Departmental business plans, published today, set out departments’ priorities for the coming twelve months, the specific reform actions they will take and when, and expenditure for each remaining year of the spending review period.
The Business Plans have helped drive a significant shift in power from Whitehall to people and communities. Key actions over the next 12 months include:
- the Youth Contract, providing additional support worth almost £1billion to young unemployed people over the next three years;
- the Pupil Premium, providing schools with an extra £600 per pupil eligible for free school meals in 2012-13, an increase from £488 in 2011-12;
- the next wave of Free Schools, studio schools and University Technical Colleges to open by September 2012 and conversion of the worst underperforming primary schools to Academy status by December 2012;
- introduction of a benefit cap so that no workless family can receive more in welfare than a working household’s median (post-tax) earnings;
- personal health budget pilots across England this year, giving patients control and choice over the health services they use;
- a Right to Bid, giving community organisations a fairer chance to save assets of importance to them, such as their village shop or the last remaining pub in the village, their community centre, children’s centre or community green spaces; and
- help to create the most competitive business tax system in the developed world by cutting corporation tax to the lowest rate in the G7; introduction of a Patent Box to encourage firms to innovate in Britain; and simplification of our tax system.
Launching this year’s Business Plans, Minister for Government Policy, Oliver Letwin said:
We have taken some radical steps in the last twelve months to transform our public services, tailoring services around the needs of the user rather than expecting everyone to accept an expensive one size fits all solution. The delivery of free schools and academies, the launch of the Work Programme, our reforms to planning and the creation of the Regional Growth Fund all highlight real reform which is having a positive impact on people’s lives.
It is vital that we carry on this work, making sure that in every area we are improving services and devolving power. The updated Business Plans set out our ambitions clearly. Instead of announcing ambiguous goals and far-away targets, we have set out exactly what we are going to do and by when, channelling our efforts to those areas where government has the most influence.
Between the last publication in May 2011 and April this year, departments have completed 803 reform actions, out of a total of 892 that were due to be completed during the period. For example:
- we launched the Work Programme, which provided tailored support to more than half a million claimants to help them find work between June 2011 and the end of January 2012;
- the first 24 Free Schools were opened in September 2011; as of 1 May 2012, there are 1,807 academies open in England; and
- we have invested an additional £100m in 2011-12 in science capital development.
The Business Plans’ focus on action represents a major change in how government is accountable to the public.
The Number 10 website reports the progress of every action, as well as a running total of completed and overdue actions, and an explanation, should there be a delay. Over the past year, 97 actions were completed late.
Notes to editors
1. The Business Plans were launched in November 2010 by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the former Cabinet Secretary, Gus O’Donnell.
2. The Business Plans are an important contribution to the Government’s transparency agenda, setting out the key data and indicators that departments will publish to help the public to track the cost and impact of public services.
3. The Plans have been streamlined, and now focus on departments’ structural reforms; other actions which are important, but not structural reforms, have been moved to an annex. This will make it easier for members of the public to track our progress in implementing our structural reforms. It will also free departments to report only on the significant reform actions they are undertaking, leaving them to tailor the way they report on their performance in other areas in the most appropriate form.
4. For each Coalition priority, the updated Business Plans now also include the name of the lead official, the number of staff working in that area and the total spend. This will make it easier to cross-refer between the Business Plans and the organograms that each Department has published on their website.
5. We are also improving the way that progress against the plans is reported. We have updated the Business Plans website, so that it is clearer, more informative and easier to use. The information will also be published in open data formats, so that third party tools will be able to present it in innovative new ways. The interactive website has been a popular way of accessing the Business Plans, with around 60,000 unique visitors in the past year.
6. A full list of the changes in the Structural Reform Plan sections of the Business Plans will be laid in the House of Commons library when Parliament returns on 11 June. This list can also be found here. This will help ensure that departments remain accountable for all the actions they have previously committed to, and can explain any changes.