The Week, 21 October 2016

21 October 2016

This week, the Coalition Government’s flagship Troubled Families programme made headlines for having “wasted” £1.3 billion of taxpayer’s money. Evaluation data appears to show that the programme had no meaningful impact on reducing crime, benefit dependency or school absence. At Wednesday’s Public Accounts Committee hearing on the programme, issues with planning, data quality and the evaluation itself were highlighted. The evaluation also found that it is “questionable whether deep and sustained improvements were achieved to partnership working at a local level.” Integrated service delivery should be mainstream practice when working with people experiencing multiple needs.

Charlotte Pickles, Deputy Director and Head of Research

Reformer of the week

David Mowat MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, who on Thursday announced reductions in community pharmacy funding of 4 per cent in 2016-17 and 3.4 per cent in 2017-18 in order to “more efficiently to spend precious NHS resources”.  Investment is simultaneously being made in integrating pharmacists into general practices.

Good week for…

Employment

On Wednesday, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published the latest Labour Market Statistics, for the period June to August 2016, showing 106,000 more people in work than the preceding quarter. The employment rate was 74.5 per cent, the joint highest since comparable records began.

Better understanding modern crime

On Thursday, the ONS published crime statistics for the year ending June 2016. This included experimental statistics on “computer misuse” (based on questions introduced to the Crime Survey for England and Wales in October 2015) and showed there were 2 million offences over the 12-month period.

“Architect” leaders

On Thursday, the Harvard Business Review published analysis of the impact of 411 academy leaders, identifying five leadership types. The only leaders to have long-term impact were Architects, who “quietly redesign the school and transform the community it serves”.

Bad week for…

Taking tough decisions

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister announced she would further delay the decision on airport capacity. The Rt Hon Theresa May MP is now expected to announce the Government’s airport preference later this month, but has said that there will not be a parliamentary vote on the decision for a year. In her speech to the Conservative Party conference she said her government would “take big, sometimes even controversial, decisions about our country’s infrastructure”.

Troubled families

On Tuesday, The Times reported that the Coalition Government’s flagship Troubled Families programme has failed to ‘turn around’ participating families as previously claimed. The official evaluation shows negligible impact on employment, crime and school attendance outcomes. The evaluation does, however, cite “major limitations imposed by data quality” meaning that the results “cannot be taken as conclusive evidence that the programme had no impact at all.”

Public finances

On Friday, new public sector finance data was released, showing slower growth in tax receipts than expected. The Chancellor responded saying: “We remain committed to fiscal discipline and will return the budget to balance over a sensible period of time, in a way that allows us the space to support the economy as needed”.

Quotes of the week

“Let me be clear at the outset. The Government fully appreciate the value of the community pharmacy sector. There are now more than 11,500 pharmacies, an increase of over 18% in the past decade. Indeed, the overall pharmacy spend has increased by 40% over the past decade and now stands at £2.8 billion per annum. However, we do not believe that the current funding system does enough to promote either efficiency or quality; nor does it promote the integration with the rest of the NHS that we, and pharmacists themselves, would like to see.

… This is an inefficient allocation of NHS funds when 40% of pharmacies are now in clusters of three or more, which means that two fifths are within 10 minutes’ walk of two or more other pharmacies. There are instances of clusters of up to 15 pharmacies within a 10-minute walk of each other.”

David Mowat MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, announcing changes to community pharmacies on Thursday

“The reality is, it’s the system which is broken. The health and social care act put the wrong financial drivers in the system, and drove everyone into A&E, as opposed seeing treatment back in the community. And therefore, the machine will keep gobbling up money. So it isn’t about money, it is about making sure the money goes to the right place.”

Rachael Maskell MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, speaking on the Daily Politics on Wednesday

Reform‘s week

On Tuesday, Reform held a private policy roundtable with Professor Tim Kendall, National Clinical Director of Mental Health at NHS England, to discuss the delivery of NHS England’s mental health strategy.

The Reformer blog

On Monday, Andrew Haldenby, Director at Reform, wrote a blog reflecting on Ben Gummer MP’s Reform speech in which the Minister said the Brexit vote was a “cry about what they [voters] felt about the state of government and their relationship with it”.

On Tuesday, Elaine Fischer, Research Assistant at Reform, wrote a blog examining selection in school admissions systems abroad and making the case for greater regulation within our own system.

On Wednesday, Alexander Hitchcock, Researcher at Reform, wrote the first in a series of blogs about artificial intelligence (AI) in public services arguing that the public sector needs to do more to exploit the benefits of AI.

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