The Whitehall Effect ~ John Seddon - Online Notes
Links below take you to the chapter notes:
Part 1: The industrialisation of public services
2: Call centres
3. Back Offices
4. Shared Services
6. Information Technology
Part 2: Delivering services that work
7. A better philosophy
8. Effective change starts with ‘study’
9. Better thinking, better design
10. ‘Locality’ working
11. IT as pull, not push
Part 3: Things that make your head hurt
12. Targets and standards make performance worse
13. Inspection can’t improve performance
14. Regulation is a disease
15. It’s the system, not the people
16. Incentives always get you less
Part 4: ideology, fashions and fads
18. Personal Budgets
20. Managing demand
23. Risk management
25. IT: features over benefits
Part 5 Change must start in Whitehall
26. Beware economists bearing plausible ideas
27. Whitehall is incapable of doing evidence
28. Getting a focus on purpose
1] See Anthony King and Ivor Crewe, 2013, The Blunders of our Governments, Oneworld, p.27 for details of the Blue Streak missile and Concorde projects.
2] Margaret Thatcher, 1993, The Downing Street Years, Harper Collins, p.7: “The result of this style of accommodationist politics, as my colleague Keith Joseph complained, was that post-war politics became a ‘socialist ratchet’ – Labour moved Britain towards more statism; the Tories stood pat; and the next Labour government moved the country a little further left.”
3] Ibid. pp.12-13. She herself wrote “Our inspiration was… Hayek’s powerful Road to Serfdom, dedicated to the socialists of all parties”.
4] Margaret Thatcher, 4 July 1977, ‘Speech to Greater London Young Conservatives (Iain Macleod Memorial Lecture – “Dimensions of Conservatism”)’ From the Thatcher online archive. View
5] “‘None of you can be any good’ [Thatcher] once told the British Rail board over lunch, ‘or you would be in private industry’.” Simon Jenkins, 2007, Thatcher and Sons, Penguin, p.4.
6] From the Thatcher online archive. View
7] Kate Jenkins, Andrew Jackson and Karen Caines, 1988, Improving Management in Government: The Next Steps, Report to the Prime Minister, HMSO, p.8.
8] Margaret Thatcher, 1993, The Downing Street Years, Harper Collins, p.608: “I said that the Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS) must make a real effort to respond quickly to the attacks on our record and the performance of the NHS. After all, we had increased real spending on the NHS by 40 percent in less than a decade.”
9] Ibid. p.607.
10] Simon Jenkins, 2007, Thatcher and Sons, Penguin, pp.113-116 “[Thatcher] told the nation on the BBC’s Panorama programme, apparently without consulting her health ministers, that the NHS should be totally reformed… The resulting blood-stained White Paper appeared in January 1989, claiming to be ‘simulating within the NHS as many as possible of the advantages which the private sector and market choice offered, but without privatisation’.”
11] John Major, 2000, The Autobiography, Harper Collins, p.245.
12] Duncan Campbell-Smith, 2008, Follow the Money: The Audit Commission, Public Money and the Management of Public Services 1983-2008, Allen Lane, pp.10-11 “Armed with ever more measures of performance, the auditors engaged with their audited bodies in new ways: league tables heralded a readiness to evaluate the performance of councils, relative to their peers across the country, against a set of centrally directed criteria.”
13] Under Blair, CCT was replaced with a new duty of ‘Best Value’ which was designed to “create the conditions under which there is likely to be greater interest from the private and voluntary sectors in working with local government to deliver quality services at a competitive price” – Dept. for Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) 1998, Modern Local Government: In Touch with the People, White Paper Cmnd 4014, clause 7.30.
14] Duncan Campbell-Smith, 2008, Follow the Money: The Audit Commission, Public Money and the Management of Public Services 1983-2008, Allen Lane, p.11: “In its third decade, the commission was expected to do more than illuminate the facts as in the 1980s, or point to underlying patterns as in the 1990s. It had to join with government in devising ways to effect real change. (It was an evolution labelled ‘sight-insight-foresight’ by those fond of such rubrics.) As this suggests, New Labour’s continuing quest for a quantum improvement in Britain’s public services posed a huge challenge for the Commission and its auditors – inviting them into a relationship with government that posed delicate questions for the independence of the Commission from government, always a far subtler matter than the statute-protected independence of the auditors from the audited.”
15] See Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR), September 2001, Modern councils, modern services - access for all. View
16] Ibid, para. 3.7.
17] Peter Gershon, 2004, Releasing resources to the front line: Independent Review of Public Sector Efficiency, HMSO.
18] Audit Commission, 2007, Environmental Scan: Efficiency of Back Office Functions in Local Government, p.14: “ex-Cabinet Office Minister Jim Murphy is quoted as saying ‘Departments that share corporate services such as HR and finance could create 20% efficiency savings’”. View
19] The Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit. 6 June 2006, The UK government’s approach to public service reform. View
20] Cabinet Office, 2008, Excellence and fairness: Achieving world class public services. View
21] Gordon Brown writing in the Financial Times 9th March 2008: “So this is my approach to achieving excellence: no tolerance of underperformance, giving users of public services more choices and, crucially, a new recognition that real and lasting change must come from empowering the users of services themselves, with professionals and government playing a supporting role. And all of this only possible, even in a more challenging global economic environment, by a long-term commitment to investment as well as reform in our public services.” View
22] The work led by Martin Read was written up as HM Treasury, 2009, Operational Efficiency Programme: back office operations and IT. View
23] The ‘scroungers’ term appeared regularly in press comment pieces on the Mick Philpott court case. Philpott was jailed for his part in a house fire that left six of his children dead. “Welfare is there to help people who work hard, it shouldn’t be there as a sort of lifestyle choice.” – David Cameron, April 2013. View
Cameron and his ministers contrasted a case like this one with government policies to support what they termed the ‘strivers’: “Where’s the fairness for the shift-worker, leaving home in the dark hours of the early morning, who looks up at the closed blinds of their next door neighbour sleeping off a life on benefits… We speak for all those who want to work hard and get on… They strive for a better life. We strive to help them.” – George Osborne, October 2012. View
This became labelled the ‘strivers versus skivers’ debate in the media, with opposition politicians also using the term ‘striver’. See: The Guardian, ‘Skivers v strivers: the argument that pollutes people’s minds’, Wednesday 9 January 2013. Byline: Zoe Williams. View