An open letter to public service leaders

Dear Leader

The current political narrative on services is that demand is rising and budgets are threatened. Not a week goes by without more talk to support that point of view. I write to you because this narrative is no more than that – a point of view. I have a different point of view, one that is grounded in evidence.

Demand is rising, but the thing that contributes almost wholly to the rise is what we call ‘failure demand’ – demand cause by a failure to do something or do something right for the citizen. To put it at its bluntest: our services don’t work well for people – that is why demand appears to be ‘rising’.

As well as explaining why services don’t work very well, we understand how to design services that actually work. When UK services have done this costs fall dramatically. But that’s not all. The wider consequence of providing services that work is that demand falls. Not only do you wipe out the strangling effect of high failure demand, you learn that fewer people experience problems.

Happier people, better families, strengthened communities. Isn’t that what public services ought to be about?