The Week, 4 November 2016

4 November 2016

This week the Bank of England raised its forecast for UK economic growth in 2016, nevertheless warning of sharp rises in inflation in 2017 which, if realised, will hit the poorest hardest. The proposals outlined by this week’s Reformer and Reactionaries show, however, that the Government is determined to improve outcomes for the most vulnerable in society.  

Amy Finch, Research Manager and Head of Education
 

Reformer of the week

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, who on Thursday set out plans to increase the autonomy of prison governors in her white paper, Prison Safety and Reform, launched at a speech for Reform. Mirroring the school autonomy reforms of the last three decades, particularly Labour’s successful academy policy, the proposals would allow prison governors to design their own staffing structures, manage their own budgets, and choose which education programmes to run.
 

Reactionaries of the week

Rt Hon Damian Green MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health, who on Monday jointly released The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper, which proposed only voluntary employment support for people in receipt of disability benefits. A report for Reform has found there is low take-up and high drop-out from voluntary programmes, and recommended that receipt of benefits instead be conditional on participating in employment support.
 

Good week for…

Returning to work

On Monday, the aforementioned The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper outlined proposals to reform statutory sick pay, allowing people recovering from or coping with illness to return to work without financially losing out.
 

Measuring prison success

On Thursday, Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, announced that the Government will set and publish new prison league tables based on, among other things, prisoners’ progress in education, health and employability. 
 

Police demand

Also on Thursday, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary published a report on police efficiency stating that the majority of forces have effective plans to meet the current demand on policing, though developing digital skills to meet future demand could be improved.
 

Bad week for…

Care home patients

On Wednesday, two investigative reports by the BBC and the Press Association respectively identified failings in complaint handling and food standards in care homes, leaving the independent regulators – the Care Quality Commission and Food Standards Agency – on the back foot.
 

Discharge from A&E

On Thursday, the House of Commons Health Select Committee reported that hospitals find it increasingly difficult to transfer or discharge patients from A&E due to inadequate capacity in social care.
 

Pension planning

Also on Thursday, the National Audit Office reported that only 18 per cent of working age people know how much their state pension is likely to be.
 

Quote of the week

"[T]here is no area of the public sector in greater need of reform than our prisons…[T]he levels of violence and self-harm in our prisons are totally unacceptable and I am determined to turn the tide. For without safety there can be no reform…

There is no doubt that inspired leadership, dedicated officers and the support of charities has seen pockets of innovation, challenge and change take root.

But comprehensive reform has not taken hold. And I think one of the problems is that Parliament has not been clear enough about the purpose of our prisons. We need to say the prison system, as well as depriving people of liberty, has to be about reforming offenders. And we need to say that both are vital to make society safer.”

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, delivering the prison white paper to Reform on Thursday
 

Reform’s week

Events

On Thursday, Reform, in partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, hosted a major policy speech by the Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, who launched the Ministry of Justice’s white paper on prisons.  Reform was the only think tank to be mentioned in the paper. The Minister also praised Reform's work towards improving public services and the prison system in particular. 
 

Media

On Tuesday, Andrew Haldenby, Director of Reform, wrote a thunderer article in The Times arguing against inflating NHS budgets at present and in favour of "unequivocal support for change, within existing budgets".

On Thursday, Alexander Hitchcock, Researcher at Reform, appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live. He argued that following expectations of increased inflation, the triple lock on the State Pension should be scrapped to ensure the long-term sustainability of public finances and provide an opportunity for the Government to increase working-age benefits more generously.

On Thursday, Will Mosseri-Marlio appeared on a Deloitte Webinar to discuss this year’s State of the State report.
 

The Reformer Blog

On Tuesday, Dr Letty Dormandy, Geriatric Registrar at Newham University General Hospital, wrote a blog in the monthly Views from the Frontline series, arguing for the roll-out of ambulatory care clinics to prevent expensive emergency treatment in hospitals.

On Thursday, Ben Dobson, Researcher at Reform, wrote the second blog in a series on the gig economy, arguing for the introduction of a separate social security classification for dependent self-employed people as a hybrid solution to raising worker protection.

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