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The Private Finance Initiative: Do we patch it up or tear it down?




This seminar is part of the Department of Economics Seminar Series 2017-18. The seminars are open to all - no registration necessary. If you would like to receive email notification of the Department’s seminars, please send your request to


Speaker: Dr Mark Hellowell (University of Edinburgh)

The shadow Chancellor John McDonnell recently said a future Labour government would end the “scandal” of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) in the health service, review all contracts and “terminate” them if necessary. The shadow Chancellor’s argument is that while expensive for the public sector PFI contracts have frequently generated excess profits for private companies.

This paper examines the nature of this “scandal” through a detailed evaluation of the cost to public healthcare organisations of PFI contracts and the extent of their profitability for investors. It draws on a unique case study of one such “termination” to assess the feasibility and desirability of Mr McDonnell’s proposals. It argues that the legal restrictions and financial realities of termination make this option non-viable for all but a hand full of public healthcare organisations, and that a comprehensive resolution to the problems experienced by these organisations requires a strategic response by central government.

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When and where

3.00pm - 4.30pmWednesday 18th October 2017

DLG09 Rhind Building City, University of London Northampton Square London EC1V 0HB United Kingdom