The Week, 3 March 2017

3 March 2017

This week, the Government briefed that it would tackle the problems facing social care. The plan is to be carried out in two phases. First, some extra funds for social care in the Budget, paid for from normal tax revenues; and then, a complete review of how social care is paid for, with options including insurance.

Kate Laycock, Researcher

Reformers of the week

Rt Hon George Osborne MP and Michael Bloomberg, who articulated the importance of devolving power locally to strong Mayors in order to engage the public with decisions that affect them.

Reactionary of the week

Rt Hon John McDonnell MP, who spoke of renationalising the NHS without considering the role that pharmaceuticals, general practices and digital innovation play in improving patient care.

Good week for…

Police productivity

On Monday, Police Scotland suggested that technology and new ways of working would lead to greater productivity and more time tackling crime. It anticipates 400 fewer officers by 2020.

Social immobility

Also on Monday, the Social Mobility Commission announced figures showing that the gap between low income pupils’ attainment at the end of primary school and the end of secondary school has widened.

Digital strategy

On Wednesday, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced its digital strategy. It seeks to build world-class infrastructure that enables businesses and individuals to harness digital technology. The strategy rightly focuses on making the UK the safest place in the world to live and work online.

Bad week for…

Patient confidentiality

On Monday, it was reported that between 2011 and 2016, 500,000 pieces of confidential medical correspondence was lost.

NHS in-fighting

Also on Monday, the Public Accounts Committee criticised key NHS figures for “bickering in public” and has told the Department of Health, NHS England and Number 10 to work together in the best interests of patients.

Living standards

On Thursday, the Institute for Fiscal Studies projected that real median income growth will be close to zero for the next two years. Average income in 2021–22 is projected to be more than 15 per cent lower than if income growth since 2007–08 had been in line with the long-run trend.

Quotes of the week

“We believe that free trade, new technology and open democracy have delivered increases in living standards and opportunities unimaginable to our forebears. But we also recognise that over the past couple of decades governments have done too little to address legitimate concerns that come with these changes and that have now reached a critical mass. But rather than seeking refuge in nationalism and isolationism, we believe that a better response to globalisation lies in localisation.

The ability to shape one’s own destiny lies at the heart of democracy and the crisis of confidence now confronting western nations. Addressing that crisis cannot be done with any single initiative, or without national leadership, but we believe that cities are well positioned to help to lead the way.”

Rt Hon George Osborne MP and Michael Bloomberg, writing in The Times on Monday.

“Only time will tell if MATs are more successful than local authorities in tackling under-performance and supporting high-performing schools. But if the Government is to pursue the goal of further academisation, it will need to work with local authorities and allow those councils with a track record of strong educational performance to use their expertise within their education department to create MATs.”

Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of the House of Commons Education Committee, speaking on Tuesday.

“Of the G7 countries, the UK has the most productive science base and we rank first in many key global measures of research quality. In government, we have led the world in transforming our services and systems, using digital technology to make them easier, simpler and cheaper.

For businesses to thrive and grow, government needs to create the conditions and set the framework for investment in widespread and up-to-date infrastructure. Digital infrastructure is a critical component of this: digital connectivity is now a utility, and modern life is increasingly impossible without it. Connectivity drives productivity and innovation, and is the physical underpinning of a digital nation.”

A digital strategy for a digital economy, published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on Wednesday.

Reform’s Week

Events

On Thursday, Reform held a private policy roundtable led by Alex Chisholm, Permanent Secretary for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to discuss the future of high growth companies.

Media

On Monday, Andrew Haldenby, Director at Reform, wrote an op-ed in The Telegraph in which he argued that stop-gap solutions cannot save the NHS, following the publication of Reform’s recent report Saving STPs: Achieving meaningful health and social care reform..

On Thursday, The Economist made several references to the same Reform report in a major article on NHS and social care reform.

The Reformer Blog

On Monday, Andrew Haldenby wrote a blog noting that, “it is a very big deal when any government decides to open a debate on the funding of the welfare state”, referring to the Government’s review of social care funding.

On Tuesday, Ben Dobson, Researcher at Reform, wrote a blog challenging the TUC’s claim that new forms of work are costing the Exchequer £4 billion per year.

On Thursday, Louis Coiffait, Head of Education at Reform, wrote a blog about the potential for online platforms to increase flexibility in the school workforce.

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