But Treasury and Partnerships UK research also highlights lack of flexibility and some contract problems

Research into the PFI, conducted by the Treasury and Partnerships UK, will show that respondents say 96% of operational projects were performing satisfactorily or better.

The research, which analyses 105 schemes across all sectors is expected to indicate that of the projects surveyed, 66% were considered to be performing well by the public and private sector stakeholders. The research will be published this month.

Stakeholders perception of 105 operational PFI projects
Stakeholders perception of 105 operational PFI projects

Another 30% of projects were deemed satisfactory and 4% were considered to be performing at a less than satisfactory level. More than 60% of respondents believed that services delivered on PFI projects were almost always of an acceptable standard.

On the negative side, the survey identified tensions between public and private partners. These included complaints that the public sector signed off projects too quickly after completion and that the client was "forced to wait at the construction firm's convenience to resolve problems".

On the whole, councils said PFI was less flexible than traditional methods of procurement, and contractors had a mixed response on this subject. Overall the lack of flexibility was more apparent on minor variations.

Most respondents said payment structures on operational projects were satisfactory or better, although they also thought they could be simpler to use and understand. Some of the older projects had less satisfactory structures.

More generally, too many contracts contained perverse clauses on deductions that encouraged a short-termist approach.

John Russell, a senior policy adviser on PFI at the Treasury, said the review group had introduced a second-stage review to examine the affordability and compliance of PFI projects. The group, led by the Treasury's head of private finance, will scrutinise 40% of projects before the preferred bidder stage is reached.

Russell said that despite the Department of Health's freeze on NHS spending, which threatens some PFI schemes, the government was still committed to PFI as a procurement route.