Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Putting people into public services: better regulation and inspection

The National Consumer Council has launched a new, short report on Putting people into public services: better regulation and inspection (pdf available).

The report should be required reading for the new Oftenant in social housing. Indeed all regulators and inspectors should be asked to think about the issues raised.

The report warns of the danger that services are modelled on what satisfies regulators rather than the public.

The report’s vision is of a regulatory system that:

1) is organised for the benefit of the people who use services, not for the convenience of regulators and the regulated;

2) inextricably links efficiency, value for money and satisfactory outcomes for the people –specially as new and different providers enter the market;

3) builds on continuous conversation with service users and the public – starting from where people really are, rather than from assumptions of how they might think and behave;

4) makes the most of service users as the experts on what it feels like to receive a service; and

5) builds popular support for difficult regulatory decisions.

I would also add that wherever possible choice and competition should be used to drive improvement – rather than relying exclusively on regulation and inspection regimes. While the regulator and the inspector may ensure recognition of social benefits and costs, promote good practice and protect the vulnerable and poorly-informed, they are not so good at generating innovation, encouraging value-for-money and tailoring services around individual needs.

No comments: