John Hutton: Our monolithic public services have run their course

From a speech by the Minister of State for Health to the Demos think-tank in London
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The Independent Online

Despite clear signs of economic and social progress in our country, the new century has inevitably brought new anxieties and new challenges. People in Britain today have genuine concerns about the future and what it might hold. Our personal optimism about the future for our own families is often not shared when it comes to the future of our society as a whole.

Despite clear signs of economic and social progress in our country, the new century has inevitably brought new anxieties and new challenges. People in Britain today have genuine concerns about the future and what it might hold. Our personal optimism about the future for our own families is often not shared when it comes to the future of our society as a whole.

The challenge for progressive parties of the centre-left is how best to respond to these anxieties in a way that is consistent with our political values.

Previous Labour governments have also had to rise to this challenge. In the immediate post-war period, the British centre-left developed its own response to the need for security and opportunity. The welfare state established during those years brought significant benefits to millions of people. Opportunities to enjoy an improved standard of education created careers for many people who previously only had jobs.

People live longer today and have healthier lives because of the NHS. Most people live in decent, warm homes and have their income protected during times of economic hardship or personal disability.

But it is also increasingly clear that the old prescriptions that created this security - monolithic state institutions imposing one-size-fits-all solutions - have run their course. We know they will not meet the needs of modern economies. We know they cannot be tailored to meet people's individual expectations and ambitions.

So one of the principal tasks in a Labour third term will be to fashion a new consensus about the role of government in helping to provide both greater security as well as increased opportunities for our people. To ensure that modern, reformed public services continue to provide a passport to opportunity and security.

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