Row over who’s to blame for soaring cost of PFI schemes

Pontefract Hospital.Pontefract Hospital.
Pontefract Hospital.
A political row broke out over who was to blame for the private finance initiative amid fresh evidence that taxpayers are paying a heavy price for the controversial scheme.

Research by the JPIMedia investigations team revealed that extra costs and soaring inflation had added nearly £5bn to the overall price of PFI schemes across the UK. Pinderfields and Pontefract hospitals are tied into a £1.6bn PFI contract.

Welcoming the findings, the shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, said: “There will be no PFIs under Labour and we are bringing the PFIs back in house. We’re ending the rip off of taxpayers and service users.”

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However, the Conservative press office said it was the last Labour government which signed off 90 per cent of PFI contracts. Labour’s current plans to scrap them altogether would cost the taxpayers an eye-watering £50bn, meaning less money for our vital public services,” it added.

Sir Ed Davey, deputy Liberal Democrat leader, said: “NHS patients aren’t getting the care they need because of the exorbitant costs of some of these contracts. Schools and council taxpayers are being hit hard.

“This Tory PFI invention was used and abused by the last Labour government and now needs to be sorted.”

A report by the IPPR think-tank last month calculated the PFI scheme had landed the NHS with an £80bn bill on just £13bn of investment. Chris Thomas, of the IPPR, described the revelations as a scandal and said ministers are“attempting to bury their heads”.

He added: “PFI is like taking a mortgage with a loan shark.”