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Beyond Nudge to Managing Demand

RSA in partnership with the Economic and Social Research Council, Local Government Association and IMPOWER

Public services are seeing a generational challenge of rising demand and declining resources. Local authorities in England face a £14.4bn black hole in funding, with expenditure rising by £7.4bn and budgets being cut by £7bn between 2010 and 2020.

With these trends set to continue for the foreseeable future, and with press reports predicting the end of services that we take for granted – from arts and culture to street lighting – so that statutory services such as care for the elderly and vulnerable children can continue, many local authorities could be forgiven for believing that they now find themselves in the business of managed decline. All this is taking place in an economic and social context which is far from rosy, with low to no growth and declining living standards adding further pressures to public services.

If public service bodies, including local authorities, don’t actively respond to this new reality, they risk finding their ability to act in the future severely constrained. These bodies have already done a great deal to adjust to new circumstances over recent years, making significant savings and efficiencies mainly through supply side reforms. But the limits of such reforms are being reached. We need a new approach.

‘Beyond Nudge to Managing Demand’ argues that we urgently need to give demand management serious consideration if we are to avoid a situation of managed decline. The paper looks at the scale of the challenge that public service agencies currently face; explores what is already being done in demand management and why it has not been mainstreamed further; and asks how new relationships between the state, citizens and communities can overcome these barriers.

This report is the first of a two stage project led by the RSA in partnership with the Local Government Association, the Economic and Social Research Council and IMPOWER. An in-depth report on how to move towards demand management will be published in the autumn.

If you would like any further information on this research you can contact;

Jon Ainger, Director, IMPOWER Consulting on 02070178030 or email jainger@impower.co.uk

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