Plan Update Briefing No. 135
In Briefings No.86
and 108 we outlined
the Scottish Executive's Efficient Government Initiative. This
briefing further updates that guidance. The initiative was designed
to deliver public sector savings of £500m by 2007-8 and £1 billion
by 2009-10. These savings are to be redirected to 'front line'
Efficient Government Plan
The initial targets for the initiative have been
increased. It is now expected that savings will be £745m by 2007/8.
The aim is to increase this to £900m. Total savings over the three
years are now expected to be nearer £1732 million. Unlike previous
reviews the money does not go back to the centre but is reinvested
in services. The main portfolio areas for savings are: Finance
& Public Services (Inc. local govt.), Health, Non NHS procurement
and Scottish Water
The focus for savings is:
Scottish Parliament Finance Committee Response
Tom McCabe, Minister for Finance, recently responded
to the Finance Committee recommendations on the initiative. The
committee noted that a high proportion of savings were coming
from health and local government. They were also concerned about
the audit trail benchmark and how progress in general will be
measured. The Executive welcomed committee's recommendation that
Audit Scotland be involved in ensuring the transparency of the
process and establish baselines for monitoring it in the future
but stated that it was for Audit Scotland to respond to the request.
He also stated that technical notes on the initiative will be
available at the end of March. There is a link to Mr McCabe's
response in the further info section of this briefing.
UNISON response to Efficient Government
UNISON recognises that all public sector organisations
should be aware of opportunities to work more efficiently and
effectively. UNISON's own "Revitalise" campaign is focused
on the aim of creating world class public services able to adapt
to the challenges of the future. UNISON is however concerned that
in the past 'efficiency savings' have simply been a mask for real
cuts in services or privatisation. Branches should ensure that
the changes made under Efficient Government do in fact lead to
Procurement and asset management
UNISON supports efficiency gains made via collective
buying and e-procurement, joining up estate management across
the public sector and reducing maintenance costs is a sensible
approach. UNISON opposes the illusion of savings via PFI/PPP.
We do have concerns about job numbers, relocation and the impact
on local and small suppliers.
UNISON Scotland recognises that employers want to
manage absence and that persistent misuse of sick leave by employees
needs to be dealt with as it imposes on other work colleagues.
However, UNISON Scotland is concerned that the level of misuse
is often exaggerated and that many sickness absence policies impose
a rigid, punitive approach rather than treating staff as a valued
resource. Improved management of absence should include keeping
statistics, stress counselling, return to work interviews and
training for line managers. Branches should monitor the processes
in their workplace and support members through the process. The
P and I team will produce a Managing Absence briefing soon.
Shared Services describes the pooling of those administrative
procedures common to many departments, which can be carried out
using new technology, e.g. personnel records, payroll, finance,
customer service, etc this often involves call centre technologies.
Regional and virtual solutions are effective if they avoid privatisation
and 'big shed' solutions. Sharing services is a way of achieving
savings without the disruption of whole sale reorganisation. Employers
should be encouraged to use Public Service Networks rather than
outsourcing to private firms.
Employers need to recognise the value of essential
administrative tasks staff undertake. They should also make more
effort to ensure the public understand the value of the service
provided. Savings must avoid the de-skilling of administrative
staff which can lead to their de-motivation and high turnover.
This would result in the loss of valuable experience and local
knowledge. Systems are essential to developing 'joined up government'
and a consistent level of service for the public.
The Local Government Improvement Service
The Improvement Service was established to "support,
promote and assist in the delivery of excellent public services
– through learning, sharing and delivering improvement solutions".
The Service has budget of approximately £4million over 3 years
provided by the Scottish Executive. It will have three partners
– COSLA, the Scottish Executive and SOLACE – as core members forming
the Board of Directors. The organisation has minimal funding and
is in the early stages of its work. Please look out for any publications
via CoSLA website. See link in 'further info' section.
Action for branches
Branches should continue to ensure that they are
consulted over any plans under this initiative and to look for
any bids by your employer to the Efficient Government Fund
In order for us to develop further guidance for
branches and engage with government through the Scottish Public
Service Forum please forward examples of good and bad practice
to Kay Sillars at the P&I Team in UNISON House email@example.com.
Contacts list: Kay Sillars firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Watson - email@example.com @ The P&I Team, 14 West Campbell
Street, Glasgow G2 6RX Tel 0870 777006 Fax 0141 342 2835
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