Magazine article Public Finance

Choice Needn't Cost Extra, Watchdog Claims

Magazine article Public Finance

Choice Needn't Cost Extra, Watchdog Claims

Article excerpt

Providing choice in local services can improve financial efficiency rather than add extra costs, the Audit Commission is claiming.

The local government watchdogs report, Choosing well, published on May 24, cautions that choice must not be achieved at the expense of other policy objectives, such as value for money or social equity. But the commission argues that they can co-exist.

It cites direct payments, where clients are given the money to buy care services themselves, as an example where choice could improve service and efficiency.

According to the commission, direct payments lead to greater efficiency by cutting the cost of administration and staff, while providing appropriate advice and support to users can safeguard service quality and equity.

Choice-based housing lettings, as an alternative to the traditional waiting list approach, can similarly improve value-for-money by reducing the amount of time properties lie empty, the report said. …

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