Equity, austerity and access to public services

Bynner, C. (2012) Equity, austerity and access to public services. eSharp, 18, pp. 1-25.

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Publisher's URL: http://www.gla.ac.uk/research/az/esharp/issues/18spring2012-changesanddevelopment/


The challenge of how public services can develop to be more locally responsive in times of austerity has been the subject of much recent debate on public service reform. There have also been growing concerns over the resource pressures on neighbourhoods in the UK and Europe, which have experienced new forms of migration and accelerated population growth. These pressures are particularly acute in ethnically diverse inner city neighbourhoods, which have become gateways to migrants escaping global terror and extreme poverty (Vertovec 2007). This article examines the processes that influence ‘access to’ and more importantly ‘receipt of’ public services in the context of increasing neighbourhood diversity. It draws on recent research using the theory of candidacy and argues that greater understanding of the processes of candidacy in the context of neighbourhood services will contribute to knowledge and debate on improving access to public services in times of austerity. The candidacy theory, describes the successful receipt of a service as the result of interactions between the service-user and service-provider through which the individual becomes a suitable match for the service (Dixon-Woods 2006). Findings from a case study of a neighbourhood in the South East of Glasgow suggest that the judgements made by front line staff have a strong influence on access to public services. Front-line professionals use eligibility criteria as ‘strategies of control’ to limit local demand. The pressures of austerity are likely to increase these tendencies and further undermine the principle of equity.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bynner, Dr Claire
Authors: Bynner, C.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Journal Name:eSharp
Publisher:eSharp, University of Glasgow
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2012 The Author
First Published:First published in eSharp 18:1-25
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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