The case for localism

A 2014 report by Locality and Vanguard examined the reasons why people who need support are so often failed by the systems set up to help them. It challenged the assumption that the difficulties facing public services will be met through scale and standardisation, and argued that these strategies lead to public service systems which assess rather than understand, transact rather than build relationships, refer on rather than take responsibility, prescribe packages of activity rather than take the time to understand what improves a life. The result, according to the report, is that the problems people face are not resolved, that public services generate ever more ‘failure demand’, that resources are diverted to unproductive ends, and that costs are driven upwards.

 The report proposes that public services should be ‘local by default’, that they should help people help themselves, that they should focus on underlying purpose rather than outcome, and that they should manage value not cost.