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Communications Index | Press releases | Scotland inUNISON | Campaigns


Date: Weds 10 December

Government should accept public view and extend FoI to private contractors - UNISON

UNISONScotland today, welcomed new research that shows the Scottish public backs extending Freedom of Information to cover private companies building schools and hospitals under PPP/PFI contracts, and other non-public bodies delivering public services.

Research for the Scottish Information Commissioner published today, shows 75%-79% support for making private companies subject to FOI legislation. UNISON is pleased that there is also very strong public support for including other organisations such as private prisons, housing associations and trusts providing local authority health and leisure services.

UNISON's Scottish Communications Officer, Chris Bartter said: "The public rightly thinks that all bodies delivering public services should be subject to the same accountability as the public sector.

"Such high levels of support will hopefully make the Scottish Government think again about its disappointing approach in the discussion paper, where, for example, Ministers have argued that hospital cleaning services may not be a public function!

"UNISON believes that changes to the legislation should be based on the principle that any organisation which provides a public service should be accountable to the public.

"It is unacceptable that information that is open to people where a service - such as social housing - is provided by a public authority, could be hidden from them where private or other non-public bodies deliver it.

"In the case of PPP/PFI contracts, the scandalous waste of public funds on these could have been greatly reduced if full information about the projects had been open to scrutiny, letting the public see the credit card levels of charges being run up for the next generation to pay."


Notes to editors:

1. UNISONScotland is the largest public service union in Scotland, and has used FOI legislation regularly to identify issues in Scotland's public service delivery, including - the cost of PFI/PPP; violence and abuse to public service workers; and how health budgets are being used.

2. The Research report was conducted for the Scottish Information Commissioner and is available via his Media Team on 01334 464610 0r 07976 511 752. It will be available on-line at http://www.itspublicknowledge.info .

For Further Information Please Contact: Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 07505 950 783 (m) (note temp mobile number) Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser) 07958 122 409(m)