Book News: May 12th, 2009

By Nigel Keohane

This report from the New Local Government Network argues that decisions on public services across health, leisure, transport and the local environment should be handed down to individuals and communities.

The traditional centralised provision of services often disregards the specific needs of individuals, leads to massive wastage and fails to meet the rising expectations of citizens. Instead, the next stage of public service reform should see citizens making their own choices and communities should be empowered to generate their own revenue and invest in services that meet the needs of their local neighbourhoods. It is only elected local government that is best placed to intervene and tailor responses to individuals who are out of work, homeless or in receipt of care.

The report describes measures which could be used to personalize services. Leisure and recreation vouchers could be issued by councils to allow young people to choose which sports or recreation services they preferred. Examples include leisure centres, renting football pitches or hiring a recording studio.

Lessons should be learned from market leaders such as the Tesco Clubcard and Amazon, with councils providing residents with local swipe cards to access services that can be credited with rewards and topped-up, and in turn provide evidence for shaping services based on customer usage and preferences.

People Power is published by the New Local Government Network. ISBN: 978 1 903. 447 77 2 at £15