Feb 10 2014
Concerned parents would get powers to secure intervention in problem schools under Labour proposals for "people-powered public services" being unveiled by Ed Miliband.
The Labour leader will cite the closure of the Al-Madinah free school in Derby as evidence of the failure of a Whitehall-centred system, and pledge to restore and enhance local accountability.
Stronger budget powers for town halls, better access to health records, school reports and other information and moves to help people link up with others facing similar personal issues are also among ideas he will set out.
Mr Miliband is expected to use a high-profile speech - the annual Hugo Young Lecture - to state his desire to extend his drive to tackle "unaccountable power" in markets such as energy and banking to the public sector.
Spending cuts - which Labour has said it will have to continue if it wins the 2015 general election - made the need for reform all the more important, he will suggest.
"I get as many people coming to me frustrated by the unresponsive state as the untamed market," he will say.
"And the causes of the frustrations are often the same in the private and public sector: unaccountable power with the individual feeling left powerless to act.
"So just as it is One Nation Labour's cause to tackle unaccountable power in the private sector, so too in the public sector."
Offering education as a prime example, he will say: "Having promised to share power, this government has actually centralised power in Whitehall and is attempting to run thousands of schools from there.
"That doesn't work. And as a result some schools have been left to fail without intervention.
"Just last week we saw the Al-Madinah Free School in Derby close, because its failings were spotted far too late.
"We need greater local accountability for our schools. And in the coming months, David Blunkett will be making recommendations to us about how to do this.
"As part of that plan, we must also empower parents.
"They should not have to wait for somebody in Whitehall to intervene if they have serious concerns about how their school is doing, whether it is a free school, academy or local authority school.
"But too often they do.In all schools, there should be a parental right to "call in" intervention. This would happen when a significant number of parents come together and call for immediate action on standards."
Drawing up a school standards plan focused on the areas of concern, brokering collaboration with another school, bringing in outside teaching and leadership expertise, changing staff or the leadership of a school
The troubled Muslim free school announced that it would stop teaching secondary pupils from this summer after the Government stepped in when Ofsted condemned the quality of teaching, the curriculum, and a "destructive and deteriorating" between senior figures.
Mr Miliband will say his changes would please public sector workers who " often feel that we have a culture that stops them doing their best because the system doesn't allow them to put those they serve at the heart of what they do".
That would include " an assumption that people get access to the information on them unless there is a very good reason for them not to".
All patients should be able to access their health records " swiftly and effectively", he will say, and parents guaranteed access to "real time data" on their children's progress not just end-of-term reports.
Everyone should also be able to track the progress of dealings with the public sector - from parking permit applications to crime reports - in the same way they do online shopping orders, Mr Miliband will suggest.
"From schools to the NHS to local government, there is an extraordinary amount of information about users of public services," he will say.
"But the working assumption is still that the people only get access to it when the professionals say it is OK or when people make a legal request."
Mr Miliband will say he is keen to tap into growing availability of social networks and action groups devoted to dealing with particular issues - including medical conditions - which had proved effective in prompting change.
"Nothing makes people feel that they have less power than having to stand on their own: confronted with a vast and complex world of services that they can't make sense of or options they don't understand.
"The next Labour government will make it a basic principle that users of public services - be it a patient suffering a chronic condition or a parent of a special needs child - to be put in touch with other people who share that service and are in a similar situation."
Ideas emerging from Labour policy reviews into how to devolve more power to local councils will also be outlined by Mr Miliband - including the idea of handing town halls expanded budgets to allow them to take over more services.
Home and maternity care, welfare-to-work programmes and offender handling are among areas said to have been suggested.
The MP overseeing the Opposition's policy review, Jon Cruddas, has been consulting with council leaders across the country over the plans and Lord Adonis has been leading a study on the potential for creating "city regions" with more control over infrastructure funds.
"Driving innovation by rethinking services on the basis of the places they serve not the silos people work in," Mr Miliband will say.
"Social care, crime and justice, and how we engage with the small number of families that receive literally hundreds of interventions from public services but too often don't get to the heart of the problems they face."