The Week, 2 December 2016

2 December 2016

Following the decision to review the ‘triple lock’ announced in the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor this week gave a strong indication that the policy would not be pursued beyond 2020. Less wisely, the Shadow Chancellor pledged to protect not only the triple lock but also non-means tested pensioner benefits such as the winter fuel allowance until 2025.

Ben Dobson, Researcher

Reformer of the week

Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, as above.

Reactionary of the week

Rt Hon John McDonnell MP, Shadow Chancellor, as above.

Good week for…

Data-driven welfare

On Wednesday, the National Audit Office published a report on benefit sanctions. It recommends the use of real-time information to better understand the impact of sanctions on employment outcomes.

Primary education

On Thursday, Ofsted’s annual report found that the proportion of good and outstanding primary schools has risen from 69 to 90 per cent over the last five years.

Housing supply

Also on Thursday, the Government announced significant investment in ‘build-to-rent’ housing, marking a shift in focus away from home ownership to driving down private rent prices.

Bad week for…

Prisoner wellbeing

On Monday, it was reported that a record-high 100 prisoners have committed suicide in jails in England and Wales this year.

Ambulance response times

On Wednesday, an investigation revealed that only one of the UK’s 13 ambulance services is currently meeting a response-time target.

Infrastructure investment

On Thursday, the Confederation of British Industry argued that improving education, not infrastructure, is the most effective mechanism for improving productivity outside of London.

Quotes of the week

“…we have a firm commitment by the Opposition to run the triple lock through the lifetime of the next Parliament. I wonder whether the Hon. Lady knows how much money she has just spent, without knowing the fiscal circumstances the country will face.”

Phillip Hammond MP, speaking on Tuesday

“The Conservative election manifesto promised to halve the disability employment gap by 2020. Ministers justified their plan to cut the benefit from next April by promising to recycle some of the savings into improving employment support for benefit claimants. It has now become apparent that funding for employment support is not being increased; it is being cut.”

Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday

“UK governments have been addicted to stealthy tax rises, have introduced crowd-pleasing initiatives to remove interest relief on buy-to-let properties and have been obsessed with creating a large tax-free allowance that a couple would be foolish not to seek to use. These create stark incentives for many to incorporate, if they can. And…many of the examples apply largely to people on high incomes, exactly those who often have greater flexibility in the way they structure their work, can borrow and so do not need to take every penny of their earnings as income every year.”

Chris Giles, writing in the Financial Times on Thursday

Reform’s week

Events

On MondayReform hosted a policy roundtable led by Sam Gyimah MP, Minister for Prisons and Probation, which focused on integration, cooperation and technology in prisons. The roundtable was held in partnership with HPE.

On WednesdayReform convened a policy roundtable led by Gareth Rhys Williams, Government Chief Commercial Officer, Cabinet Office, on Intelligent Government Procurement. The roundtable was held in Partnership with Arvato.

On ThursdayReform held a policy dinner with Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP on the theme of Challenges and Opportunities for Growth after Brexit.

Appearances

On Tuesday, Ben Dobson, Researcher at Reform, spoke at the CAPITA SIMS annual conference on the implications of a single funding formula for multi-academy trusts.

On Thursday, Charlotte Pickles, Deputy Director and Head of Research at Reform, spoke on the future of the police workforce at the Police Foundation’s annual conference.

Also on Thursday, Kate Laycock, Researcher at Reform, spoke at the Dementia Action Alliance annual conference to discuss the improvement of dementia care following the Autumn Statement.

On Friday, Amy Finch, Head of Education and Research Manager at Reform, spoke at the SSAT National Conference to discuss the potential of academy chains in harnessing school innovation.

Media

On Thursday, the Financial Times published an article on the pensions triple lock which referred to Reform’s analysis of the policy’s cost.

The Reformer Blog

On Wednesday, Andrew Haldenby, Director at Reform, argued that the timetable of Brexit is as important to businesses as the eventual deal, and noted that prison reform will require a new commissioning structure.

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