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From The Socialist newspaper, 3 August 2011

The great PFI schools rip off - once again!

Phil Clarke

Before the 2010 general election Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg was correct when he said Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes are "a bit of dodgy accounting - a way in which the government can pretend they're not borrowing when they are, and we'll all be picking up the tab in 30 years."

Of course, quite predictably, since the coalition government was formed, Clegg has been completely silent about more PFI schemes being signed than in 2008 or 2009.

PFI, which in 2009 George Osborne (now Tory chancellor) called "discredited", is a scheme where private money is used to build public buildings such as schools and hospitals - the private contractors then lease the building back to the public sector over a period of around 30 years.

The problem is that not only do PFI builds cost a great deal more than publicly run projects, but the private contractor ends up owning the building at the end of the lease!

For example, Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary cost 184 million to build, but through PFI it will cost the public more than 1 billion over 30 years. Add onto this the contracts for maintenance and repair private companies can get under PFI, where changing a light bulb can cost 333, and we have nothing short of a rip-off of the public sector for private profit.

While the government's constant refrain is 'we must all tighten our belts', education minister Michael Gove is using PFI to finance his new school building scheme - already cut to 2 billion from the 55 billion 'Building Schools for the Future' Labour-initiated PFI scheme he scrapped.

An established hate figure for education workers, Gove is making hundreds of schools that desperately need new buildings go without, and making the minority who do get them pay massively over the odds with PFI. It will come as no surprise either that new schools, or those getting new buildings, will be pushed to become academies or 'free schools'.

If publicly built, publicly run state comprehensive schools are cheaper and shown to be more successful, why are they not being built?

Even more tellingly, why won't Ed Miliband's Labour Party put this forward?

It is because all the major parties are more interested in promoting private profit in the public sector than in delivering services to us.

PFI, academies and free schools are, in the long term, about bringing in the private sector to make profit, not just out of building schools but running them.

Workers and unions must say 'No to PFI', 'No to academies' and build a new mass workers' party that stands solidly for a publicly funded, publicly owned comprehensive education system.

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In The Socialist 3 August 2011:

Fighting the cuts


Building a workers' political alternative to the establishment parties

Opposing the far right

Norway: right wing terrorist killings

Waltham Forest: a victory for unity

Socialist Party NHS campaigning

NHS cuts from a nurse's viewpoint

Gloucestershire NHS

International socialist news and analysis

Eurozone and USA - Debt crisis

Kazakhstan oil strike: solidarity urgent

Syria: State unleashes new terror

Spain:"Throwing a shoe at the system"

Socialist Party workplace news


Reinstate Paddy Brennan!

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party youth and students


Socialist Party news and campaigns

Disability rights

The great PFI schools rip off - once again!

News in brief

Socialist Party review

Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

Socialist Party feature

Llanelli railway riots 1911


Home   |   The Socialist 3 August 2011   |   Join the Socialist Party

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Related links:


triangleCapitalism fails NHS services in Liverpool: scrap PFI!

triangleNorthern Ireland: strike action by NHS workers

triangle300 NHS nurse suicides in seven years - fully fund our health service now!

triangleNon-fiction: 'Unhealthy Profits: PFI in the NHS'

triangleWorcestershire: save the libraries, reverse all the cuts


triangleTory full return to school plans gamble with lives

triangleBoris's new big deal

triangleTories put profit before lives

triangleTowards an anti-racist school curriculum


triangleOppose the Welsh government's reckless return to school plan

triangleReject the university employers' offer on pay, workload and casualisation

triangleSchools... no going back until it's safe


triangleAnti-academy strikes growing

triangleNo to academisation of east London schools!

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