Citizens for public services

Citizens for Public Services focuses on public service reform and on strengthening the voice of citizens in debates around service provision.

The programme builds and expands on Involve’s work in the health sector, where we have delivered successful deliberative engagement programmes for the NHS and Clinical Commissioning Groups – as well as on our work in social care, transport, and education.

We are particularly interested in:-
1) Developing and implementing novel ways of embedding the citizen voice in public service policy making;

2) Exploring how open government and deliberative engagement can help policymakers navigate the various ‘wicked problems’ straddling traditional public service areas, and;

3) Building citizen capacity for engagement in deliberative spaces for the purpose of achieving systemic and behavioural change in the delivery of public services.

 

Citizens’ relationship to public services is changing.

Driven by projected increases and shifts in demand, public services are moving towards a model of provision in which service users take a more active role in the provision of their care. At the same time, advances in technology and government transparency are leading to growing public awareness of public service policy issues – along with an increased desire to influence decision-making in a more direct manner than representative democracy can provide.

These changes present huge opportunities to embed the citizen voice in public service policy making – leading to smarter, more democratic decisions, improved services and more enfranchised communities. For government, closer engagement with citizens around service design is a key component of creating more effective, tailored services – and crucial to the legitimacy of the shift towards more active service users. For citizens, feeding into decision making around about public services not only leads to better services, but can itself be a transformative, empowering experience.

Despite this potential, the energy of service users can be difficult to harness constructively.

The citizen voice can be hard to incorporate into complex, pre-existing systems and power structures, leaving citizens sceptical of the value of their input. Likewise, poorly managed engagement exercises can all too easily descend into antagonism and talking at cross purposes.

Citizens for Public Services concentrates on devising and implementing processes to effectively unlock the citizen voice. We design and create deliberative spaces and structures through which citizens can have a real, constructive impact on public service decision making.

Deliberation and wicked problems
We are particularly interested in exploring how deliberative engagement with the public can help policymakers navigate difficult policy decisions and the ‘wicked problems’ that straddle traditional public service areas.

NHS Citizen
For the past two years, Involve has been leading NHS Citizen, a national programme to working to develop a sustainable participation infrastructure for NHS England.

In conjunction with NHS England, the Tavistock Institute for Human Relations and the Democratic Society, Involve has been working to create structures through which citizens can voice their views about health and care to the senior management of NHS England.

This work has provided us with experience of:

  • Incorporating the voice of citizens into the design of the programme itself.
  • Taking citizen deliberation from the private to the public space.
  • Working to embed a participation infrastructure within a complex system.
  • Ensuring that less heard and marginalised voices are heard.
  • Embedding organisational culture change in a public body.
  • Providing a means for policy makers to get a nuanced understanding of public thinking on NHS England policy – and healthcare more generally.

The latest

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