This report sets out a progressive agenda for public services and for the next stage of public service reform in the UK. Its overarching theme is the fact that public services are not simply delivered to their users, but instead depend on a relationship of co-production in which the outcomes that we care about such as good health, high levels of skills and low rates of crime are the result of government, public services and citizens working effectively together. Our core argument is that public service reform should focus on getting the relationships right between the different groups engaged in this co-production relationship: between government, services and citizens. We thus take a systems approach rather than offering any simple blueprint or universally applicable prescription for reform. We are not partisans of any one technique as the next 'big thing' for the public services, and we think that any approach that focuses on one reform mechanism in isolation from the wider system is bound to fail.

In the recent past, too much of the reform agenda has been focused on the relationship between government and the public services. This has been reflected in an emphasis on top-down performance management. In large part this report is about various forms of decentralisation. However, this implies new bargains and responsibilities on all sides, as well as a change of approach at the centre. Decentralisation can only happen if local government and the public service workforce take on the challenge of becoming more ambitious, more accountable and more responsive to their users and their local public. Meanwhile, we also need to engender new behaviours and attitudes on the part of citizens and service users themselves. As well as being equipped with the information, capabilities and support necessary to navigate and govern their services, the public should also be encouraged and expected to exhibit responsibility in their use of them.