Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Best value bins not so simple

Edinburgh councillors voted for the in-house option at a meeting on 24 November 2011.

There is no place in local government for anyone who knows "the price of everything and the value of nothing" according to UNISON as they publish their analysis of the Edinburgh Bin contract. Best Value includes social, environmental and economic factors. It’s not just the case that councillors are permitted to look at these aspects of the privatisation debate – they are legally obliged to examine all these issues alongside questions of service quality and price.

Peter Hunter, UNISON Regional Organiser explained: "We left Thatcherite price wars behind when we ditched competitive tendering and built a new system to prevent bidders driving down costs by attacking employees and reducing service quality. If this was a straight price comparison we wouldn’t need rules, guidance and a democratic debate, we would just sit at a computer, type in "Go Compare" or get a quote from the Meerkat. Simples! Thanks to devolution Scotland has a broader test where we combine social justice and sustainability with the quest for efficiency. Against that background the in-house bid is great news for Edinburgh - £45m savings, but not at any price"

The UNISON report sets out the social, economic and environmental "costs" of the Enterprise bid and observes that the in-house bid is preferable on quality and price when viewed from a Best Value perspective. But UNISON is alert to the challenges ahead.

Peter Hunter said: "Employees and service users need to be very clear, a vote for the in-house option is not a soft option and it certainly isn’t a vote for the status quo. By testing the council service against the very best the market can offer the ABM programme is transforming a vast range of local services. Saving £45m from a cash strapped service is a major challenge but we’re ready to take that test. We’re up for change if it’s a change we can believe in."

Notes for Editors
UNISON briefing

For further details contact:
Peter Hunter, Regional Organiser  Tel: 07740167777
Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser Tel: 07958 122409

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