Responsibility and Public Services
By Richard Davis
Foreword by John Seddon
In this important book, Richard Davis looks at the issue of ‘responsibility’ in public services – on both the government’s part and that of the users. While government wrestles with how to cut the cost of services, Davis shows that government can provide responsible, sustainable and effective services significantly more cheaply by focusing on what is of ‘value’ to individuals and communities.
What is of ‘value’ can only be determined by fully understanding the context in which problems arise and then providing tailored support to get people’s lives back on track and as quickly as possible.
The emphasis needs to change, Davis shows, from supplying services (chosen in advance by government regardless of actual need) to helping people to look after themselves and take responsibility for their own lives. It’s a simple logic.
The current system defines problems according to predetermined services and categories. But there are many people who never fit into the categories the system has allocated and constantly fall between the cracks and remain in trouble – so the wider system continues to have to give them emergency help because the principle services are ineffective. This racks up further costs.
Responsibility and Public Services shows that it is cheaper to offer people tailored services that meet their needs than to continue providing ‘off-the-shelf’ services that don’t meet their needs. The thinking is that if a little time is taken to understand people in context and to find out what matters to them, the solutions are far easier and cheaper. And, because you build in resilience and help people take their own measures, it stays cheaper.
Written in Two Parts, Davis explains the pitfalls in current thinking and the principles behind his ‘responsible’ approach; we are introduced to the ‘new way of thinking’ and the methodology that will lead to provision of exactly the right service and at the first point of contact. We are given examples of what happens in practice, and shown the difference it makes to people’s lives. Public sector workers with leadership skills are given all the information they need to implement this style of service provision in their own departments.
Building on the Vanguard methodology, Davis shows that it is vital that we strengthen and create resilience in our local communities and argues that we should all have misgivings about letting government design and live our lives for us.
The book is a rich compendium of examples of what changes when this new and responsible approach is taken – examples are drawn from the care sector, prisons, the police force, hospital services, education and many more.
Buy a copy from Triarchy Press here.