The Institute for Government heard many such stories during our connecting policy with practice programme. To the frustration of frontline professionals and policy makers alike, public services are rarely configured to deal with such complex problems. We identified the importance of longer term services that help the ‘whole person’ and genuinely understand and involve users. So it’s good to see ideas emerging about how to make such services a reality. Yesterday, the IPPR think-tank published a report on ways of reforming public services to make them more ‘relational’ – that is to say more personalised, and based on deep, lasting relationships between citizens, communities and professionals. The ‘relational state’ is one of those big ideas – like the ‘Big Society’ or pre-distribution – that appeals to certain politicians and policy wonks on an intellectual level. And it’s difficult to disagree with much of the analysis in the IPPR report on the relational state: that when dealing with complex problems like long term unemployment government is too siloed, centrist, short-termist and transactional when what’s needed are deep, long-term personal relationships where services work with and empower those they seek to help. IPPR are rightly selective about what sort of policy problems […]

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