The New Local Government Network have come out swinging with a new report arguing that public services would be best served by a paradigm shift toward handing power over to communities. Deputy director Jessica Studdert says:
Many innovations coming from local government, the health sector, education and social enterprises are flourishing independently of each other, but have at their core one shared feature: handing power over to communities. With that power flows responsibility and ownership for developing solutions, based on a recognition that prevention is not something that can be done to people, it has to work with them.
These innovations are currently operating outside the logic of a traditional public service architecture and a policy framework which has run its course.
Studdert goes on to list six stages to the argument:
- Public services are not viable in the short-term…
- … but public services are not sustainable in the long-term either.
- People expect more influence over their lives.
- Technology creates new possibilities for communities to exercise collective voice.
- Loads of innovations in public services and beyond understand all this, and are already pioneering new ways of working…
- … but traditional public service models are not capable of mobilising communities to respond to these challenges or take advantage of these opportunities.
These “imperatives” are the basis of a new NGLN report, which
… sets out an agenda for a new Community Paradigm to now fully emerge to dominate our public services so that they are fit for the challenges and opportunities they are confronted with today. We identify new principles for this paradigm based on practice, and a radical new policy agenda which comprises unconditional devolution, participatory and deliberative democracy and communities taking on direct service commissioning.