Headlines: May 23rd, 2006

The TUC and the Government have jointly launched an online toolkit to get people working in the public sector more involved in improving services. The web-based ‘Drive for Change’ is being sponsored by the Public Services Forum. The initiative involved employers and public sector trade unions.’Drive for Change’ has been designed to help managers, union representatives and employees work together to bring about changes public services. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Hilary Armstrong, who was joined by TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber to launch the kit, said employee engagement was the key to successful public service improvement. “The toolkit will make a real difference to ordinary people by bringing managers, unions and employees together to drive forward positive change in public services,” she said.

She stressed that reform of the public services was not about change for the sake of change but about improving people’s life chances. The Government, she said, had done well with its reforms so far but this was not a reason to stop.

Endorsing the importance of the toolkit, Brendan Barber, said change could be a difficult process and it was important that best practice and valuable lessons were shared throughout the public sector so that services and working environments improved across the board. “The tool kit is concrete proof that the only way to reform public services is to fully involve the dedicated staff that deliver them day-in-day-out across the country,” he added.

The toolkit has been piloted in a number of areas, including at Holloway Prison, where self harm among inmates is down by two thirds. Birmingham City Council is to pilot a self-rostering system that will arrange care around elderly residents’ needs rather than a rigid shift system. It will also give carers more flexible working hours. Sheffield City Council and Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Trust have also been involved in the trials. More information about Drive for Change is available at http://www.driveforchange.org.uk/