Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Public Sector Reform’

Power and decision making should be as local to people as possible. It’s because it isn’t that so much with Public Policy is wrong

August 20, 2020 Leave a comment

It’s been a long time since we have had government in the UK that has been competent enough to look proactively at changing things for the better, if that change would itself compromise the desire of politicians to endlessly keep increasing their control.

For decades, since the seismic changes that accompanied the end of Empire and the onset of the Cold War age following the end of the Second World War, the incompetency of generation after generation of Westminster politicians has seen power hoovered up and removed from the hands of local people. However, rather than holding on to it themselves centrally, politicians have passed more and more of their responsibility onwards to an outside power called the EU which has successfully indoctrinated the political classes across an entire continent into thinking that the creation of a supranational state is the ultimate tool of localism.

SPOILER ALERT: It is not.

I have been a Eurosceptic since I was a teenager, but gained no pleasure from seeing the debate unfold in public and the damage that was done from the moment that David Cameron committed the UK to a Referendum on Leaving the EU. It was unexpectedly won by those who identified with the localised side of the argument rather than the nebulous way of thinking that big (and centralised) is always best for everyone.

Remainers often cited the inability of Leavers to tell them what benefits there would be to Leaving the EU as clear evidence that there was no question to answer and that the UK should Remain a Member. Yet they overlooked that they couldn’t give a plausible argument that it was in our collective interest to stay.

The argument for Leaving the EU that was never heard and which should have underpinned everything, is power should be kept as local to voters as possible. Then decision making is kept real, in touch with the issues and our local communities are always kept at the centre of what politicians do.

When people can access decision makers easily and see that they themselves have the power to influence the decisions that are important to them, they are much more likely to be and to remain engaged. They will be much less likely to be disenfranchised from a political system that in its current form today is seeking to remove the power that remains in local hands and move it further away into the hands of highly political regional mayors.

The genuine change or reset that is coming in the near future (rather than the one that some are falling into the conspiracists trap of believing has been created by deliberate design) will create a massive opportunity to restructure, reform and relaunch government and the public sector comprehensively across the UK. It will be the chance to get every kind of pubic service working as they should for us all.

The real opportunity for improvement in the way that decisions on public policy are made in the future will be the voluntary return of power to the lowest tier of government that it is possible to do so, thereby ensuring that genuinely local decisions are locally made.

By local, this means a real shakeup of Town & Parish, District & Borough and County Councils with the disbanding of so-called Unitary Authorities and the list of powers these lower tiers of Government have redirected to the lowest level possible.

The responsibilities lower tier authorities have now should be topped up by the return of everything that has a very localised impact. Power must be returned to the local government structure and directed away from Westminster where it has been sat and used without appropriate care and consideration for too long.

It is no longer acceptable that laws effecting the lives of everyday people locally that were created by bureaucrats in London (or Brussels), who have a one-size fits all mentality are made and then only interpreted by officers and rubber stamped by councillors – who often believe they have no other choice – even though it is the will and needs of voters that they are there to respect.

The contrary argument is a good one. That there simply isn’t the funding available for these lower tiers of Government to exist and function now as they once did.

Yet the economic argument is now a hollow one as the technology that we have available dictates that very local authorities no longer have the need to retain the massive administrative or executive functions that they once did.

Whilst cost cutting means that pooling technical delivery services such as environmental health services or bin collections make sound economic sense, there is absolutely no reason that decision making has to be run or modelled in the same way.

That is before you cross the Rubicon and tackle the question of the what the financial impact of the local Government Pension Scheme on local Council Budgets involves and the savings and therefore money it would provide for services to be resumed that have been stopped today.

If we have a Westminster government that treats the whole of the Electorate as the adults that we are, it stands to reason that the same government must also treat the politicians within the localised tiers of government as adults too.

The additional powers that local Councils would have right down at neighbourhood and village level would immediately see people and more suitable candidates for elections becoming reengaged.

The real change that must come to make the difference at local level (at the very least) is the removal of political parties from the electoral process and action taken to prevent outside influence and money from holding sway.

It is not only possible and practical for independent candidates to run their own election campaigns, but would also be a highly democratic step to require that those seeking election to Councils of any kind are able to communicate and connect with the electorate during a campaign without the support of a national brand.

The current approach only ensures that we have too many people representing themselves and the interests of ‘their people’ instead of us all throughout government at every level.

We must take the coming opportunity to work to elect the right people to public representative offices of every kind and support this process by removing all of the tools that make it easy to place power in the wrong hands with the massive cost to us all that then involves.

COVID-19 has exposed just how sick the NHS and ALL public services were BEFORE this emergency began. Their future is YOURS to decide

April 28, 2020 Leave a comment

The flipside of so much focus on support for the NHS and frontline staff is the spotlight that has been shone on its supply chain, lack of resources and specifically the serious lack of PPE being stockpiled for a medical crisis before the COVID-19 Pandemic began.

Today, in the middle of the Coronavirus emergency, it would be hard to find anyone who wouldn’t agree that this really is not how things should be within our Health Service. Yet at any other time, the same people are more likely to nod politely and walk away thinking little more about it than that you were just having a whinge.

You won’t feel the blast from a bomb until the bomb has gone off and the NHS has suffered from a serious lack of urgency and attention because things like PPE have simply been one of those things that it seemed easy to put off until another day.

The lack of planning and consideration within the NHS for the ‘what ifs’, along with the serious staffing shortage that has now been highlighted too are pretty much the tip of the iceberg of the problems and difficulties that affect just about everything else within it too.

But it doesn’t stop there.

In fact, as perhaps the most recognisable face of public service provision in the UK, the real problems that the NHS is facing and the reasons that it is facing them are also being faced and experienced just the same across all parts of Government and the whole of the Public Sector too.

No. I’m not referring to a shortage of PPE across bodies like the Environment Agency, Highways England and local councils too – even though it could very well be the case. I am referring to the cultural rot that exists within all of these public-serving organisations that causes all of the problems that we only experience when they deliver their effects.

This isn’t a new problem and it has been building for a long time. Whilst they appear to be very different outcomes, the Rotherham scandal and the mechanics of the Grenfell disaster are sadly the outcome and effect of all the very same causes that have set the NHS up to struggle at the very time and in the very places that everything should feel like it has come together seamlessly as one.

Political correctness, the push for diversity, EU-derived employment legislation, protectionist culture where the buck gets endlessly passed to none of the above, political interference with ridiculous schemes like PFI, the creation of a massive backroom structure of managers with titles that were never needed before and a complete lack of understanding of how money being thrown at problems at the very top of Government only make the problem worse and push the problem into the lap of the next government or generation of politicians to skirt around another day.

These and others are all contributory factors to a public-sector-wide malaise where managers and those with responsibility have been conditioned to avoid doing anything that reaches beyond the confines of their own contract and job.

Some would call it a failure to use common sense. Others, that it is basic lack of appreciation of what public services are actually there for. But in many cases the whole lack of interest in really serving the public and tax payers that all of these jobs were created to help is made distinctly worse by the reality that the wages of those in these jobs will alwaysget paid.

The problems that the NHS has will not be solved by simply upping the budgets for any of the parts of it. The money will get spent, but it will never reach the parts that it really should do whilst the culture remains the same. Ultimately without top to bottom and above all cultural reform, the Key Workers and Frontline Clinical Staff throughout the NHS will not ever be valued and given the opportunities that they should have and we would all want them to.

Beyond the effort to ‘protect the NHS’, the Lockdown has began to cause massive problems that are set to reverberate throughout our society in the coming weeks, months and years. The impact of what this Government has done will cause harm to people and the country in many different ways that could have been avoided if we had different politicians in charge.

These are not the people who will put everything that is wrong in the NHS and the Public Sector right. Not now, not after the COVID-19 Pandemic is over, not at anytime thereafter.

The politicians we have today simply don’t and will not try to understand what is actually going on.

So if you love the NHS, the nurses, the doctors, the surgeons, the therapists, the healthcare workers and all of the key staff in our hospitals that make the real part of the NHS work, remember them at the next General Election or when this Government collapses – whichever happens first,  and bear in mind that is the point when you can help to make things different for all of them by making a different choice to the one you normally would, and choose an option that will not be available from any of the existing political parties that we know.

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: