Sir Julian Ernest Michael Le Grand is a name well known amongst the intellectuals of the United Kingdom. However, he is not just a man who is known among other men of letters. He is just as popularly known among socially aware citizens due to his frequent appearance on television and radio. Whether it is the Today Programme, The World at One, The World Tonight or The Politics Show, wherever there is a matter of social concern and public policy, Le Grand has been the go-to man. He is the type of person who you would turn to resolve Any Questions that you may have on important matters or perhaps look to for The Big Idea.
So, Who is Le Grand?
Le Grand is an academician whose expertise in public policy has not only conferred on him the position of the Richard Titmuss Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics, but also a senior policy adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair from 2003 to 2005. Prime Minister Blair was however not the only person to benefit from his astute advise. He has also occupied an advisory role in the European Commission, the World Bank, the World Health Organisation, the OECD, HM Treasury, the UK Department of Work and Pensions, and the BBC.
He is also the Chairman of Health England: the National Reference Group for Health and Well Being for the UK Department of Health, and Chairman of the Social Work Practices Working Group for the UK Department for Children, Families and Schools. He has been vice-chairman of a major teaching hospital, a commissioner on the Commission for Health Improvement, and a non-executive director of several health authorities. He has served on many National Health Service working parties, on several think-tank commissions and on two grants boards for the Economic and Social Research Council. All in all, he is a man of great influence in various fields, who has been recognized for valuable innovations in all of them.
The Implementation of Quasi-Market Policies
One of his notable contributions to the field of public policy is the successful implementation of the quasi markets system. It is a way to utilize the benefits of free market efficiency, while retaining public equity, so as to be able to benefit from the best of both worlds. This was successfully implemented in the National Health Services by introducing the concept of Internal Markets, and thereby introducing competition and choice into health services in 1990. In 1997, with the accession of the new government, more reforms were made in the policy and Le Grand played an advisory role in determining the direction in which these changes would be made.
He was part of the team that affected reforms such as “payment-by-results” and foundation trusts and independent treatment centres that were crucial to increase of patient choice. As a result, there were many positive changes in the British health care system. It was reported that “by 2010 the NHS was providing quicker, higher quality care, and doing so in a more efficient and more responsive manner. It was also more equitable in certain key respects, such as waiting times,” thereby proving the success of what the proponents of the system, Le Grand among them, had predicted. He later went on to implement these policies in education as well, by creating competition in academic institutions and thereby opening up the field to more parental choice between better services.
The Other Invisible Hand and Other Works
Adam Smith had written about the Invisible Hand of market forces that, when left to its own devices, would always result in a balance. This became the foundation of the free market system. However, Le Grand’s intellectual contribution to the theory is by way of introducing the element of public policy in the equation. He states that there are four models by which public goods can be provided, trusting professionals, command and control, voice mechanisms, and choice. Of these he states, choice is the most effective model as it “creates incentives for providers to deliver what users want.” He thereby introduced the element of competition in essential developmental facets that were the prerogative of the state for equitable distribution.
Julian Le Grand has also co-authored seventeen other books and has been a prolific contributor to journals, newspapers and magazines. His entire body of works goes to illustrate the importance of incorporating the basic tenets of the free market system in the public sector, in order to ensure better services and ultimately placing sovereignty in the hands of the lowest common denominator of an economy, the tax payer. Some of his other books that makes for an essential read are Motivation, Agency and Public Policy and The Economics of Social Problems.