Tessa Jowell cites The Engagement Ethic

December 16, 2009 at 9:54 am 2 comments

by John Craig

More coverage today for The Engagement Ethic, Innovation Unit’s think-piece looking at the potential of co-operatives and mutuals for public services.  In a speech to Progress last night, Minister for the Cabinet Office, Tessa Jowell drew explicitly on the piece in announcing a Commission on Ownership to explore further the potential of mutualism in public services and to be chaired by Will Hutton.  Jowell argued that we are “entering a “mutual moment”, where a new sense of community ownership is created through making greater use of mutual organisations in the provision of public services”.   The Minister develops this thinking further in this comment piece for the Guardian, which sees her drawing on the ideas of the report.

A Commission on Ownership is an interesting move, particularly at this point in the electoral cycle.  I really hope that it can help to make a practical impact.  I certainly wish that we had been able to think more deeply about the notion of ownership in the report, emphasising both that people already own their public services and that too often it doesn’t feel like that.  It also helps to make stronger links – as some of the more political press coverage has – between issues of ownership within public services and more broadly across our economy.  The more we can understand public services in that broader context,the better for public service reform.


Entry filed under: Government Departments, Innovation Policy. Tags: , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Charlie  |  December 24, 2009 at 6:45 am

    people already own their public services and that too often it doesn’t feel like that

    The problem is I think that ownership is about control rather than legal title. Public services if they are controlled at all are controlled by the political elite and certain public servants. Attempting to control or at least influence the political elite is not easy. It’s is a lifestyle if not a career choice. Furthermore I think there’s probably an argument to be said that many public services aren’t really controlled at all in any substantive way. If public services aren’t really controlled by the government and the government aren’t really controlled by the people then the idea the the people control, and therefore own, public services seems a bit tenuous to me.

  • 2. John Craig  |  January 4, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Thanks for your comment, Charlie, really appreciate your engagement 🙂

    That’s a very particular definition of ownership, which would mean that squatters own the buildings they live in and that the line you cite was at best poetic licence. Whatever the merits of that definition, I think I agree with you in spirit. For citizens to control public services is really difficult and we should explore the potential of forms of ownership that are more direct and which are tied to more substantive engagement.

    Thanks again.


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