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7 August 2003

Scots think elected bodies deliver services better than quangos

Two-thirds of Scots think that public services are better delivered by democratically elected representatives than by government-appointed boards says an opinion poll commissioned by public service union UNISON.

The poll, carried out by NFO (System Three) found that 66% of Scots agreed with this, compared to 8% who disagreed. The result was announced by the union as delegates from social work departments across Scotland met to discuss the Executive's proposed creation of a Correctional Agency quango, and removing powers from local government.

"This shows the danger of making policy on the hoof. " said Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government. "The proposal for a Correctional Agency, was a last minute attempt to be seen to be 'doing something' on crime. Our members, and indeed local authorities had they been asked, could have told the Executive that creating this kind of quango, will not deal with the problems and causes of crime."

UNISON members who work for Criminal Justice and Community Service teams will be discussing the Executive proposals, the way forward to tackle crime, and will hear from Mairi Brackenridge, from the Association of Directors of Social Work (ADSW) on attempts to set up similar quangos in the past and elsewhere.

"It looks like managers and frontline workers are agreed that any move towards a quango combining local social work services and the prison service would be a disaster." Said Stephen Smellie, Chair of UNISON's Social Work Issues Group.

"Previously these suggestions have been rejected both in Scotland and England. No-one in the professions and services supported this kind of centralised quango. And neither do the people of Scotland."

The Meeting will take place in UNISON's Glasgow City Branch Office, Albion Street, Glasgow at 11.00 am on Thursday 7 August. UNISON delegates will be available for interview before and after the meeting.

UNISON has been campaigning to Revitalise Scotland's Public Services. The positive principles that underpin this campaign could form the basis of union suggestions to improve the service and help tackle crime and its causes.


Note for editors:- The poll was carried out between 23 - 29 April 2003. 956 adults from throughout Scotland were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement "Public services are better delivered by democratically elected representatives than by boards appointed by government".

The Results were as follows:
Strongly Agree = 42%; Agree = 24%;
Neither Agree not Disagree = 21%;
Disagree = 6%;
Strongly Disagree = 2%;
Don't Know = 4%

For Further Information Please Contact: Joe Di Paola (Scottish Organiser - Local Gov't)0845 355 0845 (o) 07790 505 698
Stephen Smellie (Chair - UNISON Social Work Issues Group) 07740 096 864(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(o) 0771 558 3729(m)