Public services are those considered so essential they are made available to all, regardless of income. These services (such as education and healthcare) are paid for by the taxpayer, and traditionally have been provided directly by the state. However, recent years have seen changes in the way public services are provided. Although the state retains ultimate responsibility, organisations including private, public and voluntary providers now compete for the right to deliver many public services. Users are often able to have a say in, or choose, whose services they receive. This Market Analytic Toolkit refers to public services managed in this way as public service markets.
The toolkit guides its users through five aspects: defining the market, including its users and scope; undertaking an initial review of the market; the detailed questions to ask when assessing the effectiveness of each of the demand and supply sides of the market; and the questions to ask when assessing whether delivery of services through the market is achieving the expected benefits.
The accompanying blog post explains the public service market spectrum and provides links to all our previous resources on this issue.