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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 December 2006, 18:00 GMT
Blair plan for 'people's panels'
Tony Blair addressing supporters
Tony Blair: Panels will advise ministers
The prime minister has called for "people's panels" to help push through key public service reforms.

Tony Blair says the panels will be made up of members of the public who will be asked to advise ministers on the most difficult areas of policy.

They will discuss issues such as government plans to influence lifestyles and healthy living.

The government will also look at using supermarket loyalty card technology to see how people use public services.

'Radical solutions'

One of Mr Blair's aides said the "major extension" in public engagement would go some way to providing a "crucial route map to the future".

He said: "It recognises that politics is changing, the public level of expectations is rising both in terms of the provision which they receive and the right which they have to influence those services.

"This engagement process will identify in more detail the areas which the public want us to focus on and develop a series of radical and progressive solutions," he added.

But Shadow Education Secretary David Willetts said the prime minister should concentrate on empowering people.

He said: "The right way to reform public services is not to give power to 100 people on a 'Blair panel' but to empower everyone using public services and the professionals working within them.

"Tony Blair has ended up consulting the few when he should be empowering the many."

The consultation will begin with 100 members of the public recruited early in 2007 to take part in the panels.

In February, regional meetings will be held where members will read versions of Whitehall briefing papers presented to ministers.

Man smoking cigarette in pub
Unhealthy lifestyles may be on the panels' agenda

All 100 panel members will take part in a "summit" a month later, which will also be attended by junior ministers and civil servants.

The panel is expected to look at three areas in particular, Downing Street has said.

They will discuss what "support and encouragement" the state can give to help to improve people's "life chances and well-being" - in particular such as "behavioural factors" as smoking and poor diet.

They will look at how retailers, such as supermarket giant Tesco, use loyalty cards to create databases of their clients and tailor-make services for them based on the information gathered.

The panels will also look at how contracts can be extended between members of the public and the state - similar to the way youngsters receive allowances if they stay in education.




SEE ALSO
Blair calls for lifestyle change
26 Jul 06 |  UK Politics
Public panels concerned by GM
08 Sep 03 |  Science/Nature

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