The UK’s PPPs Disaster

published 1 March 2017 updated 1 March 2017

The UK was one of the first countries to develop PPPs in the early 1990s, and its PPP programme, known as the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), subsequently expanded across all parts of public spending including healthcare, education and the military.This briefing sets out the major problems and risks the UK has encountered through its extensive experiment with PPPs, including how they have cost the government more than if it had funded the public infrastructure by borrowing money itself; led to large windfall gains for the private companies involved, at public expense; led to declining service standards and staffing levels and eroded democratic accountability.PPPs are hugely unpopular in the UK, which has led to PFI being rebranded in both England and Scotland, and the number and value of new projects falling since 2008, reaching its lowest level since the mid-1990s in 2014 (the latest year with figures available). However, the UK government and companies are now heavily promoting PPPs around the world. In recent years, more than 90 countries around the world have passed laws relating to or enabling PPPs to be taken on.

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