Many government departments now use choice, competition and quasi-market mechanisms in the delivery of public services. However, the record of market mechanisms in improving outcomes for service users, particularly for the most vulnerable in society, is mixed.
In areas where the government is committed to opening up public services to greater competition and user choice, the government will need to take an active stewarding role to ensure that they are vibrant, resilient and deliver high quality services cost-effectively.
We are exploring how market design and oversight (and ultimately outcomes) are influenced by factors such as the presence (or absence) of regulatory institutions, the nature of political decision-making processes and incentives, and the skills and capabilities of departments and regulators involved.
We compare practices across different sectors, which will enable practical knowledge generation and exchange. Ultimately, the goal is to understand whether current institutional arrangements are fit for purpose, and to find opportunities to spread and embed effective practices.