While Brexit and the challenges of UK politics dominate news headlines day after day, across the country, local government and public services are experimenting with new ways to plug the power of citizens back into their work.
Over the last few years, there has been rising interest and increased practical experimentation by local government and public services, moving from top down, paternalistic service delivery to working with people to solve problems and create thriving places - harnessing the ideas, knowledge and talents of people in new ways.
The UK is not alone in this. From Barcelona to Bogata, there are approaches being used to redefine roles and responsibilities. These new approaches better enable people to shape the public institutions and services that they need, and promote opportunities to contribute as creative citizens to solve the challenges and decisions that affect us.
At Nesta, over the last ten years we’ve backed hundreds of people powered approaches that understand the value of connections and relationships, shift power and combine the best approaches of citizens, public servants and other sectors working together. While there are lots of great examples, there is still more to do to make this an organising principle for how we design our public services, institutions and ways of working.
We are sharing stories that you may explore below, from five local government innovators who are experimenting and developing more effective ways to shift power, solve problems, and reshape public services in the UK. They are amongst a wave of people across the country who are working in new ways to define new models for public services.
Sitting in, alongside, and outside of local government and public services, these green shoots of experimentation are important examples of the change that is needed. This work is not always easy. By shining a light on their journey to date and hopes for the future of this work, we hope more and more people can connect and learn from each other when grappling with challenges and exciting possibilities.
Over the coming year Nesta will continue to support experimentation and learning in this field. Our People Powered Results work continues to work with local public services across the country, championing frontline leadership for smarter, faster, more collaborative services that are more inclusive of citizens. Through our wider People Power work, we continue to back organisations across a variety of sectors that enable creative and active citizenship, bringing together professionals and the knowledge and skills of people to shape decisions, and contribute to solutions. The Upstream Collaborative will bring together local government innovators to share, assess and accelerate new models that work upstream of social problems to help create the conditions that enable citizen’s needs to be met in empowering and inclusive ways.
There is plenty more to do. But through examining these stories we get glimpses of the future. Through experimentation and working in new ways we can create this future together.