Maintaining market principles: Government auditors, PPP equity sales and hegemony: Public sector reforms, public private partnerships and whole government accounting

Article by Stewart Smyth and Dexter Whitfield in Accounting Forum journal. The UK’s government auditors, the National Audit office (NAO), play a central role in the accountability relations surrounding government expenditure. Commonly portrayed as being independent, they carry out performance audits assessing value for money. To date the emerging market for PPP equity transactions has attracted little attention. This paper explores that emerging market through a Gramscian framework utilising the concepts of ‘common sense’ and ‘good sense’, focusing on a dialogical analysis of a NAO report.

PFI schools built in Scotland owned by offshore firms

An hour-long BBC television ‘Scotland Investigates’ programme on 22 August revealed evidence by Dexter Whitfield that over 80% of Scotland’s PFI schools are partly or wholly owned in offshore tax havens. The programme investigated the cause of the closure of 17 Edinburgh schools for repairs after construction defaults were found. Equity in this project had been sold 13 times. Part of the interview was on the BBC Television National 6.00pm news and was the lead item on the Scottish News.

Salford Star exposes massive PFI profits at Salford Royal Hospital

A prime example of connecting the £11.5m profit from Balfour Beatty’s 50% stake in the PFI special purpose company to the HICL offshore infrastructure fund generating a 19% return; the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust’s forecast of a £14.9m deficit this year; a £17m PFI payment due in 2016 towards the total project cost of £705m for building works that cost £137m; and the junior doctors strike:

SERCO pays £4m after contract terminated

The New Zealand Department of Corrections took over management of Serco’s 10-year NZ$300m Mount Eden remand prison contract in 2015 after just four years. Serco has now agreed to pay £4m for the cost of state intervention and outstanding performance penalties. It is limited to a labour supply agreement at cost until 31 March 2017.

‘Why have councils fallen out of love with outsourcing vital services’

The title of an article in The Guardian (by Lizzie Presser) which draws on ESSU’s database of PPP Strategic Partnerships and evidence of a high contract failure rate. Includes comments about the benefits of in-house services from leaders of Cumbria County Council, Liverpool City, the London Borough of Islington and the Local Government Association’s improvement and innovation board.