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Date 15 February 2007

Local Government staff deliver improved services despite difficulties - UNISON comments on Accounts Commission report

Scotland's local government staff are delivering improved services despite facing failures to deliver equal pay and continuing threats to split up council services. That is the message that comes the union representing local government staff - UNISON, on the report by the Accounts Commission(AC) - Overview of the 2006 local authority audits.

Dave Watson, UNISON Scottish Organiser (Policy) said "This report demonstrates important service improvements, and shows that UNISON members are delivering."

Whilst welcoming the AC's belated recognition that equal pay is a massive problem for local councils, UNISON is critical of the failure of the AC to fully address the issue. "Councils have a responsibility to comply with equal pay law under best value." Said Dave Watson, "Whilst some councils have already funded equal pay debts, the vast majority have not yet implemented equal pay. Yet the AC gives nothing apart from a vague warning that there may be future 'tough times'.

"Whilst there has been increased funding for local government recently, this unknown future debt plus increasing energy costs and the implications of an increasingly aging population mean that the need for adequate funding of local government will continue for the foreseeable future.

"The need to plan to address these developments is the responsibility of councils, but also of the Accounts Commission and the Scottish Executive."

The union also points out that the AC recommendations to increase joint working and information sharing across councils, is challenged by some council's attempts to rid themselves of services to new employers.

Dave Watson said "Councils moving cultural and other services out to private trusts and transferring housing stock to private companies are putting more barriers in the way of joined-up service provision, as are PFI/PPP projects.


Note for Editors:- UNISON is Scotland's major local government union, representing over 100,000 workers working for Scotland's local authorities

For Further Information Please Contact: Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser - Policy) 07958 122 409(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)