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High aspirations, sound foundations: a discussion report on the centre-ground case for building 100,000 new public homes

By John Healey MP

Published September 2015

In a new report, 'High aspirations, sound foundations' John Healey MP kicks off a debate about the urgent social housing crisis facing Britain. The analysis shows there are viable alternatives to the government's expensive housing policies. The report sets out how Labour can revive social housing and reduce the needlessly costly housing benefit bill.

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From pay squeeze to a staffing crisis: a study of recruitment and retention in the NHS and local government

The Smith Institute

Published June 2015

This study and survey is intended to inform the on-going debate about the impact of the pay squeeze on the recruitment and retention of staff in the NHS and local government. It offers a review and commentary on what is happening, based around the views and opinions of HR professionals.

Employment practices and HR management in the NHS and local government varies, and is shaped by a range of factors – including the type of public service and location. Furthermore, pay rates and recruitment and retention issues are different for different grades and different functions. However, both NHS and local government staff have been affected by the pay squeeze, which has seen wages in the public sector fall relative to those in the private sector.

Up-to-date information and data on recruitment and retention in the public services are not always readily available. It is particularly difficult, for example, to access information on how organisations, like NHS Trusts, view the impact of fiscal austerity and the pay squeeze on recruitment and retention. Much of the hard data is historical and often fails to capture the full labour market and organisational impacts, for instance on workloads and morale. Issues such as confidentiality, financial pressures, competition for certain staff and local factors also make it difficult to identify sector-wide (and cross-sector) trends. We therefore hope that the report at least adds to the evidence and gives some useful insights into the challenges facing all those involved with recruitment and retention in the NHS and local government.

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Full speed ahead: connecting our cities and regions

The Smith Institute and PwC

Published June 2015

The ability to move efficiently, conveniently and reliably from place to place is something we all demand. We rely on our transport system to get us from A to B and to provide us with the goods and services we need. However, the transport system is under immense strain. Traffic congestion has increased and capacity on major rail routes is stretched. The problems are expected to get worse as demand increases, especially in our major cities and their surrounding hinterlands. The solutions are neither quick nor cheap, but as this Talking Points report makes clear, failure to invest in a more integrated and better connected transport network will leave UK plc at a distinct competitive disadvantage.

To find out more about the scale of the issue, and explore what can be done to improve connectivity between our cities and regions, the Smith Institute and PwC ran a series of roundtables in five major cities to hear the views of transport practitioners, experts and decision makers from the cities and city-regions themselves.

These views are captured in this Talking Points publication. It offers a snapshot of current opinion and, most importantly, makes suggestions as to what could be done to improve connectivity within and between the UK’s cities and regions.

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Red alert: why Labour lost and what needs to change

By Paul Hunter

Published July 2015

This new report places the spotlight on why Labour lost the election and what might need to change. The report highlights which seats Labour lost, who turned their back on Labour and what issues the party was weakest on. It also sets out what some of the policy implications of the defeat might be, not least in regard to age, class and place.

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Delivering growth: Where next for Local Enterprise Partnerships?

The Smith Institute and PwC

Published June 2015

Against the backdrop of political change and economic recovery, this ‘Talking Points’ report puts the spotlight on “where next” for the 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in England. By capturing the views of LEP representatives and their partners the intention is to identify a common agenda and inform and stimulate the debate about the future of the LEPs.

Based on 22 interviews with LEP leaders it highlights the main priorities and obstacles facing the LEPs over the next five years, in particular around their capacity and capability to deliver on their ambitions. 

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Working together – thinking alike: What do councils and local enterprise partnerships expect from housing associations?

By Andrew Heywood

Published June 2015

This new report places the spotlight on fast changing the relationship between local authorities and housing associations, which is increasingly under strain. Welfare reform, reductions in housing grant and plans to extend Right to Buy mean historic relationships between housing associations and local authorities must change if they are to continue to effectively support their communities and build much-needed affordable homes. The report sets out recommendations on how to strengthen the relationship with local authorities and how to build new ones with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

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Who governs Britain – a profile of MPs in the 2015 parliament

By Paul Hunter and Dan Holden

Published May 2015

What is the background of the MPs in the new Parliament? What is their education and occupational profile, gender and age? And, how have these trends changed since 2010? This analysis of MPs in the 2015 Parliament addresses these questions and shows how far our elected politicians reflect wider society. Click here to view

Healthcare – the next five years

Michelle Mitchell, Anita Charlesworth, Mike Birtwistle, Kieran Brett, Dr Charlotte Augst, Professor Gabriel Scally, Tom Wright, Heléna Herklots, Julie Wood, Rick Stern, Rob Webster, Richard Murray, Gillian Fawcett, Christopher Ridley OBE. Edited by Michelle Mitchell

Published March 2015. Price £9.99

In this timely and important report leading experts from the health world set out their views on what needs to change to ensure the long-term sustainability of the NHS. With the challenges of austerity, an ageing society and more expensive treatment the authors add their thoughts to the on-going debate on prevention, integration and funding.

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Joining the dots - making healthcare work better for the local economy

Professor Sarah Curtis, David Buck, Joni Jabbal, Professor Dame Carol Black, Christopher Pope, Dr Tim G Townshend, Professor Rose Gilroy, Ann Schofield, Pamela J Chesters and Eugene Milne. Edited by Professor Rose Gilroy and Professor Mark Tewdwr-Jones.

Published February 2015. Price £9.99

This timely collection of essays addresses the connections between healthcare, planning and economic development. Better integration of the new planning and healthcare systems is seen as critical to creating prosperous and sustainable communities. According to the 2010 Marmot Review there is not only a strong social justice case for reducing health inequalities, but also a compelling economic case. Failing to plan for growth and for an ageing society carries a huge cost to the nation. Furthermore, local councils are taking more of a place-based approach to improving health and wellbeing, with a renewed emphasis on preventative action and integration between health, planning, housing, transport, and economic development. The book features contributions from leading policy makers and practitioners who set out what is and can be done to make healthcare work better for the local economy.

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The local double dividend: securing economic and social success

A Smith Institute ‘policy in the making’ discussion paper by Neil McInroy and Matthew Jackson, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES)

Published February 2015

This new discussion paper makes the case that devolution offers the chance to tackle poverty and inequality by doing things differently – but current thinking may lead us towards the same mistakes. The authors argue that With a national economic model which seems incapable of dealing with poverty and inequality, there is a chance that a fresh action by cities and local government can get to the roots causes of weak local economies and social exclusion. The report argues a ‘Double Dividend’ approach is required in which both economic and social success are seen as intrinsic to local prosperity. Social outcomes such as decent wages, and enduring social institutions, are key to an area’s sustainable economic success but are too often seen as a barrier to growth. 

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