5 years ago

Taxpayer funding of trade unions - The TaxPayers' Alliance

Taxpayer funding of trade unions - The TaxPayers' Alliance

taxpayers’ expense,

taxpayers’ expense, the unions will be able to use the rest of their income for political activities. 55 Tufton Street, London, SW1P 3QL � � 0845 330 9554 (office hours) � 07795 084 113 (24 hours) 4

The Current Climate Many unions have been vocal opponents of the spending cuts needed to reduce the deficit. It has been reported that, in order to fight against cuts in spending, some unions have prepared a £25 million “war chest”. 8 This effectively could make the taxpayer pay twice for union activity: once for representation in the public sector; and again in higher government borrowing costs if spending is not cut. Trade unions should pay for representation within public sector organisations themselves through subscriptions; it is unfair that taxpayers have to shoulder that burden. Unions raise substantial sums through membership subscriptions, for example staff in the Home Office alone paid nearly £2 million in 2009-10. Programmes that give taxpayers’ money to trade unions under the guise of workforce improvement should also be scrapped. This includes both the Union Modernisation Fund (UMF) and the Union Learning Fund (ULF). The Employment Relations Act 2004 created the £10 million “Modernisation Fund” for trade unions. According to the former Department of Trade and Industry, the purpose of the fund is to: “provide financial assistance to independent trade unions and their federations in support of innovative projects which speed unions' adaptation to a changing labour market and new ways of working” 9 Similarly the ULF is a source of funding to help trade unions and their ULRs develop projects to enable them to work effectively with employers, employees and learning providers to encourage greater take up of learning in the workplace. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills granted £13,028,285 in 2008-09 and £14,854,453 in 2009-10 to trade unions under the two funds. The projects funded were, in the main, geared towards expanding union membership. For example, in 2009 the UMF awarded money to a GMB ‘engaging communities and building social capital’ project. According to the BIS website: “The project seeks to reach out beyond the union’s usual boundaries into vulnerable communities, breaking down barriers to employment rights knowledge, developing relationships with community leaders and 8 Chapman, J. ‘Unions build up £25m war chest and prepare to ‘unleash hell’ on Tories’, Daily Mail, 17 December 2009 9 See 55 Tufton Street, London, SW1P 3QL � � 0845 330 9554 (office hours) � 07795 084 113 (24 hours) 5

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