Cameron pledges more power for the people

Prime Minister David Cameron promised a shift in power from government to the people today as Whitehall departments published business plans setting out what they intend to do and how voters can hold them accountable for it.

Mr Cameron said the move would help reverse the trend towards centralisation of power in Whitehall and would encourage ministers and officials to govern for the long term.

He presented it as an alternative to Labour's culture of targets, which he argued encouraged short-term thinking, as public sector managers sought immediate results to meet centrally-imposed deadlines at the expense of long-term improvements to services.

Speaking at the launch of the business plans, Mr Cameron said Labour's targets "bred bureaucracy... created inefficiency and unintended consequences (and) crushed morale in the public sector".

"Today we are turning that on its head," he said.