Abstracts: June 30th, 2008

This document sets out the Government’s strategy for a new phase of public service reform. The introduction is written by the Prime Minster, Gordon Brown.

The creation of a world class public service is a key priority for the Government. While many public sector organizations are already world class, some are not. Many services, when taken as a whole, are not yet able to offer the world class service that the public increasingly expect.

The challenge is for public services to move from above average in the global league of effectiveness to the top. The yardstick for success should not only be whether services have improved on last year’s results but also whether they are among the best in the world. It should also not be simply how public services compare against each other, but how they compare against the best provision available to those who can afford it in the very best private sector organisations, or against the most trusted third sector providers. This will involve clear standards, zero tolerance of underperformance, more choice and greater contestability.

The strategy for achieving the new phase of reform will comprise a three pronged approach: empowerment of citizens; fostering a new professionalism and providing strong strategic leadership from the centre.

Empowering citizens who use public services will involve extending choice and complementing it with more direct forms of individual control, such as personal budgets in areas like care. There will also be opportunities for people to do more themselves, such as manage their own health; stronger local accountability, such as directly-elected police representatives; and providing greater transparency of performance.

A new professionalism will be promoted across the whole public service workforce from the dinner lady to the head teacher, from the hospital porter to the consultant. This combines increased responsiveness to users, consistent quality in day-to-day practices and higher levels of autonomy from central government. There will be greater investment in workforce skills and wherever those at the front line show the ambition and capacity to excel they will be supported.

Strong strategic leadership from central government will be provided to ensure that direct intervention is more sharply concentrated on underperforming organisations, while the conditions are created for the majority to thrive more autonomously. Government needs to give overall direction and purpose to public services, guaranteeing minimum standards and fairness, investing in outcomes, growing local capacity and promoting innovation.

The document is available from the Cabinet Office.http://www.pm.gov.uk/files/pdf/psr.pdf