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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

 Private Finance Illusion
A bulletin on the Private Finance Initiative issued by UNISONScotland for branches
PFI Index Page

January 2000

Copies of these materials can be obtained from UNISON House, 14 West Campbell Street, Glasgow G2 6RX. Tel 0141 332 0006. Communications Officer Chris Bartter is also available to assist branches in producing local campaign materials. His e-mail address is

Where to get help - Resources for Activists 
PFI Resource Links - PFI National Briefings

 PFI Briefing

Staff transfers still threatened

Some public bodies in Scotland are still attempting to argue that ancillary services have to be transferred in new PFL projects to achieve the necessary "risk transfer". This is no longer the case, since the publication of the new accounting rules.

The main problems appear to be in local government, where some authorities are quoting confused advice from the DETR, which claims the new rules do not constitute a fundamental change to policy.

Transfers not needed

Apart from the fact that DETR guidance has no status in a devolved Scotland the new rules are quite explicit in no longer -ring staff transfers.

The full accounting treatment is set out on the Treasury Taskforce site at

This is however a very technical document and for plain English guidance, authorities should be directed to the Scottish Executive's PFI Scotland newsletter on

Under frequently asked questions the newsletter states

"Is it true that some ancillary services need not be included in PH deals?

"Yes. there are no hard and fast rules in relation to whether a particular ancillary service should be included within a PFI contract Transfer of staff will be decided by the PFI procurer an a case by case basis in the best interest of their staff and subject to over-riding value for money issues."

In the NHS specific guidance has been issued under the provisions of NHS MEL (1999)55. paragraph 11 of which states "the revised guidance also excludes the risks related to supports services from the accounting judgement?' The only staff which may have to be included in any PFI contract are those directly connected with the maintenance of the fabric of the building.

Branches will of course still have to demonstrate that keeping services in-house represents best value. The important change is that it's no longer a requirement to transfer staff.



 PFI Briefing


 SGH & Ninewells are first devolved PFI's

Glasgow's Southern General Hospital Geriatric Medicine Assessment Facility (Capital value £11m) and Dundee Ninewelis Psychiatric Services (Capital value £10m) have now been signed.

The SGH contract is for a 210-bed facility to be run by Tarmac and is the first health PFI scheme to be signed under devolution. The Ninewells Hospital contract is for an 84-bed acute psychiatric unit, which win be run by a subsidiary of Jarvis Plc.

In total 38 health projects, with a capital value of £485m, have now been signed in the NHS in Scotland. A list of all Scottish Executive PFI projects can be viewed at



 PFI Briefing

Schools cut to deliver... profits!

Glasgow City Council has voted to sign a £192m contract with a consortium of private contractors to build and refurbish 29 secondary schools. Led by the Miller Group, this contract will last for 30 years.

The details of this scheme -which the council refuses to publish - have recently come under fire from teachers in the schools concerned. Staff were given only days to comment on proposals, which in some schools will result in a cut of 1/3 in classroom provision and very limited staff accommodation. At least six swimming pools have been earmarked for closure along with a number of gymnasiums. (This is of course precisely what happened in NHS PFI schemes, which ended up costing the tax payer more for less facilities.)

Will they ever learn?

Councillors would do well to learn the lesson of the NP'S and of schools schemes south of the border. In the journal Public Finance (29 October 1999), Jean Shaoul highlights the costs of Pimlico School in London, which is being rebuilt under PFI. Her analysis of that scheme demonstrates that key questions have not been answered and the figures provided simply do not add up.

Miller's grind up profits

The Miller Group - the lead company in the Glasgow schools consortium - have reported increased profits from 14.8m to 18.5m. The, family owned, Scottish company is reported as being interested in making a cash exit following a fun stock market flotation. The Glasgow schools deal is initially worth 159.2m but analysts believe that it could be worth over 1 billion in the long term - all courtesy of the Glasgow tax payer!



 PFI Briefing

Major conference debates PFI

UNISONScotland is orgnising a major PFI conference with the Centre for Scottish Public Policy on Monday 10 January 2000 in the University of Edinburgh Conference Centre.

Speakers include Jack McConnell MSP, Scottish Finance Minister; Dave Prentis, UNISON Deputy General Secretary; Alf Young, Herald Deputy Editor; Allyson Pollock, University College London and Andrew Wilson MSP, SNP Finance Spokesperson. Details of the outcome in our next bulletin.



 PFI Briefing


The media and others continue to confuse Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). PPP is the government's umbrella description for all projects which involve partnership with private sector. PFI is a specific scheme under the PPP umbrella - although stlll the main method of introducing private cash into public services.



 PFI Briefing

PFI Costs Soar

The UK Government is now committed to almost 84billion of revenue spending under the private finance initiative, a growth of £15billion from last year. This is expenditure that it will be unable to break without massive contract penalties.

In Scotland, the capital value of PFI projects has grown to over 2billion (equivalent revenue costs have not been published) made up as below

 Completed Projects: £242 .5m 
 Signed Projects: £805.6m
Tendered Projects:  £841.8m 
 Advertised: £118.35m 
 Potential: £284.35m

These figures only include projects under the overall responsibility of the Scottish Executive. There are other projects for example in the Ministry of Defence, which are not included in these figures.



 PFI Briefing

Secrecy no longer OK

Despite announcements by Scottish Executive Finance Minister. Jack McConnell, on greater openness in future Fri schemes, public authorities are still reluctant to release information. The worst culprits are local authorities.

Public Domain

Branches may find it helpful to quote guidance published by the "Four Ps", which reflects the new Government policy stance. The key section states "any procurement by a local authority, including those employing the PFI, should be managed on the assumption that all information arising from the transaction will be in the public domain in the future. Therefore, discussions about disclosure should focus on when information is to be disclosed rather than 'whether' (our emphasis).

NHS Instructions

In the NHS explicit instructions on disclosure information are set out in MEL(1998)39 on openness and employee issues.



 PFI Briefing

New Guide published

The local Government Information Unit has produced a useful new guide on PFI. Aimed at councillors and school governors, it highlights issues to be considered;- when considering a PFI scheme; when it is being developed and when it is completed. It stresses the need for openeess and consultation, clear lines of accountability and understanding the long-term service and finance implications. Copies available from the LGIU, 22 Upper Woburn Place, London WC1H OTB (



 PFI Briefing

Local government pensions now transferable

Transitional arrangements have been published to allow non-associated employers to be admitted to the local government superannuation scheme on a temporary basis until the full regulations are introduced, probably in March 2000. This means that staff transferring to private companies under PFI or Best Value provisions can remain members of the LGSS.

Discussions are ongoing regarding similar arrangements in the NHSiS. However, as that scheme is financed on a "pay as you go basis" there are a number of technical difficulties to be overcome before such a scheme can be introduced in the NHS in Scotland.



 PFI Briefing

Partnership approach to Health PPPs

Scottish Health Minister, Susan Deacon has asked the Scottish Partnership Forum to develop a staffing framework for PPP The SPF has considered a draft framework, which provides for a partnership approach to PPP projects.

This enables proper scrutiny of all capital projects and key protections for any staff who might be transferred to other employers. The SPF will consider comments at its February meeting before the framework gees back to the Health Minister for approval.



 PFI Briefing

Where there's muck there's brass

Scottish Lawyers, Tods, Murray, legal advisors to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary PFI project, are selling their "expertise" south of the border. The company is linked up with Balfour Beattie to bid for projects in Haringey, Tower Hamlets and Stoke-on-Trent. Apparently Scottish lawyers come cheaper than their English couaterparts, which will no doubt be a small crumb of comfort to English taxpayers being ripped off under PFI.



 PFI Briefing

Wider Yet and Wilder!
Just when you thought PFI schemes could get no crazier...

Kilmarnock's new £130m PFI prison is being run by a company, headed by an ultra-right-wing American Billionaire and former Spy master, George Wackenhut. The company is linked with several notorious right-wing causes and has links with former Republican Presidents The company is also behind the private prison at Doncaster in Yorkshire, dubbed as "Doncatraz". Inspectors from the Prison Reform Trust painted a bleak picture of secrecy; drug abuse, intimidation and violence and a record number of suicide attempts.

Police Training Privatised

Strathclyde Police's new L80m training centre in East Kilbride is to be built under PFI. South Lanarkshire Council gave planning permission to the scheme, which is linked to a housing estate and a private sector leisure centre, despite 51 formal objections from the local community.

Objective Advice plc!

The Treasury's PFI Taskforce is to be privatised as a company under the name "Partnerships UK". It will, in addition to advising the Government on PFI, take equity stakes in key projects and finance itself through royalties and consultation fees. It is anticipated that the leading figures in the new company win receive six figure pay packages and performance related bonuses. More cream for the fat cats.

Air/Sea Rescue plc

There appears to be no end to the bizarre uses of PFI. The Ministry of Defence is considering the privatisation of Air-Sea Rescue with helicopters and pilots being provided under PFI instead of directly buying the new craft.

These secrets are brought to you courtesy of....

PFI will soon be used to spy on us all. The Ministry of Defence is to constrict its next generation of top secret military satellites under PFI. Somewhat bizarrely, the cornpanies would be free to sell unused capacity aboard the satellites to commercial customers. Presumably we should be grateful that Trident nuclear submarines on the Clyde are being paid for by the tax payer or no doubt they would be handed over to a prnate company!

Computer PFI Chaos

The National Audit office has warned that Government Departments are being plunged into chaos by over ambitious PFI computer contracts. ThePassport Office shambles and the Home Office's £77m immigration service IT system are two of the most well pubhcised disasters, along with the Social Security Department's troubled National Insurance system.

The Chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee said, "the deal seems to be a good one for the tax payer and will deliver cost savings, yet the system is in chaos". He warned that Departments "must not allow themselves to get carried away by the enthusiasm of prospective suppliers".

Public authorities in Scotland take note!



 PFI Briefing

New materials...

PFI leaflet template

The Communications Department has produced a PFI leaflet, which can be adopted for local campaigns. It is available to be downloaded on the UNISON website at

The only game in town

UNISON has produced a hard-hitting analysis of the Carlisle PFI, wriflen by David Price, Declan Gaffneyy and Allyson Pollock (order code 1704). The analisis claims that the Government has given approval to an uneconomic scheme with an ill-defined capacity. According to the Government's own rules, Carlisle's new hospital should not have been a PFI. It will have 25% fewer beds and 87 fewer qualified and trained staff. Essential reading for anyone involved in a PFI scheme.

Copies of these materials can be obtained from UNISON House, 14 West Campbell Street, Glasgow G2 6RX. Tel 0141 332 0006. Communications Officer Chris Bartter is also available to assist branches in producing local campaign materials. His e-mail address is


PFI Resource Links

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