Staff and public divided over quality of public sector services

Only one in five people believe the public
sector has improved in the past four years, compared with nearly four-fifths of
public sector workers, according to a survey commissioned by the Local
Government Association which reveals stark differences of opinion over the
quality of public services.

“It highlights the need for the public sector
to get better at selling success and provide evidence of real service
improvement,” said Local Government Association chairperson Sir Jeremy Beecham.
“But it also underlines the daunting challenge of turning important,
incremental improvements in service standards and new investment into a
transformation in the public’s experience of our public services.”

The survey – based on interviews with 62 senior
managers in the public, private and voluntary sector, and a poll of over 1,000
members of the public – also found scepticism within the business community
about developing partnerships to improve public services. While 71 per cent of
senior managers across all sectors believe the public sector will get better
over the next four years, 62 per cent of the business sector believes they will
get worse.

Outlining the survey’s findings at an LGA
conference, Cynthia Pinto, director of the social division of information
company Taylor Nelson Sofres plc, which carried out the survey, said the
private sector had “caveats about working with the voluntary sector”.

The survey states: “The main drawback of
working with the voluntary sector was a lack of resources, as their reliance on
volunteers made it difficult to sustain effort over a long period of time.”

Executive director of the Employers’
Organisation for Local Government, Charles Nolda, said there needed to be
additional resources in training front-line staff so that they “owned the
change” in the devolution of power from central government.

Nolda added: “Central government has
got to have the wisdom to be tight on the right few things and loose on the
rest. The focus has got to be on the micro-management of the workplace, not on
big national changes.”

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