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Government refuses to reveal date for PFI announcement

Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has refused to set out a timetable for a long-awaited announcement on the government’s preferred FI model.

Speaking at the UK Trade & Investment Infrastructure Summit today, Mr Alexander confirmed the Green Deal will be an early candidate for the UK infrastructure guarantees scheme.

However when asked by CN for a timetable concerning the announcement of a ‘son of PFI’, Mr Alexander insisted he would not say, only adding that the government has been doing “a lot of work” with industry on the issue and that the announcement would happen “very soon”.

A call for evidence on a reform for PFI was launched by the Treasury in November 2011, and last month it announced a £6 billion lending programme to kick-start 30 public private partnership schemes, which include private finance initiative schemes.

Chief executive of the £4bn London Pension Fund Authority Mike Taylor told CN this month that it was ‘put off’ from joining a government-backed pension infrastructure platform by the PFI review.

Meanwhile Mr Alexander said more than 30 projects have come forward to discuss using a government-backed UK guarantee, but would not specify which projects are currently under discussion.

For more on the UK guarantees scheme, click here.

Commercial secretary to the Treasury Lord Sassoon said the projects that have come forward are “high quality projects across the whole of the infrastructure sector” and highlighted the Thames Tunnel and energy projects as examples of schemes that could receive backing.

Mr Alexander said: “[The UK guarantee scheme] is about looking at parts of the market that need support and we are entering discussions about whether it would be appropriate to enable the Green Deal to move forward.”

He insisted that there could still be a role to play for Green Deal funding by the Green Investment Bank but said it may be that “a guarantee may be more appropriate”.

However he insisted that the government wants to start schemes as quickly as possible and will not be waiting to gauge evidence from all the projects who apply, before deciding which schemes will receive guarantees, as it wanted to get “diggers on the ground within 12 months”.

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