PUBLIC SERVICE IN THE NEWS | UK continues to analyse ‘Big Society’ reforms and with it comes increasing criticism

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Accounting for the new philanthropy >  Britain’s Big Society initiatives exemplify a new regime: Rather than fund public programs directly, the state will incentivize private investment in public outcomes. After all, since markets are inadequate to meet public needs and create many “externalities” – unpaid social costs – the exchange market for private goods should be corrected by a kind of gift market for public goods. But this formula exposes a deeper problem with our existing economy: It has no clear signal for valuing public goods.

Editor-At-Large: Dear Bob Diamond… > Most of us also find it patronising and vaguely obscene that the Government is turning to the charitable whims of the ultra-rich to fund new schools and their much-trumpeted Big Society initiatives. I’m not happy you can buy into what should be provided by the state. You will want a return on your investment, so what will it be – even more tax concessions or peerages?

Whatever happened to the Big Society? Most of the criticism is based on justifiable concerns about how community organisations – unless they are large, financially robust and able to take on contracts to deliver public services – can get more involved in the Big Society at a time when their resources are stretched and yet demand is forever increasing because of council cutbacks to vital services.Instead, her arguments served to highlight what delegates reported to be the biggest structural flaw in the Big Society agenda: that because of its very nature – encouraging communities to “do it for themselves” – it will probably work better in those areas that have higher levels of capacity, funding and skills than in neighbourhoods that are in need of serious investment, regeneration and improved public services.

Why ‘John Lewis jails’ are better for corporations than for prisoners >  A thinktank wants to cut crime with ‘John Lewis jails’, but the plan to get prisoners working looks more like a new opportunity for giant corporations

 

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