Media Summary - Thursday 9 August
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).