The Week

The Week, 18 May 2018

This week marks the annual Mental Health Awareness Week – an opportunity to shed light on the impact of mental health problems. In the UK, approximately 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year. This year’s campaign rightly emphasises the importance of wellbeing in the workplace. The NHS is still struggling to prioritise the prevention of ill health through harnessing the commitment of employees and other citizens.

Luke Heselwood, Researcher

Reformer of the week

The Ministry of Defence, in partnership with the mental health charity Samaritans. The Ministry announced a new confidential webchat service and training in listening skills for both personnel and families to support mental health in the Armed Forces.


Good week for…


On Tuesday, the ONS announced that the UK’s employment rate of 32.34 million people was the highest since comparable records began in 1971.

The tech sector

On Thursday, new figures demonstrated that the UK’s digital technology sector is growing 2.6 times faster than the rest of the economy.

Tackling knife crime

On Friday, the Home Office launched a £1 million fund, available for charities and community groups, to support early intervention initiatives to help tackle knife crime and gang violence.

Bad week for…


Although Tuesday’s ONS figures showed a rise in the employment rate, it also uncovered a decline in productivity. In the first quarter of 2018, output per hour fell by 0.5 per cent.

Overambitious contracts

On Thursday, the NAO revealed that the primary-care contact between NHS England and Capita was overambitious in its aim to reduce costs by 35 per cent as well as provide high-quality services. The NAO argues that both sides underestimated the risks and complexity of primary care management and focused on cost savings, to the detriment of service delivery.

Apprenticeship numbers

Also on Thursday, government statistics revealed that the number of apprenticeships in February 2018 were 40 per cent lower than the previous year. Last month, Reform published a report examining the apprenticeship levy, arguing that the quality of apprenticeships should also be scrutinised.

Quotes of the week

“Mental Health Awareness Week challenges us to be open about an issue which for too long has been shrouded in stigma… Attitudes are changing, but there is still a long way to go. With many mental health problems starting early in life, there’s more to do in our schools. So, we’re delivering mental health awareness training for teachers and consulting on plans to provide more mental health support for children at school. Today, more people than ever before are receiving treatment for their mental health… We have legislated to put mental health on a par with physical health. And we are reviewing mental health law to ensure that it puts patients and families first.”

The Prime Minister on Monday.

“The Bundeswehr cannot spend that kind of money. It does not have the procedures in place, and it wouldn’t even know what to spend it on.”

Marcel Dickow, a defence expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, on Friday. Dickow was responding to calls for the German government to spend 2 per cent of GDP on its armed forces, which would nearly double current spend.

“It all has to start with economic growth. If growth performance does not improve, the world of ever-rising fortunes will be gone forever. This is the heart of it all.”

Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator for the Financial Times on Friday, referring to the Resolution Foundation’s report on the breakdown of the intergenerational contract.

Reform’s Week

Reformer Blog

On Monday, Rose Lasko-Skinner, Research Assistant at Reform, published a blog on how risk could be better managed in public services.

On Tuesday, Andrew Haldenby, Director of Reform, argued that there is a clear distinction between corporate support for the charitable work of a think tank such as Reform and lobbying. He wrote in reaction to Oliver Wright’s article in The Times last week headlined “Big companies ‘buy influence’ with funding for think tanks”.

On Thursday, Patrick Rowe, Deputy General Counsel at Accenture, authored a blog on the importance of regulations for emerging technologies being innovation friendly.


On Wednesday, a Reformer blog, written by Sarah Timmis, Researcher at Reform, was published in Police Profession.

On Friday, The Times published an article mentioning a Reform report, ‘The great training robbery: assessing the first year of the apprenticeship levy’.


On Monday, Reform held a roundtable led by Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, Chair of the Select Committee for Exiting the European Union, on the opportunities and challenges for Britain in exiting the EU.

On Thursday, in partnership with Age UK, Reform held a roundtable led by Rt Hon Damian Green MP on how to fund significant social care reforms. His opening remarks are published on the Reform website.

Upcoming events

On 23 May, Reform will hold its annual health conference. The keynote speaker James Sanderson, Director of Personalised Care at NHS England.