Unexpected £2m costs for North Yorkshire Fire's training facility PFI

A fire training exercise Easingwold, North Yorkshire. Credit: Ross Parry / SWNS Group
A fire training exercise Easingwold, North Yorkshire. Credit: Ross Parry / SWNS Group

Unexpected repeat hikes in interest levels have led North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to fork out an extra £2m to a company for its Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal - but its forecasts for charges up to the mid-2020s bizarrely remain the same as the original projections.

Figures obtained by JPIMedia show that the 25-year PFI for the service's training facility at Easingwold is due to cost £28.4m overall instead of £26.1m as initially thought, with the majority of increases being because of inflated interest.

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Contractors for Semperian PPP, an equity holder in many PFI deals nationwide, carries out services such as catering, cleaning, security, maintenance, mechanics and electrics.

A response to a freedom of information request shows that projected costs for interest charges originally indicated a steady decline from £313,796 in 2002/3 to £158,955 in 2018/19.

In reality, charges have crept up from £335,254 in 2002/3 to £406,331 in 2018/19, with decreases only recorded in three years during that time period.

However, a model forecast for interest rates up to 2026/27 shows exactly the same projected costs as were originally calculated for the next eight years of the deal.

For example, the £140,719 interest charge forecasted for next year is the same as initial documented sums, while the £22,038 expected cost in the last year of the deal matches the revised estimate.

If the rate of interest continues to rise, therefore, the service's projection of spending nearly £2m more than planned in interest alone over the next eight years could prove dramatically off-budget, with an even higher cost likely.

NYFRS and the North Yorkshire Police and Fire Commissioner have been approached for comment.

Semperian said it had no comment to make.