Date: Tue 19 April 2005
Public sector growth benefits Scottish economy
Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary of UNISON, Scotland's largest union,
today will call on business, politicians and economic commentators
to stop simplistic and inaccurate attacks on the public sector and
recognise that in Scotland, the public sector is a key economic
He will be speaking in an STUC Congress dcbate on the Economy in
Dundee today. "For too long many have regarded our public sector
as an 'add-on' "
Matt said, "Many politicians are too ready to call for public sector
cuts to 'allow the private sector to grow' This is wrong. Not only
is the public sector not a drain on the economy - I don't recall
a great boost to the private sector when the Tories under Margaret
Thatcher cutback the public sector - but the opposite is true.
"During this election campaign we call on politicians and business
to stop such false attacks on hard-working public service workers."
UNISON was speaking to one of five key demands from the STUC put
out as a challenge to Scotland's political parties - to grow the
public sector to act as a driver for economic growth.
Matt said "The public sector delivers 22% of the overall GDP of
Scotland. Equivalent to finance and business services and real estate
combined, more than manufacturing and twice the size of the retail
and wholesale sectors. Public sector workers contribute not only
their services, but their taxes, and their spending power to Scottish
economy. The double-thinking of politicians, businesses and economists
has to stop."
UNISON accepts that the private sector needs to grow, and points
out the current lack of capacity in Scotland's private businesses
- shown up by the failure of Scottish PPP schemes to attract any
meaningful competition. But that is in spite of not due to, the
size of the public sector.