Headlines: January 27th, 1998

Dr David Clark and his teams of ministers and officials have been working on the Better Government proposals since last summer. With publication of the White Paper due in the Spring ideas are being tested and new thinking encouraged. During the past few months thinking has progressed from greater use of technology and the introduction of smart cards to a much more radical approach. The aim now is a seamless delivery of services. As far as the customer is concerned they would not be aware which central department or local authority was involved.In order to take seamless delivery forward it is clearly necessary for the various service providers to share thinking. Public Service Minister Peter Kilfoyle started this process by chairing the first of six workshops. He said: “They have been set up to look at new ways of improving the delivery of public services and will inform the Government’s thinking on the forthcoming Better Government White Paper.”

The workshop was attended by 14 people from different areas of public service including local authorities and an NHS Trust in London and the South East. There was particular interest in views on how services can work more closely to benefit groups such as older people or business. One of the ideas in the White Paper is that services should focus on events such as starting a business and that one organisation should front the operation. Currently people starting businesses must deal with Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise and the Contributions Agency.