The Week

The Week, 27 October 2017

This week has served as an important reminder that more needs to be done to provide better mental-health services in the UK. The Public Accounts Committee had a session on Monday examining the (inadequate) state of mental-health services in prison. The independent review commissioned by the Prime Minister on workplace mental health, revealed the profound economic and human cost of poor support. The Care Quality Commission’s review on mental-health services for children and young people revealed inequality of access and varying quality of care in the country.

Eleonora Harwich, Head of Digital and Tech Innovation

Reformers of the week

Rt Hon Alan Milburn, for arguing that improving the NHS will be a matter of reform and good use of technology and “not just putting in more cash.”

CareRooms, for piloting an idea that might help the NHS solve its serious “bed-blocking issue”. Appropriate quality and governance frameworks will of course need to be put in place.

Reactionary of the week

NHS trusts, for failing to prevent the WannaCry cyber-attack, which resulted in 19,500 cancelled appointments, when they could have.

Good week for…

Tax avoidance

On Tuesday, it was reported that multinationals avoided paying as much as £5.8bn in UK corporate taxes last year, a 50 per cent increase over previous government forecast.


On Wednesday, it was reported that growth figures for the UK were higher than expected in the last quarter.

Reducing the gender pay gap

On Thursday, it was reported that the gender pay gap had reduced from 17.4 per cent in 1997 to 9.1 per cent in 2017, its lowest point to date. Nevertheless, more needs to be done to accelerate this trend.

Bad week for…

The credibility of empirical economics research

On Tuesday, a study was published showing that 50 per cent of the 6,700 reviewed empirical studies inflated their results by a factor of two.

Mental health

On Wednesday, it was revealed that more than 300,000 people lose their jobs each year because they suffer from long-term mental health problems and adequate in-work support is not available.

Reducing hardship

On Thursday, the Work and Pensions Committee published a report on the six week wait for Universal Credit, and reported wide agreement that “waiting days do nothing to further the stated objectives of Universal Credit but contribute to claimant hardship.”


“As the US proves, simply throwing more resources at healthcare won’t bring sustainable improvements. In America, they spend twice as much as we do on healthcare but outcomes are no better than in the UK. That’s why reforms are as important as resources.”

Rt Hon Alan Milburn, Chair of the Social Mobility Commission, writing in The Guardian on Sunday.

“I want to make sure that everyone has the same opportunity to achieve their ambitions, regardless of where they are growing up or their background. It’s great news that there are 1.8 million more children in schools rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ than there were in 2010 and the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers is narrowing.”

Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, speaking at the Teach First conference on Tuesday.

“There are more sophisticated cyber threats out there than WannaCry so the Department and the NHS need to get their act together to ensure the NHS is better protected against future attacks.”

Amyas Morse, Head of the National Audit Office, on Friday.

Reform’s Week

The Reformer Blog

On Tuesday, Andrew Haldenby, Director at Reform, marked the launch of the State of the State report 2017-18, arguing Government’s opportunity for progress in public sector reform may be greater than it realises.

On Wednesday, Daniel El-Gamry, Research Assistant at Reform, authored a blog suggesting that Government should look to longer-term funding solutions to improve the primary care estate.

On Friday, Matt Davis, Regional Director UK, Education Development Trust, wrote a blog outlining how pay, conditions and job satisfaction can boost teacher retention.


Next week, Reform will host a dinner with Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, and a roundtable with Peter Dowd MP, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

We are also delighted to announce our first social mobility conference which will take place on Thursday 14 December. More information can be found here. If you are interested in attending, please contact the events team on