Cameron prepares attack on Civil Service for failing to sell Big Society

 

David Cameron is preparing to give his own version of Tony Blair's famous "scars on my back" speech amid fears within the Government that it is failing to effectively sell its reforms to the public.

Downing Street is concerned that some of its key ideas, such as the Big Society and NHS reorganisation, are becoming confused in the minds of voters with public sector cuts. Mr Cameron wants to separate the two and argues that vested interests and bureaucracies are trying to thwart reform by blaming the Government for cuts in services.

Tony Blair famously infuriated civil servants, Labour's union supporters and some of his own ministers when he made a speech in 1999 describing "the scars on my back" left by two years of trying to reform the public sector. A decade on, senior cabinet ministers privately admit that they too have found it harder than expected to make their writ run in Whitehall.

Decisions they think they have made are not always acted upon, while they also feel that some initiatives are being "quietly dropped" when civil servants think ministers have "forgotten them".

One cabinet minister said: "I've found you've got to put your foot on their throat and keep it there. It's not that you can't get things done it's just that you always have to be vigilant that it is still being done."

Mr Cameron is thought to be planning to express some of these frustrations in his speech, a date for which has yet to be set. He is likely to argue that reform is vital, not just to offset the pain of the cuts but also to improve public services.

The Prime Minister's speech comes as Downing Street attempts to fend off a crisis of confidence over its Big Society initiative. Last week it emerged that Liverpool – chosen as a pilot area for the scheme – had pulled out, claiming that cuts to the funding of voluntary organisations made it impossible for them to participate.

Yesterday, Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, the outgoing head of Britain's largest volunteering charity, claimed that spending cuts were "destroying volunteering". Downing Street sources pointed out that Liverpool is a Labour council and Dame Elisabeth is a former Labour councillor. But there is anger and frustration in Number 10 that as budget cuts bite, councils are cutting services rather than reducing their own bureaucracies. However, so far it appears it is the Coalition rather than the councils whom the public blame for cuts to local services.

A radical option would be for central Government to order councils to ring-fence funds in politically sensitive areas. But this would run counter to the Coalition's "localism" agenda and represent a difficult and controversial U-turn.

Labour were yesterday keen to capitalise on Tory discomfort. Ed Miliband wrote to every major voluntary organisation, inviting them to join a policy review to create a "good society".

He insisted he wanted the party to build a stronger civil society to counter-balance the forces of what he described as an "over-bearing market" and "overly bureaucratic" state.

"I am deeply concerned that these reckless cuts are likely to do severe damage to this country's great tradition of community support," he wrote.

"I believe that civil society works best in partnership with government. I want to make clear my genuine commitment to building a Good Society, with the voluntary sector at its heart."

Unite, which has 60,000 members in the not-for-profit sector, said it had experienced a 40 per cent cut in public sector funding – equivalent to £5bn – but the Government has provided only £100m in transitional funds.

News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionPart of 'best-selling' Demeter scent range
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Warehouse Developer - (Oracle, PL/SQL, ETL, OLAP, B

£65000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: One of the global leaders in fina...

Deputy Education Manager

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Deputy Education Manager (permanent ...

Science Teacher Urgently required for October start

£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: We are currently recr...

ICT Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Group: We are looking for an outstandi...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering