UK PFI market ‘facing mental health challenge’

Exclusive: Partnerships Bulletin has uncovered a significant strain on professionals working in the PFI sector, with concerns that the expiry of contracts will only make matters worse.

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Industry experts from across the public and private sectors have reported increasing levels of stress being faced by staff due to the growing culture of antagonistic and aggressive contract management processes.

“It appears to be a commercial strategy that has a direct human cost,” one service provider told Partnerships Bulletin. “Behaviours are too concerted across projects to be coincidental. People are clearly being told these behaviours are acceptable.

“We are supposed to be more cognisant of mental health issues today - damage to mental health should not be inflicted to try to squeeze some money out of the private sector.”

From public sector employees being told they need to make deductions equivalent to their salary to justify their role, to private sector employees being deluged with an impossible list of ‘urgent’ work to be carried out, the industry is facing a crisis as stress levels soar and senior figures report a growing number of people leaving the sector.

And as the handback process looms large on the horizon, there are concerns that this will only get worse. 

Figures compiled by Partnerships Bulletin following a Freedom of Information request to all UK authorities with PFI contracts has revealed that almost a quarter (24%) responded that they did not hold the relevant information on the wellbeing of their staff. In most cases, this was because the authority simply did not have anyone managing their PFI contracts - with all responsibility passed over to the private sector partner. The concern is that many individuals working in the public sector will be dumped with the handback responsibilities, on top of their day job, leading to huge pressures on those professionals.

To read an in-depth article on the issues facing the market, click here.