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Working for better Public Services

The people of the UK expect and deserve the very best public services. Public services must be:

  • of a high quality
  • accessible to those who need them
  • responsive to those who use them
  • delivered by a well paid, well trained, highly motivated workforce.

The world we live in is changing.We live in a global economy; technological change is rapid; the demands and expectations of service users are increasing. Services must modernise to keep pace with these changing developments.

For too long public services have been characterised by under investment, crumbling infrastructure and a poorly paid, demoralised workforce.

Recent governments have responded to the need for better services by creating markets, promoting competition and by privatisation.The result has been:

  • less responsive and less accountable services
  • poorer value for money
  • fragmentation
  • a demoralised workforce with worsening pay and conditions.

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Summary

UNISON supports the modernisation and change needed to provide better, more responsive public services.This process must be based on the following six principles:

1) Democratic accountability

Decisions about the planning and delivery of local services are the responsibility of locally accountable representatives, taken in consultation with public service staff and local communities.

2) Effective delivery

High quality public services are best delivered by well trained, directly employed staff who put the needs of service users and the community first.

3) Adequate funding

Modern and high quality services need long term investment. This means investment in infrastructure, in information and communications technology, and in the training and development of the workforce.

4) Equality of access

Public services should be responsive to the needs of all members of the community. There should be no discrimination in service provision, but equality of access for all people, based on their needs.

High quality, accessible services are the best guarantee against social exclusion and against more affluent members of the community weakening public services by making their own arrangements.

5) Fairness at work

High quality services and good employment practices go hand in hand. Staff are the public services' greatest asset and they must be treated fairly.

It is vital that all public contracting is based on the principles set out in the TUPE regulations, and the Cabinet Office guidance on the transfer of staff (including pensions). Measures must also be put in place to ensure that contracting out is not used to cut the pay, conditions and pensions of transferred and future workforces.

6) Partnership at work

Genuine partnership between government, service users, the community, employers and trade unions is central to ensuring a process of continual improvement of public services.

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