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Extend PPP, says research


PRIVATE PUBLIC partnerships should be extended across more areas of public expenditure, according to a major new report by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR).

The conclusions come after two years of detailed research and show that private sector involvement can tap skills in risk management, project management and creativity that are not often available in the public sector.

'This is the real argument for use of PPPs, ' said researcher Gavin Kelly this week when the report was launched. He rejected the usual ministerial justification that private money allows extra spending as 'specious', saying the public sector pays the bill eventually.

The IPPR says that rival arguments about the sanctity of some public services are not valid.

But in a detailed examination of PPPs the IPPR also said the record had been patchy. Highways maintenance and road construction have proved the benefits but hospitals and schools had not shown better value for money or efficiency than the public sector.

The IPPR called for major rethinking to develop the partnerships, or, it warned, political rumblings against privatisation could turn into 'a major political backlash within five years'.

A much wider range of PPP models should be explored, it says including design build and finance; design build guarantee and operate; and design build and operate but with public sector finance. Other hybrids should be tested from international practice.

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