Policy of the day

Growth now for more cuts later?

George Osborne made two noticeable policy announcements during his speech today at the Conservative Party Conference. The most prominent being that he will abolish, affective immediately, the 55% tax on a person passing their pension pot on after they die. This had been coined the “death tax”. This announcement caused an almighty cheer in the hall, as it had been rumoured that he was simply planning on cutting the tax to 40%. Critics say that this generous move is designed to stop older Conservative supporters deserting the party and joining UKIP, as the policy is thought to affect around 320,000 people.

The second crowd pleaser was the plan to freeze working-age benefits for two years from 2015, which will save more than £3bn; pensioners, people with a disability and maternity pay will be except.

With the deficit falling, investment rising and unemployment down, George Osborne seemed content and like a man who had got the job done.

However, he made it clear that if there is to be another Conservative government the choices that will have to be made aren’t going to be easy. In fact he hinted at more cuts, stating that £25bn of permanent savings would be needed to eliminate the UK’s deficit.


Quote of the day

Forgetful Ed

“Ed Miliband made a pitch for office that was so forgettable that he forgot it himself.”

[George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer]


Tweet of the day

“Choose the future”

A choice tweet regarding a comment in the Chancellor’s speech from Tim Shipman, the political editor of the Sunday Times:

“@ShippersUnbound: Apparently we have to “choose the future”. I’ve never managed to avoid it.”


Picture of the day

Conference Art

Some intriguing pictures on display outside the security zone today:

photo 1     photo 2


Fringe Focus

‘Can we trust in health technology?’ – 2020 Health

The availability of technology in the health sector is becoming a growing concern for many. People feel that innovation is being driven out by strict guidelines issued by NICE. However, at the fringe event ‘Can we trust in health technology?’ Barbara Harpham, from Heart Research UK and chair of the Medical Technology Group, lay blame squarely at the feet of the NHS, or more accurately, the people within the NHS, who need to change their attitude when it comes to health technology. She emphasised that there is a responsibility on the patient to demand a certain course of treatment. This type of engagement between patient and doctor has become more and more possible since the introduction of the Health and Social Care Act. Professor Nick Hardiker, who focuses on nursing and health informatics, agreed that the NHS is a structural obstacle when it comes to health technology and this needs to be looked at.

Despite the absence of George Freeman MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Life Science, who apparently was stuck on a train, the debate was lively. The Technology Editor from The Telegraph, Matt Warman, emphasised the importance of technology in the health sector on a practical level, when it comes to the interaction between patients and doctors. The need to improve, or in many cases create the ability for patients to communicate with their doctor via email. This, he proposed, would cut down the need for patients to clog up a doctors waiting room; the emphasis needs to be on making health care more personal.

Barbara emphasised the need for commissioning to be resolved; with postcode lottery being far to common. The overwhelming view by those on the panel was that heath technology requires innovation, creativity and a system of funding that looks ahead; all of this the NHS needs to prove it can supply.