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HM Government: Policy Review

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Public Services

Over the past 10 years, there has been substantial investment in, and reform of, public services. The Government set clear goals and stretching targets to get the most out of its investment. Then an ambitious programme was begun to creat self–sustaining services in which the service user – rather than central Government – became the driver of how the service developed.

A great deal has been achieved: services have improved; educational attainement is up; crime and NHS waiting lists are down. In crucial ways, citizens are more empowered. Yet expectations move on, and the process of personalising services around the user so that they are tailored to citizens' differing needs and preferences is not yet complete.

This was the context to the deliberations of the Working Group on Public Services, established as part of the Policy Review – and their guiding principle was that public service reform must be taken to the next stage.

During the policy review process, the Government posed the question of how reform based on personalistion and equity could be driven forward. The process has allowed the Government to undertake a fundamental, wide–ranging look at what can be achieved over the next ten years.

It has encompassed a variety of new and often innovative forums for generating new ideas. For example, citizens have been directly involved in this process though five deliberative forums across the country and a Citizens Summit at Downing Street. Ministers from across Government have been encouraged to think outside their immediate portfolios in a range of seminars.

The paper, Building on Progress, Public Services [PDF 1,673KB, 87 pages] draws heavily on these deliberative forums and seminars, as well as the conclusions of the Working Group.

It argues that, in order to improve public services over the next ten years, the Government should:

The vision at the heart of the paper is to create self–improving institutions of public service, drawing on the best of public, private and voluntary provision. It argues that these institutions must be free to develop in the way they need to, responsive to the needs and preferences of citizens and with a flexible workforce that is able to innovate and change. Out of this vision will come a new concept of modern public services: one built around the user of the service.

As part of the Policy review process, a presentation by the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, outlining the challenges facing public services was published in January 2007.

Public Services [PDF, 41 pages, 361KB]

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