The Week

The Week, 30 June 2017

The public sector pay bill is £179 billion. Net debt stands at 88.6 per cent of GDP so any future pay rises must be properly funded. Public sector pay rises should be considered alongside productivity. If the public sector can increase productivity by embracing technology and streamlining delivery, there will be funds to increase staff pay. Neither the Government, nor campaigners against the pay cap, made the case this week for greater public sector reform leading to greater productivity.

Kate Laycock, Researcher

Reformer of the week

The National Audit Office, which highlighted that the police service must do more to prioritise online fraud.

Reactionary of the week

Frances O’Grady, the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, who suggested that the public sector should be there to serve its workforce rather than the public.

Good week for…

Safe guards

On Wednesday, the British Medical Association voted to develop a system for GP practices to declare hospital-style ‘black alerts’ when they reach their maximum safe capacity.

Social immobility

Also on Wednesday, the Social Mobility Commission reported that for the last two decades consecutive governments have failed to deliver enough progress in reducing the gap between Britain’s ‘haves and have nots’.


On Friday, the National Audit Office reported that fraud cost individuals and the private sector around £154 billion in 2016.

Bad week for…

Local authority IT systems

On Monday, a survey of local authority IT leaders found more than half of local authority leaders believe their organisation has the wrong strategy for managing citizen data.

Healthy life expectancy

On Wednesday, the Office for National Statistics found that children born today are likely to spend at least 20 per cent of their lives in poorer health.

Prisoner data

On Thursday, the National Audit Office revealed that the Government does not know how many people in prison have a mental illness, how much it is spending on mental health in prisons, or whether it is achieving its objectives.

Quotes of the week

“What politicians sometimes forget is that in many, many cases, public servants are the service: it’s the human beings who are the service, and we need to invest in them.”

Frances O’Grady, the General Secretary of the TUC, speaking on Wednesday

“Government does not know how many people in prison have a mental illness, how much it is spending on mental health in prisons or whether it is achieving its objectives. It is therefore hard to see how Government can be achieving value for money in its efforts to improve the mental health and well-being of prisoners. In 2016 there were 40,161 incidents of self-harm in prisons and 120 self-inflicted deaths.”

‘Mental health in prisons’, published by the National Audit Office on Thursday

“While too many people are poor — and there are, as there always have been, other people who try to cheat the system — we now need to distinguish between poverty and destitution… I suggest that a new, official measurement of destitution should involve two of the following sets of circumstances: hunger; no gas or electricity; or being on the brink of homelessness.”

Rt Hon Frank Field MP, writing in The Times on Friday

“The true cost of online fraud is unknown, but is likely to be billions of pounds. One estimate was that individuals lost around £10 billion and the private sector around £144 billion to fraud in 2016. There were nearly two million incidents of cyber-related fraud in 2016, 16 per cent of all estimated crime incidents. ‘Hidden’ crimes require new and different responses yet, despite the level of economic crime, statistics suggest police forces remain more focused on traditional crimes. In 2016, one in six police officers’ main function was neighbourhood policing, while one in 150 police officers’ main function was economic crime.”

‘Online fraud’, published by the National Audit Office on Friday

Reform’s Week


On Tuesday, Reform’s launch of Social Care: a prefunded solution was covered by several news outlets, including:

  •  The Times, in which Andrew Haldenby, Director of Reform, argued that reforming the way social care is funded is the “most urgent question facing the Welfare State”
  •  Public Finance, in which Danail Vasilev, Researcher at Reform, wrote on why prefunded care is an attractive solution to address the problem of the UK’s ageing population.

Danail Vasilev also set out some of the benefits of a prefunded model for social care in a blog on the Reform website.

On Thursday, Reform’s launch of The future of public services: digital borders was also covered by several publications, and on The Reformer blog:

  • Maisie Borrows, researcher at Reform, argued in Conservative Home that digitising borders is the best way to facilitate trade, travel, and security, and summarised the paper’s recommendations for the Reformer blog.
  • Charlie Elphicke MP, Member of Parliament for Dover and Deal, argued that the UK needs to invest in digitising its borders to improve trade and security.
  • James Canham, Managing Director of Accenture Border Services, argued that implementing new technologies will provide security benefits and improved traveller services.
  • Mail OnlineThe Irish IndependentThe Daily Express, and UK Authority also wrote about the launch.

Other Media

Also on Thursday, Louis Coiffait, head of education at Reform, wrote in Public Sector Focus that all schools should use their freedoms to work ever closer together to improve outcomes for students, regardless of funding cycles.

On Friday, Eleonora Harwich, researcher at Reform, was interviewed by Diginomica on the potential for Artificial Intelligence to improve public services, and some of the barriers to its use.

Other Blogs

On Monday, Andrew Haldenby argued that government has not introduced a culture of efficiency since the last “end of austerity”.