Cameron to focus on legacy of modernisation

By Andrew Woodcock,Pa
Monday 17 January 2011 08:01

Prime Minister David Cameron will today use a high-profile speech to make clear his determination to force through rapid modernisation of Britain's public services during 2011.

Mr Cameron will say that he wants "the complete modernisation of our public services" to be one of the legacies of his Government.

He will leave no doubt about the urgency of the task, telling an audience in London: "We should not put this off any longer."

Mr Cameron's speech comes two days ahead of the expected publication of the Health and Social Care Bill, which will usher in what a report today calls "undoubtedly the biggest shake-up of the NHS in its history".

Measures to allow every school in England to take on self-governing academy status and to permit the creation of new "free" schools have already been passed.

The coalition Government is also planning radical changes to other public services, like directly-elected police commissioners.

Mr Cameron will today hail the news that 141 GP groups have come forward to take on new commissioning powers ahead of their introduction across England in 2013, as a sign that professionals are keen to respond to the Government's plans to devolve decision-making to the front line.

He will also dismiss suggestions that Chancellor George Osborne's programme of cuts will inevitably mean deteriorating services.

Even after the £81 billion cuts are complete, public spending will still take up 41% of national income - the same level as in 2006 - he will say.

At £5,000 per pupil, spending on education will be the same as Germany and more than in France; London will have as many police officers as New York; and health spending will match the European average.

"It's just not true to say that the spending taps are being turned off," Mr Cameron will say.

"The money will be there and we will spend it wisely."

The PM will try to shake off Labour claims that his reform agenda is driven by the wish to save money and an ideological desire to reduce the size of the state, insisting that it is a "personal and political" priority for him to improve services by modernising them.

"I don't want anyone to doubt how important this is to me," he will say.

"My passion about this is both personal and political.

"Personal because I've experienced, first-hand, how dedicated, how professional, how compassionate our best public servants are.

"The doctors who cared for my eldest son, the maternity nurses who welcomed my youngest daughter into the world, the teachers who are currently inspiring my children, all of them have touched my life, and the life of my family, in an extraordinary way and I want to do right by them.

"And this is a political passion - and priority - of mine too. I believe that Britain can be one of the great success stories of the new decade."

Mr Cameron will say that - rather than an obstacle to far-reaching reform - coalition Government has allowed his administration to develop policies that are "more wide-ranging and more effective than when you're working on your own".

He will say that his Government has a better chance of implementing successful reform because it has "tried really hard to learn the lessons of the past" and will avoid repeating the mistakes of previous administrations.

He will stress the need for speed in implementing change, warning: "Every year we delay, every year without improving our schools is another year of children let down, another year our health outcomes lag behind the rest of Europe, another year that trust and confidence in law and order erodes.

"These reforms aren't about theory or ideology - they are about people's lives.

"Your lives, the lives of the people you and I care most about - our children, our families and our friends. So I have to say to people: if not now, then when?

"We should not put this off any longer."

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