Brown: “No reversals” on Blairite reforms

Gordon Brown pledged to press on with his predecessor’s programme of public service reform ahead of this week’s Budget.

The prime minister said there could be “no backtracking” on New Labour’s often-controversial programme of reform and pledged it was time to further extend personal choice.

“There can be no backtracking on reform, no go-slow, no reversals and no easy compromises,” he said.

Writing in the Financial Times, he said public services in Britain had been below average in 1997 but were now above average and the government could no longer tolerate underperformance.

Mr Brown said: “In 2008, the public rightly expect ever-higher quality of public services more personal to their needs – from general practitioners open in the evening and at weekends, and one-to-one tuition for children to personal budgets for social care and police known personally to local neighbourhoods.”

He continued: “So this is my approach to achieving excellence: no tolerance of under-performance, giving users of public services more choices and crucially, a new recognition that real and lasting change must come from empowering the users of services themselves, with professionals and government playing a supporting role.”

Mr Brown said the first stage of reform, launched when Labour came into power in 1997, had focused on tackling neglect through a massive programme of investment.

This was followed by addressing underperformance and imposing uniform standards but it was now time to look to a third stage, to be unveiled in Wednesday’s Budget.

This would enhance choice but also “empower both the users of services and all the professionals who deliver them to drive up standards for all”, he said.

Mr Brown gave no clear indication of any policy announcements in the 2008 Budget, but repeated past pledges for a more personal health service with more emphasis on personal care.

He also backed expansion of the government’s academies programme as well as a commitment to improving the worst schools.