Towards new forms of public services Our opening editorial assertion (which also formed the starting point for this collection of essays as a whole) was that there is an urgent need for informed debate about the future role of the public sector in social policy and the different ways in which it could change. In our view, the individual contributions by our colleagues strongly reinforce that assertion. They show that a wide range of issues are emerging which should now take their place on the policy agenda; and a whole series of new ideas about increasing the effectiveness and responsiveness of public provision are being evolved and tested out. The variety of form and context in which these ideas are appearing makes it next to impossible to pull them together into a neat and tidy pattern. However, there are a number of general themes that have emerged with particular force in all the individual service areas which have been examined. These are that the principal characteristics of a citizen-and user-controlled service are that it should: (a) function under some form of democratic control; (b) be organized on a human scale; and (c) be a high-quality service.