Public Service Reform has been our central policy concern for over a decade. Not only are public services the place where citizens interact with the state but they are a critical feature of the Scottish economy. Yet, they desperately need to change.
Our argument for innovation is threefold:
- Intense budgetary pressures necessitate significant reform with public expenditure in Scotland not returning to 2010 levels in real terms for at least another decade.
- Top-down, identikit interventions have created a fundamental disconnect between citizens and the structures that govern them.
- Rapidly changing demographics require an additional £27bn to cope with increased demands and the legacy of failed, reactive policy.
The old template mentality so beloved of public administrations must end. The reliance on increasing supply to meet ever increasing demand must stop. This populist approach to public policy simply does not work. Scotland’s public service family must reform. New approaches to service design, development and delivery are required. Innovative funding models are urgently needed to meet increasing user expectations, rising demand and the commonly held political desire to deliver co-produced, localised services.
It is our view that processes and structures should be adapted in a way that reflects the varied social and demographic context of different parts of Scotland and that, at the same time, reconciles the appropriate provision of various services with a much greater level of engagement by citizens and residents in determining the form and provision of such services.
There is an emerging consensus across Scotland that our public services need to radically change in the aftermath of Christie and Beveridge. We argue for reform that will:
- Tackle the real Postcode Lottery, breaking the bond between where you live, your health and your educational outcomes.
- Develop new ways of driving change through better public engagement, e.g. installing accountable, bottom-up processes and utilising new technologies to reach out to a younger generation.
- Learn the lessons of centralisation and regionalisation of key public services, such as Police, Fire and the Further Education sector.
- Ensure that the producer interest does not dominate service design and delivery, e.g. through the creation of integrated health & social care provision.
- Diversify public service provision to better suit local characteristics, e.g. through the introduction of Single Public Authorities for our island areas.
- Acknowledge that we don't need to redraw the lines on the local government map in order to see councils working more closely together, e.g. through the co-creation of One Ayrshire, One Dunbartonshire or One Renfrewshire.
- Allow local service provision to be developed across administrative boundaries, with responsive governance arrangements and accountability mechanisms, e.g. as education and social work provision are developing across Stirling/Clackmannanshire.
- Develop leadership across the Scottish public services family, e.g. through the creation of a National Leadership College.
- Improve public policy debate, e.g. by funding paid graduate internships to support decision makers across the public service family.
- Allow far greater diversity in the provision and running of public services, e.g. by creating a level playing field in procurement.