Facility time consultation must end the scandalous taxpayer subsidy to unions

July 13, 2012 1:23 PM

Responding to the Government’s publication of its Consultation on reform to Trade Union facility time and facilities in the Civil Service Matthew Sinclair, Director of the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) said:
This consultation has been a long time coming but we welcome its publication. It’s absolutely right that the Government should be seeking to end the scandalous taxpayer subsidy to unions which are disrupting services and blocking reform in order to maintain their own vested interests. Our research has shown that taxpayers are subsidising the unions to the tune of well over £100 million, which is, if anything, a significant underestimate due to poor record-keeping both in Whitehall and by local authorities.

The consultation should result in solid proposals to end the practice of taxpayers providing the unions with a huge activist base to support strikes while freeing up resources for political campaigning. It’s time for much greater transparency about union activity within the public sector and an end to trade union agitators being paid for at the taxpayers’ expense.

Previous TPA research has shown:

  • Trade Unions received at least £113 million of funding from taxpayers in 2010-11. That is an estimated £80 million in paid staff-time plus £33 million in direct payments.

  • At least 2,840 full time equivalent public sector staff worked on trade union activities or duties at taxpayers' expense in 2010-11. This means that there are now more taxpayer-funded trade unionists in the UK than British Transport Police officers (2,835).

  • In the public sector 0.14 per cent of the annual pay bill is spent on facility time, compared to 0.04 per cent in the private sector. If the number of public sector staff working for trade unions were reduced by the same ratio 2,028 full-time equivalent staff could return to frontline services, equivalent to saving taxpayers £57.2 million

  • The organisation with the highest number of staff working on trade union activities was the Department for Work and Pensions, with 308 full time equivalent staff. HMRC had the second highest number, with 181 full time equivalent staff


Click here for the full report, including a breakdown of local councils, fire authorities, NHS PCTs and trusts and more

Responding to the Government’s publication of its Consultation on reform to Trade Union facility time and facilities in the Civil Service Matthew Sinclair, Director of the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) said:
This consultation has been a long time coming but we welcome its publication. It’s absolutely right that the Government should be seeking to end the scandalous taxpayer subsidy to unions which are disrupting services and blocking reform in order to maintain their own vested interests. Our research has shown that taxpayers are subsidising the unions to the tune of well over £100 million, which is, if anything, a significant underestimate due to poor record-keeping both in Whitehall and by local authorities.

The consultation should result in solid proposals to end the practice of taxpayers providing the unions with a huge activist base to support strikes while freeing up resources for political campaigning. It’s time for much greater transparency about union activity within the public sector and an end to trade union agitators being paid for at the taxpayers’ expense.

Previous TPA research has shown:

  • Trade Unions received at least £113 million of funding from taxpayers in 2010-11. That is an estimated £80 million in paid staff-time plus £33 million in direct payments.

  • At least 2,840 full time equivalent public sector staff worked on trade union activities or duties at taxpayers' expense in 2010-11. This means that there are now more taxpayer-funded trade unionists in the UK than British Transport Police officers (2,835).

  • In the public sector 0.14 per cent of the annual pay bill is spent on facility time, compared to 0.04 per cent in the private sector. If the number of public sector staff working for trade unions were reduced by the same ratio 2,028 full-time equivalent staff could return to frontline services, equivalent to saving taxpayers £57.2 million

  • The organisation with the highest number of staff working on trade union activities was the Department for Work and Pensions, with 308 full time equivalent staff. HMRC had the second highest number, with 181 full time equivalent staff


Click here for the full report, including a breakdown of local councils, fire authorities, NHS PCTs and trusts and more

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