[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 July 2007, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
Honours to reward 'unsung heroes'
Gordon Brown
Mr Brown has written a book on "ordinary heroes"
Reforms to the honours system will make it easier to reward volunteers and "unsung heroes", Gordon Brown has said.

The prime minister, who has written a book, Britain's Everyday Heroes, said he wanted to recognise "the great work that people do" in the community.

He said he wants the share of honours for community work to be "substantially higher" than its current 40%.

The Tories said Mr Brown's predecessor Tony Blair had said in 1999 he would reform the honours system.

Mr Brown said he had informed all Whitehall departments and honours committees that, in future, more awards should go to "the unsung heroes of our villages, towns and cities".

Social bank

He added that a campaign would be started to promote the concept of a "good neighbour MBE".

He also announced a Social Investment Bank would be established to support charities which had limited access to usual finance providers.

And he announced a "Prime Ministerial Award for Social Technology" - to promote the use of new technology to help communities, and changes to charity law to let volunteer groups campaign without damaging their charitable status.

It is right that we look at how our honours system can recognise those in our emergency services and members of the public who showed such bravery and heroism
Gordon Brown

Mr Brown's book was published on Tuesday, and he said he wanted to make 24 July (24/7) every year a day when the government and "the country as a whole" could honour those "acting for good".

"I believe it is time to celebrate the best in Britain," he said in a speech.

"And by celebrating it and enhancing it, and by encouraging many more of us to participate in it, I believe we can build the good society where each of us asks what we can give and all of us can make a difference."

Funding boost

He said there would be a 515m boost in state funding for community groups, voluntary organisations and charities in the next three years.

A Council on Social Action would be set up to advise the government, as would a national youth community service.

And he said some of London's top business leaders had agreed to use their talents and experience to strengthen the voluntary sector further.

Evesham resident being rescued from the floods
Mr Brown said flood rescue workers' efforts should be recognised

Mr Brown has pledged to reform the honours system to make it easier to recognise contributions towards communities and those who had helped deal with recent floods and attempted car bombings in London and Glasgow.

He added: "What we have witnessed a week or two ago throughout Yorkshire and Humberside and now in Gloucester and the surrounding areas are neighbours helping neighbours, young helping old, those with transport helping those who are stranded and all people doing so selflessly.

"So it's an immense privilege to be here to have the chance to recognise publicly the contribution of Britain's everyday heroes."

But the Conservatives said the scheme was "very similar" to one announced by Mr Blair in 1999 - later dubbed the "People's Peers".

Mr Blair had said a new Appointments Commission would ensure a House of Lords that was more representative of British society.

But the first list of 15 non-political crossbenchers proved controversial as they included seven people who already had knighthoods, three professors and two people with OBEs.




SEE ALSO
'People's peers' under scrutiny
25 Apr 02 |  Politics

RELATED BBC LINKS



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific