HM Treasury News Release 115/97 30 September 1997 _________________________________________________________________ RECOMMENDATIONS TO REINVIGORATE PFI SEPTEMBER DEADLINES ARE MET All the 30 September deadlines set to the Treasury for progress in reinvigorating the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) have been met. Welcoming successful progress against the agenda set by Malcolm Bates in June following his review of the PFI, Paymaster General Geoffrey Robinson said: "Malcolm Bates set a tight timetable, but we are determined to deliver. "Our Taskforce is now in place. We will implement all 29 of his recommendations over the coming months in documents that will provide a sound basis for future business and where there is a Taskforce seal of approval on the cover, you can be sure it is authoritative advice." Four recommendations required central action by today. Progress means that : * procedures for delivering Government support for local authority PFI projects will be streamlined and strengthened under a new framework, full details of which will be published soon. Under these : - the PFI Taskforce will work closely with Government Departments to sign off good quality projects and offer expertise on those that are significant. - the Public Private Partnerships Programme (4Ps) will continue to play a critical role on behalf of Local Government, advocating their interests and working up proposals so as to enhance their viability and thus increase the chances of securing endorsement. * new Treasury guidance on the balance sheet treatment of PFI transactions for Central Government Departments and Agencies will apply immediately. It has already been positively received by the National Audit Office and Audit Commission. * the Treasury has given written assurance that funding for contracts by central Government Departments will not be cut after signature of value for money contracts, provided contractual commitments continue to be met. * the new Taskforce has circulated some draft guidance on Public Sector Comparators and when they should be used, on which it will now seek comment from experts. In addition, good progress is being made by other departments in addressing the recommendations which fall to them. The Local Government (Contracts) Bill has cleared all its Commons Stages. Guidance to distributors of lottery funds is expected to be issued by DCMS soon. Departments have identified their PFI training needs and the Taskforce is now considering that information and possible delivery mechanisms. NOTES TO EDITORS 1. On 23 June Malcolm Bates made 29 recommendations to reinvigorate the PFI (HMT press release 69/97). Many of these have deadlines falling between September and December this year. 2. The Treasury Taskforce, whose full team was announced only last week, will publish guidance in response to these recommendations and other PFI issues in a definitive collection of central documents. This will be available in four series: Series 1: Generic guidance - to include an Introductory Guide to PFI. Series 2: Policy Statements - "What to do" documents. Series 3: Technical notes - "How to do" documents. Series 4: Case studies. The Introductory Guide will be available shortly. Other documents will be produced in line with Malcolm Bates' timetable, wherever possible taking account of views expressed by public and private sector PFI. 3. For further information and copies of the available guidance call Nick Crowther on 0171 270 5527. 4. Media enquiries should be addressed to Charles Keseru on 0171 270 5188. 5. If you have access to the Internet you can find this news release and other Treasury material at http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk.