I've copied the Commission's full remit below so you can see what they're about. It certainly seems sensible that we look at how best to deliver our public services in the future, given the fact that we have an aging population and shrinking budget.
What annoyed me was seeing that the 10 person commission is made up of 7 men and only 3 women. Does nobody ever think that these things matter? How can a Commission with a majority of men on it adequately understand and represent women's views and needs? And, more importantly, how can women in Scotland have confidence that it will?
It frustrates me that people don't think of the message that they're sending out when they present an image that's all white middle aged men in suits. It's not the same thing but yesterday The Burd observed on Twitter that Nicola Sturgeon was the only women on the stage when she gave her speech at SNP Conference. Not that I think for a moment that my own party is blameless on this. I had a similar thought on several occasions during our Conference in Perth.
Both The Burd and The Shoogly Peg have written of their concerns, which I share, about the fact that we're actually going backwards on women's representation at Holyrood. This is something that we have to tackle, I think, on a cross party/no party basis as we did in the run up to 1999.
Until we do, we'll be stuck with male dominated parliaments, leading to male dominated governments who appoint male dominated Commissions to decide fundamentals like the long term development of our public services. I have absolutely no doubt that they could easily have balanced the Commission. There are plenty women out there who could have brought their expertise to that body.
It depresses me that we are still having the same arguments regarding equality as we did when I first came into politics. I really don't want it to be the same for my daughter's generation.
The remit of the Commission is as follows:
Facing the most serious budget reductions for at least a generation, there is an urgent need to ensure the sustainability of Scotland's public services. At the same time we must continue to improve outcomes for the people of Scotland: by driving up the quality of services (so the average meet the standards of the best); and by redesigning services around the needs of citizens, tackling the underlying causes of those needs as well as the symptoms.
We are ambitious for Scotland's public services and wish to take them from good to excellent in every facet and in every place. We have a vision of Scotland's publicservices that:
- are innovative, seamless and responsive, designed around users' needs, continuously improving
- are democratically accountable to the people of Scotland at both national and local levels
- are delivered in partnership, involving local communities, their democratic representatives, and the third sector
- tackle causes as well as symptoms
- support a fair and equal society
- protect the most vulnerable in our society
- are person-centred, reliable and consistent
- are easy to navigate and access
- are appropriate to local circumstances, without inexplicable variation
- are designed and delivered close to the customer wherever possible, always high quality
- respond effectively to increasing demographic pressures
- include accessible digital services, that are easy to use and meet current best practice in the digital economy
- have governance structures that are accountable, transparent, cost-effective, streamlined and efficient
The Commission is therefore asked to identify the opportunities and obstacles that will help or hinder progress towards this vision and make recommendations for change that will deliver us to our destination. In particular the Commission is asked to:
- address the role of public services in improving outcomes, what impact they make, and whether this can be done more effectively
- examine structures, functions and roles, to improve the quality of public servicedelivery and reduce demand through, for example, early intervention
- consider the role of a public service ethos, along with cultural change, engagingpublic sector workers, users and stakeholders
The Commission should take a long term view and not be constrained by the current pattern of public service delivery, but should recognise the importance of local communities and the geography and ethos of Scotland as well as the significant direct and indirect contribution the delivery of public services make to Scotland's economy.
It should have clear regard to joint work already underway to take forward the increasing integration of health and social care and to develop sustainable police and fire services for the future. Updates on work in both areas are expected to be available to the Commission in good time for it to take into account in its recommendations.