Steve Hilton’s flow of thought has been blissfully uninterrupted by the fuss over his strategy bulletins. The Tory barefoot sage is still on a mission to re-educate senior Tory MPs on the importance of “people power” and gardening. But, as you can see from the last two strategy emails below, his missives have been toned down a bit, at least in language. No more references to “cool stuff”, which is a shame. Perhaps this is a real life example of transparency changing behaviour?
For those of you who prefer to see your bulletins in graphical form, I’ve pulled together a word cloud. Read on for the full text.
This week: our approach to public service reform; some interesting reading from the past few weeks.
1. Public service reform
Two announcements this week showed how we are applying a consistent set of principles and approaches to the task of improving public services in different areas.
On Monday we announced a new approach to early years care which will see funding going directly to charities and social enterprises, including payment by results for some of the services they deliver:
On Wednesday we published a major reform plan for public health. Andrew Lansley’s Public Health Green Paper set out how we will devolve responsibility for improving public health to communities on a payment by results basis, with extra rewards for improving the public health of the poorest:
These announcements reflect our belief in social responsibility, not state control: wherever possible we want to open up public services to non-state providers. They also embody our commitment to decentralisation, transparency and accountability – so that control over public services is given to people who use them, not to ministers and bureaucrats at the centre.
These new policies also highlight some of the specific methods we plan to use to bring about these changes – for example the introduction of payment-by-results to improve quality and taxpayer value; the extension of choice to create pressure for higher standards and better service, and the publication of performance data to enable users to make informed choices.
So instead of teachers, doctors, nurses and police officers constantly worrying about meeting the demands of political targets and the bureaucracy, we will make them accountable to the people who use the service.
2. Some interesting reading
- Writing about the Detroit airline terror plot, David Brooks in the New York Times warns against putting too much faith in big government:
- On ConservativeHome, Stephan Shakespeare writes about the need for a new approach to politics and policymaking:
- In the Sunday Times, Jenni Russell offers a critique of Labour’s bureaucratic approach:
Strategy Bulletin No. 7 (January 29th)
This week: George Osborne and Richard Thaler on behaviour change; demand for our school reforms; Social Action
1. Behaviour Change
Across many policy areas – from public health to financial services to energy efficiency – we are applying the traditional Conservative principle of going with the grain of human nature. Today that principle is represented in the academic discipline of behavioural economics, and in this article with Richard Thaler, one of the world’s leading behavioural economists (and our adviser on regulation), George Osborne explains our approach and its benefits – which include meeting our policy goals more cheaply, and with less intrusive regulation:
And here‘s a link to a great interview with Richard Thaler on the Today programme:
2. People Power
There is now growing evidence of public demand for control of public services – especially in schools, where Michael Gove’s planned reforms will give parents the chance to set up their own school, or invite a new school to be set up in their area.
This recent article reports on a group of parents asking a Swedish school company to come to Britain:
And this Newsnight clip from a few weeks ago profiled Toby Young’s efforts to set up a new school in West London:
3. Social Action
Over the past few years we have made Social Action a core part of our political philosophy and of our campaigning effort. It’s a tangible example of our belief on social responsibility, not state control.
Nat Wei has joined us to help develop our strategy for Social Action. Nat is a social entrepreneur with a great track record – including helping to set up Teach First, and, through his charity Shaftesbury, the pilots for our own National Citizen Service youth programme. Working with Francis Maude and Nick Hurd, Nat will be finding ways to encourage more people to get involved in their local communities. If you would like to get in touch with Nat, you can do so through firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>.
I also thought you’d be interested to see some of the great Social Action projects that our parliamentary candidates have got going on around the country:
In It 2ogether – Maria Hutchins, PPC Eastleigh
Young people are expected to respect their elders and yet some know very little about what so many older people have done for this country and why they should show some respect. Elderly people in turn are often frightened of leaving their homes and of even walking near a group of teenagers and often complain that they are lonely as a result. Maria encouraged the two groups to join forces and arranged for the local youth group and senior citizens (many of whom are ex-armed forces) to write letters and Christmas cards to troops with the Kings Royal Hussars, based in Tidworth.
Dracena Centre Homework Club – Sarah Newton, PPC in Truro and Falmouth
Working with 10 and 11 year olds who were keen to learn but lacked support at home to achieve their potential, Sarah found that children at Falmouth Primary School and Falmouth School have nowhere to go, other than home, to do their homework. For some home is a chaotic place that doesn’t provide the supportive and quiet environment necessary for reading and homework so she decided to set up a Homework Club. The younger children are collected from school and walked to the Dracena Centre where they are welcomed with a drink and a healthy snack. They then do their homework or read for an hour. Volunteers are on hand to offer help or encouragement. This is followed by 30 minutes of organised play activities or supervised Wii sessions.
Shop Local – Jake Berry, PPC for Rossendale and Darwen
Jake set up his social action project to help local businesses whose trade was suffering from extensive roadworks on the local main road. He worked with the local media to highlight the fact that these businesses were facing closure and to encourage people to shop locally, he printed money-off vouchers for local shops on the back of his In-Touch leaflets. He also invited all the schools across the constituency to take part in a competition to design a reusable shopping bag which was then sold on a not-for-profit basis by the local shops. Approximately 1,000 bags with the winning design were distributed across local shops in the constituency.
Domestic battery recycling scheme – Sarah Newton, PPC Truro & Falmouth
Each year we throw away over 600 million household batteries but with access to recycling points scarce, Sarah set up a local battery recycling scheme in the Mylor Bridge Post Office. It was an instant success with over 12 kilos of batteries donated for recycling after just three weeks.
Gardening Together – Debi Jones, PPC for Sefton Central
The centre of Debi’s village had deteriorated whilst developers worked on plans for regeneration, and there was nowhere attractive for any elderly shoppers to sit. Debi persuaded a local garden centre to give her quality benches at cost price; bought a large planter; and made use of old rubber tyres. Another local garden centre provided the flowers and plants for two years. Debi also contacted Crosby High, a special needs senior school that wasn’t currently involved with the community. Children from the school planted up the planter with help from the garden centre, and visited to maintain the area every two weeks. Before they started she visited the school with an example of the plants they would be using, and asked pupils to draw their own design of what they would like it to look like. This made it into a project for them, too, bringing in art, design, maths and colour. The head teacher was delighted and the children thoroughly enjoy their visits for which they receive awards within school.
If you would like further information about Social Action or want to get involved in the development of our plans please contact our Social Action manager XXXX.