Book News: January 8th, 2009

People expect more from public services and the higher expectations must be met despite a slowdown in the growth of public expenditure. The next spending round is going to be extremely challenging. This report from the Work Foundation looks at the challenge.

Over the past few years, spending on public services has increased and standards have risen, yet confidence in public services has declined. Similarly, despite the drive towards empowerment and engagement over the past 10 years, around three quarters of the population feel they have no influence or involvement in public services, and do not feel particularly well informed either.

At local level the public acknowledge some improvements to services but feel that their views are not always listened to. Citizens want higher customer service standards, greater flexibility and responsiveness, fairness and a supportive relationship that focuses on encouragement and engagement rather than enforced sanctions or rewards.

In light of this, the quality of communication with the public acquires greater significance and technology has a key role to play in the delivery of world class public services. It can enable improved engagement of citizens through the personalisation of services, in providing access to services across multiple communication channels and in fostering open communication between local public services and citizens.

Being able to contact the public sector once rather than several times when you are bereaved or when you have moved house would make a considerable difference to the quality of data held by the public sector and the experience of the public, as well as being more cost effective.

World-class public services is available here.