A decade on from the onset of the global financial crisis, economic austerity has become institutionalised across Europe and beyond, while corporate capture has become further embedded within political processes. The resulting combination of stripping back the public sector while strengthening private interests has encouraged a growing reliance on private finance to fund public services, such as healthcare and education, that are central to countries meeting the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are the mechanism used to attract private investment in projects traditionally delivered by the public sector. PPPs (known as PFI in the UK) are contracts where a private company pays for, builds (and sometimes runs) an infrastructure project or service, such as schools, roads, railways and hospitals, in exchange for a guaranteed profit.

There is a growing body of evidence to demonstrate that this type of financing works out far more expensive than projects that are directly funded by governments, produces less democratic accountability and lower quality public services, entrenches and increases existing inequalities, and leaves behind unnecessarily large public debts. Moreover, despite the widely documented failures of PPPs across Europe, European governments continue to promote private financing for development in countries across the global south in place of Official Development Assistance. Public financing for development must be viewed as part of states’ legal and moral requirements to fulfil their human rights obligations.

What are we striving to achieve? 

We aim to strengthen the capacity of European citizens to influence the reform of financing for development and to demand public financing for public services. Through sensitising ordinary citizens to the consequences of increased private financing, we hope to effectively challenge the narrative around private financing for development.

The Equality Trust is undertaking this work in our role as UK and European convenor of the Fight Inequality Alliance, a growing collective of more than 100 leading international and national non-profit organisations and social movements deeply concerned about the impact of current shocking levels of inequality.

We will achieve the desired outcomes through:

  • Growing, strengthening and mobilising the Fight Inequality Alliance across Europe, building the capacity to deliver a strong regional message on financing for development
  • Mobilising citizens across Europe around the Fight Inequality Alliance’s annual Week of Action by organising events with local communities
  • Building the capacity of civil society organisations to increase citizens’ exposure to the issues relating to financing for development across Europe by equipping them with campaigning and media tools
  • Developing regional policy papers and briefings to support European citizens and CSOs to influence national, regional and international decision-making processes

Get involved

  • Sign the petition calling on Rory Stewart MP, the new Secretary of State for International Development, to ensure effective overseas aid spending that is driven by the needs of the world’s poorest, not used to guarantee a profit for bosses and shareholders in the UK.
  • Read our joint letter to Rory Stewart MP, signed by the National Education Union, Global Justice Now, Health Poverty Action and the Bretton Woods Project.
  • Read and share our latest briefing Finance development, not dividends: Challenging the rise of public-private partnerships. This resource aims to simplify the issues relating to private financing and inequality, empowering both civil society and regular citizens with the knowledge to oppose the aggressive promotion of private financing both at home and abroad.
  • Watch the recording of our January panel event Public-private partnerships: For people or profit? now available on YouTube. The panel of experts includes speakers from SOAS, Christian Aid, Stamp Out Poverty and our special guest, Luke Espiritu, a trade unionist from the Philippines.
  • Share our latest series of graphics detailing the risks of private financing and calling for an end to the overuse of PPPs, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Tag your country's relevant departments and ministers responsible finance, international development and foreign affairs, and use the official hashtag #Fin4Dev to highlight why you're concerned about the risks of private financing to meet the SDGs.
  • Get in touch with Rianna, Campaigns Officer, if you are a member of a civil society organisation, trade union or grassroots movement in the UK or across Europe and would like to join the Fight Inequality Alliance to campaign against growing inequality and the rise of PPPs.

Use the hashtag #DevelopmentNotDividends to join the conversation.

Watch this space for more briefings, media toolkits, campaigning materials, upcoming events and opportunities to get involved over the coming months!

Funding and partnership

This project results from our grant partnership with Citizens for Financial Justice, a three-year project funded by the European Union’s DEAR programme (Development Education and Awareness Raising).

This project is funded by the European Union.

This website page and its content was produced with the financial support of the European Union. It is the sole responsibility of Citizens for Financial Justice and The Equality Trust and does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.