The case for public service reform

Chris Naylor asks if there's a better way to deliver public services. Many of these were designed nearly a century ago to address the challenges of that time; from cradle to grave, offering help and support during times of need - just enough to get you back on your feet. But as we approach the quarter-way mark in the 21st century, our context today is radically different to that of 100 years ago. Dig a little deeper and some of the other assumptions that underpinned Beveridge’s vision of a welfare state no longer hold either: full employment; economic and fiscal growth; the presumption of unpaid domestic care (then done by women) and of affordable housing. Little wonder that services designed to respond to momentary problems in a person or household life can’t cope with the tsunami of demand that comes when those problems last for decades. And if our public services can’t cope with collective demand, the worry is this is contributing to a collapse in the trust we place in our public institutions and therefore in our politics too. As the years go by, as trust declines, so the problems get harder and harder to resolve. So what are we going to do about this? Is there a better way to deliver public services? Chris Naylor, the former Chief Executive of Barking and Dagenham Council assesses the need for public service reform, meeting innovators and talking to those who design and use public services. Is it time for a radical rethink? Producer: Jim Frank Production Coordinators: Maria Ogundele and Jacqui Johnson Editor: Hugh Levinson

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