Assertive Citizens: New Relationships in the Public Services

People demand more from their public services than ever before. The rising prosperity and greater social freedoms of the post-war period have led to the rise of theĀ ‘assertive citizen’. Public service users are now more aware of their rights, expect a better service, and defer less to established sources of advice such as professional opinion. This creates profound challenges for public sesrvices, particularly for the relationships between users andproviders. This research examines how the public services, and those who work in them, can adapt to fit these changing expectations. It examins two public services as case studies for these changes: health and education. However, the changes it documents and many of its findings have wider applicability.

The report’s recommendations focus on the appropriate direction of choice-based reforms, the future role of professionals, and the concept of co-production, which seeks to promote greater cooperation between citizensĀ and professionals in the production of public services. It argues that strengthening the personal relationships between professionals and service users is vital to meeting the challenges posed by assertive citizenship.

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