Cameron eyes private sector future for public services

Businessmen looking for public service deals will be pleased by today's news
Businessmen looking for public service deals will be pleased by today's news

By Alex Stevenson

David Cameron has signalled a renewed emphasis on handing public services to the private sector.

He will place the "burden of proof" on the state to justify why it should ever hold a monopoly on public services, in a white paper on 'open public services' due out shortly.

The new approach will be merged with a commitment towards devolving services to the lowest possible working level, as the prime minister looks to increase choice across Britain.

"The grip of state control will be released and power will be placed in people's hands," Mr Cameron wrote in an article for the Telegraph newspaper.

"Professionals will see their discretion restored. There will be more freedom, more choice and more local control."

Until now attention on Mr Cameron's 'big society' agenda has not extended into localised public services, but he is now arguing that decentralisation of public services is a key part of the idea.

The prime minister argued that the previous government's attitude towards centralisation and targets had had a negative effect against comparable countries.

He called for a "complete change" which would see the state's role restricted to ensuring "free access" for the poorest, making it "impossible" for ministers to "return to the bad old days of the standard state monopoly".

Mr Cameron added: "We will create a new presumption - backed up by new rights for public service users and a new system of independent adjudication - that public services should be open to a range of providers competing to offer a better service."

The move towards more private sector reforms could raise some eyebrows among grassroots Liberal Democrats, many of whom oppose privatisation or private sector provision of any kind.

Mr Cameron made clear he is not prepared to accept opposition from any quarter, however. He concluded: "Our public services desperately need an injection of openness, creativity and innovation. These reforms will bring that - and that is why I am determined to see them through."


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