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The DIY state

When it comes to public service reform, extra money and top-down rules can only achieve so much. A new ethos of self-help is needed, and its prophet is a former Catholic priest and industrial society critic—Ivan Illich

A loud crunching sound is about to start reverberating from Britain’s public services. After a period of plenty, public spending will grow no quicker than the rest of the economy over the next few years. Complaints from producers and users, barely contained even in the fat years, will become very noisy.

Additional resources have disguised some of the underlying problems with public services, many of which are stuck in an organisational timewarp. We are building more prisons. But they look alarmingly like Strangeways in Manchester, opened a century ago. Run-down schools are being replaced, but too often the replacements merely…

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