Published: 6th Jun 2011

The next few months will be critical for the government’s public sector reform agenda. In February, the prime minister identified the ‘imminent’ Open Services white paper as signalling ‘the decisive end of the old-fashioned, top-down, take-what-you’re given model of public services’. The government wants to open up the market, giving charities, social enterprises, private companies and employee-owned co-operatives the opportunity to compete, with the aim of offering higher quality services. The release of the white paper has now been delayed, it appears, until July, and could be contested as vigorously by the coalition partners as the current health and social care bill is currently. Given the perceived lack of quality public services and the wider deficit reduction narrative, the appeal of opening up the market for public services as a political strategy makes sense. It has the ultimate virtue of being able to reduce costs and improve quality through competition. … (To read the full article, subscribe below)