I have been asked to take an independent look at what prevents people from being allowed to choose for themselves in services that are publicly funded.
There has been a whole range of measures in recent years to give people more choice - over the schools for their children or their hospital or their social care package, for example - but remarkably little research so far about whether people use it.
And most important, whether people get to choose when they are disadvantaged in other ways - or whether choice is so far only the preserve of articulate, sharp-elbowed, wealthier people. The question isn’t about the theory of choice, or even really about the ideological purpose of choice. It is to find out what people do with it in practice.
If you are a service user with a personal experience of choice in public services, either successful or unsuccessful, I would be extremely grateful to hear from you. In fact, I am particularly keen to hear positive stories because I have a sense that it is the variety of ways that choice actually works that may give us the clues we need to suggest solutions when it doesn’t.
Key questions include:
- Where choices in public services are available, are people - especially disadvantaged people, actually choosing?
- Do they have access to the information, advice, intermediary support they need to choose?
- If not, why not? What are the barriers they face?
- What lessons can we draw from where choice works successfully?
- What can be done to improve access to real choices for everybody?
We will be travelling around the country as much as we can, but we can’t meet everyone. So drop us a line by email email@example.com or by post at the address Independent Review - barriers to choice, Cabinet Office, 1 Horse Guards Rd (second floor room 2.29), London SW1A 2HQ because your experience may provide us with a clue we can get nowhere else.
Independent Reviewer, Review of Barriers to Choice in Public Services