Charles Leadbeater: The User Generated State

An excellent piece on governance innovation by British author and thinker Charles Leadbeater:

Caroline Tomlinson disabled teenage son Joe had a problem. He wanted to go to school with all the other teenagers in Wigan, on the bus. But when Caroline approached the social services department to see whether that would be possible they pointed out they already had a block contract with a local taxi firm to transport Joe to school and sending him on the bus would be an additional cost they were unprepared to pay, especially as in the department’s assessment Joe would need to be accompanied by two care workers to make sure he came to no harm.

A few months later however Caroline and Joe enrolled on an initiative called In Control run by a social enterprise for the Department of Health which helps young people with learning disabilities take control of their own care. Everyone going on In Control gets their own annual budget – the cash equivalent of what they would have got in services – and help to decide how to spend it on the kind of support they need. Caroline and Joe quickly drew up a plan to get to school on the bus, with the help of two fellow sixth formers who were studying for care qualifications. Joe was happy. He and Caroline were managing the risk rather than the department, so the social workers were content. And as Caroline puts it : “You give me ten pounds and I will make sure it goes much further for Joe than any local authority.”

The User Generated State: Public Services 2.0

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