Is the end of the use of PFI political point scoring?

Marcus Brookes

Marcus Brookes

An interesting announcement made in the Budget was the end of the use of Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) for the future funding of infrastructure. 

Importantly, though, the Chancellor Philip Hammond guaranteed to uphold all existing contracts, so investors in securities linked to PFI need not fret for now. 

The reason stated for the end to the use of PFI is that the contracts have been described as inefficient and expensive.

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There may also be a political point to score here as Labour have been strong critics of PFI and the Chancellor made comments that the prior Labour government had been responsible for 90 per cent of all PFI deals that were agreed.

Eventually, however, the issue for infrastructure funds that have invested in PFI projects is that when this historic PFI financing matures, there will be no new supply to replace it.

Now, we know the Conservative Party still likes Public Private Partnerships (PPP) - indeed, the Chancellor confirmed this - so perhaps we might see the end of PFI but also the emergence of something similar.

This will enable political points scoring to be achieved without actually ending PPP, perhaps even a legacy for Mr Hammond.

We will need to wait for the detail.

Marcus Brookes is head of multi-manager at Schroders