Nesta responds to 2017 Spring Budget
Today we face many big challenges: an ageing population, stretched public services, a rapidly changing jobs market and people feeling disempowered.
Here, Nesta responds to core announcements in the budget.
Health and social care
Halima Khan, Executive Director in Nesta’s Health Lab, comments on a £2billion social care cash injection and green paper on longer term funding:
"The social care cash injection of £2 billion may help ease some of the immediate strain on services but it is neither a long term sustainable solution nor one that takes into account new models of care provision that are reaping rewards in communities. For that reason, we welcome the green paper that will look at long term funding for social care.
“Alternative solutions are available. Shared Lives Plus provides family-based care so that people can live with a family rather than in specialist provision. This has proved to be cheaper, preferred by beneficiaries and reaps positive results.
“We also know that people equipped with the confidence, knowledge and skills to manage their long term health conditions can be less likely to need formal services. Access to a network of peers with experience of a condition like diabetes or lung disease can also improve outcomes but provision is largely dictated by geography rather than being viewed as integral to the future of the health and care system.
"Some local authorities, such as Lambeth and Stockport, are already designing services with communities that are supporting people to live well outside of a formal health or care setting but this should be the norm rather than the exception - something we hope that green paper will seek to address."
Skills, education and jobs
Hasan Bakhshi, Senior Director Creative Economy and Data Analytics, comments on the launch of ‘T levels’ and a fund of up to £40 million that will pilot new approaches to encourage lifelong learning:
“Announcements made in the Spring Budget recognise the importance of redressing the skills gap in a swiftly changing jobs market. Decisions in education must ensure both young people and adults are equipped with the skills needed to get a job and remain in employment. Given recent debates about the impact of future automation on work you’d be forgiven for thinking that the job of policymakers was easy: governments should simply retrain workers to move from routine-intensive occupations in manufacturing and services that will be automated to those that are resistant to automation.
“However, the picture is considerably more uncertain - not least because automation is just one of a number of future trends that will have profound implications for the labour market. Let’s remember our ageing population, climate change, urbanisation and rising income inequality - trends which will all have complex and heterogeneous impacts on different jobs and different sectors.
“The uncertainty means that employees today need to show far more flexibility and engage in learning throughout their working lives as employers needs change. The government’s new pilots for encouraging lifelong learning are an excellent opportunity to explore the full complexity of these changes.”
Innovation, science and R&D
Harry Armstrong, head of Futures at Nesta, responds to the £270 million unveiled in today’s budget that will keep the UK at the forefront of disruptive technologies like biotech, robotic systems and driverless cars:
“Innovation and investment in new technologies has featured heavily in the Government’s recent announcements.Today’s confirmation of £270m for R&D through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is considerable in driving further collaboration between business and the UK science base towards addressing some of the big challenges of our time.
“Yet, while industry is an important player in developing disruptive technologies, they are by no means the only ones using this technology in innovative ways. Some of the most interesting ideas and applications can come from outside of business or universities as the traditional homes for R&D. The fact that local councils across the UK, from Hackney to Manchester, are already using predictive analytics to support child services, is arguably as cutting edge and inspiring as any commercial applications of this technology.
“Equally, we must think seriously about what ‘good innovation’ is: what the ethical and social implications are of using disruptive technologies, in both business and public sector environments. Last year Nesta called for a new institution, a Machine Intelligence Commission, to ensure the public interest is protected in the development of new algorithms and uses of big data. The ‘major AI review’, announced last week, is an important step in the right direction but we need more.
“The public has a lot more control over technological progress than we give ourselves credit for. Government must have a role in interrogating and influencing technological development and, in particular, fund meaningful evaluation - this is a precondition for understanding what works and growing informed public trust. That trust will, in turn, be essential if we are to reap the full potential public and economic benefits from new technologies the Chancellor wants to drive investment in.
Hasan Bakhshi, Senior Director Creative Economy and Data Analytics, comments on R&D tax relief for the creative industries:
“The Government is missing a trick in not considering the R&D needs of the creative industries today. This is all the more disappointing given they were one of five sectors first invited to bid for ‘Sector Deals’ in the Industrial Strategy Green Paper; a move which clearly attested to their economic significance. Generating £87.4 billion in Gross Value Added and accounting for 5.3 per cent of the UK’s economy - the creative industries are one of the UK's fastest growing sectors. What is driving this stellar economic growth is a combination of creative risk-taking and R&D.
“Unfortunately, official definitions of R&D used today by the UK Government continue to exclude the arts, humanities and social sciences. Consequently, much R&D in the creative industries is not recognised and does not qualify for targeted R&D support. Nesta argues that as the Government seeks to increase the UK’s R&D investment through measures like the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and the R&D tax relief, it should ensure its R&D definitions do not neglect the very areas where the UK has international strengths, like the creative industries."