The thoughts that count - the best of global thought leadership (November 2022)

What will the public services we use look like in the future? The Serco Institute’s monthly digest – The Thoughts That Count – pulls together some of the best thinking on public services policy from across the world

Public services & public policy

The State of the State 2022-23: from the pandemic to a cost of living crisis – Reform (UK)

The 11th edition of Reform’s annual report examines the key challenges facing the UK Government and public services, based on a 6,000-respondent public poll and on interviews with public sector leaders. Despite the pressures on the UK’s public services and public finances, which are still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic and now must cope with cost of living and energy crises, the report finds cause for optimism, given that public sector leaders are ‘more passionate and animated than ever before’ and hungry for public service reform.

Cutting the civil service – Institute for Government (UK)

The IfG sets out six steps the UK Government could take to cut the size of the civil service without sacrificing skills and capability. The recommendations include: taking a ‘pounds not people’ approach to cutting the civil service; having a long-term plan for the size and shape of the civil service in the next five to 10 years; motivating and reassuring those staff who are staying, starting with fair salaries, terms and conditions; being prepared to invest and save; and differentiating clearly and honestly between making efficiencies and stopping activity.

Help where it’s most needed: How Leading Administrations are Aiding Citizens – Lisbon Council (Europe)

A research paper that presents the findings developed by the 28-member UserCentriCities Consortium on the provision of digital public services. By reviewing digital public service provision best practice and interviews with senior civil servants, this paper examines successful case-studies in Helsinki, Catalonia and Portugal. The authors also outline an 8-step plan to deliver better public services by leveraging data that is already in the public domain.

Public Services in the Hunter: An Engine of Economic and Social Prosperity – The Australia Institute

This data-rich report outlines the wider economic and social impact of public services in the Hunter region of Australia. For example, the paper outlines how four sectors in which public provision is especially important (including health care, education, public administration and safety, and transportation) account for 35% of total Hunter region employment, and 85% of net job growth, in the last 5 years. The researchers argue that the wider impact of public services should be considered.

Deglobalisation and Protectionism – Bruegel (Europe)

Has deglobalisation happened? And if so, is protectionism to blame? This paper presents a data-driven analysis of whether deglobalisation has taken place. The authors conclude that, notwithstanding supply-side shocks and the impact of the Covid pandemic, the world remains increasingly interconnected and global markets in robust shape.

Hard Cash and Soft Power: When Chinese Firms Win EU Contracts – Carnegie Europe (Europe)

A paper that explores European public opinion toward EU tendering policy and Chinese companies, taking the China-built Peljesac Bridge in Croatia as a case-study. The author lays out how the EU’s open procurement policy entails no protections to guard against the ambitions of China, its “economic competitor and systemic rival”, which often looks to the EU procurement system as a way to accrue economic and soft power. Key findings from the polling reveal that Croatian citizens do not see Chinese firms as a threat or as providing lower quality infrastructure; ultimately, the author argues, EU policymakers must do more to make themselves and EU citizens aware of the threat posed by China.

Fixing Brexit: A New Agenda for a New Partnership With the European Union – Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (UK)

This paper sets out policy recommendations to restore a better and more productive working relationship between London and Brussels. The current post-Brexit relationship is not working, and taking the UK back into the European single market without evidence of majority support among the British population is problematic, but there are steps that can be taken to reduce friction in trade between the two sides.

UK Science and Technology after Brexit: How to Fix It – Centre for European Reform (Europe)

Science and technology is one of the hardest-hit areas by the negative impacts of Brexit. Soon, if the UK does not find a solution to the Northern Ireland Protocol, the EU will not allow it to participate in the ‘Horizon Europe’ research and innovation fund. Brexit is further hindering the supply of skilled labour and UK universities’ ability to retain top STEM talent. The authors conclude that to offset this Brexit-induced malaise in the sciences, the UK should settle the Northern Ireland Protocol, set out a plan for where the country should diverge from EU standards, make it easier for highly skilled workers to work in the UK, and gather cross-party support for an enduring pact on science funding. 

Saudi Sports: Regional and International Positioning – Gulf Research Center (Saudi Arabia)

Sports is identified under Saudi Vision 2030 as a critical pillar of Saudi Arabia’s Quality of Life Programme. This article sets out ongoing efforts by Saudi Arabia to promote sports and participation in sports within the Kingdom as well as to bolster its international reputation.

UK Autumn Statement

Autumn Statement 2022: IFS analysis – Institute for Fiscal Studies (UK)

This is a collection of presentation materials used at an event held the day after the 2022 Autumn Statement, at which IFS researchers presented analysis of the Chancellor’s announcements regarding the state finances, public services spending, and the tax and benefit system. In his opening remarks, IFS Director Paul Johnson notes that the downturn and necessity for spending restraint is due to rising debt interest payments (expected to reach £100bn a year) after years of heavy borrowing and to weak tax receipts after sluggish economic growth. Britons will also suffer a 7% fall in living standards over the next two years, the biggest blow to living standards in living memory. However, austerity will not be immediately apparent as public services spending growth is protected for the next two years, spending cuts are only due after the next election, and tax hikes will ramp up over time due to fiscal drag. Johnson concludes on a grim note, saying that Britain ‘just got a lot poorer’ and that the country is in for a ‘long, hard, unpleasant journey’ made worse by economic mismanagement.

What does the autumn statement mean for public services? – Institute for Government (UK)

This paper assesses the Autumn Statement’s impact on the NHS; schools; the criminal justice system; and local government. It finds that the Statement is likely to leave many public services performing worse in 2025 than just prior to the pandemic, when they were already performing worse than they had been in 2010. While the Statement’s frontloading of funding in protected service areas shields them from the worst impacts of austerity that had been feared, it is unlikely to be sufficient to enable key services such as the NHS to return to pre-pandemic levels of performance during this parliament. Services not protected by the Chancellor face day-to-day spending cuts of 1.2% on average for the next two years: criminal justice services are in a particularly dire condition, having received no extra funding in the Statement and therefore facing little prospect of being able to safely house the expected increase in prisoner numbers and to meaningfully reduce the pre-pandemic Crown Court case backlogs.

Help today, squeeze tomorrow – Resolution Foundation (UK)

This report sets out the Resolution Foundation’s analysis of the Autumn Statement, which amounts to the biggest fiscal tightening since 2010. The think tank estimates that, with economic stagnation, unemployment projected to rise by 500,000 and rapidly rising debt-servicing costs, borrowing will be £270bn higher than had been anticipated in March. Spending cuts account for three-quarters of the fiscal tightening announced since the spring, since the £25bn in tax rises contained in the Autumn Statement will largely go towards filling the deficit left behind by the Truss premiership. However, the tax burden will rise to its highest level since World War II, 37.5% of GDP by 2024/25: furthermore, 70% of the Statement’s new taxes on individuals will be paid for by the richest fifth of the population. Although departmental spending will see modest top-ups over the next two years, rising debt interest costs will mean severe real-terms cuts to public service spending from 2025/26.

£560 million in levelling up funding lost to inflation – IPPR (UK)

IPPR calculates that the Chancellor’s failure to inflation-proof levelling up funding in the Autumn Statement will result in a real-terms reduction in the amount of £560 million to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund and Shared Prosperity Fund. This amounts to £1 in every £13 in levelling up funding, and will mean many local authorities are forced to downsize their infrastructure projects.

Our Response to the Autumn Statement – Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (UK)

With his Autumn Statement, the UK Chancellor aimed to restore credibility through tight fiscal policy, do so without sending aggregate demand plunging, and protect British households from soaring power bills. The Statement he delivered outlined a ‘bare-minimum’ set of measures for the next two years. From 2025 onward, deep spending cuts will take effect, reaching £36bn by 2027/28 – while departmental budgets will likely grow 1% in real terms from 2025, given health and defence’s generous settlements, this suggests ‘incredibly tight’ spending settlements across most other public services.

Hunt's Autumn Statement: what happened to the "E" in "PPE"? – Institute of Economic Affairs (UK)

In its response to the Autumn Statement, the latest in a long line of fiscal statements delivered by Oxford Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) graduates, the IEA notes that Britons “can always count on the lessons learned in the politics lectures to be reliably implemented, economics only in extremis (when the money runs out), and philosophy never.” It furthermore argues that the Chancellor ‘should have gone further’ in raising the energy price cap, criticises the decision to restore stamp duty to its previous levels in 2025, and contends that the rises in corporation, businesses, dividends, and oil and gas companies’ profits will deter investment, prolonging Britain’s economic stagnation.

Autumn Statement 2022: what it means for business – CBI (UK)

In its analysis of the 2022 Autumn Statement, the CBI notes that the Government’s priorities are clearly stability, growth and public services. The article notes that the freeze in thresholds for employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and expansion of windfall taxes will be ‘stings in the tail’ for business, but that the Government is nevertheless back on the right track for fiscal stability. The plan for growth, however, was ‘weaker’ and ‘mixed’. The CBI calls for clarity on skills, phase two of the business energy support package, and on Government plans for tackling low investment and weak productivity.

Boosterish Britain must now face harsh economic reality – Chatham House (UK)

This briefing note outlines how the UK Chancellor and Prime Minister are seeking to balance their country’s desire to be a major international power with a fragile and diminishing economy. On foreign policy, the article states that Britain has bought itself some time by linking defence spending decisions to the outcome of the Integrated Review of security and defence and to the next budget, due in spring 2023. On energy and climate change, the Chancellor restated Britain’s commitment to these priorities by repledging to reduce emissions by 68% by 2030.

Autumn Statement Response: Hunt wields the scalpel, not the axe – Centre for Policy Studies (UK)

The CPS calls the Autumn Statement a ‘sensible and measured’ response to the financial volatility seen in the UK in recent months. While the think tank called freezing tax thresholds in a series of stealth tax raids the ‘least-worst’ option for raising tax revenue, it lamented the return, from 2025, of stamp duty to previous levels. Amid a bleak long-term picture for the UK economy, the CPS called for a ‘comprehensive growth plan’ to be laid out by ministers, including deregulation of planning, energy and infrastructure development.

The Health Foundation responds to the Autumn Statement 2022 – Health Foundation (UK)

In a response to the Autumn Statement, the Health Foundation’s Chief Executive Dr. Jennifer Dixon warns that while the Chancellor has provided some protection to the NHS and to social care to 2025, most other public services will face significant cuts in real terms, which combined with falling living standards and rising unemployment will deal a blow to the health of the population. Funding for social care and for the NHS will help relieve short-term pressures but simply follows years of under-funding, and ultimately will not be sufficient to address backlogs and meet rising demand. Dr. Dixon calls for a new approach with higher levels of tax and more healthcare spending per capita to avoid a ‘downward spiral’ of poor population health, declining services and lower economic growth.

Working people take the hit for Tory economic failure – TUC (UK)

While the TUC welcomes the Chancellor’s announced protections for energy price rises and his decision to uprate social security benefits in line with inflation, as well as increasing the minimum wage to £10.42 an hour, the blog condemns the steep cuts to departmental budgets from 2024/25 onward and the lack of extra money to protect public servants from double-digit inflation.

Economy, tax & welfare

Spending and stability: How much fiscal space does the UK have? – IPPR (UK)

Published before the UK Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, this briefing by IPPR sets out the macroeconomic challenges currently facing the UK and disputes the notion that spending cuts are necessary to restore fiscal stability to Britain, setting out instead an approach that would ‘both stabilise the economy and ensure public services are on a secure footing’.

Europe's fiscal framework – the people's view? – New Economics Foundation (UK)

NEF finds that the fiscal austerity implemented in Europe in the post-2008 years that the average European citizen is now €3,000 a year worse off since the financial crash and that two in three Europeans agree the EU’s fiscal rules should be changed to allow governments to increase spending on education, health, social care and jobs.

Next steps on the Child Tax Credit – Brookings Institution (USA)

The Covid-era expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) reduced child poverty in the US by at least 30%. This expansion has expired, but bipartisan negotiations on a CTC expansion continue in Congress as year-end tax legislation – a growing body of research supports the ‘fully refundable’ expansion of the CTC on a permanent basis, or extending eligibility to the full credit to poor families who do not owe federal income tax. This report explores how this might be done.

Incentivising Innovation: Reforming R&D Tax Credits – Onward (UK)

Onward argues that R&D tax credits must be reformed, not cut back, and that business investment in R&D is crucial if the UK is to become an Innovation Nation and pull itself out of its current economic slump. This paper makes recommendations for how R&D tax credits can be reformed, starting with the SME R&D scheme.

Just Out of Reach: The elusive quest to measure the digital economy – Brookfield Institute (Canada)

This report explores the literature on the digital economy, focusing on how we have come to know what we do about technology’s impact on labour and the economy more broadly.

Rethinking the social contract between the state and business – UCL Institute on Innovation and Public Purpose (UK)

“Governments around the world are embracing industrial strategy to foster innovation and economic growth. To ensure this growth is inclusive and sustainable, investments must be directed towards clear goals and made conditional on recipients meeting requirements aligned with these goals - such as a just green transition. This working paper explores the opportunity for the governments to leverage conditionalities to shape and direct public funding, with a view to maximising the public value of this funding. This means redesigning the very contracts that define the relationship between the public and private sectors.”

Year-End Tax Policy Priority: Expand the Child Tax Credit for the 19 Million Children Who Receive Less Than the Full Credit – Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (USA)

The expired expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) means that 19 million children (one in four children under 17) do not receive the full credit because their parents’ incomes are too low or because one of their parents was out of work that year. The CBPP urges federal lawmakers to restore the expansion of the CTC for those children who receive partial or no credits.

Our social insecurity system – RSA (UK)

The RSA’s Head of Research Hannah Webster here makes the case for Britain to ‘regenerate’ its social security system, eliminate insecurity and ensure everyone is receiving the support they need. This could come in the form of a universal basic income, or a minimum income standard, to have an ‘unprecedented’ impact on poverty, destitution and mental health.

Europe’s power is built upon the social contract – European Policy Centre (Europe)

The authors of this paper put forward the argument that the strength of Europe is predicated upon its successful welfare state model, which the authors conceptualise as “the pragmatic implementation of the social contract”. If Europe is to survive going forward, the authors contend, it must revitalise its social contract, and strive to offer stable, credible leadership on an increasingly unsteady global stage.

A growth plan that puts work before wealth – TUC (UK)

Published ahead of the Autumn Statement, this TUC article calls for an economic plan to ‘protect workers and grow the economy sustainably’. This includes more support for working households; taxes on the rich; investment in services and infrastructure; uprating benefits, pensions, public sector pay and the minimum wage in line with inflation; and more.

Clean Supply Chains – An Opportunity to Usher in a New Generation of Place-Based Strategies for Economic Development – Roosevelt Institute (USA)

In this blog, the authors build on extensive research to outline which places in the US are well positioned to benefit from a new place-based supply chain strategy, notably in manufacturing, mining, and research.

Inflation & the cost of living

Latest earnings data shows that for many, work isn't paying – Centre for Progressive Policy (UK)

CPP estimates that three million people (10%) across the UK are paid at or below the National Living Wage, and 13.8 million (44%) are paid below the amount required to reach a minimum acceptable standard of living. Moreover, over three-quarters (78%) of those earning below the real Living Wage find now to be the worst financial period they have ever faced.

The UK is in a crisis of living standards, not public finances – New Economics Foundation (UK)

In this article, NEF analyses the recession the UK is likely to have already entered, and what a new round of austerity is likely to mean for public services, finding that failing to protect departmental spending from inflation will push many government services back to the depths of the austerity years. The article argues that the UK’s recession is likely to have been exacerbated by three economic failings: the Truss-Kwarteng ‘incompetency premium’; the increasingly tight monetary policy pursued by the Bank of England since December 2021; or the austerity years preceding the present crisis which have stripped the UK of resilience. NEF concludes that Britain could ‘hardly have been worse prepared’ for the hardship that is to follow.  

An emergency insulation plan to cut bills this winter – New Economics Foundation (UK)

Published before the UK Chancellor in his Autumn Statement announced £6bn in funding for energy efficiency projects, NEF calls for insulation to be prioritised as an emergency cost-cutting measure to increase energy security and reduce consumption. To illustrate this savings potential, this report models the savings implied if all housing stock in England and Wales had been upgraded to a decent energy efficiency standard (Energy Performance Certificate C or higher) by October 2022, and finds government spending on the energy price cap freeze would have been reduced by £3.5bn. Additionally, households in England and Wales would cumulatively save £7.1bn over the next year, bringing savings to £10.6bn in the first year alone.

A lifeline for families: Investing to reduce child poverty this winter – IPPR (UK)

Nearly one in three children in the UK live in poverty, and given the present cost of living crisis, this rate is projected to rise to its highest level since the 1990s. Families with children are particularly vulnerable to high inflation given their additional food and fuel spending. This IPPR report makes the case for additional household support and revenue-raising measures to provide families with certainty going into 2023 and beyond.

Turning it On & Off – Policy Exchange (UK)

This report ‘delivers a clear and comprehensive programme for delivering on the Chancellor’s goal of a new approach to energy bills that costs taxpayers significantly less while incentivising energy efficiency and ensuring enough support for those in need’. The paper proposes a ‘Tiered Energy Relief Scheme’ to concentrate support for low-income families, incentivise energy efficiency and a reduction in consumption, and achieve over £23bn in savings relative to the Energy Price Guarantee.

Over the Odds: Next steps for dismantling the poverty premium – Centre for Social Justice (UK)

The Centre for Social Justice estimates that 7 million people in the UK are paying multiple poverty premiums, whereby those on low incomes pay more than those on higher incomes to access essential products and public services – latest estimates suggest these premiums cost £478 per year. These premiums are also preventing them from laying the building blocks for a strong financial foundation for later in life, thus leaving economic potential unlocked. This report sets out a number of practical steps for policymakers and business to dismantle and alleviate the poverty premium.

Local economies & levelling up

Taking the nation's pulse on inclusive growth – Centre for Progressive Policy (UK)

A new survey by CPP reveals a UK deeply pessimistic about the future of local economies: 59% expect economic conditions in their local areas to deteriorate in the next five years, rising to 70% in Yorkshire and Humber and in the North East. One in two Britons think their local areas will become less equal, while 79% are doubtful their local areas will be able to retain young people and allow them to find meaningful work and a place to live away from their parents.

Levelling up regeneration schemes are back on the table, but they’ll need public funding – Centre for Cities (UK)

The return of Michael Gove to the role of Levelling Up Secretary likely augurs well for the regeneration schemes he outlined when previously in post in Boris Johnson’s government. This would be a positive move for levelling up and economic growth, but would require substantial public sector investment. This blog post, published before the Autumn Statement, therefore urges the Chancellor to ringfence funds for investment in regeneration.

Can Sunak learn lessons from Germany on levelling up? – UK in a Changing Europe (UK)

This article examines post-1989 Germany, whose efforts to reduce regional inequalities between West and East have drawn comparisons with the UK’s own levelling up ambition. It finds that while €2tn has been poured into regional equality and there has been significant progress, significant regional disparities persist in areas such as healthcare, housing and broadband. The real lesson, the article suggests, from Germany may be that the progress it has made in reducing regional disparities has been the product of a long-term, concerted investment from the Federal Government, rather than a ‘one Parliament quick-fix’.


Giving Back Control – Centre for Policy Studies (UK)

The UK Government recently recommitted to its target of building 300,000 houses annually, but also promised to do more to give local communities control over the planning process. This report evaluates the leading options for abolishing or weakening ‘top-down targets’ and their likely impact on the housing system, ranging from reducing the power of the Planning Inspectorate to allowing local authorities to fix their own housing need.

Employment & labour force

Understanding ‘Early Exiters’: The case for a Healthy Ageing Workforce Strategy – Demos (UK)

Compared to before the Covid-19 pandemic, there are 374,000 more economically active Britons aged 50-64, with 100,000 of these having left the workforce due to a long-term health condition. The vast majority of these early exiters have left work against their own wishes. As such, Demos calls for the first-ever Ageing Workforce Strategy, to improve access to occupational health, better integration of health and employment support, and more scientific and physiological research to weaken the link between ill health and old age.

What is behind the post-Covid rise in economic inactivity? – Institute of Economic Affairs (UK)

The number of economically inactive welfare claimants of working age continues to rise in the post-Covid era – approximately 2.5 million are now judged to be unfit to work. Covid itself is a factor contributing to the large number of economically inactive people, with 1.4 million said to be ‘adversely affected’ by long Covid symptoms – meanwhile, with millions stuck on NHS waiting lists and unable to receive medical treatment, increasing numbers are remaining in ill health and unable to get back to work.

Call Me Maybe (Not): Working Overtime and a Right to Disconnect in Australia – The Australia Institute

This survey-based research seeks to make the right for a legislative ‘right to disconnect’ from work. The Australia Institute finds that almost three quarters of people in the country say they have worked outside of contracted hours, with people indicated it often negatively impacted their mental and physical health. They conclude that the Federal Government should pursue a “right to disconnect as a way of limiting the creep of work into non-work time”.

Adopt, adapt and improve – Resolution Foundation (UK)

Despite well-established fears of ‘robots taking our jobs’, this report finds that growing aggregate employment in the UK economy would suggest that automation’s job-destroying impact is offset by ‘positive indirect effects’, such as the rise in demand for other kinds of workers and the creation of entirely new jobs.

Mental Health and the Workplace: How Can Employers Improve Productivity Through Wellbeing? – CEDA (Australia)

Poor mental health costs the Australian economy around $70 billion every year, according to this CEDA report. Focussed on the workplace, this report calls on employers to prioritise mental health as much as physical health and safety.

Work in progress? Supporting the self-employed after the pandemic – Bright Blue (UK)

“There is now a greater need than ever for new and ambitious public policies that can help self-employed people navigate national and individual crises. Currently, self-employed people face too many barriers to accessing financial support, both from governmental and commercial sources. This report details a better system of support for self-employed people which encourages savings, improves access to finance and strengthens the safety net.”

What has happened to the cities that saw the largest drops in employment during the pandemic? – Centre for Cities (UK)

Employment dropped in all UK cities during the Covid-19 pandemic, with high-performing cities such as London and Cambridge particularly affected. However, seven of the 10 worst-hit British cities have since regained their pre-Covid employment rates. The only urban areas, Crawley and Swindon, not to have done so are just 1% below their employment figures in February 2020. It seems, therefore, that the furlough scheme which ended over a year ago was successful in having shielded the vulnerable from the worst impacts of the pandemic.

Health & social care

NHS staffing shortages: Why do politicians struggle to give the NHS the staff it needs? – The King's Fund (UK)

In this report commissioned by the King’s Fund, former Conservative special adviser Billy Morgan investigates what has prevented British ministers from taking meaningful, long-term action to tackle the NHS labour shortages, making three key recommendations: transparency in workforce forecasts; establishing an independent workforce-planning taskforce; and accepting the NHS’ traditional reliance on recruitment of foreign labour as the basis for future planning.

NHS cash injection won’t go as far as first impressions suggest – The Nuffield Trust (UK)

While the Nuffield Trust welcomes the extra funding allocated to the NHS in the Autumn Statement, it warns that this is only about half the amount needed according to the health service. This blog explains why the extra cash goes less far than many might expect.

Comparing Performance of Universal Health Care Countries, 2022 – Fraser Institute (Canada)

This study uses a “value for money approach” to compare the cost and performance of 30 universal healthcare systems in high-income countries. It finds that, of 30 countries with universal healthcare, Canada is amongst the highest spenders, but ranks near the bottom on a number of metrics, such as waiting times.

How does UK health spending compare across Europe over the past decade? – Health Foundation (UK)

This analysis finds that average day-to-day per capita spending on healthcare in the UK between 2010 and 2019 was roughly £3,005, or 18%, lower than the EU14 average. Had Britain’s health spending per capita matched the EU14 average, this would have meant an additional £40bn of yearly spending on health in the period 2010-19. The UK also had a lower level of health capital investment than the EU14. If the UK had matched the EU14 countries’ average investment in health capital as a share of GDP, this would have amounted to £33bn (or 55%) more than actual investment in the period 2010 to 2019.

The NHS needs to ramp up treatment volumes if waiting lists are to start falling any time soon – Institute for Fiscal Studies (UK)

As of September 2022, there are 7.1 million people waiting for routine hospital treatment on the NHS, a 17% rise from the end of 2021 and 60% higher than in February 2020, just prior to the Covid pandemic. Given the relative accuracy of the IFS’ previous projections for the size of the NHS waiting list, the think tank suggests that what happens next depends on the health service’s ability to increase treatment volumes, which have remained below pre-Covid levels for all of 2022, making the target of increasing treatment volumes by 30% by 2024/25 an ever more remote possibility.

Key Findings from RAND Health Care Research on Telehealth Policy – RAND Corporation (USA)

This report studies telehealth’s effects on care quality, access, and equity to gain insights on the uses of and preferences regarding telehealth. The report notes how the increased use of telehealth offset only about half of the decline in in-person visits, suggesting a significant number of services were deferred.

Why have ambulance waiting times been getting worse? – Health Foundation (UK)

Ambulance waiting times in England have increased to record lengths – for the most critical calls in 2021/22, patients in England waited an average of eight and a half minutes for an ambulance to arrive, one minute and a half above the target seven minutes and a fifth longer than in 2018/19. This analysis by the Health Foundation sets out reasons for the worsening wait times, including rising sickness absence among paramedics and the increase in demand for ambulances.

Policy Solutions for Hospital Consolidation – American Enterprise Institute (USA)

This report is based on the premise that the consolidation of the healthcare services market is imperative, as these services now represent over 51% of national healthcare expenditure.

Powering the UK's approach to AMR: the future of AMR policy – Reform (UK)

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing threat to UK health security, already responsible for more deaths worldwide than HIV and malaria and, if left unchecked, an existential threat to modern medicine and our ability to carry out standard medical procedures. This briefing paper assesses progress made in the UK to combat AMR and draws upon lessons from the Covid pandemic to suggest actions which the UK Government could take to drive change.

NHS capital and infrastructure: delivering the manifesto and unlocking potential – The Nuffield Trust (UK) and Policy Exchange (UK)

This joint briefing by the Nuffield Trust and Policy Exchange finds that the UK is an international outlier in having very low capital spending on health, exacerbated by reductions in capital spending budgets to shore up revenue – between 2014 and 2019, this amounted to £4bn. This briefing sets out ideas to deliver on the Government’s 2019 manifesto pledge to build 48 new hospitals by 2030.

Place-based partnerships explained – The King's Fund (UK)

This explainer note by the King’s Fund clarifies place-based partnerships, a key part of the newly introduced integrated care systems across England, which are ‘collaborative arrangements between organisations responsible for arranging and delivering health and care services and others with a role in improving health and wellbeing’.

Education & skills

Playing the Ace: A plan to unleash the potential of adult community education and bolster economic growth – Centre for Social Justice (UK)

The CSJ makes the case for learning and skills as key to reviving productivity and growth in personal earnings, which have stagnated in the UK for years. There is in particular a big deficit in basic skills: by 2030, seven million workers (20% of the current labour market) could be under-skilled for their job, and up to two-thirds may be under-skilled in basic skills to some degree, with about five million projected to lack basic digital skills. As such, this paper argues that adult community education will be crucial to creating a talented workforce and driving economic growth.

Rebalancing adult learning – RSA (UK)

“How can organisations help address the UK skills emergency? How can they contribute to building a society that enables, recognises and values learning for everyone, throughout life, to promote economic security, social equity and individual wellbeing? This research from the RSA and Ufi VocTech Trust aims to understand exactly this.”

Out of sight and out of mind – Centre for Social Justice (UK)

Home education is on the rise in the UK: the number of children educated at home in the past year has risen 34% since before the pandemic. This is not, however, without problems – while many parents provide a high-quality home education for their children, some lack access to an appropriate quality of education, and a minority of home-educated children have been subject to safeguarding concerns. This paper makes a number of suggestions for reform to ensure home education is safe and effective, such as a Children Not in School Register for the Government; more support for parents who choose to home-educate their children, including funding for Maths and English GCSEs; a light-touch assessment in English and Maths to ensure children leave education literature and numerate; and better safeguarding powers for local authorities to identify cases where home-schooled children are suffering abuse.

Beyond School: The Case For School Enrichment – Onward (UK)

This report finds that too many pupils from poorer backgrounds are missing out on after-school activities (school enrichment) relative to their wealthier peers – for instance, 45% of students in the wealthiest decile attend youth groups, scouts or girl guides weekly, compared to 26% of students in the most deprived decile. Onward makes several recommendations to improve the disadvantage gap, such as creating a school enrichment premium for each primary and secondary school pupil, publish new guidance calling for all schools to introduce two hours of enrichment to their school week.

Crime, policing & the justice system

Double jeopardy: The economic and social costs of keeping women behind bars – CEDA (Australia)

“CEDA’s review of the data and literature, and the contributions in this report, show Australia cannot afford to let the economic and human costs of rising imprisonment keep growing. Recent state government initiatives have shown that commitment to action and targeted policy changes can reverse recent trends.”


A new consensus? How public opinion has warmed to immigration – IPPR (UK)

This paper, which draws upon new analysis of attitudes data from sources such as the British Election Study, analyses how the British public has warmed considerably to immigration in recent years and what popular support for a well-managed and compassionate immigration policy means for British immigration politics.

Inequality and immigration – Institute for Fiscal Studies (UK)

Between 1975 and 2015, the foreign-born population of the UK increased from 5.3% to 13.4%. This IFS report examines the impact that immigration had on wage inequality in the UK during this period by examining the effect of immigration on earnings distribution among native Britons and the effect on the composition of the wage-earning population.

Sanctuary UK: Reforming our broken asylum system – Demos (UK)

Demos argues that Britain’s ‘current asylum system is built on a culture of disbelief that inherently lacks compassion, is not competent and therefore does not control immigration in the way the government aspires to.’ Recent humanitarian schemes for people fleeing Ukraine, Afghanistan and Hong Kong should, the paper argues, form the basis of a future asylum system, with the Home Office transferring its responsibility for immigration to a new body called Sanctuary UK to overhaul the present system and set up a more humane model.

Defence & national security

An American strategy for the Indo-Pacific in an age of US-China competition – Brookings Institution (USA)

To defend US interests in the Indo-Pacific region from China, the Brookings Institution recommends that: the US deepen and bolster alliance networks, through initiatives such as the Quad and ASEAN member states as well as Japan and South Korea; increase economic engagement and opportunity in the region; and enhance deterrence to discourage China from attempting to forcibly invade Taiwan and to reassure South Korea of its commitments.

Australia’s Quest for an ‘Impactful Projection’ Defence Force – RUSI (UK/Australia)

Shortly after coming to power, the Australian Government under Labor began a Defence Strategic Review, with a preliminary report handed in on 1 November and a final report due in March 2023. However, this article warns that the Government’s “current focus on weaponry seems to somewhat neglect the logistics and sustainment critical to fighting a war in this decade.”

Australia’s Future Submarines: Submarines, submarine propulsion, defence policy, national security, AUKUS, nuclear safeguards and sovereignty: how do the pieces fit together? – The Australia Institute

“This paper endeavours to identify the principal factors that need to be identified and addressed if Australia is to pursue the nuclear propulsion option for its next generation submarines. Australia has the capacity to manage these issues, even if it cannot resolve them absolutely. And as a wealthy country, we can certainly afford nuclear-propelled submarines.

Defend. Resist. Repeat: Ukraine’s lessons for European defence – European Council on Foreign Relations (Europe)

Ukraine’s valiant response to Russian aggression can teach Europe valuable lessons on defence. The Ukrainian army has modernised, involved volunteers and reservists, and implemented new technologies in an innovative way to match a much larger adversary. EU member states should learn from battlefield insights in Ukraine while continuing to provide military aid.

New Nuclear Threats Require Homeland Civil Preparedness – Hudson Institute (USA)

The Hudson Institute argues that “the US needs to rapidly adopt a robust homeland civil preparedness approach that is calibrated to the range of new threats from Russia and China, including low-yield nuclear weapons deployed on hypersonic missiles, cruise missiles, and other rapid and agile delivery methods against which we presently have very limited defenses.”

A Paradigm Shift: EU-Russia Relations After the War in Ukraine – Carnegie Europe (Europe)

Following the seismic paradigm shift caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, EU-Russia relations have been scrutinised to an extent never before seen. In this article, the author begs the question of what this will mean for EU-Russia relations after the war. The article concludes that the EU must construct a new set of policies that treat Russia as a major threat to peace and stability in the continent, all the while maintaining engagement with the Russian people.

UK–EU Defence Cooperation and PESCO’s Military Mobility Project – RUSI (UK/Europe)

“Nervousness around the UK joining PESCO’s military mobility is misplaced. Joining the grouping makes sense from an operational perspective and it aligns with the UK’s envisaged post-Brexit mode of engagement with the EU.”

Maritime security: a window of opportunity for UK-EU cooperation? – UK in a Changing Europe (UK/Europe)

The UK’s national maritime strategy, published in August, makes clear the Government’s ambition to ‘restore Britain’s position as the foremost naval power in Europe’. Maritime security has also grown in importance in Brussels, and the bloc’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, published in summer 2021, showed the EU’s evolution into a geopolitical player in the region with aims to ‘explore ways to ensure enhanced naval deployments of EU member states in the region’. This article identifies scope for cooperation between the UK and the EU, and suggests that British policymakers take this time to engage constructively with the EU, and particularly with France, to ensure its naval ambitions are realised.

Cold Winter: How the EU can help Moldova survive Russian pressure and protect its democracy – European Council on Foreign Relations (Europe)

A paper that argues for the EU to support Moldova to help shield it from Russian influence. Moldova’s heavy reliance on Russia’s energy and geo-strategic position make it a vulnerable target for Russian aggression. EU support should aim to help Moldova financially in the short term but also with a view to help it reform to pave the way for EU membership.


HS2: The kindest cut of all – Policy Exchange (UK)

Published days before the Autumn Statement, Policy Exchange finds that “scaling back HS2 could alone deliver almost a tenth of the spending cuts required, £3bn per year by 2027/28, significantly more (up to £7bn per year) in later years and perhaps £44bn or more in total.”

Energy & net zero

The portfolio of economic policies needed to fight climate change – Peterson Institute for International Economics (USA)

This working paper argues that carbon pricing and green R&D support are good economics, but their implementation can be improved, with green R&D in particular likely to be smaller than needed. Much more money must be spent on it than is currently the case, and it will need to be properly allocated to make a real impact.

COP27: What was achieved, and what needs to happen now – Chatham House (UK)

Chatham House experts outline their thoughts on the recently concluded COP27 conference in Egypt. While they hail the ‘momentous victory’ of the loss and damage fund, some note that there was insufficient progress around tackling carbon emissions, with Australia and the EU among the only exceptions in the developed world to have increased the ambition of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

US Needs to Play Larger Role as Swing Producer of Oil and Gas in the Current Crisis – Hudson Institute (USA)

European countries have, in a short period of time, done much to wean themselves off Russian fossil fuel exports. However, the full impact of the war in Ukraine has tipped Europe into a recession. The Hudson Institute warns that if the US does not step up as a producer of oil and gas to ensure Europe has alternative energy supplies, Europe’s resolve to assist in confronting Russian aggression may waver and falter.

Clean Energy: Tackling Corruption in the Transition to Net Zero – RUSI (UK)

The renewable energy sector has been described as a ‘perfect breeding ground’ for corruption – Italy, for instance, is thought to have lost $5bn to fraud in relation to funding for energy efficiency upgrades. This corruption can hinder the green transition in numerous ways, such as by hindering good business practices, undermining public finances etc. This article makes several recommendations for how the G20 club of major economies should focus their efforts to weed out corruption in the renewable energy sector, through increased data, transparency, and leading by example on good practices seen in some countries.

The Circular Carbon Economy Index 2022 – Results – King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre (Saudi Arabia)

“The circular carbon economy (CCE) concept provides a holistic, flexible and pragmatic framework for countries to plan their energy and economic transitions to lower carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emission levels and, ultimately, net-zero emissions. The CCE Index measures countries’ progress in and potential for reaching CCEs.”

Environmentally-adjusted productivity measures for the UK – Bennett Institute for Public Policy, Cambridge University

This working paper investigates whether productivity growth could drive both economic growth and the net zero transition. This is done by examining four environmentally-adjusted productivity measures, including: examining energy productivity; incorporating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as an input; incorporating GHG and non-GHG air pollutants as a ‘bad’ output; and incorporating environmental protection as a ‘good’ output.

Gaming Out the Proposed Price Cap on Russian Oil – King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre (Saudi Arabia)

In June 2022, the G7 countries agreed to explore ways to impose a price cap on Russian oil exports. This report explores how the price cap might work and which countries and markets would stand to be most affected by regulating Russian exports.

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