About the Project
We need a revolution in our public services. People should have the right to choose from an open field of the best charity, business and social enterprise providers. Fair competition should be used to get people the best possible results. And the new technologies modernising every other service sector should be used to transform our public services too.
For the first time, the UK Government has recently committed to opening the whole public sector to competing providers, which could usher in this revolution. But with policy detail still forming, concerns remain about how improvements can be achieved practically and fairly.
The Better Public Services Project is conducting new evidence and research to form concrete recommendations for how government can meet its reform ambitions. It was set up by public policy expert and former Special Adviser to the Prime Minister, Sean Worth.
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Areas of Focus
Involving the key public service sectors in central and local government, the project will cover:
- Public opinion research: new insights into what people want from public services, and attitudes to key issues of public sector reform
- Information and transparency: how we can use new information strategies to better understand service value and quality, and to empower public accountability
- Better regulation: promoting the rights of service users, ensuring providers from all sectors can enter public markets on fair terms and safeguarding against unwanted outcomes from competition, like monopolies and profiteering
- Ways to scale up independent provision: how the role of social enterprise and charities, as well as that of businesses, can be expanded to create the mixed economy of provision ministers want to see
- Innovation in public service design, procurement and delivery: how essential best practices in procurement, commissioning and technology use can be adopted in a policy environment of increasing provider autonomy and local control
The project will produce new research, policy workshops and events, culminating in a seminal publication that will consolidate a concrete policy programme.
- Better Public Services: A roadmap for revolution
23 April 2013
Better Public Services: A Roadmap for Revolution, calls for a number of changes in the way services are delivered which puts power firmly in the hands of the public. It argues that the state’s right to monopoly provision of public services should be swept aside. Private companies and voluntary groups should be able to compete in an open and transparent process to provide services to the public. A new legal right would be established giving people the right to exercise choice in the public services they consumer.
- Do the Public Back More Reform of Public Services? An overview of the latest opinion research
10 September 2012
This research briefing gives an overview of the public’s attitudes to key issues of public services reform – specifically, issues of choice, quality and the use of more providers from outside the state, including charities, social enterprises and businesses. It uses new polling carried out for this study, as well as examining what is known from existing research.
- Patient Power: Could consumer activism improve the NHS?
29 October 2013
This event will look at how useful the Government’s ‘transparency agenda’ is for the NHS and how far the public can be engaged in this process to help drive improvements – as consumer pressure helped revolutionise other sectors like retail and technology, for example.
- (Conservative Conference) A public service revolution: Doing more with less
30 September 2013
With Phil Collins, The Times (CHAIR), Chris Skidmore MP, Dr Mary Bousted, ATL, Steve Melton, Circle Partnership and Sean Worth, Policy Exchange.
- Better Public Services: A roadmap for revolution with Oliver Letwin and Jon Cruddas
11 September 2013
This event will look at the future of public service provision in this country. As budgets are squeezed ever further, can our hospitals, schools and care homes provide as good or an even better level of service with less money? What role should the private and voluntary sectors play, if any? What measure can be put in place to prevent future scandals from happening?
- Digitalising the NHS: The New Imperative with Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP
16 January 2013
Health Secretary Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP will deliver a keynote speech outlining a strategy for using new technologies to help improve care services for patients. The plans also aim to improve efficiency in the NHS, relieving the burden of paperwork on nurses and other staff.
- Round-table on how the public sector can help drive growth with David Willetts
29 November 2012
Speaking with leading industry figures and innovators in technology, education and public services, Mr Willetts stated that Government will co-create with business a long term vision for a more dynamic and innovative industrial policy.
- Sir Terry Leahy - What can governments learn from successful businesses?
17 October 2012
Sir Terry Leahy, former CEO of Tesco plc, will speak at Policy Exchange about his new book, Management in 10 Words, which draws on his experience running the largest supermarket chain in the UK and whether he believes that the public sector could learn valuable lessons from private companies to improve the way it functions.
- Competition Policy: How can it best and most fairly be applied to public services?
13 August 2012
This event brought government together with leading business, charity and social enterprise providers to discuss what a fair and open competition framework for public services should look like and how it should be applied.
- Sean Worth on Newsnight
13 January 2014
Policy Exchange's Sean Worth takes part in a debate on Newsnight on cutting the size of the state. Sean argues that more competition is needed to improve and bring down the cost of public services, that public sector workers should be paid by performance and criticises the fact that most of the debate takes place in an academic rather than practical context.
- Against the grain: It's time to fight the claim that consumer choice doesn't improve public services
06 November 2013
City A.M. cites findings from our report Do the Public Back More Reform of Public Services? that a substantial part of the electorate is opposed to profit-oriented companies providing services in sectors such as education and health.
- Sean Worth on the View from 22
15 August 2013
Sean Worth, Head of the Better Public Services Project at Policy Exchange, appears on The Spectator's View from 22 podcast to discuss their recent cover story on government reform of the NHS. Sean highlights the need for better procurement skills among civil servants and criticises the systemic lack of transparency in the NHS which prevents people from identifying the best hospitals and doctors for them.
- Sean Worth on Jeff Randall Live
01 May 2013
Sean Worth, Head of Policy Exchange's Better Public Services Project, appeared on Sky News’s Jeff Randall Live discussing what the impact of mutualising the government's 'Nudge unit'. He said the unit would be able to hire itself out to councils and healthcare providers to nudge people into good behaviour and help councils and the NHS save money.
- Sean Worth on the Daily Politics
24 April 2013
Sean Worth, Head of Policy Exchange's Better Public Services Project and former special adviser to the Prime Minister, appears on the Daily Politics to set out the proposals from his new report Better Public Services. Sean calls for giving the public more choice in who provides their public services by allowing businesses, social enterprises and charities to also run public services.
- David Cameron urged to set up Go-Compare-style websites for services
23 April 2013
The Guardian covers recent report Better Public Services by Sean Worth, Head of Policy Exchange's Better Public Services Project, calling for an overhaul of public services, including introducing more choice and tranparency to allow the public to campare performance of services such as GPs, hospitals and care homes.
- Sean Worth on Newsnight
05 March 2013
Sean Worth, Head of Policy Exchange's Better Public Services Project, appeared on Newsnight speaking in response to calls for Chief Executive of the NHS Sir David Nicholson to step down following patient deaths at Mid Stafford Hospital. Sean said you can’t just blame one individual for the failings at the hospital, arguing that the entire NHS system is responsible due to a lack of transparency and choice.
- ‘Pushy parents’ see London lead the way on free schools
25 February 2013
Sean Worth, Head of Policy Exchange's Public Services Project, is quoted in The Evening Standard in an article examining why demand to open free schools is three times higher in London than in other parts of the country. Sean said the government should implement reforms to increase the take-up of free schools outside of London.
- Free school applications higher in London
24 February 2013
Sean Worth, Head of Policy Exchange's Better Services Project, is quoted in The Financial Times saying the government needs to implement reforms to increase the take-up of free schools outside of London. Sean said ministers should consider introducing School Enterprise Zones in very deprived areas by bringing in extra help to set up new schools, including from the private sector.
- Mid Staffs crisis: police to study new evidence
18 February 2013
Sean Worth, Head of Policy Exchange's Better Public Services Project, is quoted in a cover story for The Daily Telegraph urging a radical overhaul of the NHS. Sean said the patient deaths in Mid Stafford Hospital displays the urgent need for NHS reform, arguing that patients should have greater choice and information about their treatment.
- Sean Worth on BBC Radio 5 Live
14 February 2013
Policy Exchange's Head of the Better Public Services Project, Sean Worth, appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live speaking in response to Ed Miliband's recent proposals that a Labour government would reintroduce a 10p starting rate of tax. Sean said this was an effective political move by Labour, but noted that under this policy low-paid working families would only save 67p per week.
- NHS and health reforms in England felt by patients
12 February 2013
Sean Worth, Head of the Better Public Services Project at Policy Exchange, is interviewed on the Daily Politics highlighting the behind-the-scenes disagreements over the recent NHS reforms and arguing that patients will start to notice the benefits of the reforms by the end of the year.
- Londoners ‘will suffer most’ in care bill reform
11 February 2013
Sean Worth, Policy Exchange's Head of the Better Public Services Project, is quoted extensively in The Evening Standard arguing that, whilst the government's proposed cap on care costs is a good thing, it is less beneficial for Londoners whose higher property values will leave them above the free care threshold and their assets will be spent more quickly due to higher care costs.
- Hospital 'box-tick' culture that cost hundreds of lives in biggest NHS scandal in living memory
06 February 2013
Sean Worth, Head of Policy Exchange's Better Public Services Project, is quoted by The Daily Mail from his recent blog calling the scandal at Mid Staffordshire hospital "one of the biggest cover-ups in public service history". He is also quoted criticising the "Praetorian guard of NHS elites, trade unions and stuffy medical organisations" that make up the top level of the NHS.
- Sean Worth on Decision Time
09 January 2013
Sean Worth, Senior Consultant for Public Services at Policy Exchange, appeared on BBC Radio 4's Decision Time discussing benefits for pensioners. Sean said it is wrong that a generation of pensioners are receiving universal handouts.
- Call for inquiry into privatisation
10 September 2012
Policy Exchange's recent report Do the Public Back More Reform of Public Services? is cited by The Press Association, which reveals that 60 per cent of British people are in favour of private firms taking over underperforming public services.
- Pay blast at public workers
10 September 2012
The Sun cites findings from recent Policy Exchange report Do the Public Back More Reform of Public Services? which shows that 60% of British people want private firms to take on struggling schools and health organisations.
- A message from a former Downing Street aide. Too much civil service. Not enough political vision.
20 June 2012
ConservativeHome editor Paul Goodman analyses Head of Policy Exchange's Better Public Services Project Sean Worth's interview with The Guardian.
- Sean Worth on Newsnight
19 June 2012
Head of Policy Exchange's Better Public Services Project Sean Worth appears on Newsnight to discuss the upcoming BMA strikes and the need for unions to engage more constructively with the government.
- Tories must go further and faster on public sector reforms, ex-adviser warns
19 June 2012
Sean Worth, Head of Policy Exchange's Better Public Services Project and former SpAd to Prime Minister David Cameron, gives an interview in The Guardian calling for the government to push through reforms to the way public services are delivered using private and third sector providers.
- Break up Whitehall and globalise our public services: the new austerity state
28 June 2013
Sean Worth, Head of Policy Exchange's Better Public Service Project, argues that the UK has a huge opportunity to bring in more money and improve public services by commercialising them abroad. By selling their brands and expertise as franchises abroad, they can be tasked with making cash to reinvest back home. He calls for the government to create overseas trade missions based explicitly on public service delivery and showcase our best providers to the world.
- This month's Spending Review must pave the way for victory in 2015
04 June 2013
Sean Worth, Head of Policy Exchange's Better Public Services Project, suggests that the Chancellor focuses this month’s Spending Review on justifying his message for further cuts to tackle the deficit by showing the Government will embrace real public sector reform on issues such as breaking the monopoly on the public sector delivery of services. He also said that there should be a greater focus on cost of living issues, for example, lowering business taxes and taking poorer workers out of tax altogether.
- The NHS is fatally unsafe – and our politicians are doing nothing to change that
03 June 2013
Sean Worth, Head of Policy Exchange's Better Public Services Project, writes calling for disruptive innovation to help turn around the NHS. Sean argues that the best way to improve health services would be to allow patients to freely choose their providers, a case he makes for more widely for public services in general in Better Public Services.
- Government must wage war on union strike militancy
23 April 2013
Sean Worth, Head of Policy Exchange's Better Public Services Project, argues that trade unions are blocking public service reform and says plans by the TUC to carry out a general strike will endanger the public. Sean sets out recommendations from Policy Exchange report Better Public Services which says emergency services strikes should be banned to prevent the most vulnerable people being hit hardest.
- Mid Staffs: Only revolution can bring peace to the NHS
18 February 2013
Sean Worth, Policy Exchange's Head of the Better Public Services Project, argues that the unnecessary deaths of patients at Mid Stafford Hospital displays the urgent need for NHS reform, with greater accountability and choice. Sean calls for the old-boys' network of trade unions, Royal Colleges and top civil servants at the top of the NHS to be torn down.
- Putting real power back in the hands of patients
06 February 2013
Sean Worth, Head of Policy Exchange's Better Public Services Project and former special adviser to the Prime Minister, argues that the whole power base governing the NHS is an insiders' club serving the interests of powerful elites and must be smashed so that the NHS can be run for the ordinary people it was set up for.
- Fighting back against the Left-wing guerrillas
02 January 2013
Sean Worth, Head of Policy Exchange's for Better Public Services Project, argues that critics on the Left who oppose changes to how the public sector operates are infiltrating organisations at a local level to prevent more choice being introduced. He stresses the importance of greater choice for families when it comes to deciding which schools, GPs or other services are best.
- Let us face down the enemies of social reform
10 September 2012
Writing in the Telegraph, Sean Worth, Head of Policy Exchange's Better Public Services Project, argues that the Government must urgently reform public services as set out in report Do the Public Back More Reform of Public Services? In particular, he stresses that families should be able to choose the best free public services from the most reliable providers, whether government-run or privately run.
- School Enterprise Zones would turbo-charge Free School Programme
03 September 2012
Writing in the Sunday Times, Sean Worth, Senior Consultant to Policy Exchange, proposes ideas to turbo-charge the Government’s plans to free up the supply of schools in poorer urban areas by removing restrictions on who could provide schools, as well as lengthy planning requirements.
- A revolution on the wards that could heal our public services
01 August 2012
Writing in the Telegraph, Sean Worth, Head of Policy Exchange's Better Public Services Project, highlights the work that Circle has done to turn around Hinchingbrooke Hospital in an article on how outsourcing can improve public services. Sean argues that OFT-style regulators charged with overseeing competition in public services should be set up to break government monopolies and allow more innovative providers to run public services.