services were praised in a new government report, Citizens First.
Citizens First, the Modernising Government annual report produced by
the cabinet office, highlights best practice across public services.
projects that have improved public services and made them more
One of the most enterprising local government projects is East Riding
of Yorkshire Council's videolink kiosks. At the touch of a button
people can be patched through to council departments, the police,
local law centres, the Benefits Agency and NHS Direct. Situated in 11
customer service centres, over a million people have accessed
information through these video kiosks since 1997.
Bristol City Council has developed a new videophone service to make
information about education and employment more accessible for deaf
people. Deaf people can use video phones to dial up and communicate
in sign language with Bristol's central library. In a bid to expand
its network and services to deaf people, the council has also linked
up with the University of the West of England to provide a remote
interpreter for prospective students.
Oldham MBC has made finding council housing quick and easy by
launching Oldham Instant Homes. In April, the council set up an
estate agent-style shop in the town centre where people can register,
view a property and sign up on the same day.
Cabinet office minister Ian McCartney said:
'These are prime examples of trailblazing schemes to improve our
public services. It shows that the modernising agenda cuts across all
aspects of public life and works on the ground at national and local
'Modernising Government is making government more accessible; we are
exploring ways of matching government services to peoples' lives. We
are making good progress, but there is a lot more work to do.'
Welcoming the 'impressive' examples in the report, the prime minister
says in a foreword:
'I am passionate about public service. A central task of this
government is to make the argument for public services, to move
beyond the false choice between big and small government to a
constructive debate about how we make government as effective as
'Investment is the first step. That's why in July, the chancellor of
the exchequer announced the biggest investment in public services of
modern times. This is a huge opportunity for everyone who works in
'But with that opportunity comes a real responsibility - a
responsibility to use those resources effectively, efficiently and
'That is why our investment is tied to clear targets. By being
specific about what outcomes we want but flexible about how they
should be achieved, we can free up public services to innovate. In
particular we can give power to those at the front line who know best
how to improve servicesand meet the needs of their users.'
For a comprehensive report on progress since publication of the
modernising government white paper, visit our website.
1. Citizens first was launched today in response to last year's
Modernising Government white paper. It covered the main aspects of
public sector work - how policy is made, the delivery of services,
making the best use of new technologies and managing staff in a
way that makes them feel valued so they can give their best.
2. The vision of modernisation applies to all parts of the public
3. There were five key commitments in the white paper:
* policy-making will be based on results that matter, rather than
* public services will be shaped to meet the demands of citizens,
not the convenience of service providers
* public services will be efficient and high quality. Mediocrity
will not be tolerated
* information age technology will be used to meet the needs of
citizens and business
* public servants will be valued not denigrated
4. Copies of the annual report are available from Paul Kitchen on
020 7276 1491.
5. Citizens first is an update on what has been achieved since