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Wed 19 Sept 2007

Shared Services examples fail to fulfil promise- UNISON

Scotland's largest public service union, UNISON today (Wednesday) is warning the Scottish Government that unless 'shared services' are part of a strategy to improve public services rather than cut costs, they risk wasting public money.

They point to international examples to back up their case. The union, which represents over 160,000 members in Scotland's public services, today publishes a newsletter - Revitalise - as part of their campaign for better public services. It points out that two much quoted international examples of shared services - in Wisconsin, USA and Western Australia - have suffered from a huge list of problems.

Dave Watson, UNISONScotland's Organiser (Policy) said "There is now clear evidence that Shared Services need to be properly planned and have clear and achievable goals if they are to deliver the efficiencies that are often claimed for them. These examples highlight the risks that politicians can take when they fall for the spin and blandishments of salespeople with their own agenda."

In Western Australia (WA) -widely hailed as a great success by the previous Scottish Government - the scheme has been heavily criticised in a report by their Auditor General. The programme is two years late and likely to be millions of dollars over budget. Public sector bodies in Wisconsin have also found shared service projects fail to live up to their promise. Problems include contracts cancelled under suspicion of fraud, technical delays and companies failing to keep to their contracts. As well as these experiences, research by the European Services Strategy Unit supports UNISON's view that there is a lack of evidence of costs and benefits for shared services. The union still backs shared services where aims are improvement in service delivery -not just cost savings -and says that a problem in Scotland is the lack of a clear strategy.

"The last consultation on Shared Services never delivered any strategic framework." said Dave,

"The lack of any clear strategy has led to lots of different authorities taking different paths, with different aims. We need to be clear that shared services should be about better services to users - not about savings, centralisation, or outsourcing."


Note to editors: The newsletter is being sent to all UNISON's 80+ branches in Scotland and is available on the website http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/revitalise/index.html Our response to the consultation on Shared Services is also on the website at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/sharedsers.html

For Further Information Please Contact: Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser) 07958 122 409(m) Kay Sillars (Information Development officer) 0141 342 2819(w) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0870 7777 006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)




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