10 principles for better government

Published Tue 6 Aug 2013
This paper sets out a vision for a state that is less dependent on the market-based assumptions that have dominated policymaking over the last 35 years and which puts people at the heart of its thinking.

In this thought-provoking personal essay, Community Links co-founder David Robinson identifies 10 principles to underpin a citizen-centred model of 'whole system' reform of public services.

  1. Build readiness
  2. Prevent the preventable
  3. Prioritise relationships
  4. Combine functions
  5. Co-produce services
  6. Co-locate the public estate
  7. Cultivate the willing
  8. Reduce inequalities
  9. Commit to common
  10. Tell the story of our lives

Together, Robinson argues, these principles would equate to reclaiming some part of the 'old normal' - our common humanity, mutual trust and a willing kindness. By this view, piecemeal, programmatic reform - layering specific initiatives and isolated
pilots over a failing system - means more waiting for trouble, more belated reaction and - ultimately and inevitably - more failure.

A 'better government', on the other hand, would understand the scale of the challenge to our services and the importance of bold, whole-system reform. It would structure its narrative around shared values and align its vision with 'the deep-set rhythms of our daily lives', making readiness - not the more negative resilience - its primary goal. This better government would prevent the preventable and champion relationships as the organising principle at the heart of all Britain's public services.

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