Economic think tank calls for restoration of public values

CLES, the UK’s independent progressive economics think and do tank, has today launched a paper calling for the restoration of public values in public services.

Restoring Public Values in Public Services outlines how a ‘private is best’ approach has led to a situation in which public services are too often outsourced to low quality, high cost providers who, in a race to the bottom, have compromised the dignity and safety of people who rely on these services.

The paper reflects on how Britain’s public services, once a source of national pride, rooted in firm values of citizenship, community, and quality, have been undermined by decades of privatisation, a rhetoric shift from citizens to ‘consumers’, and pursuing low cost, low quality outsourcing, which have chipped away at the social and functional fabric of public services.

Restoring Public Values in Public Services provides a route map for government, municipal and citizen innovation, including policy steps designed to inspire action to address this downward trajectory. This includes the proposal of a new Public Values Act to replace the Social Value Act,’which the report highlights can too often be ‘a mere tick box exercise’.

The new Act would include the introduction of a social license requiring all providers of public services to adopt public values, which it defines as acting for the common good in the interest of democracy, public interest and social cohesion. Non-compliance would mean that providers would not be permitted to deliver the public service.

Neil McInroy, Chief Executive of CLES of commented:

“Our public services have been stripped of the values upon which they were founded. This, along with the last eight years of austerity, has led to a series of catastrophic failures, as demonstrated by the breakdown of large outsourced contracts, as well as widespread neglect in our care homes amid profiteering.  This cannot continue. Our publication therefore proposes a three-fold programme of action by national and local government, as well as citizens”.

Read Restoring Public Values in Pubic Services.