The Week, 14 October 2016

14 October 2016

This week the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, Rt Hon Ben Gummer MP, held a speech for Reform where he championed a “considered and deliberative approach to transformation” of public services through digitisation. He argued that it will increase competition and allow for a better relationship between citizens and the state. The potential of the digital marketplace to disrupt the delivery of public services was also highlighted in Reform’s report Cloud 9: the future of public procurement, published earlier this year.

Emilie Sundorph, Researcher

Reformers of the week

David Mowat MP, Minister for Community and Health Care, who on Friday announced a pilot scheme where patients who call 111 for prescriptions will be referred directly to pharmacists.

The Care Quality Commission, who on Thursday called for greater collaboration between the health and social care system, after a report found that the defining feature of outstanding services was their ability to work with others.

Reactionaries of the week

State school teachers, 43 per cent of who rarely or never encourage gifted pupils to apply to Oxbridge, according to a Sutton Trust survey. About a third quoted poor chances or that students would not “be happy there” as the reason for not doing so.

Good week for…

Integrated services

On Tuesday, the Cabinet Office announced an expansion of the One Public Estate programme which supports property-led, collaborative projects in local areas to improve the quality and productivity of public services.

Rural living

On Thursday, a report showed that despite more wealth concentrated in UK cities, rural areas deliver comparatively higher quality of living.

General practice at scale

Also on Thursday, the Care Quality Commission found that GPs with larger list sizes, on average score higher in their quality ratings.

Bad week for…

Children in need of help or protection

On Wednesday, the National Audit Office found that the Department for Education has failed to improve child protection services, after recognising the need to do so in 2010, and has no understanding of why spending varies widely across the country.

Safety for minorities

On Thursday, the Home Office released statistics showing that hate crimes in July 2016 were up by 41 per cent compared to July 2015.

Young breadwinners

On Tuesday, the ONS published data showing that the incomes of households with breadwinners in their 20s have grown slower than any other age group and were hit most significantly by the economic downturn.

Quotes of the week

“One lesson that came out at me after five years [of chairing the Public Accounts Committee] was that the enormity of the waste is gobsmacking. There are so many problems that we need to tackle: the failure to learn from mistakes, the siloed working in government, the lack of appropriate skills at the civil service level, the weakness of the centre, the lack of accountability.

All these things are systemic failures that we completely fail to grapple with because nobody sees reforming processes or reforming systems as being the sexy side of politics, either within the civil service or within politics. It’s not just the civil service’s fault, it’s politicians’ fault too.”

Rt Hon Dame Margaret Hodge MP, speaking to Civil Service World on Thursday.

“While the Department is not solely responsible for improving the widespread failings of the system it is the only body that can oversee and push systemic change. However, even taking into account the challenge of reforming services delivered through local authorities, and the time needed to achieve systemic improvements, so far the outcomes have been disappointing. To achieve its new goal of improving the quality of all services by 2020 the Department will need to step forward and show a sense of urgency and determination in delivering on their responsibilities.”

The National Audit Office, on the Department for Education’s efforts to improve child protection services.

Reform's week

On, Thursday, Reform held an event in partnership with Accenture where the Rt Hon Ben Gummer MP gave a speech about the future of public services. On Friday, Public Finance published an article about the speech.

Also on Thursday, William Mosseri-Marlio, Senior Researcher at Reform, wrote an article for City AM arguing that higher taxes or more debt are the only alternatives to reforming the State Pension.

On Friday, Andrew Haldenby, Director at Reform, argued that NHS car parking charges were a “necessary evil”, to preserve spaces for patients on BBC Two's Victoria Derbyshire programme and Radio 2's Jeremy Vine programme.

The Reformer blog

On Monday, Kate Laycock, Researcher at Reform, wrote a blog where she argues that training more doctors than we need could tackle the monopolisation that doctors have over employment.

On Tuesday, Professor Robert Harris, General Partner of Lakeside Healthcare, wrote the first blog in the monthly Views from the Frontline series, where he argues that greater control needs to be given from the centre to primary care to give it the freedom to excel.

On Tuesday, Alexander Hitchcock, Researcher at Reform, wrote a blog arguing that the DWP’s approach to procuring the new Work and Health Programme is limiting competition in the market.

On Wednesday, Ben Dobson, Researcher at Reform, wrote the first in a series of blogs on the gig economy (people sharing services on collaborative platforms). It examined growth trends and the opportunities and challenges it presents for policy makers.

Upcoming events

On Tuesday, Reform will hold a private roundtable in partnership with Home Group about delivering NHS England’s mental health strategy. The event will be led by Professor Tim Kendall, National Clinical Director, Mental Health at NHS England.

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