Cameron’s public services white paper lacks strategy and direction

The open public services white paper has no big idea - its just a jumble of wonkish fads, writes Dexter Whitfield, director of the European Services Strategy Unit.

Professor Dexter Whitfield is the director of the European Services Strategy Unit, and Adjunct Associate Professor for the Australian Institute for Social Research, University of Adelaide

The Open Public Services White Paper has numerous flaws, the most overriding and fundamental one being that it is bereft of strategy. The document is designed like a shopping catalogue drawing on anything and everything that might be relevant to the modernisation of public services. It draws on virtually all of New Labour’s policies, plus coalition initiatives and proposals in the Localism Bill.

It lacks any understanding of how public services can be improved and transformed. ‘Top down’ is rejected for a ‘bottom up’ approach, and the division of services into individual, neighbourhood and commissioned beggars belief – particularly since all services will be commissioned.

The white paper is devoid of an analysis of the transaction costs of the proposals. There is little recognition that there is a financial crisis and recession; large sums of public money could be diverted into funding provider challenges and creating new organisations.

It is almost certain that ownership and competition will continue to dominate the public sector transformation agenda in Britain, resulting in continued failure to create the conditions for genuine and sustainable change.

The vagueness of how the proposals will be implemented creates an opportunity for concerted opposition. The white paper will spur on a collection of voluntary sector opportunists, carpet baggers, empowerment brokers and social enterprise agents.

The lack of strategy presents an important opportunity for national and local alliances of trade unions, community and civil society organisations to marginalise most of the proposals and to strengthen opposition to coalition policies.

8 Responses to “Cameron’s public services white paper lacks strategy and direction”

  1. amanda bentham

    Cameron’s public services white paper lacks strategy and direction: //bit.ly/owWYb5 writes Professor Dexter Whitfield

  2. Larry Gardiner

    Cameron’s public services white paper lacks strategy and direction: //bit.ly/owWYb5 writes Professor Dexter Whitfield

  3. Martin Johnston

    Cameron’s public services white paper lacks strategy and direction: //bit.ly/owWYb5 writes Professor Dexter Whitfield

  4. jamie

    When will people connect the dots….serously lacking understanding of effects, systems and strategc need of social services and supports….eh!!!! Because they never use them and it is not part of their carve up thee UK for the private chums agenda…Cameron was offered as a houshold name,,,because he invaded every house through sky and the BBC…not because he is real…he is nothing, a single glazing saleman…the emptiness should be expected..and seen as a weakness that should be challenged at all turns as real opposition and independent challenge to their deeply flawed agenda

  5. Mr. Sensible

    The whole ‘Big Society’ agenda is really a cover for cuts to services.

  6. Simon

    So voluntary sector opportunists, empowerment brokers and social enterprise agents are bad, but community and civil society organisations are good? I’m struggling to see a clear dividing line between the goodies and the baddies in this movie.

    Plus it’s not obvious to me why simply resisting is a good thing. Cuts are inevitable under any government and public finances will be tight for a generation. How about the local left building a viable alternative for a new localist era? The coop council movement is a much more creative and popular response that just shouting ‘no’.

  7. Leon Wolfson

    Because you can’t build worthwhile anything without the proper funding – it’s a way to ensure that “local” choices are nothing of the sort, but the government still gets to blame councils for the inevitable poor service.

Leave a Reply