Daily Archives: November 14, 2011

Jim Pickard

Chuka Umunna made his first flagship speech as shadow business secretary this morning at Bloomberg HQ in the City.

He was asked again about the “predator-producer” distinction made by Ed Miliband in his conference speech in late September. (You may remember that the Labour leader was criticised for the simplicity of his argument.) Read more

Nicholas Timmins

Andrew Lansley is to prevent primary care trusts from arbitrarily setting minimum waiting times and caps on the number of NHS treatments. In principle quite right too.

But the NHS also still has maximum waiting times – despite the health secretary’s initial attempt to scrap them as a Labour “top down” target.

So cash pressured primary care trusts, and their successors the clinical commissioning groups, will not be allowed to set minimum waits but will still have to attempt to honour maximum ones when longer waits have always been the way the service copes when spending is tight.

Over the next four years it is set to get very tight indeed as demand rises but the money remains flat in real terms.

So how can it cope? The good ways include redesigning service to deliver high quality at lower cost – in effect increasing efficiency – although the service’s ability to do that on the scale needed is in question. The bad ones are likely to include raising the threshold for Read more

Kiran Stacey

This Wednesday, unemployment among 16-24 year-olds is expected to top 1m people, its highest since records began in 1992. This has triggered a lot of anxiety and head scratching in government circles, prompting a whole week of events this week focusing on young people. That began today with David Cameron’s article about schools that are not failing but neverthless are “coasting” and need to be improved.

Why is youth unemployment so high? The first thing to say is obvious: there is a recession. It is true that youth unemployment has risen faster than overall unemployment, but this always happens in a recession, for two reasons: 1) employers are reluctant to lay off older workers, because of higher redundancy payments and “last-in-first-out” policies; 2) the first thing many organisations in difficult times do is stop recruiting, especially younger people. Read more

Jim Pickard

David Cameron is poised to announce a sharp rise in the number of brownfield sites owned by Whitehall departments which will be made available for developers to build new homes.

During the Tory party conference five weeks ago the prime minister said that sites for 50,000 homes had been identified after departments had come forward with unused land.

Now that figure has risen to 83,500, according to coalition insiders, making it likely that there will be a surge in homebuilding on government land in the coming years.

That announcement is set to form a key part in a housing strategy announcement by the prime minister later this month ahead of the wider growth review.

Five departments have so far come forward with brownfield sites under pressure from Read more