Centre for Knowledge, Innovation, Technology and Enterprise

Little Heresies Seminar Series11

Heresy #11: Whitehall Makes Public Sector Performance Worse

Heretic: John Seddon, Vanguard Consulting (11 February 2016).

John Seddon talked about how in the 35 years since Thatcher, every UK government has taken the same approaches to public-service reform. How the state has doubled expenditure on local authorities and trebled expenditure on health, but services have been made worse. John explored the failings caused by the industrialisation of services – the myth of economy of scale – the dire consequences of targets and the folly of specifying how services should work from Whitehall. For example, in 2011, John talked about he had warned ministers responsible for Welfare Reform that Universal Credit was ‘guaranteed to fail’ and urged them to rethink the centralised IT-dominated service design. In March 2015, 90% of staff using the IT for Universal Credit said it was inadequate and the scheme is now set to cost £12.8bn, six times the original budget. John went on to talk about the alternative approaches available to achieve better public services

John Seddon is visiting professor at the universities of Buckingham, Hull and Derby, a best-selling author and the Managing Director of Vanguard Consulting. Service organisations following his ideas are achieving profound improvements in service, efficiency and morale. The Daily Telegraph described him as a ‘reluctant management guru’, with a background in occupational psychology.

Listen to Heresy #11: Whitehall makes public sector performance worse.