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Date: 12 July 2004

UNISON welcomes commitment to public services and urges adoption of PFI changes in Scotland

UNISON , Scotland's largest union, today welcomed the Chancellor's continued commitment to investment in Scotland's public services, and also urged that new Treasury guidelines on PFI credit arrangements be adopted in Scotland.

But the union warned that the increases in funding for housing should be available for council housing as well as to fund stock transfer.

Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Policy said "The Chancellor's continuing commitment to fund public services is welcome, although we will need to examine the consequential figure for Scotland and the use the Scottish Executive makes of that money. We also want to see that the extra money provided to housing goes to council housing instead of being used as a bribe for stock transfer."

"We welcome the change to the PFI credit arrangements in England which will go some way to creating a level playing field in funding capital projects instead of coercing public services to choose PFI, and we will be urging the Scottish Government to adopt a similar scheme, vas previously recommended by Audit Scotland."

Local authorities currently receive larger credits for their PFI schemes than for other kinds of capital investment, which provides a strong incentive to use PFI. Treasury guidelines suggest that this is set to change - ensuring similar subsidies could be provided for more efficient public borrowing.

Dave Watson said "If this were applied across Scottish public services, savings could be made in the extra £5.8bn the government is wasting paying for the added costs of PFI."

He also warned that job cuts threaten public service delivery.

"Both those delivering them and the Government are only too aware how stretched key public services are."

He said. "Low pay and staffing resources - especially in areas like social work, health care, etc.- must be addressed if public service revitalisation is to be delivered."


For Further Information Please Contact: Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser - Policy) - 0845 355 0845(o) 07787 558 410(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)




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