Abstracts: July 23rd, 2007

This report from the Future Services Network sets out a challenge for central and local government to put consumer engagement at the heart of public services. The Network is an alliance founded by the National Consumer Council, third sector leaders and the Confederation of British Industry to bring consumer, voluntary sector and business organisations together to look at how future public service provision could be shaped by the people and communities that use them.A poll commissioned for the report from MORI showed that 83 per cent of respondents would like more influence in deciding how local public services are delivered, such as which doctor or hospital they use, and the priorities for local police.

The poll also provides strong backing for the report’s main recommendations. Public service staff should be empowered and trained to make real change in the way that services are delivered to consumers and the priority should be as much on the quality of the relationship between providers and consumers as on the service outcome. Public service providers must engage consumers and be able to demonstrate tangible change as a result.

In parallel, consumers should be encouraged to engage and acknowledge their rights and responsibilities. The poll found that 91 per cent agree with the statement that every public service should clearly publish the rights and responsibilities of consumers who use that service. Finally, the government should reform regulation to enable consumer engagement to drive service improvement.

The report is available at: http://www.futureservicesnetwork.org/docs/consumerNarrative.pdf