PFI for Schools "Too Risky" So why are Norfolk going ahead with it ?

A report by MP's has dubbed the proposed £45bn PFI scheme to upgrade all secondary schools in England and Wales as "Too Risky". So it is astonishing that in Norfolk PFI schemes are already in place and building work has begun on new buildings for schools.

Norfolk schools are having to allocate 12% of their budgets for the next 25 years to the PFI. This figure would astonish parents but is the equivalent in a large primary school to employing three extra teachers.

The question Norfolk County Council should ask is are they taking a risk with the County's finances and are they going to cause problems for children's chances in the future by committing money for 25 years in why MP's are describing as a risky venture ?


Anonymous said...

I think there are serious questions about PFI, as the report highlights, but I think it's important not to give the impression that the money for those three teachers is just being thrown away. The schools are getting something in return for that - a new building, and (depending on the model) I would imagine some servicing work too, for example the routine catering and maintenance. These are things that schools obviously have to spend money on anyway and at one level this is just a long-term service contract.

But obviously it is more than that - including being a very long contract, and some of it still surrounded by uncertainties.

However when it is described as a 'risky venture' that means that it may not be the best and cheapest way of financing this work, not risky as in pinning the whole lot on the favourite for the 2.20 at Epsom Races!

This doesn't detract from the point that as you say it is a good question whether a PFI model for funding school improvement is best. It is the route this government has chosen for rebuilding schools!

Anonymous said...

Wrong Nic.

The schools project isn't funded via PFI - that fell through years ago when Jarvis pulled out. It's now financed through capital borrowing from the Norfolk County Council.

The investment is badly needed to bring schools up to modern standards.

Nich Starling said...

Anonymous. If that is the case then all the NCC documents I have seen headed up as "PFI Meetings" and the like are wrong.

The scheme for the building of my new school is a PFI.

Anonymous said...

It's a PFI in all but name in Norfolk. it is run in exactly the same way, same terms, just a different financer from the original.