Health Secretary weighing up merger of health and social care
The Government is considering plans to deliver health and social care under an integrated service. Currently social care is delivered by local authorities, many of whom are underfunded and lack the capability to provide better care. It is believed that Sajid Javid is interested in how a new integrated service could deliver better care and free up NHS beds across England. The proposal could lead to local authorities and the NHS working from the same budget for social care, as well as the implementation of national standards for care, and conditions for carers. If proposals are deemed workable then they may be included in the upcoming health and social care white paper.
STEM bodies ask Chancellor to commit to investment in R&D
More than 30 STEM bodies have written an open letter to Rishi Sunak, imploring him to deliver on the pledge to make the United Kingdom a science and technology superpower. They’ve urged him to use this month’s Spending Review reinforce the 2020 Budget proposal to increase public investment in research and development (R&D) to £22bn by 2025. This proposal was driven by the need to encourage innovation to combat health crises, such as COVID-19, and was reinforced in the Treasury’s Plan for Growth. However, there is now concern within the STEM community that the Government is beginning to row back on its investment goals and may instead look to reach the investment goal by 2027. Research leaders argue that a failure to hit investment targets will see the UK fall even further behind other nations in terms of innovation. They point to the fact that the Government’s target to invest 2.4% of GDP is already below the OECD average, which now sits at 2.5%. The UK currently lags behind France, USA, Germany, Japan, South Korea and Israel regarding the percentage of GDP invested in R&D.
FCA open to greater collaboration over the regulation of pensions
Sarah Pritchard, Executive Director (markets) at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has emphasised the need for closer relationships between regulatory bodies and policymakers regarding pensions. In a speech at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association’s annual conference, she remarked that the ideal way to reduce insufficient engagement and communication in the pensions industry is through seamless collaboration between the FCA, The Pensions Regulator (TPR), the Department for Work and Pensions, and HM Treasury. This view is based on the perception that most consumers have no idea how their pension is structured, or who regulates it. The FCA is hopeful that this approach will improve guidance and prevent scams; the body would also like to see provisions to regulate paid advertising included in the Online Safety Bill. Pritchard also revealed that the FCA is interested in the development of the Pensions Dashboards Programme with the Money and Pensions Service. This would give pension savers the ability to actively compare pension products.
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