Brown’s national plan – six discussion points

June 29, 2009 by
Filed under: Politics, Public policy 

Another crazy day in the office . I have torn myself away from Anne Atkins and Jeremy Paxman debating the English language in the Great Room to steal ten minutes to write  this post. I wish I had longer because the plan being published by the Government in an hour deserves proper debate . Maybe I’ll come back to it tomorrow. But here are some points to be going on with:

1. Given where GB was two weeks ago it is pretty remarkable that people are interested in what he is saying now. Maybe the public reaction will be a big shrug of indifference, if not it suggests there may yet be life in this Government.

2. The idea of moving from top down accountability delivered through guidance, bureaucracy and inspection to a bottom up accountability delivered by citizens enforcing their rights is attractive. Although we await to hear how exactly the entitlements are to be enforced. No one wants a field day for lawyers

3. I understand that while some rights are individually enforceable others require community mobilisation. For example, the police rights will be delivered through communities being able to force the police to attend meetings to explain themselves.  Whether it is useful to lump different types of power for citizens under the single heading of entitlements is open to question.

4. Politically Labour’s hope is that today allows them to remind people of the areas of big progress under Labour (abolishing long waits in the NHS, and the creation of neighbourhood police teams in every area, for example). It is also a challenge to the Conservatives – do they match Labour’s promises which could make them look weak or do they refuse which opens up to the charge of having a secret cuts agenda.

5. It is not clear how local government fits into this new regime. The danger is that local democratic authority is by-passed in a redefinition of the relationship between state and individual. I understand there is some good news for council coming later this week, but we need a clear account  of how local government fits into this new framework of rights and freedoms.

6. An interesting plan’s credibility will sadly be undermined by the failure of the plan to tackle the political machine of Whitehall. We have too many ministers looking for work to do. They constantly generate new priorites and guidance which are all too often interpreted at the front line as instructions. Gordon Brown will want to make the case that his new framework frees up the front line and makes government less bureaucratic and complex, but until he slims down and muzzles the ministerial monster this is not believable

Overall, however, an important plan which should be judged on its merits. It will be interesting to see if there is any subtlety to the Conservative response



  • allan

    GB stating under 25’s have to take a job or trainingor lose benefits isnt new these rules apply under new deal whether you are under or over 25
    i was put on new deal 50plus december 2007 between then and april 2008 nda stated i had to do a 13 week work placement then on the last interview he stated i had to do 26 weeks because in his opinion it would “enhance my employment prosects” if this was the case why having done new deal twice and getting no job after either placement and having new deal on my cv did i have a total of 98 rejection letters because of new deal thats why
    thenew deal advisor told me refusal to do 26 weeks placement would result in 26 week benefit sanctioning and would still have to do 26 week new deal work placement, i signed off benefit there and then and went home and sent out 12 on spec letters to local businesses looking for part time work within two months i got a part time job washing motorhomes and caravans which pays min wage and i do 16 hours a week which is £98.68 which is far better than the jsa you get paid unfortunately the hours recently have been rather hap hazard ie one week i got 4 days the following week i only got two days someone suggested claiming jsa but someone i know who works at the jobcentre told me outwith the job centre that it was more hassle than it was worth as the rules about applying for jobs apply even though am in employment but the hours are under 16 hours this means the jobcentre can make me apply for jobs outwith cupar working 7 days a week paying min wage unfortunately my personal circumstances prevent this from being suitable as am now living by myself and if i do more than 16 hours it affects my housing benefit also as i would have to use the bus to travel to work at the end of the week after all my outgoings i would be left with nothing in my pocket the jc employee said i would be better off cutting someones grass for cash in hand than signing on and getting hassle from the job centre

  • Richard Katz


    Forgive me but you’re beginning to sound more than a little politically biased?