In this blog I haven’t tended to agree with Ben Page, the Chief Executive of Ipsos MORI. I am now going to make an exception!
In the Municipal Journal of 18 March 2010* he contributes to the Soapbox column, as he has in the past, with a piece largely on council communications and the financial cuts. In response to politicians sating that they are going to get more online to save costs, he picks up some key points including:
- the fact that citizens are more interested in service information than performance information
- that a number will continue to rely on printed material for sometime
- information is unlikely to empower anyone apart from the small minority already engaged
He concludes by stating that “A cultural shift in the relationship between service users and public services is required. Don’t expect dramatic changes in awareness and attitudes in the next five years.”
My own academic research supports that and indicates that one way forward is implementing the “Citizen Engagement System” and actively employing the feedback at a service and political level to regain trust from the public. Even using such a mechanism, it will take time, since recommendations will have to be seen to be being carried out.
This is also reflected on page 45 of the new (launched 25th March 2010) Total Place report where it considers what a successful procurement system would look like:
“Local services geared towards meeting the needs and demands of service users and citizens – structuring services to meet those needs through engaging them in service design and monitoring of performance and working across service silos to focus on the outcomes for the person rather than the individual services they receive.”
So I may not be far from the truth, after all!
* To those without a paper copy I apologise – the content of MJ is frequently reproduced on http://www.localgov.co.uk but at a later date!