In every interview on Monday David Cameron repeated the line that the Government were not just accountants. This is true, whether it be Free Schools or elected police commissioners, structural reforms are happening. Economic reform is not just about numbers, it’s about opportunity. As Fiona and I argued last year in a article for Ethos Journal:
“The Big Society is about supporting people to innovate to achieve growth in ways that the State could never imagine…By opening up the State’s huge resources – of purchasing power, of manpower and venues, of data – the Big Society will offer more opportunities to those innovators to succeed… Total UK government expenditure is now 43.7% of GDP – and what better way to encourage growth in the private sector and sustainable shrinkage of the public, than to open up public service delivery to social entrepreneurs?”
One of the great things the Government wants to encourage is for public services to be delivered by public servants. In order to help those who are skilled at caring – but not at navigating procurement processes – the Cabinet Office has proposed that employee led mutals should have time running services before they have to compete for contracts with established business. Unfortunately this positive nudge appears to be against EU law. Apparently it will take at least two years to change the specific EU procurement laws.
Governing is made up of many different functions that somehow have to be synchronised into one grand vision. This is difficult, but becomes infuriatingly hard when inflexible rules from far away make the balancing act impossible.
Francis Maude should stand up and say that we do not have time to wait for bureaucratic institutions of Brussels to ruminate on an action that is so obviously in the public good. The Government should fast-track the introduction of what it believes is a key economic reform, an action that will help the UK – thus ultimately the EU – move out of the credit crunch bog.
Something is wrong when on one hand it seems to be so easy to call a summit to take decisions over increasing debt levels yet supply side reforms still trundle along at a glacial pace. Right now doing what you believe needs to be done to secure the best outcome is much more important than being wedded to process.