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Date: Thursday 19 March 2015

Opinion Poll: Scottish voters election priorities are public services

UNISON Scotland today commented on a new opinion poll which shows that public services are the number one issue for the majority of Scottish voters.

The poll was undertaken by Survation, for UNISON Scotland, and asked voters to explain their priorities. Scots said that public services, welfare, jobs and pay were the most important issues for them in the coming general election.

Scottish voters also had clear views about who should deliver public services. Half of respondents believe that ‘public sector organisations (such as local councils and the NHS)’ deliver the best quality public services. This compares to only 16% who believe that ‘charities and social enterprises (such as co-operatives)’ and 14% who believe ‘private sector organisations (such as businesses)’ deliver the best quality public services.

They were also clear about their spending priorities. If the next government was to raise £2bn by cracking down on tax avoidance, 58% of respondents believe that the money should be spent on improving public services, compared to 19% who think it should be spent on reducing public borrowing, and 17% who think that it should be used on income tax cuts.

Lilian Macer, UNISON’s Scottish Convener said; “This poll shows that UNISON is right to focus its general election campaign on public services, jobs and fair pay. We are reflecting the views of people across Scotland with almost 6 in 10 saying public services are their number one issue in this general election. And two fifths of voters say wages and jobs are also priority issues for them.’

‘We were also very encouraged to see that people agree with UNISON if a company wins a government funded contract it should have to pay the living wage.’

Mike Kirby, Scottish Secretary said ‘ we found this poll hugely encouraging. People seem to understand that public services not only support our most vulnerable people, they help grow the economy and contribute to ending poverty and low pay. Something the Chancellor missed in his Budget yesterday that continues his failed austerity economics in Scotland. This is a public services election. The result really matters. We are asking that people think carefully before they vote and vote for public services, jobs and fair pay’.

ENDS

Notes to Editor

See full poll details at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/publicworks/UnisonScotlandAttitudesPoll.pdf
See summary document at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/publicworks/UnisonScotlandSummaryDoc.docx

· UNISON is the largest public services trade union in Europe. We are the largest trade union in Scotland.

· The top three issues for respondents and their families ahead of the general election were ‘public services (schools, hospitals & GP services, council services etc.)’ (58%), ‘welfare / pensions / social security provision’ (48%) and ‘the availability and security of jobs and the level of wages’ (40%).

· Unsurprisingly, the top issues differed greatly by voting intention. The top three issues for Conservative voters were ‘national economy (economic growth, reducing the deficit etc.)’ (61%), ‘public services (schools, hospitals & GP services, council services etc.)’ (47%) and ‘national defence and counter-terrorism’ (42%). For Labour voters, the top issue was ‘public services (schools, hospitals & GP services, council services etc.)’ (61%), followed by ‘welfare / pensions / social security provision’ (53%) and ‘national economy (economic growth, reducing the deficit etc.)’ (42%). SNP voters chose the same two issues as Labour voters for their top two (63% and 55% respectively), but their third was ‘the availability and security of jobs and the level of wages’ (46%).

· For supporters of all parties, ‘public services (schools, hospitals & GP services, council services etc.)’ ranked in their top three issues.

· 44% of respondents believe that a Labour-led government in Westminster would be better for public services in Scotland. This compares to just 20% of respondents who believe that a Conservative-led government in Westminster would be better for public services in Scotland, and 36% who don’t know.

· When asked the same question but about public services in the United Kingdom, the responses are very similar, with 46% believing that a Labour-led government in Westminster would be better for public services across the UK, compared to 22% who believe that a Conservative-led government in Westminster would be better for public services across the UK. 32% don’t know.

· Westminster Voting Intentions are similar to other recent polls. (change from Daily Record Poll 18/02/2015) SNP 47% (+2); LAB 28% (+1); CON 15% (-1); LD 4% (-1); OTHER 6% (-1)

· If the next government was to raise £2bn by cracking down on tax avoidance, 58% of respondents believe that the money should be spent on improving public services, compared to 19% who think it should be spent on reducing public borrowing, 17% who think that it should be used on income tax cuts and 7% who didn’t know.

· A majority of both Labour and SNP voters would spend the £2bn on improving public services, whereas more Conservative voters would rather spend the money on reducing public borrowing (43%) than improving public services (39%).

· Half of respondents believe that ‘public sector organisations (such as local councils and the NHS)’ deliver the best quality public services. This compares to only 16% who believe that ‘charities and social enterprises (such as co-operatives)’ and 14% who believe ‘private sector organisations (such as businesses)’ deliver the best quality public services. 19% don’t know.

· Over two-thirds (68%) of respondents believe that ‘public sector organisations (such as local councils and the NHS)’ are accountable to the public, compared to just over a third (35%) who believe that ‘private sector organisations (such as businesses)’ are accountable to the public. Just under half (48%) believe that ‘charities and social enterprises (such as co-operatives)’ are accountable to the public.

· Respondents were fairly split over how Scottish council services should be funded. Given that currently 80% of funding for Scotland’s council services comes from the Scottish government, 22% believe that a greater proportion should come from council tax and business rates, 23% believe that a greater proportion should come from the Scottish government and 34% believe there should be no change. 21% didn’t know.

· If a greater proportion of council services was funded locally through council tax and business rates, 44% believe that those services would become more locally accountable to the needs of residents, compared to 12% who believe those services would become less locally accountable to the needs of residents. 21% said that those services would be no more or less locally accountable to the needs of residents, and a further 23% said that they didn’t know.

· 72% of respondents believe that it should be a requirement of all organisations seeking publicly-funded contracts to pay at least the living wage, compared to 15% who believe that it should not be a requirement of all organisations seeking publicly-funded contracts to pay at least the living wage. 13% didn’t know.


 

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