Local authority pension funds could be used to fund school building projects

The organisation responsible for delivering the government’s private finance initiative (PFI) school projects has indicated it wants to dip into local authorities’ pension funds to stump up extra cash for its £55 billion building programme.

Addressing delegates at the Building Schools Exhibition and Conference (BSEC), Tim Byles, chief executive of Partnership for Schools (PFS), said he would be looking into whether or not money could be taken from council staff pension funds to support the organisation’s work. He said: “I am keen to explore further the option of local government supporting credit lines via their pension funds and am having exploratory discussions to that effect.”

A spokeswoman for PFS said it was critical that the organisation took proactive steps to ensure it could continue the delivery of its projects in “tough conditions”. But she confirmed that no local authorities had been approached for funding yet and said all plans relating to alternative sources of funding were in their early stages.

“We are working extremely hard on a range of proactive measures to ensure that deals continue to close – from securing support from the European Investment Bank to exploring the option of accessing shorter-term debt and having initial discussions with local government to explore whether local authority pension funds could provide an additional source of funding for schemes that have a PFI component,” she added.