Thursday, 11 February 2010

Where now for public services in the UK

The debate continues about the current worrying state of public finances in the UK. For many years to come, the UK will face a period of financial austerity involving significant real terms cuts in public spending in addition to tax increases. Furthermore, although these fairly recent concerns, resulting from economic recession and the credit crunch, are significant, they will be dwarfed, internationally, by the longer term impact on public finances of an aging population and other factors.

The danger is that we regard the current crisis as one which will simply “go away” in a few years, and that we will then return to “business as normal” involving ongoing real terms increases in public expenditure each year. The current crisis might instead be seen as a watershed in our social and economic history and one which requires considerable thought about, among other things:-

• the role of the state in public service provision,
• the balance between individual and collective responsibility,
• the structure of public services,
• how public services should be paid for.
• the mechanisms by which public services are planned and managed.

In his inaugural professorial lecture, Professor Malcolm Prowle provides a wide ranging analysis of the nature of the current problems and possible solutions.

The lecture can be downloaded at:

The working paper which underpins the lecture can also be downloaded at:

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