I have just spoken at an event hosted by the Public Management and Policy Association. As the topic was public service reform I had to wrestle with a way of describing the Coalition’s strategy. So what you are about to read is at least new even if it isn't original or well-developed.
I decided to label the Coalition’s emerging model for public services as ‘civic markets’. This describes the attempt to bind together a strategy for civic renewal (the Big Society) with a more traditional right of centre (accelerated New Labour) faith in market mechanisms.
In essence this means that more of the public sector will be opened up to competition among purchasers and providers but a variety of mechanisms will be used to try to ensure a stronger civic element to these markets. The mechanisms include:
There are a number of issues which a model of civic markets needs to address:
The speech went down OK with questions which sought to develop the ideas rather than contradict them. So relying as usual on the intelligent comments of my readers I might elaborate on some of this later in the week.
Civic markets have a lot in common with vision for public services developed by the 2020 Public Services Trust here at the RSA but there are also important differences. So these are bewildering times for public service commentators and advisers, our thinking needs quickly to catch up with the scale and pace of change in Government policy.
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