There has been further media coverage of Reform’s latest research, Must do better: Spending on schools.
James Zuccollo, Senior Economist at Reform, writes in a blog for Public Finance:
“There are schools with funding many times that of others, who are performing no better and whose pupils are doing no better. For some of these schools there will be extenuating circumstances, but there is clearly scope for significant savings across state schools without compromising quality” (Public Finance).
The report was referred to in a piece written for The Times by the Deputy Editor of The Economist, Emma Duncan.
The article emphasises the need to reform underperforming schools and points to the success of education systems with smaller budgets than the UK, such as that of Singapore (Times).
The report was also covered by The Express, Cambridge News, PoliticsHome and EdExec.
At Reform seminar held under the Chatham House Rule yesterday, Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Chief Inspector of Schools, discussed the impact of performance-related pay for teachers on school organisation, including class size.
An article in The Times reports “Sir Michael, addressing a lunch hosted by the Reform think-tank, said that when he was a head teacher he wanted a highly paid staff with rewards for good teachers who committed themselves to the school” (Telegraph; Times;Guardian; Independent).
The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has written to education ministers in Wales and Northern Ireland to suggest a split in the exam system.
According to Mr Gove, the exam regulator Ofqual fears that the decision of Wales and Northern Ireland not to accept exam reforms will make it "very difficult, if not impossible, to maintain comparable standards when the structure, content and even grading of these qualifications are diverging to such an extent" (BBC Online).
The Department for Education has today approved 102 free schools in England to open from 2014 (Guardian; BBC online).
Dr Patrick Nolan, Reform’s Chief Economist, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours to discuss concerns over Accident and Emergency Services in the NHS.
Patrick argued these concerns highlighted a broader challenge and noted that internationally the direction of travel is clear, with more healthcare outside the hospital, a clearer definition of what public services cover and what they do not, and broader bases for funding (BBC Radio 4, 12:40).
The head of the NHS Confederation, Mike Farrar, has suggested that patients e-mail their symptoms to their GP, so that doctors can assess them more efficiently.
However, members of the Health Select Committee voiced concerns over the idea, with Valerie Vaz MP saying that “the average person wouldn’t know what to say or what to ask” (Telegraph).
High pressure on Accident and Emergency wards has led senior doctors to warn the Health Select Committee that the situation is becoming unmanageable.
The President of the College of Emergency Medicine, Mike Clancy, said that many NHS staff have “parked the four hour target because it is so difficult to manage, while Patrick Cadogan, of the Royal College of Physicians, warned that one reason for the pressure on Accident and Emergency wards was the public’s lack of confidence in alternatives for out of hours care (Times; Independent; BBC Online).
The Institute of Directors has today released a report hailing the potential of shale gas to provide a solution for British energy needs.
The report argues that the source of energy could potentially supply more than a third of the UK’s gas needs and thereby reduce reliance on imports (FT; Telegraph; City AM).
The International Monetary Fund will today recommend that the Government sell off state holdings in the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Bank.
According to reports last night, the IMF will make clear that public ownership of the two banks is not in the interests of the UK’s economic recovery (Times; Independent).
The annual rate of inflation fell to 2.4 per cent last month, due to falls in petrol prices and air fares, the Office for National Statistics reported yesterday.
Petrol prices fell by 2.1p per litre on the previous month and air fares were 6.4 per cent cheaper in April than March (Telegraph;Independent).
Reform’s latest research, published today, shows that some schools spend twice as much as others but achieve no better results. It argues that that the schools ring-fence can be lifted without compromising standards.
The research is available at www.reform.co.uk. The hashtag for the report is #mustdobetter.
In a leader, the Telegraph says: “We trust this research will stiffen the resolve of Michael Gove, as he wrestles with the education establishment’s resistance to his reforms” (Telegraph).
A news piece says: “School budgets could be cut by as much as a fifth because there is ‘no correlation at all’ between pumping money into the education system and improved exam results, a leading think tank suggests” (Telegraph).
In a leader, the paper says: “There is a case, which is made in a report today by Reform, the radical free-market think tank, that the schools budget of £36 billion can bear some of the weight without a drop in standards. Reform has studied the funding of almost all primary and secondary schools in England and concluded that there is no obvious link between more money and better results for children” (Times).
A news piece says: “Reform, a right-of-centre group, published an analysis suggesting that there were weak links between school budgets and the quality of teaching and pupils’ progress” (Times).
Sean Coughlan writes: “The Must Do Better report from Reform says there is no clear link between more spending and higher achievement - and calls for the lifting of the ring-fenced protection on school budgets” (BBC Online).
Kimberley Trewhitt, Senior Researcher at Reform, appeared on Daybreak to debate with Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the Assocation of Teachers and Lecturers.
Writing an op-ed, Kimberley Trewhitt says: “The Department for Education itself has argued that ‘what matters isn’t the amount of money spent per pupil, but how that money is spent’, yet this is somewhat meaningless while the budget is protected” (City A.M.).
In a blog, Andrew Haldenby, Director, concludes: “Come on, Mr Gove. You have shown that you are up for the fight. This is another one well worth having” (ConservativeHome).
A news article says: “The link between a bigger budget and better student performance is a myth, according to the authors of a Reform report called ‘Must do better’” (Evening Standard).
The report has also been covered in the Belfast Telegraph and on Yahoo News.
Reading tests for pupils aged six, held for the first time last summer, told teachers “nothing new” about the abilities of pupils, according to a survey of schools conducted by the Department for Education (Telegraph).
The Labour Party has argued for further education teachers to spend time in the private sector each year, as part of a new education strategy released today.
Under the plans, Labour hopes to connect education with businesses in order to identify potential skills gaps (FT; BBC Online).
The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, will announce plans to appoint a new inspector to monitor the performance of GPs later this week.
Mr Hunt plans to extend the role of GPs in providing community care, in the hope that this will relieve the pressure on Accident and Emergency wards (Telegraph; Guardian; Mail; BBC Online).
The heads of 20 emergency departments have written to senior NHS leaders warning of the “toxic overcrowding” and “institutional exhaustion” that is putting patient care at risk.
The letter said that: “What is entirely unacceptable is the delivery of unsafe care, but that is the prospect we find ourselves facing on too frequent a basis” (Independent).
The FTSE 100 has reached its highest level since the year 2000 (Telegraph; Guardian; Mail;City A.M.)
The National Federation of Sub-Postmasters argued for the privatisation of the Royal Mail to be delayed at its annual conference yesterday.
The plans to transform the Royal Mail into a mutual company, which are expected to raise £3 billion, will likely gather pace today as the Government-owned entity is expected to release improved annual results (FT; Telegraph; Independent).
The Ministry of Justice has postponed the outsourcing of five prisons to the private sector.
This follows last week’s decision to bring in auditors to investigate contracts for electronic tagging and the monitoring of offenders on which the Ministry believes it has overpaid (FT;Guardian).
High levels of inflation may limit the Monetary Policy Committee’s ability to achieve economic growth, according to the Ernst and Young ITEM Club.
Ernst and Young’s estimates for inflation over the coming years are higher than those of the Bank of England, at 2.6 per cent for 2014 and 2015 (Telegraph).
Nearly three quarter of firms will freeze their graduate salaries next year, according to figures released by Incomes Data Services, a research company.
The news comes after figures showed that nearly 60 per cent of those who graduated in 2012 did not leave university with a graduate job (Telegraph).
The National Federation of Sub-Postmasters (NFSP) has raised “serious concerns” over the Government’s plans to privatise the Royal Mail by March next year.
The concerns relate to the ability of the Post Office to function once within the private sector, as the NFSP’s General Secretary, George Thompson, made clear: “Currently, if privatisation goes ahead, the Post Office will be left in an even deeper crisis” (Telegraph; Times).
The outgoing Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, has warned that Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP’s, Help to Buy scheme should not become permanent.
Under the plan, due to run until 2017, the State will guarantee up to 15 per cent of mortgages on homes worth up to £600,000. Sir Mervyn said the UK must avoid emulating the US, where state-backed mortgage schemes had to be bailed out (Independent; BBC Online).
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, is working with Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories to increase corporate transparency and information sharing as part of tax reforms (FT; Guardian).
The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, has said that GPs should be responsible for out of hours care.
Mr Hunt argued that the problem arose when the GP contract was changed in 2004, and that with demand on A&E wards rising, reform is needed now more than ever (Telegraph; Express).
The number of available overnight beds on hospital wards has fallen by over 6,000 since the last General Election, according to figures due to be published in the House of Commons Library next month (Telegraph; Mail).
The Metropolitan Police is considering outsourcing £800 million of its back office functions in order to help meet the £500 million of savings required under government plans.
The contracts would involve the impounding of vehicles, human resources and finance capabilities being transferred to private sector companies (FT).
The Legal Services Consumer Panel has warned that proposals by the Ministry of Justice to reduce the criminal legal aid budget by £220 million will damage the justice system.
The Justice Select Committee is likely to hold an inquiry into the measures, which include restricting the ability of defendants to choose their own counsel (Guardian).
Local councils are paying up to £2 billion for short term accommodation for the homeless, according to a study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
A combination of changes to the benefit system, a shortage of affordable housing and rising private rents have led local councils to pay for the homeless to stay in hostels and shelters (Guardian).
Intergenerational welfare dependency is leaving children in many families without any ambition for employment, according to the Centre for Social Justice.
The report estimates that 7 million people live in “welfare ghettos”, where over half the working age population is dependent upon benefits, and predicts that by the end of this Parliament the Government will have spent £1 trillion on social security (Telegraph;Express).
The Head of the National Association of Head Teachers, Russell Hobby, says that pupils’ well-being and education should not be sacrificed to meet new targets.
Mr Hobby warned that an overbearing focus on targets could damage results by leading teachers to focus efforts on the lowest achieving pupils to get them over those targets (BBC Online).
Ministers have only identified £2.5 billion in cuts to their budgets, falling far short of the £11.5 billion of savings which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, asked Ministers to identify ahead of the upcoming Spending Round (FT).
Businesses and local politicians have opposed the conclusion of the National Audit Office’s report on HS2 that there is little evidence of significant economic benefit from the project(FT).
The Independent Commission on the future of UK airport capacity has argued that the UK can support more than one hub airport.
Heathrow has previously argued that the UK can only support one hub airport, but the Commission believes that two is feasible (FT).
The Education Secretary, Michael Gove MP, has approved funding to pilot a fast track training scheme for prospective social carers.
Under the new "Frontline" scheme, graduates could be qualified to give social care after just five weeks of training (BBC Online).
A government review into hospital complaints led by Ann Clwyd MP has found evidence of thousands of cases of "shocking" neglect of elderly and vulnerable patients.
The review, which has brought to light “shocking allegations of mistreatment in our hospitals”, is due to conclude in the summer (Telegraph).
People who provide 50 hours of care a week while in full time employment are 3 times more likely to be suffering from ill health than their colleagues, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The findings also revealed that the number of 5 to 7 year-olds in England and Wales who provide care to a family member has almost doubled since 2001 (Telegraph; Guardian).
Traditional lectures should be gradually replaced by content posted online, according to the Vice Chancellor of Southampton University, Don Nutbeam.
It is thought that educational material posted online is able to offer more “interactive content” (Times).
One third of schools have experienced a decline in sports participation over the last two years, according to a survey conducted by the Smith Institute.
The findings come two years after the Education Secretary, Michael Gove MP, scrapped the previous Government’s £162 million School Sport Partnership scheme (Telegraph; Times).
Reforming the fire service could save tens of millions of pounds a year, according to a review commissioned by the Government.
The review by Sir Ken Knight, Former Chief Fire and Rescue Officer, revealed that although there are 40 per cent fewer fire incidents compared with a decade ago, the number of fire fighters has remained the same, and suggested that having 46 separate fire services does not deliver efficiency (Mail; BBC Online).
The Bank of England has raised its estimates for growth in 2013 to 1.0 per cent.
The news comes as the outgoing Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, announced that “a recovery is in sight”, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, said: “The economy is growing. Surveys are better. Confidence is returning to financial markets” (Telegraph; BBC Online).
Public sector pay has risen 1.4 per cent in the first quarter of 2013, while private sector pay remained frozen, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS)(Telegraph).
Over half of the new jobs created over the past year have gone to foreign born workers, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics.
Over the last 12 months, the number of foreign born workers increased by 225,000, while 192,000 British-born people found work (Telegraph).
The National Audit Office has said that there appears to be little evidence supporting Government claims that HS2 will spread investment across the country and that the timetable for the planning phase of the project is unlikely to be met.
The report also added that the project has an estimated £3.3 billion funding gap (FT; Guardian;BBC Online).
The number of patients attending Accident and Emergency wards in 2012 was 18.3 million.
The figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre mark an increase of 1.03 million patients compared to the previous year (Telegraph).
Last year over 10,000 cancer patients were given the wrong drugs, according to a report released by Macmillan Cancer Support.
The study also found that one in three patients said that they were treated in an unclean environment, and over half of the respondents claimed that they were denied additional food having missed meals during surgery (Guardian).
Nearly a quarter of a million people under the age of 19 are caring for a relative, according to a study by the Children’s Society.
The study argued that this responsibility could damage young people’s chances of success in both education and the job market (BBC Online).
The UK unemployment rate has risen to 7.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2013, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics.
However, this represents a 0.4 decrease when compared with the unemployment figures for the first quarter of 2012 (BBC Online; City A.M.).
British household disposable income has fallen from the fifth highest internationally to the twelfth between the years of 2005 and 2011, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The disposable income of British households has fallen behind that of other countries because the growth in household income has largely been offset by inflation (FT; Telegraph;Mail).
The OECD has released a report stating that austerity policies in the UK are leading to rising levels of inequality.
The report says that while income inequality remained stable between 1995 and 2007, since the start of the recession the disposable income gap between the top and bottom 10 per cent of UK households has risen from 9:1 to10:1 (Guardian; Independent).
The Confederation of British Industry has warned that urgent measures must be taken in order to secure energy policy.
The statement follows frustration that energy and infrastructure investment remains limited, despite approximately 20 per cent of the UK’s power stations due to be shut down in the next decade (FT).
The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, has responded to The Foundation Trust Network’s warning that A&E units could be “close to collapse” by promising a “fundamental review” of Accident and Emergency care (Telegraph; BBC Online).
One in five casualty units are entirely reliant upon junior doctors at weekends, according to a report by the College of Emergency Medicine.
The report highlighted a severe shortage of staff within Accident and Emergency Units, finding that of the 131 observed, 80 per cent did not have a consultant permanently on duty (Telegraph;Mail).
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has called for medical help for dementia sufferers to be extended to help those who are currently undiagnosed.
Currently, under half of all dementia sufferers are thought to be undiagnosed, a figure that the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, has described as “shockingly low” (Guardian; BBC Online).
Theresa May MP, the Home Secretary, will today announce plans for criminals who kill police officers to be given life sentences, with no chance of parole.
Mrs May has said that murdering a police officer requires “life to mean life”, as it is an assault on the “fundamental basis of our society” (Times; Guardian).
29 per cent of university students feel that their degree course does not offer them good value for money, according to a study conducted by the Higher Education Policy Institute and Which?.
The report found that teaching methods and lecture hours vary drastically between universities (Times; BBC Online).
Young people are 10 per cent less likely to be in employment today than before the recession, according to the Trade Union Congress.
Only 58 per cent of 18-24 year olds found work in 2013, compared with almost 65 per cent in 2009, amounting to a shortfall of nearly 400,000 jobs (Guardian).
House prices are rising for the first time in three years, according to a report by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
The report attributed the growth to the Government’s Funding for Lending Scheme and the Help to Buy initiative (FT: Guardian).
Britain’s construction industry “continues to be adversely impacted by the shortage of major public projects and fierce competition in the regional markets”, according to the construction firm Balfour Beatty.
The warning follows the news that the total revenue for UK construction firms fell by 11 per cent in the first quarter of 2013 (City A.M.).
The Prime Minister’s Policy Unit is drawing up plans for service station fuel prices to be shown on motorway signs as part of a wider scheme of “cost of living” policies (FT; Guardian; Independent).
The Minister for Care and Support, Norman Lamb MP, has said that the NHS will “collapse in the long term” if action is not taken quickly to reduce the number of elderly people in hospital beds.
Mr Lamb argued that Britain’s ageing population is putting the system under “huge pressure" and that reforms need to focus on incentivising hospitals to discharge patients as soon as they are able (Telegraph; Mail).
The Government has announced plans to "make joined-up and co-ordinated health and care the norm by 2018".
The Government will launch a series of pioneer projects at the end of the summer to explore new ways of pooling budgets, speeding up hospital discharge and streamlining assessments (Guardian; BBC Online).
Conservative MPs have called upon the Government to abandon its plans to reduce the number of Accident and Emergency Units in South Wales from seven to four or five.
The calls come amongst fears that A&E units across Wales are already struggling to cope due to unprecedented levels of admissions (BBC Online).
The Public Accounts Committee has said that it does not “yet have confidence” that the Ministry of Defence’s equipment budget is affordable.
Comprising £159 billion of planned spending until 2022, the defence equipment budget also includes a £4.8 billion contingency fund, however the Committee questioned whether this would be enough (BBC Online).
The UK economy is moving from “flat to growth”, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
The latest survey by the CBI has shown improved confidence amongst UK businesses and their forecast has predicted GDP to grow 1 per cent in 2013 and 2 per cent in 2014 (Financial Times; Telegraph; City A.M.; BBC Online).
The Economist Intelligent Unit has released a poll indicating that global industrial companies view the UK as the third best prospect for future profit growth.
The survey comes after the Office for National Statistics released data showing that the UK’s trade deficit fell from £3.4 billion to £3.1 billion between February and March (Financial Times).
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has highlighted a severe shortage of low-skilled jobs in the economy, with an average of 45 applicants for each low-skilled job (Financial Times).
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has argued against prospective cuts to the London transport budget, expected in the upcoming Spending Review.
However, other regions believe that they deserve infrastructure investment more given that while £774 per capita of public spending was spent on transport in London in 2010-2011, the northwest received £337 per capita and the east received £328 (Financial Times).
Lord Young, the Prime Minister’s Enterprise Advisor, has released a report calling for the removal of the age cap for start up loans.
The report also includes proposals to make it easier for small firms to bid for public sector contracts, and to give small businesses more access to expansion advice (BBC Online).
Ecotricity, the UK’s first green electricity provider, has warned that the Government is undermining the confidence of investors by frequently altering the subsidies available.
Private equity is an essential part of redeveloping the UK’s energy infrastructure, which is estimated to cost £200 billion over the next decade (Independent).
George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, has said that next month’s G8 summit will focus on tax evasion and avoidance.
This follows the UK’s decision in January to base its current Chairmanship of the G8 on the issue (Financial Times).
Ambulance trusts are losing thousands of operational hours per month as ambulances spend hours queuing to unload their patients at A&E wards.
The delays are being caused by shortages of hospital beds and doctors, with some NHS Trusts being forced to employ “queue nurses” to look after patients waiting to be admitted (Telegraph).
The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, has promised that the elderly will receive one-to-one care from NHS workers.
The pledge comes ahead of today’s announcement by Mr Hunt that will begin a wide-ranging review into how the NHS delivers care, which is expected to transfer more responsibility for out of hours care to GPs (Telegraph; Independent).
A GP whistleblower has revealed that Britain’s largest out of hours care provider regularly uses senior nurses to cover for doctors during out of hours shifts.
The firm, Harmoni, has been forced to rely upon nurses because too few doctors are volunteering for out of hours shifts (Guardian; Mail).
A survey conducted by the Safe Staffing Alliance has found that 40 per cent of wards are looked after by just a single nurse.
In such cases, this equates to a ratio of 1 nurse for every 8 patients, a balance that the Safe Staffing Alliance argues is unacceptable (Guardian; BBC Online).
The Education Secretary, Michael Gove MP, has said that the pupil premium should be protected from the next round of spending cuts.
Mr Gove said that he is fighting to ensure that the most disadvantaged children are “insulated from the necessary economies that we need to make" (BBC Online).
Nick Seddon’s departure from Reform to become the Health Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister was reported in yesterday’s papers.
The article by the Evening Standard drew attention to Nick’s previous health research during his time at Reform (Evening Standard; Health Service Journal).
A&E units have reached “tipping point” as they struggle to handle rising numbers of patients, according to Dr Cliff Mann, Registrar at the College of Emergency Medicine.
Dr Mann argued that the increase in demand comes at a time when doctors are turning away from careers in emergency care due to the extreme pressures being placed upon them (Telegraph).
Statistics released by the NHS have revealed that over the last 4 years, 750 patients have suffered from the severe avoidable errors while in hospital.
The mistakes, labelled “never events” because under no circumstances should they ever occur, included surgical equipment being left inside the bodies of over 320 patients, and 214 patients undergoing surgery on the wrong area of their bodies (Telegraph; Mirror; BBC Online).
The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has cast doubt over plans to reform childcare rules.
Mr Clegg has questioned whether the reforms, which would allow carers to look after greater numbers of children, would in fact deliver sustained quality in childcare (Telegraph; Guardian;Independent).
The Care Bill, to be published today, will ensure that benefits will available to pensioners moving to another part of the country as soon as they arrive, in order to end the postcode lottery of taxpayer-funded assistance.
This will replace the current system, whereby each council makes its own assessment of an individual’s right to support, in an attempt to prevent the elderly from becoming “isolated” (Telegraph).
George Osborne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, has praised the decision to raise the age of retirement.
Mr Osborne said that raising the pension age to 66 in 2020 and 67 in the second half of the decade could save over £100 billion (Times).
Britain’s economic recovery is gaining momentum due to an increase in manufacturing output, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Manufacturing grew by 0.7 per cent in February, then by 1.1 per cent in March, outstripping the ONS’s original predictions (Telegraph; Express).
The Transport Select Committee has recommended the expansion of Heathrow Airport rather than building a new airport in the Thames Estuary.
However, the Government will await the findings of the Sir Howard Davies commission, due in 2015, before coming to a decision (FT; Telegraph).
The Council of Mortgage Lenders has reported a £500 million increase in buy-to-let loans from the same period last year.
In the first 3 months of 2013, mortgage’s worth £4.2 billion were given by its members, compared to £3.7 billion a year before (Guardian).
The National Audit Office has reported that the new aircraft carriers being built for the Royal Navy will not be fully combat ready until 2022, extending the time that Britain lacks a fully capable aircraft carrier by two years.
The National Audit Office has said that the decision to delay spending on a new radar system is responsible for the delay, arguing that the cuts to the defence budget have as a result created a “credibility gap” in the Navy (Telegraph).
Thursday 9 May
Patrick Nolan, Chief Economist at Reform, has written an article for Public Finance arguing that by leaving the triple-lock on pensions and the ring fence around the NHS, the Queen's Speech failed to address major long term funding issues.
Patrick writes: “It is possible to build a welfare state that not only provides for all citizens but also future-proofs the economy against government deficits and debt. But this will not come from continuing to protect major entitlements” (Public Finance).
Patrick Nolan also appeared on the BBC News Channel and BBC Radio Gloucestershire to discuss the Queen’s Speech.
Patrick argued that a major concern with the proposed pension and care reforms is their lack of affordability in the longer term (BBC Online).
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has said that the Pensions and Social Care Bills introduced in yesterday’s Queen’s Speech are intended to reward the elderly for their contributions.
Mr Cameron said: “If you have contributed all your life, you should be rewarded in retirement…So we will introduce a Bill to cap social care costs, meaning that pensioners do not have to sell their homes to fund their care. A Pensions Bill will also be brought in to create a simple, flat rate pension that encourages saving” (Telegraph).
The total debt held by people above the age of 60 has increased by 40 per cent since the beginning of the recession, according to the debt charity Step Change.
The report found that people over the age of 60 have larger per capita debt than any other age group, at an average of £23,000 (Mail).
Thomas Cawston, Research Director at Reform, appeared on BBC Three Counties Radio to discuss the rising pressure on A&E services.
Thomas said that many of the patients in A&E units could be cared for in more appropriate settings outside of hospitals, arguing that improvements in primary care, community care and social care could help relieve the pressure facing the acute sector (BBC Three Counties Radio, 10:45).
Levels of demand on A&E are unsustainable according to the Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission, David Prior.
Mr Prior said that “Emergency admissions through Accident & Emergency (A&E) are out of control in large parts of the country" and called for the large-scale closures of hospital beds and investment in community care (Telegraph; Express; BBC Online).
The Chief Executive of Sainsbury’s, Justin King, has warned that the UK’s tax system is stifling the retail sector.
Mr King argued that reductions in corporation tax are offset by other new levies: “For every £1 we have benefited from the reduction in corporation tax we have incurred more than £2 in other taxes” (FT; Telegraph)
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, will next week call for new financial powers for the Capital.
The proposals, by the London Financial Commission, will detail the ability to raise property and tourism taxes, and various housing and infrastructure spending abilities (Guardian).
A report by the Major Projects Authority in the Cabinet Office, due to be released later this month, will show that a third of the 200 largest government infrastructure projects are either over-budget or behind schedule (Times).
Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, will today announce reforms to relax planning laws.
The measures are aimed to encourage the establishment of new businesses and reduce the planning permission needed for converting underused buildings. (Daily Mail).
Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, has announced that tens of thousands of prisoners given short jail terms will be monitored on their release under rehabilitation plans to be run by private companies and charities in an effort to cut reoffending rates.
The Ministry of Justice will also announce today that the country’s 35 probation trusts are to be scrapped and replaced by a smaller, nationally run organisation (Financial Times; Times; Guardian).
The Government’s plans to curb immigrants’ access to healthcare and employment within the UK have been criticised for transferring responsibility for border control to doctors, businessmen and landlords.
The Chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Dr Clare Gerada, warned that “GPs should not become a new ‘border agency’”, while Lord Oakeshott argued that immigration reforms should not “make every small businessman and buy-to-let landlord moonlight as an immigration officer” (Telegraph).
Reforms to the education system, including a new curriculum and plans to link teachers’ pay with performance, were confirmed in yesterday’s Queen’s Speech.
The new curriculum will make it compulsory for students to study a foreign language during their later school years, set aside exam marks to be awarded for good spelling and grammar, and place more emphasis on extended writing (BBC Online).
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has forecast that by 2020 the number of British children in child poverty will have risen by 1.1 million.
The research suggests that by the end of the decade, the total number of children in poverty will have risen to 3.4 million (Telegraph; Guardian).
A poll for The Independent indicates that the Government is not succeeding in convincing people on the need for more housing.
The poll shows that more people disagree than agree with the statement: “the Government is right to change the planning rules to allow more homes to be built in the countryside to try to boost economic growth” (Independent).
House prices have risen in April by 1.1 per cent compared to March, according to the latest figures from Halifax.
Halifax’s housing economist, Martin Ellis, said that activity within the housing market will remain restrained: "Weak income growth and continuing below-trend economic growth are likely to remain significant constraints on housing demand during the remainder of 2013" (BBC Online).
The Immigration Bill, to be announced in today’s Queen’s Speech, will make landlords legally responsible for checking that their tenants are not illegal immigrants.
Under the new legislation, employers will also have to check the status of individuals within their workforce, and rules will be introduced to limit the extent to which immigrants can claim benefits in the UK (Telegraph; Guardian; Express).
A survey by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has revealed that local councils in England have cut £2.7 billion from adult social care services since 2010, the equivalent of 20 per cent of their care budgets.
As the demand for services continues to rise, the Association warned that whilst substantial savings had been made, it would become increasingly difficult to protect the vulnerable from its effects (Guardian).
Reform has today released a report on the need for reform to the welfare state. The report calls for the Queen’s Speech to lay out plans to cut the cost of pensions and tax credits and begin a debate on the future of NHS funding. A copy of the report can be found here.
The report has received widespread coverage in today’s media.
Andrew Haldenby, Director of Reform, has written an op-ed for The Telegraph calling for the Queen’s Speech to place spending on the elderly on a more sustainable footing.
Andrew writes: “Through no fault of their own, pensioners have received a level of support that cannot now be afforded. And if ministers grasp the nettle now, Britain will be in a much better place – with families able to prepare for their own future, higher levels of saving, and, eventually, lower burdens on the taxpayer” (Telegraph).
Patrick Nolan, Chief Economist at Reform, has written an op-ed for City A.M. on the report, arguing that politicians cannot continue to run scared of the elderly voting bloc.
Patrick writes: “The next government will have to make tough decisions on the welfare state, regardless of who wins the 2015 general election. Waiting will just make these decisions harder” (City A.M.).
The Times has covered the report, highlighting the unaffordable rise in spending on retired households, with the average annual net gain made by retired households having risen from £5,422 in 1990 to almost double at £10,009 in 2010 (Times).
There has been further coverage of the report in The Independent, The Sun, The Daily Mail and Sky news.
The Pensions Minister, Steve Webb MP, has defended plans to reform the pensions system so the state pension will depend on an individual’s contribution, not the employment record of their spouse.
The changes, due to come into force from 2016, are expected to save hundreds of millions of pounds according to Mr Webb (Independent; Express; BBC Online).
Heather Wheeler MP, Conservative MP for South Derbyshire, has argued that up to £2 billion should be transferred from the NHS budget so as to help pay for social care for the elderly.
Ms Wheeler argued that the transfer might enable long-term savings to be made, as it could reduce the need for expensive medical interventions (Guardian).
Statistics obtained under a Freedom of Information request reveal that new legislation is failing to ensure that doctors who have had multiple complaints made against them are reported to the General Medical Council.
According to the available information, two or more complaints had been made against 204 doctors, and yet only eight of these were referred to the General Medical Council (Telegraph).
Research by Diabetes UK has estimated that the number of Britons with diabetes could rise to 700,000 by the end of the decade.
The organisation estimates that the number of people with diabetes could rise from 4 million to 6.25 million by 2035, which would then cost the economy £40 billion per annum (Express).
Asthma UK has said that the costs of treating asthma have risen by £1 billion a year and that much of the cost is in fact avoidable.
The research shows that whilst hospitals are often relied upon to treat people with asthma, patients who have received an action plan from a GP or clinic are four times less likely to end up in hospital, though only 12 per cent of patients have one (Times).
A survey conducted by the Business Confidence Monitor has found that confidence in the British economy is at its highest level since 2010.
Although growth figures continue to be poor, Michael Izza, Chief Executive of the ICAEW, said that: "There is a gradual improvement in the economy and the recovery is starting to stand on more solid ground" (BBC Online).
Stephen Hester, the Chief Executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, has said that the bank is struggling to make loans to businesses despite having the cash needed to do so.
The comments have put the Government’s plans to increase the Funding for Lending Scheme under scrutiny, with Mr Hester arguing that the bank is “lending as much as we [it] can... we are not constrained by either capital or funding” (Telegraph; BBC Online).
The Civil Service has failed to fulfil Francis Maude's, Minister for the Cabinet Office, plans to increase the business acumen in Whitehall, according to a report by Insight Public Affairs.
The report found that whilst the plans had placed figures from business with commercial knowledge onto departmental boards, some departments were rarely consulting with them, such as the Treasury’s supervisory board which met only once in the year to April 2012 (Financial Times).
The Pentagon has expressed concerns that the Ministry of Defence’s plan to outsource the £14 billion defence procurement budget to the private sector could jeopardise security (Financial Times).
A study by the think tank Demos has argued that school inspections should be carried out by parents, teachers and pupils.
The report suggests that Ofsted inspections promote a target-driven culture that damages pupils’ education: “This report strongly argues that that the current model of accountability is profoundly toxic and is failing to achieve its stated goal of improving education” (Telegraph, print edition only; Guardian).