Thursday, September 14, 2006
More On Partnerships UK
Following this morning's post on quango shuffling, I've been refreshing my memory about Partnerships UK (PUK, quite deservedly pronounced puke).
Variously described as the "Mother of all Public Private Partnerships" or more simply as "One Real Mutha", it was established by Gordo on April Fools' Day 2000 (no, really) "to support and accelerate the delivery of infrastructure renewal, high quality public services and the efficient use of public assets through better and stronger partnerships between the public and private sectors". Which in English means it promotes PFI projects.
It's 49% owned by government and 51% owned by various private sector investors. These have included Serco, Jarvis, British Land, Barclays, HSBC, and Abbey National.... umm, yes they do all have something in common- they all stand to benefit bigtime from the PFI projects promoted by PUK. Get the cosy picture?
According to HMT's accounts, PUK itself costs us around £17m pa. But it isn't helping public sector efficiency or value for money. Indeed, it isn't even clear quite what it actually does. According to its website, it majors on advising other public sector bodies how to commit yet more of our future taxes to overblown PFI schemes (eg those expensive NHS LIST projects). But it also invests money- our money- in its pet schemes: about £50m up to March 2006.
When the Centre for Policy Studies took a detailed look at it in 2004, it concluded PUK “lacks logic” and “adds confusion and contradiction” to public sector procurement (you can get some feel for its capacity to confuse just by glancing at the organogram reproduced in the our last post). CPS called for its abolition and the redeployment of its well paid City surplus staff to special PFI units, or out to the spending departments or back to the private sector.
Sound advice. But somehow puke still seems to be cosying along. Doing all it can to pump up our PFI debt even higher than its current £90bn (see this blog for latest debt estimate, and this blog for how we're paying through the nose).
Posted by Mike D at 5:04 pm