Abstracts: August 19th, 2009

Innovation is seen as the key force for change in public services according to a paper from the Strategy Unity. The paper draws on nearly 50 interviews with leading experts in public service reform from around the world and probes specific elements of service innovation and wider lessons for service management.

The paper argues that a radical dispersal of power to patients, parents and citizens and a drive to free up the front line of public services is the way forward. In the next decade there needs to be radical thinking about power, a realistic attitude about money and relentless innovation.

The paper shows how key changes lie behind the ‘power shift’ that is changing the relationship between citizens and state, front line and the centre, around the world. These changes include using entitlements to put power in the hands of users of services, transforming accountability of services through real?time, highly local information, and incentivising the creation of tailor-made personalised services which citizens can shape. The other major change is creating a new professionalism in front-line staff and leaders.

The rate of growth of public spending is set to be lower than in the decade that has passed. This will require stepping up the drive to improve value for money by taking hard decisions on priorities as needs change, redesigning services, sharing assets better and cutting bureaucracy. Identifying and delivering such value will need to be a shared endeavour between central government, local government and services, front-line professionals and citizens.

POWER IN PEOPLE’S HANDS is available from the Cabinet Office. http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/strategy/publications/world-class-public-services.aspx