News story

Rebooting Whitehall: accountability to the people not the government machine

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

Moving decision-making power from Whitehall to local councils and communities.

The Prime Minister joined Eric Pickles at the department’s headquarters, Eland House, today (8 July 2010) as the Communities Secretary published an action plan to radically shift power from Whitehall to local councils and communities.

In a speech to civil servants this morning the Prime Minister unveiled revolutionary reforms that will “turn the government on its head” through fundamental Structural Reform Plans to make every department accountable to the public. He pledged to transform the way the country was run saying:

“We want to give people the power to improve our country and public services, through transparency, local democratic control, competition and choice.

“It really is a total change in the way our country is run - from closed systems to open markets, from bureaucracy to democracy, from big government to Big Society, from politician power to people power.”

Radical decentralisation programme will hand power to the public

Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark said in a speech today that the department’s new 18 month programme will deliver radical decentralising and transparency reforms to make the Big Society part of every day life. 

Mr Clark believes too much power has been sucked out of communities into Westminster eroding trust in politics, and sapping responsibility and initiative with stifling bureaucracy. The plans will replace the old, top-down systems of targets and central mismanagement.

Already ministers have begun to remove swathes of centralising and red tape policies including ending regional strategies and putting housing back into local hands, ending unwanted garden grabbing, abolishing Home Information Packs and a burdensome council inspection regime.

The new 45 point action plan will force the department to shift gear so its purpose will be putting localism into action instead of ruling by central diktats.

Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark said:

“We’re busting open the established way of doing things. The department will now only work to empower people, not to keep Whitehall in power.

“Councils are no longer going to be strangled by prescribed one-size-fits diktats on the one hand and smothered by regional bureaucracy on the other.

“We won’t be micromanaging, second guessing, and interfering in your affairs any more. We’re going to put citizens and communities in control.”

Communities and Local Government was one of the first departments to publish its plans for implementing its radical decentralising and transparency reforms set out in the Coalition Agreement. Voters will measure the government’s performance against the key milestones and priorities set out in the plans.

The Department for Communities and Local Government’s Structural Reform Plan will set out the department’s 5 priority actions for making localism and the Big Society part of everyday life by:

  • decentralising power as far as possible
  • meeting people’s housing aspirations
  • putting communities in charge of planning
  • increasing accountability
  • letting people see how their money is being spent. 

More photographs of the Prime Minister’s visit are available from the DCLG Flickr channel