Headlines: April 8th, 2003

Reform, the right of centre think tank, has called for a bonfire of red tape to allow public services to perform effectively. The report sets out the findings from a commission set up by Reform which included a former top civil servant and two former New Zealand finance ministers. It makes the case that only radical reform will significantly improve the delivery of public service.The report argues that the NHS designed in an era of post war rationing is not capable of coping with today’s demands. It sets out a case for the replacement of central funding by health insurance. Although spending on the NHS has increased by a third since 1997, there has been little change in the number of patients treated. The report claims that up to a fifth of the NHS budget is lost through waste, fraud and inefficiency. In international comparisons, it shows that while there are some one million people awaiting treatment in the UK, France has no waiting list.

The report claims that one in four children leave school functionally illiterate and innumerate, despite a tripling of investment in education in the past 40 years. Only half the workforce has at least two ‘A’ levels compared to Germany with 82%. The report calls for the ending of State direction of schools so that parents can be offered a real choice. It also urges more robust testing.

In the face of what is described as ‘increasing lawlessness’ there is a call for more police.