Open Public Services in the UK 2013

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* Policy paper: Open Public Services 2013 - executive summary. Cabinet Office, 2013



"We believe that more open public services can benefit everybody in the UK and that finding ways to deliver better services for less money is a challenge that is common to all four nations of the UK. The scope of this paper is UK wide, but in devolved areas of policy it is for the devolved administrations to determine their own approach to public service reform. The three devolution settlements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all different although, in general, services such as health, education and those provided by local government are under devolved control. If you live or work in any of the devolved territories and are in any doubt as to which of these reforms would apply there, the relevant territorial office will be able to advise you.

We are committed to working in partnership with the devolved administrations to share good practice and to explore whether our approach would suit their particular circumstances and need.

When the Coalition first came to power, the state was still the default provider of most public services. From poor performing schools to widening health inequalities, there were clear signs that the old centralised model of public service delivery was unable to meet the complex needs of the 21st century.

The landscape in which public services operate is shifting rapidly. Fiscal pressures and demographic changes are making new demands on public services. At the same time, people’s expectations for more reliable and personalised public services are higher than ever. If we are to meet these challenges, we need innovation - fostered by an open environment - in which service provision is contestable and accountable so those providing the service have the scope and incentive to be imaginative and effective. Through the Open Public Services programme, we are releasing the grip of state control and putting power into people’s hands.

The fundamental shift taking place in opening up services is being supported by a range of enabling measures. We have started to rethink the role of government so that governments at all levels become increasingly funders, regulators and commissioners whose task it is to secure quality and guarantee fair access. Both central and local are adapting to develop new capabilities to make the most of the new opportunities and stimulate more openness and innovation in public services.

Our ambition is to lead the world in using evidence to inform public spending and ensure taxpayer’s money is well spent. Part of this is the creation of a network of new What Works centres ensuring that high quality evidence is at the heart of public policy and decision making.

The Commissioning Academy, a new initiative open to commissioners from across the public sector will expose public servants to the most successful and innovative commissioning groups, helping to develop the confidence and capability required for effective service commissioning.

This year will see the move to digital public services. Through the launch of GOV.UK we have established a platform to enable citizens to access services at a time and location that suits them. By publishing the Government Digital Strategy, which is in turn supported by Departmental Digital Strategies, we have laid out a path towards further transformative change in the way services are accessed. We are ensuring that this access remains fair and open to all through the cross-Government Approach to Assisted Digital, which was also published in December.

We have made significant progress towards meeting the commitments set out in the original White Paper. But our ambition does not stop here. We are committed to further work to realise our vision of public services that are innovative, efficient and effective because they are open, competitive and accountable."

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