Headlines: May 16th, 2002

Private sector involvement in delivering public services requires the development of a new ethos. This argument is put forward by the New Local Government Network in a report by Rod Aldridge, Executive Chairman of Capita Group Plc and Gerry Stoker, Professor of Politics at Manchester University. The report carries a foreword by Charles Clarke MP, Chairman of the Labour Party.

The new ethos, which would be adopted by service providers in the public and private sectors, would be made up from the following elements. There would be a performance culture with a strong commitment to service for individuals and the community reflected in world class service delivery. There would be a commitment to accountability with an emphasis on open access to information both to individuals and to groups of interested citizens. A capacity would be needed to support universal access and recognize the responsibility to support the rights of all service users. Responsible employment practice would be essential with well trained, well-managed and well-motivated staff who act professionally and are fairly rewarded. Finally there would need to be a contribution to community well-being.

The development of this new culture would be taken forward by a charter endorsed by all key stakeholders and social partners that expresses an agreed vision of a new public service ethos. A cadre of public service leaders and managers would have to be created to sustain the ethos across all providers, valuing both operational effectiveness and policy formation. It would also be important for the ethos to be incorporated into the procurement process so public authorities would be able to test potential providers and in-house provision against the ethos criteria.

Copies of ‘Advancing a New Public Service’ are available from York Publishing Services Ltd. Tel: 01904 431213. Email: orders@yps.ymn.co.uk