The Week

The Week, 28 July 2017

Parliament’s summer vacation begins with a reminder to all public services of the need to reform. The outgoing chief inspector of hospitals, Sir Mike Richards, said that much healthcare reform can be achieved “without more money”. Forthcoming Reform research will show how this principle can be applied to the NHS workforce, which, it was revealed this week, has tens of thousands of vacancies.

Alexander Hitchcock, Senior Researcher

Reformer of the week

Sir Mike Richards, for pointing to the opportunities for NHS reform, as mentioned above.

Reactionaries of the week

Unscrupulous developers that have been selling homes as leaseholds, retaining ownership of the ground the home is built on and then raising ground-rental payments—in some cases to £10,000 a year by 2060.

Good week for…


On Tuesday, the Government suggested a second devolution deal with the West Midlands would be forthcoming shortly.

Access to justice

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that charging for people to bring employment tribunal claims was unlawful. Reform research has previously pointed to the potential for technology, such as video links, to conduct hearings more cost-efficiently.

Quicker travel

On Thursday, it was reported that facial-recognition technology is poised to replace railway ticket barriers, an approach Reform has argued should be applied to the UK border.

Bad week for…

NHS workforce

On Tuesday, NHS data revealed that 86,000 NHS posts were vacant between January 2017 and March 2017.

Tech job competition

On Tuesday, a drop in high-skilled EU job applications to the UK tech industry because of uncertainty over visa rules post-Brexit was reported.

Restorative justice

On Friday, it was reported that positive drugs tests, violence and self-harm are on the rise in prisons.

Quotes of the week

“It is, I think, just about sinking in to the public and political consciousness that pensioners as a group are no longer society’s poor relations, as they undoubtedly were 30 years ago. Their incomes are on average now at least as high as those of younger people and poverty rates among pensioners are lower than among other groups. Not only that, they are sitting on most of the nation’s wealth while younger generations are facing an uphill struggle to accumulate assets of their own.”

Paul Johnson, writing in The Times on Monday.

“Put simply, the UK must remain a hub for international talent. We must keep attracting the brightest and best migrants from around the world. And we must implement a new immigration system after we leave the EU that gives us control and works in all of our interests.”

Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP, writing in the Financial Times on Thursday.

“The dilemma of whether to spend money where it is most needed or where it will have most impact is an old one. But the balance could be tipped by the new regional mayors, such as Mr Burnham, who can bring more attention to the divide between London and the rest.”

The Economist on Friday.

Reform’s Week

On Monday, Andrew Haldenby, Director of Reform, wrote about how the digital transformation of public services is already increasing productivity and improving outcomes for users.

On Tuesday, Victoria Thorpe, Manager of Health & Public Sector Technology Consulting at Accenture, argued that blockchain and other emerging technologies hold the potential to improve public services, but that government and the private sector need to collaborate to realise the benefits.

On Thursday, Danail Vasilev, Researcher at Reform, argued for decisive action to reform social care funding by tapping into housing wealth.