Britain needs to clear out the "bureaucratic rubbish" obstructing enterprise because the nation is mired "in the economic equivalent of war", David Cameron will say on Monday.
In a hard-hitting speech that seems to reflect his frustration over the economy's lacklustre performance, the prime minister will lash out at the legal system, saying that judicial review will in future be restricted because "time-wasting" in the courts has held up major infrastructure projects.
But his critique, in a speech to the CBI, will range much wider, taking in a large chunk of the decision-making apparatus of the modern British state.
"Government can still be far too slow at getting stuff done," he will say. "Consultations, impact assessments, audits, reviews, stakeholder management, securing professional buy-in, complying with EU procurement rules, assessing sector feedback – this is not how we became one of the most powerful, prosperous nations on earth. It's not how you get things done. So I am determined to change this."
Cameron will stress that he is not blaming all civil servants and he will say that some of the officials he has worked with are "as creative and enterprising as any entrepreneur".
But he will insist that Whitehall has a whole has become too sluggish. "[The best civil servants] are as frustrated with a lot of this bureaucratic rubbish as I am," he will say. "Whitehall has become too risk-averse; too willing to say 'no' instead of 'yes'.
"There are understandable reasons for that. When you have lobby groups lined up to criticise every action you take; parliamentary select committees ready to jump on every bump in the road; then the rational choice is to be cautious – even over-cautious. But for the sake of our country's progress we have got to cut through this."
Cameron will say he wants every department to be a growth department and that allowing pro-business decisions to be delayed could lead to "businesses going bust, jobs being lost, livelihoods being destroyed".
At one point in the speech he will even invoke the spirit of Churchill in his anti-bureaucracy tirade. "When this country was at war in the 40s, Whitehall underwent a revolution," he will say.
"Normal rules were circumvented. Convention was thrown out. As one historian put it, everything was thrown at 'the overriding purpose' of beating Hitler. Well, this country is in the economic equivalent of war today – and we need the same spirit.
"We need to forget about crossing every 't' and dotting every 'i' – and we need to throw everything we've got at winning in this global race."
Cameron believes that judicial review – the process that allows people to challenge a government decision in court – needs to be curbed because the number of judicial review applications has increased by almost 7,000% over the past three decades, from 160 in 1975 to 11,2000. He is particularly concerned about the impact on infrastructure projects.
"We urgently needed to get a grip on this," he will say. "So here's what we're going to do. Reduce the time limit when people can bring cases. Charge more for reviews, so people think twice about time-wasting. And instead of giving hopeless cases up to four bites of the cherry to appeal a decision, we will halve that to two."
Further details will be published in a consultation document published by the Ministry of Justice shortly.
Cameron will tell his audience that decision-making in Whitehall has to become more pro-business because Britain is in a global race to succeed.
"Every day the people in this room are fighting to win contracts in Indonesia, India, Nigeria. Every week you step off aeroplanes in the south and east and feel the pace of change there," he will say.
"You know what the global race means because you're living it. And I'm here today to tell you this government gets it."
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