Cameron sets out long-term ministry plan

PRIME Minister David Cameron has launched the coalition’s departmental business plans for the next five years, claiming they will “turn government on its head” and contribute to a “radical redistribution of power”.

The four-year business plans produced by each department detail what its priorities and timetable for action will be between now and 2015. For example on reforming pensions tax relief, HM Treasury’s plan labels the task as “started” with a completion date of April 2011. It also details what the important publication “milestones” will be, including consultations, reviews and bills.

Cameron says: “These business plans bring in a new system of democratic accountability.” The idea behind them is to set out the specific measures that will be used to implement the coalition agreement.

The plans, drawn up in line with guidance from the Cabinet office, were launched at an event with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and civil service chief Gus O’Donnell. Cameron said: “The target culture pressured people to go for short-term wins at the expense of long-term improvements.”

The plans are meant to replace statistical targets with overall priorities and updates to let the public know if deadlines are missed or policy changes. They have been published on a new section of the Downing Street website that enables browsers to view updates and leave comments.

But the detail given varies. While some clauses lay out specific policy changes or reviews that have been set up, others state merely that there will be “ongoing reforms”. They are to be updated on a monthly basis as departments progress with the coalition reforms.

Each department was required to list its top priorities in order to draw up the plans. The Treasury lists deficit reduction, rebalancing the economy and revising the UK’s regulatory framework as its main responsibilities, while it says it will cut down on duplication of other government work.