The Week

The Week, 15 September 2017

The Government decided this week to abolish the public sector pay cap of 1 per cent increases per year. Ministers were right to abolish the cap (which could only ever be a temporary measure) but signally failed to offer the reform agenda that should have accompanied the announcement. Reform’s research on the NHS workforce published this week argued for a full devolution of NHS pay and training.

Maisie Borrows, Researcher, Reform

Reformer of the week

Phillip Hammond MP, for saying the Treasury will very shortly apply artificial intelligence to drive improved productivity in the public sector.


The Department for Communities and Local Government, after it was criticised by the NAO for not having a strategy to prevent homelessness and not monitoring the progress of local authorities in tackling this issue.

Good week for:


On Tuesday, several public sector trade unions said the Government’s announcement to end the pay cap was not enough and threatened strike action.

Data protection

On Thursday, the Government announced data protection laws will be updated to empower the public to take more control of their data.


On Friday, NICE published new guidelines saying GPs must refer overweight people for NHS cooking and exercise classes.

Bad week for:

The school workforce

On Tuesday, the NAO published a report showing schools are facing real challenges in retaining and developing teachers.


On Wednesday, another NAO report criticised the Government for the sharp rise in homelessness, fuelled by increasing private sector rents and cuts in housing benefits.

Personal privacy

On Thursday, Paul Wiles, the biometrics commissioner, warned of privacy concerns over police databases that hold mugshots of people that have been arrested but not charged.


“There are very significant areas of government activity which involve relatively low-level decision-making which will be highly susceptible to AI, probably over a relatively short period of time, which does present the tantalising possibility of being able to drive some real productivity enhancement in the delivery of government processes.”

Phillip Hammond MP, speaking to a House of Lords committee on Wednesday.

“To value staff also means to look at non-pay issues as well. It means we should look at making sure that we are training enough staff, so that when hospitals have the budgets to employ staff, they are there for them to employ; it means we should look at flexible working if we are to tackle the agency bill that the shadow Health Secretary spoke about; it means we should put in place measures to encourage nurses to return to practice, which is why Health Education England is increasing the number of return-to-practice training places to 1,250 from 2019-20; it means we should look at new support roles for nurses, such as the 2,000 nurse associates who are starting training this year; and it means we should look at new routes into nursing, such as the nurse apprentice route that we are opening this year.”

Jeremy Hunt MP, speaking at a House of Commons debate on NHS pay on Wednesday.

“For just as I do not know what a sales company manager in Bolton should be paid, I wouldn’t trust Theresa May to know better than the business owner either. So why not trust the Bolton NHS Trust, rather than a politician or pay body in Whitehall, to assess what to pay a Bolton nurse?”

Ryan Bourne, R Evan Scharf Chair for the Public Understanding of Economics at Cato, writing for the Telegraph on Thursday.

Reform’s week


On Thursday, Reform launched Getting into shape: Delivering a workforce for integrated care. The report argues that new thinking is needed to build a medical workforce that delivers integrated, patient-centred care. The paper was covered by several media outlets, including the Daily Mail and Pulse.

Andrew Haldenby, Director at Reform, wrote an article for the Daily Telegraph, arguing that removing the public sector pay cap would not fix the recruiting crisis unless the workforce was trained very differently to today.

Maisie Borrows, Researcher at Reform, wrote an op ed for HSJ making the case for a radical reshaping of NHS workforce regulation to meet future care needs.

Kate Laycock, Senior Researcher at Reform, wrote a piece for The Guardian calling for local NHS bosses to take control of staffing levels.

Other Media

On Saturday, Louis Coiffait, Head of Education at Reform, was featured in TES after sharing emerging findings from Reform‘s upcoming school workforce report, such as a regional – rather than national – approach to the school workforce.

On WednesdayThe Times cited Reform’s research on the beneficial impact of automation on the public sector workforce.

The Reformer Blog

On Thursday, Kate Laycock and Maisie Borrows, Researchers at Reform, wrote an interactive blog on how the NHS workforce is not currently designed to deliver integrated models of care.


On ThursdayReform held a roundtable, led by Paul Feldman, Chief Executive of JISC, on harnessing the power of EdTech in higher education.

Upcoming Events

Reform has several events this Autumn, including our Annual Dinner next Wednesday with Martin Ivens, Editor of The Sunday Times, and our Party Conference programme.