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January 16, 2024

The Preventative State

 The real tragedy of the community response during lockdown being effectively buried without trace (see above) as the public sector returned to business as usual, is the missed opportunity to learn any lessons. What it offered was an insight into the social infrastructure operating in communities that enables people to live their lives without continual state intervention. Being able to recognise those foundational assets in a community that combine to create the crucial social capital is the precursor to being able to deliver genuinely preventative public services. An argument usefully laid out in a paper from DEMOS.


Polly Curtis, Ben Glover, Andrew O'Brien, DEMOS

A report from DEMOS Preventative State

Public services are facing an unsustainable rising tide of demand. In response, politicians across the political spectrum are calling for a greater shift to prevention in public services. This is necessary: public services today are too reactive, intervening too late. To address this we need to move from transactional public services to relational public services. Yet this essay argues that focusing on a new model for public services is necessary but insufficient, we need a state which is more expansive in how it sees the challenge of reforming public services. That’s because to truly reduce demand for public services in the long run, we need to not only prevent problems from arising, but create the conditions for flourishing and resilience within communities. Achieving this means investing in those foundational goods which create the social capital that enables us to lead better lives, without state intervention. Only then can a truly preventative state emerge. 

A report from DEMOS Preventative State