Thursday, September 17, 2009

Government must support public services in crisis caused by market madness

Date: Thu 17 Sept 2009

Public services union UNISON Scotland today challenged the Scottish Government to protect jobs and services following John Swinney's Budget statement in Parliament.

Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary of UNISON, said:
"The public will not support a budget which asks them to bear the brunt of cuts in the middle of this crisis caused by free market madness and bonus grabbing bankers.

"And make no mistake about it - what John Swinney is offering is cuts to public services.

"What we need in this recession with unemployment continuing to rise is support for the public sector to provide essential jobs and services – not cuts."

UNISON questioned the sustainability of Mr Swinney's announcement of a third year of council tax freeze given the additional funding pressures the recession is placing on local government.

Matt Smith said:
"The Finance Secretary makes the usual pledge to protect frontline services. But there are no expendable jobs. The false distinction between "front line" and "back office" is a mask for cuts which will impact on vital public services.

"We face real cuts in local government and a third year of a council tax freeze is regrettably not viable.

"Health boards also face a spending squeeze because of growing pressures on limited resources. And we are now seeing the resurrection of Private Finance in the Scottish NHS through the hub initiative, based on English Local Improvement Finance Trust PPPs.

"And the hard-pressed voluntary sector, which delivers vital services, will face even further constraints."

Matt Smith called for funding settlements to local government, health boards and the voluntary sector to sustain jobs and services and support the economy in the face of the recession.