Edinburgh Budget: Services and living wage best way to help local economy

UNISON has called on today’s Edinburgh Council meeting to protect services and pay a living wage to help boost the local economy out of recession.

The union has also called on Holyrood and Westminster to stop starving local authorities of funding and take positive action to invest in services and jobs.

“We don’t doubt that the Council faces difficult challenges from huge cuts in central government funding in the next three years. But it is now time to take a different approach and abandon costly consultants and privatisations and get on with engaging their own workers in protecting everyone’s local services”, said John Stevenson, Edinburgh UNISON President.

“There is an alternative to the slash and burn that is getting the whole economy deeper and deeper into trouble”, said Mr Stevenson, calling on national government to fund local councils properly and “abandon the failed policies of austerity which are creating more unemployment, more poverty and fatally undermining the services we all rely on.”

“The best way to deal with the deficit is to create employment, not cut it. Rebuilding public services benefits both the public sector and the private sector. The more people there are in work, the more there is in taxes to deal with the deficit and the more there is to put back into the economy.

“One way to do that in Edinburgh would be to pay a living wage of at least £7.20 an hour and encourage other employers to do the same. Unlike the very rich, low paid public service workers spend most of what they earn in the local economy.That money would go into Edinburgh businesses at a time when they need it most.

“Overall, the best way to use the undoubted wealth that exists in the UK is to put it to work for everyone rather than being hoarded by the few.”