Welcome to the Public Works blog.

Public Works is UNISON Scotland's campaign for jobs, services, fair taxation and the Living Wage. This blog will provide news and analysis on the delivery of public services in Scotland. We welcome comments and if you would like to contribute to this blog, please contact Dave Watson d.watson@unison.co.uk. For other information on what's happening in UNISON Scotland please visit our website.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

College Cuts: Plenty Of Pain But No Evidence Of Any Gain

As UNISON stated when the proposals came out college mergers have not improved further education. Audit Scotland’s review: Scotland's Colleges 2015 confirm that our concerns about the changes in further education colleges have been realised. As we stated during the consultation, any savings would come from job losses. There is no evidence of any other savings other than these job cuts. There were no measures in place to capture the costs of mergers and/or savings from the process other than staff costs. The Scottish Government promised that mergers would make £50m a year savings by reduced duplication and better engagement with employers. College funding has fallen by £26.1m between 2011-12 and 2012-13. There are still no mechanisms in place to capture this information. It is impossible to judge success without any criteria to measure it by.

Audit Scotland also state that "many of the effects of the mergers are still taking place, however, and there are continuing challenges for the sector: IT systems still have to be integrated and staff terms and conditions have yet to be standardised” Again staff are an afterthought in a process of change rather than central to it."

What we do know is that staff numbers have been cut by 9.3% and that there has been a 48% reduction in part-time students and 41% in those who are 25 and over. At a time of wider job losses cutting back on the opportunity to retrain and gain new skills and combine this with part-time work will not only harm individuals but will hold back economic recovery.

UNISON welcomed measures put forward by the Government to improve governance and accountability in our colleges so there is no celebration here that our concerns have been proved right. What we want is high quality services that meet the needs of our communities. Listening to the workers who deliver services helps get things right: prevention is after all better than cure

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