Appendix 2Letter from the Chairman
of the Committee to the Minister for the Cabinet Office |
The Committee is grateful for the Government response
to our report, From Citizen's Charter to Public Service Guarantees:
Entitlements to Public Services. There is a great deal of information
in the response about the Government's commitment to improving
public services, which the Committee welcomes. We would, however,
like to clarify the Government's position on the proposals contained
in our original report, as the wording of the response is somewhat
opaque in relation to some of our recommendations. In particular,
the response does not directly address our central contention
that there should be clear and precise statements of people's
entitlements to public services in the form of Public Service
To this end, we would appreciate clarification of
the response to our main recommendation (number 5) about the need
for clear statements of people's entitlements to public services.
The Government response states that: "
will act to end unfairness by enshrining universal entitlements
to basic standards and to eradicate remaining pockets of underperformance".
This appears to accept the principle that people's entitlements
to certain standards of public service provision should be recognised
and articulated. It would be helpful to have more definite details
about how the Government intends to implement this commitment
and, specifically, if it will be through the adoption of the type
of Public Service Guarantees that we recommend in our report.
We would also like to know if the "universal entitlements"
will be to precise standards or levels of provision, and whether
they will contain details of enforceability and redress should
standards of service delivery not be met.
The more general point we would make is that the
Government response tends to focus on the aspect of our recommendations
concerned with determining minimum standards for public services,
rather than on the importance of setting out people's entitlements
to public services. Clearly, defining and raising standards is
an important part of any discussion of public service provision.
Equally important, in our view, is for people to be made aware
of and empowered to claim the public services they are entitled
to. A central aim of our report was to urge the Government to
spell out public service entitlements as a way of strengthening
people's attachment to public services and encouraging them to
take a more active role in claiming their rights to good public
services. Any further light you could shed on the Government's
position on promoting people's entitlements to public servicesand
what more it intends to do to express and communicate those entitlementswould
be very much appreciated.