Headlines: November 8th, 2001

Some one billion pounds of funding from the Private Finance Initiative is helping to deliver the greatest programme of school building and modernization the UK has ever seen. Almost 500 schools are involved in contracts with private sector suppliers and the first 20 newly built PFI schools are now open.It is estimated that over the next two years a further 2 billion pounds will be levered into the schools building programme. Some 30 contractors are actively involved in bidding for contracts

John Gains, president of the construction trade association and chief executive of Mowlem Group, says that PFI projects are taking longer to close than before the general election, especially large projects. He lays much of the blame for this at local authorities because they lack the experience to deal with complex projects. Government efforts to speed up the process have not helped. To counter the anti-PFI campaigns by unions and others, a pressure group called PPP Forum, made up of companies involved in PFI bidding, has hired Lord Bell, the public relations expert to try to improve the public image of PFI.