Scottish Government must use powers to protect public services

Jane Aitchison

Jane Aitchison: “If politicians of any party in Scotland want to be credible on being anti-austerity they must start delivering the policies.”

#stuc2018 The STUC will urge the Scottish Government to use its “full suite of tax and borrowing” to avoid local government cuts and condemned it for passing on “the worst of the Tory cuts to Scotland’s councils.”

It will continue to argue that privatised services are more interested in profit and shareholder dividend, rather than public need. Particularly after the Carillion scandal, these services should be brought back in-house.

UNISON Scotland’s Jane Aitchison, seconding the motion, called for the Scottish government to use its “full suite of tax and borrowing” to avoid local government cuts, buy back PPP/PFI contracts, where it makes financial sense, and ensure everyone employed on public service contracts is paid at least the Scottish Living Wage.

Jane said: “Our NHS and our councils are under severe strain – long hospital waiting lists, new cuts to vital council services such as school crossing patrols, libraries closed, cuts to child mental health services. An endless list. This is all so wrong.

“There have been 29,000 local government jobs lost since 2009, nine out of ten of the austerity job cuts.

“The Accounts Commission warned at the start of April that finding savings is “increasingly critical” for councils, where there has been an almost ten per cent real terms cut since 2010/11.

“And the next two years see more austerity coming – real terms cuts of more than 500 million pounds in the block grant from Westminster.”

Jane said we need an end to austerity and a start to building a society that looks after everyone, rather than increasing inequalities, exploiting workers, abandoning children to poverty, and leaving thousands of people, including children, reliant on food banks.

“Every politician who claims they are anti-austerity must put her or his money where their mouth is. Yes, Scotland’s new tax-raising powers are being used. The recent income tax changes will generate £366 million of extra revenue compared to the rest of the UK. Welcome, but nothing like enough to start to counter the cuts, let alone build the caring society we believe in.

“If politicians of any party in Scotland want to be credible on being anti-austerity they must start delivering the policies, including progressive taxation at levels that will protect the NHS and local government from further cuts.”

The STUC will now organise a major demonstration for proper funding for public services and decent pay increases for public service workers.

It will also press the Scottish Government to

  • ensure adequate funding is made available for local councils to protect services and jobs;
  • ensure funding is made available for pay increases for all public sector workers, taking account of the cost of living and previous experience of wage cuts and caps;
  • use progressive taxation in a way that can be evidenced as benefiting public services and the Scottish economy; and
  • press the Treasury to abolish Scottish local government debts.

The composite comprised motions from Unite, Kilmarnock, Midlothian, Clydebank, and Dundee trades union councils, along with UNISON Scotland’s amendment.

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