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Labour seems to be watering down promise to abolish PFI

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (Published 02 October 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j4545
  1. Andy Cowper, editor
  1. Health Policy Insight

High on their success in the general election, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party headed to its annual conference in Brighton last week in buoyant confidence.

Though there was not a huge push on NHS issues (save for shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth’s call for an immediate extra £500m (€565m; $675m) to ease winter pressures1), two potentially important themes emerged.

The first was on public service funding and the private finance initiative (PFI). Shadow chancellor John McDonnell used his speech to promise that “based on our Fiscal Credibility Rule … to pay for our public services, we will close the tax loopholes and avoidance scams used by the mega-rich, and we will make sure the rich and the giant corporations pay their way.”2

Ashworth’s speech to the conference set out plans for £45bn extra funding for health and social care.3 To put this in fiscal context, a rise of one penny in the basic rate of income tax currently raises about £4bn.

Turning to PFI, McDonnell told the conference that on top of Labour’s existing commitment “that there will be no new PFI deals …

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