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Date: Thurs 24 Sept 2009

Public service cuts will increase costs for ordinary families and delay recovery - UNISON

A headlong rush to cut and privatise public services will lead to delays in coming out of recession, said the public service union UNISON today.

'Public Works', the Scottish arm of the union's 'Million Voices for change' campaign, is launched today with a leaflet demonstrating the importance of public services to everyone's lives and pointing to the huge costs that would fall on people if public services were not available.

Matt Smith - UNISON's Scottish Secretary, said "'A day in the life...' follows an average woman through her day and points out our dependence on public services - from water and sewerage, through environmental health and refuse collection, to education and health care, it is not only the disadvantaged who rely on public services, but all of us."

"If these services are cut back or privatised the increased costs of paying for them individually can only increase the cost burden on hard-pressed families. We estimate the average household gets more than 10,000 a year in benefits and public services. Public delivery provides value for money through economies of scale and stopping shareholders taking profits out of the pot. A year's domestic waste collection sourced privately would cost around 2,500, and the average cost of a year's education outside the public sector in Scotland is around 8,200."

UNISON is today (Thursday) briefing activists at meetings in Scotland, and will be campaigning to sign up members and non-members to back Scotland's public services at a time when they are under sustained attack from big business.

UNISON points out that cuts in public sector jobs, pay and pensions will only lead to less money being spent to stimulate the economy, and if public services were cut they would order and contract less with the private sector.

Matt Smith said "Far from being the drain on the economy argued by those who created the economic crisis, the public sector contracts for supplies and services from the private sector - especially important when private industry faces reduced order books.

"In addition money spent in the economy by public service staff will not be there if we accept the advice of the right wing think tanks to cut jobs, pay and pensions. Now is the time to build a fairer society based on social justice, good jobs and quality public services."


Notes for editors: The union's 'Million Voices' campaign was launched in the UK at UNISON's Annual Conference and will be taken to all the party conferences during this autumn - including the SNP conference in Inverness where Scottish Convenor, Mike Kirby will address a fringe meeting run jointly with APSE (the Association of Public Sector Excellence).

Click here for a pdf of the 'A day in the life...'

For further information please contact: Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary 07771 548 997(m) Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser 07958 122 409(m) Chris Bartter, Communications Officer 07715 583 729(m)