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Dreamt up in the UK in the 1990s, Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) have over the last two decades spread across public services in this country, and now increasingly around the world. As a way of paying for public infrastructure and services like hospitals, power stations or transport, their chief attraction to governments is that the cost of borrowing does not appear on the national balance sheet, meaning it doesn’t appear to increase the government’s debt.

Yet as an increasing body of evidence shows, this ‘buy now, pay later’ model has more often than not led to more expensive, less democratically accountable, and lower quality public services than those directly funded by governments. What’s more, the complicated legal and financial structures behind PPPs obscure a simple fact: they leave an enormous legacy of hidden public debts.

The UK has been the trailblazer for PPPs through the Private Finance Initiative, described by academics as a ‘huge financial disaster’ for our economy. Yet despite this, the UK government is today pushing developing countries towards this global debt iceberg.


Tell the IMF to count the cost of Public-Private Partnerships


The International Monetary Fund is reviewing its framework for judging whether countries have a debt crisis. Yet currently, the billions-of-dollars-a-year cost of public-private partnerships are not included.  

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Latest from the campaign

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    The NHS march was just the first step

    Clare Walden, 7 March 2017

    Up to 250,000 people joined the huge and beautiful #ourNHS march on Saturday. This march came just weeks after an Ipsos MORI poll found that the state of the health-service is the biggest concern facing the country, ahead of Brexit and far ahead of immigration. Trade union banners, placards, costumes, homemade banners, and sound-system beats […]

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    The UK’s PPPs Disaster: Lessons on private finance for the rest of the world

    Jubilee Debt Campaign, 10 February 2017

    This briefing sets out the major problems and risks the UK has encountered through its extensive experiment with PPPs, including how they have cost the government more than if it had funded the public infrastructure by borrowing money itself.

  • protect-our-nhs-large

    We must recognise the role of PFI debts in the NHS funding crisis

    Clare Walden, 8 February 2017

    The first weeks of 2017 in the UK have been filled with news that the NHS and social care are in crisis, due to a lack of government funding. It has been shocking, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, to learn of patients dying on trolleys while they wait to be treated, […]

  • businessman-model-large

    Legalised looting: Public Private Partnerships and financial extraction

    Nicholas Hildyard, 23 August 2016

    When it comes to infrastructure – roads, railways, power plants, ports and the like – the policy prescriptions from the World Bank and other international financial institutions sound like a badly scratched record, writes Nicholas Hildyard of The Corner House. Public. Private. Partnerships. Public. Private. Partnerships. P. P. P. Over and over and over again. […]

  • DSA map small

    Global call for hidden debts to be brought into the light

    Tim Jones, 23 June 2016

    Civil society from borrowing and lending countries call for new approach to assessing debts The IMF and World Bank are reviewing the Debt Sustainability Framework, their main policy which is meant to prevent debt crises in the most impoverished countries. Over thirty civil society organisations have outlined a set of major changes which are needed […]

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