The Week, 26 August 2016

26 August 2016

Last week in an article in the Yorkshire Post Theresa May laid out her commitment to further devolution, putting to bed speculation that George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse would be ditched. This week Government “insiders” suggested that metro mayors may, however, be side-lined.

Charlotte Pickles, Deputy Director and Head of Research

Reformer

Brandon Lewis MP, Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, who on Wednesday published data on fire service procurement “to increase transparency and encourage the sector to take on the challenge of reforming its own commercial landscape”. The data shows considerable scope for efficiencies to be made. The lowest payment for waterproof jackets, for example, is £19.35, whereas the highest is five times that at £97.09.

Reactionary

Diane Abbott MP who, writing in The Guardian on Wednesday, criticised private sector partnerships in the NHS as leading to the “piecemeal breakup and privatisation of the NHS” and made unfunded promises about extra investment under a Labour Government.

Good week for…

Transparent policy-making

On Monday, Andrew Tyrie, Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, wrote to the Chancellor requesting that he reinstate the distributional analysis of financial statements introduced by the Coalition Government, but “mistakenly discontinued” in the July 2015 Summer Budget. It shows the financial impact of tax and welfare decisions on household incomes.

Digital tax

On Tuesday, HM Revenues and Customs announced that taxpayers will now be able to claim tax rebates electronically via their Personal Tax Accounts.

Government revenue

On Thursday, The Times reported that the Government is one step further towards selling Holloway Prison as part of its prison estate transformation strategy.

Bad week for…

Building Britain

On Monday, new data on infrastructure investment showed a 20 per cent decline in July compared to the previous month, and a 23 per cent decline compared to last year. In her speech launching her leadership campaign Theresa May promised: “More Treasury-backed project bonds for new infrastructure projects. More house building. A proper industrial strategy to get the whole economy firing.”

Strategic leadership

Also on Monday, The Times reported that Downing Street is considering dropping the requirement for devolution deals to include a metro mayor.

Rehabilitation

On Tuesday, HM Inspectorate of Prisons published a paper on prisoner contact with families, finding that “despite some very good practice, arrangements to help prisoners maintain and strengthen those crucial contacts are too variable”.

Quotes

“If you ask a lot of people about poverty and social disadvantage, they probably think about inner cities, grim tower blocks and run-down estates.

In fact, the biggest problems are often found by the sea: coastal towns are among the most deprived and one, Jaywick in Essex, tops the league.

…Few politicians are willing to say so explicitly, but part of the reason poor white kids stay stuck in poor seaside towns is a lack of ambition. Not personal ambition so much as social ambition. Unlike middle-class kids and the children of many first, second and third-generation immigrant groups, poor white coastal kids don’t grow up surrounded by people like them who hope and even expect to get a degree and a professional job.”

James Kirkup, writing in the Telegraph on Wednesday.

“Today’s system still sees people shuffled from one line to another, where they might encounter multiple caseworkers, all trying to manage a bureaucratic process and not actually making a meaningful difference…At the root of the challenge is a fundamental disconnect between our worker-training and welfare systems. For example, caseworkers are pushed to focus on finding jobs for those who are easiest to return back to work and to avoid those who need the most help…Improving welfare shouldn’t be something that happens once in a lifetime.”

John Kasich, Governor of Ohio, writing in the New York Times on Monday to mark the twentieth anniversary of the 1996 American welfare reforms.

Reform’s week

On Sunday, Andrew Haldenby appeared on the Westminster Hour (BBC Radio 4) to discuss the NHS and the important role of the private sector.

The Reformer blog

On Monday, Charlotte Pickles, Deputy Director and Head of Research at Reform, wrote a blog in which she put forward the case for keeping metro mayors.

On Friday, Elaine Fischer, Research Assistant at Reform, wrote a blog about the need to tackle fragmentation in commissioning and funding in the NHS in order to address the problem of obesity.

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