Be sensible in reforms, Socpo demands

Local government personnel managers have called on the Government to be
responsible in the way that it fulfils its pledge to carry out a fundamental
reform of the public services.

Labour’s legislative programme outlined in last week’s Queen’s Speech included
20 bills and four draft bills, as well as plans for much greater involvement of
the private sector in the delivery of public services.

Keith Handley, president of Socpo, stressed it was important that increased
private sector involvement did not undermine public service morale.

Handley said, "I hope ‘reforming’ public services includes respect for
public services and the people who work in them. Many areas of local government
are having real recruitment problems, and these are not helped by the prevailing
government attitude that the only good public service is an outsourced one.

"Local government employs nearly 2 million people and if we are to
attract future talent to improve service delivery, we need the Government to
work with us, not constantly against us."

Bills in the legislative programme include an education bill to create more
diversity at secondary level and allow successful schools to sign contracts
with the private sector to raise standards.

An enterprise bill will revamp competition and insolvency laws and introduce
powers to deal with rogue traders.

A National Health Service reform bill will devolve budgets to primary care
trusts and shake up the regulation of health professionals.

Four law and order bills will aim to reform sentencing and rules of
evidence, recover proceeds of crime, modernise the police service and reform
the courts.

Proposals for a new offence of corporate killing was not included in the new
legislation, but a Home Office spokesman said it was likely to be introduced in
the near future.

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