Choice in public services is high on the agenda for public service managers to get right. How can managers address the complexity of choice in public services? This is our Strategic Solutions consultancy report on choice in public services. It frames the agenda for choice probing documents fomr within and around government. Bringing the essential debate together in one place. Read on to find out more about what is in our Strategic Solutions report.
Choice in Public Services: Choice – the opportunities and the challenges of choosing well
Does choice improve public services, or is it another means of adding extra complexity? For several reasons, choice has become a central strand in Government thinking. Choice is something that all customers value and have come to expect, however, the idea of choice in relation to public services is complex. In this Strategic Solutions report we consider some key questions which frame the debate on choice in public services. These include:
- What is the meaning of choice – what is chosen, by whom, how, when, why?
- What is the context – what are the drivers for more choice in public sector provision?
- What are the implications – the costs and benefits of greater choice in terms of equity, standards, resource use, customer satisfaction, public sector accountability, and the impact on the public sector?
To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.” (Kofi Annan)
Choice in Public Services: Too Important not to get Right?
Choice in public services is a contentious issue, possibly conflicting with existing policies, priorities, cultures and attitudes. From one perspective, it is viewed as a positive way to shape public services in the interests of customers. On the other hand, it is seen by some to be something that will lead to confusion, complexity and increased costs. Whatever the view, managing choice must be addressed due to strong supply and demand drivers:
- Successive governments have pointed towards choice as a mechanism for making the supply side – public services – more efficient. This is the case regardless of differences in defining what this means, or in how it should be implemented.
- There is demand for greater choice from the public although people are clear that they do not want to pay more, and have views about what trade-offs they are willing to make to achieve it.
How then can managers in public services address the complexity of choice? That is why we have produced our Strategic Solutions consultancy report on Choice.