CIPFA Conference – PFI rules imminent

The head of the government’s private finance initiative taskforce hasd Montague says response to ASB guidelines is ‘all but finished’. pledged that its long-awaited response to the Accounting Standards Board PFI guidelines will be published before Parliament’s summer recess, possibly this week.

Adrian Montague said a response was all but finished and blamed the delay on the complexity of the guidance. He also hinted that preliminary responses to Pearl Group chairman Malcolm Bates’ second review of PFI had unilaterally backed continued central government support for PFI. This could mean that the Treasury taskforce, whose tenure is due to expire shortly, will have its life span extended.

‘Ministers have had the report for several months and this is a difficult set of conundrums for them to decide. But they seem determined to keep central support,’ he said.

The promise came as local government minister Hilary Armstrong announced an additional £30m to be allocated under PFI to aid local authority proposals that join up public services. She also revealed a further seven PFI projects have been given the green light for central government revenue support using existing resources.

‘This means that 94 schemes have now been endorsed from 70 different authorities. Along with the 27 endorsed PFI projects which have now reached contract signature, another 67 are making rapid progress. Together these all represent a strong programme of investment which will help improve the quality of life of local people throughout the country,’ she told delegates in Birmingham.

CIPFA chief executive David Adams said he was ‘disappointed’ that only three of the newly-announced schemes were jointly sponsored. ‘The future of local government will be characterised by healthy partnerships and it is evident that many local authorities are currently piloting innovative approaches to PFI for smaller schemes,’ he said.

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