As we approach Brexit and move towards the 2020s there are still some people that believe in a top down approach ( Government advice on growing your own fruit and veg post Brexit anyone?).
This all stems from the post world war 2 settlement when top down control and long top down planning was the dominant philosophy for the rest of the century. Both main political parties are led by people operating in 20th century analog (arguably still in black and white) rather than 21st century digital. When the competing visions often feel like the 1970s versus the 1950s it's cause for despair.
Nevertheless back in the real world, the majority of people who will access public services in the next 30 years have grown up in a more collaborative and digital world, which is about sharing ideas and developing community based solutions (either at work or at home). Not in responding to outdated top-down hierarchical requirements of councils, hospitals, job centres etc- based on their own employment practices and their fixations with bricks and mortar and making rates of return on assets rather than asking fundamental questions such as "why do we own or run this building? who is it serving? would they want support in a different way? are the public really wedded to this building or does it suit use to play out the narrative that they are?"
As always Central Government is the worst offender as it has most to lose. If Councils continue to embrace innovation and collaboration and community empowerment, they may get to the feted place in the 21st century that the top down NHS holds in the hearts of those wedded to the 20th century
Councils like Wigan MBC, Gateshead Council, Cambridgeshire CC and Barking & Dagenham LBC are experimenting with ways to hand service design, commissioning and even delivery over to communities. At its most innovative this goes beyond the more discretionary areas like youth services, libraries and parks, including statutory responsibilities of social care, children’s services and public health. Different councils are taking different approaches, but the unifying goal is putting communities rather than public sector institutions in the driving seat