Principles for renewal
differences between the public and private sectors can best be
summed up by defining a clear public service ethos. Public services
should be run on ethical lines based on the principles laid down
by Lord Nolan, ie selflessness, integrity, objectivity, openness,
accountability, competence and equality. Public Service Organisations
- Be open, transparent and democratically accountable.
Increasing the role of elected bodies and their members. Democratising
the increasing ‘Quango State'. Encouraging full participation
in decisions with a statutory duty to involve users, staff and
the community, and opening up freedom of information, effective
communication and transparency of all contracts and partnerships.
- Have a vision of what they want to achieve. Plan for and
assess the delivery of that vision.
Plans should be based on full social, equality, health, economic,
and environmental assessments of the impact of policy decisions.
The involvement of users staff and the community is essential.
- Build their capacity to allow the development of innovative
services to meet the needs of users.
If PSOs have proper capacity, innovation will not be seen as
another cut. Innovation should include service provision, information,
funding, administrative systems and information technology. Services
should meet the needs of users.
- Encourage active participation from users, the community,
staff and their trade unions.
PSOs should produce a strategy that aims to get the active involvement
of these groups in planning, design, monitoring and review of
- Provide resources to recruit and retain high quality staff.
Resources will include, effective partnership working at all
levels; fair pay and conditions; training, education and lifelong
learning; equal opportunities and family friendly policies; trade
union recognition and full collective bargaining; and health and
safety, and welfare policies.
- Have their performance measured by standards linked to
available resources and social need.
The different factors that affect public services mean that performance
reviews must be developed that take into account resource availability
and the social and economic needs of the community. Instead of
the ‘tyranny of the target' a new system should be based on inputs,
outputs, outcomes and process. These would measure resources,
service delivery, the impact/benefit of that service and the way
in which it is delivered.
- Work together in public service networks.
PSOs will increasingly need to collaborate to provide public
services. Public service networks - cross-boundary trading, best
practice and service provision - are more rapid and effective
in dealing with this than continual boundary reviews and reorganisations.
They can also offer an opportunity to take advantage of economies
of scale whilst retaining local accountability.
- Be funded from sources that do not conflict with these
Financing Public Services
In order to revitalise our public services we must fund the pay
of staff properly. This is necessary because there is no case
for low pay in our public services. Staff deserve to be fairly
recompensed for providing vital services. It is also necessary
if we are to attract the staff we require. We are already seeing
the problems created by staff shortages in many areas of our public
services. Proper pay is part of the solution to these skill gaps,
particularly if we are to move on from there and deliver a broader
range of services across a longer day. Proper pay and back up
is needed if we are to restore quality public services and retain
the public services and their staff as a vital engine of local
Lillian Macer, UNISON Member
and Cook, working for a contractor in Lanarkshire Acute
"We welcome the Scottish deal that we hope will be the
beginning of the end for low pay in the Scottish NHS. Support
workers in health care are part of the overall team and
it is good to see them returning to the core workforce.
We need to bringback in-house those still outsourced and
continue to pursue education and training for all staff
to allow them to move to higher paid jobs."
We welcome the additional resources allocated to Scotland under
the Comprehensive Spending Review and the Scottish Executive's
own Budget process. However we need to ensure that this money
is directed towards renewing public services in Scotland, and
not wasted on tangential schemes and private profit. So far the
Government is trying to continue the myth that reform and renewal
can be delivered efficiently through the private sector.
Whilst UNISON understands the need to get investment into our
damaged public services quickly, and can appreciate the attraction
of PFI when forced on authorities by restrictions on borrowing,
high quality public services require resources that come from
funding sources that are not in conflict with the principles outlined
above. Continued adherence to the myth of private sector ‘efficiency'
through PFI and PPP schemes has meant that public service renewal
has not been achieved.
In particular, PFI/PPP funding means that the funding source
runs contrary to the principles that are required for revitalisation
to be successful. It leads to reduced levels of service, poorer
quality systems and buildings and the fragmenting of any public
service staff team. This means that teamworking, joined-up service
delivery, and better public services are not being delivered.
Incidentally it also means that the government is failing to listen
to the people of Scotland. In a MORI poll taken across the UK
by UNISON at the time of the General Election 83% of the public
said that they did not want their public services delivered by
private firms. The figure for Scotland was even higher at 91%.
In order to address this issue, changes are needed to Treasury
rules, including new definitions of public expenditure in line
with European models such as GGNB. Incentives to try and move
expenditure ‘off-balance-sheet', the current block grant system,
and departmental expenditure limits also need reform. We must
allow capital grants to be provided on a genuine level-playing-field
basis, enabling PSOs to have a genuine choice of capital funding.
We also need to increase capital funding substantially and PSOs
must be given the freedom to borrow to fund investment.
We urge the government to spend the allocations that it makes
to public services and to maintain and improve the current level
of investment. Funding should be directed towards core services
and not ring-fenced for specific projects. Ring-fencing diverts
resources and undermines local accountability. It is worth repeating
that PFI funding is more expensive than traditional public sector
borrowing, and we will get more ‘services per pound' via the public
There has been welcome agreement on staff protection, via the
STUC/Scottish Executive Staffing Protocol although, particularly
in schools PFI projects, local authorities seem reluctant to accept
government advice that it is no longer required to include support
services in schemes. UNISON will be monitoring the effect of this
protocol, drawing its provisions to the attention of all PSOs,
and breaches to the attention of the Government. Whilst the Protocol
shows that partnerships with the private sector can be entered
into without breaking up the public service team, it does not
address the principle of how we finance public services. Criticisms
of the PFI process from the Government's own financial watchdog
AuditScotland suggest the need for a genuine choice for Scotland's
public services - especially local authorities.
Bill Taylor, UNISON member
and School Janitor, Renfrewshire Council
"The staff Protocol is a step forward in dealing with PFI
for some members but it won't stop my job or my fellow janitors'
jobs being privatised. There are still major objections
to PFI as a way of funding public services. School education
should be delivered by a team whose concern is the welfare
of the kids, not the profits of the shareholders."
The time has now come for Scotland's Government to draw a line
in the sand as far as PFI projects are concerned. Cheaper, public
sector borrowing should finance future projects. The STUC/Scottish
Executive Protocol should be widely adopted, particularly by existing
PPPs. Government should introduce wide-ranging improvements to
the capital borrowing system to introduce real choice for PSOs.