard shoulder had not been pursued. Moreover a shocking £80 million had been spent on consultants. She was also disobliging about PFI.

Many may agree with this. But what was not said was ‘Which Government?’ Ms Hodge carefully said ‘They’ at all times. What she meant of course was ‘We’. It was the Labour Government of which she was …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 6 Comments

Julian Huppert: Why I’m supporting calls for a PFI Rebate

Ask most people about the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and they will associate it with just one individual: Gordon Brown.

In fact, the PFI was introduced by the Conservatives as long ago as 1992, when Norman Lamont announced it in his Autumn Statement. On the surface, it was a simple idea, aimed at increasing the involvement of the private sector in the provision of public services. Rather than simply building public facilities, the PFI enables the design, financing and operation of public services to be carried out by the private sector.

There were obvious benefits to be gained from such partnerships – …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

Opinion: A Liberal NHS

As people who know me well will tell you, I’ve always been something of an idealist, daydreaming about some abstract political philosophy whilst everyone else deals with more pragmatic concerns – or ‘living in the real world’ as I believe it’s known. I make this point as what I’m about to write alludes to an apparent confluence – potentially at least – of strands of abstract political thought and practical everyday policy that I believe should gain prominence as the general election approaches.

First of all let’s deal with the practicalities (unusual for me but there you go…). Earlier this month …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

Opinion: A very modern problem – Cornwall Council, Sita UK and the incinerator

PFI has created a very modern problem – how should councils manage relationships with contractors when they stretch over decades and involve multi-million pound sums but also remain responsive to political change, advances in technology and moving priorities? It’s a problem that has come to the fore in Cornwall.

In 1998 consultants outlined a vision for Cornwall’s waste management that included incineration. In 2002 a waste plan was adopted by the council. In 2006 the council appointed a contractor, Sita, to run the contract in a £400 million 30-year deal. In 2008 Sita submitted a planning application to build an incinerator in …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 8 February 2010

Happy Monday morning, everyone. Let’s plunge straight in …

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here’s are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

Posted in Daily View | Also tagged , , , , and | 17 Comments

Do you remember how PFI was meant to work?

David Miliband, House of Commons, debate on PFI in the education sector, 2004:

The public-private partnerships enable the public sector to use private sector resources to deliver elements of services that the latter, through its skills and expertise, is best placed to provide through a structure in which the private sector puts its capital at risk so that it is paid only when it delivers.

That’s of course how PFI was always sold to us by Labour (and in its previous forms by the Conservatives before that*). And now that the private sector is struggling to deliver PFI schemes for schools, …

Posted in News | Also tagged | 3 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 16th Aug - 6:39pm
    @frankie You said; “i(sic) don’t think you understand what ‘status quo’ means”. Of course I understand what ‘status quo’ means. That’s why I wrote ‘status...
  • User AvatarLittle Jackie Paper 16th Aug - 6:17pm
    Nigel Jones - 'He tried to put the issue more personally by asking her what she felt her action would do to the black immigrant...
  • User AvatarLittle Jackie Paper 16th Aug - 6:11pm
    David Allen - 'Do Lib Dems want to argue that poor-white UKIP voters have got it all round their necks, and that what they really...
  • User AvatarDavid Evershed 16th Aug - 6:10pm
    The responsibility for prisoners being re-settled must fall primarily on the prisoners themselves. Lib Dems should surely encourage self help rather than dependence. Outside intervention...
  • User Avatarfrankie 16th Aug - 6:04pm
    Martin, I fear at least one of the first two commentators fails to read the comments as well. 😉
  • User Avatarfrankie 16th Aug - 6:01pm
    John, You obviously didn't get past the first two sentences of my post did you, I think I answered your quote more than adequetely. You...