The Department of Health is seeking bids for about £250m in private finance initiative credits for new adult social care projects from councils.
In a letter to council chief officers, the DH said bids would be favoured if they promoted joint working between social care and other services, such as health, supported the inclusion of service users in mainstream life, were innovative, flexible over the long-term and reflected department policies.
The DH wants councils to send an initial proposal letter by 22 May and submit formal expressions of interest by the end of October.
Successful councils would be notified by the end of January 2010; it is unlikely that more than 12 projects will succeed given the level of funding.
PFI is a way of funding capital projects in the public sector under which private firms are contracted to design and build the schemes and are paid through a lease on the buildings, typically lasting 30 years.