Chancellor to take personal charge of delivery of new schools and hospitals as pressure grows to show results.
Chancellor Gordon Brown is to strengthen his control over PFI policy in an attempt to speed up the construction of public buildings, and to expand the initiative to cover the financing of regeneration and training.

Talks about the transfer of supervision from the Office of Government Commerce to the Treasury are under way in Whitehall. A switch may take place as early as Easter.

Although the OGC is part of the Treasury, it is deemed to lack the political weight to formulate policy in the face of competing demands from contractors, unions and government departments.

A Whitehall source said: "The Treasury can be a little more evangelical about PFI and can create new models."

The PFI had been under direct Treasury control but moved to the OGC in April 2000. If it is brought back under central Treasury control, it will be handled by civil servants within Brown's immediate circle – an indication of the political importance now attached to the rapid delivery of improved public services.

There should be no principled objection to PFI expanding into new areas, such as the provision of employment and training services , the renovation of schools and colleges, major urban regeneration and social housing

A PFI consultant said: "The fact that the Treasury is taking control shows that the PFI is at the heart of government thinking."

The consultant said a switch would be good news for the construction sector as it would ensure that the government continued its ambitious capital investment programme. He said: "The real issue is that the government is mad keen to push the reform of public services through."

The construction industry is becoming increasingly reliant on government work as a result of the downturn in the private commercial and industrial sectors.

A PFI bidder added: "They want shorter reporting lines to God [Brown]. Unless they get some of these big deals moving, the cutting ribbons and photo opportunities will not be in time for the next general election."

Brown endorsed PFI this week in a keynote speech to the Social Market Foundation think-tank. He hinted at the direction policy would take under his guidance. He said: "There should be no principled objection to PFI expanding into new areas, such as the provision of employment and training services, the renovation of schools and colleges, major projects of urban regeneration and social housing."

It is unclear which civil servant will have the job of expediting the delivery of PFI-funded projects. It is believed that Geoffrey Spence, who heads a finance team of about six, or his boss, James Sassoon, managing director of the financial regulation and industry team, are leading candidates.