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Date: Thursday 23 April 2015

UNISON condemn colleges for ‘hiding’ £99m in arms length foundations

UNISON Scotland has condemned colleges for moving £99m into ‘Arms Length Foundations’ while cutting student services and ignoring low pay.

UNISON welcomes research by the Educational Institute for Scotland, which shows that while £99m has been siphoned off into off campus bank accounts. The sector has cut staff by 9.3% (over the last three years alone). And over 300 members of staff are paid below the Living Wage.

Some of the worst low pay offenders also had the most money in arms length accounts: Ayrshire £6.6m (79 staff), City of Glasgow £21m (26 staff), Dundee and Angus £21m (91 staff). 

Chris Greenshields, chair of UNISON Scotland’s further education committee said, ‘we’ve seen big cuts in student services and the sector has over 300 staff languishing below the Living Wage. So while managers hide millions in off campus accounts they claim they cannot find money to pay a decent wage rise to college staff or stop cuts to student services.’

“This £99m should be used to ensure that Scotland’s colleges are accredited Living Wage employers and to  restore student services to an acceptable level across our colleges. If the current rules mean this money has to sit in a foundation while colleges are in trouble then we need to look again at how college funds operate.’    

UNISON believe this practice is to evade money being clawed back to central government where it can reallocated to protect the further education sector. It has urged Cabinet Secretary Angela Constance to investigate how these arms length foundations operate, and to fund the newly created FE Scottish bargaining machinery to award a long overdue pay rise to Further Education staff.

Chris Greenshields  said, ‘staff have worked hard to make the substantial restructuring of Scotland’s colleges work for students. They deserve decent pay and working conditions in return.’


Notes to Editor

  • UNISON is the biggest trade union in Scotland. And we represent Further Education staff and lecturers.

  • Almost half of Scotland’s new college regions contain Colleges which won’t pay staff a living wage while salting money away in these foundations. There are 312 in Scotland’s colleges who get paid below the living wage

For further information contact:

  • Danny Phillips, UNISON communications officer, 0141 342 2877 / 07944 664 110
  • John Gallacher, UNISON Scottish Organiser, 07904 342426 / 0141 342 2824