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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Laird

Radical Reformers ep.46: Public Service Innovation with Mark Smith

Updated: Feb 23, 2023

Mark Smith, Director of Public Service Reform, Gateshead Council

Reforming public services can feel like an impossible task, but there are pioneering free-thinking leaders out there who are radically transforming how local services are delivered.

Mark Smith, Director of Public Service Reform at Gateshead Council, is one of these inspirational leaders and we were lucky enough to have him join Andrew Laird on the latest #RadicalReformers podcast episode.

We talk about how you get started on an innovation journey – how do you choose the right service area to begin with? Mark has some great insight. To give you an idea of what we are talking about, Mark worked with the council tax collection team to change how they engaged with people who were in arears. The normal process would be to assess and eventually send in the bailiffs. Mark and the team turned this on its head and spent time engaging with people and families who owed the council money and finding out what the real issues were.

A key learning from this is the importance of retaining context when delivering public services to vulnerable people. Often the aim seems to be to design the context out and try to achieve a one size fits all answer. This seldom works in practice.

Finally, we touch on devolution and the exiting new developments in the North East – what does this mean for public service delivery.


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