Think-tank goes public on private funding

Nick Cohen's profile of the Institute for Public Policy Research (21 August) makes a number of false accusations about our Commission on Public Private Partnerships (which is not just looking at the private finance initiative, as Cohen reports). Anyone who has read our publications would not recognise Cohen's account. All of them make clear that the objective of the commission is to increase the quality of, and commitment to, publicly funded services. Privatisation is not, and never has been, on our agenda. Our publications will continue to raise difficult issues for government and reflect the views of both sides of the debate on PPPs.

The question of how best to deliver public services raises complex political and ethical questions, which is why we have asked more than 600 public, private, voluntary and community organisations to inform us about their experience of partnerships; undertaken focus groups with front-line workers in public services; and are polling citizens on their views. We have also held seminars on PPPs with leading trade unions and continue to discuss our work with a wide cross-section of groups. All this is information we would have been happy to share with Cohen, had he taken the time to contact us before he wrote his piece.

Gavin Kelly
Secretary of the Commission on Public Private Partnerships, IPPR

This article first appeared in the 28 August 2000 issue of the New Statesman, Secrecy laws will never be the same