Independent football regulator

Independent regulator for English football

The UK Government is supporting the creation of an independent football regulator for English football following a fan-led review.

The ‘three points of crisis’ leading to its creation were the collapse of Bury FC, the European Super League and the financial insecurity caused by COVID-19. Sports minister Nigel Huddleston formally confirmed the Government’s support for the regulator in a Commons statement with further details expected to be published in a white paper this summer.

There were 10 recommendations made on the review of the game by Tracey Crouch in November and some of the key ones were to recommend that the Premier League should make ‘additional, proportionate contributions’ to support the game through fairer distribution of money; a review of women’s football; and to consider whether the sale and consumption of alcohol in sight of the pitch should be allowed at lower levels of football.

The collapse of Bury happened after the club fell into financial problems and the English Football League (EFL) expelled them. Creditors had initially approved a company voluntary agreement to help settle the debts but this did not satisfy the EFL’s requirement to provide enough evidence for being financially stable.

Meanwhile the European Super League was a proposed breakaway league by twelve of the biggest football clubs worldwide who wanted to establish a new midweek competition to replace the current one. Proposals came as dissatisfaction with the rewards of winning the current competition, the UEFA Champions League came to fruition, but this was seen as detrimental to the game by fans and pundits alike leading to mass protests against it. The regulator seeks to stop such future proposals to protect the game and its origins as fans were extremely upset with the motivations behind the breakaway which appeared to be financial gain.

The financial impacts of COVID-19 in football would have been felt by all football clubs across the country, but particularly the ones at the lower end of the spectrum. Sponsorship and commercial revenue is a big source of income for the top clubs as well as matchday revenue, but clubs in the lower leagues have a greater dependency on matchday revenue. Consequently, the empty attendances for matches during the pandemic due to restrictive measures was a massive hit for clubs that fall into that bracket. For example, the average revenue for clubs in the Premier League is £258 million, compared to just £6m and £4m for clubs in tiers 3 and 4 for England. These clubs were hit hardest and introduced salary caps for players in an attempt to keep costs in check.

Campaign group Fair Game has backed the move for a regulator but have called for a ‘firm timetable for change’. Department for Culture, Media & Sport secretary Nadine Dorris said ‘football is nothing without its fans and for too long the football authorities have collectively been unable to tackle some of the biggest issues in the game’. The Football Supporters’ Association also urged the Government to move fast because each day drafting the white papers ‘is another day when a club might cease to exist’. The Professional Footballs’ Association added that ‘support needs to be consistently and adequately funded, and we look forward to playing a major part in establishing a system that achieves this’.

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Hinkley Point C

Nuclear power: the future of UK energy?

Nuclear power has been a hot topic in parliament lately, largely as one of the Government’s answers to how they’re responding to the energy crisis. The Conservative Party’s Energy Security Strategy, published in April, is part of the Government’s attempt to diversify the UK’s energy mix in order to build our resilience against outside shocks to the energy market. A key element of the strategy promises to reach 24GW of nuclear by 2050, which would meet 25% of the UK’s electricity demand. But to what extent can nuclear power be relied upon for energy supply, while also maintaining commitments to tackling the climate crisis?

A common battle line used by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson against the New Labour administration is their decision to turn their back on nuclear in the noughties, an allegation that Keir Starmer has responded to by asserting that the Labour line now backs new nuclear. Due to a pause in nuclear investment, most existing nuclear capacity is to be retired by the end of the decade as nuclear stations come to the end of their life. Therefore, the Government has decided to kickstart the nuclear process once more, committing to building up to eight new reactors by 2030, the first of which (Hinkley Point C) is currently under construction. This station, combined with potential developments at the Sizewell C project in Suffolk, would produce 6.5GW power. The Government is also supporting Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) which work on a smaller scale to nuclear plants. The new investment is on top of the decommissioning costs needed for end-of-life treatment.

Though it is clear from Government (and Labour) policy that nuclear holds a future in the UK’s energy mix, there are questions over whether it is wholly compatible with climate change policy. Nuclear power is heralded as a ‘clean’ energy source because it doesn’t directly produce carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases, but this underestimates the large scale at which carbon emissions are produced from the construction of nuclear plants, uranium mining and manufacturing operations. Furthermore, at multiple stages of the nuclear process, large volumes of radioactive waste are produced. Without concrete, scientifically and environmentally-proven plans on nuclear waste management, fallout from nuclear power would cause long-term harm for the environment and communities. Environmentalists have been critical of the Government’s focus on emissions when discussing the climate crisis, urging them to look at the ecological system as a whole and consider the impact of solutions such as nuclear on future generations.

Instead, campaigners have been arguing for the focus to be on renewable energy, saying that sources such as wind and solar would be genuine solutions to the climate crisis, providing ‘no’ rather than ‘low-carbon’ solutions at a much smaller cost. Greenpeace said that ‘a thriving renewable energy industry will create jobs, provide cheaper electricity and help cut emissions much faster than nuclear power’ while nuclear power is ‘incredibly expensive, hazardous and slow to build’.

The Government has defended nuclear by saying they are committed to using Geological Disposal Facilities to dispose of nuclear waste (considered ‘the best long-term solution for dealing with radioactive waste’). They have also denounced renewable energy as the central option for investment, saying it would be too difficult to roll out on such a large scale, necessitating the use of nuclear power. Whilst speculation exists on both sides, what is certain is that people across the political spectrum are calling for greater investment and ambition in alternative energies, to help tackle the energy crisis in the short-term, and the climate crisis in the long-term.

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Economic Crime Manifesto is launched

Economic Crime Manifesto is launched

Rt Hon Dame Margaret Hodge MP and Kevin Hollinrake MP, Chairs of the APPG on Anti-Corruption and Responsible Tax and the APPG on Fair Business Banking, launched their ‘Economic Crime Manifesto’ last Thursday. The Manifesto comes as the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill was announced during the Queen’s Speech last week.

Dame Margaret Hodge noted the £290bn a year that is lost from the UK economy through ‘dirty’ money, with London as a laundromat for washing dirty cash. As the biggest financial centre in the world, the UK now has an unique opportunity to take leadership and to clean things up. Set out in the Manifesto is a cross party set of proposals with an aim to make real change.

The Manifesto calls for the Government to consider four principles for reform in its new Economic Crime Bill and beyond:

• Transparency – identify who really owns companies, trusts and assets so that law enforcement, journalists, civil society and more can readily follow the money
• Enforcement – toughen up policing agencies with enough resource to consistently enforce existing laws and deter wrongdoing
• Accountability – empower Parliament, journalists, civil society, the courts and whistle-blowers to unearth criminality and hold Government to account
• Regulation – strengthen supervision of the professions so that enablers of economic crime answer for their actions

In her speech, Dame Margaret Hodge talked in more detail about these four principles. On transparency, she argued that the Foreign Office must ensure that public registers of beneficial ownership in the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies are faithfully implemented by early 2023. Moreover, they want the register for overseas entities to be introduced with speed and for the UK trust register housed in HMRC to be much more transparent.

On enforcement, she noted that key national level agencies continue to suffer real term declines in budgets – the National Crime Agency has seen a real term decrease in its budget of 4.2% in the past five years, while the USA is significantly expanding capacity. She thinks the Treasury should at the very least increase spending targeted at economic crime enforcement to £300m in this Spending Review to match private sector funding raised through the economic crime levy. The Government should also establish an Economic Crime Fighting Fund with a proportion of proceeds reinvested to fight economic crime.

Kevin Hollinrake noted a lack of accountability, stating his belief that the Government should legislate to introduce new ‘failure to prevent’ offences for economic crimes that applies to both companies and senior executives. On the topic of criminal liability, during Treasury oral questions this week, Kevin Hollinrake noted that NatWest and HSBC have been hit with big fines for facilitating money laundering, and Danske Bank will probably see a fine of £2bn for £200bn of money laundering. He said this is seen not as a deterrent, but as a cost of doing business for these big banks. He asked whether the Minister agrees that the only way that we will tackle this is through criminal prosecutions both at a corporate level and of senior managers. The Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen mentioned that the Law Commission is undertaking an in-depth review of laws around corporate criminal liability for economic crime will make an announcement on this subject imminently.

On accountability, Dame Margaret Hodge suggested a new Select Committee of both Houses, which will hold agencies accountable for activities related to economic crime. Moreover, Kevin Hollinrake mentioned that most cases don’t come to light because of enforcement agencies but from whistleblowers. He added a request for the establishment of an Office for Whistleblowers to provide protection and compensation for those who speak out and uncover economic crimes.

Lastly, Dame Margaret Hodge called for smart regulation, not more regulation – recent data shows that 4 out of 5 of professional money laundering supervisors don’t have a proper system to supervise members of their professional organisation. She called for a  complete overhaul of how supervising bodies work, noting that at the moment banks fill in a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) form when there is a suspicion of activity, but in 2019/2020, there were 500,000 SAR forms filed yet the NCAs Financial Intelligence Unit only has 118 employees to scrutinise them.

To conclude, Kevin Hollinrake stated that ‘one of the real opportunities with where we are today is that this is right in the viewfinder of Government because of what has changed in Ukraine’. When asked about the possibility of vested interests preventing the manifesto’s measures from being implemented, Kevin said that while vested interests are still there, and there will be a pushback, there is a better mood within Government than ever before. Dame Margaret Hodge noted they are building a strong cross party coalition and are getting more and more confident they will build a strong consensus.

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Bricks being laid ahead of the Queen's Speech

Which housing bills could be in the Queen’s Speech?

Six bills were passed last week ahead of prorogation – the end of the parliamentary session, which brings nearly all parliamentary business including most bills and all motions and parliamentary questions to a halt.

These six bills include the Building Safety Bill – now the Building Safety Act – which lays out the Government’s attempt to overcome the building safety crisis following the Grenfell tragedy in 2017. It has faced opposition from peers in recent months but received Royal Assent just before the end of the parliamentary session, on 28 April.

The Act details how leaseholders caught up in the crisis will be protected from paying for repairs to the buildings where they live. Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove recently announced a mechanism for property developers to pay up to £5bn to cover the costs of remediating cladding in buildings between 11 metres and 18 metres in height, as well as a building safety pledge to force developers to carry out works. But campaigners have warned the new legislation does not go far enough. Lib Dem Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson Baroness Pinnock told the Lords that the Bill’s passage through the House was a ‘shattering defeat’. The UK Cladding Action Group have said that its next steps ‘will be to look at the secondary legislation and lobbying to make sure that it comes with protections for leaseholders’.

The beginning of the next parliamentary session begins on 10 May, with the Queen delivering a speech to Parliament to outline the Government’s plans for the coming year. It is an important year as it is likely to be the last year major legislation is taken forward before the next general election, expected in 2024. Written by Government ministers, the speech details a list of Bills – but not everything announced in it is guaranteed to become law. The Prime Minister brings the list of Bills to the attention of MPs before the Leader of the Opposition has the chance to respond, and then in turn all other MPs.

It had been expected that the Planning Bill which was announced in the 2021 Queen’s Speech may be taken forward into the new session, however, several newspapers have suggested that planning reform will not be addressed through standalone legislation due to back bench Tory and opposition MPs’ concerns that the proposals in the Planning Bill would mean less elected councillor scrutiny over individual planning applications and less public involvement in the planning process. Some measures on planning reform will instead feature in a new Levelling Up Bill.

Potential subjects of legislation for the 2022-23 session include social housing regulation. The Government’s Levelling Up White Paper features a commitment to delivering the proposed measures in the Social Housing White Paper to bring forward a Social Housing Regulation Bill. Giving evidence to the House of Commons Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee in February 2022, Michael Gove said that the Government hoped to introduce the Bill in either May or June 2022.

Another potential subject is leasehold and commonhold reform. On 11 January 2021, the then Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick stated that leasehold reform would be carried out through two pieces of legislation.

The first piece of legislation, the Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill, gained royal assent on 8 February 2022. The act sets future ground rents to zero, and, when in force, will apply only to new lease agreements. Retirement properties are also in scope of the act.

During the Bill’s Committee stage in the House of Lords in June 2021, the Minister of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Lord Greenhalgh said that the Government aimed to pursue a ‘second tranche of reforms’ in the third session of this Parliament.

The Government has previously suggested that this may include:

  • Reforming the process of enfranchisement valuation that leaseholds must follow to calculate the cost of extending a lease or buying their freehold
  • Abolishing marriage value
  • Capping the treatment of ground rents at 0.1% of the freehold value and prescribing rates for the calculations at market value
  • Introducing an online calculator to ‘further [simplify] the process for leaseholds and ensuring standardisation and fairness for all those looking to enfranchise’
  • Retaining existing discounts for improvements made by the leaseholder and security of tenure, alongside a separate valuation methodology for low-value properties known as ‘section 9(1)’
  • Giving leaseholders of all types of property the same right to extend their lease ‘as often as they wish’, at zero ground rent, for a term of 990 years
  • Allowing continuation of redevelopment breaks during the last year of the original lease or the last five years of each period of 90 years of the extension, subject to existing safeguards and compensation
  • Enabling leaseholders, where they already have a long lease, to buy out the ground rent without the need to extend the term of the lease
Financial Services Queen's Speech Bill Act

Ahead of the Queen’s Speech: Financial services and possible legislation

A Financial Services Bill – now the Financial Services Act 2021 – was introduced in the 2019–21 session and received Royal Assent on 29 April 2021. It contained a range of measures, including some related to Brexit following the end of the transition period and some aimed at making other improvements to the regulatory framework. At the time, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen mentioned the Bill was ‘an important first step in taking control of our financial services legislation’ but that a more ‘fundamental review’ of our financial services regulatory framework is needed.

Back in February 2022, the Financial Times reported that a Financial Services Bill is expected in the upcoming Queen’s Speech, which would ‘set out a regulatory framework for the City’. During an European Scrutiny Committee oral evidence session, Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency, Jacob Rees-Mogg also confirmed there would be a Financial Services Bill, to replace some retained EU law provisions.

The Government’s Financial Services Bill is likely to include a new Future Regulatory Framework. The Treasury launched in October 2020 a consultation on the Future Regulatory Framework, to determine how financial services regulation needs to adapt to be ‘fit for the future’. This was followed by a further consultation (which closed in February 2022) on its proposals, including giving regulators a greater focus on growth and competitiveness by introducing them as new secondary objectives for the regulators. In an article in The Times, member of the Treasury Committee and chair of the Fair Business Banking APPG Kevin Hollinrake, noted that ‘asking regulators to focus on industry competitiveness risks sowing the seeds of another financial crisis.’

There are a number of financial services regulatory reforms that have been highlighted as areas for possible legislation either individually, or within a wider Financial Services Bill:

  • Insurance capital requirements. In February 2022, the Government announced reforms to the ‘solvency II’ rules that govern capital requirements for insurance companies. A consultation opened in April 2022.
  • Access to cash. In the 2020 Budget, the Government announced it would legislate ‘to protect access to cash and ensure that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable in the long-term’. The Treasury published a consultation document on access to cash on 1 July 2021, setting out its proposals. It is most likely that any such legislation would be part of a wider Financial Services Bill.
  • Insolvency arrangements for insurers. The Government consulted on reforms to insolvency arrangements for insurers. The response said the Government would continue to consult with relevant bodies and would legislate for reforms ‘when parliamentary time allows’.
  • Regulatory regime for wholesale markets. In 2021, the Government consulted on reforms to the regime. In its response, the Government proposed reforms that it said would create a ‘simpler and less prescriptive’ regime now that the UK has left the EU, while maintaining or improving regulatory outcomes.
  • Credit unions. In the March 2020 Budget, the Government said that it would bring forward legislation allowing credit unions to offer a wider range of products and services.
  • Regulation of stablecoins and cryptoassets. In April 2022, following a consultation in 2021, the Government stated that it intended to legislate to bring certain ‘stablecoins’ within the scope of regulation. A separate consultation on financial promotions for cryptoassets such as bitcoin concluded that regulations to reduce consumer risks would be introduced through secondary legislation.
  • Open finance and smart data. The FCA issued a ‘call for input’ on the wider possibilities of open finance in December 2019 and published a feedback statement in March 2021. The Government has also consulted in the area of ‘smart data’, publishing a response in September 2020. It said the Government would introduce primary legislation to mandate participation in smart data initiatives when time allows.

Check out the other Queen’s Speech speculation posts here. 

Health and Care Act

Health and Care Act 2022

The Health and Care Bill achieved Royal Assent on Thursday (28 April), becoming the Health and Care Act 2022. The legislation will bring forward the largest reform seen by the sector in a decade. The Bill was first announced as the Government’s Integration and Innovation White Paper in February 2021 and introduced to Parliament in July that same year.

The reforms, which will see wide ranging organisational restructure to the health and care system, has three key aims: to ensure a focus on prevention, to deliver more personalised care and to improve overall healthcare performance.

A key change that the legislation will bring forward is the introduction of statutory Integrated Care Systems (ICSs). From July, it is expected that all of England will be covered by an ICS. These will aim to bring together NHS services, local government and wider system partners including the third sector to improve collaboration within healthcare planning. The Act will also implement improvements to patient safety and improve practices by establishing the Health Services Safety Investigations Body, an independent public body which will investigate incidents.

On public health, the Act introduces regulation on food and drink advertising by restricting the advertising of less healthy food or drink on TV. A 9pm watershed has been introduced, and a restriction on paid-for advertising of less healthy food or drink online. This policy was announced in the Government’s 2020 Obesity Strategy. The Act will also introduce new powers for the Secretary of State on the reconfiguration arrangements of local health services.

The Act also provides details on funding arrangements for personal care costs. Last September the Government announced its plans for a cap on personal care costs, so that people in England will not spend more than £86,000 on their personal care over their lifetime. In November, Health Secretary Sajid Javid added a clause to the Health and Care Bill which stipulates that the money paid by a local authority (means-tested support) towards meeting a person’s eligible care needs will not count towards the cap. The funding arrangements proved controversial as stakeholders, including the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and the Health Foundation, raised concerns that the new arrangements would benefit those with more assets who would see a smaller percentage of their overall wealth spent on care, compared to those with more modest assets. Despite efforts by the House of Lords to remove this Clause the Bill, it has been added to law.

This was not the only contentious part of the Bill. Parliamentarians in both Houses sought to improve the Bills provision on workforce planning. An amendment first introduced by Health and Social Care Committee Chair, and former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, would have ensured that the Government independently reported on NHS workforce numbers every two years. This amendment aimed to give clarity over the current workforce pressures and had wide support from over 100 health and care stakeholders. However, the amendment did not have Government support and despite being briefly added to the Bill during the House of Lords after it was picked up again by Baroness Cumberlege, it was ultimately removed during the ‘ping- pong’ stage of the Bill.

The passing of the Act has received mixed response. NHS Providers said that the lack of workforce planning in the Act is the ‘biggest, unwelcome, legacy of this act’ but overall welcomed many parts of the reforms including putting ICS on a statutory footing which it hopes will improve the ability of leaders to make significant improvements to the physical and mental health of their communities.

Focusing on health services, the Health Foundation also raised concern that the Act will not address the ‘existential threat’ of current staff shortages. It also suggests that gapping holes remain in the legislation, meaning that the reforms will not be able to address the backlog of unmet need, or growing pressures on services.

Many organisations have welcomed the Act’s provision on public health, including the Obesity Health Alliance which said the 9pm advertisement restriction is ‘great news for children’s health’. Cancer Research UK also said the new advertising laws will help tackle obesity levels among children and address widening inequalities.

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Government broadcast white paper

Government shares what’s next for the broadcasting sector

The Government has published the long-awaited broadcasting white paper: ‘Up next – the Government’s vision for the broadcasting sector’, addressing several of the announcements from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in the last year such as the privatisation of Channel 4 and the end of the BBC TV license fee.

In keeping with the Secretary of State’s engagement with the press on these issues, Nadine Dorries spoke to The Spectator on her vision for the sector, confirming that decisions on the license fee will be taken ‘well ahead of the Charter renewal in 2027’. She noted these policies have been in the ether for years and stated that ‘over a long period of time, not a huge amount had been delivered from my department’.

On the license fee model, the white paper stated there were ‘clear challenges on the horizon to the sustainability of the license fee’ and that controversial criminal sanctions for non-payment were ‘disproportionate and unfair’. In response, the BBC welcomed ‘the steps to secure the ongoing success of public service broadcasters’ and said it ‘looks forward to engaging with the Government on both the forthcoming mid-term review and then the national debate on the next Charter’.

Up Next detailed how new legislation will ensure broadcaster content is accessible on connected devices and online platforms. Streaming services will be required to feature them and PSBs will share the content, with the Government consulting on this. On demand services will also be brought into Ofcom’s Broadcasting code to protect viewers from harmful material including unchallenged health claims. Among other changes, DCMS stated the broadcasting remit will be overhauled, with a new definition on what it means to be a public service broadcaster (PSB) with a focus on creating shows that reflect British culture and support domestic film and TV production in all parts of the country. The Government also stated that only PSBs will be able to secure rights to major sporting events such as FIFA and Wimbledon.

The privatisation of Channel 4 was confirmed in the policy document, despite 96% of responses to the Government consultation stating they did not agree that there are ‘challenges in the current TV broadcasting market’. Under the new plans, the channel will be able to produce and sell its own content as a private entity but will still be required to commission a certain amount of content from independent producers. DCMS has also reinforced the expectation that Channel 4 continues to provide distinctive and experimental programming and said the proceeds of the channel’s sale will be used to set up a ‘creative dividend’ for the sector. In a statement, Channel 4 said it remained committed to upholding and maximising its remit and public service purpose.

Up Next set out Government plans to:
• Freeze the price of the TV license for two years.
• Increase the BBC’s commercial borrowing limit from £350m to £750m.
• Pursue a change of ownership of Channel 4.
• Make the importance of programmes broadcast in the UK’s indigenous regional and minority languages clear in legislation by including it in the new public service remit for television.
• Update S4C’s public service remit to include digital and online services and remove the current geographical broadcasting restrictions. The Government will also legislate to support S4C and the BBC in moving away from the current framework requiring the BBC to provide S4C with a specific number of hours of television programming.
• Replace the fourteen overlapping ‘purposes’ and ‘objectives’ that public service broadcasters must contribute to with a new, shorter remit. PSBs will be accountable for the extent of their contributions.
• Introduce a new prominence regime for on-demand television, with Ofcom being given the new enforcement powers.
• Make changes to the local TV licensing regime to enable the extension of the local TV multiplex licence until 2034 and subject to the same conditions that apply to the national digital terrestrial television (DTT) multiplexes. The Government will consult on the options for the renewal or relicensing of individual local television services at the same time.
• Protect the UK’s terms of trade regime while updating it to reflect changes in technology. The Government will also consider whether there is a need to extend aspects of this regime to radio and audio producers responsible for programming for the BBC.
• Designating additional regulated electronic programme guides to bring internet-delivered services within the scope of Ofcom.

The paper also set out the Government’s vision for the future of broadcasting which included:
• Carrying out a review of the license fee funding model ahead of the next charter period.
• Long-term commitments to support cross-border broadcasting on the island of Ireland including funding for the Northern Ireland digital terrestrial television multiplex.
• Consulting on embedding the importance of distinctively British content directly into the existing quota system.
• Looking at making qualification for the listed events regime a benefit specific to public service broadcasters. There will also be a review looking into whether the scope of the listed events regime should be extended to include digital rights.
• Conducting an evaluation of the contestable fund pilot. This will include considering the lessons in determining whether a contestable fund model would provide additional value to the breadth and availability of UK produced public service content.
• Initiating a review looking at whether to introduce a revenue cap for ‘qualifying independent’ producer status.
• Supporting the British Film Commission to facilitate the growth of seven geographic production hubs, including one in each nation, and numerous new studio developments.
• Consulting in early 2023 on new proposals to champion the community radio sector and, where necessary, bringing forward changes to licensing requirements through amendments to the Community Radio Order 2004.
• Exploring ways to support UK broadcasters through possible changes in the wider advertising ecosystem. The Government intends to consider how to create a level playing field between broadcast and online advertising through the Online Advertising Programme.
• Ensuring that the UK’s trade policy complements and protects the UK’s audio visual public policy framework, including maintaining membership of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Transfrontier Television.
• Establishing a pro-competition regime in digital markets.
• Developing legislative proposals with Ofcom to address the divergence in provision of access services between broadcast and on-demand services.
• Enabling the long-term renewal of DTT multiplex licences through to 2034.

The sector had a mixed response to the white paper:

WGGB The Writers’ Union
The WGGB stated they remain concerned about the Government’s plan to push ahead with ‘its unnecessary and controversial plans to privatise Channel 4, freeze the BBC License Fee and review its funding model’. They went on to say that these, and other proposals, will have a devastating impact on creative workers, the creative industry and the wider UK economy.

Radiocentre expressed disappointment from the DCMS Digital Radio and Audio review, and the joint representations that the BBC and the commercial radio sector have made asking for radio to be protected from tech platforms have been ignored by Government. They went on to say they’re disappointed the Government recognises the importance of legislation for television but not for radio, putting the radio industry at a disadvantage.

A spokesperson for ITV said: ‘We welcome the Government’s recognition of the huge value the PSBs deliver to the UK and it’s decision to introduce a Media Bill to deliver the necessary reforms to ensure PSBs can continue to thrive’.

Streaming giant Netflix reiterated that they are ‘supportive of measures to update the legal framework and bring [our] service in the UK under Ofcom’s jurisdiction’.

Media Reform Coalition
The Media Reform Coalition referred to the plans in the white paper as a ‘spiteful and ideological move’ that ‘does nothing to confront the…lack of representativeness, adventure, risk-taking, accountability and plurality’ at the heart of the UK media system. They went on to say that the privatisation of Channel 4 will not address the issues of commissioning being skewed towards larger media companies and the relative lack of investment in content production outside of London, stating that it will do the opposite.

Dyfrig Davies, Chairman of TAC which represents independent television production in Wales, welcomed the white paper’s recommendations on S4C’s future but said that removing Channel 4’s status as a publisher-broadcaster is ‘worrying’. They also noted the decision to revise the remit of Public Service Broadcasting and look forward to engaging on that over the coming months.

In response to the reforms, Head of Bectu Philippa Childs commented: ‘The government’s plans are big on rhetoric but light on detail, particularly regarding creating more jobs and fostering continued growth for the UK’s thriving independent production sector. The UK’s much-loved public service broadcasters bring so much to the media landscape, and we need robust plans and legislation to protect and nurture their unique offering’.

For more news from the political and public affairs sector, sign up to Vuelio’s Friday newsletter Point of Order.

Government Schools White Paper

Opportunity for all? Reaction to the latest Department for Education’s policy paper

Yesterday the Department for Education released the policy paper ‘Opportunity for all: strong schools with great teachers for your child’, the first Schools White Paper since 2016. The Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi tied the paper to the Government’s levelling up strategy in his statement, calling it ‘levelling up in action’.

Mentions of standardising children’s experience of school was mentioned throughout the paper, particularly in relation to good teaching and the of school’s provision through the commitment to a minimum 32.5 hours a week. However, some stakeholders found the paper ‘lacking in ambition’ and ability to address schools funding problems, while others agreed reform was necessary as the current school system is ‘messy and confusing’.

Stakeholder reaction to key policies:

1) Academisation
As predicted by the sector, the white paper led with a commitment for all schools to belong to a Multi-Academy Trust or be in the process of joining one by 2030. The NEU stated the white paper is a ‘message that the education of the future will be a souped-up version of what we have seen over the last decade’ and that the ‘reliance on multi-academy trusts is simply not evidence-led.’ General Secretary Dr Mary Bousted also quoted last week’s public accounts committee report which suggested the existing system ‘lacked transparency and accountability’. Natalie Perera, Chief Executive of the Education Policy Institute, said that it was clear from their research ‘academisation is no “silver bullet” for improving school performance and there may simply not be enough capacity to absorb thousands of schools into higher performing MATs. The white paper does, however, allow local authorities to create their own trusts where provision is not suitably established, although the Green Party stated there is no evidence that academies raise standards overall.

2) English and Maths standards
‘Opportunity for All’ contained two commitments to standards of attainment. The parent pledge was a commitment from Government for 90% of primary school children to achieve the expected standards in Key Stage 2 reading, writing and maths by 2030. A second central ambition was to see the national average GCSE grade in both English language and maths increase from 4.5 to 5 by 2030. The Sutton Trust commented that ‘literacy and numeracy are the building blocks of a world class education, so the Government is right to make them the priority’. However, they also stated that this is a ‘tall order’ and that ‘it is extremely difficult for young people to catch up once they have fallen behind’. The Association of School and College Leaders commented that although improving English and maths is a laudable ambition, ‘there is little recognition of the wider societal factors which affect those outcomes’.

3) Mental Health Support
The Schools White Paper didn’t feature many new announcements for mental health support, which has been a key concern since the pandemic, but it did promise to accelerate the introduction of mental health support teams into schools. Several MPs, including Steve Brine, Neil Hudson and the Shadow Secretary for Education Bridget Phillipson, mentioned the issue, pointing to constituency issues like access to support services, following Nadhim Zahawi’s statement to the House.

4) Teacher recruitment and retention
The opportunity for all paper stated that at the heart if its ambitions is the need for an excellent teacher for every child. As well as restating the manifesto promise that teacher’s starting salaries would be raised to £30,000, the paper outlined an incentive to work in disadvantaged areas and specific incentives around maths, physics, chemistry, and computing teachers, in the beginning of their careers. However, the NASUWT stated this focus on retention was ironic given the profession ‘has seen their pay cut by 19% in real terms over the last 10 years’. Teach First welcomed the incentives but stated that it ‘remains unclear how schools – particularly those serving disadvantaged communities – can achieve those goals with the current level of financial support’.

5) Extending the school day
Extending the school day has been an ongoing conversation in Parliament since the pandemic and the white paper has in part addressed this by introducing a minimum expectation of 32.5 hours a week for mainstream state funded schools. Schools must meet this expectation by 2023 at the latest. Although this falls short of extending the school day, a passion project of Education Committee chair Robert Halfon, it should go some way to addressing inequality in educational offer, although it doesn’t apply to public schools or specialist provision.

In his response to the white paper, Halfon stated: ‘It is my hope that this will mean pupils up and down the country will have more time to catch up on their lost learning from the pandemic, and to also develop their skills’, in reference to the paper’s assertion that as ‘part of a richer school week, all children should be entitled to take part in sport, music and cultural opportunities’ as part of a ‘broad and ambitious curriculum. However, as noted by the Education Policy Institute, ‘the 32.5 hour school week, which amounts to a 9am – 3.30pm day, will not make much difference to most children. Moreover, Impetus commented that although they found variation in week length from school to school, there wasn’t much of a link between this and outcomes.

Vuelio’s weekly Friday morning political newsletter Point of Order shares insight and opinion to help public affairs, policy and comms professionals stay ahead of political change and connect with those who campaign on the issues they care about. To find out more or contribute, get in touch with Vuelio Politics.

Conversion Therapy what would a ban look like

Conversion Therapy: what is it and what would a ban look like?

The Scottish Parliament recently debated whether to ban conversion therapy for people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (+) but what is conversion therapy and what would a legislative ban look like?

Conversion Therapy is the disproved practice of attempting to change or ‘convert’ a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity through talking therapies or prayer and in some cases even more extreme practices. In September 2021, medical organisations signed a memorandum on conversion therapy including a statement that they ‘agree that the practice of conversion therapy, whether in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity, is unethical and potentially harmful’. Signatories included representatives from NHS Scotland, NHS England, the Royal College of General Practitioners and the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

What a proposed ban would look like in Scotland is as of yet unclear, with the Scottish Government almost mirroring the statements of the UK Government from November 2021 proposing an exploration of non-legislative options on conversion therapy. In 2019, the Scottish National Party manifesto stated that the SNP opposed the practice of conversion therapy but the power to ban it was a reserved issue and could only be legislated on by the UK Government. In the build up to the Scottish Parliament elections in 2021 however, the Scottish Government’s interpretation of the Scottish Parliament’s powers had changed, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stating that ‘If the UK Government does not take serious action on conversion therapy, an SNP government will bring forward our own legislation to end these discriminatory and harmful practices against LGBT+ people insofar as the powers of the Scottish Parliament allow’.

The UK Government has since confirmed that any ban it brings forward will apply in England and Wales, signalling that the matter could be legislated for in the Scottish Parliament.

In January 2022, the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee backed that the Scottish Parliament legislate for a ban more extensive that that being discussed in Westminster – removing exemptions for ‘consenting’ adults and all forms of religious conversion therapy. By March, a petition was debated in the Scottish Parliament chamber with some controversy; while there was widespread support from across the political aisle, comments from SNP MSP John Mason were widely criticised after he talked about ‘self-control’ while debating the issue.

At this moment, it is unclear how the Scottish Government intend to proceed with following through on the First Minister’s promise to ban conversion therapy, considering the heavy reliance placed on process being set out by the Expert Advisory Group, established in November 2021. The Scottish Government have now laid out a loose timetable for introducing legislation within the powers that are devolved to the Scottish Parliament, proposing to introduce a comprehensive ban on conversion therapy before the end of 2023 and build upon the recommendations of the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee.

For how the Financial Times is working to make the UK media a more inclusive and supportive industry for LGBTQ+ people, check out our accessmatters session with ProudFT’s Cassius Naylor

Rishi Sunak

Cost of living crisis dominates the Spring Statement

The Chancellor approached yesterday’s Spring Statement with inflation reaching 6.2% in April and what the Office for Budget Responsibility calls the biggest hit to household finances since comparable records began in 1956-57. Against this backdrop, the cost-of-living crisis was expected to dominate the Spring Statement.

Rishi Sunak previously said he can’t fully protect people from the consequences of rising prices and he has faced huge pressure to deliver relief for families. While Labour branded Sunak ‘the high-tax Chancellor’ and said he should use his speech to cancel the planned hike in National Insurance next month, the Chancellor stood by the Government’s decision to raise rates. However, he did raise the threshold at which workers start paying National Insurance; people will be able to earn £12,570 a year without paying any Income Tax or National Insurance.

To help further with the cost-of-living crisis, the Chancellor doubled the Household Support Fund to £1bn, cut fuel duty by 5p per litre and removed VAT on households installing energy efficiency materials such as solar panels or heat pumps. In February, he announced a £150 Council tax rebate for Bands A to D and a £200 energy bills rebate.

While the support offered is significant, many have argued that it has been poorly targeted and doesn’t go far enough to have a meaningful and immediate impact on the cost-of-living crisis facing the UK.

The Office for Budget Responsibility acknowledged in their forecast that the policy measures the Chancellor has announced since October have only ‘offset a third of the overall fall in living standards that would otherwise have occurred in the coming 12 months’. On a similar note, the Resolution Foundation argued that while typical incomes will fall by over £1,000 next year (2022-23), the Treasury is only offering limited support to household budgets: an average boost of £110.

The Social Market Foundation noted that the changes to National Insurance and cuts to fuel duty will help some households, but do much less for the poorest and more vulnerable. The Resolution Foundation pointed out that only £1 in every £3 for the measures announced yesterday will go to the bottom half of the income distribution while IFS Director Paul Johnson similarly noted that the Chancellor ‘has done nothing more for those dependent on benefits, the very poorest, besides a small amount of extra cash for local authorities to dispense at their discretion. Their benefits will rise by just 3.1% for the coming financial year. Their cost of living could well rise by 10%.’

Dave Innes, Head of Economics at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, also believes that the Chancellor had plenty of headroom to uprate benefits in line with inflation.

Looking further ahead, the Chancellor also announced a 1p cut in the basic rate of Income Tax for April 2024. Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves mocked Sunak’s claims to be a tax cutter saying ‘The Chancellor can say as many times as he likes that he’s a tax-cutting Chancellor but it’s a bit like a kid in his bedroom playing air guitar – he’s not a rockstar. The problem is for this Chancellor, is that by the end of this Parliament seven out of eight people will be paying more taxes – only one in eight will be paying less taxes’.

On this, the Office for Budget Responsibility argued that the net tax cuts announced in this Spring Statement offset around a sixth of the net tax rise introduced by this Chancellor since he took over the role in February 2020, and just over a quarter of the personal tax rises he announced last year (the freezing of the income tax personal allowance and higher-rate threshold, and new health and social care levy).

The Resolution Foundation agreed that the gains of this and the lasting impact of a higher National Insurance threshold are more than wiped out by previously announced tax rises: the Health and Care Levy combined with the freeze to Income Tax thresholds. Similarly, IFS Director Paul Johnson noted that despite the tax cutting measures announced, almost all workers will be paying more tax on their earnings in 2025 than they would have been paying without this parliament’s reforms to income tax and NICs.

BBC license fee

Looking behind the abolishment of the BBC license fee

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries shocked many stakeholders and parliamentarians when she tweeted that 2027 will be the end of the BBC’s license fee funding model with a link to an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail.

The announcement is to set in motion a move away from the funding system that the BBC has used since 1923, and a reconsideration of its legal powers to collect and enforce the license fee. Dorries has personally been talking about ‘taking on’ the BBC on Twitter since 2014 and the organisation has attracted challenges of impartiality from across the political spectrum.

In her statement to the House of Commons, Dorries recognised the channel as an ‘great institution’ with a ‘unique place in our cultural heritage’ but said raising the license fee couldn’t be justified against the increasing cost of living. Julian Knight, the DCMS Committee chairman, said later that the cost ‘may not be much to presenters like Gary Lineker, but it’s a lot to constituents like ours’. It’s this sentiment that shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell challenged in her response, stating the license fee is a drop in the ocean when compared to the hike in energy bills and the Government’s plans to raise tax and national insurance contributions in April. Labour MP Chris Bryant pointed out the £159 yearly fee is the same as the proposed average national insurance increase. Nevertheless, Dorries stated that ‘the Government are committed to supporting families as much as possible during these difficult times’.

Following the announcement, Director General of the BBC Tim Davie stated the freeze will impact the BBC’s frontline output, and suggested the resulting funding gap would be £285m in the final year. He said the organisation remains focussed on providing household value.

How the BBC can prove themselves to have adequately addressed the ‘impartiality and groupthink’ Dorries accused them of in her statement to Parliament is yet to be seen, as well as if the Government can independently judge this redirection. The decision to freeze the license fee comes despite the BBC launching a 10-point plan focused on impartiality, whistleblowing and editorial standards last year. Clear progress so far has been insufficient; the broadcaster was only recently protested over how it has depicted transgender and other minority communities. In the Commons, Powell stressed the danger posed in this explicit link between charter renewal with editorial decision. In her statement, the culture secretary said the BBC must now put its words into action and ‘convince the British public’ that those changes are being made. Dorries also suggested the BBC’s legal powers to enforce the license fee should also be curtailed, which could go some way to tackle other issues with the BBC’s funding, like the disproportionate impact of prosecution for TV license evasion.

While some may agree with Labour’s sentiment that the announcement on this longstanding issue serves as a distraction from the current crisis over alleged parties during lockdown, it might take something bigger to distract the public from ‘partygate’.  And while Conservative MPs have endorsed scrapping the license fee over the years, there was reportedly lots of skepticism from the party following the announcement.

The pressing issue raised by several MPs is how the license fee will be replaced, to which there has been no answer. Dorries suggested her announcement allows for a solution to be debated, supported by the work of the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, while others suggested it should be decided by the public. Sir Peter Bottomley, the father of the house, questioned whether an assessment of alternatives have been undertaken with no direct response.

As supporters of the channel point out, a change in funding arrangements should be balanced with the good the BBC has to offer, both as a contributor to the UK’s soft power globally and at home, as a provider of education and supporter of local news. As the announcement of the freeze sat alongside a further £7.5m invested in S4C, the first channel to be specifically geared towards a Welsh speaking audience, the Government appears to be aware of the importance of the BBC in devolved and regional matters. Powell suggested to Times Radio following the announcement that ‘what we are getting for (the license fee) payment is incredibly cheap’.

Whether or not the inspiration behind the decision to freeze the license fee was to distract from bigger issues, it may appease Conservative Party critics of the BBC. They are not alone; if YouGov polls are anything to go by, the public don’t currently find the fee good value for money. However, the sudden announcement on social media, coupled with the lack of an alternative, kicks a complicated issue into the long grass for now, as a job for a different minister.

For how the scrapping of the BBC license fee could impact public relations and communications, read our previous post PR needs the BBC.

Referendum in Scotland

The state of Unionist Politics in Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon has announced her intention to hold a second independence referendum once more – what does the current debate around Scottish Independence mean for the Unionist political parties in Scotland, and how will it impact the forthcoming Scottish local elections in May?

The Scottish Conservatives have taken a hit before their local election campaign after their leader Douglas Ross called for Boris Johnson to resign earlier this month, before Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg hit back by calling him a ‘lightweight figure’ and saying the Prime Minister had the support of more ‘important’ MPs.

The Member of Parliament for Moray, who is also currently one of the regional MSPs for the Highlands and Islands, will likely want to focus on constitutional issues and appearing as the main opposition to Scottish Independence and the Scottish National Party. There may, however, be some concern that current issues facing the Conservative Party at a UK level could have a knock-on effect on turnout of their core vote in May.

The Scottish Conservatives have also been mixing in pro-union constitutional arguments with some domestic issues in recent weeks, criticising the SNP government’s record on maternity services in the Highlands and the long-standing drug crisis in Scotland.

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour have been trying to reach out to both those who voted No and Yes in the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum. UK Labour leader Keir Starmer recently accused the Prime Minister of endangering the union and laid out his vision for Scotland’s place within it at a speech in Glasgow, likely trying to bridge the current gap between unionist and nationalist voters in Scotland. In his speech, the MP for Holborn and St Pancras said that the Prime Minister is the ‘single biggest threat to the future of the UK’.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has also been demanding that the First Minister puts the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic first, rather than making plans for another independence referendum top of the agenda. He has also made calls for more to be done to tackle gender-based violence and misogyny in a visit to a gym.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats are seemingly undertaking a different strategy after falling from five MSPs to four in last year’s Scottish Parliament election. Not long after the result, former leader Willie Rennie announced his intention to resign as leader of the party leading to the uncontested election of new leader Alex Cole-Hamilton. The MSP for Edinburgh Western has already directed his focus on constitutional issues and scrutinising the SNP for pushing for a second independence referendum, possibly in a hope of picking up disaffected former Scottish Conservative voters. The new leader recently discussed issues relating to council budgets stating: ‘if Westminster had treated the SNP Government the way they treat our councils, they’d be marching in the streets’.

Overall, the strategy of all unionist parties appears to be to focus on constitutional issues while mixing in some attacks on the SNP’s domestic record in government, with perhaps Scottish Labour choosing to focus a bit more on domestic record and what they would like the Scottish Parliament to legislate for. It’s unclear how the Scottish local elections will play out, which take place under a unique transferable vote system which should, in theory, allow unionist voters to vote tactically against the more unified nationalist vote. At this moment in time, it isn’t completely obvious who will be the main beneficiary of possible transfers.

Household bills

Energy prices, fuel poverty and options ‘under discussion’

The UK’s cap on energy prices limits how much firms can charge consumers, which means that wholesale energy cost surges have so far mostly fallen on suppliers. The GB-wide price cap was raised in October. The charity National Energy Action estimates showed that another half a million households — on top of the existing 4m households — were then classed as fuel poor.

The cap is subject to its biannual review on 7 February. Experts forecast that it will be permitted to rise by an additional £400 at the very least, with the increased prices coming into force from April. The charity National Energy Action predicted that a further 1.5m households will be in fuel poverty. That’s 6m households in total and a 50% increase in just over six months.

New research revealed older people are paying more than twice as much for their energy as the younger generation. Analysis from the Labour Party showed UK households aged 65 and over spent £15 a week per person on energy bills, compared to £8 for households aged between 30 and 49 and £7 for those under 30.

Conservative MP Robert Halfon demanded ‘urgent action’ from the Government over the energy crisis and expressed his concern that ‘ordinary folk are set to be £1,200 worse off’ over the coming year in a column for The Sun. His remarks came after 20 Conservative MPs and peers demanded, in a letter to the Sunday Telegraph, that the Government slash the 5% VAT on energy bills.

Similarly, Labour has this week urged Conservative MPs to vote for a VAT cut to home energy bills over the next year. The binding motion, if it would have passed, would have guaranteed Parliamentary time for a Bill on a VAT cut to home energy bills, forcing MPs to actively vote for or against the legislation to implement this cut. However, MPs voted by 319 to 229 — a majority of 90 — against the proposal, with Anne Marie Morris the only Conservative MP to rebel and support the measure.

Rachel Reeves announced last weekend that the Labour Party would fund its bid to reduce the expected price rise in April with a one-off windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas producers that have profited from recent record-high prices. Nadhim Zahawi rejected the idea last Sunday, telling LBC Radio listeners that the proposed tax ‘just doesn’t add up’. He claimed that the companies are ‘already struggling’.

In his column for the Sun, Robert Halfon MP also argued that the Prime Minister should at least suspend the Green Levy — perhaps by introducing a downward escalator, lowering this tax when energy bills rocket. He said that this Green Levy is spent on some very questionable things. The letter written by the 20 Conservative MPs also called for the removal of environmental levies, saying they account for 23% of consumer electricity bills.

Meanwhile, reports by the BBC have suggested that that expanding eligibility for the winter homes discount that offers a one-off £140 payment is ‘under discussion’. The BBC reported that another option would be to subsidise the energy companies themselves by establishing a fund or facility which would allow them to draw down Government cash when wholesale prices were very high and then pay it back when prices dipped again.

Vuelio’s weekly Friday morning political newsletter Point of Order shares insight and opinion to help public affairs, policy and comms professionals stay ahead of political change and connect with those who campaign on the issues they care about. To find out more or contribute, get in touch with Vuelio Politics.

Health and care policy in 2022

What’s Coming Up In 2022 For Health and Care Policy

2021 was a busy year for health policy, starting with the country in lockdown because the alpha variant was causing a massive wave of COVID-19 cases across the country. At this time, the NHS was also embarking on its largest vaccination roll-out in British history.

Under the shadow of the pandemic, the NHS has witnessed record high waiting lists and has been forced to rethink its delivery of key services. This has led to widespread reform of the sector in 2021.

In February, the Department for Health and Social Care announced its plans to reform the NHS, which has led to the Health and Care Bill. This Bill would introduce statutory Integrated Care Systems with the aim to provide greater integration of services across the health and care sector. In December, a ten-year social care reform plan was announced that includes plans for the social care workforce and housing sector. 2021 also saw the reform of public health governance with the breakup of Public Health England into the UK Health Security Agency which focusses on public health protection and infectious disease capability, and the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, which focusses on population health and disparity.

Meanwhile, there has also been a shift in leadership, with Sajid Javid becoming Health and Social Care Secretary. Considered as a ‘Hawkish’ Conservative in terms of introducing strict COVID-19 restrictions, he overtook from his predecessor Matt Hancock in June. He has introduced some COVID-19 restrictions to tackle to the Omicron wave, including rules on working from home, masks, and the contentious vaccine passports, but has stopped short of introducing rules on social mixing as seen earlier in the year.

Looking into 2022, in January the Health and Bill will continue in its House of Lords Committee stage. This will be an opportunity for peers to bring forward amendments to this Bill, including one from Baroness Cumberlege, which if successful, would require the Government to publish independently-verified assessments of workforce numbers every two years. A similar high-profile amendment had been proposed in the House of Commons by Jeremy Hunt, the Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, but was rejected by the Government. If the Health and Care Bill passes, likely to be in April, the Government plans to have statutory Integrated Care Systems introduced across the country by July 2022.

April will also mark a shift in how the health and care sector is paid for as the Health and Care Levy is introduced. The 1.25% levy based on National Insurance Contributions aims raise £12bn a year for the next three years. This will provide £5.4 billion of investment over the next three years for the Adult Social Care Cap, which will limit personal care costs to a maximum of £86,000 over a person’s lifetime.

The additional funding will also be used to boost NHS capacity to address the rapidly growing waiting lists that are hovering around 5.8m, according to latest figures. This includes spending on more diagnostic scans and surgical hubs. The Health and Social Care Committee has recently called the backlog a ‘major and unquantifiable challenge’. It has recommended that the Government sets out a broad national health and care recovery plan to include mental health, primary care, community care, and social care as well as emergency care. This comes as the fast spread of Omicron variant impacts the capacity of the health and social care workforce. NHS England estimates that in recent weeks more than 80,000 staff were absent each day on average with almost half of these absences due to COVID-19.

More reform is also expected in 2022. Two upcoming strategies were announced with the publication of the Social Care White Paper. Firstly, the Integration White Paper which is expected to outline proposals to improve person-centred care with measures to improve the interface between health and care services. Alongside this, an individual strategy for people with Dementia and their carers is also expected.

Moreover, the Health Secretary has indicated that he will publish mental health strategy this year, along with a public consultation. Finally, in alignment with wider Government aims, a Levelling-up White Paper is also due this year, which could include measures to address health disparity across the country.

Vuelio’s weekly Friday morning political newsletter Point of Order shares insight and opinion to help public affairs, policy and comms professionals stay ahead of political change and connect with those who campaign on the issues they care about. To find out more or contribute, get in touch with Vuelio Politics.

Challenges and triumphs of 2021 in comms

What were the biggest challenges and triumphs for comms in 2021?

And we thought 2020 in comms, marketing and PR was difficult – 2021 brought yet more challenges, forcing everyone to adapt to the constantly changing environment we found ourselves in.

In this part of our series of features looking back at this year, and forward to the next, seven practitioners from across the industry share what they saw as the biggest challenges of 2021 and some of the organisations, people and brands that did great work in 2021.

Sarah Waddington, Astute.Work and #FuturePRoof
Main challenges of 2021?
‘The biggest challenge for comms practitioners this year has been battling fatigue. Working practices and client expectations have changed throughout the pandemic, in part through people working from home, and it seems to have exacerbated the ‘always on’ culture we’ve been trying to move away from. The biggest challenge for the year ahead will be managing this and re-establishing boundaries so the workplace is a happy and healthy one.’

Comms winners this year?
‘I thought the Don’t Be That Guy video by Police Scotland was particularly well thought out and timed in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard and following the wave of anger up and down the country relating to violence against women. It actually looked at the cause of the problem, rather than place responsibility onto women to stay safe.’

Sudha Singh, The Purpose Room
Main challenges of 2021?
‘The world has changed and like everyone else comms practitioners have had to adapt to the fast-changing world. I think the biggest challenge has been to understand how best we can serve our clients’ needs, help them to stay authentic and relevant. The other big challenge was providing adequate support to the disparate (and ever evolving) needs of team members and employees.’

Comms winners this year?
‘Brands that were true to their core purpose and were authentic were the winners – Zoom, IKEA, UK Gov Comms (…not politicians), Deliveroo, football campaign against racism, Raheem Sterling’s campaign, and the Aldi Free Cuthbert campaign.’

Gavin Devine, Park Street Partners
Main challenges of 2021?
‘Maintaining focus has been really difficult in 2021. The year has been a rollercoaster of lockdowns and normality, international travel being impossible and then opening up, office working prohibited, frowned upon and then encouraged. It hasn’t always been easy to know how in practice to deliver for clients and to keep colleagues motivated and positive. These challenges are not unique to comms but we perhaps feel them particularly acutely because often we have been called in to help clients shape and communicate their responses to COVID-19. Entering more of a ‘steady state’ of near-normality in the last couple of months has been an enormous relief.’

Comms winners this year?
‘I can think of so many individuals and organisations who had a bad year in terms of comms in 2021. There were few real winners, although it would be hard to argue that Kate Bingham and Nadhim Zahawi didn’t have a great year in terms of their personal ‘brands’.’

Emmanuel Ofosu-Appiah, Mercer
Main challenges of 2021?
‘One clear challenge has been constant news flow and sheer amount of change since the pandemic hit. This has made it harder for clients and stakeholders stories to penetrate into the mainstream. PRs really need to think about what they are sharing externally and what key messages they want to get across. There has also been a shift with organisations focusing more on ESG and sustainability issues which has required practitioners to think outside of the box to get their stories heard.’

Comms winners this year?
‘I was blow away by the FIFA and EA Sports campaign for The Kiyan Prince Foundation and QPR. It was a genius creative idea from Engine Group with such a strong and moving message following such an unfortunate incident. I know many young people will be inspired by the campaign.’

Anne Gregory, University of Huddersfield
Main challenges of 2021?
‘Resilience and stamina, given the relentless nature of the on-going crisis. Working remotely – the watercooler moments are so important to ‘temperature check’ the organisation, particularly what is happening internally. Major flop to digital/online working. Educating senior managers on how to be really competent in genuine communication and not talking in soundbites.’

Comms winners this year?
‘Pfizer, Unilever and health scientists!’

Tolu Rachel Akisanya, Ariatu PR
Main challenges of 2021?
‘Not just this year, but for several years now, is the industry has struggled with the ability – or lack of – to switch off. This has always been an issue, however with the pandemic and working from home, it’s been harder to separate work life and personal life. Especially when both happen in the same room now (my front room is both my office space and leisure space). Additionally, with the growth of new social media platforms and media outlets, it means we’re constantly consuming media, even in our downtime, which often means we never really ever switching off. Whether we consciously or subconsciously realise it, we’re always looking for the next opportunity or connecting with a new contact online or horizon scanning – it can sometimes be information overload.

‘However, this has led to a positive movement and we’ve seen the wider industry acknowledge this issue and work towards raising awareness, providing support and resources, and creating more open and wider discussions about how to improve the mental health and well-being of PR practitioners.’

Comms winners this year?
‘I’ve really enjoyed seeing the work Ariatu PR has done with podcasts, such as Broccoli Content and Coiled. In a market that is oversaturated, being able to ‘cut through the noise’ and deliver impactful campaigns, generate coverage (in the likes of the Financial Times and Stylist magazine) to raise awareness and lead to listeners, for shows that are not celebrity led, has been incredible.’

Stuart Thomson, BDB Pitmans
Main challenges of 2021?
‘In public affairs, we have had to put up with seemingly continuous outrage caused by the behaviour of some serving and former Parliamentarians and their lobbying activities. It has done little to help the reputation of politics or public affairs. The CIPR and PRCA have been very firm in their condemnation of the activities but sadly such behaviour damages us all.

‘A large part of public affairs is the development of relationships and, however good online activity is, there is nothing to really replace face-to-face interaction. The extended lockdown at the start of the year and now worries about another wave has curtailed that. We really do need to get back to normal in-person political activity.’

Comms winners this year?
‘The Beatles. The brand of a band that ceased to exist before even I was born continues to astound. The release of Peter Jackson’s Beatles documentary Get Back has been trailed and tantalised for more than a year building up on the anticipation of its release on Disney+. A great piece of communications.’

Read predictions for the trends PR and comms professionals can expect in 2022 here and start your campaign planning with Vuelio’s media, PR, public affairs and political services – find out more here.

Adult Social Care

Is the Government’s latest white paper on adult social care reform enough to help the sector?

After much anticipation, the Government quietly published its adult social care proposals last week. The Putting the Heart into Care White Paper included headline announcements such as £300m to develop the housing for the elderly sector as well as details on the Government’s £500m investment in the social care workforce.

The reforms promise to create a care system that will give people a greater choice and independence and give the people who work in social care better routes for career progression. Introducing the reforms to Parliament, Minister for Care Gillian Keegan said: ‘Today’s White Paper is an important step on our journey to giving more people the dignified care that we want for our loved ones, setting out important changes that will last for generations and stand the test of time.’

Any indication of reform to the sector is welcome, given the intense capacity and workforce issues seen in recent years. However, many critics have accused the Government of not going far enough.

On the opposition bench, Labour’s Shadow Care Minister Liz Kendall argued that the White Paper has ‘utterly failed to deal with the immediate pressures facing social care, as we head into one of the most difficult winters on record’. She also continued Labour’s attack on the social care cap which will cap personal care costs at £86,000. Labour voted against the measure as they argue it will still leave people with unaffordable care costs.

The Liberal Democrat’s Daisy Cooper said that the measures laid out are ‘incredibly thin’ and will not address the problems with fragmentation and integration between the NHS and care. Meanwhile, Philippa Whitford has called for the Government to follow the lead of the Scottish National Party in Scotland and introduce a national care service.

Much of the criticism of these reforms is focussed on the lack of additional funding which the sector will see. This is despite the Health and Care Levy, announced in September, which will raise £36.5bn for the health and social care sector over the next three years. As most of this money will initially be spent on addressing the waiting lists in the NHS, the proportion to be spent on social care is only £5.4bn. Moreover, with £3.6bn of this funding being spent on the social care cap, the remaining funding for investment in the sector is just £1.7bn over the next three years.

The Health and Social Care Committee Chair Jeremy Hunt argued that the funding set out in the White Paper doesn’t even give enough funding for local authorities to carry out their core responsibilities, let alone give them enough to deal with demographic change and national living wage increases. He highlighted that the Committee had called for a £7 billion-a-year increase by the end of the Parliament to address the current challenges. This was echoed by the Health Foundation which has argued that the reforms will ‘feel like hollow words without the money to deliver it’. The Think Tank has suggested that additional funding of around £7.6 billion in 2022/23 is needed, rising to £9 billion in 2024/25.

There are some positive notes for what is included in the reforms – ADASS have said that although the sector needs more funding, the White Paper is a good foundation for reform with ‘strong values and principles’. Likewise, Skills for Care have welcomed the workforce components of the reforms, including the investment in professional development processes. ARCO has also praised the White Paper’s attention on developing the specialist housing sector.

Overall, although the White Paper doesn’t contain anything particularly contentious for the sector, there are concerns that it does not go far enough to address the long-term challenges, particularly on funding and within the workforce. With this, the sector can expect more proposals in the coming months. A standalone strategy for people with dementia and their carers is planned, as well as an Integration White Paper which will set out measures to improve the join up of care in local areas.

Vuelio’s weekly Friday morning political newsletter Point of Order shares insight and opinion to help public affairs, policy and comms professionals stay ahead of political change and connect with those who campaign on the issues they care about. To find out more or contribute, get in touch with Vuelio Politics.

Cabinet Office

What the Shadow Cabinet Reshuffle means for the UK political environment

Lucy Grove and Charlie Campion from the Vuelio political team take a look at the Shadow Cabinet reshuffle. 

Labour leader Keir Starmer surprised us with a reshuffle this week, beginning with the resignation of Cat Smith, who had continued to serve as Shadow Secretary of State for Young People and Democracy under Starmer’s leadership, following her appointed to the role by former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Nick Thomas-Symonds has been removed as the Shadow Home Secretary having served in the role since Starmer’s victory in the Labour Leadership Election last year, but having come under some criticism for his performance in the role, has been moved to serve as Shadow International Trade Secretary. He has been replaced in Shadow Home Secretary by Yvette Cooper, who has returned to the role having previously served in the same position under the leadership of Ed Miliband. The former Chair of Home Affairs Select Committee has received some acclaim for her scrutiny of Government during her stint in the role including an exchange with current Home Secretary Priti Patel on the lack of up-to-date figures related to COVID-19 and border issues in July 2020. The MP for the marginal seat of Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford will arguably add some experience to Keir Starmer’s senior leadership team, where few have had the opportunity to serve in government.

Lisa Nandy will see her portfolio switch from meetings with foreign dignitaries to a role more focused on local communities and government. The co-Founder of the Centre for Towns and active campaigner for towns and communities will be a popular choice with social media users who turned her passion for towns into an internet sensation during the 2020 Labour Leadership Election. The MP for Wigan has long taken an interest in local government repeating her calls for a ‘functioning bus network’ and will shadow Michael Gove as the government rolls out its Levelling Up agenda.

Ed Miliband retained a quarter of his former post, moving from the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to the newly-created position of Shadow Secretary of State of Climate Change and Net Zero. Although not having a direct opposite in Government makes it unclear who Miliband will be shadowing, the creation of this role indicates a commitment from the party to one of the most central issues plaguing Government, particularly after a last-minute compromise at the COP26 summit. The appointment also acknowledges Miliband’s passion for the topic, demonstrated in his challenge to Boris Johnson over COP26 ambitions.

There was movement in store for Wes Streeting and Jonathan Reynolds, who took on the roles of Shadow Secretary for Health and Social Care and Shadow Secretary for Business and Industrial Strategy respectively. Streeting, the Member of Parliament for Ilford North, has been an MP since 2015 having taken the London seat from the Conservatives in an upset win, he then went on to serve as Shadow Secretary for Child Poverty. Meanwhile, Reynolds is moved to the Business and Industrial Strategy role having previously served as the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.

The reshuffle also saw Cardiff Central MP Jo Stevens move from her previous role shadowing Nadine Dorries, the recently appointed Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to return to the Welsh portfolio. She replaces Nia Griffith, MP for Llanelli, who has now taken a step back from frontbench politics.

Former Shadow Secretary for Justice David Lammy has been promoted to the Foreign Affairs brief opposite Liz Truss. Albeit a slightly surprising appointment, former barrister Lammy is a powerful speaker and will be well placed to hold the Government to account on a challenging foreign policy landscape. Following his appointment, he said he looks ‘forward to setting out Labour’s vision for a values-led foreign policy’. Working alongside him will be Shadow Cabinet Minister Preet Gill, who has been in post since September 2020.

Some quarters were perhaps left surprised as Dr Rosena Allin-Khan wasn’t moved to a more senior role in the Shadow Cabinet, especially with Jonathan Ashworth vacating the Health portfolio. The MP for Tooting in South London has been touted as a rising star in the Labour Party and while she saw no promotion in this reshuffle she will continue to attend the Shadow Cabinet in her role as Shadow Minister for Mental Health.

Peter Kyle, the MP for Hove, joins the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. He was previously Schools Minister and replaces Louise Haigh. Another member of the 2015 intake, like Wes Streeting, he upset the Conservatives turning a 4% Conservative majority into a 3% Labour Majority before winning a 30%+ majority in the 2017 and 2019 General Elections.

There were rumours that Wes Streeting was on the cards to take over Shadow Secretary of State for Education from Kate Green after his appointment as Shadow Schools Minister in 2020 and his long history of being an active voice in education. Phillipson, the former Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, is the first MP representing a northeast constituency to be Shadow Education Secretary since Pat Glass, who held the role for two days in 2016 and has spoken about the poor outcomes for young people in her area. Conclusions could be drawn here about the parallels between this and the Government’s ambitions for levelling-up education.
Jim McMahon has become the Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, moving from the Transport portfolio. He has been the MP for Oldham West and Royton since 2015 having previously served as the Leader of the Council.

The reshuffle also sees Emily Thornberry stay in the Shadow Cabinet, but she returns to her role of Shadow Attorney General, despite rumours of her ending up in home affairs. She brings expertise from her substantial work in the legal profession before entering Parliament as a barrister to the role.

Steve Reed moves from Shadow Secretary for Communities and Local Government to justice. His first shadow ministerial role was in home affairs from 2013-2015, providing some background to the role, as well as having been commended for his work establishing the Co-operative Councils Network, which sought to transform local public services prior to his election. Although he hasn’t worked as a lawyer, like his predecessor, Reeds’ background publishing includes spells with the Law Society. Following his appointment, he reminded Twitter of his work introducing Seni’s Law to secure justice for mental patients.

Lucy Powell moves from Shadow Secretary of State for Housing to her new role shadowing Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries. She takes on this role following a brief period as Labour’s front-bench housing spokesperson, which some argued lacked a strong campaign against the Government’s actions over the leasehold scandal. Powell has relevant experience for the appointment, introducing the Online Forum’s Bill way back in 2018, arguing unregulated ‘echo chambers’ on social media are allowing the online spread of abuse, including racist conspiracy theories, revenge porn and illegal trading. Despite achieving cross-party support, the Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament.

Jonathan Ashworth has held previous shadow cabinet positions for the Department of Health and Social Care, for which he served longer than any other Labour politician, as well as the cabinet office. He will be shadowing incumbent Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey, who welcomed Ashworth to his new job, stating that the two have a ‘shared mission to improve the quality of life for millions of people in this country’.

Also noteworthy, Angela Rayner kept her former roles in the November 2021, but nonetheless hit the headlines as the reshuffle coincided with her long-planned speech on Labour’s plans to clean up politics at the Institute for Government. Papers reported that the deputy leader appeared blind-sided, while sources close to the Labour leader said Ms Rayner was told a reshuffle would be taking place.

Louise Haigh was moved from being Northern Ireland’s Shadow Secretary of State a week after being criticised by some for suggesting the UK Government should remain neutral in the event of a border poll. Upon her appointment she said she was looking forward to ‘getting stuck into the Tories on behalf of communities who have been sold out by their transport betrayal’.

Vuelio’s weekly Friday morning political newsletter Point of Order shares insight and opinion to help public affairs, policy and comms professionals stay ahead of political change and connect with those who campaign on the issues they care about. To find out more or contribute, get in touch with Vuelio Politics.

Reflections on COP26

Reflections on COP26 from the House of Lords

The House of Lords podcast episode ‘What comes after COP26’ interviewed two members of the House, chosen because of their great interest in the environment: Baroness Bennett who previously led the Green Party, and Baroness Parminter, Chair of the Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee.

There were reflections on the successes of the summit, with Baroness Bennett commenting on the significance of fossil fuels and coal’s inclusion within the COP declaration. The conference saw the creation of a coalition made up of 190 countries committing to phase out coal power as well as pledges from the G20, Japan, Korea and China to end overseas finance for coal generation. However, environmental NGOs and activists said commitments on coal were not sufficient. Both peers called for the Government to sign up to the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, a coalition built by Costa Rica and Denmark to facilitate the phase-out of oil and gas production. This push for stronger action from the UK Government was one call amongst many from Baroness Bennett and Parminter.

Despite the UK Government presenting themselves as the pioneers of climate finance, Baroness Bennett expressed disappointment over the failure to secure the $100b global finance target while Baroness Parminter called for the Government to re-establish the 0.7% aid budget. Baroness Bennett said it was essential for enough funding to be raised to pay ‘reparations’ to the world’s poorest people who will be the worst affected by climate change despite not causing it themselves. She and Baroness Parminter reiterated the points made by many at the conference, that rhetoric about saving our future misses the point that many countries are feeling the effects of climate change now, from which they must be protected.

Baroness Parminter criticised the Government for failing to embed climate change across Governmental departments, with no clear plans drawn up to achieve this in the Net Zero Strategy. She argued that the Government is failing to hold its own Departments to account, as seen with the trade deal with Australia, cutting Air Passenger Duty for domestic flights and failing to include policies for home insultation in the Heat and Buildings Strategy despite an urgent need to decarbonise the UK’s housing stock.

There was some optimism during the episode, with both peers highlighting the increased momentum behind environmental issues within the House of Lords with some unlikely characters joining the movement. Baroness Bennett gave the example of the sewage amendment, calling for stronger action against water companies and storm overflows in the Environment Act, which had been tabled by the Duke of Wellington, a hereditary peer.

With a growing consensus in both Houses that the climate crisis must be prioritised, Baroness Bennett emphasised the importance of public engagement, arguing that the ideas at COP26 came largely from civil society rather than the leaders sat at the negotiation tables. Agreeing with David Attenborough’s focus on young people at the summit, both peers put a spotlight on young people for driving change. However, Baroness Bennett concluded by saying that unless the way the society and economy is restructured through full system change, we will not be able to meet our targets, arguing that ‘you can’t have infinite growth on a finite planet’.

An ode to trade associations

An ode to trade associations

This is a guest post from Emily Wallace, interim CEO of the Trade Association Forum.  

The combination of Brexit and COVID-19 has seen trade associations unequivocally demonstrate their value to the UK business community.

Trade associations have such an important role to play in our economy. They see problems way before they hit the desks of Ministers, providing eyes and ears and an effective early warning system.

Trade associations make policy workable; without trade associations, the Government would have a really hard job implementing policy. Not only do they spend huge amounts of time working on the details of regulation and guidance, but they then push it out to their members and drive compliance too.

Trade associations also drive up standards that protect consumers and businesses, as well as supporting public sector inspection regimes. Trade associations are often driven by a group of businesses that want to differentiate themselves from those in their sector who are cutting corners on regulation, taxation or using low quality materials. They self-organise, set standards, change culture and drive innovation. They prevent a race to the bottom and protect us all in the process.

Trade Associations deliver investment in the skills that businesses actually need. They put in place accreditation programmes, run regular training sessions, develop routes to entry through apprenticeships and vocational learning, support continued professional development, share best practice and reward excellence.

As the pandemic hit, under increasing financial pressures, they stepped up their support to members, to help them to navigate the myriad of changing rules, regulations and government support schemes.

At the same time, many associations had to reshape themselves to be able to operate with a very different financial outlook, as in-person events, awards and other revenue-generating activities were cancelled.

The annual salary and benefits survey of trade associations from the Trade Association Forum lays bare the impact of COVID-19 on UK trade associations. It shows:

Over a quarter of respondents (27%) saw a reduction in staff numbers in 2020

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) was used by just over 50% of respondents
  • 33% report that Covid-19 had affected their ability to increase staff pay in 2021, and 29% that they had not awarded or budgeted for salary increases in 2021.
  • 64% of associations are looking to recruit, a figure that has almost doubled from our last survey in 2019 when just 36% of associations were planning to hire
  • Just 8% have or are planning to return to full time office working. 83% will adopt hybrid working and 8% are allowing staff to work from home permanently.

While COVID-19 has provided the most challenging of times for Trade Associations, it is great to see some confidence return and a more positive outlook for 2022. The survey shows the sector embarking on a hiring spree, and recruiters report that demand for communication, policy, and advocacy skills in UK trade associations has increased significantly in the last six months.

The skills required to lead a trade association are a complex mix that require speedy transition from sector champion, to regulatory expert, to event organiser, to marketing manager to PR guru and much more besides. There are a lot of spinning plates, entrepreneurial spirits and oodles of ingenuity that keep all the parts in motion.

While the last year might have been a challenge, trade associations are bouncing back, reinvented, reinvigorated and with an important role for the future.

More information on the Trade Association Forum and the annual salary and benefits survey of trade associations can be found here on the website

Vuelio’s political newsletter Point of Order shares insight and opinion to help public affairs, policy and comms professionals stay ahead of political change and connect with those who campaign on the issues they care about. To find out more or contribute, get in touch with Vuelio Politics.


ARCO – putting care in ‘housing-with-care’

ARCO’S new report ‘Putting the care in Housing-with-care’ recentres the role Integrated Retirement Communities can play filling gaps in the social care sector while fostering improvements in care quality.

The report shows that with the right amount of support and backing, Integrated Retirement Communities could boost the capacity of the UK’s social care system and address shortages in the social care workforce. It highlights a lack in the provision of care across the country, particularly for lower and intermediate care needs. With this, it demonstrates that as well as boosting capacity in the social care sector, Integrated Retirement Communities can offer unique packages of care. In particular, the report highlights the many health benefits of retirement communities as on-site care means that people are less likely to need more acute health care, ultimately to the benefit of the resident, and local NHS services.

The report recommends that the Government bolsters the role of Integrated Retirement Communities within the wider social care sector, by setting a firm definition of Integrated Retirement Communities and by giving monitoring duties to local authorities to oversee the delivery of new developments. It also proposes the introduction of a cross-departmental taskforce, which can work on issues across social care and housing by cementing the position of Integrated Retirement Communities within the planning system.

At the report launch, speakers including Damian Green MP, Chair of the APPG on Longevity, Natalie Reed, interim Head of Inspection at CQC and Simon Bottery from the King’s Fund highlighted the current challenges in the social care and housing sectors.

Damian Green MP highlighted that people living in retirement communities are less likely to experience ill health or digression in health. He also spoke about the need for a long-term perspective on the social care sector and said that the upcoming White Paper on social care should provide policy on housing for the elderly. Natalie Reed from the CQC focussed on the high quality of care that is provided within retirement communities and suggested that the care model allows people to live fulfilling and happy lives. Simon Bottery from the King’s Fund also highlighted the evidence around the quality of care in retirement communities and said that people living in them are less likely to experience loneliness or depression. Moreover, Joanna Grainger, Executive Director of Operations at ExtraCare, highlighted that with onsite care, retirement communities’ staff can provide personalised and flexible care.

The Government has already set forward indications of how the social care sector will be funded with the announcement of the Health and Care Levy in September. As the sector eagerly awaits the contents of the White Paper, which has promised to be published by the end of the year, reports such as this will be valuable to policymakers so that the new reforms ensure long term quality of care across the sector.