Headlines: September 27th, 2004

An alliance, just two months old, will present its case for representing public service users at the Labour and Conservative Party’s conferences. Under the label of ‘Future Services’ the new alliance which is made up of The National Consumer Council, the Confederation of British Industry and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, aims to take the voice of users to the heart of the public service reform debate.At a recent event organised by Future Services, business leaders, local government representatives, senior civil servants, charity chief executives and think tanks, expressed concern that public sector reform has so far followed a top-down approach. Delegates called for a shift to a bottom-up approach which would ensure that the choices currently being developed by the Government are those that communities and individuals actually want.

The voluntary sector believes that the alliance will give it greater leverage in extending its role beyond delivering public services to changing and reforming them. John Lowe, Chief Executive of the RNID said: “We, in the voluntary sector, have a passion that you would find very difficult to distil and capture in other areas. We’ve got passion in public services, we’ve got passion for what we’re doing. The voluntary sector is capable of bringing that sense of rootedness down into the needs of the user and to be able to act in an effective way across sectors of public services.”