It is hard to exaggerate the importance of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). Many public sector bodies are now required to consider private finance for any construction project ranging from major transport links to hospitals, prisons and schools. Failure to understand fully the principles and requirements of the PFI could result in inadequate proposals and lost opportunities. To help potential users of the PFI through the maze, the RICS, with support from the Department of the Environment, commissioned Chesterton, the international property consultants, to provide this essential starting point for anyone involved in funding or carrying out projects for the public sector. This guide explains how the PFI works in practice and the pitfalls to be avoided. It answers such questions as: how does it work; where is it relevant; how is value for money assessed; and how are the risks shared?