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Systems thinking

Saving money by doing the right thing – why ‘local by default’ must replace ‘diseconomies of scale’

Failure demand is the biggest cause of rising demand, not demographics. This 2014 study analysed hundreds of thousands of demands placed on the public and third sectors across multiple localities in the UK over the previous three years. More than £16bn of public money could be saved every year by tackling ‘failure demand’; unnecessary demand such as repeat assessments, multiple referrals, delayed discharge, unwanted equipment and unsuitable services, all demand caused by a failure of public services to understand people and provide them with what they need. The study, published by Vanguard and Locality, is the first of its kind to discriminate between artificial demand for public services, generated solely as a result of an organisation not taking the right action and real demand, experienced by the person who needs help.

“This finding marks a seminal moment in our understanding of demand for public services because it shows us exactly what to do. We should design services which are able to do the right thing for people in the first place”. John Seddon, Vanguard Consulting

Follow this link to the report, updated in January 2017.


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