Outcome for the user becomes King: The Open Public Services White Paper

This morning I am a proud Conservative. The Government has announced a new white paper that will set-out an automatic right for charity, public and private bodies to argue that they can best deliver services to the public. This is the final part of the trilogy of Big Society’ specific legislation – alongside the Localism Bill and Giving Green Paper – that gives all of us more control over our lives. This change can be best described by the mental shift from “public services” to “public budgets”.

 If the state is failing you then transparency will let you discover why. If a specific area has better services then you can find-out why. If you believe that you can better meet the objectives of our society then you will be able to offer your alternatives.

 This is not about implementing laissez-faire, Darwinean ideology. As David Cameron has said time and again the state has a very important part in making Big Society happen. “Of course, the State will still have a crucial role to play: ensuring fair funding, ensuring fair competition, and ensuring that everyone – regardless of wealth – gets fair access.”

 Big Society legislation is about allowing creativity and diversity to flourish by opening-up public services to bespoke providers. Under the State monopoly it could often feel like it was the provider who dictated what happened. In this new environment those who receive services will become King.

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3 Responses to Outcome for the user becomes King: The Open Public Services White Paper

  1. tom beebe st louis says:

    As a Yank, I’m not sure I understand everything said in “this common language which divides us”, but I wish to enter into any debate on public (involuntary) vs. private (charitable, voluntary) succor to those in need. It is words from long ago:

    There are eight levels of charity, each greater than the next.

    [1] The greatest level, above which there is no greater, is to support a fellow Person by endowing him with a gift or loan, or entering into a partnership with him, or finding employment for him, in order to strengthen his hand until he need no longer be dependent upon others…

    [2] A lesser level of charity than this is to give to the poor without knowing to whom one gives, and without the recipient knowing from whom he received the gift. For this is performing a good deed solely for the sake of Heaven. This is like the “anonymous fund” that was in the Holy Temple [in Jerusalem]. There the righteous gave in secret, and the good poor profited in secret. Giving to a charity fund is similar to this mode of charity, though one should not contribute to a charity fund unless one knows that the person appointed over the fund is trustworthy and wise and a proper administrator

    [3] A lesser level of charity than this is when one knows to whom one gives, but the recipient does not know his benefactor. The greatest sages used to walk about in secret and put coins in the doors of the poor. It is worthy and truly good to do this if those who are responsible for distributing charity are not trustworthy (like Gov Bureaucrats).

    [4] A lesser level of charity than this is when one does not know to whom one gives, but the poor person does know his benefactor. The greatest sages used to tie coins into their robes and throw them behind their backs, and the poor would come up and pick the coins out of their robes so that they would not be ashamed.

    [5] A lesser level than this is when one gives to the poor person directly into his hand, but gives before being asked.

    [6] A lesser level than this is when one gives to the poor person after being asked.

    [7] A lesser level than this is when one gives inadequately, but gives gladly and with a smile.

    [8] A lesser level than this is when one gives unwillingly. (like taxes which are not really charity at all)

    8 levels of Charity by Moses Maimonides

  2. Nick Denys (aka Betapolitics) says:

    Thanks Tom. Really interesting. I supose the question is how do you get enough people to give enough through stages 1 – 7 without having to resort to 8?

  3. I worked for 16 years in local government until I parted company with my employer a year ago having reached the role of Director. The ambition that drove me to one of the highest level jobs was in part to do with believing that if I were more senior I would be able to make more of a difference to the quality of services provided and contracted.

    Since leaving employment I have set up a business providing consultancy to both public and private sectors. With a broader perspective I am sad to say that the only way for public services to improve is if they are taken away from local government or at least for the incumbent service provider to subjected to some healthy competition. Time and again councils have shown that, with few exceptions, they just cannot provide good value. The conflicting interests (political and managerial to name but two) alongside being a monopolistic provider has meant that low standards of service and high levels of cost have become the norm, to the detriment of the majority.

    Only time will tell if the White Paper delivers what has been promised. Opening up service to competition, especially from smaller, local firms can only be a good thing. However current barriers to bidding for public sector contracts are enormous and, as well as a presumption of outsourcing from the White Paper, the approach to public procurement must also be addressed.

    It is heartening to hear positive rhetoric from David Cameron concerning small businesses; tomorrow’s Office for Tax Simplification report, as well as the budget, will show if the Government really mean what they say and if the open Public Services White Paper will form part of a coherent approach.

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