Public Services > Central Government

Labour manifesto confirms 'pause' on Universal Credit

David Bicknell Published 13 April 2015

Procurement contracts to be more accessible to smaller firms; digital government to be more transparent; Labour backs 'open data by default'; Health and Social Care Act to be repealed


The Labour Party's manifesto, unveiled this morning, has confirmed that the party plans to take stock of Universal Credit.

The manifesto says, "We support the principle behind Universal Credit - that there should be a smooth transition into work - but it must be affordable and fit for purpose, so we will pause and review the programme."

The party's proposals also contained several references to public procurement in relation to small firms. The manifesto says, "Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. Their creativity and dynamism are vital for raising productivity and competing in the global economy. Labour will give them a voice at the heart of government - a Small Business Administration, which will ensure procurement contracts are accessible and regulations are designed with small firms in mind."

On government spending, Labour said it will implement the proposals of its Zero-Based Review , "which has already identified savings we will make through reforming old government bureaucracies, devolving power and services to our towns and cities, and redesigning public services, and which we will continue in government."

It also promised to create "thousands more apprenticeships" in the public sector, including the civil service. Every firm getting a major
government contract, and every large employer hiring skilled workers from outside the EU, will be required to offer apprenticeships.

Labour also promised to use digital technology to create a more responsive, devolved, and less costly system of government and to reform public services.

"People will be able to feed back on services quickly and simply, making sure their voices are heard, stimulating improvement and saving on the costs of service failure."

On cyber security, Labour said Britain needs to be prepared to counter the threat of cyber-attacks. "We have already called on the government to require every company working with the Ministry of Defence, regardless of its size or the scale of its work, to sign up to a cyber-security charter. This would reduce the risk of hackers using small suppliers to break into the systems of major defence companies or the department itself. We will consult on creating a statutory requirement for all private companies, to report serious cyber-attacks threatening our national infrastructure."

Labour also promised that all parts of the country will benefit from affordable, high speed broadband by the end of the parliament, while on digital inclusion it said, "We will support community-based campaigns to reduce the proportion of citizens unable to use the internet and help those who need it to get the skills to make the most of digital technology."

On health, Labour said it will repeal the government's Health and Social Care Act, "scrapping the competition regime and restoring proper democratic accountability for the NHS. We will establish a sensible commissioning framework, based on the principle of an NHS preferred provider, to stop the drive towards privatisation and make sure that NHS services are not destabilised by competition and fragmentation. Where private companies are involved in providing clinical services, we will impose a cap on any profits they can make from the NHS, to ensure that the needs of patients are always put first."

As expected, on policing, it plans to abolish Police and Crime Commissioners, and to mandate police forces to work closer together. On wider digital government, Labour said it will further develop digital government to enable better communication, more collaboration, and the sharing of data between services.

"It will make services and transactions more efficient and simpler for people to use. To create a more connected society we will support making digital government more inclusive, transparent and accountable. We will continue to back the principle of 'open data by default', releasing public sector performance data wherever possible."

Commenting on the Labour manifesto, techUK CEO Julian David said,"The world is being transformed by tech and any successful vision of the UK's future must have the smart use of digital technology at its core. We are pleased that the Labour Manifesto recognises the need to build on the UK's strengths and the sector will welcome the focus on raising productivity, using digital technology to reform public services, continued investment in communications infrastructure, a commitment to long-term science funding, and proper democratic oversight of investigative powers."

Labour's manifesto also promised to guarantee every school leaver that gets the grades an apprenticeship. It said, "We will create thousands more apprenticeships in the public sector, including the civil service. Every firm getting a major government contract, and every large employer hiring skilled workers from outside the EU, will be required to offer apprenticeships."

Kerry Hallard, chief executive of the National Outsourcing Association said, "Upskilling the UK's outsourcing industry is critical to its growing success and is essential if the UK is to become the global strategic hub for outsourcing, which is a very real opportunity.

"As such, the National Outsourcing Association applauds Labour's plans to require private sector companies working on government contracts to run high quality apprenticeships, as proposed in their election manifesto.

"Negotiation and relationship skills, as well as much-needed tech and digital skills, are critical in today's work environment and not currently taught well in schools. Any initiative which provides today's youths with jobs and upskills the UK's workforce is more than a good thing - ignoring the requirement for these skills is a threat to the growth of the UK economy."


Related articles:

Liberal Democrats propose Digital Rights Bill

Labour sticks with Universal Credit pause plan

NAO warns over costs of further Universal Credit digital delay

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