Devolution not a panacea for better local services, warns IfG

4 Nov 15

Local public services remain confusing and frustrating for many citizens to access and must be reformed if the government’s devolution drive is to be a success, the Institute for Government has warned.

In a report published today, the think-tank argues that the 25 November Spending Review presents an opportunity to reform public services but also cautions that there is a risk of this not being done properly.

As budgets are cut, organisations will focus on maintaining a “business-as-usual” approach to service delivery, which could crowd out new thinking.

Report author Jo Casebourne warned against viewing the “devolution revolution” as a panacea that would automatically transform public services.

“That’s not to say devolution is the wrong policy, but that it requires new ways of working at all levels of government – local, central and front-line,” she said.

“This paper provides a starting point for thinking about how to effectively partner at the local level so this reform agenda meets the needs of citizens.”

The report offers some practical insight into how barriers to service reform can be overcome. This includes agreeing clear goals to help focus resource-sharing and bringing organisations together physically to make it easier to share data and adapt to each other’s culture.

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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