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The 2020 Public Services Trust Blog

Friday, March 27, 2009

How to widen participation? First widen the policy debate…

By Charlotte Alldritt

Localism, co-production, citizen empowerment…just a few of many current buzz words which carry little meaning outside of the public policy community…The Local Government Association (LGA) had a point when it released its top 200 pieces of jargon that public bodies should avoid using.

As Henry Kippin says in his blog (19 March 2009), the issue the LGA raises is an important one. If policy makers are going to make real headway and start to redesign public services from a genuine citizen perspective, they are going to have to have a conversation with the public using everyday language – not policy speak. But this issue of policy language and communication isn’t new. In fact, localism, co-production, citizen empowerment aren’t new concepts either.

The general public have long cried for a louder voice and more locally determined services. Accountability and increased ‘customer focus’ were meant to be the driving force behind Margaret Thatcher’s reforms way back in the 1980s. But we’re still talking about it. And therein lies the real problem. The same people are talking about the same things within the same corners of Westminster village, and have done for the last 20 years. And we wonder why little has changed?! Even this argument feels like a broken record…

So what to do? How can we make citizen empowerment or co-production meaningful policy? The Commission on 2020 Public Services is endeavouring to do things differently. Watch this space…

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Posted by Charlotte Alldritt at 4:49 pm
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