The Week

The Week, 13 April 2018

This week has served as a reminder of the importance of data ethics in the public sector. The Department for Education decided to stop collecting nationality data after it was found to be used for immigration inquiries by the Home Office, not its stated aims of helping with education research.

Eleonora Harwich, Head of Digital and Tech Innovation, Reform

Reformer of the week

Amber Rudd MP for pledging to target criminals that use the ‘dark web’ as a platform for selling guns, drugs and credit card details. Reform’s research has argued that government should focus on cybercrime.

Reactionary of the week

HMRC for announcing that it would be cancelling or delaying “a number” of modernisation projects in order to direct resources to Brexit preparations.

Good week for…

Innovation in the public sector

On Tuesday, it was reported that the Department for Transport has developed a machine learning system that can triage correspondence so that the teams which are best placed to answer it are notified.

Healthcare innovation

On Wednesday, after one year of trialing a virtual health assistant app to help with self-care and better triaging of patients, NHS services in the West Midlands have reported positive results.

Bad week for…

Data collection

On Monday, it was announced that schools will no longer be reporting nationality data in the school census as a data sharing agreement between the Department of Education and the Home Office meant that the data was being used for immigration control purposes.


On Thursday, it was reported that more than 100,000 homeless households will be in temporary accommodation by 2020.

Quotes of the week

“There is a clear advantage for the private sector to assist in the delivery of high-quality public services. Many vital infrastructure projects like roads, schools and hospitals have been delivered successfully by private companies, stimulating our economy, creating jobs and delivering better services for all. In providing these services, it is the Government’s duty to ensure value for money for taxpayers.”

Oliver Dowden MP, The Telegraph on Monday.

“Amber Rudd, the home secretary, is right that tackling violence is “not a law-enforcement issue alone”. It is oversimplistic and short-sighted to blame austerity for a problem that has deep social and cultural roots. As the government’s serious violence strategy makes clear, children who suffer abuse at home, get excluded from school or grow up in care are much more likely to get involved in street crime. There is a problem with absent fathers in some communities failing to provide a role model to their sons.”

Rachel Sylvester, writing in The Times on Tuesday.

Reform’s week


On Friday Reform published a new report The great training robbery: assessing the first year of the apprenticeship levy.
The report was also covered in media outlets including:

BBC News at One

BBC News

BBC Radio 4 Today programme

Financial Times

The Times

The Independent

City A.M.

Eastern Daily Express

FE Week

London Loves Business

FE News


WonkHE newsletter

Unite the Union

Personnel Today

Reformer Blog

On Friday, Tom Richmond, Senior Research Fellow at Reform, authored a blog in relation to our new report, which assesses the apprenticeship levy and recommends ways that it may achieve better value for money.


On Tuesday, Sarah Timmis, Researcher at Reform, wrote an article for Glint arguing that technology can improve efficiency and help build citizen confidence in the justice system.

On Friday, Luke Heselwood, Researcher at Reform, published an article in Progress that argued education is essential to ensuring the UK workforce are not left behind by automation.