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UK Politics

PM accused over public services

David Cameron was accused yesterday of "smuggling out" plans to break apart public services as he pressed ahead with moves to open them up to private competitors.

However, the Open Public Services White Paper has been watered down from Mr Cameron's original vision, stopping short of specific legislation to enforce competition.

Instead it floats proposals to enshrine in law a "general right to choose" in such areas as education, health, housing and services provided by local authorities.

Mr Cameron said: "It's about ending the old big government, top-down way of running public services and bringing in a Big Society approach... putting power in people's hands."

But Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, said: "This is nothing less than a manifesto to break up our public services, smuggled out while all attention is focused on the misdeeds of News International."

The White Paper gives private companies and other bodies the right to bid to run the vast majority of services.