Abstracts: July 4th, 2012

This report from the Public Management and Policy Association focuses on identifying the new skills that policy-making will require across all public services in an age of austerity under a coalition government whose agenda requires a paradigm shift in the roles and relationships of central and local government, communities and citizens.

Through decentralization, transparency and accountability we can give people power
over the services they use, over the way their tax money is spent, over how their
local area is run.

But the state must go further than enabling these opportunities. It must actively help people take advantage of them. Our enabling reforms depend for their success on a social response: and that is not something we can leave to chance. How do we get parents to come forward and demand new schools in their area? How do we make sure people actually go to beat meetings and use them to put pressure on the police? How do we find successful social programmes and make sure they’re introduced everywhere there is a need? In other words, how do we guarantee that the big society advances as big government retreats?

The challenge for public services and servants is that this potentially poses a far more fundamental challenge to the skills and mindsets of those who deliver (and receive) public services than that of (simply) making financial ends meet until the
economy picks up (and the levels of public and private debt fall to viable levels). A challenge that may be necessitated (in part) by the need to steer the economy through the austerity imposed by the great recession, but one which is more concerned to achieve a lasting shift in society and the relationship between individuals, local communities and the state.

The report is published by PMPA and can be downloaded here.