PM paves way for privatisation of public services

Almost all public services could be opened up to private companies under plans being put forward by Prime Minister David Cameron today.

In an article for the Daily Telegraph, the PM said that "complete change" was needed in the public sector to improve standards for users.

A new presumption that private companies, voluntary groups and charities should be allowed to bid to provide services would allow the Government to transform public services without having to legislate repeatedly to allow different providers to get involved.

The changes, to be set out in a White Paper within the next fortnight, could allow non-public providers to run schools, hospitals and council services such as maintaining parks, adult care, special schools and roads maintenance.

Outside providers would be offered payment-by-results contracts, increasing their earnings as the quality of services improves.

Mr Cameron 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."

Mr Cameron said that the changes would release the public sector from "the grip of state control", ending the era of "old-fashioned, top-down, take-what you're-given" services.

The Government hopes that the plan will reduce bureaucracy, improve quality and save money.

But it is certain to be opposed by Labour, the unions and many users of public services.

Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Cameron said opening up public services to private sector providers was an important part of his "Big Society" agenda.

"I would argue that our plans to devolve power from Whitehall, and to modernise public services, are more significant aspects of our Big Society agenda than the work we're doing to boost social action," said the PM.

"We will soon publish a White Paper setting out our approach to public service reform. It will put in place principles that will signal the decisive end of the old-fashioned, top-down, take-what-you're-given model of public services.

"And it is a vital part of our mission to dismantle Big Government and build the Big Society in its place."

Mr Cameron said that over the last decade, cases of "bureaucracy overruling common sense, targets and regulations overruling professional discretion, and the producers of public services overruling the people who use (and pay for) them" had become the norm rather than the exception.

And he said that at the same time, Britain had been "slipping against comparable countries" in areas such as cancer survival rates, school results and crime.

"That's why we need a complete change, and that's what our White Paper will bring," he said. "The grip of state control will be released and power will be placed in people's hands. Professionals will see their discretion restored. There will be more freedom, more choice and more local control."

Provision of public services should be open to "everyone who gets and values the importance of our public service ethos", said Mr Cameron.

Instead of having to justify the introduction of private competition to areas of public service provision like the NHS and schools, the state will in future have to explain why it should be allowed to operate as a monopoly.

Wherever it is possible, ministers will aim to increase choice "whether it's patients having the freedom to choose which hospital they get treated in or parents having a genuine choice over their child's school", he said.

And decision-making power will be devolved to the lowest possible level, giving more people "the right to take control of the budget for the service they receive".

"Of course, the state will still have a crucial role to play: ensuring fair funding, ensuring fair competition, and ensuring that everyone - regardless of wealth - gets fair access," said Mr Cameron.

"But these important responsibilities for central government must never become an automatic excuse for returning to central control. That's why our Open Public Services White Paper is so important. The principles it sets out will make it impossible for government to return to the bad old days of the standard state monopoly."

Anticipating criticisms of his proposals, Mr Cameron insisted: "This is not about destabilising the public services that people rely on; it is about ensuring they are as good as they can be.

"These are practical reforms, driven by a clear rationale that the best way to raise quality and value for money is to allow different providers to offer services in an open and accountable way.

"Our public services desperately need an injection of openness, creativity and innovation. These reforms will bring that - and that is why I am determined to see them through."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there