Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Blair, Brown and public sector reform - diversity of providers

Last week's government's policy review document on Building on progress: Public services (pdf) included 11 references to a diversity of providers as well as a section entitled "Opening up supply".

But rewinding to last summer's Releasing the resources to meet the challenges ahead: value for money in the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review (pdf) document published by (and concisely titled by) the Treasury last summer there was a list of the key elements of public service reform as:

1. establishing clear goals, national standards and accountability for performance;
2. devolving decision-making to the frontline and improving the capability and capacity of public servants;
3. engaging public service users and communities in the design, delivery and governance of public services; and
4. empowering users, including through the exercise of choice.

No mention of diversity of provision there. In 55 pages there is only one reference to "diversity and competition among providers" - in the Foreward by the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Does this mean anything? A lot? Perhaps not. It does cast some doubt on the suggestion that the velocity of reform will be sustained under a Brown premiership.

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