Policy Unpacked #3 – Welfare reform and social housing

Policy Unpacked logoThe Coalition government has embarked on a wide-ranging and far-reaching programme of change to the UK welfare system. Several components of the agenda  have already been implemented. Some are still to come.  The Coalition is pursuing policies on welfare benefits, rents and social housing development that have potentially significant implications both for household poverty and the future of housing providers. [Read more...]

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The dangers of weak policy foundations

Broken RoadToday we witnessed a number of important developments, if you happen to be a policy geek. These developments have a substantially different character, and provide students of the policy process with much to chew on.

This morning we received news that Chris Grayling has decided to drop his proposals to introduce price competitive tendering for legal aid. This follows an earlier relatively low-key announcement that the proposal to remove defendants’ choice of representative was to be dropped.

Instead of the model of tendering proposed in Transforming Legal Aid the Ministry of Justice is working with professional bodies to come up with something new.

I’ve already had words about the TLA proposals, which are deeply problematic. And I, alongside many thousands of others, submitted a response to the consultation. As far as I can tell, almost all of those responses were pointing out the folly of the proposed approach. No one is against saving money. But almost no one thought that the TLA proposals represented a plausible means of doing so. It was a pretty friendless policy.

So this change of heart has got to be good news. [Read more...]

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Universal Credit – some observations on policy and politics

Yesterday I scooted over to Newport to the Office of National Statistics to give a presentation as part of a lunchtime seminar on Universal Credit.

The text accompanying my presentation is available on my page at Scribd.com. You can access it below the fold. [Read more...]

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Housing the homeless in the private rented sector

The publication of Statutory Instruments is not, if I’m absolutely honest, the sort of thing to which I pay much attention. However, this week The Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2012 was published. It comes into effect early next month. And it is going to be of considerable significance.

Following the Localism Act local authorities are now allowed, for the first time, to discharge their homelessness duty into the private rented sector without the applicant’s consent. This change brought the Government under pressure to lay down some conditions regarding the nature of the accommodation that can be used for this purpose. And that’s what the SI does. [Read more...]

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Policy, information and transparency

The Information Tribunal delivered its decision last week on the release of the risk registers associated with the Health & Social Care Bill. The Information Tribunal concluded that the Information Commissioner was correct in the initial decision that the release of the transitional risk register (TRR) – but not the strategic risk register – was in the public interest. And the Government was wrong to refuse to release it. I’m surprised that this decision did not attract more attention. Perhaps there’s a sense that the battle has already been lost. I understand the Department of Health is considering whether there are any legal grounds for challenging the Tribunal’s decision.

The IT’s report is not perhaps the most engaging of documents, but there is quite a bit of interest in it, beyond the fact that the Tribunal found against the Government. [Read more...]

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Has Coalition 2.0 bitten the dust?

It would appear that Coalition 2.0 is heading for the scrapheap. At least that is what Matt Chorley reported in yesterday’s Independent on Sunday. Last year the Coalition partners were talking about needing a mid-term document to set out a further joint agenda for the second half of this Parliament. They were expecting to have dealt with all the measures in the original coalition agreement. They anticipated being at a bit of a loose end during 2013-15. It looks like that will no longer be necessary. [Read more...]

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Compassionate, careless or conniving?

Today I posted over at Dale & Co:

In the run up to the Parliamentary recess the country was transfixed by a scandal involving the Conservative contingent of the Government, the media, powerful private companies and a Select Committee exerting itself. The scandal gained momentum when it was clear that particularly vulnerable people were being affected by unacceptable or underhand practice.

There is another scandal brewing which has the same cocktail of ingredients. I am talking about the changes to Incapacity Benefit and the implementation of Employment Support Allowance. The rhetoric of reform here is positive. Some might even say unexceptional. But the practice is, by comparison, looking decidedly ropey. As so often turns out to be the case.

You can read the full post here.

Update (05/05/13):

The Dale&Co blog is no longer online. If you want to read this post – and I hope you do – it is available in my collection of blog posts The policy con is on: Welfare and workfare in Cameron’s Britain. You can access this on my bookshop page.

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“Fit to work” ergo a scrounger

Quite a few media outlets (for example, here and here) are this morning reporting figures produced by the Department for Work and Pensions that show four out of ten applicants for Employment and Support Allowance failed to qualify for assistance and, hence, are ‘fit to work’. This is taken by Employment Minister Chris Grayling as further evidence of the need to reassess everyone on the old Incapacity Benefit because, by implication, there must be tens of thousands of people receiving IB when they shouldn’t be. They are, in fact, ‘fit to work’. Scroungers.

The BBC reports Mr Grayling as adding:

“We will, of course, carry on providing unconditional support to those who cannot work, but for those who can it’s right and proper that they start back on the road to employment.”

[Read more...]

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Pressing on with NHS Reform – a less than rational process

The central question in the current debate over the Government’s NHS reforms is whether the “listening” exercise taking place during the recently discovered “natural pause” in the legislative process is genuine or symbolic. Concerns that the exercise is cosmetic will only be fuelled by an article in yesterday’s Guardian which cites a letter from David Nicholson, the Chief Executive of the NHS, who suggests that the implementation process should press ahead and that there is a need to “maintain momentum on the ground”.

The article includes a quote from Hamish Meldrum from the BMA who states that the BMA has:

… always maintained that changes in the NHS must not anticipate the legislative process and lead to irreversible decisions.

I’ve no idea whether the BMA have always maintained this position. But this quote highlights something very significant about the way policy is currently developing in this field. [Read more...]

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