Headlines: February 13th, 1998

Some 70 PFI projects have been given support either in the form of funding or expert help. Those receiving revenue support include nine schools projects; two waste management schemes and the first two libraries to be financed under the PFI.Expert help for projects comes in the form of an input from the Treasury Task Force. They assist in the project development, but their crucial role is in quality assurance, which is the area where earlier projects were weak. Private sector consortia have invested in the early development stage of projects, only to find that they were not commercially viable. This experience has deterred potential bidders and had the effect of slowing down the initiative.

Task force involvement in a project is now being recognised as a form of ‘kite mark’ seal of approval and bringing bidders into the field. Without this greater level of interest it would be unlikely that the £500m target for 1998/99 could be achieved.

The task force is having a wider effect than the projects where they have a direct input, because they have targeted projects which are directly replicable, such as schools, or ground breaking, like libraries. By this approach they will be able to spread their expertise across a much wider area than they could hope to cover with actual involvement.