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Taking the proverbial spring out of our step…

18 March 2019

Whilst we continue to live in what can only be described as ‘interesting’ times (please feel free to substitute an adjective that you feel to be more fitting!), it should not be an opportunity for government to continue to side step critical domestic agendas.   Unfortunately, it appeared the remarkably bounce less Chancellor in his Spring statement was signalling just such an avoidance was in place.

Yes – he reiterated his statement that austerity was over. Although, having announced that last year, he now has put a time frame on it which makes it clear that it will be over once the new Spending Review is concluded and implemented ie April 2020 at the earliest. Those with elephantine memories will recall that even with new spending priority announcement, the spending review has infinite mechanisms with which to backload, delay and apply conditionality to commitments, even once made.

The spending review will be launched prior to Summer recess (late July) and will be concluded in the Autumn Budget (date to be confirmed) and will cover a three year term to fit in with the fixed term parliament. Although, adherence to dates, deadlines and fixed term parliament dates feels rather ‘pre Brexit’!

The spending review will, as the Chancellor outlines ‘set departmental budgets beyond the NHS……to reflect the public’s priorities between areas like social care, local government, schools, police, defence and the environment…’

Of course, in social care, we are still awaiting the framework within which any spending review should focus on social care. Another week has gone by, and no further announcement regarding the green paper as highlighted last week. The Chancellor’s timeline makes the publication ever more pressing, as without a paper appearing prior to April (as promised), it’s ability to meaningfully influence the Spending Review must be held in significant doubt.

What else did the statement say? Well aside from the new terminology of the ‘Deal dividend’, there was some welcome focus on reform for apprenticeships for small businesses, renewed focus on determining a new remit for the National Living Wage post it’s current period of growth and a commitment to research the international evidence on the employment and productivity effects of minimum wage rates.

The State of Ageing in 2019: Adding life to our years

If the budget didn’t get you in the right frame for a Spring of action, then the publication by the Centre for Ageing Better on The State of Ageing 2019 will have you thinking about the things that can and must change to ensure that we have can all enjoy the extended lives we are promised.

Key headlines from the report include a focus on increasing diversity in older communities, the need for a rethink on employment to sustain and attract an older workforce, the paucity of appropriate housing and the vast – and in some areas growing – inequalities of health.

The report is a call for change, and once again, a demand that the widely ignored domestic agenda is in need of urgent attention – now!

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