Private Finance Initiative

The PFI industry represents a sub sector within the real estate and construction industry. The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) is a procurement method which uses private sector investment in order to deliver public sector infrastructure and/or services according to a specification defined by the public sector. It is a sub-set of a broader procurement approach termed Public Private Partnership (PPP), with the main defining characteristic being the use of project finance (using private sector debt and equity, underwritten by the public) in order to deliver the public services.

As a sub sector, both PFI and more widely PPP, represent a complex, unusual industry with specialized areas both from an operational and a financial point of view. Additionally, the ‘joint venture’ type arrangements whereby the various investing parties have different business goals and objectives gives rise to unique challenges that this industry has to consider and address on an ongoing basis. It is important therefore that such businesses have experienced advisors who are familiar with the industry nuances and the challenges posed.

Our team has experience of acting on over 100+ such projects with a combined asset value of over £2 billion in sectors such as healthcare, schools, energy, housing, student accommodation and roads equipping them with the deep sector knowledge to provide relevant, proactive advice when you need it.

Areas we can support you in include:

Structuring

The ideal business structure for a PFI or PPP project depends on the nature and size of the business, its ownership, its funding and your strategy for the business. Our knowledge of the sector will ensure that we can help you look at the pros and cons of various structures and determine the best fit for you and your business.

Tax planning and compliance

By understanding your goals and the nature of your business, we can assist you to plan so as to achieve tax efficiency in your operations.

We can also assist with your ongoing tax compliance obligations such as tax return preparation and submission and consideration and submission of applicable elections.

Stamp Duty Land Tax

Stamp Duty Land Tax, previously a duty on the stamping of legal documents has become a complex tax in its own right and represents an up front cost that needs to be fully considered and accounted for in plans and budgets. Furthermore, the sequencing and detail of contractual relationships is essential to ensuring that PFI joint ventures and the parties involved are not subject to excess SDLT charges on acquisition and release of project sites.

Our team can advise on all aspects of SDLT, including acquisitions of commercial, residential, mixed use, land and special situations. We can also work with legal teams on the interaction within contracts and the application of sub-sale relief where relevant.

VAT

The operation of VAT is highly complex as VAT on supplies can range from zero rated, reduced rate and standard rate depending on the nature of works undertaken. Sometimes a combination of rates will apply to a single contract.

The use of applications for payment, self-billing and authenticated-receipt procedures add to the complexity.

The consequences of getting VAT wrong can be serious. Tight margins rarely allow leeway so in many cases there will be no recourse to recover VAT that has been incorrectly charged.

For these reasons, businesses are well advised to work with specialists who are familiar with the industry and are able to help your business not only stay within the rules, but also to maximise the VAT efficiency of your activities.

We can help with:

  • Advising on the correct rate of VAT to apply.
  • Advising on correct operation of self-billing and authenticated receipts procedure for main contractors and sub-contractors.
  • Advising on most appropriate structures to maximise VAT efficiency.
  • Supporting businesses that are subject to VAT enquiries and disputes.

Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)

CIS is far reaching and covers many activities that are not immediately obvious.

We can help by:

  • Appraising you of the CIS rules and advising whether your activities are within scope
  • Advising on whether certain contracts can be split
  • Assisting you to establish robust procedures to operate CIS correctly and avoid penalties
  • Assisting generally with your business’ overall tax compliance to retain/obtain gross payment status
  • Supporting you in dealing with HMRC enquiries

Accounting advice at key points such as at inception or upon refinancing

Considering the accounting treatment of the various aspects of the contractual arrangements and financing at set up and at key points in the project life, such as at refinancing, are key as these will impact any modelling of the project for stakeholders and financiers, could impact cash and profit extraction from the structure and have implications on the tax position of the business.

We can provide accounting analysis of proposed arrangements upfront so appropriate consideration can be given to the structure and impact of the anticipated arrangements.

Audit

We have extensive experience of PFI and PPP structures and are specialists in understanding and applying not only the financial asset accounting rules but also considering the risks associated with ongoing project arrangements both operationally and financially.

The benefits to our clients are:

  • A team who are conversant with the industry and special rules for accounting for financial asset accounting.
  • A full awareness of the contractual arrangements and obligations in a typical project including the impact of financing arrangements which may include derivative instruments.

Accounting support

We are able to provide support from prime books of entry through to the provision of regular management accounts reporting and/or the drafting of statutory financial statements.

We developed our online accounting service in order to be able to streamline the service we provide to our clients by eliminating unnecessary time spent on data transfer and enabling us to focus our time on getting straight to work on the data itself.

Since then of course, online access to bank accounts and instant communication has become a feature of the modern business.

In addition to the improved efficiency (and lower costs) of the service we can provide, it also means that we have open communication with our clients and are able to provide real time answers.

 

How we work

We are passionate about developing a trusted relationship with our clients such that we can help and provide guidance to the business on an ongoing basis and as challenges arise. What’s more this is driven and delivered by partners as a key point of contact to ensure you are looked after and receive the tailored, personnel service you deserve.

Who we help

We work with all those connected with the industry which include (but is not an exhaustive list):

  • Management Service Agreement (‘MSA’) providers
  • Investors such as funds
  • Public bodies such as councils
  • Contractors and sub-contractors
 

Our Team

 
 
 
 
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