The Week, 19 August 2016

19 August 2016

This week, the Government missed a chance to formulate a strong plan to address childhood obesity. It dropped proposals to ban advertisements for junk food, which can reduce obesity rates. With obesity alone costing the NHS up to £10 billion a year, the Government also must work with NHS to encourage the prevention of such conditions—as set out in proposals by Reform this year.

Alexander Hitchcock, Researcher

Reactionary of the week

Owen Smith, for caring more about who provides healthcare than the outcome of treatment.

Good week for…

Reasons to change severance pay for civil servants
On Tuesday, it was revealed that Whitehall spent over £549 million on redundancy payments over the last two years.

Employment

On Wednesday, it was reported that UK unemployment fell by 52,000 to 1.6 million between April and June.

Going to university

On Thursday, record numbers of UK university places were offered following A-level results.

Bad week for…

Prevention in the NHS

On Thursday, the Government presented its plan to address childhood obesity, which was attacked as “watered down” by Sarah Wollaston MP for not taking measures over advertisements and promotions of unhealthy food.

Racking up debt

On Friday, ONS figures revealed that public-sector net borrowing was in surplus by £1 billion in July 2016, and the lowest level since 2008 for the financial year-to-date.

Quotes of the week

“Economic success means securing a sustained recovery for the many — region by region, rich and poor, old and young, homeowners and renters. Yet with growth set to slow, despite the MPC’s monetary stimulus, the challenge of achieving such a recovery may if anything be set to get tougher. Policy action, at source and at speed, is needed if the faultlines are to be closed.”

Andrew Haldane, writing in The Times on Monday.

“Serious governments are self-abnegating. They know that difficult decisions bring immediate infamy and deferred, if any, acclaim. The trick is to trust history to reach the right verdict in the end. Behind Whitlock, Mo Farah, Sir Bradley Wiggins and the embarrassment of riches slung around their necks are some less famous deeds by some less storied people, including the prime minister of an extravagantly hated government more than 20 years ago. If only to incentivise all politicians to take the long view, we should say so.”

Janan Ganesh, writing in the Financial Times on Tuesday.

“We should also acknowledge that industrial strategy is about much more than funnelling money to favoured industries or technologies. A proper diagnostic exercise might find the best policies to involve removing subsidies that make it harder for new technologies to compete in the market (such as still-high subsidies for fossil fuels that tilt the market against green energy), or non-financial policies such as regulatory and urban planning.”

Martin Sandbu, writing in the Financial Times on Tuesday.

Reform’s week

On Tuesday, Andrew Haldenby, Reform’s Director, wrote an article for The Times in which he argued that the NHS would not survive without the involvement of the private sector.

On Tuesday, The Guardian quoted a speech by George Freeman MP made to Reform on the need for the private sector and NHS to work in partnership.

The Reformer Blog

On Tuesday, Nigel Fraser, Chairman of Taurus Healthcare, wrote a blog in which he explains how GP federations can drive change in primary care to achieve better outcomes for patients.

On Wednesday, Charlotte Pickles, Deputy Director and Head of Research at Reform, wrote an open letter responding to a blog post by the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Debbie Abrahams MP, on Reform’s series of reports on Employment and Support Allowance.

On Thursday, Alexander Hitchcock wrote a blog setting out the potential for blockchain to reduced bureaucracy in the civil service.

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