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Date: 11 June 2007

Executive must keep public services accountable - UNISON

Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary of UNISON, Scotland's public service union, will today (Monday) issue a call for the new Scottish Executive to keep Scotland's public services provided by accountable public bodies, and not to increase competition and privatisation.

Speaking at a conference organised to discuss who should deliver public services in Scotland, Matt will also express concern about proposals to reduce funding to local councils.

Matt Smith, said "Polls show that the Scottish people care who runs their services. They do not think that either the private sector - like Thames Water, or Consort Healthcare or unaccountable Trusts like Culture and Sport, Glasgow - deliver better service than democratically accountable bodies like local councils. People in Scotland do not want the false 'choice' agenda that Westminster seems intent on pursuing."

An Ipsos MORI poll commissioned as part of the union's campaign to Revitalise Scotland's Public Services in April showed that over three quarters of Scottish people think elected bodies are the best for managing Scotland's public services. 77% of Scots think services are best managed by elected bodies rather than private companies.

Matt will express concern that SNP commitment to introduce a centralised income tax to replace council tax, will reduce funding for councils and remove councils' financial accountability.

"An income tax to replace the council tax, not only threatens increased taxes for working families." He said, "But such a tax would need to be collected nationally. In the SNP's case it would also be set nationally which removes any remaining control local councillors have to raise revenue. Councils would no longer be accountable to you and me for their tax-raising."

He will also call for services provided by the voluntary and community sector should be fully funded by the commissioning body, "It is important that services that people rely on are provided by organisations with the resources to deliver them."

He said. "This means that where services are best delivered by the voluntary sector, they must not be provided on the cheap. The full cost of services delivered by sufficient, properly trained and resourced staff must be provided."


Note for Editors:- 1)UNISON's manifesto Revitalising our Public Services, is on the UNISON Scotland website. www.unison-scotland.org,uk/revitalise. The Conference (Who Delivers?) - Run by Holyrood Magazine - is in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Monday June 11 from 09.30 am. Matt Smith is available for interview via Chris Bartter (below).

For Further Information Please Contact: Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 07771 548 997 (m) Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser - Policy) 07958 122 409(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)