The Week, 16 September 2016

16 September 2016

In Parliament on Wednesday, Diane Abbott MP said that any change in NHS services would, in effect, be a “cut” and so should be opposed. It is difficult to see how the NHS could ever improve on that basis. Ministers would, however, do well to explain to the public the scale of the change that the NHS is currently considering and will shortly put out to consultation.

Andrew Haldenby, Director

Reformer of the week

Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP, who argued for “a good school for every child”, rather than more selective schools, at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

Reactionary of the week

Diane Abbott MP leading an Opposition Day Debate on the NHS on Wednesday.

Good week for …


On Wednesday, the ONS reported that the number of public sector jobs in March had fallen to 5.332 million, the lowest since the series began in 1999. Of all people in work, 16.8 per cent were employed in the public sector. This is also the lowest figure since 1999.

Social selection

On Thursday, Andreas Schleicher, director of education at the OECD, said that most admission tests for grammar schools were not good at identifying able children. He added that their role in raising standards had been “dramatically overplayed”, especially in European countries with selective school systems such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Mixed opinion

On Friday, in a YouGov poll, 34 per cent of voters supported the expansion of selective education; 20 per cent supported the status quo, and 25 per cent argued that all grammar schools should be closed.

Bad week for …

Tax competition

On Saturday, the Chancellor, Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, said that he would not implement his predecessor’s planned cut in the rate of corporation tax from the current rate of 20 per cent to below 15 per cent.


On Monday, the Public Accounts Committee reported that the timetable for delivering HS2 was unrealistic.

Information security

On Wednesday, the National Audit Office reported that central government does not routinely measure government efforts to provide cyber security and has “little visibility” of information risks in each department.

Quotes of the Week

“The plans offer the NHS a unique opportunity to think strategically. For the first time, the NHS is planning across multiple organisations – both commissioners and providers – with local authorities to address the whole health needs of an area and the people it serves. Also for the first time, the NHS is producing multi-year plans showing clearly how local services will develop over the next five years to deliver real improvements in patient care and better efficiency to ensure that the NHS continues to be able to cope with rising demand from our ageing population. That is leading some STPs [Sustainability and Transformation Plans] to face up to tough choices about the future of some services. Such choices have often been postponed again and again because they were too hard or relied on individual organisations operating on their own to shoulder the responsibility rather than it being shared across the geography or the whole healthcare economy.”

Philip Dunne MP, Minister of State for Health, responding to Diane Abbott MP

“Schools are very, very good in selecting students by their social background but they’re not very good in selecting students by their academic potential. And the earlier you select, the worse that relationship is. Academic selection ultimately becomes social selection.”

Andreas Schleicher, director of education at the OECD, speaking on Thursday

“I’m not against new grammar schools opening up where areas want them, but I think the real focus of education reform remains the academy programme, transforming the comprehensive schools that most people in this country send their children to.”

Rt Hon George Osborne MP, speaking on Today on Friday

Reform‘s week

On Monday, Amy Finch, Research Manager and Head of Education at Reform, was mentioned in an article by the Huffington Post about the impact of grammar schools and selection on social mobility.

On Tuesday, Andrew Haldenby gave evidence to the House of Lords Long-Term Sustainability of the NHS Commission. Andrew argued that there were great opportunities for productivity improvements in the NHS. He also said that while some people supported major spending increases on the NHS, these would be difficult to achieve given the state of the public finances and the potential impact on other public services.

On Tuesday, Reform held a private policy dinner in partnership with Simplyhealth, led by Simon Stevens, Chief Executive Officer at NHS England, to discuss the role employers can play in achieving better workplace health.

The Reformer blog

On Thursday, Alexander Hitchcock, Researcher at Reform, wrote a fourth blog in the series about Blockchain explaining that the Government needs to quell people’s fears over the safety of their data to ensure the success of the new software.

On Friday, Emilie Sundorph, Researcher at Reform, wrote the first blog in the series Tackling Disadvantage, focusing on university performance.

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