Our welfare system must not allow anyone to withdraw from society as the consequence of forced withdrawal from the labour market. The voluntary sector will be able to play a hugely important role here: keeping people in touch with the world of work, providing skills training, bringing people together, and giving people inspiration and hope.
The next phase of public service reform must work to give people independence, not dependence, learning from schemes such as the expert patients programme which empowers patients to direct their own treatment of chronic conditions, or the Family Intervention Projects, which give chaotic, dysfunctional and anti-social families structure to their lives and social rules to live by, as the backstop before eviction.
Family Intervention Projects cost up to £15,000 per family, with a dedicated social work team getting the family up in the morning, ensuring everyone is washed and dressed, getting the kids to do their homework, and making sure they go to bed at a reasonable time. But the cost of not intervening in this intense way, with many agencies from probation, police, truancy officers and the NHS being involved, can be up to £350,000 per family.
These kinds of reforms empower the individual, and in doing so save the state money. There will need to be a new emphasis on better procurement: more local suppliers, more consideration for the environment, more value for money.
But reforms will focus on changing behaviour by demanding more responsibility from the individual, and rediscover the true purpose of the welfare state: getting people back on their feet when times got tough, never making worklessness a deliberate lifestyle choice.
No, not a right wing Conservative who believes in the power of the individual to shape their own destiny and rails against an overwheening state bureaucracy. The politician making this speech is none other than the lovely Hazel Blears. The speech is titled 'Community spirit in a cold climate', where she will spell out an unashamedly New Labour message on how the welfare system and public services should be reformed in a recession.
Translation: She is delivering a coded message and setting out a stall. Surely not.