The second in our series of short blogs around our conference, Same Picture: Different Lenses, we asked some of the speakers from the event to give us their thoughts on the conference and we start with Nick Bennett, Public Service Ombudsman. You can view Nick’s speech from the conference below.
The title of this seminar was portentous! The day saw diverse contributions from the perspective of the Auditor General, advocates for children, older people, Welsh speakers, myself as Ombudsman, the Permanent Secretary and of course the Carnegie UK Trust. The seminar succeeded in conjuring up a consensus of collective themes for public service reform which included listening to the service user, creating public value and collaborating for effective citizen centred services during an increasingly challenging decade likely to be characterised by austerity and an on-going ageing demographic.
I was glad that the need to focus on big wins and big challenges was acknowledged, as was the need to have a strategic preventative agenda, as well as the need to pursue integration so that people don’t fall through the net and that services really do generate investments that save.
It was also pleasing to hear that only through adopting innovation can organisations have any hope of dealing with new pressures.
The need to focus on “enabling/relational state”, doing things with and not to the people was a strong message from Carnegie UK which seemed to resonate deeply with attendees with lessons from some sectors that demonstrate an ability to align public sector objectives and maximising leverage from civil society.
I was keen to emphasise the need to keep a critical eye on public value, the needs of the citizen/ user, to see their feedback as critical and to ensure that collaboration achieves capacity for better and more services over the next decade.
The rallying cry: that we all use our power to make sure things happen post seminar is one that I hope we can honour – both formally and on a day to day basis.
About the Author:
Nick Bennett was appointed Public Services Ombudsman for Wales on August 1st 2014. Previously he was Chief Executive of Community Housing Cymru Group, which consists of the national membership body for Housing Associations, Care and Repair Cymru and the Centre for Regeneration Excellence Wales. Between 2000 and 2002 he was Cabinet Special Adviser to the Deputy First Minister in the Welsh Assembly Government.