The People vs PFI conference
Saturday, 1st November 2014, in London

first published 1 November 2014

1st November 2014
9am - 5:30pm

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Keppel St, Bloomsbury, WC1E 7HT

(Euston, Russell Square or Holborn tube)

In Britain, you’d never be able to tell from the outside, but hundreds of our hospitals, schools, prisons, roads and even homes are no longer run by the public, the state, the people. Politicians have given them away to private companies – only to have the public sector rent them back at extortionate costs. Taxpayers’ money is making these tax-avoiding corporations rich, while the people are losing critical frontline services. This is the Private Finance Initiative (PFI).

PFI schemes were introduced in the UK in the 1990s under the Conservative Government of John Major, but were expanded significantly under Tony Blair’s New Labour, then rebranded and continued by the current Chancellor, George Osborne.

PFI is now used in public services across the National Health Service (NHS) and in government departments from Education to Local Government, from Defence to Transport and Justice. Today over £300 billion in PFI repayments is now owed by the UK taxpayer to for-profit private consortia across more than 700 projects. The number of NHS hospitals in financial trouble, often because of PFI, doubled in the last financial year.

The local hospital may look like any other NHS hospital, except that it was financed by a consortium of banks and other financial companies and construction firms. It will probably be subject to long-term legal contracts that are so “commercially sensitive” they are not available in the public realm.

PFI contracts require Freedom of Information requests just to find out how a local public service should operate, where the money is actually going, and who is responsible for contract maintenance.

Because private finance is used instead of government borrowing, PFI ends up being significantly more expensive than government-funded projects.

In effect, public services are no longer owned by, provided by or directly accountable to the taxpaying public – who are paying for them.

The People vs PFI conference, supported by The Corner House, will bring together grassroots organisers, researchers, public sector workers, medical, teaching and housing professionals, campaigners, academics, journalists and anyone disturbed by the implications of the Private Finance Initiative, particularly in the National Health Service, social housing and schools.

It will provide an opportunity to brainstorm political and practical solutions; share stories of working for a PFI-run public service, or of living in or near one; and help build effective grassroots opposition to PFI across the UK.

A series of workshops will equip anti-PFI campaigners with vital information and skills:

  • basic contract monitoring skills to hold PFI companies and public authorities to account;
  • using Freedom of Information requests;
  • understanding profiteering and tax evasion;
  • using social media effectively;
  • using different tactics in grassroots campaigning.

Plenary speakers include:

View the full programme

Reserve your place

Any questions? please email

-- It's time to stop private profit at public expense --