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Communications Index | Press releases | Scotland inUNISON | Campaigns


Date 26 July 2006

Attacks on Public Sector only lead to poor services

Letter to editor, The Herald newspaper

Dear Editor

It was good to see an interesting (and far more level -headed) analysis of the attack on the Scottish public sector produced by Professors Bell and Mackay at the weekend, produced by Gerry Hassan yesterday (25 July).

It is worrying that supposed senior academics can produce a report on such flawed research. It simply seems to be being produced to bolster the party-political chimera that Scotland's spending on the public sector 'crowds out' the private sector.

One, this analysis is demonstrably false and has been found to be so*. The public sector produces necessary training and infrastructure that the private sector depends on, and offers contracts that private business is keen to supply.

Two, it is easy to save money if all you suggest is cuts and privatisation. Messrs Bell and Mackay should be asked exactly which schools, hospitals and geriatric beds they want to close? They should be forced to argue their reasons why privatisation provides cheaper services - could it be because they are worse services? Why not ask the English water consumer about the success of Water privatisation?

Three, the 'success' of the English public service reforms (bankrupt NHS Trusts, failing City Academies et al) only goes to strengthen the resolve that we cannot and should not import these 'reforms' to Scotland.

This is not to say there are not examples of public sector waste. The £5.8bn that UNISON has identified as being wasted on PFI and PPP contracts would more than make up the supposed £3bn identified by Bell and Mackay. But simply to advocate more of the same does nothing for the taxpayer and does nothing for Scotland's public services. The 'better debate' that Mr Hassan calls for on the public/private inter-relationship is welcome. Renewed attacks on our public services are not.

Yours sincerely
Glyn Hawker
Scottish Organiser UNISON

*the report - Adding Value, Public sector spending and Scotland's economic development - is available on the UNISONScotland website at www.unison-scotland.org.uk/addingvalue.html