A report from the Public Services Trust says that people must provide their own services in future. It proposes three major shifts in public services policy:
- Local people should set up mutuals and cooperatives to run public services, including parks, leisure centres and libraries. The report says school curriculums should be “community-determined”.
- There should be a radical shift in power from central government to the most local level. “Where possible, citizens should commission services themselves using individual budgets and choice advisors. Neighbourhoods should control their own integrated services.”
- Public finances should be more open, transparent and understandable to citizens, with an “online statement of contributions and benefits … available to everyone”.
But the report does not provide unqualified support for the government’s Big Society ideas. It says public service reform will be unsustainable without up-front investment and will also require strategic, locality level commissioning and local accountability. Otherwise, it acknowledges, reforms in health, education and elsewhere could “unwittingly entrench existing service silos and undermine efforts to integrate and streamline public services”.