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Don’t scrap PFI, construction industry tells Osborne

Civil engineering institutions and trade bodies have used their Budget submissions to urge chancellor George Osborne to ditch his review of PFI procurement.

Government ‘mistaken’

Osbourne is due to produce his latest Budget on 23 March.

The UK Contractors Group, which represents major contractors, said the government had mistakenly sided against PFI believing contractors had made excessive profits.

It said money could be saved by eliminating “excessively costly” procurement processes where the “private sector lost considerable sums bidding on projects which had not been properly thought through by clients before they went to market”.

Reform needed, says ICE

The ICE agreed that PFI needed reform, but said it should not be scrapped.

“We acknowledge the case for PPP/PFI reform but feel the scale and urgency of the current challenge means we cannot afford to discard a model that has proven able to deliver large amounts of infrastructure,” it said.

The Institution added that detailed plans for the Green Investment Bank (GIB) and Tax Increment Financing (TIF)schemes were “urgently required”.

It said that if robust funding models are put in place, the necessary private funds can be secured to complement the public investment set out in last year’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

“This presents an opportunity to end the stop/start approach to infrastructure development which over decades has led to under-investment in economic infrastructure, impaired skills development and retention in the infrastructure supply chain, been a factor in periodic bouts of construction inflation, held back innovation and undermined investor confidence,” said the ICE’s submission.

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