I'm delighted to be here today. I want to start by congratulating Stephan Shakespeare for his commitment to the idea that we're all here to discuss today and his fantastic drive and entrepreneurial spirit not just in setting up this network...
...but for his many and varied contributions to politics and public life. Stephan has always been an astute observer of social trends and where political thinking is heading - and this network is proof of that.
I've been speaking about the post-bureaucratic age - and its potential for transforming our lives - for a couple of years now.
I know it's not the most catchy of phrases.
But it really does mean something - and something very exciting.
Everyone knows we face big economic, social and environmental problems.
Everyone can see that the old, top down, big government solutions aren't working.
So it shouldn't be too hard to convince people that a completely new approach to solving these problems is necessary.
And with the huge changes that are taking place in terms of information and technology and know how, it shouldn't be too hard to convince people that such a new approach is possible.
This is exciting for the centre right because it is all about people power, not big government.
And it also shows us how we can increase our wealth and wellbeing without spending more money.
Today, I want to take this opportunity to correct what I think is a fundamental misunderstanding about the post-bureaucratic age...
...and explain how this agenda can help us achieve the wider Conservative vision for our society.
As with any new idea, I think there has been some misunderstanding about what exactly the post-bureaucratic age means.
There are some who think it is just about technology - about using the internet to cut down on government paperwork.
I've heard people say that all we're talking about is bringing in the first-ever "Google government".
Well, they're wrong.
Of course technology plays a big part in our plans.
It allows us to make big change in the relationship between government and citizens, giving power to people on an unprecedented scale.
So we're going to publish all government spending over £25,000 online so that people can scrutinise where their money is spent.
We'll publish every Government contract worth over £25,000 in full - every clause, every performance measure, every penalty trigger - so people can not only search for waste...
...but small businesses, charities and social enterprises can compete to provide government services.
We'll introduce a Public Reading Stage for Bills going through Parliament so people can go online and help shape the laws we live by.
And we'll make sure that government data currently locked away in vaults...
...data on crime, education, health...
...is published in an open and standardised format.
That way people will have the power to use it as they wish, to make government more accountable, to make sure we spend money more efficiently and to drive up the quality and responsiveness of public services like schools, the NHS and the police.
But to think the post-bureaucratic age is just about the internet is like thinking the industrial age was just about the steam engine.
It wasn't - the steam engine was just one of the discoveries that enabled a cultural change to sweep the nation.
It's the same with the post-bureaucratic age.
The internet is just the technological dimension of the social and cultural change that is promised by the post-bureaucratic age.
You can see the nature of the change we want in the phrase itself...
...literally going from a bureaucratic world, where the old methods like regulation, laws and diktats allow elites in Westminster to control other people's lives...
...to a post-bureaucratic world, where instead of government telling people what to do or forcing them to do it...
...people themselves have far more power and control over their lives...
...and where we achieve change by trying to influence people by going with the grain of human nature.
So it's about giving power to people.
And it's about showing an understanding of people, in how we make policy and design government and public services.
So the post-bureaucratic age is just as much about behavioural economics as data transparency, about social pressure as internet protocols, about communities meeting in a neighbour's front room as in an online chat room.
It's about understanding that you can make doing the right thing more appealing through incentives like money.
You can make it even easier for people to do the right thing by removing obstacles or hassles from their path.
And you can apply gentle social pressure by making it clear to people that others - their friends and neighbours - are already doing the right thing.
This simple understanding of what makes people tick - distilled into the right policies - is going to have a massive impact on what government does and how it does it...
...enabling us to achieve so many more of the economic, social and environmental goals at much less cost.
In a nutshell, it will enable us to make things better without spending more money...
...to improve well-being while helping our economy to grow.
So here are a few examples oh we are going to bring this thinking to some of the big problems we face.
I'm not going to choose the obvious ones - school choice, bidding for Government contracts...
...Instead I'm going to choose ones where the state would seem always to have a bigger role.
So, first, there's the energy we consume.
We know the issues - cost, climate change, energy security.
How can the ideas behind the post-bureaucratic age help us to deal with these problems?
First, we can make it more appealing for people to generate their own energy by introducing financial incentives.
So we will introduce a system of feed-in tariffs that pay people for the excess energy they generate.
Just look at Germany, which is leading the world in microgeneration, to see the kind of positive impact this will have.
Next, we can take away some of the hassle involved in doing the right thing.
So we'll give every home a smart meter so people can calculate how much energy they are generating and how much they are selling back to the National Grid.
Then, we need to apply gentle social pressure on people to bring down their energy use.
So just as they're doing in California, we will make each energy bill come with an illustration of how much energy people's neighbours are using in comparison to their own usage...
...inspiring them to consume less in competition.
Here's another example: planning.
We have a real problem with the planning process in our country.
Whether it's building new housing developments or giving the green light to new business parks or leisure facilities, the whole process can be divisive and frustrating...
...with developers, residents, councils and all interested parties fighting it out and things either never getting built or causing massive resentment when they do.
But imagine if we put local people in real control over the look, shape, feel and character of the community.
Imagine if we let them decide how many houses they want build or whether they want a new park or playground.
And imagine if we made all this collaboration possible by removing the obstacles to community engagement and giving local people a real incentive to get involved.
In the post-bureaucratic age, that's what the planning system should look like - and that's the planning system we're going to create. We're launching this, online, today.
We're going to replace the entire planning system with a new system of Local Plans.
We'll remove the hassles of people getting involved with the planning process by making sure every household is invited to a neighbourhood meeting.
Here, they can discuss with their neighbours how they would like to see their neighbourhood feel in the future.
Each neighbourhood plan will then be submitted to the local council, which will combine them to form an overall Local Plan.
Once the Local Plan is agreed, lengthy negotiation with the council will be a thing of the past.
If it's in the Local Plan, you can build it
And to give an extra incentive, neighbourhoods will get cash payments for new development, and the right to decide how this money is spent.
Our Local Plans represent one of the biggest shifts in power for decades.
It's genuinely one of the most radical and transformative policies that a Conservative government - or any government - can introduce.
Suddenly, you can see how a system that was controlled by a few can be run by the many.
You can see how it's possible to get neighbourhoods to come together to solve problems together.
So this won't just help to improve our broken planning system - it'll help to build stronger communities and help to mend our broken society too.
Today, one of the most innovative councils in the country, Conservative-controlled Windsor and Maidenhead is piloting how we could extend this sort of co-operative action further through participatory budgets...
...with local people deciding exactly on what projects council money should be spent on.
I'm pleased that you'll be hearing from them later.
But the lesson of the post-bureaucratic age is clear:
We shouldn't always think that the answer to every problem is some detailed policy or bureaucratic scheme.
We should instead search for new and creative ways to achieve social change.
And here's a third example of how are doing that - in extending ownership.
Conservatives instinctively believe in creating an ownership society.
We want people to have the security and independence that comes from having a real a stake in this country's future.
We believe when people own assets that are theirs alone, they have more power and control over their lives, are less dependent on the state, are more responsible and feel happier.
Yet today, ownership really is the privilege of the few - not the right of the many.
The bottom fifty percent of households own under ten percent of the total wealth in our country.
I don't believe turning this round means putting our entire faith in the free market - we have seen how a lack of starting capital locks millions of people out from the opportunity of owning something that is theirs.
But neither do I think ownership is something you can impose from on high.
We need to enable more ownership, for instance, offering local people who see a derelict building or a local service to think 'we can take that over and we can turn into something really special'.
So a thread that runs through so many of our plans is to create that sense of possibility by making ownership easier.
In some cases, this means helping individuals.
We are currently looking at ways to give everyone, especially the young and those on modest incomes, the chance to buy shares in the state owned banks at a discounted price.
Just as the 'Tell Sid' campaign of the 1980s attracted more than two million first time shareholders in the newly privatised British Gas...
...we want to create a new generation of shareholders in the 21st century.
One option is to make it more attractive to buy bank shares through savings vehicles like ISAs.
That way, we will not only give people a real stake in our economy.
By introducing them to the benefits of tax efficient saving for the first time, we will also be able to start creating a savings society.
But more often than not, we know it's far easier for people to club together than work alone - so we also want to encourage collective ownership.
Co-operatives are brilliant ways in which people can come together on a voluntary basis and run their own business...
...providing anything from food, banking or insurance at affordable prices to their local community.
So in 2007, we set up the Conservative Co-operative Movement, to help activists set up their own co-ops.
Last year, we announced our Community Right to Buy.
This policy will turn upside down the relationship between communities and the market or the state.
Whenever a publicly or commercially-owned community building or amenity faces closure...
...from libraries to parks, post offices or pubs...
...local people will get the first option to buy it, protect it, run it, own it and keep it open.
As long as they can raise the money and can show they'll be able to run it efficiently and effectively.
And as long as they are not-for-profit, with extra money re-invested in the asset - it's theirs.
Imagine the change this will bring.
Today, all people can do is rage when a far-off bureaucrat decided to close a well-loved library because it wasn't making enough money.
And when a local pub closes, and a developer wants to turn that building into a block of flats for executives, the community is powerless to do anything about it.
In the post-bureaucratic age, the future of that library and that local pub will be in the people's hands.
This is a control shift on a deep and profound level - and it has the potential to bring about a lasting change in the models of ownership and power in our communities.
And just last week, we announced plans to give every public sector worker the chance to set up employee-owned co-operatives.
This means that everyone working in a Job Centre, in the NHS, in social work - whatever - will have the chance to take over the service they provide, become their own boss and be free to offer the public a better service.
So instead of government controlling every aspect of public services in our country and our professionals feeling like some drones in a giant machine being told what to do and how to do it...
...we will say: "here's your budget, take ownership of the service, and if you deliver it better and more cheaply, you can keep some of the savings".
This is as radical for our public sector workers as the right to buy your council house for our families.
And it's a vital way of increasing ownership in the post-bureaucratic age.
When you look at new solutions such as these to age-old problems like how we keep the lights on, how we improve neighbourhoods and how we increase ownership...
...you realise how exciting the possibilities of the post-bureaucratic age are.
It has the potential to tackle some of the appalling power asymmetries that abide today.
It has the potential to make this country a better place to live for everyone - and
And it is about so much more than using technology.
It's about using every non-bureaucratic method at our disposal to galvanise, encourage and influence people to do the right thing.
It's nothing less than a national call-to-arms - stimulating enterprise, initiative and personal responsibility.
That's why for me it's the social - rather than the technological - dimension of the post-bureaucratic age that is so exciting.
It goes hand in hand with our vision of creating the big society...
...a place where the dull, stultifying presence of state control is replaced by the liberating and invigorating feeling of social responsibility...
...a place where people have power over their lives, are charged with their own destiny and feel that they can and want to make a difference...
...a place where we recognise that we're all in this together.
So whether it's communities generating their own energy, designing their own neighbourhoods or taking over and running local parks...
...parents setting up new schools or public servants having a stake in the organisation they work in, this is what our policies are all about.
We want to build a society where people come together and work together to solve their problems - and where the government plays an active role in supporting and catalysing that type of social responsibility.
The post-bureaucratic age gives us a historic chance to shift the way we organise our whole affairs...
...from central power to people power...
...from state control to social responsibility...
...from big government to big society...
...and that is why I am so impatient to get on with it.