Open Public Services: the Jury’s outFollow @pwc_ukgov
By Paul Cleal, Partner and PwC Government and Public Sector Leader
As part of our Under Pressure programme, PwC convened a Citizens’ Jury to understand the general public’s views on who should deliver public services, including the related risks (and opportunities).
The UK Government, through its Open Public Services Agenda is looking at the future delivery of public services, including the roles for the public, private and not-for-profit sectors in providing them.
To assist with their thinking, alongside BritainThinks, we convened a Citizens’ Jury - 24 people broadly representative of the UK population with different needs and experiences of public services.
After two days of deliberation, the Jury felt that there was a clear case for a number of services to continue to be publicly funded. These included services where it is felt everyone should have equal access and those which need to be provided to secure the public good, public safety or quality of life.
However, the Jury also thought that there were few services that absolutely must be delivered by the public sector, the exceptions being those where providers have the authority to use force and those that require immediate and coordinated planning - like policing major incidents. The Jury summed up their thinking with the following five tests for government to consider before public services are opened out to different providers:
- Will using the private or not-for-profit sector deliver better value than a public sector provider?
- Will a private or not-for-profit sector provider bring expertise or specialism that is hard to find in the public sector?
- How can we procure the service most effectively, so that we actually get the service we need?
- Is it clear who is accountable to the users for the delivery of the service?
- Will services continue if the supplier fails?
After two days, the jurors continued to feel a personal attachment towards the public delivery of publicly funded services, yet they also accepted the case for opening up to involve private and voluntary sector providers.
Clear worries remained in terms of how change will be communicated and transparency safeguarded. Their ‘take away’ to government, when considering whether to open up public services to new providers, was for the decision to be made afresh each time. And in their eyes, the five tests hold the key to making those decisions well.
Email: Paul Cleal
Tel: +44 (0) 20 780 45603