The recent financial problems at the County Council have highlighted several issuers regarding their finances. One of which is the long-term commitments to expensive payments for PFI contracts.
I have no intention of starting a debate about whether these contracts were a good thing or which political party holds the most responsibility because the truth is that these expensive contracts are crippling local councils and other public sector bodies. Only last month the National Audit Office issued a report saying these contracts were upwards of 40% more expensive than other funding mechanisms.
One of the difficulties for council has been trying to get the PFI companies to renegotiate these deals so wither councils can get out of them or at least renegotiate better terms and conditions. The companies understandably do not want to discuss themselves getting a worse financial deal.
To that end, there is an amendment to be discussed in Parliament on the 21st February to a government finance bill being promoted by Stella Creasey MP about charging a Windfall Tax on the excessive profits of these companies.
The motivation for this is for it to act as an incentive to get the PFI companies to the negotiating table so perhaps a more effective way forward can be found.
I would urge you all to support this amendment and if you are a serious about the need for more money for our local public services, this one act could have a massive beneficial impact in Northamptonshire and has the potential to free up millions of pounds that could then be used to provide local services and help get the County Council out of the while it has dug itself into.
Mick Scrimshaw is the Leader of the Labour Group at Kettering Borough Council, the Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance at Northamptonshire County Council. He has a public record of standing up for Kettering as a County Councillor for the Northall division in Kettering, Northants and since May 2015, a Borough Councillor for the William Knibb ward. He is a keen cyclist and also runs a family business with his wife.