Minister backs calls to improve reputation of PPP schemes

Minister for Local Government Rishi Sunak has backed efforts from regeneration firm U+I to improve the damaged reputation of public-private partnership (PPP) schemes – a fortnight after the Chancellor renewed the Government’s commitment to the model in his Autumn budget.

Speaking at an event in London yesterday that included representatives from Homes England, Network Rail, the NHS, TfL, London Community Foundation and Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, Mr Sunak said PPPs must ‘harness the strengths of both the private and public sector to deliver for local communities and the taxpayer.’

His comments follow the end of a six-month UK wide consultation from U+I that revealed many of the challenges that PPPs face.

It found that 78% of British adults agreed that public sector organisations should ensure their unused land is developed to provide housing and create new places and public amenities for local communities.

56% of people agreed that local authorities should work with private sector businesses to help address the housing shortage in the UK yet 45% felt negatively about the use of PPPs to develop publicly-owned land.

‘The development and regeneration of our cities must be centred around meeting the long-term needs of our communities,’ said Mr Sunak.

‘That means delivering projects that make a change to people’s lives, and in doing so improving our society and our economy.

‘As the Chancellor recently acknowledged, public-private partnerships can play a crucial role in delivering the best possible places for communities. But they must be done well and offer a good deal for all involved, in particular, taxpayers. That’s why I welcome this group’s effort to establish what PPP best practice looks like and to hold itself to account.’

Matthew Weiner, CEO of U+I said civic trust needs to be restored in order to improve the damaged reputation of PPPs.

‘Civic trust is the magic glue which binds PPP schemes,’ he said.

‘Without it, they fray, and fall apart. Trust is clearly a broader societal issue and we’d be fools to think we in the development community can fix it on our own. What we can do, however, is work hard to ensure that the glue is in place at the local level where we are on the ground regenerating, creating, engaging.’

‘We know that these moves will not fix the reputation of PPP overnight. But we hope they will go some way to restoring trust between all of those involved in these vital projects, and in the concept itself.’

In the Autumn Budget Chancellor Phillip Hammond said PPPs are better value for taxpayers as financial risk remains in the private sector. In the same Budget speech, he announced the end of Private Finance Initiatives.

Read PPP-The Reset report here.

Thomas Barrett

Journalist - follow him on Twitter

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