Headlines: November 2nd, 1998

First responses from the Government’s ‘people’s panel’ show that only half the population thinks public sector services are good enough.The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Dr Jack Cunningham, says continuing research with the 5000 people picked randomly from across the UK, will help deliver public sector services the people want and value.

Dr Cunningham said: “I am delighted to announce that over 5,000 people, selected at random from across the UK, have been recruited to the panel. They will continue to be consulted, via surveys and other methods, to help generate ideas on how services in the public sector can be improved.

“This will form an important part of the wider programme to modernise government and make services more responsive to users.”

“First results from the panel show that there have been some improvements in public services over the last few years, and on balance more people are positive about our public services than are negative. But there is considerable need for the better performance people are entitled to.

“The panel is open to all publicly-funded bodies, and we hope that they will use it. Several departments have submitted bids to use the panel and we will be co-ordinating these carefully to ensure that the panel is being used to best effect. I have set up a cross departmental steering group to ensure that this is the case.”

Key findings from the first wave of research showed that half the panel think public services are what they would expect and 40% think that they fall slightly or a long way short of expectations.

The Post Office, local electricity companies and GPs top the satisfaction ratings, while road and pavement maintenance is the worst regarded public service.

There is strong support (77%) for being able to contact government services by one-stop telephone call centres, but nine out of ten people thought that these should be staffed by peop[le rather than offer a recorded menu of options.

The Cabinet Office has produced a summary of findings, available on the Service First website at:www.servicefirst.gov.uk/panel.htm

Any government department, Next Steps agency, non departmental public body, or any other publicly funded body, local authority, or association representing these organisations who wishes to examine public views of service delivery can use the panel (on a fee basis).