The DRD Snapshot
3 Dec 2021
THE WEEK THAT WAS
Centre slide: This week saw the somewhat unexpected reshuffle news from the Labour Party with Keir Starmer making changes to his front bench. The newly appointed Shadow Health Secretary, Wes Streeting called the new cabinet “a move towards the voters,” while disgruntled backbench MPs complained that Starmer’s leadership had become a “Trojan horse” for Labour’s right wing. The most notable changes were the return of Yvette Cooper to the frontbench, resuming her previously held role as Shadow Home Secretary, and Ed Miliband’s new brief as the Secretary of State for Climate Change and Net Zero, giving the more City-friendly MP Jonathan Reynolds the role of Shadow Secretary of State for Business and Industrial Strategy. Given yesterday’s news that Labour’s biggest funder, Unite, will cut political donations to the party, perhaps a bid for corporate funding is on the cards.
Social care let-down: The Government has revealed plans to reform social care services, promising more help for disabled people to adapt their homes. The Adult Social Care Reform White Paper outlines a 10-year vision aimed at providing fair access to personalised care whilst supporting a struggling workforce that is facing recruitment shortages. Health Minister Gillian Keegan announced the plans in the Commons on Wednesday, stressing her claim that previous governments had ignored the challenges of social care for too long. This in turn faced stark criticism from Shadow Social Care Minister Liz Kendall who said that the paper lacked a proper “long-term strategy”, and that it fell “short of the mark.” Ominously for Ministers, this narrative was shared by former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt who said that the plan “doesn’t really give confidence.” Hunt raised concerns that local authorities lack the money to provide social care, emphasising that it was “hard to see an end to the workforce crisis.” This all seems a far cry from the once-and-for-all reform of the system promised by the Prime Minister on his election in 2019.
Finest Somerset sleaze denied: Jacob Rees-Mogg has become the latest casualty in the sleaze scandal which continues to torment Westminster, following complaints from Labour the he had failed to declare that he received £6m in loans from one of his companies. It was announced on Wednesday that the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards had begun a formal investigation into the Leader of the House. Mr Rees-Mogg, who denies any wrong-doing, allegedly borrowed up to £2.94m from Saliston, (the company he owns, and was formerly Director of) in 2018. In the same year Saliston took out a bank loan worth £2.87m. Following this, he is said to have taken out loans annually until 2020. Rees-Mogg said the loans were mainly used to purchase and finance his home and did not need to be declared as they were a loan, not an earning.
THE WEEK TO COME
Priti strict: The Prime Minister and Home Secretary have responded to the migrant crisis by attempting to push through the Nationalities and Borders Bill which is set to be debated in Parliament next week. The controversial Bill makes arriving in the UK without permission a criminal offence, provides immunity to border force officials whose actions could result in increased deaths, and would grant the Home Office the ability to strip people’s British citizenship without giving notice. The Joint Committee on Human Rights identified that the latter is potentially a breach of international law. The Committee noted that criminalising the act of arriving in the UK without permission goes against the UN convention which states that refugees should not be penalised for entering a safe country. It also adds to the dispute with the French, who recently stated the UK needed to work to provide a ‘pathway for legal migration,’ highlighting the crisis is far from over.
Money talks: Next week, on 9 December, the Scottish Budget will be announced by Kate Forbes MSP, Finance Secretary in the Scottish Government. The Budget will include the Scottish Government’s ‘Medium Term Financial Strategy’ to help progress the Scottish economy, with promises to aid businesses, infrastructure, and individuals. Ms Forbes has made several pre-emptive announcements about her Budget, calling on the UK to listen to Scotland’s ambitions and to ensure following the pandemic and its economic impact. Scotland’s economy and GDP levels have suffered since February 2020. Indeed, Scottish economic output remains 2.4% lower than pre-pandemic levels and GDP down by 0.2% since July.
Green goals: Businesses and industry are more eager than ever to show off their green credentials to consumers. The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), an organisation representing 600 businesses and industries spanning the entire built environment value chain, is one of the organisations taking action to show that they have committed to work towards net zero. Following the launch of their Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap at COP26 last month, next week the organisation is instigating an industry launch that focuses on the roadmap’s implications for built environment stakeholders. Those impacted by UKGBC’s intentions and roadmap include McDonald’s, Heathrow and Lloyd’s Banking Group.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
Climate Change Catastrophe: The Climate Change Committee (CCC) this week that the UK is ‘nowhere near’ meeting targets agreed at COP26. Ambitions to reduce CO2 emissions, ‘phase down’ coal and ‘phase out’ subsidies that lower the price of coal, oil and natural gas were announced at the climate summit in Glasgow. Scientists have emphasised that it is essential that the UK embraces these pledges if it will meet its net zero target by 2050. To achieve this, the UK must drop emissions by 7.6% per year between 2020 and 2030 to prevent temperatures exceeding 1.5 The CCC published its study on COP26 and the ‘next steps for the UK’. Within this document, there are some harsh realities for the Government and the nation to consider. Organisations such as the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology have been saying since 2020 that the UK, the holders of the COP Presidency until COP27, should be leading by example and setting their COP promises into motion today, as tomorrow just seems too late.
Levelling Up – a title without a policy (yet)?
With the Levelling Up White Paper scheduled to be published within the next fortnight, DRD Associates Clemency Huggins and Ed Bowie take a look at how the Government and Opposition are approaching what could be the most significant new policy platform since the General Election.
Described as “one of the signature challenges of our time” (Andy Haldane), “the defining mission of this government” (Michael Gove), and “not a jam spreading operation… [a] win-win for the whole United Kingdom” (Boris Johnson), levelling up is the talk of towns across the country. The Conservatives won the last General Election with a landslide majority based on a manifesto promising to achieve greater equality across the counties, they committed billions of pounds in the Budget and Spending Review to do so, and levelling up is still the buzz word of the Government. It has to be if they want to stand a chance at the next election.
To read more click here.
THUMBS UP / DOWN
WORTH A READ
Politico – To understand Lord Frost is to understand Britain’s approach to Brexit
The Spectator – Britain’s relationship with France has taken a turn for the worse
New Statesman –Exclusive: Tory MPs would be over £1m worse off in six months with Boris Johnson’s second job ban
The Week – Who will replace Andrew Marr at the BBC?
STAT OF THE WEEK
Growing reports of the Omicron variant across the globe have given the booster vaccine race a boost…
Source: New Statesman