The Week, 1 December 2017

1 December 2017

This week, the Social Mobility Commission published its fifth ‘State of the nation’ report, highlighting that the worst places for social mobility tend to be remote rural, coastal, and former industrial areas, but that many of the most affluent places struggle too. Meanwhile, the publication of the Government’s industrial strategy offers some ambition to tackle the regional differences in educational attainment and growth across the country.

Emilie Sundorph, Researcher

Reformer of the week…

Lord Holmes of Richmond, for highlighting the transformational potential of distributed ledger technology for public services. His report coincided with the publication of Reform’s The future of public service identity: blockchain, arguing that blockchain technology can radically improve the public identity management model.

Good week for…

Inner city areas

On Tuesday, the Social Mobility Commission’s report highlighted that inner city areas have moved from being some of the worst for social mobility, to now largely topping the list of ‘hotspots’.

Digital rail

On Wednesday, the Government published its rail strategy committing to deploy more digital solutions to manage the railway, as well as improving Wi-Fi onboard trains.

Reviewing the prescriptions model

On Thursday, NHS England announced that the list of treatments currently offered on prescription has been reviewed and reduced, to exclude those deemed unsafe or ineffective, to save up to £200 million a year.

Bad week for…

The future of general practice

On Tuesday, a report found that denigration of the GP profession is rife in medical training, and is putting off medical students from pursuing it as a career. Reform addressed this issue in a report published earlier this year.

Digital government

On Wednesday, a report concluded that the UK is falling behind on ‘e-government’ compared to European neighbours, and that its potential is “unexploited”.

Strategic savings

On Thursday, the inspectorate of police and fire & rescue services found that while savings have been made in police aviation, this was mainly through cutting the service provided to forces rather than evaluating and improving structures.

Quotes of the week

“Over recent years it has become increasingly obvious that ours is a country where all too often demography still defines destiny … Being born poor all too often condemns a child to a lifetime of poverty. Poor schools ease people into poor jobs. Disadvantage and advantage cascade down the generations. Over decades we have become a wealthier society but we have struggled to become a fairer one.”

Rt Hon Alan Milburn, Chair of the Social Mobility Commission, at an event marking the 75th anniversary of the Beveridge report on Wednesday.

“The industrial strategy is full of attractive thoughts about research and development, infrastructure, productivity schemes and innovation funds. There is hardly a sentence that is allowed to pass without the use of the word “digital”. The British economy has been, for two decades now, creating too many low-skill, low-pay jobs. If the industrial strategy could begin the process of changing the shape of the economy it would be the best social mobility one could imagine.”

Philip Collins, in The Times on Thursday.

“And the real tragedy here is all those people who could have been that engineer, that doctor, that computer programmer…who, perhaps, could have been another James Dyson or Tim Berners-Lee. They’re not – not because they didn’t have that potential – they absolutely did, but because we didn’t have a country that connected them up with that opportunity.”

Rt Hon Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education, on Thursday.

Reform’s Week

Publications

On Monday, Reform launched The future of public service identity: blockchain, which demonstrates how blockchain technology could be used to deliver a better identity management system. The report was covered by Civil Service World, Public Technology and City AM, among others.

Media

On Wednesday, Maisie Borrows, Researcher at Reform, wrote an article for GLINT, arguing that blockchain could create a more efficient and secure public service identity management system.

Reformer Blog

On Monday, Luke Heselwood, Research Assistant at Reform, wrote an interactive blog on how blockchain technology can allow the control of identity data to move from government to the citizen, securely and efficiently.

Also on Monday, Tory Thorpe, Technology Consultant at Accenture, argued that distributed ledger technologies would help to make government fit for the digital age.

On Tuesday, Simon Taylor, Co-Founder and Blockchain Lead at 11:FS, stated that government should work with leading advocates of ICOs and cryptocurrencies to create a guide for best practice.

On Wednesday, Genevieve Leveille, Senior Analyst ID and Blockchain Solutions at Decentralized ID, wrote that as we move to a digital world, it is imperative for governments to explore digital identities to grant both rights and privacy to their citizens.

On Thursday, Lord Holmes argued that it is essential that the Government engages with the innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including blockchain.

Events

On Monday, Reform held a roundtable to launch the blockchain report, led by Lord Holmes, in partnership with Accenture.

On Wednesday, Reform, in partnership with DXC Technology, hosted the Rt Hon David Gauke MP, who led a discussion on the potential of big data to improve the tax and welfare systems.

On Thursday, Reform held a roundtable in partnership with Age UK, led by Guy Opperman MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, exploring how to get the most out of the single financial guidance body.

In the new year, Reform will be hosting several events looking at artificial intelligence in healthcare, opportunities for the UK digital economy and how to build a sustainable tax base, among others. For more details, please click here.

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