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Public services: you call the shots

Prime Minister David Cameron has written a message to "From the PM" email subscribers setting out his vision for public services modernisation.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Prime Minister David Cameron has written a message to “From the PM” email subscribers setting out his vision for public service modernisation.

Read the email

I’ve been in Downing Street for over eight months now and it seems to me that the business of government falls into a couple of categories. They are the things you do because it’s your duty. They might not be very popular, but you get on with them because it’s in the national interest. That’s what this Coalition is doing when it comes to cutting the deficit.

But there are also the things you do because it’s your passion - the things that get you up in the morning and you really want to deliver. And this week, I’ve been setting out our plans for something that is a massive passion of mine - the modernisation of our public services.

When you look at our public services today, there is so much to be proud of. I’ve been to some great schools in some of our most deprived areas that give every child a chance. And I’ve visited fantastic hospitals staffed by the most dedicated doctors and nurses. But if we’re honest, there is another side too. In too many instances, people are asked to settle for second best. And I, like so many, share the burning impatience of those who want things to be better.

So we plan some really important changes to do just that. If I could describe that change in one line, it would be this: to put you, the people who use public services, in control.

This may sound obvious but for years now, the opposite has been true. Through a load of targets and inspections and performance indicators, our public service professionals have been forced to answer to Ministers in Whitehall. And that’s why things haven’t improved enough: they haven’t been able to focus on what you need.

We’re turning that system on its head. We’re going to get rid of the bureaucracy that wastes so much money and saps so much staff morale and give our professionals the freedom to get on with the job in hand. For example, in the NHS, GPs will take control of budgets and directly commission services on your behalf. This not only makes sense. As they are the ones who see you on a regular basis, they are in a much better position to understand your needs and shop around for services on your behalf. It’s also what so many GPs want. Already, over 140 GP-led consortia have come forward, covering half the country.

But in return for that freedom, our professionals are going to have someone new to answer to. You. So we’re going to give you a much greater say over where you send your child to school or where you get treated - and back those choices with state money. We’re going to inject competition into the system, inviting charities, social enterprises and private companies to come in and provide a great service that will always be free at the point of use. And, as we’re doing in the fight against crime, we’re also going to give you the chance to vote in locally-elected individuals to set policing priorities. At the same time as doing all this, we’re going to be really open about how money is spent on public services and the results they achieve.

This is a complete change in the way our public services are run. For the first time, you will call the shots and public services will really respond to what you need. And I believe the ambition of these changes demonstrates just how radical this Coalition is. People said we wouldn’t agree on everything - the truth is, we’re having proper discussions about what really works and the policies that result are incredibly bold.

I really believe Britain can be one of the next decade’s great success stories. But for that to happen, we need the best schools and hospitals, safe streets and prisons that properly reform people. The changes we have set out this week are a giant step towards that.

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Published 19 January 2011