The Week, 19 February 2016

19 February 2016

This week, David Cameron delivered a major speech on reforming mental health treatment. He announced that “tens of thousands of people” with mental health conditions will be supported to find or return to work as part of major reforms. These aim to fulfil the Government’s commitment to put mental and physical health on an equal footing.

Ed Holmes, Senior Researcher

Reformers of the week

Communities Secretary Greg Clark and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis, who announced plans to allow councils to compete in processing planning applications and offer fast-track application services.

Reactionary of the week

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is reportedly planning to announce a guarantee that all spending reductions found during this Parliament “could be reversed in full”, despite significant efficiencies, savings and innovation being spurred by spending restraint.

Good week for…

Mental health care

On Monday, the Department of Health announced an additional £1 billion will be invested in mental health care by 2021, following the publication of a report by the Mental Health Taskforce. One million additional people are to receive support.

Digital procurement

On Monday, the Cabinet Office claimed that it is delivering on its promise to award more work to small and medium-sized businesses after its Digital Marketplace sales reached £1 billion.

Government coffers

On Tuesday, analysis released ahead of next month’s Budget revealed that the public finances will be better than expected by some £20 billion by 2020 due to lower inflation and interest payments on government debt.

Bad week for…

Deflation

On Tuesday, the Office for National Statistics released its latest inflation data, showing prices rising for the third month in a row to 0.3 per cent in the year to January. Inflation is expected to increase slowly this year as falling oil prices drop out of the equation but remain close to its historically low level.

NHS harmony

On Tuesday, it was reported that one in three NHS providers have rejected financial targets to eliminate their budget deficits in 2016-17, potentially risking suspension of hospital boards and takeover by regulators.

NHS budget transparency

On Tuesday, an anonymous district general hospital financial director explained to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee that they have become concerned that regulators are pressuring providers to “potentially mislead the public and Government departments over their true, underlying financial performance.”

Unemployment

On Wednesday, new figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that UK employment reached a record high of 31.4 million, the highest on record. Unemployment fell to 1.69 million.

Quotes of the week

“By providing this extra £1 billion a year for mental health care we will make sure it gets the attention in the NHS it needs. But I want to go even further and end the status quo that sees more than half of people with mental health conditions unable to find a job—ensuring tens of thousands are able to find or return to work over the next 5 years.”

Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday

“I think that government deserves credit for bringing down waiting times and we must make sure, despite the pressures in the NHS, that we don’t compromise that legacy. But actually, for the promise of equity to be delivered, we also have to have the highest-quality care. So I think if the first decade of this century was the access revolution, I think the second decade needs to be the quality revolution.”

Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt on Monday

“Criminals in custody must be kept occupied with useful activity, whether studying towards educational qualifications or doing worthwhile work. But without support on release, these gains can go to waste.

“One of the biggest failings that we inherited was how we handled the roughly 45,000 offenders who leave prison each year after serving a sentence of less than 12 months. In the past they were released with £46 in their pockets, and left to walk the streets with little or no support. The majority reoffended within weeks. It was indefensible.

“This time last year we changed that with the Transforming Rehabilitation programme. We radically reformed the probation service so when offenders leave prison they are given the best possible support to return to society and start to rebuild their lives; making a contribution rather than going back to criminality.”

The current Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove and his predecessor Chris Grayling in a joint article on Saturday

Reform’s week

On Thursday, Reform published The future of public services: digital justice, supported by Accenture. The report is the first in a series from Reform exploring the transformative role technology will play in the future delivery of public services. It argues that increased use of technology in the judicial system could achieve significant time and cost savings.

Media

William Mosseri-Marlio, Researcher at Reform, wrote op-ed articles for the Guardian, Public Leaders Network, Public Finance and Policing Insight, in which he highlighted the importance of digitisation in achieving a faster and more efficient justice system for all.

The Reformer Blog

On Thursday, William Mosseri-Marlio wrote a blog following the launch of Reform’s latest report in which he highlighted the merits of increased use of technology in the UK courts system.

On Thursday, Katy Bourne, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, wrote a blog about the Video Enabled Justice project, highlighting the importance of using technology to improve the justice system for victims and witnesses.

On Friday, Reform published its latest monthly Director’s vlog by Andrew Haldenby, highlighting the strong engagement in Reform’s work from Government since the turn of the year.

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