The sickening PFI profiteerers leeching funds out of the public sector

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, exposes the sickening tax-dodging companies ripping off the taxpayer by leeching funds out of the public sector.

Dave Prentis is the General Secretary of UNISON, Britain’s biggest public sector trade union with more than 1.3 million members

Private Finance Initiative (PFI) profiteering has hit a new low. It is a disgrace that private companies such as HSBC are hoarding massive PFI profits, milked from cash-strapped schools and hospitals, in tax havens.

In just six months a company set up by HSBC, called HICL, has made £38 million in profits from 33 PFI schemes. Not only is the company ripping off the taxpayer by leeching funds out of the public sector, it’s not paying its fair share of tax either. Its Guernsey, tax haven status, means that it’s paid just £100,000 in tax – less than 1%.

Meanwhile, in a Portsmouth PFI hospital, owned by HICL, 700 jobs are being cut, and wards are closing down. This pattern will be repeated across the country. The millions in profits being diverted offshore could and should be re-invested in our schools and hospitals.

PFI has always been a huge drain on the public sector, costing billions over the odds – but the galling spectre of one hospital for the price of two is even more disgusting in the current financial climate.

And now, not content with charging over the odds for changing light bulbs or running catering contracts, these private companies are cheating the country out of millions in taxes.

The Tories are intent on bringing in the private sector to run public services, and this will be the result; money that should be re-invested in giving the public better services goes straight into the profits of greedy business, lining shareholders’ pockets. Through the financial crisis, UNISON has been calling for a fairer route to recovery, and a huge part of our alternative plan includes fair taxation, a Robin Hood Tax on the banks, and making sure companies pay their fair share in tax.

There is no way that companies not paying their fair share towards our country should have anything to do with our public services. The government must crack down on the tax dodging companies like HSBC-owned HICL, hold them to account and make them pay their fair share.

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