Date: Mon 23 November 2009
Warning that shared services are not a panacea for savings -
UNISON, Scotland's largest public service union UNISON today
warned that shared services will not necessarily save local councils
money, and indeed could cost extra money in the short term.
The union was commenting on the publication of the report by
Sir John Arbuthnott that recommends Clyde Valley councils work
more closely together and share services to respond to likely
cuts in funding.
Mike Kirby - UNISON's Scottish Convenor, said "While UNISON has
always been in favour of delivering our public services efficiently,
all the evidence is that shared services don't deliver savings
in the short term if at all. Indeed they mean increased expense
initially as new processes and systems, accommodation and IT have
to be bought. The National Audit office suggests it takes on average
five years before any savings are seen. We will be looking at
this report carefully and in particular we want to ensure that
the engagement with the trade unions that Sir John has started,
continues as individual councils look at the implications. Upwards
of 76,000 jobs are involved in the affected councils."
UNISON also points out that sharing services can also mean centralising
services, and that this can remove jobs and accountability from
Mike Kirby said "We need to ensure that increased efficiency
doesn't come at the cost of cuts in accountability and damage
to local economies. If roads need to be repaired in West Dunbartonshire,
would this be better decided locally or in some corporate HQ elsewhere
in the central belt?"
"Often jobs created by public services are very important for
a local economy - particularly in rural areas. There have been
examples abroad where centralisation of services has damaged that.
Already in the areas being discussed the percentage of people
claiming working-age based benefits is almost 22%, it is important
that we don't increase the damage that recession has already brought
to ordinary people, or add to the number of people having to claim
Notes for editors: UNISON is running a campaign called
'Public Works' in Scotland, stressing the importance of public
services to the delivery of services, and to boosting the economy
when coming out of a recession. It is part of the union's UK 'Million
Voices for Change' campaign.