Cameron's plan to end the 'state's monopoly' and let the people bid for public services
Private firms and charities will win the right to take control of almost every branch of the public services under the biggest shake-up of government in 50 years.
David Cameron last night unveiled plans to end the ‘state’s monopoly’ of public services and slay the ‘old-fashioned, top-down, take-what-you’re-given’ culture of British society.
The Prime Minister said voluntary groups and businesses will be allowed to take charge of schools, hospitals and town hall services under plans to be published in a white paper this month.
Shake-up: David Cameron answers questions on the Big Society earlier this week before last night unveiling plans to end the 'state's monopoly' of services
The Government plans to pass legislation that will give private sector providers the right to bid to provide almost every service that is currently the preserve of the state.
Crucially, that will mean an end to political pitched battles every time ministers want to expand private provision in the public services, since that one piece of legislation will establish the right to provide all services – except those of the judiciary and the security services.
Reforms: Private firms will provide care for the elderly under the proposals
The proposals will see private firms paid by results for providing NHS operations, special schools, road maintenance, parks and care services for the elderly and disabled.
The plans were unveiled by Mr Cameron as he fights to persuade the public that his concept of the Big Society will have practical benefits.
In an article for the Telegraph, he said the proposals would allow power to be handed down to the lowest possible level, so that services are provided by experts who know the needs of their local area.
He wrote: ‘We will create a new presumption – backed up by new rights for public service users and a new system of independent adjudication – that public services should be open to a range of providers competing to offer a better service.
Of course, there are some areas – like national security services or the judiciary – where this wouldn’t make sense.
‘But everywhere else should be open to real diversity, open to everyone who gets and values the importance of our public service ethos. This is a transformation: it ends the state’s monopoly over public services.
‘Instead of having to justify why it makes sense to introduce competition in individual public services – as we are now doing with schools and in the NHS – the state will have to justify why it should ever operate a monopoly.’
Downing Street hopes the plans will cut bureaucracy, improve the quality of public services and save money.
They will also provide alternative income for charities that have lost state funding under the Coalition’s programme of cuts.
Essential services: The provision of road maintenance, NHS operations, special schools and public parks will also be handed over to private firms
But they will put the Government on a collision course with trade unions and Labour, who are likely to see the plans as a dismantling of the welfare state and an elaborate cover for public spending cuts.
Mr Cameron said the public services were currently failing Britain. ‘Whether it’s cancer survival rates, school results or crime, for too long we’ve been slipping against comparable countries,’ he said.
He said the Government’s solution was inspired by his own experiences as the father of a disabled son, Ivan, who died two years ago this month.
He says: ‘I never understood why local authorities had more control over the budget for his care than Samantha and me.’
Mr Cameron added: ‘We will give more people the right to take control of the budget for the service they receive.’
The Prime Minister said the state would still have a role to play in ensuring ‘fair funding’ and ‘fair competition’.
But he concludes: ‘The grip of state control will be released and power will be placed in people’s hands.’
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