UNISON Scotland's submission on the Scottish Budget 2003-2004
- UNISON Scotland supports the more open and transparent Budget
process in Scotland.
- We welcome the additional resources allocated to Scotland
under the Comprehensive Spending Review, and would hope that
the Executive directs the additional cash towards improving
public services in Scotland.
- UNISON Scotland believes that we need well paid and well resourced
staff to deliver high quality public services. Therefore we
recommend increasing public sector pay, particularly addressing
the poor pay levels of the lowest paid staff, as an excellent
way of improving public service delivery.
- UNISON Scotland opposes the use of PFI/PPP funding. We believe
that the Scottish Executive should relax the rules restricting
public authorities borrowing money in the conventional manner,
and allow them adequate grant support for capital expenditure.
- UNISON Scotland believes there is a need to put resources
into base line budgets rather than ring fencing funding for
- In specific policy areas we would like to see additional resources
allocated to the voluntary sector, the Joint Future agenda,
equlaity audits and Higher and Further Education.
UNISON is Scotland's largest trade union
representing over 145,000 members working in the public sector.
UNISON Scotland members are employed in almost all of the areas
highlighted in the Scottish Executive's spending plans, including
health, local government, enterprise and life long learning, environment,
justice and transport. UNISON welcomes the opportunity to comment
on the Scottish Executive's spending plans for 2003 - 2004.
This paper constitutes UNISON Scotland's
submission to the Scottish Budget 2003 - 2004.
The Scottish Budget and the Comprehensive
The Scottish Executive announced its proposals
for the 2003/04 Budget on 2 April 2002. However, on 15 July 2002
the Chancellor Gordon Brown completed his Comprehensive Spending
Review (CSR). The CSR resulted in a substantial increase in the
allocation of funds to Scotland, allocated under the Barnett formula.
UNISON Scotland recognises that in Scotland,
it is the Scottish Executive, accountable to the Scottish Parliament,
which decides how to spend the extra resources. We are pleased
to submit our own views on the allocation of the additional resources
The Scottish Executive has clearly set out its
five key priorities; health, education, crime, transport and jobs,
along with the two "cross cutting" themes of social
inclusion and the environment. UNISON Scotland has considered
its budget submission mindful of the Executive's priorities,
and the need for the budget to make a difference in the short-term
with the forthcoming Scottish elections in May 2003.
Key Spending Principles
UNISON believes that in deciding priorities for
the additional £4.1bn (£1.5bn in the coming year 2003 - 2004)
the Scottish Executive should look to three broad policy areas:
- Public Sector Pay
- Capital Expenditure
- Ending Ring Fencing
and channel the additional resources to these
Public Sector Pay
Health and education are key priorities for the
Scottish Executive. UNISON has consistently argued that quality
services in health, education and local government will only be
delivered by well-paid, well trained, motivated and valued public
sector staff. We believe that to improve public services, resources
should be allocated for public sector pay to bring public sector
pay on a par with that of the private sector, to improve morale
and demonstrate that public employees are a vital and valued resource.
In particular we believe that the lowest paid
workers in the public sector - ancillary workers, support staff
and cleaning and catering staff - should be given a pay boost.
These workers are all at the front line delivering vital services
in support of the "professional" groups within the public
sector. However, without the cleaner, the porter and the caterer,
it would be impossible for the doctors, teachers, police officers
or nurses to carry out their roles.
This year, following UNISON negotiations - and
industrial action - the pay of local government workers broke
through the £5 an hour rate for the lowest paid workers. However,
there are still workers within the NHS and others delivering public
services but employed by contractors who are paid below this level.
We are particularly concerned that private contractors are driving
down pay levels for ancillary and support staff in the NHS. We
strongly believe that where contracted out, support staff should
be brought back in house, and that resources should be identified
to improve the pay of the lowest paid public sector staff.
UNISON Scotland has recently highlighted the
plight of nursery nurses working in the expanding childcare and
early years education sectors. Early years education and childcare
should be recognised as a separate profession within the education
sector and qualifications should be standardised. Despite the
increasing emphasis on the importance of early years education,
the vital role of nursery nurses is not recognised in either their
pay or career development.
UNISON believes that adequate grant support should
be available for capital expenditure, giving public authorities
a real choice between conventional borrowing and the Private Finance
Initiative. Our views on local government finance are well known,
and have been set out in our previous Budget submissions, and
in our evidence to the Local Government Committee's Inquiry
into Local Government Finance in 2001.
We are clear that the only winners under PFI
and PPPs are big business, bankers and lawyers. The inflated costs
of the projects and services delivered through the private sector
are the burden of local authorities and ultimately the tax payer.
UNISON understands the need to get investment into our dilapidated
public services quickly, and can appreciate the attraction of
PFI when forced on authorities by restrictions on borrowing. However,
public finances are in a good state and money could be made available
for investment in the conventional way.
End to Ring-Fencing of Funding
UNISON Scotland has consistently opposed the
ring fencing of funding particularly in local government. We strongly
believe that allocating money for specific projects undermines
and under cuts the core services being delivered by local government.
Our experiences of ring fencing in local government has been of
short term projects with vague, disparate or unaccountable agendas,
which has meant finances diverted from front line services.
UNISON Scotland acknowledges that the Executive
has indicated a move away from ring fencing, but is calling for
a stronger stance on ending ring fencing and to put resources
into base line budgets.
Specific Policy Areas
In addition to the three broad principles we
wish to see applied to spending, UNISON is calling for extra resources
to be allocated to the following specific policy areas:
The Executive has acknowledged the importance
of community and voluntary services in delivering public services.
However, UNISON Scotland remains concerned that the age old problems
of resourcing and accountability have not been tackled effectively.
We believe that the Executive should address these issues within
the Scottish Budget to give the voluntary sector increased funding
and a more long term funding structure. This will also require
funding bodies themselves to have their resources adequately maintained,
and for the voluntary sector to be accountable in service delivery
to the local communities they serve.
UNISON Scotland has specific concerns on the
availability of training and pay increases in the voluntary sector.
We would wish cognisance to be made of the need for resources
for these areas.
The Health and Community Care Joint Future agenda
will require resources. UNISON Scotland members involved in the
Joint Future initiative are clear that additional funding is needed
if we are to successfully deliver the seamless health and social
care services envisaged within the Join Future agenda.
Best Value Quality Commission
In our submission to the Local Government White
Paper on Renewing Democracy, UNISON has called for the establishment
of a Quality Commission to oversee Best Value in local government.
We believe that the Scottish Budget should devote resources to
establish and fund such a Commission, to ensure that Best Value
means high quality provision, a fair employment agenda for those
delivering the services, and effective and efficient public services
for the people of Scotland.
Training at Work
UNISON Scotland has been concerned at the decrease
in the Budget for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning. The Executive
has stressed the importance of the life long learning agenda,
indeed UNISON Scotland is currently involved in a partnership
funded through the Executive with the Worker Education Association:
Learning @ Work. We believe that the Executive should now devote
adequate resources to training and development within the life
long learning agenda to support workers in all sectors.
The Scottish Executive is supporting the "Close
the Gap" campaign and other equal opportunities initiatives.
Many public bodies would make greater progress in implementing
these initiatives if central funding was made available to support
the work involved.
Further and Higher Education
The real terms decrease in the Enterprise and
Life Long Learning Budget has also had a significant impact on
the Further and Higher Education sectors. Higher and Further Education
has been dogged by underfunding, with universities and colleges
that are poorly resourced, and some on the brink of bankruptcy.
We are clear that there is a desperate need for funding to enable
the sector to develop properly trained and resourced teams of
teaching and support staff to deliver the courses that Scotland's
UNISON Scotland is increasingly concerned at
the incidence of low pay for support, ancillary and teaching staff
in these sectors, and in addition the prevalence of discriminatory
pay within this sector. UNISON welcomes the Scottish Executive's
"Close the Gap" initiative, and would support further
pressure, backed up with resources, directed at Higher and Further
For further information please contact:
Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX
Tel 0845 355 0845 Fax 0141 342 2835