What is Public Value?
Public Value, as a concept, is focused upon public ‘participation’ (consultation) and grounded in the notion that public services, as with the private sector, create value but, unlike the private sector, this value cannot be simply reduced to financial profit and loss. As a concept, it identifies with organisations such as the FRSs as creating a wide range of beneficial outcomes, which include, as examples:
- wider economic value;
- social and cultural value;
- fairness and equity, particularly with reference to vulnerable groups;
- political and democratic value by encouraging debate, participation and engagement amongst citizens; and
- Long-term sustainability of social and economic networks
The Application of Public Value
With the support of Fire Authority Members forming the Strategic Risk and Planning Group (STRaP), officers have developed a planning process based on the concept of Public Value. The process, in its most simplistic form, is summarised below:
The actual process spans a twelve-month period and involves engagement with a wide range of stakeholders through structured consultation sessions. The outcome from the process will be a detailed five-year change programme, incorporating the Authority’s statutory IRMP obligations, that creates Public Value within the local communities.
Quality within the process is controlled through regular checkpoints, utilising the Office of Government Commerce ‘Gateway Review’ procedure.
Representative bodies have been advised of the process and underpinning Public Value methodology and are supportive of both Public Value and the process. The concept of Public Value has also been warmly received by the Trade Unions Congress (TUC). Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC, has stated that:
Public Value is fundamentally about letting the people who can really make a service better – management, staff and users – talk to each other. And most importantly it is about making management and staff accountable to the users and communities whose needs they must meet. No-one thinks this is easy…the public value approach has a long way to go if it is really to turn its aspirations into practical guidance for change. But public value is an approach that, unlike the market-based model, starts where we should always have started: forging stronger links between producers and users based on shared principles of quality and equity.