Reform, devolution and efficiency central to PM’s “smarter state”

11 Sep 15
David Cameron today set out a wide-ranging package of reforms to create a “smarter state”, with widespread devolution, a focus on early intervention, and integration of blue light services among the government’s priorities.
Reform, devolution and efficiency central to PM’s “smarter state” David Cameron today set out a wide-ranging package of reforms to create a “smarter state”, with widespread devolution, a focus on early intervention, and integration of blue light services

Photo: PA

In a speech today, the prime minister said reforms would ensure the programme of deficit reduction could also increase social mobility.

“What we are showing is that deficit reduction and an opportunity society are not alternatives,” he said in a speech in Leeds.

“They can complement each other. Because with a smarter state, we can spend less and deliver more.

“If we make the right decisions, then far from getting in the way of our progressive goals, the changes we make can, in many cases, actually improve the services that government delivers – and help people.”

The Spending Review on November 25 would focus on three areas – reform, devolution and efficiency – he said.

Among the reforms would be a new commitment to revamp social services and child protection provision, with local authorities and charities to working closer together. Councils will be warned that, if children’s services are failing children, they could be taken over by non-profit trusts. A further expansion of the Troubled Families programme is also likely.

“So many of our country’s efforts to extend opportunity have been undermined by a tolerance of state failure – children in care and prisons being two standout areas,” Cameron said.

“Reform – be it breaking state monopolies, bringing in new providers, or allowing new ways of doing things – can cut the costs of these failures both economically and socially and help advance the progressive causes of spreading opportunity and enhancing social mobility that we should all care about.”

On devolution, Cameron confirmed that 38 proposals had been made by government’s deadline for Spending Review submissions on 4 September from cities, towns and counties across the UK.

Change was needed as it was “a proven reality that money spent closer to people is often money spent wiser so we can really deliver more for less”, he added.

“The best businesses would never shy away from allowing their customers to shape the way they improve their services. If we are bold enough, government can go one better by actually putting many of those services in the hands of local people.”

The efficiency drive will see legislation introduced to enable the police, fire and ambulance services to combine back-office functions, IT and procurement to save money.

It will also push forward plans to open up government contracts to small businesses and make more efficient use of public sector land by closing down government offices and releasing areas for construction of homes.

Cameron said: “When a business uses technology to deliver more for less, it’s regarded as a good thing. But when government does it, it’s too often just badged as cuts. It’s as though good business is somehow bad government. This attitude has to change.”

Meanwhile, details of the 38 devolution submissions were published. Ministers said the first wave of new agreements would be signed in the coming months.

These bids are based on chancellor George Osborne’s vision of accountable elected mayors, the Department for Communities and Local Government said.

The full list of areas submitting proposals for devolution deals is below. In addition, representations and letters of support have been submitted by other areas, which will also be considered.


1             Aberdeen

2             Cardiff

3             Cheshire and Warrington

4             Cornwall

5             Cumbria

6             Dorset

7             ‘D2N2’ – Derbyshire, Derby, Nottinghamshire and Nottingham

8             Edinburgh

9             Gloucestershire

10             Greater Brighton

11             Greater Essex

12             Greater Lincolnshire

13             Greater Manchester

14             Greater Yorkshire

15             Hampshire & Isle of Wight

16             Heart of the South West

17             Herefordshire

18             Hull, Yorkshire, Leeds City Region and the Northern Powerhouse

19             Inverness & Highland City

20             Leeds City Region

21             Leicester and Leicestershire

22             Liverpool City Region

23             London

24             Norfolk

25             Northamptonshire

26             North East

27             Oxfordshire

28             Sheffield City Region

29             Surrey, West Sussex & East Sussex

30             Swindon

31             Suffolk

32             Tees Valley

33             Telford & Wrekin

34             West Midlands

35             West of England

36             Wiltshire

37             Worcestershire

38             York, North Yorkshire and East Riding

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