The Week, 7 October 2016

7 October 2016

On Wednesday, Rt Hon Theresa May MP set out her plan to “build a new united Britain, rooted in the centre ground.” She restated her commitment to opening new grammar schools and praised higher spending on the NHS. Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP relaxed fiscal policy, scrapping the target to reach a budget surplus by 2020 and pledging to invest in infrastructure and housing.

Ben Dobson, Researcher

Reformer of the week

Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Education, who on Tuesday announced six “Opportunity Areas” – originally suggested in a white paper in March – that will see £60 million invested on school improvement, teacher support and other initiatives in areas of low social mobility.

 

Reactionary of the week

The Prime Minister, who pledged to “protect”, not reform, the NHS. Focus should instead turn to improving efficiency and productivity in the health service.

Good week for …

Fiscal policy renewal

On Monday, Philip Hammond announced a new fiscal strategy in the wake of the vote to leave the EU, abandoning the target to achieve a surplus by 2020 and proposing investment in infrastructure and housing.

Welfare reform

On Tuesday, Rt Hon Damian Green MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, announced that sickness-benefit claimants with chronic conditions will no longer be subject to reassessments.

Procurement capacity

On Wednesday, it was announced that the Crown Commercial Service has hired two senior procurement specialists from the private sector. Reform called for government’s procurement capacity to be strengthened in its publication Cloud 9, last March.

Bad week for …

Foreign workers

On Wednesday, Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP, Home Secretary, set out proposals to force companies to publish the number of foreign workers employed, in an attempt to reduce net migration and increase employment for British nationals.

Independent monetary policy

Also on Wednesday, Theresa May highlighted “some bad side effects” of the Bank of England’s quantitative easing programme (primarily the consequent appreciation of assets relative to savings) and pledged to deliver a change.

Employment support

On Thursday, the SNP announced that employment support programmes in Scotland – which are to be devolved from next April – will not be mandatory. This ignores evidence from previous and existing voluntary programmes showing low take-up and high drop-out.

Quotes of the week

“So productivity should set political pulses racing. It’s a decades-old problem. Swept under the carpet for far too long. But under this Government, we are going to put it in the spotlight, right at the forefront of our policy agenda, and at the heart of our industrial strategy.”

Philip Hammond speaking at the Conservative Party conference on Monday.

“Economies are more successful when we close the gap between rich and poor and growth is broadly based. This is not just a moral argument. Research shows that growth is more fragile and recessions more frequent in countries with greater inequality. Concentrated wealth at the top means less of the broad-based consumer spending that drives market economies.”

Barack Obama, writing in The Economist on Friday.

“Opening [GP] surgeries at weekends clearly shows promise in reducing the strain on overloaded A&E departments. In addition, there could be significant cost savings. An A&E visit is much more expensive than a GP visit: the former costs roughly £114 while the latter costs about £25.”

The London School of Economics and Political Science’s magazine, CentrePiece, published this week.

Reform‘s week

This week Reform ran a number of fringe events at the Conservative Party conference and published a number of blogs on the topics discussed.

Monday

Reform held a private roundtable in partnership with Deloitte and the ICAEW about diversity in business led by Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG, Minister of State for Energy and Intellectual Property. Please read the related blogs here and here.

A private roundtable held by Reform in partnership with Prospects and led by Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of the Education Select Committee, discussed early years education and the plans to expand provision of free childcare.

A private roundtable held by Reform in partnership with Simply Health and led by Philip Dunne MP, Minister of State for Health, discussed whether employers should play a greater role in healthcare.

Reform held a private roundtable in partnership with Interserve and led by Sam Gyimah MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Prisons and Probation, which discussed prison reform.

A Reform private roundtable held in partnership with Home Group and led by Gavin Barwell MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning and Minister for London, discussed the future of supported housing in light of current reforms.

A Reform private roundtable held in partnership with G4S and led by George Freeman MP, Chair of the Prime Minister’s Policy Board, looked at how to improve the delivery of public services. Please read his blog here.

Tuesday

In partnership with BVCA, Reform held a roundtable on the issue of gender equality and practical means to achieve it with Margot James MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

In partnership with Prospects, Reform convened a private roundtable led by Damian Hinds MP, Minister of State for Employment, which discussed how to create career opportunities for everyone. Please read his blog here.

A Reform private roundtable held in partnership with Prudential and led by Rt Hon David Gauke MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, discussed investment in infrastructure.

Reform convened a private roundtable in partnership with the BBC and led by Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, which discussed UK media in the digital age. Please read the related blogs here and here.

Wednesday

Katy Bourne, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, wrote a blog about how the new PCCs have shaken up the system by redesigning it around people.

SecEd published a blog by Elaine Fischer, Research Assistant at Reform, which argued that the Rt Hon Justine Greening MP should drop plans to continue to require academies to have parent governors.

Thursday

Nick Bell, Chief Executive of the Prospects Group, wrote a blog about the need to train up skilled workers to plug the gaps employers are currently experiencing, strengthen the economy and help people into work.

Neil Carmichael wrote a blog in which he discusses the varied quality of multi-academy trusts and what a good-quality multi-academy trust looks like.

Current vacancy

Reform is recruiting a new Research Assistant. Applications close at 9am on Monday 17 October. Please see here for further details.

Upcoming events

On Thursday 13 October, Reform will host Rt Hon Ben Gummer MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, who is giving a major speech on ‘The future of public services’.

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