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Tues 8 February 2011

UNISON urges Christie Commission to put users at the heart of public services

UNISON, Scotland’s largest trade union in public services, has called for a ‘bottom-up’ approach in the future delivery of public services.

In a hard-hitting submission to the Commission on the Future Delivery of Public Services, the union criticised ‘top-down’ solutions and said staff and service users must be at the heart of public service delivery – not just through consultation but by working together in genuine partnership.

The commission, chaired by the former General Secretary of the STUC Campbell Christie, was established by the Scottish Government to look at the long term pattern of public service delivery in Scotland and will report on its findings in June 2011.

UNISON has called for the commission to focus on the design and delivery of services, not just structures, and said the basis for public sector delivery should hinge on five key public service principles: democracy, investment, fairness, excellence and partnership.

The union’s submission challenges the assumptions around the drive for ever bigger and more remote service delivery and structures. It argues that refocusing delivery on the needs of service users locally is more efficient and effective than splitting services into artificial front office/back office functions.

The submission evidences this new approach with many case studies across the UK and internationally.

Mike Kirby, UNISON’s Scottish Secretary, said: “The defining difference between public and private services is democracy and it is democratic structures that will make public services responsive to the needs of those who use and pay for them.

“It’s vital that the public are able to participate in the decision making processes about the areas in which they live, and staff in the services they deliver. “High quality public services benefit us all and public bodies should have a statutory duty to work with service users as partners, not as customers, in the decision making process.”

ENDS

Notes to editors Please find UNISON Scotland’s submission to the Christie Commission at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/UNISONChristieFeb11.pdf

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