A new pamphlet from the New Local Government Network think tank argues that the Welsh local government’s approach to citizen interaction in public services is a strong model for the rest of the UK.
The Welsh model is based on a ‘bottom up” approach which restricts the level of choice-based services available, instead preferring to engage with citizens at every stage of the service design and delivery process. This information gathered from this dialogue is not used for league-tables or to drive competition but to give citizens the means and measures with which to involve themselves fully in the policy decision-making process.
The pamphlet argues that:
“all citizens, not just service users, need the opportunity, information and incentive to engage with service design and delivery. The Welsh approach strengthens the collaborative, community, bottom up approach to citizen-centred service provision. It relies on contributions from all parties at all stages and prioritises the synergy of views and ideas. Satisfaction scores and evaluation of service performance remain important, but it is an ongoing process of improvement through continuous input and consultation at the bottom that is expected to drive change.”
Devolution and Divergence: Comparing English and Welsh approaches to citizen-centred public service delivery by Anthony Brand assesses the approach to citizen interaction in public services in both England and Wales. It argues that the Welsh model – based on last year’s Beecham Review on Transforming Public Services in Wales – provides “a framework and vision with which to bind authorities, citizens and other agencies together”.
However it warns that the strategy may encounter difficulty because it does not have a clear, step-by-step route-map for local authorities to follow and urges greater clarity. It also highlights the potential danger that citizens can become complicit in the failure of services to deliver.
This report also suggests that elements of the Welsh model could be incorporated into English policy design, although warns that England’s larger population may make it difficult to successfully engage with a representative sample of the population.
Devolution and Divergence: Comparing English and Welsh approaches to citizen-centred public service delivery can be downloaded for free.