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Revitalise Principles and Briefings
Manifesto Index
Welcome and Index
Revitalise Scotland's public services
Principles for Renewal
Financing Public Services
Staffing Protocol
Public Service Networks
Lifelong Learning
Social Inclusion
21st Century Government
Joint Future
Local Government
Police Services
Higher and Further Education
Community & Voluntary Sector

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Principles for renewal

PrinciplesThe 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 (PSOs) should.

  • 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 services.

  • 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 principles.


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 economies.

Lillian Macer

Lillian Macer, UNISON Member and Cook, working for a contractor in Lanarkshire Acute Health Trust

"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 sector route.


Staffing Protocol

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

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.


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