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December 5, 2012

Towards an enabling state

Not so long ago, the role of the state was to provide and manage public services. How things have changed. Demographic shifts, steadily diminishing returns from traditional policy interventions and the enduring impact of the global financial crisis mean that the old cap no longer fits. Carnegie UK has launched an enquiry – The Enabling State – to explore the changing relationship between government and citizens.  Sir John Elvidge, formerly Scotland’s top civil servant, who will lead the enquiry, has published a discussion paper.


Carnegie UK

To obtain a copy of the discussion paper, The Enabling State, click here

The relationship that individuals and communities have with the state has a fundamental impact on the quality of our lives.

In post war UK and Ireland the state took on the role of provider and manager of public services. This model brought about many important improvements to the quality of our lives. In the 21st century however, traditional policy interventions are starting to yield diminishing returns and governments battle to improve efficiency as the global financial crisis continues. Against this backdrop decision makers in each jurisdiction are now independently re- evaluating the role of the state.

The language and the approach used in each jurisdiction varies: ‘localism’, ‘local democracy’, ‘big society’, ‘community empowerment’ the core principals however, are similar. There is a new more active role for individuals and communities in shaping public services and improving societal well-being and the state is recast as a facilitator and enabler.

The Carnegie UK Trust’s ‘Enabling State’ project
led by Carnegie Fellow, Sir John Elvidge will examine this changing relationship between government and citizens in the UK and Ireland and seek to identify a common language across the jurisdictions.

Sir John will work with the devolved governments, UK wide, national and local organisations and community groups in the UK and Ireland to:

• Articulate the changing relationship between state and citizens and the challenges and opportunities this presents.
• Encourage awareness and understanding of the issues amongst policy makers at the local, national and UK level.
• Identify specific recommendations to support the shift toward enabling state in each jurisdiction.
• Promote a greater understanding of devolution and the opportunities it presents to learn from innovation across the jurisdictions.
For Sir John’s discussion paper, published November 2012, please click here.