The Week, 10 February 2017

10 February 2017

This week The Rt Hon Ben Gummer MP, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, launched the Government Transformation Strategy at the Reform Annual Conference. It aims to make government and public services more responsive and accountable, based on his concern that some citizens don’t currently feel like they are getting good service.

Louis Coiffait, Head of Education

Reformer of the week

Ben Gummer MP, who shared ambitious plans that included getting 25 million people online through the identity verification system by 2020, to help close the gap between “those who govern and those whom we seek to serve” — and so achieve better outcomes at lower costs.

Reactionary of the week

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the outgoing Metropolitan Police Commissioner who said that we need ‘cops, not laptops’, although after reading the Reform public-sector workforce report, he would know that citizens need both.

Good week for…

Diversity

On Monday Andy Briggs, the Government’s business champion for older workers, called for firms to hire one million more people aged over fifty. On Wednesday, a survey by headhunter Egon Zehnder highlighted the need for more women on boards, and the City of London Corporation pledged support to the Social Mobility Index.

Data-driven defence decisions

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Defence launched a £6 million fund for SMEs to help it develop new data analytics capabilities.

The green belt

After the Government published its housing white paper on Monday, the House of Commons Library published a useful summary of the proposals on Wednesday, which feature no changes to existing green belt protections.

Bad week for…

Patients and taxpayers

On Monday, the BBC further fuelled the ‘Winter Crisis’ issue with data showing unsafe numbers of hospital patients at nine out of ten NHS trusts, and on Wednesday the National Audit Office (NAO) warned that The Better Care Fund, which aims to integrate health and social care (without changing commissioning), has not achieved expected value for money.

Digital innovation in the public sector

Also on Monday, an O2 Business Barometer survey of public sector senior leaders, listed data privacy and security, and a lack of digital skills, as the biggest barriers to making the most of digital and mobile technologies.

Grammar school opponents

On Wednesday, the Grammar School Heads’ Association revealed proposals discussed with senior figures at the Department for Education and Number 10, including a national 11+ test and opening new selective schools by 2020.

Quotes of The Week

“In our experience, protection and direct income support constrain competitiveness over time and inhibit innovation and productivity. As a farmer myself, I found that being freed from bureaucratic constraints and government dictates was a powerful incentive to be better at what I do. Change brings opportunities. Grab them if you want to shape your own future”

Lockwood Smith, High Commissioner of New Zealand to the UK, in the FT (£), on Wednesday

“Creating an integrated workforce is inhibited in many local areas by difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff, particularly in community care. In our fieldwork we found a lack of understanding at the local level about whether and how patient data could be linked.”

The National Audit Office, Health and social care integration, on Wednesday

“We have a very good plan, it has the support of the NHS, it will take time to deliver … We know that a number of the people who are seen in A&Es could actually have their needs dealt with in another part of the NHS … If we are going to have a solution, it needs to be a long term, sustainable solution, and not a quick fix.”

The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health, speaking to the BBC on Friday

Reform’s week

Events

On Tuesday, Reform hosted a speech on fire service reform by the Rt Hon Brandon Lewis MP, Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service.

On Thursday, Reform held its 2017 Annual conference, with speakers including Rt Hon Ben Gummer MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General and Bernard Jenkin MP, Chair, Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

Media

On Monday, Reform’s launch of Work in Progress: Towards a leaner, smarter public-sector workforce, a report on modernising the public sector workforce, covered by over 25 news outlets, including:

  • The Guardian, where Eleonora Harwich, Researcher at Reform, called for a clear strategy and open debate about the opportunities and challenges offered by artificial intelligence in the public sector.
  • Prospect where Emilie Sundorph, Researcher at Reform, underlined that agility “must become the standard for the public sector workforce”.
  • The Telegraph where Andrew Haldenby, Director at Reform, argued that automation in the public sector is a “good thing”
  • Policing Insight where Emilie Sundorph and Alexander Hitchcock, Senior Researcher at Reform, argued for a “new mentality of openness, innovation and diversity” in the policing service.
  • TES (£), where Emilie Sundorph argued that alternatives to the Teach First programme, such as teacher apprenticeship pathways, could deliver better value for money in education.

Also on Tuesday, Kate Laycock, Researcher at Reform, wrote a piece for the Health Service Journal (HSJ) arguing that flattening NHS hierarchy and introducing staff self management would help lessen mistakes in the NHS.

On Thursday, Charlotte Pickles, Deputy Director and Head of Research at Reform, contributed to a BBC Newsnight discussion on the legacy of outgoing Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.

The Reformer blog

On Monday, Emilie Sundorph, introduced the findings of Work in progress in an interactive blog, arguing for automation in the public sector as a means of improving efficiency.

Also on Monday, Paul Bate, Director of NHS Services at Babylon Health, argued that the use of mobile health applications will vastly improve efficiency across the health sector.

On Wednesday, David Spencer, Chief Executive of Police Now, argued in the Views from the frontline series that the focus of policing should be on prevention, rather than reaction to crime.

On Friday, Brandon Lewis MP, stated that reform in the fire service will focus on security, professional standards, more diversity in the workforce and transparency.

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