Research Report

User Power: the participation of users in public services



Birchall J & Simmons R (2004) User Power: the participation of users in public services. National Consumer Council (now Consumer Focus).

This report explores how to increase user participation and make it effective by applying a more systematic and strategic approach. While evidence on the current level of active participation is far from complete, we estimate that a significant, but small minority of up to seven per cent of users are involved on a regular or occasional basis. An important factor in user participation is the model of relationship on offer, which tends to come in three types: a bureau-professional model, a market-based service or a mutual approach. A long legacy of paternalism of the first approach in fields such as housing has to led to efforts to turn service users into customers, and in some cases, more recent efforts to enlist users as partners in service provision. Findings from the research with 500 public service users in housing and community care

public service users; participation; Public utilities; Public administration; Political participation

Publication date31/10/2004
PublisherNational Consumer Council (now Consumer Focus)
Publisher URL

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Professor Richard Simmons

Professor Richard Simmons

Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology