Audit Scotland report shows workforce takes brunt of spending cuts

Date: Thursday 28 November 2013

Audit Scotland’s report (published today) on the public sector workforce shows that workers are taking the brunt of spending cuts through job losses and real term pay cuts.

Since the high point before the financial crash the public sector workforce in Scotland (excluding financial sector) has fallen by 48,700 people – 5,500 in the last year alone.

At least £1bn has been slashed from staffing budgets and that doesn’t reflect the real term pay cuts all staff have suffered. While many older staff have retired early, recruitment freezes mean younger staff are not being recruited and the workforce is getting older.

The report also recognises that boards and elected members may need to prioritise services and identify if service cuts are necessary. The salami slicing approaches identified in the report cannot go on indefinitely.

Workforce planning at all levels is not as good as it should be and UNISON has long argued that there needs to be a national workforce framework in Scotland.

UNISON Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said:
“This report clearly shows that it is public service workers that have born the brunt of cuts in the ideological drive to slash public services. Those staff who remain are facing increasing workloads and associated stress while they seek to maintain a service to the public. We agree that better workforce planning at Scottish and local level can help, but it’s only a sticking plaster on the gaping holes that are developing in service provision.”


Note for editors:
The job loss numbers above are larger than those in the report because Audit Scotland have used a formula to convert the headcount numbers in the Scottish Government workforce statistics into whole time equivalents. Both are correct, but we prefer to focus on actual workers.

The Audit Scotland report is available here:

For further information please contact:
Dave Watson, UNISON Scottish Organiser, on 07958 122 409