Citizen's Charter

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The Citizen's Charter was a British political initiative launched by the then Prime Minister, John Major, on 22 July 1991, less than a year into his premiership.[1][2]


It aimed to improve public services in the UK by:[2]

  • Making administration accountable and citizen friendly.
  • Ensuring transparency and the right to information.
  • Taking measures to cleanse and motivate civil service.
  • Adopting a stakeholder approach.
  • Saving time of both executant and the clientele.
  • Easily under stability and quantified works.

All services would have to publish clear targets for levels of service. Dozens did so, from hospitals to prison services, local government offices to fire services. [2]

NHS patients would have guaranteed time limits for all consultations.[3]

One part of the initiative was the granting of "Charter Marks" to those public bodies meeting defined standards. They ended on 30 June 2011.[4]

Examples of the charters[edit]

Examples were:

  1. Parents' charter (school).[5]
  2. Tenants' Charter (tenants).[5]
  3. The [road] Cones Hotline.[3]



The initiative was widely criticized for claiming to improve public services while reducing money available for them, and for introducing private methods of management in the public sector. It was also claimed that the result was a "box-ticking mentality" concentrating on the measurable, rather than on the individual users of services. It was wound down and replaced in 2010 by the Big Society in 2010.

The much-derided and abused [road] Cones Hotline[3] was soon shut down.

All new applications for Charter Marks were officially closed on 30 June 2008. The scheme was terminated in 2010, with the officially declared final validity date being 30 June 2011.[4]

Opposition opinion[edit]

The Labour Party wanted to introduce a freedom of information act.[3]

The Liberal Democrats wanted constitutional reform.[3]



  1. ^ For details about John Major, see the official Number 10 Downing Street Archived October 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine web site.
  2. ^ a b c Academic paper on the citizen's charter
  3. ^ a b c d e "1991: Citizen's charter promises better services". 22 July 1991 – via
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ a b Commons, The Committee Office, House of. "House of Commons - Public Administration - Twelfth Report".