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PM pledges to shift power to people

Prime Minister David Cameron will promise a shift in power from Government to the people as Whitehall departments publish business plans setting out what they intend to do and how voters can hold them accountable for it.

Mr Cameron said the move will help reverse the trend towards centralisation of power in Whitehall and will encourage ministers and officials to govern for the long term.

He will present it as an alternative to Labour's culture of targets, which he argues encouraged short-term thinking, as public sector managers sought immediate results to meet centrally imposed deadlines at the expense of long-term improvements to services.

Speaking at the launch of the business plans, Mr Cameron will argue that Labour's targets "bred bureaucracy ... created inefficiency and unintended consequences (and) crushed morale in the public sector".

And he is expected to say: "Today we are turning that on its head. Instead of bureaucratic accountability to the Government machine, these business plans bring in a new system of democratic accountability - accountability to the people.

"So reform will be driven not by the short-term political calculations of the Government, but by the consistent, long-term pressure of what people want and choose in their public services - and that is the horizon shift we need."

The business plans will "bring about a power shift by changing what government does", Mr Cameron will say.

"For a long time, government's default position has been to solve problems by hoarding more power to the centre - passing laws, creating regulations, setting up task forces. The result is that Britain is now one of the most centralised countries in the developed world.

"We will be the first government in a generation to leave office with much less power in Whitehall than we started with. We are going to take power from government and hand it to people, families and communities - and how we will do that is set out right here in these business plans. In one of the biggest blows for people power, we're shining a bright light of transparency on everything government does."

Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander said that the plans will include costings for policies, as well as timescales for progress, such as the dates for the introduction and completion of legislation and the date when changes will take effect.

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