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The consumer in public servicesChoice, values and difference$
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Richard Simmons, Martin Powell, and Ian Greener

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9781847421814

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847421814.001.0001

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Understanding the ‘differentiated consumer’ in public services

Understanding the ‘differentiated consumer’ in public services

(p.57) Four Understanding the ‘differentiated consumer’ in public services
The consumer in public services

Richard Simmons

Policy Press

‘Choice’ and ‘voice’ have become watchwords of current policy and provision in public services. Evidence points to choice serving as an important incentive for promoting quality, efficiency, and equity in public services, and in many cases more effectively than relying solely or largely upon alternative mechanisms such as ‘voice’. This chapter argues that both choice and voice have their merits, based on the need which users identify for ensuring that providers listen to what they have to say. While notions of choice invite images of public service users ‘shopping around’ for the best provider, the best appointment time, the best housing, and so on, there are different elements to people's relationships with the public services they use, which mean that it is ‘not like shopping’.

Keywords:   public service consumers, choice, voice, consumer choice

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