A New Social Contract: From targets to rights in public services

Pauline Ngan, Tony Wright


Public service reform is central to the Government’s domestic agenda. But the political and policy debates have got stuck. The limits of a target driven approach are becoming increasingly clear, while few voters can follow an often technocratic debate on managerial reform.

This pamphlet suggests an innovative new approach which would turn this reform debate on its head by shifting the focus from the producers to the users of public services. If public services are a contract between the citizen and the state, the terms of that contract need to be made considerably more explicit. A system of Public Service Guarantees – based around the ‘three Rs’ of user representation, rights and redress – would set out clearly what users can expect from the money we pay for public services, and what we can expect if these expectations are not fulfilled.

This pamphlet seeks to reshape the controversial political debate about consumers and citizens, arguing that taking citizenship seriously should not prevent applying good consumer principles to public services, and that giving more rights to public service users should be central to the Labour’s third term policy agenda.


You can buy a printed copy edition of A New Social Contract: From targets to rights in public services for £6.95, plus £1 p+p, by phoning the Fabian Society bookshop on 020 7227 4900, emailing us at [email protected] or send a cheque payable to “The Fabian Society” to 11 Dartmouth Street, London, SW1H 9BN.