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DUDLEY PFI DEAL 'BREAKS THE MOULD'

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A ground-breaking private finance initiative deal to provide a mix of health and social services to people in Dudle...
A ground-breaking private finance initiative deal to provide a mix of health and social services to people in Dudley, could pave the way for a string of other small-scale but significant PFI projects, according to The Financial Times (p6).

The deal, which involves the construction of a£4m one-stop shop, is claimed to be the first PFI to provide a mix of health and social services. It has been made possible because Norwich Union PPP, the project's sole funder, will continue to own the building at the end of the 25-year contract.

This means that, unlike most other PFIs, the full cost of the community centre does not have to be paid back over the life of the contract. The NHS and Dudley MBC social services will thus save about 15% on the deal, according to David Toplas, Norwich Union PPP fund manager.

At the contract's end, the NHS and Dudley have the choice of renting the building at market rates, buying it, or walking away. This approach should mean that shorter contracts can be struck than the conventional 25 or 30-year-plus PFI deal, Mr Toplas said.

'It is a first for joined-up government using PFI in health and social services, and it breaks the mould with its innovative approach to funding,' he added.

The centre will provide dental and family planning services, home care services and a library, plus a base for social work, mental health and learning disability teams, complete with day care facilities.

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