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PFI? WTF?

This month I want to tell you a story. It’s a fiscal horror story that would have Stephen King breaking into a cold sweat. It’s about two men and their favoured man-servant called Milburn who went to London to seek their fortunes and took a fairly minor Tory indiscretion, pumped it up with political steroids and dropped it on the UK taxpayer like some slow-burning financial mustard gas, the side effects of which continue to be felt today. Are you sitting uncomfortably? Let’s begin.

When giving his Autumn Statement in December 1992 the then Tory Chancellor, Norman Lamont, introduced a new concept for financing public building projects which he called the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). He did this with the express intention of “increasing the scope for private financing of capital projects”.

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