Date: Thur 20 December 2007
PFI proposals mainly window-dressing - UNISON
UNISON, Scotland's public service union today attacked Scottish
government proposals for a huge private company to run Scottish
PFI schemes. The union said the proposals simply put a gloss of
public accountability on PFI and PPP, and the government had shied
away from addressing the real problems of expensive and inflexible
Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser - Policy said "UNISON
is obviously in favour of any improvement on PFI/PPP, but an initial
glance suggests that what is being proposed is mainly window-dressing,
and looks nothing like what the SNP promised in their Scottish Futures
Trust policy document.
"Non Profit Distribution models retain higher borrowing costs,
private profit is still taken out of public services at the contractor
level and the so-called risk transfer costs still apply, all leading
to the same profiteering and inflexibility inherent in PFI.
"We are sceptical that a private company such as the proposed
Scottish Futures Trust can have a genuine public interest ethos.
It may not take a profit, but the banks and the private firms it
contracts to run our services certainly will."
UNISON has campaigned for many years against PFI and PPP methods
of financing public services, and has already suggested immediate
and effective steps that the Government could take, were it to be
serious about moving away from PFI.
Dave said "While the Treasury is the main driver for PFI, there
are a number of things that the Scottish Government could have proposed.
A review could be carried out of existing contracts, 'buying them
out', if this benefits the public purse. No new PPP contracts should
be approved, including all projects in the planning phase. Scottish
Government grants should be offered for new capital projects irrespective
of the method of procurement. Health boards should be given prudential
borrowing powers, and new procurement arrangements should ensure
that staff are excluded from transfer."
Note to editors: For UNISON proposals to move away from
PFI see our evidence to the Scottish Parliament Finance Committee
on their Call for Evidence on the Funding of Public Capital Investment
Projects, and our At What Cost? report. www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/capitalinvest.html
For Further Information Please Contact: Dave Watson (Scottish
organiser - Policy) 07958 122 409 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications
Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)