UNISON Scotland in calling on people to vote for who they think will invest in public services in the Scottish Parliament elections on 5 May.
The call came as UNISON launched a manifesto for the election, Public services and the good society, alongside a Survation opinion poll showing that 72% of Scottish voters said public services were in their top three most important election issues, followed by the economy (61%) and job security/wages (50%).
The survey also showed that voters are willing to engage with the debate to pay more tax to fund public services.
An overwhelming number also felt that local services will get worse due to the £500m cut in the Scottish government budget allocation to councils.
UNISON’s manifesto calls on voters to defend the principles that underlie public services, not only invest in public services but also to make them more accountable and responsive to individual needs.
Specifically, the union is calling for:
- investment in public services to build a sustainable economy and a decent society, and to reverse and not implement austerity;
- fair funding for local government with an immediate end to the council tax freeze, a reformed progressive property tax and councils to be able to raise more of their own funding;
- properly funded procurement so the third sector is not viewed as a cheap alternative to health and local government delivery;
- ending the cuts to support for learning and administration in schools that simply put burdens on other staff;
- a balanced police workforce and an end to the arbitrary political pledge on police numbers;
- water to remain publicly owned and to stop the gradual privatisation of the service;
- health inequalities to be a key challenge for the next Scotttish government – it is a reflection of an unequal society and the solutions require policy action across our public services, not just in NHS Scotland.
“Opinion polls consistently show that public services are the highest priority for voters and that people are at very least open to the idea to pay more tax to fund services,” noted UNISON Scotland convenor Lilian Macer.
“Public services are an expression of all that is good, whether that is joint decision making, expression of a community, solidarity between people and generations, or the idea that we all have a mutual obligation towards each other.
“Public services are not optional they are essential to a civilised society,” said Ms Macer.
“They do more than create a safety net they hold our society together and make our lives healthier safer, cleaner, more secure and fun.
“If we believe in a more equal society we must invest in public services and those who deliver them.”