Press coverage

Find coverage in the press of Reform's latest work below. 

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Reform report coverage: 'Work in progress'

Reform launched a report on Work in progress. Towards a leaner, smarter public-sector workforce on how the public-sector workforce can be brought up-to-date and modern. A variety of media outlets covered the report, highlighting how technology and automation can streamline the public service, both at Whitehall but also on the frontline of public services. The impact of the gig economy is also explored. Coverage can be found in the following outlets: The Guardian The Times The Sun The Telegraph Civil Service World City AM  The Independent Sky News Mail Online ITV News The Express The Mirror Public Finance International Business Times ITProPortal Computer Business Review Business Insider UK The Yorkshire Post Schools Week The Stack London Loves Business Tech City News Digital By Default News Tech Radar Gizmodo Local Gov People Management Politics Home Government Computing Wired

Civil Service World, 6 February 2017

Alexander Hitchcock, Senior Researcher at Reform, wrote an article in Civil Service World following the publication of Reform's report, Work in progress. Towards a leaner, smarter public-sector workforce. Government needs to deliver new ways of working for public servants, embracing technology to deliver tailored, personalised, accessible services to citizens. Any upgrade in services must start with the workforce – which accounts for 50% of day-to-day spend in the public sector. However, the aim should be to build a workforce around people's needs, not a "salami-slicing activity", which we have seen previously, where Ministers have often taken tactical decisions. This new approach should also be underpinned by a new mentality: a culture of innovation.

"This builds on a new mentality signalled by Ben Gummer – one that moves from a focus on cost-cutting measures to designing sustainable services that work for citizens. A new culture is also a better offer for public servants, who are there to serve the public."  

Read the full article here.

Conservative Home, 6 February 2017

Alexander Hitchcock, Senior Researcher at Reform, wrote an article in Conservative Home following the launch of Reform's report, Work in progress. Towards a leaner, smarter public-sector workforce. A more agile country is needed to meet the demands and challenges of citizens whose expectations are higher than ever. To do this, a leaner, smarter state is also required. Current technology could replace 250,000 administrator roles in the public sector, saving over £4 billion from the annual wage bill. Technology could also transform the lives of frontline staff as well. For example, the Royal College of Nursing argues that up to 20 per cent of nursing time is spent on "non-essential" paper work. Finally, removing excessive management roles in the civil service and beyond will ensure responsibility for work is clear – and will empower employees to take ownership of their work.  

Read the full article here.

Prospect, 6 February 2017

Emilie Sundorph wrote an article in Prospect following the publication of Reform's report, Work in progress. Towards a leaner, smarter public-sector workforce. She argued that agility "must become the standard for the public-sector workforce". The most radical way to do this would be through the gig economy. It enables employers to spend resources on outcomes and services they need in a more targeted and flexible way, and has benefits for employees as well, including autonomy and flexibility.

"By using the gig economy, workers will actively select the tasks they want to contribute to, and depend on their performance in each one to increase their chances of being awarded the next one. This will encourage strong engagement and a pursuit of a diversity of skills for each individual, to the benefit of workers, users and employers. All in all, that’s a pretty good gig."  

Read the full article here.

The Telegraph, 6 February 2017

Andrew Haldenby, Director of Reform, wrote an article in The Telegraph following the publication of Work in progress. Towards a leaner, smarter public-sector workforce. Technology has huge implications for the public sector, including its workforce. Already, it has been making waves in transport, health and HMRC but it also has wider implications for the public-sector workforce. Automation can save money and increase efficiencies, a much-needed goal in light of the current fiscal environment. Brexit showed the public's frustration with a style of government it felt never listened or delivered for them. Technology could help lead to 'government at your service' as Rt Hon Ben Gummer MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, put it. It can also slim down management structures in the public sector, which look very dated.

"Automation will replace up to nine in 10 of the Whitehall’s 140,000 administrative roles in the next decade, saving £2.7 billion a year. Similar changes in the NHS could save a further £1.7 billion. When the national debt remains twice as high as its level before the financial crisis – and still rising – these efficiencies are essential. Yet the real benefit will come from a shift in the culture of the public sector away from the bureaucracy that citizens find so frustrating."  

Read the full article here.

UK Authority, 27 January 2017

UK Authority wrote an article on the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI). For the article, they interviewed Reform staff members Alexander Hitchcock, Senior Researcher and Eleonora Harwich, Researcher.

"Public services think tank Reform has been monitoring the early work on AI and suggests that it could find momentum from contributing to the long term demand for more cost-effective services. Researcher Alexander Hitchcock says this could apply particularly to healthcare. “There are challenges in terms of funding the NHS, and if the government can create a debate about the means to improve the NHS, reduce its cost with technology and say ‘This is h

ow AI works’, it can be a useful means to incorporate it into public services,” he says. He adds that it could be possible to build a moment through an early focus on low risk initiatives. “What government should be doing is focusing on the small wins and aiming for a snowball effect. So in the next few years it can use the technology that is proven to work and is not a high risk, like the more basic administrative stuff. “It can create a momentum in the use of AI to show internally in government what it can do, even though it might be less innovative than some of the stuff coming from the private sector. That will involve piloting, probably at local level and with small budgets.”  

Read the full article here.

Health IT Central, 23 January 2017

Andrew Haldenby, Director of Reform, gave an interview originally to the British Journal of Healthcare Computing. He argued that the NHS needs to be on the "right side" of the digital revolution. “What’s so refreshing about health technology is that it’s so easy. It does make healthcare part of the consumer revolution which we’ve seen in some many other parts of our lives. “That doesn’t mean that it’s going to be simple, but it will be convenient, it will be exciting, it will be easy for people and it will be fantastically accessible". 

Read the full article here.

Civil Service World, 19 January 2017

Alexander Hitchcock, Senior Researcher at Reform, wrote an article in Civil Service World following the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR)'s public finance projections. The OBR predict that debt will be 224% of GDP by 2067. He argued that pushing ahead on the localism agenda, and giving local areas control over the delivery of public services, is the way forward. It provides an opportunity to deliver localised services at greater value for money. For example, healthcare commissioners in Cornwall have combined to reduce non-elective emergency admissions for people with long-term conditions by 40% between 2013 and 2014. However, the Government could be doing more to push the localism agenda for public services.

"Acting now presents an opportunity to deliver public services that deliver the best outcomes today, without bankrupting the country tomorrow."  

Read the full article here.

Prospect, 18 January 2017

Alexander Hitchcock, Senior Researcher at Reform, wrote an article in Prospect after the release of the Office for Budget Responsibility's fiscal projections. Costs for the NHS are set to rise from 6.9 per cent of GDP in 2021 - 22 to 12.6 per cent in 2066 - 67, which is not sustainable for public finances. He argued that the projections should provide fresh impetus for the government looking to deliver an NHS that can meet the needs of 21st-century patients. There are ways this can be done. The use of mobile apps could triage patients, particularly the "worried well", freeing up GPs for other appointments. Larger general practices can deliver urgent care, diagnostics and even minor surgery. Also, the wider NHS workforce, particularly nurses, pharmacists and physiotherapists, could be used much more effectively by GPs, freeing up their own time even further.

"Reform has always been needed in the NHS to meet the needs of patients at lower costs. Yesterday’s OBR figures up the stakes: reform is now needed to ensure the existence of the NHS."  

Read the full article here.