Headlines: December 1st, 2010

The Government has published its framework for reform of public services which sets out the general direction of travel. It has invited the views of providers and users of services to inform a White Paper to be published next year.

The key feature of the framework is shifting power away from central government to the local level. This means devolution beyond local councils to citizens, communities, and independent providers, so that they can play a greater role in shaping services.

For health services, it is proposed to extend innovative payment and funding mechanisms, such as personal budgets and payment-by-results commissioning in more areas.

The opportunity for communities and public employees to buy and run services has been extended across the board and this will be supplemented by developing new rights which set proportions of certain services that should be provided independently. Where communities and employees set up co-ops and mutuals there is a risk of failure and views are sought on how best to ensure that continuity of service is maintained in any public service that is provided by voluntary, community or business groups.

Reform will also be supported by encouraging private and institutional investors to engage with the developing social investment market and benefit from more balanced portfolios and new approaches to corporate social responsibility.

The White Paper to be published next year will put flesh on the framework and views have been invited from users and providers of services giving specific examples on how the reforms could be successfully implemented. These views will help to shape the White Paper. The closing date for responses is 5 January 2011.