Inspection does not boost performance

29 Mar 01
The government's obsession with inspection to deliver improved public services does not improve performance in the UK, according to an influential policy unit.

30 March 2001

A Performance and Innovation Unit research paper, Better policy delivery and design, suggests there is a danger of resources being diverted away from frontline services and into inspection.

Although the UK has a higher ratio of inspectors of performance than most other countries, the PIU has found no comparative evidence that performance is vastly better here than abroad.

Instead, it said 'there is considerable evidence that the regulatory burden on some public service managers has grown unacceptably heavy'.

The unit is also critical of government plans to reward top public sector performers at the expense of problem providers. With plans in place to reward Beacon councils and specialist schools with more cash, the PIU warns of 'a serious risk of dysfunctional results', and adds it is not 'proper or just' to penalise financially poor performers.

The paper, which does not have government approval, says: 'Driving through policies with an implicit assumption that the main players are the problem, rather than part of the solution, is usually a recipe for disaster.'


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