Derrick Anderson, the Chief Executive of Lambeth Council, who was voted as a Public Leader of the Year in the Guardian Public Services Awards 2012, spoke in the 7th Quality Conference in Vilnius about how citizens should be focus of the service development and how civil servants and local politicians should support them and thus provide new opportunities for localism. The other reason why citizens should be in the centre of the public sector transformation is that they are new resources in service delivery.
There is a need for a radical transformation in the UK, because public sector has 50 per cent less spending between 2010 and 2016 at the local level. There are three strategies to cut public spending: salami slicing; asset disposal, rationalization, pricing services; and radical transformation of service delivery linked to citizens. Anderson voted for the third strategy. Citizens should be the ones who determine polities and deliver services.
Derrick told us a story about how he involved citizens in cooperative commissioning of public services in 2009 after he realised that local states should make cuts and old ways didn’t work anymore. Local states needed to renegotiate the relationships between the citizens and the local government. As a result of these negotiations they issued a policy paper introducing new ways of co-production. This paper introduced service design concepts as key policy principals: collaboration, building networks and loving your place were pathways to a better future. Lambeth Council worked out in workshops how the council and citizens should work together and how citizens could be encouraged to be a part of a cooperative council. Local states also engaged 3000 citizens in making surveys, interviewing stakeholders and becoming members of a citizen council.
Lambeth Council found out that the local state needed support and a strong voice; that they should let go off the traditional ways of producing services and give the local state some money to do this and that they should build infrastructure (= community based management) to make this transformation happen. Council also found out that this transformation needs strong motivation, innovation methods, creative citizens, social capital and networks. The local state should facilitate this change process with interaction, spaces, networks, learning, money and procedures.
Made in Lambeth: Local people and politicians as assets