By Jonathan Isaby

REFORM The think-tank Reform has today produced a 196-page report, The first hundred days, reviewing the Government's performance in dealing with Welfare; Education; Public services and the deficit; and Health.

It welcomes the way in which radical policing and school reforms will give more power to local people, but concludes that big welfare spending commitments and its ideas for the NHS contradict its wish to shrink government and decentralise public services.

Dr Patrick Nolan, Chief Economist at Reform, states:

“The first 100 days do matter in establishing a government’s long-term vision.  Its goal of a smaller government and stronger society is right but many of its policies go in exactly the other direction.  Governments need to take the tough decisions straight away when their political capital is at its highest.  That means looking again at the big spending areas of health and welfare.”

As the overview of the report concludes:

"The measures announced in the emergency Budget left the real drivers of government spending unaddressed. They set out to simply trim existing budgets. Rather than withdrawing benefits from people on middle and higher incomes the Child Benefit was frozen. Rather than introducing a link between pay and performance public sector pay was frozen too… Without reform the growing costs of entitlements in areas like pensions and health could bankrupt the country over the coming decades, with the cost of benefits to pensioners alone being set to increase by £12 billion by the end of the term of this Parliament."

Timely then that today's papers are full of speculation about universal benefits being axed for the better off.

Read the full Reform report here.

> Reform Director Andrew Haldenby also has a piece in today's Daily Telegraph making these same points:

"David Cameron has talked of
“momentous decisions” on public spending, yet highlighted ideas such as
replacing council gardeners with volunteers. He has spoken of
“decentralisation”, yet personally overruled Crispin Blunt and Anne Milton
on social events in prisons and subsidised milk. He has talked of
“transparency”, yet abolished the Audit Commission, one of the few
organisations to have successfully pinpointed success and waste in the
public sector. In fact, this decision embodies the contradictions in the
Coalition’s early days: is it really good husbandry to save that £50
million a year, while protecting the NHS, which spends £50 million every
four hours?"

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