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The necessities we just forgot we needed.

The public sector - hit hard but with a well of sympathy and support.

Key thought:
At a time of massive challenge for public sector bodies, soon to be followed with an economic crunch on funds, there seems to be a realisation from the public that what they may have taken for granted is more valuable than they thought. Whist there is significant concern for the welfare of service providers, there is an opportunity to build on a well of goodwill. Now may be the time for public sector bodies to try new services and innovations on a receptive user base. They will value transformation plans and recognise the economic and wellbeing pressures that require new behaviours, and value judgements, on all sides.

Respondents to this group, users of public services, had the greatest concern for the welfare of the organisations contacting them. There was also the starkest contrast in this group between those in catastrophic change versus managing and optimistic. This presents a complex set of issues for public bodies to deal with.

It is clear that service users are pessimistic about their future. But the broad sentiment is empathy, not criticism. This has implications that a strong trust-based relationship can be built with the public sector that has arguably not existed for some time in some communities. There is a sense of being in this together. If service providers are transparent with their transformation plans, it seems feasible for there to be a ‘new public services deal’ built based on new behaviours on both sides. The equation between cost, value and service level is better understood. The whole attitude towards the NHS may well have had an impact upon this.

Those who need the services most are those who have been most impacted by the pandemic and who have the most need for a changed set of services. There may be an opportunity to close the inequality gap in some communities by focusing on a resetting of service delivery that builds more resilience into the system.

There is also a noticeable index towards those in education and younger people who are asking for more in terms of changed services and a significantly higher index than other respondent groups in terms of viewing the ability oif public services bodies to improve the wellbeing outlook for individuals.

This is influenced by the number of leisure and sports organisations in the survey which have been most impacted and are now striving to transform their delivery to bring their members and users back into their facilities.

There are a significant number in catastrophic change who see little hope and have lower expectations of being helped. These are likely to be those for whom the community seems less interested. Further exploration of this potentially ‘left behind’ group will be critical to ensure that if a transformation programme is put underway, it does not widen the gap and leave these people even more marginalised.