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
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
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

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us