The Week

The Week, 3 February 2017

This week, the Government published a plan to engage employers in efforts to keep people at work for longer. This is in the interests of people, of employers and of government due to the impact on the public finances. Reform’s ideas in this area will be published soon.

Emilie Sundorph, Researcher

Reformer of the week

The Government, which on Thursday published a report outlining the positive action businesses can take to encourage employees to stay in work for longer, including retraining, flexible working and phased retirement.

Reactionary of the week

The NHS. A report published this week found that NHS suffers from “a fear of blame” which “inhibits open investigations, learning, and improvement.”

Good week for…

Equal pay

On Saturday, the Government Equalities Office released guidance on how employers with over 250 staff will be required to report on their gender pay gap.

Robot gamblers

On Monday, the artificial intelligence software Libratus beat four professional poker players, winning more than $1.7 million in chips.

Negotiating skills

On Wednesday, the Civil Service Commission announced tweaks to hiring rules, making it easier for departments to recruit so-called ‘brexperts.’

Bad week for…

Learning from mistakes

On Tuesday, the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee published a report concluding that the NHS must become more open and learning-focused if investigations are to lead to any positive changes

Living standards

Also on Tuesday, a Resolution Foundation report projected that income growth is set to weaken, and that the weak growth is hiding a division between growth for some and falling living standards for others.

Efficient fee collections

On Monday, the Public Accounts Committee published a report concluding that NHS systems for cost recovery from treating overseas visitors “appear chaotic.” The National Audit Office published a report concluding that the BBC has scope to further improve the value for money of licence fee collection.

Quotes of The Week

“The purpose of complaints is not just the redress of grievances, although this is clearly important. Complaints are a tool by which public services can learn and improve. When medical professionals are forced primarily to be concerned with avoiding liability and responsibility and are trapped in a culture of blame there can be no learning. There is an acute need for government to follow through on its commitment to promote a culture in which staff feel able to speak out and in which the emphasis is placed on learning, not blame.”

Bernard Jenkin MP, Chair, Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, in The Times on Friday

“A one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t work when it comes to helping people back to work. Instead we’re building a locally-based system that works with businesses in the area and can offer people intense support to write their CVs, prepare for interviews and get to know their employment rights.

But it’s not just jobseekers themselves who will gain – evidence shows that businesses can also benefit by harnessing the untapped talent and unique perspective of disabled workers and those with long-term conditions.”

Rt Hon Damian Green MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in the Evening Standard on Tuesday

Reform’s week


On WednesdayReform held a policy dinner on achieving the best possible outcome from Brexit, with opening remarks delivered by Lord Bridges of Headley MBE, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.

On ThursdayReform held a roundtable on transforming inpatient rehabilitation, led by Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell, Chair of the NHS Confederation and recent Chair of the Birmingham and Solihull STP Board.

The Reformer blog

On Tuesday, Elaine Fischer, Research Assistant at Reform, argued school admissions policy needs to be better enforced to prevent disadvantaged families being further disadvantaged.

On Wednesday, Charlotte Pickles, Deputy Director and Head of Research at Reform, argued that the election on Donald Trump and Brexit should teach us to look beyond our ‘bubbles’ and seek to reengage those who feel ostracised.

On Thursday, William Mosseri-Marlio, Research Manager at Reform, argued that, with public debt on an unsustainable path, improving NHS performance is the single largest domestic policy challenge.

On Friday, Andrew Haldenby, Director, said that the Brexit vote was spurring Government thinking on opportunity and reform, in his latest Director’s vlog.

Upcoming events

On Monday 9 FebruaryReform is holding its Annual Conference with speakers including Ben Gummer MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General; Michael Gove MP, Former Secretary of State for Education; Bernard Jenkin MP; Paul Johnson, Director at Institute for Fiscal Studies; and Jane Cunliffe, Director of Public Spending, HM Treasury.

On Tuesday 21 FebruaryReform is holding a high level conference on the theme ‘Big Data in government: challenges and opportunities’ with the keynote speech delivered by John Manzoni, Chief Executive of the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary at the Cabinet Office.

On Thursday 9 MarchReform is holding a health conference on NHS reform at pace and scale, with the keynote speech delivered by Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health.