Business plans

On Monday the Prime Minister announced big changes to the way our government works.

At the heart of these plans will be a radical shift of power from Whitehall to local people and communities. 

As David Cameron said, we want to be the first government in a generation to leave office with much less power than we started with.

It's a totally new approach to government. 

In my first five years as an MP in this part of the world, we faced one bad idea after another handed down from the government and its quangos - including plans to amalgamate our police forces, downgrade our local hospitals and build an ‘eco-town' at Ford.  Decisions were being taken - or attempted - with little regard to local communities.

Government should be accountable to the people who elected us rather than the Whitehall machine.

So, for the first time, we have published business plans for government departments setting out in detail what we want to achieve in the next four years.

They provide people with the information they need to hold the government to account, to make informed choices about the public services they use and to open up the machinery of government to public scrutiny.

And they are all available on a single website:  It's worth a look.

In the area that I'm responsible for - policing and criminal justice - you can see how we are getting on with our plans to give local communities more of a say over policing.

But, as I said two weeks ago in the Petworth Area Churches Together Annual Lecture, in which I talked about the Big Society, it's not just about what government can do better.

It's also about unlocking the potential of individuals and voluntary organisations in tackling the huge challenges ahead.

Government can't act alone.  For too long, Whitehall has tried to control everything from the centre with top-down targets and wave after wave of new laws and regulations.

We are turning government on its head and giving power and control back to people and communities where it belongs.

Christopher N Howarth