“We need to end the postcode lottery in DFG delivery”

Over the last few weeks, I’ve heard the same statement made several times:

“We need to end the postcode lottery in DFG delivery”

On the face of it quite a straightforward, common sense thing to say. But, when you start to unwrap what it actually means, I think it’s a really dangerous mantra to repeat.

So, postcode lottery? It implies that it’s a matter of chance how well the DFG system works from district to district. There is, of course, a detailed set of legislation and regulations that set out what must be provided but each local authority can choose to do more, as with every other service that they deliver. That’s how local government works – each local authority has democratically elected councillors that decide local priorities and set budgets to suit. There’s very little luck involved.

With a lottery, the result is pure chance but with DFG (and all other local government services) the outcomes are down to those involved and we can all influence that.

I find “we need to…..” statements equally problematic. If you spend any time reading blogs, opinion pieces and tweets you see lots of “we need to….”, usually followed by a simplistic observation. If you spend an evening on Twitter and drink every time you read one, you’ll wake up the following morning with quite a headache.

The trouble is, these revelations are rarely followed by more detail on how to solve the “identified” problem or any appreciation of how complicated many of these issues actually are. It’s like seeing someone fall over, pointing at them and then walking away.

That’s why I think this statement is so dangerous. It’s very easy to say and sounds constructive, but actually abdicates all responsibility for doing anything to improve the situation. More thought on practical solutions and less on stating the obvious will make a big difference and help my hangovers.