According to The Independent, eight schools built under Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contracts have fire safety issues that could affect the health of pupils.
The revelation raises serious questions about the safety of public facilities built by the private sector, according to the newspaper:
PFI supporters say private contractors generally get major projects done quicker, cheaper and to a higher standard than the public sector. However, these claims are increasingly disputed. A report in 2011 by a Treasury Select Committee of MPs comparing PFI with traditionally procured projects said “we have seen reports which found out that building quality was of a lower standard in PFI buildings”.
Isn’t the issue more that the private contractor – Balfour Beatty – is in breach of contract, having built schools that are unsafe?
PFI has been an enormous waste of public money, with nobody profiting from the contracts apart from the privateers who dictated them.
The contracts were originally employed by John Major’s Conservative government.
When Labour came to office in 1997 and found very little money available for the massive job of rebuilding both the health and education services after nearly two decades of Tory neglect, there was little choice but to take up PFI to achieve these goals.
With safety now an issue, public authorities up and down the country should be demanding checks and consulting their contracts for exit strategies that may provide a way out of the PFI nightmare…
… Or did nobody bother to think of that, back when these things were originally negotiated?
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