council

EASY COUNCIL: Council inspired by Ryanair

The Guardian reports: "A leading Conservative council is using the business model of budget airlines, Ryanair and easyJet, to inspire a radical reform of public service provision which is being seen as a blueprint for Tory government." How does this work? Well, would you pay extra to get your planning permission quicker? The council will offer a basic service and enable people to get more if they pay extra. The same way you get on the plane first if you pay Ryanair a little more.

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This scheme is already in place in the London Borough of Barnett and it is predicted that other councils think this is the approach they will need to adopt in the future.

The article has ruffled many feathers:

"Well, it's being called choice, and targeting, but what it means is, there's to be a fast service with trimmings for the richer, and a longer wait for a basic service for the poorer.Presumably this will eventually be the model for the NHS as well..."

"Is it simply that someone with more money can get something better - that's what's money for."

I think this is a really interesting debate...although I can't help but think there is something very wrong with using Ryanair as a role model?

Thank you to Jonathan for discovery.

Less than half are happy with council services

Less than half of us are happy with council services. According to Ipsos MORI managing director, Ben Page, the drop in satisfaction could be due to a lack of communication from councils, and increases in council tax. He said: ‘There are places that are very focused on the priorities of their residents, and they clearly out-perform the rest.’

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Councils must get better at communicating. They need to prove they are good value for money, and focus on providing high-quality public services to make people happy.

Cash for homeless services

Stirling Council has announced it is to spend an extra £730,000 improving homeless services in the area. Councillors had previously set aside £1m to convert the former Holy Trinity School into ten homeless units.

The investment is aimed at cutting the cost of placing homeless families into bed and breakfast accommodation.

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The area currently has 70 families, including about 100 children, living in temporary accommodation, at a cost of more than £500 per place a week. The hostel, at the former school in Stirling, will open in the autumn. SNP councillor Alasdair MacPherson said: "Nearly 800 people have approached the council for help because of homelessness since April last year.

"By the end of February there were 250 homeless households waiting to be re-housed."

He added: "This new investment in the service will go a long way to ensure that homeless applicants receive the quality of service they need when faced with a housing crisis."

'People' or 'service users'

Encouraging officers to use plain language and communicate effectively with their residents, the Local Government Asssociation (LGA) has produced a list of 200 words and phrases currently used by councils, that make very little sense to most people. The LGA recognises that words sometimes used by public sector bodies make their services inaccessible, as people fail to understand their relevance. In turn, this reduces their chances of getting the right assistance at the earliest opportunity.

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It is therefore essential that all matters are explained to people in plain, simple and clear English. This is even more important today, given that Britain is so multicultural, with many people accessing public body services without English as their first language.

For example, you should avoid using:

  • best practice
  • service users
  • outsourced
  • multi-agency

And in their place, encourage the use of:

  • best way
  • people
  • privatised
  • many groups

Whilst this observation has been made by the LGA, it is of course just as applicable to Registered Providers. The use of plain language benefits all those concerned, as it:

  • breaks barriers between professionals in the public sector and local people
  • eliminates meaningless language
  • is far more effective, and can result in fewer calls and/or letters from people due to misunderstanding or confusion, resulting in less pressure being put on the professionals
  • can help reduce the drain on finances for queries that could otherwise have been resolved through using plain, simple language in the first place

Communicating with your customers should be easy: it is about having a common understanding of what is being communicated.  If the message is not getting across, then what is the point?  Use plain language!"

Full list of 200 words which the local government association says should not be used by councils.

This list is long overdue. I wonder what the same list would look like for designers? What word would be at the top of the list?

(Via. 'Try using plain english')