This here digital public services project sounds interesting: "Welcome to this project, through which Consumer Focus
aims to explore how to ensure that the consumer interest is placed at the heart of the design and delivery of digital public services..."
And I can understand why you might use the term "consumer" (everybody does, right?) - but I also think it is fundamentally misleading.
The history of public services has often been the history of handouts to the "deserving poor". Users of public services were passive recipients, but no more. In that context, becoming a consumer looks like a step up. At least consumers get a choice. Shall I have this public service, or that one?
In some contexts, this ability to choose might become a source of power - if you can choose to walk away, perhaps you have some impact on the service provider. But in most services, in most places, there isn't much choice either between providers, or to walk away. The power of the consumer in a marketplace rarely translates into power as a consumer of public services.
I'd like to suggest that the real potential of the web in this space is that it offers the possibility for deeper, broader relationships between people and their services than simply "use, or don't use". It does offer the possibility (see Patient Opinion - disclosure: I'm one of the team) for people to change, or extend, or challenge their services.
The term "consumer" doesn't point to that more radical, active, engaged possible future. I'd prefer "citizen".
What do you