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It mostly covers my work as UNISON Scotland's Head of Policy and Public Affairs although views are my own. For full coverage of UNISON Scotland's policy and campaigns please visit our web site. You can also follow me on Twitter. I hope you find this blog interesting and I would welcome your comments.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

It's Public Services Stupid!

Public services are the number one election issue for the majority of Scottish voters.

Today we have published a full scale poll undertaken by Survation, for UNISON Scotland, that asked Scottish voters to explain their priorities. They said that public services, welfare, jobs and pay were the most important issues for them in the coming general election.

They were also clear about their spending priorities.If the next government was to raise £2bn by cracking down on tax avoidance, 58% of respondents believe that the money should be spent on improving public services, compared to 19% who think it should be spent on reducing public borrowing, and 17% who think that it should be used on income tax cuts.
This is the complete opposite to George Osborne’s Budget priorities this week as I set out last night. It is clear today that while yesterday's announcement might have brought the average cuts down over the spending review period, it still means around £2bn of Barnett consequential cuts for the Scottish Budget. That is around 30,000 further public service job losses in Scotland.

Scottish voters also had clear views about who should deliver public services. Half of respondents believe that ‘public sector organisations (such as local councils and the NHS)’ deliver the best quality public services. This compares to only 16% who believe that ‘charities and social enterprises (such as co-operatives)’ and 14% who believe ‘private sector organisations (such as businesses)’ deliver the best quality public services.

Public accountability was an important factor with more than two thirds saying public bodies are accountable to the public. If a greater proportion of council services was funded locally through council tax and business rates, 44% believe that those services would become more locally accountable to the needs of residents, compared to 12% who believe those services would become less locally accountable to the needs of residents.

Scottish voters also agree with UNISON that if acompany wins a government-funded contract it should have to pay the living wage.

This poll shows that Scottish voters understand that public services not only support our most vulnerable people, they help grow the economy and contribute to ending poverty and low pay. This is something theUK ConDem coalition is ignoring with their dogged adherence to austerity economics.



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