Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Government should accept public view and extend FoI to private contractors - UNISON

Date: Wed 10 December 2008

UNISONScotland today, welcomed new research that shows the Scottish public backs extending Freedom of Information to cover private companies building schools and hospitals under PPP/PFI contracts, and other non-public bodies delivering public services.

Research for the Scottish Information Commissioner published today, shows 75%-79% support for making private companies subject to FOI legislation. UNISON is pleased that there is also very strong public support for including other organisations such as private prisons, housing associations and trusts providing local authority health and leisure services.

UNISON's Scottish Communications Officer, Chris Bartter said: "The public rightly thinks that all bodies delivering public services should be subject to the same accountability as the public sector.

"Such high levels of support will hopefully make the Scottish Government think again about its disappointing approach in the discussion paper, where, for example, Ministers have argued that hospital cleaning services may not be a public function!

"UNISON believes that changes to the legislation should be based on the principle that any organisation which provides a public service should be accountable to the public.

"It is unacceptable that information that is open to people where a service - such as social housing - is provided by a public authority, could be hidden from them where private or other non-public bodies deliver it.

"In the case of PPP/PFI contracts, the scandalous waste of public funds on these could have been greatly reduced if full information about the projects had been open to scrutiny, letting the public see the credit card levels of charges being run up for the next generation to pay."

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