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Securing the future of our public services

Our public services face tough challenges over the coming years in all parts of the UK. Some of these challenges reflect demographic changes, with people living longer and placing greater, and in some cases different, demands on services such as the NHS, social care and our public housing stock. Others reflect scientific and technological innovations, including breakthroughs in medicine that lead to new and often more expensive treatments and higher expectations from patients. But there are also more immediate and more politically rooted challenges. These are a consequence of the public spending cuts being implemented by the coalition government, and the range of related measures and policies that are being pursued partly to reduce short term costs and partly out of an ideological preference for a smaller state and market/private sector solutions. While these impact to different degrees across the nations, with England more vulnerable to coalition policies in devolved policy areas, austerity doesn’t stop at national   borders.

These challenges are being felt right across the public services: by service users, their families and public service workers alike. The first section document summarises key issues and immediate priorities that need to be addressed for public services to be able to continue to serve our communities and secure the sound base from which to tackle longer terms challenges outlined above. Section two then goes on to provide a short snapshot of what is currently happening in different parts of the public services in which UNISON has members: health and social care, local government, community and voluntary sector, police and probation, and education. This also includes utilities, where UNISON also has members and which also provide vital services to the public.

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