People to get greater choice: PM
The Government is dismantling "big-state structure" to give people a greater choice of public services, David Cameron has said.
People could be given a legal "right to choose" which schools and hospitals they use and staff working in the public sector will get more power to take over the services they provide by forming John Lewis-style mutual firms.
In an update to the Government's programme of sweeping reforms, ministers signalled a greater role for the private sector and voluntary organisations across a range of public services.
Mr Cameron said: "Nearly two years on from coming into office, brick by brick, edifice by edifice, we are slowly dismantling the big-state structures we inherited from the last government.
"We are putting people in control, giving them the choices and chances that they get in almost every other area of life. There is still a way to go and this kind of change will not happen overnight. But no-one should doubt my determination to make our public services better, by opening them up. I will not rest until the job is done."
An update to the Open Services White Paper said the move involves "re-thinking the role of government" to become funders, regulators and commissioners rather than "attempting to run the public services from a desk in Whitehall, city hall or county hall".
The Government announced an independent review to establish how choice could be extended. Ministers have also set out plans for draft legislation to enshrine the right to choose in law, but critics have branded the move "unworkable".
In an article in the Daily Telegraph Mr Cameron said the move meant that "if your mother needs hospital treatment, or your child is about to start school, you will get a choice over where they go". "And if that choice doesn't exist, or you're not happy with it, you will have a way to get your complaint properly and fairly listened to - and resolved," he said.
However, Institute for Government programme director Tom Gash said: "Creating a 'right to choose' may provide a valuable signal to the public sector that the Government is committed to increasing individuals' power to choose the public service provider they want.
"However, it is likely to prove unworkable in practice. To make the right to choose legally enforceable, Government would need to specify precisely the degree and type of choice that should be provided in each service area."