Sharon Palmer is the chief executive officer for RAWM – Regional Action West Midlands and after lunch she led a workshop on Open Public Services. This was aimed at people responsible for commissioning public services as well as those interested in being commissioned to provide them.
RAWM support voluntary and community groups in the West Midlands and Sharon’s initial presentation asked questions about how groups from that sector could be commissioned fairly. This was framed within the principles set out in the government’s white paper on Open Public Services of:
- Choice – wherever possible we will increase choice
- Decentralisation – Power should be decentralised to the lowest appropriate level
- Diversity – Public services should be open to a range of providers
- Fairness – We will ensure fair access to public services
- Accountability – Public services should be accountable to users and taxpayers.
Sharon’s view was that by using some of the definitions and guidelines which were developed under Best Value we could ensure that the social value of services offered by the voluntary sector could be considered.
In her opinion this can help return decison-making back to individuals and help people stay independent and, in particular, out of residential care for longer.