Commenting on the report of the Independent Budget Review published today, Grahame Smith, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) General Secretary said:
“As we anticipated, the IBR report contains little that is new or different with all the main recommendations already being widely debated.
“Therefore the recommendation for a real terms public sector pay cut comes as no surprise but the poorly evidenced calls for a recruitment freeze and action on sickness management are disappointing. Given that the panel themselves acknowledge that public sector pensions are a reserved issue; it is surprising that they felt compelled to comment in such a forthright fashion on their sustainability.
“It is also unfortunate that there is no analysis of the macroeconomic impact of job and pay cuts, which will have a devastating impact on growth and therefore public finances. The report also fails to analyse the spending implications for health and other services of higher unemployment.
“The timescales and costs associated with transforming Scottish Water into a ‘public interest’ company are barely mentioned. The STUC is clear that this model represents back door privatisation and will be massively resisted by civic Scotland.
“As John Swinney noted earlier, this report will help to inform what has to be a much wider public and Parliamentary debate on public spending in Scotland. Whilst the STUC would not wish in any way to challenge the goodwill or integrity of members of this review panel, it is a source of real frustration that bodies established to provide views on, or help to manage, the Scottish economy are increasingly drawn from a very narrow section of society; one largely insulated from the impact of job and spending cuts.
“Perhaps as a consequence, the sustainability of services provided on a universal basis is challenged by the report. However, the Small Business Bonus Scheme, a universal benefit for business and one which has failed to demonstrate any positive job related outcomes, doesn’t rate a mention”.
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