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Do You Consider That The Introduction Of The Citizen's Charter/Service First Initiatives Over The Past Decade Have Made Any Improvements To The Law Of Public Administration ?

1655 words - 7 pages

The Citizen's Charter, originally launched in 1991, was set up with the aim of improving the quality and responsiveness of public services. People have no choice about whether they use a public service, for example, they cannot choose their local authority, their fire service or their Tax office. Therefore, the Conservative government believed that something had to be done to put the public sector under some sort of pressure, to improve its services. The Citizen's Charter was re-launched and re-branded on the 30th of June 1998 by the Charter Unit of the Cabinet Office, under the name 'Service First - The New Citizen's Charter' and as a part of the Better Government initiative. The Service ...view middle of the document...

Even though the Citizen's Charter was much mocked at its inception, its basic principle has been copied in a number of other democratic countries. These reforms, sometimes rather superficially attributed to "Thatcherism" were in fact widely adopted, even in countries ruled by governments of the Left-France, for example, Australia, New Zealand and Sweden.The Citizen's Charter has, moreover, had an impact upon statutory agencies and other public bodies which exist independently of the Next Steps regime. The charter has provided part of the stimulus for legislation which was designed to measure standards of performance of bodies such as utilities and local government. The 1991 Citizen's Charter launched a ten year programme to raise the standards of public services. Initially the emphasis was on efficiency and economy in public service reform. However, the government's attention has increasingly turned to the effectiveness of the civil service. In launching the charter the Prime Minister stated that: "For each public service we will select the most effective means of delivering the best. For each service the techniques will be different. But the Citizen's Charter will have one common aim - achieving the highest possible standards of performance for those who rely on public services in this country." However, there were some formidable obstacles to turning John Major's ideas into reality. The Citizen's Charter tends to define the citizen as a customer of services, ignoring other aspects of citizenship. The supposition that public sector management can be approached in the same way as private sector management ignores real differences between the two, and one of the most fundamental difference lies in the customer/citizen concept.The Citizen's Charter was much derided for its individualist and market valuesand its impoverished conception of citizenship. Five years on, Deakin's more measured view that 'the Charter addresses real issues' and that, taking out the ideology, 'there is a residue left of potentially important, activity which . . . could contribute materially to improving the quality of public services in Britain' would probably receive substantial endorsement. The 'real issues' referred to here are on the subject of making public bureaucracies more responsive to the needs of their users. The National Consumer Council also praised the Citizen's Charter for being "an important initiative in making public services more responsive" and the Council also believed that it "motivated a significant number of public servants to improve customer care". However, the National consumer Council did believe that there was room for improvement because it stated: "effective consultation with users is the single most important issue which needs to be addressed if the (charter) is to improve public services".The argument that the government was confusing citizens with consumers is quite legitimate. Firstly the consumer has available to them the ultimate...

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