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 PFI Illusion



Why we oppose PFI

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UNISON's campaign against PFI in Scotland is co-ordinated by Senior Regional Officer, Dave Watson.

If you have news of PFI developments in your area, Dave would like to hear from you at UNISON House, 14 West Campbell Street, Glasgow G2 6RX
Tel: 0141 332 0006
Fax: 0141 331 1203

A resource page for UNISON's campaign against PFI



As well as these links, try a search for the many PFI press releases, articles and references on this site. Use the Search link above and type in PFI.

See alsorevitalise and PUBLIC WORKScampaign pages

13 December 2011: Policy Briefing 16 - PPP/PFI in Scotland:
NB - updated Feb 2012, and Aug 2012
There is a myth that PPP/PFI has ended in Scotland. Rebranded maybe - but very much alive and kicking us all. This briefing looks at the continuing use of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in Scotland through PPP/PFI, the Scottish Futures Trust, the hub programme and the so-called Non Profit Distributing (NPD) model.
22 August 2011: UNISON: FOI reveals Scottish Water has no business cases for PFI deals - and Parliament was misled: No business cases can be traced for multi-million pound PFI wastewater contracts – and a Scottish Parliament committee appears to have been misled – according to a decision by the Scottish Information Commissioner over Scottish Water.
9 August 2011: MPs highlight PFI costs (blog)
14 July 2011: New UK government figures show the true cost of PFI, says UNISON
17 June 09: Schools PPP will cost taxpayers dear, UNISON warns
March 2009: PFI car parking contractors in line for £170,000 windfall
Briefing 190 SFT: An expensive quango to promote PPP
17 Nov 08: Freedom of Information legislation should cover companies delivering PPP/PFI contracts
10 Sept 08: UNISON condemns Scottish Futures Trust quango to promote PPP
9 Sept 08: SFT is a costly and unnecessary new quango with staff on six figure salaries
20 May 08: Scottish Futures Trust looks like simply 'PFI-Lite', says UNISON
Scottish Futures Trust Response
UNISON Scotland's Submission to the Scottish Parliament Finance Committee's Call for Evidence on the Funding of Capital Investment Projects: www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/capitalinvest.html
The real alternative to PFI Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser, UNISON, looks at the alternative to PFI for Scotland and explains why it may not be up to scratch (on the Project Datafile website)
PFI Illusion Bulletin Spring 2008 (pdf)
Scottish Futures Trust - An alternative to PFI? Briefing No.178 January 2008 (pdf)
ERI information ruling shows PFI is bad news for public knowledge
At What Cost? a UNISON report on the aggregate costs of PFI/PPP projects in Scotland - and some suggestions on a way forward (pdf)
PFI flaws are highlighted as more staff come back in-house: PFI Illusion Briefing July 06 (pdf)
PFI Illusion Briefing Summer 05
PFI Illusion Briefing January 04
What's wrong with PFI in schools? UNISON UK report
PFI Briefing Jan 04
PFI Illusion Briefing August 2003
NHS Glasgow 'Commercially Sensitive' con
Public Private Partnerships in Scotland - Protocol and Guidance Concerning Employment Issues
STURN Fifth National Seminar - University of Abertay, Dundee, 12 February 2002, Private Finance in the Public Sector

Work together to deliver public services - challenge from UNISON

New Link: Catalyst - an independent organisation established to promote economic and social policies which are radical and modern, but rooted in practical experience. See A response to the IPPR's Commission on Public Private Partnerships

PFI in Schools, the business case rebutted, PFI Briefing from Policy and Information Team -

Letter to Herald from Dave Watson

Initial UNISON Evidence to Local Government Committee Inquiry into Local Government Finance

The PFI Illusion Briefing

PFI Archive from 2000





'Commercially Sensitive' con

Letter from Dave Watson to Herald Newspaper

So NHS Glasgow are at last going to publish the Outline Business Case (OBC) for the controversial ACADs. But wait, only next week when they have removed "commercially sensitive" information.

In a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme the Outline Business Case does not include genuinely commercially sensitive information. The Final Business Case and contract may do as they include prices from bidders.

The OBC is NHS Glasgow's case for building the facility using PFI, it will include estimates of various costs but not actual bid data. In reality the need to hide information from the public and staff is because NHS Glasgow knows that for projects of this size PFI is "the only game in town".

This OBC therefore, like many before it, has to be manipulated to meet the criteria for a PFI scheme. It has nothing to do with "commercially sensitive" information and everything to do with making a case to fit the rules.

All of this would be unnecessary if the Scottish Executive adopted the Audit Scotland recommendation to provide a level playing field of financial support between projects financed by PFI and conventional funding.

Then public authorities like NHS Glasgow could make a real choice based on best value. Not indulge in a secretive accountancy juggle to privatise key elements of the NHS in Scotland.

Dave Watson
Scottish Organiser


Why we oppose PFI - in brief

UNISON is strongly opposed to the use of PFI/PPP in Scottish local government for the following reasons:

  • this is a more expensive way of procuring capital projects
    priorities in local government expenditure are being skewed
  • it is having a detrimental impact on local government workers jobs, pay and conditions of service

it is resulting in the privatisation of Scotland's local government services
the system of PFI/PPP is clouded in secrecy

5 Reasons for opposing PFI

  • PFI privatises.
  • Profit comes before public need.
  • PFI privatises staff, cutting jobs, wages and conditions
  • PFI substitutes for public investment, it is not an extra.
  • PFI set up costs can be five times more than public borrowing projects
  • PFI hits your pocket. You'll pay more through taxes for tens of years because it is more expensive than public borrowing



PFI Resource Links

UNISON UK Positively Public Pages with PFI resources

UNISON UK Publicity Downloads (PFI leaflet)

Treasury Taskforce site

Scottish Executive's PFI Scotland newsletter and Scottish Executive PFI projects

Local Government Information Unit (LGIU)

UNISONScotland Materials

thePFInet - very useful PFI news site.




Dear Sir

Public Private Partnerships

The two page feature on PPP/PFI projects in Scotland (Herald Feb. 20) was surely missing an essential reader warning - "advertising feature".

A succession of lawyers, bankers and construction companies who have benefited from the PPP/PFI gravy train queued up to tell us how wonderful PPP/PFI schemes are and how helpful the Scottish Executive has been in allowing them to make vast sums of money from the Scottish taxpayer.

The feature on Glasgow schools omitted to mention that Glasgow City Council will pay £36.4m more than if its schools were funded by conventional finance. For this Glasgow will lose seven school swimming pools along with staff common rooms and classroom reductions.

According to this "Special Report" the Skye Bridge PFI project is a "success story". A scheme which the Scottish Executive now estimates will cost £128m from an original quote of £10m. It may have been a "success story" for the companies involved in your report - but taxpayers are entitled to view the matter somewhat differently!

In reality PPP/PFI remains a more costly way of financing public services than direct borrowing by the public sector. Projects escalate both in scale and cost leading to shortfalls which must be met from other services or by reductions in service provision.

Dave Watson
Scottish Organiser
14 West Campbell Street

Trees fall foul of PFI

The start of groundwork for the new PFI Craigmillar/Greendykes/Peffermill school (Edinburgh) commenced on Monday 5 August to the north of Castlebrae High School.

The first act was to destroy the millenium forest planted by local youngsters some six years ago. Some 500 trees and shrubs were bulldozed under in a morning.

However, one tree survived, that planted by a certain ex Scottish Secretary, Michael Forsyth.

PFI contractors certainly know who their friends are!