Access to Achievement

The demand for private education is enormous - and not just from parents of the brightest students. But only a minority can afford it, because they already pay tax towards the state system. It's time to build a new system that supports parents who want the right school for their children's abilities - and needs - so that non-state education becomes accessible to all, says top private school teacher Chris Lambert in this ASI report.

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The Standards of Today

The former chief inspector of schools tells it like it is. Exams really are getting easier,more kids are leaving primary schools unable to read, and leaving secondary school without the skills needed to work or study. The quangos in charge of the exam system should be scrapped and the national curriculum torn up - leaving parents free to choose schools teaching different things in different ways. A must read - if you're one of the few that can.

 

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NHS Reform: towards consensus?

This report, which calls for an end to today's centralised health service and the adoption of competing european style social insurance system, has been endorsed by prominent health experts. The main thrust is that the government should neither provide nor finance health, it should merely regulate. Instead hospitals and doctors should be made fully independent of Whitehall, in the form of local trusts. Families would subscribe to one of a number of social insurers, who would then buy services from one of the independent providers. Ex-minister Frank Field says that "if the present government's reforms do not soon show signs of success, a system of competing health suppliers regulated by government and run on insurance lines will begin to be practical politics."

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Getting Back Your Health

People in good health should be able to get part of their taxes back and take the money to a private health insurer or company health plan, according to actuary and City University professor Philip Booth in a new report for ASI. This would give patients better choice, driving down costs and driving up quality as new healthcare providers bid for their custom.

 

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Unbundling the Welfare State

In this part of 'Unbundling the Welfare State', Professor George Yarrow argues that Alistair Darling must confine the government to the relief of poverty and allow the private sector to take up the task of providing basic pensions an social security benefits. He states that the welfare state has become riddled with complexities, inconsistencies and perverse incentives, and positively discourages low-income families against savings and insuring themselves for future needs. He sees means testing as a tax on personal saving and that the government must focus on improving the market.

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Making Pensions Simpler

Abolition of all benefit and contribution limits, except those on lump sums would produce a massive simplification of the non state pension sector. With little or no scope for abuse, given the recent erosion of pension tax privileges. But real simplification is possible only within the context of broader reforms of anomalies and complexities in the tax system, in how different pension schemes are treated, and in the relationship between pensions and the structure of social benefits.

 

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The People Economy

First, there was the agricultural economy, then capital became the key productive resource. But the driver of wealth-creation today is the talent and brainpower of individuals: we live in a People economy. And since people are both diverse and mobile, governments and social scientists now need to change the very way they think about job-creation, regional policy, taxation, social solidarity, welfare, and much more.

 

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Medical Savings Accounts

Neither the NHS nor private health insurance plans run efficiently because neither adequately reflect demand of medical services. In both schemes there is no connection between usage and cost of services to the consumer, creating an over-demand for services. Attempts have been made to curb this problem by private insurers in the use of co-payments or other means of sharing service costs with consumers. This paper contends that independent Medical Savings Accounts, paid into by the employer but under the control of the consumer will solve this problem by providing resources for care, but creating incentives for patients to use only the services they require.

 

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The New Shape of Public Services

Public services must be changed, not just funded. This report outlines the new vision for the NHS and state education which would make them more innovative and consumer focussed. The key is to make the public services producers "free–standing, self–owned and independent". They would manage their own budgets and set their own policy and priorities. Parents choosing a school would direct the government funding for their child to the institution they selected. Doctors and patients by choosing a particular hospital for a course of treatment would direct state funds to that institution. State schools, universities and hospitals would be driven by the demands of their customers. The public services would have to improve quality and efficiency.

 

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The Wrong Package

The latest book in the series from the Adam Smith Institute and MORI looks at the delivery of public services. The findings of the report highlight the differences between the consumer agenda and the producer agenda. The new survey looks at three services: police, schools and local government and the conclusion from all three is that what they deliver is not what the public want. The public want the police to tackle criminal gangs and organized crime, muggings and street crimes, prevent burglary and recover stolen property. A huge majority of people say that teaching the basics - reading, writing & comprehension - should be a top priority. Local government should concentrate on CCTV, keep council estates in good repair and tackle litter, graffiti and dog dirt. The disparity between what is delivered and what is wanted is clear to see.

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