Little Heresies in Public Policy

Whitehall makes public sector performance worse

KITE, University of Newcastle Business School

Date: Thursday 11 February 2016

Listen to a recording on John’s talk here.

In the 35 years since Thatcher, every UK government has taken the same approaches to public-service reform. We have doubled expenditure on local authorities and trebled expenditure on health, but services have been made worse. John Seddon will explore the failings caused by the industrialisation of services – the myth of economy of scale – the dire consequences of targets and the folly of specifying how services should work from Whitehall.  For example, in 2011, John warned ministers responsible for Welfare Reform that Universal Credit was ‘guaranteed to fail’ and urged them to rethink the centralised IT-dominated service design. In March 2015, 90% of staff using the IT for Universal Credit said it was inadequate and the scheme is now set to cost £12.8bn, six times the original budget.

John will also illustrate what public-service managers are doing that makes a radical difference – delivering far better services at much lower costs.

John Seddon is visiting professor at the universities of Buckingham, Hull and Derby, a best-selling author and the Managing Director of Vanguard Consulting. Service organisations following his ideas are achieving profound improvements in service, efficiency and morale. The Daily Telegraph described him as a ‘reluctant management guru’, with a background in occupational psychology.