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ACCOUNTANTS SCEPTICAL OVER PFI

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More than half of accountants working in the public sector say the private finance initiative does not provide valu...
More than half of accountants working in the public sector say the private finance initiative does not provide value for money, according to a survey by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

The poll found 57% of ACCA members were sceptical about the value PFI provides, with the same percentage saying that public sector organisations are prevented from achieving value for money as PFI is the only way of getting the necessary investment in public services.

Over two-fifths did not feel PFI was having a beneficial effect on public services, while only 2% felt strongly it did.

Almost 200 accountants working in the NHS, local government, central government, education, charities, the police and prison services responded to the survey.

Of accountants who had been involved in PFI as financial directors, advisers, project managers or accountants, 39% said they would not opt for private sector involvement in future, if they were able to choose freely between PFI and direct public sector procurement and management. Almost half said they would not advise other organisations to use PFI .

'While our members appreciate that many schools, hospitals, prisons and roads have been built through PFI, there is still a deep scepticism about its benefits,' said Andy Wynne, head of public sector technical issues at ACCA.

'Many finance professionals have real concerns over the cost, bureaucracy, time taken in progressing schemes and long-term revenue commitments involved with PFI, the main source of capital which is now available to them.'

Public sector union Unison said the survey proved that the 'chorus of discontent' over PFI was growing.

General secretary Dave Prentis said: 'If the government is so sure of its argument, it must come clean and show that PFI is providing value for money.'

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