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2010 National Disabled Members' Conference
25 August 2010

This Conference is deeply concerned at the coalition government’s announcement on Friday 13th August of its decision to axe the Audit Commission. The Commission has played an important role in promoting the employment rights and public service provision to disabled people by those public authorities that are covered by the Disability Equality Duty.

Our greatest fears relate to:

·Who will scrutinise the overall spending? It’s a big job to keep an eye on (some) NHS, local government and other public authority spending, and the Audit Commission has been key to uncovering wasteful spending and corruption, including Shirley Porter’s housing scam at Westminster council in the 1980s.

·It has also helped to improve the quality of local services as it took the view that it is not just about the bottom line, the cheapest deal, but also the quality of services that can mean a great deal of difference to the independence and empowerment of disabled people.

·Putting government spending over £500 on line is not the answer – taxpayers will know no context of spending, and there will be no overall eye keeping a watch over spending in relation to making reasonable adjustments in the workplace or in the delivery of more accessible public services to disabled people

·Who will be responsible for identifying patterns and trends in good practice or institutional disability discrimination?

·Who will be responsible for making sure the taxpayer, including disabled taxpayers are s getting good value for money?

·The amount it costs the public purse to run the Commission is a drop in the ocean – a tiny fraction of government spending – and it offers much more in value terms – in one fraud case alone it saved £600 million alone.

·Hoping that the private sector will step in to run the service is very risky, and may not deliver the promised savings – private audit firms may be much more expensive and they are less likely to understand how to monitor disability equality and systemic discrimination against disabled people .

·Procurement with the private sector could be a bureaucratic nightmare that fails to meet the needs of disabled people.

·Privatising the work of the Audit Commission will result in a massive increase in employers who themselves will have no statutory responsibility to eliminate disability discrimination as non-public authorities

·2000 staff will also lose their jobs, including disabled staff.

This Conference calls upon the National Disabled Members Committee to:

a)Work with all relevant UNISON structures and appropriate external disabled people’s organisations to reverse this catastrophic decision.

b)Provide guidance to branches about how they should monitor their employer’s tendering processes when procuring private auditing companies.