Public service reform is about turning potential into reality, rather than polishing up at the margins. The challenge is to bring about a transformation in the way services are delivered. Transformed public services will involve moving power away from ministers, civil servants and local politicians and putting it into the hands of communities.
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. The challenge is give local people greater influence in how public services are delivered.
The world is changing and everyone concerned with national and local government has to change with it. This involves closing the gap between Whitehall policy and frontline delivery of public services. There needs to be a radical rethink of performance management in the Civil Service and steps to ensure that public service improvements are based on the latest evidence and insight.
A Public Services summit recently revealed proposals for a smaller, stronger centre of government to speed up reform. This will improve accountability and give greater independence to frontline staff. Giving more freedom to staff delivering public services is a well tried route to improving basic standards of service.
Transforming services is only part of the challenge. The other part is to transform thinking. There are new initiatives, but that thinking needs to change to create a tsunami effect.
Personal values are crucial in designing and delivering public services. Managers interpret situations strategically within the context of their values. For example, those who value equity and a sense of fairness will respond to situations in a quite different way to those who value efficiency as their top priority. Values need to be aligned with customer needs.
Publicnet carries of more than ten years of material about the reform of UK public services.
Here are some links for you to follow. If the particular aspect of public service reform does not feature in the links below, please use the search facility to track down what you want.
CONCERNS RAISED OVER ‘NEW POLITICIANS’ IN POLICE REFORMS
The Home Office is being urged to reconsider proposals for new politicians to act as policing representatives amid fears that the move might alienate ordinary voters.
NEW REALITY: GOVERNMENT AND THE IPOD GENERATION
This report from Reform suggests that government can be transformed for the better if it adopts some of the values of the IPOD generation, which is characterised as insecure, pressurised, over-taxed and debt-ridden.
SOCIAL CARE REFORM PIONEERS CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT
Involving citizens in the design and delivery of services has become a key lever in the drive for public service reform improvement.
WORLD-CLASS PUBLIC SERVICES: ENGAGING CITIZENS AND STAFF
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.
PATH TO EMPOWERMENT
Devolving power from Whitehall to town halls and then to communities is seen as the route to revitalizing democracy. Within this empowerment process, councillors play a vital role because they represent local people and are concerned about local issues.
This guide on smart working has been published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Research by the Institute revealed that smart working is still an aspiration rather than a reality in the UK.
INCREASING POLICE EFFICIENCY WITH MOBILE TECHNOLOGY
Bureaucracy and form filling are characteristics of public services. Police forces are no exception and beat officers have been spending almost half their time at the police station. The problem is being tackled vigorously and officers now spend much more time on the beat and less at the station.
TRANSFORMATIONAL GOVERNMENT SET TO INCREASE
Public services have not been making the transition to provide more innovative and effective outcomes quickly enough. There are examples of innovative thinking, but it’s really only scraping the surface of what could be achieved.