BusinessCompany NewsBrown to push on with PFI despite defeat

Brown to push on with PFI despite defeat

Chancellor Gordon Brown has made it clear the government will proceed to build more schools with the help of private sector finance, despite delegates voting in favour of a 'review' of the process.

Link: TUC tackles Big Four over PFI deals

But behind the scenes at the Labour Party conference in Blackpool yesterday it was made clear the government will go some way to meet union objections to members losing out when services move into the private sector.

Former state employees may continue as state pension fund members and there may be stronger legal protection for pay and conditions for transferees and staff subsequently taken.

Chief secretary Paul Boateng said the government PPPs work was ‘not just for those who receive public services but for those who deliver them’ and would ‘not set one set of workers’ interests above another’.

He said a review would harm progress.

At the same time the chancellor announced an expansion in new enterprise areas to boost business start-ups and job creation.

The chancellor said the aim of the new areas would be ‘to help more people start more small businesses, and ensure that access to capital, advice, skills – once restricted to an elite – is opened up to men and women in every part of Britain’.

Brown – who believes his ‘prudent’ policies mean he can keep to spending programmes despite the recession, which has hit half the world – said 2,000 of the new areas would be designated.

These would not be ‘the old failed enterprise zones of the 1980s where property subsidies diverted large businesses from one area to another’ but areas that encourage home grown economic activity ‘by cutting the cost of starting up, investing, hiring, managing the payroll, eliminating stamp duty, making it easier to start and grow a business and create new jobs’.

He called in the Labour Party to ‘be the pro-enterprise as well as pro-fairness party’. He wanted it to be ‘the party of small businesses and the self-employed’ as much as it had always been the party of the workers.

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