Archive for August 3, 2011

Oliver Letwin: Fear doesn’t come cheap

August 3, 2011

Am I afraid? Does this face look afraid?

The comments of Oliver Letwin over the weekend have caused quite a stir within the Public Sector. In case you missed it (where have you been?) Mr Letwin said:

“You can’t have room for innovation and the pressure for excellence without having some real discipline and some fear on the part of the providers that things may go wrong if they don’t live up to the aims that society as a whole is demanding of them,”

“If you have diversity of provision and personal choice and power, some providers will be better and some worse. Inevitably, some will not, whether it’s because they can’t attract the patient or the pupil, for example, or because they can’t get results and hence can’t get paid. Some will not survive. It is an inevitable and intended consequence of what we are talking about.”

In response some of our favourite blogs sought to make sense of things. Fighting Monsters took him to task in an article entitled ‘why I despise Oliver Letwin’ which amongst many points said the following:

What kind of society have we become when we feel it is appropriate for a Government ‘Policy Minister’ to drive a disdain and almost bullying approach to a public sector that provides services he will never need?

Meanwhile Flip Chart Fairy Tales got to the bottom of some of Mr Letwin’s more general arguments and looked specifically at the issue of productivity. After agreeing that there has been a fall in productivity alongside an increase in performance he argues about the upcoming savings agenda:

Will more discipline and fear help? Probably not. A bit more discipline wouldn’t go amiss in some areas but it’s not going to save £52bn. If anything, language like this will just further piss off the already pissed off public sector managers, the very people on whom the government is relying to make the changes work.

So what is left to say? Despite all the heat and light about Mr Letwin’s intemperate comments there is a real challenge for Local Government that underpins the Government’s approach.

(more…)

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