Public services are top priority for vast majority of Scottish voters, says polling

UNISON launches its manifesto for the local government elections in Scotland today, ‘For fairness and democracy: keep it local’ (1 April 2017). Its is launched with polling from Survation showing that public services are the top priority for voters (70%); followed by the economy (51%); and job security and availability (44%).

According to Survation polling half of all voters chose the public sector as the best to deliver our public services, only 19% chose the private sector and 13% chose charities. This included Conservative voters with only 31% saying the private sector and 10% saying charities are the best place to deliver public services. UNISON hopes council candidates from all parties are now clear that people in Scotland want high quality publically delivered services.

UNISON’s manifesto for local government in Scotland calls for sustainable funding for local government, so it can take meaningful accountable decisions which can make a real difference to local needs. Rather than just protecting local services.

Local government have borne the brunt of austerity and this must stop. The next round of cuts will be even worse for local government with more jobs and service cuts planned. A staggering 91% of public sector jobs losses in Scotland since the crash have been in local government. That’s 30,000 jobs cut in Scottish local government since 2009.

UNISON welcomes the end of the council tax freeze and calls on councils to actively explore a comprehensive programme of refinancing which could save billions across Scotland.

Mark Ferguson chair of UNISON’s Scottish local government committee said, “Our manifesto is a comprehensive overview of what we need to do to rebuild quality public services in Scotland. The present funding of council services is simply unsustainable. The savage cuts that have been inflicted on local government do not just impact on council workers but also on the kind of society we live in. We need proper staffing levels, decent wages, security of employment and adequate training for all council staff. 9 out 10 jobs lost in public services since 2009 have been in local government that’s 30,000 jobs in total. It’s impossible to keep delivering the high quality public services we all need while we are trying to deal with these levels of cuts”

UNISON manifesto also calls for:  planned expansion in early years to be delivered by the public sector as it is the most cost effective way forward; investment in social care with direct monitoring of care services and sufficient weighting to fair work in contracts and adoption with UNISON Ethical Care Charter; protection of social work budgets; a massive social housing programme; creating jobs to refurbish housing stock and do something about the 940,000 homes in Scotland; investment in library services and facilities;.