“Wherever possible, we will increase choice by giving people direct control over the services they use. And where it is not possible to give people direct control, elected representatives should also have more choice about who provides services and how.”
- Open Public Services White Paper
Why Choice and Control?
Essentially it comes down to trust. The Open Public Services White Paper states that public services must be responsive to peoples’ demands if they are to retain their trust. Therefore, the Government’s aim is to increase the options available to citizens and give people a greater say in how their services are run.
Politically, the emphasis on choice and control is part of David Cameron’s ideological goals of a ‘Big Society’ that does ‘more for less’. In 2010, the Conservative Party manifesto pledged more ‘people power’ as opposed to Labour’s ‘state power’, and it is believed that by offering public service users greater choice, services can be run more efficiently. This is a central plank to the Coalition’s strategy of improving public services in the age of austerity.
Where has this been delivered?
- The Academies Act 2010 allows all maintained schools to apply to become academies, with schools rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted pre-approved.
- The Academies Act also allows maintained primary and special schools to become academies in their own right.
Local Authority services
- The Localism Act 2011 amends the way in which a social tenant may make a complaint about a landlord, and improves the ability of social tenants to move to different areas.
- The Localism Act also provides for a new form of flexible tenure for social housing tenants, whereby housing associations and local authorities can grant fixed or flexible tenancies with a mandatory right to repossession at the end of the term.