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Scottish Budget

UNISON Scotland's submission on the Scottish Budget 2003-2004

August 2002

Executive Summary

  • 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 specific projects.
  • 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 Spending Review

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 in Scotland.

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 policy themes.

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.

Capital Spending

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:

Voluntary Sector

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.

Joint Future

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.

Equality Audit

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 people need.

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 Education.

For further information please contact:

Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
UNISON Scotland
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX

Tel 0845 355 0845 Fax 0141 342 2835

e-mail matt.smith@unison.co.uk

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