Milburn: Let charities run public services

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Indy Politics

Labour should pass the running of some public services to charities if it wins a third term, Alan Milburn, the leading Blairite and former secretary of state for health, said yesterday.

Labour should pass the running of some public services to charities if it wins a third term, Alan Milburn, the leading Blairite and former secretary of state for health, said yesterday.

But Labour traditionalists fear a re-elected Blair government would undermine the welfare state. Allies of the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, are wary of demands by Blairites for more public sector reforms before they have been properly thought through.

Mr Milburn, who is advising Tony Blair on Labour's election manifesto, said: "Reform is not a process that starts one day and stops the next. It has to go on and on and on, if we are to realise the fairer, better society we seek. Reform is the best antidote to the right's desperate attempt to paint Labour as the party of the centralised, out-of-touch state; the party of government-knows-best rather than consumer choice; the party of old-style, monolithic, unresponsive public services, prepared to invest but not to reform."

He told a meeting of chief executives of voluntary organisations that their groups should play an increasing role in state-run services and help Labour devolve power to the lowest possible level. "In a world where the consumer is king, neither can public services any longer be run by diktat from the top down.

"Power and accountability will need to move downward and outward from the state to consumers and communities. Giving up power is never easy. But it is necessary."

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