Call for Evidence
Call for evidence
This submission form is not currently public. Please only use this form if invited to do so by the committee, otherwise your submission might not be considered.
The House of Lords Select Committee on Public Services was established in 2020 to scrutinise questions of policy which cut across different public services. Its work has focused on the transformation of public services to ensure that they meet the current and future needs of individuals and communities. To date the Committee has published two major reports – A critical juncture for public services: lessons from COVID-19 and Children in crisis: the role of public services in overcoming child vulnerability.
The Committee’s first report established eight key ‘principles for public services reform’ which have underpinned the Committee’s work since the report’s publication. These are:
- the Government and other providers of public service should recognise the vital role of preventative services in reducing inequalities;
- central Government and national service providers should improve the way that they communicate and cooperate with local-level service providers if they are to deliver effective public services;
- charities, community groups, volunteers and the private sector should be recognised as key public services providers, and given appropriate support to deliver services effectively;
- the resilience of public services to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing demographic changes will require a fundamentally different, vastly more flexible approach to the sharing of data;
- the integration of services to meet the diverse needs of individuals and the communities in which they live is best achieved by public services providers working together at the local level, and should be supported by joined-up working across Government departments at the national level;
- local services and frontline workers should be given the resources and autonomy to innovate and improve the delivery of public services, while mechanisms to ensure the accountability of local service providers should be improved;
- advances in digital technology should be used to increase access to public services, particularly for hard-to-reach groups, but should be applied intelligently. Online services should never replace face-to-face services if to do so would disadvantage the service user;
- users should be involved in the design and delivery of public services.
The Committee is now launching a new inquiry informed by these principles, Designing a public services workforce fit for the future. It will focus on the changes needed to transform training, management and planning in public sector workforces, to ensure that staff are equipped to respond to users’ needs.
The Committee will consider public services in the broadest possible sense. We will explore community-level initiatives and the role of the private, voluntary and charitable sectors in the delivery of public services.
Designing a public services workforce fit for the future
COVID-19 has accelerated a trend that was on-going even before the pandemic: the demand for public services is growing faster than the number of professionals who can deliver those services. This means that the resources of services like healthcare, social care, education and other vital public services are stretched, and they are unable to serve users as effectively as possible. Moreover, in future years, the number of people entering the public services workforce is unlikely to grow sufficiently to meet ever-increasing demand. A transformation in the way that services are delivered will become even more important.
These challenges can be attributed partly to existing inefficiencies in the training, management and planning of the public services workforce, which were inherited from decades-old structures and bureaucracies. Pledges to increase the number of staff without also addressing these inefficiencies is therefore unlikely to solve the problems facing the public sector workforce in the long term. Adding more workers into a system that makes sub-optimal use of their skills will not meet ever-increasing demand. An innovative approach will be needed to re-design the public services workforce in a more effective and future-proof way. This may mean, for example, incentivising employers to look beyond applicants with traditional professional expertise and consider recruiting a wider variety of people with diverse but relevant experience and skills.
Any such transformation of the workforce could also represent an opportunity to create public services that are better tailored to users’ needs, especially as those needs change. High-quality public services could deliver support that is user-focused and co-produced, thanks to new structures that enable different organisations to work together to serve the user, rather than the other way round.
The workforce will be central to enabling any such changes. Public services employees will need skills and training to drive the transformation of the organisations that they are working for, and to deliver the best possible services for users. Our inquiry will identify where these changes are needed, and how they can be implemented.
The inquiry will focus on four key areas:
- recruiting, retaining and training the public services workforce;
- the tools needed to transform service delivery and workforce effectiveness;
- the changes needed to the structure of the workforce, particularly to enable better integration between services;
- the development of a workforce that involves users in the design and delivery of public services.
What we want to learn from you
The following questions are intended to provide a framework for those who wish to offer their views. You need not answer all the questions, just those that are relevant.
The Public Services Committee explores issues that are at the intersection of various public services and is interested in taking a cross-cutting approach to workforce challenges. We welcome, however, the views of individuals and organisations that are sector-specific and would like to contribute too.
Diversity comes in many forms, and hearing different perspectives means that committees are better informed and are better able to scrutinise public policy and legislation. They can undertake their role most effectively when they hear from a wide range of individuals, sectors or groups affected by a particular policy or piece of legislation. We encourage anyone with experience of or expertise in the issues under investigation to share their thoughts with the Committee, in the full knowledge that their views have value and are welcome.
We would like to encourage anyone to get in touch who can support the Committee to take evidence from hard-to-reach groups and individuals who might be interested in discussing these issues.
Information on how to submit evidence is set out in the annex below. If you have any questions or require adjustments to enable you to respond, please contact the Committee team at HLPUBLICSERVICES@parliament.uk.
It is helpful if opinions are supported by factual evidence and examples where appropriate. Comparisons with practice in the devolved administrations and other countries are particularly welcome.
The deadline for written evidence submissions is 28 February 2022.
The Committee is seeking input on the following questions:
Recruitment, retention and training
1) It is difficult to predict accurately how the public services workforce will need to change in the long term, and yet it is necessary to prepare now for the future. What is an appropriate approach to long-term planning for workforce needs and demand in public services, and how should current training adapt, not just at the point of employees’ entry into the workforce but throughout their careers?
2) Conventional approaches to training have not enabled enough professionals to enter the public services workforce to meet demand. How might training change to maximise the number of public services professionals and improve their skills?
3) What are the hurdles to joint training between services? Do siloed approaches to attaining professional qualifications prevent joint training? How might better data-sharing improve joint training?
4) How might the public sector become more attractive as an employer, particularly in comparison with the private sector? How might it become attractive enough to retain workers throughout their careers while maintaining a level of turnover that brings fresh ideas to organisations?
5) What are the consequences for inequalities of access to public services of failing to attract high-quality professionals to the public sector?
6) How can providers of public services recruit a more diverse workforce? How should they improve their recruitment of BAME people, people with disabilities, older people and people who use public services and live in the communities that providers serve?
Transforming workforce effectiveness
7) What role can digital tools play in increasing the accessibility of public services workers to service users, and in improving the quality of their work? How might we anticipate and mitigate any inequalities of access to public services that may arise from the expansion of such technologies?
8) How can digital technologies be used most effectively for training and up-skilling the public services workforce?
9) Preventative and early intervention services can improve the ability of the public services workforce to respond to users’ needs. How might such services be embedded within any public services workforce strategy?
10) What have been the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit on the public services workforce? Have these events created opportunities for workforce reform?
Transforming existing workforce structures
11) Integrating public services can mean that they are delivered more effectively to users. What would be the outcomes of better integration between public services workforces?
12) How might voluntary and private sector workforces be involved in the delivery of integrated public services?
13) What are the barriers to achieving better workforce integration (including integration with the voluntary and private sectors), and how can any such barriers be overcome? How can leaders of public services drive and incentivise any cultural change necessary to achieve integration between organisations? Are there any examples of best practice?
14) What tools do good leaders use to incentivise and challenge their workforces to transform service delivery? Are there any examples of best practice?
15) To what extent is public services workforce planning managed better at regional, sub-regional and local levels, rather than at the national level, and what mechanisms might enable more effective devolution of workforce planning? How can the Government train workforces to deliver more effectively those public services that are coordinated at the national level?
Creating user-centred public services
16) Our previous inquiries have shown that public services are failing to deliver joined-up support that is centred on the user. What workforce barriers need to be overcome to bring about a more user-focused approach to public services delivery?
17) Users’ expectations of public services are changing rapidly. How, in your experience, have their expectations changed? What are the best ways to involve users in the design of public services, and what skills will public services workforces need in order to respond? For example, what skills will employees need to support users who expect more choice in the public services that they use?
ANNEX: Guidance for submissions
Written submissions should be submitted online, as a Word document, using the written submission form available at https://committees.parliament.uk/submission/#/evidence/703/preamble. This page also provides guidance on submitting evidence.
If you have difficulty submitting online, please contact the Committee staff by email at HLPUBLICSERVICES@parliament.uk. The deadline for written evidence is Monday 28 February 2022.
When preparing your response, please bear in mind that short, concise submissions are preferred. Responses should not be longer than five sides of A4 and should include a summary. Paragraphs should be numbered.
All submissions made through the written submission form will be acknowledged automatically by email.
The Committee cannot accept anything which has not been prepared specifically in response to this call for evidence, or which has been published elsewhere.
Evidence which is accepted by the Committee may be published online at any stage; when it is so published it becomes subject to parliamentary copyright and is protected by parliamentary privilege.
If the evidence is accepted you will receive a second email. At this point you may publicise or publish your evidence yourself. In doing so you must indicate that it was prepared for the House of Lords Public Services Committee, and you should be aware that your publication or re-publication of the evidence may not be protected by parliamentary privilege.
Personal contact details will be removed from evidence before publication, but will be retained by the Committee Office and used for specific purposes relating to the Committee’s work – for instance to seek additional information.
People who submit written evidence may be invited to give oral evidence. Oral evidence is usually given on Zoom and broadcast online; transcripts are produced and published online. Those people invited to give oral evidence will be notified separately of the procedure to be followed and the topics likely to be discussed.
Substantive communications to the Committee about the inquiry should be addressed through the Clerk of the Committee, whether or not they are intended to constitute formal evidence to the Committee.
This is a public call for evidence. Please bring it to the attention of other groups and individuals who may not have received a copy directly.
You can follow the progress of the inquiry at https://committees.parliament.uk/work/6403/designing-a-public-services-workforce-fit-for-future/.