If the Big Society is to be a theory of governance then we need to think through what its implications are for the economy and for the state. Some of the leading advocates of the Big Society have developed an argument for an economy more imbued with social purpose, which implies breaking up cartels such as the banks, a tougher anti-trust style competition regime, greater localization of finance capital, and a move away from the emphasis on short term shareholder value. But there is very little sense that the Coalition Government has yet adopted anything like a Big Society approach to the economy. As we move into a period during which budget constraint and policy flux will create, real, on the ground change, is it possible to recognize insights into the limitations of top-down service delivery and the ‘hidden wealth’ of citizens, whilst at the same time thinking more seriously about the role of the state?
This report looks at the forces driving change in public services and asks what are the new opportunities and risks. It considers the new role of the state, what does that mean for the role of business and the third sector and how do you manage transition in an unequal society? The authors suggest a framework and practice for viewing these questions and others; social productivity - developing the ’Three Shifts’ of the Commission on 2020 Public Services, putting the citizen at the heart of public services.