The Week, 24 November 2017

24 November 2017

This week, the Chancellor injected more money into public services, including education, the NHS, welfare, housing and infrastructure. Philip Hammond is forecast to meet his own rule of the deficit being below 2 per cent of GDP, but added £25 billion of unfunded spending commitments. The Chancellor is unlikely to meet his other rule of running a budget surplus in 2025.

Alexander Hitchcock, Senior Researcher

Reformer of the week

NHS England for sending mobile CT scanners to check for cancer in shopping centres and carparks in Manchester. A pilot scheme found that four times as many tumours were found early enough to offer the chance of a cure.

Reactionary of the week

John McDonnell for committing to unspecified extra spending on public services without recognising the extra cost of servicing this debt, arguing that spending would “pay for itself”.

Good week for…

R&D spend

On Tuesday, it was reported that UK businesses invested a record amount in research and development spend in 2016, up 5.6 per cent from the year before.

Increasing the deficit

On Wednesday, the Chancellor announced public spend, tax freezes and cuts to the tune of £25 billion over the next five years.

Devolution

On Wednesday, the Chancellor backed city devolution deals and announced a second devolution deal for the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Bad week for…

Economic growth

On Wednesday, the Office for Budget Responsibility revised down growth estimates over the next five years, from around 2 per cent growth a year on average to 1.5 per cent.

Productivity growth

On Wednesday, the Office for Budget Responsibility downgraded productivity growth by an average of 0.7 percentage points a year—predicting that it will not return to pre-crisis levels over the next five years.

Wage growth

On Wednesday, Resolution Foundation research revealed that wage growth will take 17 years to return to pre-crisis levels.

Quotes of the week

But this Budget is about much more than Brexit. The world is on the brink of a technological revolution. One that will change the way we work and live and transform our living standards for generations to come…Mr Deputy Speaker. We have no doubts we choose the future. We choose to run towards change, not away from it. To prepare our people to meet the challenges ahead, not to hide from them. And the prize will be enormous.

Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, Budget Speech on Wednesday.

Our borrowed billions aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet. They represent fundamentally moral problems with racking up debt. Money borrowed and money spent is money that has to be paid back. Young people are already going to be footing the bill for pension and healthcare liabilities, promised to older generations, that they themselves may never see. To increase the debt burden on them as well is to severely weaken their opportunities and freedoms later in life.

Kate Andrews, writing in The Times on Thursday.

Reform’s Week

The Reformer Blog

On Tuesday, Emilie Sundorph, Researcher at Reform, argued that savings need to be made in some areas of public service to dedicate more resources to those most in need.

Also on Tuesday, Andrew Haldenby, Director at Reform, congratulated Sir Michael Barber on his Treasury report, suggesting ways in which his new agenda of disruptive innovation could be achieved.

On Wednesday, Alexander Hitchcock, Senior Researcher at Reform, urged the Chancellor to hold tight on public finances and encourage innovation ahead of his budget speech.

On Thursday, Sarah Timmis, Research Assistant at Reform, highlighted the key themes that emerged from Reform’s roundtable last week on applications of responsible AI in policing.

On Friday, Roger Oates, Consulting Partner BFSI, described how to get the most out of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies.

Also on Friday, Daniel El-Gamry, Research Assistant at Reform, argued for the importance of data security in the NHS during its digital transformation.

Media

This week, several pieces by Reform staff were published on the autumn budget.

On Wednesday, Andrew Haldenby wrote for The Telegraph arguing that Philip Hammond was “absolutely right” to face down outspoken demands for more spending in the NHS.

Also on Wednesday, Alexander Hitchcock wrote for The Times Red Box exploring whether the public really are as weary of austerity as it is being claimed.

On Thursday, Emilie Sundorph wrote for Public Finance stating that the budget’s focus on developing skills needed for the future workforce was key, but that there are still major obstacles.

Upcoming Events

Next Monday, Reform is delighted to welcome Lord Holmes of Richmond MBS to lead a roundtable on ‘Blockchain: securing digital identities’, following the publication of Reform’s paper.

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