Posted on Thursday 4th July 2013
Read INLOGOVs new book: Making sense of the future: do we need a new model of public services.
Public services, including those commissioned and delivered by local government, have changed substantially in the past ten years. There have been changes in service delivery mechanisms, in relationships between users and services, in organisational structures and in partnership arrangements. It appears likely that the next ten years will bring at least as much change, if not more.
INLOGOV is developing a new model of public services, in partnership with public service leaders, as a way of drawing together many of the themes in current debates about the ways in which the public sector will have to change. In particular, we are looking at how public services can manage demand, build capacity and strengthen mutual understanding, through the development of stronger relationships with communities as well as through co-production and behaviour change. The purpose of this model is to provide a framework to support public service leaders – both political and managerial – to make better sense of a complex world and find workable solutions to previously intractable problems.
Why do we need a relational revolution? The challenge of enabling genuinely relational services is not new, but it is growing and becoming more urgent. It is a simple fact of demography that personal social care is going to become an even greater part of public service and (for the foreseeable future at least) a political reality that the financial resources available to support it are going to be even fewer. Working out how to meet the needs of vulnerable older people with humanity is one of the most pressing issues facing local public services. The relational challenge, however, goes much further.
A three-fold change to the design and delivery of public services has been taking place over the past decade. Expectations of user choice or personalisation, emergent localism and most particularly the implications of cuts in public spending, increase tensions within the public service framework. One key factor underpins all of them: they require fundamental change in the expectations of individuals, communities and service providers if best use is to be made of ever diminishing resources and whilst securing public well-being. Many experts have said that the critical public service challenge of the decade is to encourage behaviour that benefits both the individual and the state, whilst preventing long term expense. They want to discourage behaviour which creates user dependency and attracts further costs. Behaviour change is vitally important, they say, because we can no longer provide the services we have always done, in the way we have always provided them. Various approaches to altering the behaviour of citizens have been outlined in a growing body of evidence including Nudge (Thaler and Sustein) ‘Think’ (John et al) and MINDSPACE (Dolan et al).
However, in this chapter we set out our belief that behaviour change is a necessary but not a sufficient response to the challenges facing public services, because it focuses too heavily on individuals and not on the system as a whole. There is too much reliance on service users choosing to do something different when actually the need is for the individual and the community to think differently. We believe that this requires an attitudinal or cultural change and not simply behavioural change. INLOGOV’s new model for public services provides a useful distinction between individual co-production, community co-production and self-help activities (see Chapter 4) which this chapter will draw upon.
Chapter 4 Bovaird and Loeffler
We’re all in this together: harnessing user and community co-production of public outcomes
Co-production is big – it is rapidly becoming one of the most talked-about themes in public services internationally (Bovaird, 2007; Alford, 2009) and in the UK (nef, 2008; Loeffler, 2009; Department of Health, 2010).
In this chapter, we set out what co-production is, why it matters and its implications for public services, as part of the INLOGOV model. We argue that the movement towards co-production can be conceptualized as a shift from ‘public services for the public’ towards ‘public services by the public’, within the framework of a public sector which continues to represent the public interest, not simply the interests of ‘consumers’ of public services.
In this paper we suggest that the conceptualisation of risk depends on the character of uncertainty in which public service organisations operate and the content of the knowledge domain in which they make decisions. Very different approaches to risk management are appropriate to different parts of public organisations, depending on their specific cultures and the issues being handled.
Risk management needs to focus more on those risks to the actual outcomes experienced by service users, communities and citizens generally; and less on the institutional risks to the organisations themselves and the people within them. A key element of future strategies must be to embed resilience within service users, communities, service providers and service systems. We propose an approach to managing risk and resilience which is based on an integrated risk enablement strategy.