Think tank proposes a new approach for government target-setting. A report launched in September by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) argues that the government?s approach to setting targets needs to be radically reassessed and presents a package of practical recommendations to improve the way in which targets are used in future. In a comprehensive review of four key public services, the SMF?s Targets Commission argues that many of the standard criticisms of targets are invalid, and sometimes influenced by professional self-interest. But it also highlights the Government?s haphazard approach to data collection, the setting of targets without evidence and the designing of targets which are vulnerable to manipulation by public sector staff. The Commission blames poorly designed targets for the controversies of, for example, GPs abolishing advance booking in order to meet the 48-hour access targets, rather than targets themselves. However the report argues that, when designed well, targets have the potential to effect huge change and can be a key tool in improving public service performance, particularly when other forms of service improvement - such as user choice - are absent.
By Social Market Foundation, UK.
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Human Rights: Who Needs Them? The Human Rights Act is under attack. There is a popular perception that its impact has been restricted to the courtroom and that human rights are not relevant to wider society, or are applied to unworthy causes. Some people even want the act repealed. Yet the act has the capacity to bring about a cultural change that would improve public services and the treatment of, and respect for, socially-excluded and deprived people. The voluntary and community sector, which exists to help these people, should learn to use the act to help them access their human rights. Human Rights: Who Needs Them? sets out a practical vision for how voluntary organisations can use the act to further the rights of people they represent. Frances Butler uses real-life examples to create a toolbox of methods for holding government and public bodies accountable for their obligations and re-emphasises the continuing relevance of human rights in everyday public life. By Frances Butler.
Nothing to lose but your chains. is the third volume of a major study into the reform of local government finance in England. It sets out the authors' proposals for a comprehensive, yet practical, reform of the local revenue finance system. The reforms recommended aim to correct the shortcomings of the present system of local finance, whilst taking into account current political realities. The authors believe they provide a solution that is both radical and politically feasible, returning autonomy to local government whilst retaining a workable balance between concerns about national equity and local control. By Tony Travers and Lorena Esposito for Policy Exchange and the New Economics Foundation.
Reinventing the Town Hall: a Handbook. Local government works best where it succeeds in involving the public, fostering civic pride and building trust. The appearance and working area of the town hall - the most public face of local government - can play a vital role in achieving these ends. Yet many local councils remain oblivious to the message sent by their town halls and other democratic meetings places. This handbook draws on national and international examples, including unpublished new designs by a range of leading contemporary designers, to suggest ways of reinventing town halls as open animated public spaces. By Ben Rogers.