What We Want From Our Public Services

McCartney publishes latest research from People's Panel


Results from the People's Panel - Wave 5

Cabinet Office Minister Ian McCartney, today published the results of the fifth wave of research using the People's Panel, which shows how satisfied people are with public services and what the public expect from them.

The research also asked Panel members about their perceptions of how public services deal with complaints and qualities people think that successful public service providers need. It will act as a national baseline to measure future surveys against.

Mr McCartney said:

"Public services need to know more about what people want. Rather than imposing solutions we must consult and work with people. That is why we set up the People's Panel, a world first at national level. People's views and experiences will help highlight and tackle the variations in performance we currently see."

"This survey itself is a first, a comprehensive attempt to find out what people really think about their public services. We will repeat it in future years, so we can measure how far services improve. We are publishing all these results because we are committed to openness. All public services need to learn the lessons of these results, and act on them."

Commenting on the results, he continued:

"There are some impressive results here. For example GPs and NHS hospitals, services that are very important to people, come in the top 10 for satisfaction. But in other cases, we need to do a lot more."

"Some services clearly need more money. We have provided it. For example; an extra 1631.6 billion a year by 2003-04 to build new housing and improve what we have; an extra 1636 billion for transport over the next three years to cut road congestion, enable the railways to carry more passengers and provide a better, more reliable service; and health spending will rise to 16354.2 billion next year; 16358.6 billion in 2002; 16363.5 billion in 2003; and then from April 2003, 16368.7 billion pounds - a cash increase of over 50 per cent and a real terms increase of 35 per cent over these next five years."

"But for many services the real need is to respond better to all their customers - like the best of the private sector. We have made sure public services are more focused on the needs of customers than ever before. All central departments and agencies now have a consumer champion, responsible for making sure services improve to reflect consumers' needs. In local government, we have set up the Best Value programme, with the same objective."

The key findings from the People's Panel research include:

  • education, health services, libraries and refuse and recycling facilities achieved the highest levels of satisfaction. Nine in ten are satisfied with their GP and nearly eight in ten with NHS hospitals; nearly nine in ten are satisfied with their libraries and their local refuse/waste collection services and eight in ten are satisfied with their local recycling facilities;
  • access to health services is seen as the top priority by Panel members: three in five want to see a GP within a week and over half say hospitals should provide beds to all who need them, provide care when needed and limit accident and emergency waiting times to no more than one hour;
    • The NHS Plan, announced in July by the Prime Minister and Alan Milburn, sets out far reaching reforms which will result in direct improvements for patients. For example, patients will see waiting times for treatment cut as extra staff are recruited: by 2004 patients will be able to have a GP appointment within 48 hours and there will be up to 1,000 specialist GPs taking referrals from fellow GPs; long waits in accident and emergency departments will be ended; and by the end of 2005 the maximum waiting time for an outpatient appointment will be three months and for inpatients, six months.
  • response times are the clear priority for the police and emergency services: members see it as important that 999 calls are responded to within 10-15 minutes;
    • The Audit Commission report for 1998-99 shows that the response rate to over 96% of fire calls in England and Wales met the national standards.
  • cutting crime is also high on the list of people's expectations;
    • Since April 1997, total recorded crime has fallen by 6%. Vehicle crime is down 17% and domestic burglary has fallen by almost a quarter, whilst in 1998, the number of offenders convicted rose by 6%. And, for the first time ever the 1998 British Crime Survey results showed that crime (including incidents not reported to the police) was on the way down. The fear of crime has also continued to fall.
    • The Spending Review 2000 provides extra funding of an annual average of 3.8 per cent a year in real terms for the police - almost 1631.6 billion more in 2004 than it is today. The extra funding will help the police to tackle crime and improve performance and to meet targets to cut vehicle crime by 30% by 2004, reduce domestic burglary by 25% and cut robbery in principal cities by 14% by 2005. 376 local partnerships have been formed across England and Wales to tackle crime and disorder. Ten crime reduction directors have been appointed to support those local partnerships.
  • the most important priority for secondary schools is to ensure that children are given the opportunity to realise their full potential and that targets for educational attainment are met;
    • Achievement at grades A-C at A level rose to 58.2% from 57.5% last year and the overall A level pass rate was up slightly to 89.1% from 88.5% last year. Results at GCSE have improved from 45.1 per cent grades A*-C in 1997 to 47.9 per cent grades A*-C in 1999. Figures for 2000 will be available next week.
    • The Government's decision to introduce a daily literacy and numeracy hour has helped to raise standards in primary schools and the new focus on secondary school standards this year will ensure that similar improvements are introduced there. Substantial extra investment in schools is beginning to feed through particularly in this school year as well.
  • the most important priority for council housing is to ensure that repairs are of a sufficient quality so that they only need to be carried out once;
    • Spending on housing is planned to grow by an average 12% in real terms each year, with an extra 1631.6 billion a year by 2003-04 going to build new homes and maintain existing council housing at a decent standard.
  • the most important priority for public transport users is to make sure that buses and trains run on time;
    • In July, the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, announced a ten year plan for transport which set out a 163180 billion investment package to modernise the nation's transport system, to tackle congestion and deliver real choice. As part of the package: bus services will be improved across the country, including more flexible transport services for people in rural areas; the train fleet will be modernised, with reliable, faster, safer and more frequent services; and there will be up to 25 new light rail lines in major cities.
  • but some services reflect high levels of dissatisfaction: road and pavement maintenance (46% and 43%), council housing (30%), street cleaning (27%), youth clubs and facilities for young people(24%) and local councils as a whole (23%);
    • Under the Best Value regime, which came into effect on 1 April, all local authorities will collect and publish performance information
    • allowing people to see how their council is doing compared with others. From street cleaning to schools, from housing to home helps and from parking to parks, local councils are at the heart of communities, providing essential services that we all rely on. Most local councils are working hard to do this better. To help and encourage them, the Government has brought in Best Value. Best Value means: better quality services at reasonable cost; and more say for local people.
    • The Government announced in the Spending Review 2000 that it intends to offer local authorities the opportunity to enter into new local Public Service Agreements (PSAs). Local PSAs are a means by which local authorities can build upon Best Value and commit themselves to delivering even better outcomes for local people than they would otherwise expect to achieve. Each local PSA will focus on about twelve key outcomes, which reflect a mix of national and local priorities.
    • The ten year plan for transport also includes a 16330 billion programme for local road maintenance and a target to arrest the deterioration in local roads by 2004.

Technical details

  1. Media copies of the summary of findings, which highlights the main points of interest are available from Cabinet Office Press Office. Non media copies are available from the Service First publications line on 08457 223242. An electronic version of the summary, along with the full topline results, is available on the Modernising Public Services Group website at: www.servicefirst.gov.uk/2000/panel/wave5/index.htm
  2. Research was conducted by MORI (www.ipsos-mori.com), working under contract to the Cabinet Office. MORI interviewed 1,086 Panel members across the United Kingdom. Interviews were conducted face-to-face, from 18 March to 3 April 2000. Data are weighted to the known profile of the population.
  3. Any government department, agency, non-departmental public body, publicly funded body, local authority, or association representing these organisations that wish to examine public views of service delivery, can use the Panel (on a repayment basis).
  4. The Panel's research forms part of the new consumer focus initiative for public services which was launched in February. The Consumer Focus aims to encourage public services to be more responsive to their users, ensuring that customers' views are translated into practical improvements to public services. Its aims are to:
    • ensure every key public service appoints a 'consumer champion' to ensure users views are translated into practical improvements to public services;
    • identify user priorities and examine consumer satisfaction by carrying out regular research and consultation with users;
    • take account of consumer views at every level in the organisation both in the design and delivery of services; and
    • provide feedback to users on improvements made, in annual reports.
  5. Further details of the Consumer Champions can be found at: www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/servicefirst/ consumerfocus/index.htm

Issued By: Cabinet Office, Press Office, 70 Whitehall, LONDON, SW1A 2AS

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