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Date: Thursday 20 February 2014

Public money does not belong in the hands of tax dodgers, says UNISON

UNISON is calling for an end to tax dodgers winning public contracts ahead of today’s (Thursday) parliamentary debate on the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill.

In a briefing issued to all MSPs prior to the stage 1 debate, the union asks them to decide if they are on the side of the tax dodgers or if they will take action to tackle them?

Dave Watson, UNISON Scotland’s head of bargaining and campaigns, said: “It is entirely wrong that companies who dodge paying their fair share of tax should be awarded public contracts. Almost £10bn of public money, over a quarter of the Scottish Government budget, is spent on public procurement. It is an important lever to change the behaviour of big companies who do not play by the rules”

The union also says the Bill does not go far enough to tackle the issue of low pay.

He added: “We are very disappointed that the Scottish Government made no mention of the living wage in the Bill or any supporting documents. If decent pay really is going to be the norm in Scotland, procurement is a key tool in driving up employment standards. Many of those involved in delivering services are really struggling. Companies are cutting corners in order to win contracts. Unless we opt for principled procurement these issues are not going to go away. We need a strong statement of intent in the Bill backed with detailed guidance.’

ENDS

Notes to editors

· The Scottish Living Wage was one of ten asks for the Bill from a coalition of coalitions of civil society organisations, including the STUC, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and SCVO. The asks include action on blacklisting and tax dodging, a sustainable development focus and measures on ethical/fair trade, employment standards and positive social outcomes.

· See UNISON’s briefing on Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill Stage 1 debate: www.unison-scotland.org.uk/
briefings/MSPe-briefing_ProcurementReformBill_Feb2014.pdf

· It is currently estimated that around 550,000 employees on adult rates in Scotland are paid earnings below the living wage. 2nd Report, 2012 (Session 4): Living wage in Scotland http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/
CurrentCommittees/46601.aspx

UNISON Scottish organiser Dave Watson said a race to the bottom in procurement was a big concern for many charities. "Many of those involved in delivering services are really struggling," he said. "People are having to cut corners in order to win contracts. Unless procurement is sorted out, this difficulty is not going to go away. We need a more credible approach."

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