The Week, 10 June 2016

10 June 2016

This week, Switzerland became the first country in the world to hold (and reject) a nationwide vote on introducing a universal basic income. Such a policy would either require a dramatic increase in the rates of tax or would reallocate resources from the less well off towards the better off in society.

Ben Dobson, Researcher

Reformers of the week

The Swiss people, who on Sunday voted to reject the introduction of a universal basic income.

Reactionary of the week

John McDonnell MP, Shadow Chancellor, who on Monday was quoted saying a universal basic income “is an idea Labour will be closely looking at over the next few years.”


Good week for…


Yorkshire jobs

On Monday, research by NatWest found that Yorkshire and the Humber saw the highest rate of jobs growth in the country last year.

Technology in prisons

On Friday, a government-funded pilot to improve rehabilitation by using technology that will allow inmates easier access to educational courses was announced.


On Friday, it was reported the Department for Work and Pensions is due to approve a deal for the Work and Health programme to be co-commissioned by local authorities in 10 pilot areas.

Bad week for…


Pricey pensions

On Sunday, figures from the recently published government accounts were highlighted indicating the cost to the taxpayer of public sector pensions rose by £190 billion in the 12 months to March last year.

Transparent contracting

On Monday, a recent report from the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee on government contracting was reviewed. Many of the key findings − including the need for greater supplier performance transparency, stronger commercial skills within government and the need to encourage more small- and medium-sized enterprises into the market − were recommended in a Reform report, published in March.


On Thursday, the results of a Higher Education Policy Institute survey indicated only 37 per cent of students feel their university course represents “good value for money”, down from 53 per cent in 2012.

Quotes of the week…


“[John Redwood] concedes the popularity of the founding principle of Nye Bevan’s 1948 service, that it should be free at the point of use. He uses the presence of private contractors at the heart of Bevan’s model − we call them GPs − to mock Labour/SNP scare stories about Tories wanting to ‘privatise the NHS’. He has a valid point there. Handing out more contracts to provide services to private firms is not the same as privatising it. Many BBC programmes are now made by excellent private companies, but it is still the public BBC.
I personally believe the NHS could do with a bit more diversity of provision, a private or voluntary in the mix…”

Michael White, writing in The Guardian on Thursday.

”The failure of GDP to capture the consumers’ side of life – the environmental or health considerations, for example – isn’t new, although where the impact was often negative – with more widgets meaning more pollution for example − now it’s often positive.
But the failure of GDP to measure the economic impact accurately − not even getting the direction of the GDP impact right − is on a completely new scale.”

Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, speaking at the Centre for Policy Studies on Wednesday.

Reform’s week


On Wednesday, Andrew Haldenby, Director at Reform, published a video blog looking ahead to Reform‘s busy event programme in July, which includes appearances from four Cabinet Ministers.

On Friday, Alexander Hitchcock, Researcher at Reform, wrote a blog arguing that a universal basic income is an unaffordable and regressive policy. Policymakers should instead focus on improving the current welfare system.

On Friday, Kate Laycock, Researcher at Reform, wrote a blog arguing that the confused accountability of the NHS needs to be resolved.



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