UK minister backs PPP pathfinder

A UK government minister has backed an initiative by investor U+I to monitor best practice in PPPs.

Developer U+I has today announced it will establish an independent challenge committee to drive greater transparency and accountability across its £9.5bn portfolio of projects. The announcement concludes a six-month-long consultation organised by the company, and backed by Minister for Local Government Rishi Sunak, on the challenges faced by PPPs.

The report, PPP: THE RESET Shaping the future of Public Private Partnerships, is available here.

Sunak said: “The development and regeneration of our cities must be centred around meeting the long-term needs of our communities. 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 tax payers. That’s why I welcome this group’s effort to establish what PPP best practice looks like and to hold itself to account,” Sunak added.

U+I’s consultation involved representatives from Homes England, Berkeley Group, Birmingham City Council, Network Rail, the NHS, TfL, the London Community Foundation and the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership and included round table sessions in London, Birmingham and Manchester.

The consultation found that:

  • There was a significant acceptance of PPP, but it was a grudging acceptance;
  • The brand of PPP was more tarnished than the output it delivers;
  • Developers are increasingly concerned about managing political risk

Matthew Weiner, CEO at U+I, said: “For a long time, the term PPP has been tarnished and we recognise that in many cases developers may have lost the trust of partners and communities, but we also recognise the huge value that PPP can deliver to the towns and cities of the UK. Our in-depth consultation has demonstrated how important it is that the reputation of PPP as a positive option for delivering regeneration is renewed.

“The series of commitments that we have announced today will support us in doing everything we can to make PPPs a genuine partnership between developer, public sector and local community. We do not have all the answers, but we hope that our partners will recognise this commitment and back us in our endeavour to create regeneration projects that are truly collaborative and ultimately better for the places in which they are delivered.

"These convictions have to be grounded in purpose, however. And that purpose, for U+I, will always be about social impact and improving people’s lives. This is not to lay claim to angelic status. It is simply to affirm, again, that we believe financial objectives and social objectives must always walk hand in hand. Our profit must have purpose,” Weiner said.