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A clear demand by the private sector for joint ventures in the provision of public services is shown in a survey of...
A clear demand by the private sector for joint ventures in the provision of public services is shown in a survey of construction companies' attitudes to the government's private finance initiative, says the department of environment.

The number of firms actively exploring PFI ranged from 2% for small firms up to 40% for large, and 75% for very large firms.

Asked in which sectors they were exploring PFI, those actively exploring the initiative answered health (63%); housing (43%); education (37%); transport (30%); regeneration (26%); other (eg water and sewerage, Government offices and waste treatment) (21%); custodial (15%) heritage (6%).

Of those firms actively pursuing PFI 84% had encountered barriers.

Commenting on the survey, construction minister Robert Jones said:

'It is encouraging that my department's survey of construction companies has confirmed that the industry is keen to develop the private finance initiative. 75% of the major companies are actively pursuing PFI opportunities in health, housing, education, transport, and many other service areas.

'Small firms too have indicated that they would like to become more involved in the initiative. This all sends very positive signals to the public sector service suppliers, who can benefit from the innovation and imagination that PFI unlocks in the provision of those services.'

The minister said there was considerable scope for developing the initiative to its full potential. He added:

'Although PFI is gaining pace and delivering projects on the ground, the potential is far greater. The survey has helpfully identified what types of barriers need to be overcome, especially access to information for small firms and the need to review procurement rules in certain cases.

'I have asked my officials to consider the survey results at the next meeting of the government/construction industry PFI liaison group, and to recommend appropriate solutions to increase the number of PFI projects coming on stream.'

The survey, covering some 3000 construction companies, was commissioned by the DoE in July.

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