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8 December 2004

Local services threatened by grant restrictions and PFI subsidies - UNISON response to local government grant details

UNISONScotland, the union that represents local authority staff, today warned that the tight grant settlements announced for local authorities today by the Minister for Finance and Public Services, Tom McCabe could lead to cuts in local services and councils' failing to deal with key staff shortages.

The union also said that having to pay for PFI facilities could skew authorities' budgets leading to cuts elsewhere. Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government, said

"Efficient delivery of public services is not achieved by cutting the jobs of those who deliver them. We all know how short Scotland is of social workers, and other key workers. We need the extra staff to deliver the services Scotland wants and needs. It is not efficient for the Executive to continually pile increasing legislation onto local councils but deny them the resources to implement it."

UNISON also warned that unless the opportunity was taken to allow authorities to move away from expensive PFI/PPP projects, money was unlikely to be used to deliver services most efficiently.

Joe Di Paola said: "The Executive must take a leaf out of the Treasury's book and use this opportunity to create a level playing field for public authorities. Unless they allow the same treatment to apply to conventional borrowing as PFI projects - allowing public bodies to choose the most effective method for building new facilities - the dice - and the subsidies - will continue to be loaded in favour of PFI.

"This will simply lead to cuts in services or higher taxes as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants recently pointed out. Money will pour into the pockets of shareholders whilst council taxpayers face increased bills and/or cuts in services."


For Further Information Please Contact: Joe DiPaola (Scottish Org - Local Government): 0845 355 0845(o) 07990 505 698(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer): 0870 7777006(o) 07715 583 729(m)