Composite 4 – Public Services October 2001

Composite 4 Passed without dissent by Labour Party Conference October 2001

Conference notes that during the General Election Labour promised radical improvements in public services, and this was endorsed by the electorate.

This Conference welcomes the Government’s recent commitment to ‘delivering world class public services’, and providing the necessary investment to do the job, but believes that the real test is whether it translates into real improvements for service users.

We call on the Government to reaffirm its philosophical commitment to public services, and Labour’s manifesto pledge to increase investment. We believe that strong public services are vital to achieve social justice. The Government should guarantee that extra investment is matched with reform, so that all services are brought up to the standard of the best already.

Conference welcomes the Prime Minister’s commitment to reverse the historically low investment in public services, and the announcement that investment is now increasing faster than in the rest of Europe, especially in health and education. We note that the second Comprehensive Spending Review and NHS Plan will involve an extra £43 billion being spent on public services between 2001 and 2004.

Whilst welcoming this record investment, Conference believes it must be combined with (illegible) the British people are to receive the public services they deserve and recognised that it was on the platform of investment and reform that we fought and won a second General Election.

Conference notes that throughout the twentieth century investment in public services vastly extended access to affordable housing, educational opportunities, and universal health care without fear of personal cost. In order to enhance the social advances achieved by the public sector, we Must build upon its experience of democratic management systems, accountable public investment, customer-focused service-delivery and innovation and spread good practice throughout the sector. In order to do this, public services must include effective partnerships with community-based and co-operative forms of service provision. The issue for the efficient and fair delivery of public services is greater not less public accountability for all the people who use those services.

The commitment of public service workers is key to the delivery of quality public services.

We believe that the government needs to tackle the staff recruitment and retention crisis, which is threatening vital public services to the community, with improved pay and working conditions. Well-paid, motivated, secure and trained staff are needed to deliver world class public services. The need to retain staff is crucial to the expansion and improved quality of public services. Conference therefore welcomes the Bett report and the proposed Agenda for Change, which introduced fairness and equal opportunity for all staff and look forward to the day when all staff will be on the same pay and conditions structure.

Training and education to enhance the career prospects of all public service staff need to be universal rather than piecemeal as at present. Reducing workload and working hours will in the short-term require recruitment of staff on a global basis until our own increased recruitment and training fulfils our needs. In this process it is essential that the needs of developing countries are respected.

Conference supports high quality public services and welcomes the genuine dialogue between the government, health and local government unions on the future of public services. We recognise that differences remain on private sector involvement. This Conference believes that our dedicated public servants with their commitment, expertise and professionalism have a lead role to play in reform and equally believes that the skills, talent and knowledge of those in the voluntary and private sectors should also be utilised where they have a contribution to make in improving services for those who depend upon them. But Conference does not believe that high quality or value for money can be achieved by privatisation of public services.

Outsourcing, PFI and transfer of ownership of housing stock must not be the only show around. Conference calls for reform of local government finance to allow councils to borrow to invest in services and so provide fairness between public and private investment in essential services.

The Government will not achieve its aim of improving public services only through involving the private sector in the provision of public services. Instead, we believe that the Labour Government should make the following immediate commitments to ensure effective delivery of public services:

a) Public servants to be able to directly provide core public services, with increased investment in the training and development of the workforce;

b) To ensure that the health and safety of the public and staff cannot be put at risk by fragmenting the management of key public services;

c) Action to end the recruitment and retention crisis that is threatening the maintenance of vital services to the community, including tackling the causes of low morale, making pay rates more attractive, ending discrimination against women and delivering equal pay;

d) Sustained increases in funds for direct capital investment in public services including allowing public authorities to borrow to invest, and reform the Private Finance Initiative;

e) Funding to meet higher education’s capital investment needs;

f) Continued funding to support the development of public transport and protection of the environment;

g) Establish measures to protect all low paid employees working in contracting out services including fair pay, conditions and pensions;

h) A review of the best value process including the effects of efficiency savings and action to ensure that the position of all staff is protected.

Conference supports public service reform because failure will allow the enemies of the public services, the Tories, to further undermine them and argue for them to become a second class service for those who cannot afford an alternative.

Mover: Unison

Seconder: Pendle CLP

Spelling has been corrected, but the grammar is garbled in the original.