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Information released by the ODPM in November reveals 214 council PFI projects are in line to receive revenue suppor...
Information released by the ODPM in November reveals 214 council PFI projects are in line to receive revenue support from central government, with more on the way.

The sheer volume and breadth of projects - schemes range from new schools to street lighting - suggests that public private partnerships are far from a passing fad. Rather, they form a fundamental part of New Labour's programme to reform public service delivery in the UK. And the deals are there to prove that the rhetoric is turning into reality.

But concerns remain. Staff transfer issues, especially regarding pension rights, have yet to be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, notably the trade unions. There is widespread scepticism about whether PFI deals, in particular, will ultimately deliver genuine value for money. PFI companies have taken a battering in the stock market.

In this climate, making the right choice of partner will be politically and professionally crucial to councillors and officers running town halls up and down the country.

This supplement - a second issue will appear in the new year - aims to blow away the puff surrounding partnerships and look at hard facts, real deals and honest opinions from those at the sharp end.

If there is to be a successful mixed economy of public service provision, market intelligence will be key.

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