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Committee announces new inquiry on the Private Finance Initiative

8 March 2011

The Treasury Committee is calling for evidence on the future of the Private Finance Initiative, building on the work already done by the National Audit Office and the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee. Proponents point to a record of completed projects and argue that the PFI strikes an appropriate balance between risk transfer and reward.  Critics argue that many PFI projects are inflexible and expensive, or worse, that the PFI is inherently wasteful of public resources

The Committee is concerned with the future use of PFI and similar initiatives, and seeks evidence on the following points:

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of different public procurement methods?
  • If PFI debt had been on-balance sheet rather than off-balance sheet would PFI projects have been used as much? How should PFI deals be accounted for?
  • How far can risk really be transferred from the public to the private sector?
  • Are there particular kinds of risk which are particularly appropriate for transfer through PFI deals, or particular projects which are suited for PFI?
  • What state guarantees are explicit or implicit in PFI deals?
  • In what circumstances are PFI deals suitable for delivery of services?

Notes on submission of written evidence: 

  • Written evidence should be in Word or rich text format—not PDF format—and sent by e-mail to The body of the e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from. The deadline is 12 noon on Thursday 28 April 2011. Submissions should be no longer than 3000 words.
  • Submissions should be in the format of a self-contained memorandum. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document must include an executive summary. View further guidance on the submission of evidence.
  • Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Once submitted, your submission becomes the property of the Committee and no public use should be made of it unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee. Please bear in mind that Committees are not able to investigate individual cases. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to publish the written evidence it receives, either by printing the evidence, publishing it on the internet or by making it publicly available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure; the Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.
  • For data protection purposes, it would be helpful if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.