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Approaches to public services

Managing Demand – building future public services

With many local authorities facing significant financial challenges, a new RSA report examines the steps being taken to shrink demand on public services and prevent councils from being reduced to a state of ‘perpetual crisis management’. The previous RSA report (Beyond Nudge to Managing Demand) argued that local authorities should seek to reduce levels of demand by radically redefining their relationships with citizens, communities and services.

This report builds on this core argument. It looks more closely at the potential of demand management to address the challenges facing public services and communities. It traces the ‘state of the art’ from emerging science through to system change and most importantly to a shifting set of relationships between citizens, the state and public services. The report also reviews the financial case for demand management, from emerging evidence from small-scale interventions to early findings from ‘whole place’ approaches.

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The 21st Century Public Servant

….is a municipal entrepreneur, undertaking a wide range of roles
….engages with citizens in a way that expresses their shared humanity and
pooled expertise
….is recruited and rewarded for generic skills as well as technical expertise
…..builds a career which is fluid across sectors and services
….combines an ethos of publicness with an understanding of commerciality
… rethinking public services toenable them to survive an era of permaausterity
….needs organisations which are fluid and supportive rather than silo-ed and
….rejects heroic leadership in favour of distributed and collaborative models of
….is rooted in a locality which frames a sense of loyalty and identity
….reflects on practice and learns from that of others

A report by Dr Catherine Needham and Catherine Mangan with support from Helen Dickinson, Liz Haydon from the Public Service Academy and funding from the ESRC.


Making a Deal: Unlocking Potential In Communities

“One of the many challenges for the public sector is that it must start believing in people and communities again. (…)

Huge parts of the public sector have designed services around what people can’t do for themselves rather than nurturing what they can. Now we have to reverse it. Not because there’s a lack of money but because it fundamentally disempowers people. It was a lovely, thoughtful thing to do but it leaves people ill-equipped for life in the 21st Century. And, worst of all, it massively under values the skills and passions that people have. (…)

Believing in what people can do means being brave enough to admit that we won’t always be needed. This is about us all being brave enough to start a conversation that really matters.

By Paul Taylor (Innovation Lab, Bromford)


The Keep It Local approach to public services: work by Locality

A new movement is gathering pace. When it comes to our public services, more and more councils want to unlock the power of community and Keep it Local: for services that transform lives. By unlocking the power of community, commissioning can create better, more responsive
services that reduce long-term costs and invest in the local economy.

Read all about it and access the resources and guides on the Locality website here.


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