News Column

Cooper: schools and NHS face an existential crisis if Tories prevail

June 28, 2014

Rowena Mason Political correspondent

The NHS, police, education system and social care are at risk of an "existential crisis" within five years if the Conservatives win the next election, Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, will warn today.

In a wide-ranging speech the senior Labour MP, tipped as a possible future leader, will say public services are about empowerment and opportunities - not just a safety net, as the Tories believe.

She will make the comments at a conference organised by the Fabian Society, which today sets out 12 ideas for Labour's manifesto. Its first suggestion is that a Labour government should freeze public service spending until the deficit is under control and prioritise money for health, care, children and skills.

Other proposals include linking pension payments and many benefits to wages; barring businesses from running entire public services; upping the minimum wage to 60% of median earnings; tax reform; a UK sovereign wealth fund; and a midweek bank holiday in aid of the environment.

Before the conference, Andrew Harrop, general secretary of the Fabian Society, said the party had "lots of detailed policies to deploy in 2015, but lacks a clear story of how Britain will be different by 2020 after five years of Labour in power".

He added: "Eye-catching but small-scale promises are not enough - the party needs to adopt radical long-term reforms. This is the only way Labour can reconnect with voters and prove that the political parties are not all the same."

Cooper, speaking alongside shadow health secretary Andy Burnham and Jon Cruddas, party policy chief, will say Labour will focus on public services in the runup to 2015. "At a time when people feel insecure and overstretched, quality public services matter more than ever," she will say. "Yet right now those vital public services we depend on are under growing threat."

Setting out potential policy ideas in her own home affairs brief, Cooper will announce that Labour would hold a review of failed rape convictions to work out why the number of successful prosecutions is falling. She will also confirm the party's commitment to holding police disciplinary hearings in public to increase transparency in the wake of scandals such as Hillsborough and undercover police forming relationships with activists.

Her intervention continues the themes of Ed Miliband'sHugo Young lecture emphasising the importance of "people-powered" public services. It also comes before a speech on Monday by her husband, shadow chancellor Ed Balls, who will unveil tough measures to tackle tax avoidance. In particular, he will require tax havens that are UK overseas territories to publish details of who owns companies headquartered on their shores.

Labour will also table an amendment to the finance bill next week urging the government to close a eurobonds loophole, which allows firms to shift profits out of the UK and has been estimated to be costing up to pounds 500m a year in lost revenues.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, is due to make her comments at a conference organised by the Fabian Society

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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