The Week, 20 May 2016

20 May 2016

On Wednesday, the House of Commons debate on the Queen’s Speech saw positive statements of reform from the Prime Minister and unwavering hostility from the Leader of the Opposition.

Over the years Reform has criticised “halfway house” reforms. Politicians change a tiny part of a service and leave the rest alone. The mini-reform is good in itself but makes relatively little overall progress. It has few supporters, attracts opposition and can be vulnerable to abolition. The six “Reform Prisons” may be a good example, housing only 5,000 prisoners out of the total population of nearly 90,000. Like academies, the Government needs to extend the freedoms to all prisons.

Andrew Haldenby, Director

Reformers of the week

Rt Hon David Cameron MP, Prime Minister, who put prison reform at the heart of the Queen’s Speech and made the case for “more for less” (see quotes below).

Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Home Secretary, who made new arguments on police reform in her speech to the Police Federation on Tuesday.

Reactionary of the week

Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Opposition, who rejected “more for less” entirely.

Good week for

Reform Prisons

On Wednesday, the Queen’s Speech announced that six “Reform Prisons” will have greater autonomy including over their budget, “whether to opt-out of national contracts”, prison education, the prison regime, family visits, and partnerships to provide prison work and rehabilitation services.

New technology

Also on Wednesday, the Government announced that eight police forces will pilot satellite tracking, i.e. tags that track offenders’ movements using GPS technology. (Reform research on how to procure tagging here.)

Red ink

On Friday, NHS Improvement reported sharply rising deficits in many NHS hospitals.

Bad week for

The Cabinet Office

On Monday, the Public Accounts Committee said that it “cannot tell” whether the Government is spending more on SMEs, as it has claimed. (Reform‘s new approach to procurement available here.)

Those who wanted the junior doctors’ strike to bring down the Government

On Wednesday, the Government and the BMA concluded an agreement on a new junior doctors’ contract. Doctors will now vote on the agreement.

Coming together

On Friday, the National Audit Office reported that few government departments had decided to join shared service centres.

Quotes of the week

“My government will use the opportunity of a strengthening economy to deliver security for working people, to increase life chances for the most disadvantaged and to strengthen national defences.”

HM The Queen, speaking on Wednesday

“I really think that we need to get away from the idea that we only measure progress in public services by the amount of money that is spent. The whole aim here is to try to do more with less. That is what we have done with so many parts of the public sector.”

Rt Hon David Cameron MP, Prime Minister, speaking on Wednesday

“Still this Government do not seem to understand that cuts have consequences. When they cut adult social care, it has an impact on national health service accident and emergency departments. When they saddle young people with more debt, it impedes their ability to buy a home or start a family. When they fail to build housing and cap housing benefit, homelessness and the number of families in temporary accommodation increase. When they slash local authorities’ budgets, leisure centres, libraries and children’s centres close. When they close fire stations and cut firefighters’ jobs, response times increase and more people are in danger of dying in fires. This austerity is a political choice, not an economic necessity.”

Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Opposition, speaking in the same debate

“I would like to end by saying this, to every police officer in this hall, and to your colleagues in forces across the country. Remember Hillsborough. Let it be a touchstone for everything you do. Never forget that those who died in that disaster or the 27 years of hurt endured by their families and loved ones. Let the hostility, the obfuscation and the attempts to blame the fans serve as a reminder of the need for change. Make sure your institutions, whose job it is to protect the public, never again fail to put the public first. And put professionalism and integrity at the heart of every decision, every interaction, and every dealing with the public you have. Because if you do, you will renew the model of policing by consent in this country, and you will truly be custodians of justice for those who have been denied it for too long.”

Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Home Secretary, speaking to the Police Federation on Tuesday

Reform’s week

On Wednesday, Charlotte Pickles, Deputy Director and Head of Research at Reform, was quoted in the Financial Times, arguing that the prison reforms announced in the Queen’s Speech are a “positive first step, but still very much only a first step” and that the government needs to tackle reoffending and “make a dent in rehabilitation.”

On Thursday, Charlotte was quoted in Civil Service World, referring to Reform‘s report Unlocking prison performance as a framework to improving prison accountability.

The Reformer Blog

On Monday, Nathan Constable, a service police Inspector writing under a pseudonym, wrote a blog for Reform arguing that achieving a more open, learning police culture will require a new approach from the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

On Thursday, Hannah Titley, Researcher at Reform, wrote a blog on the role of apprenticeships in tackling the disability employment gap. She argued that access for older jobseekers and people with a range of disability types will be crucial to achieve the Government’s vision of supporting 1.2 million more disabled people into work.

On Friday, Andrew Haldenby, Director at Reform, laid out the results of the team’s work on Reform’s vision, mission and values. He also presented an improved employment package and better opportunities for staff progression.



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