Health and social policy by topic

Health and social policy includes the following topic areas. Please click the links to access lists of publications by topic:

Coronavirus

  • Covid-19 vaccinations: is the Global South falling behind?

    A number of vaccines have been produced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, currently high-income countries are dominating the purchasing and administration of these vaccines. This has led to low vaccination rates in the ‘Global South’: only 1.4% of people in low-income countries had received a dose as of 23 August 2021. This article explores the scale of the vaccine divide, its causes, and what is being done to address it.

    Covid-19 vaccinations: is the Global South falling behind?
  • Public services: impact of the Covid-19 pandemic

    In March 2020, the House of Lords Public Services Committee set up an inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on public services which reported in November 2020. Among its findings, the committee identified five weaknesses highlighted by the pandemic that should be addressed to make public services resilient enough to withstand future crises. The committee’s recommendations also aimed to ‘lock-in’ innovations developed during the pandemic to reform public services over the longer-term.

    Public services: impact of the Covid-19 pandemic
View all briefings on coronavirus

Education

  • Education (Assemblies) Bill [HL]

    This private member’s bill would repeal the requirement for schools in England without a designated religious character to provide daily acts of collective religious worship. In its place, the bill would establish a new duty to provide non-religious assemblies which develop the spiritual, moral, social, and cultural education of pupils. It is due to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 10 September 2021.

    Education (Assemblies) Bill [HL]
  • Leadership training for ministers and senior civil servants

    The Government has outlined an ambition to improve the professional skills held by both ministers and senior civil servants. This follows numerous reports and programmes aimed at improving government performance and effectiveness generally, most recently leading to the creation of a National Leadership Centre. This article provides an overview of developments relating to the training of government leaders ahead of a forthcoming debate on the subject.

    Leadership training for ministers and senior civil servants
  • Cadet forces: funding and social impact

    The cadet forces are voluntary youth organisations that are based on the traditions of the armed forces but are not part of them. The Government says they offer “challenging and enjoyable activities”. They receive some government funding. Independent analysis suggests that they provide benefits both for participants and wider society. An ongoing government scheme aims to increase the number of cadet units in state schools.

    Cadet forces: funding and social impact
View all briefings on education

Families and social services

View all briefings on families and social services

Health

  • Social care funding: a rise in national insurance

    On 7 September 2021, the Government announced plans to increase the funding of health and social care through a new tax: the health and social care levy. The levy will be based on a rise in national insurance and will raise £12 billion a year on average over the next three years. Many commentators have raised concerns that this approach is unfair on younger people and low earners.

    Social care funding: a rise in national insurance
  • Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021

    The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 would make it a requirement for workers in care homes to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus. The Government has said this is important to protect vulnerable residents. The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee has been critical of a lack of detail on the implementation of the policy. The Lords is due to debate the regulations on 20 July 2021.

    Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021
  • Public services: impact of the Covid-19 pandemic

    In March 2020, the House of Lords Public Services Committee set up an inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on public services which reported in November 2020. Among its findings, the committee identified five weaknesses highlighted by the pandemic that should be addressed to make public services resilient enough to withstand future crises. The committee’s recommendations also aimed to ‘lock-in’ innovations developed during the pandemic to reform public services over the longer-term.

    Public services: impact of the Covid-19 pandemic
View all briefings on health

Housing

  • Housing developments on functional flood plains

    Around 5.2 million properties in England are at risk from flooding. The Environment Agency has said that if current planning outcomes continue, this number could double in the next 50 years. The Government has recently consulted on proposals to change England’s planning policies to better respond to flood risks. The House of Commons environment committee and the Royal Institute of British Architects have raised concerns over the Government’s current planning framework.

    Housing developments on functional flood plains
  • Motions on recent changes to planning rules

    The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development etc.) (England) (Amendment) Order 2021 introduces several changes to the local planning framework. It makes it easier to convert a wider range of commercial buildings to residential use; allows further development of schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, prisons and ports; and implements a ‘retain and explain’ policy for certain statues, memorials and monuments. The House of Lords is set to debate motions to reject or ‘regret’ the changes.

    Motions on recent changes to planning rules
View all briefings on housing

Welfare and pensions

  • Universal credit: an end to the uplift

    In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, in March 2020 the Government announced an uplift to universal credit and working tax credits worth £20 a week. Initially planned to last for a year, the policy was extended by six months in the March 2021 budget. In July 2021, the Government confirmed that it would not be extended further. This announcement has been met with widespread criticism.

    Universal credit: an end to the uplift
  • Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices Bill [HL]

    This proposed law seeks to reform pensions across the public sector. It would also make other changes to the rules related to judicial offices. The pension reforms partly respond to a finding of unlawful discrimination in existing schemes and are partly aimed at improving the operation of public sector pensions. The changes relating to judicial offices are intended to improve recruitment and retention in the judiciary.

    Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices Bill [HL]
  • Mental health and universal credit claims

    Universal credit is a benefit paid to over five million households. The ‘digital by default’ system replaces six ‘legacy benefits’ and aims to simplify the benefits system and encourage claimants into work. Concerns have been raised about the complexity of the application process and how this impacts those with mental health needs. The Money and Mental Health Institute recently called for changes to make it simpler to nominate a third party to help claimants.

    Mental health and universal credit claims
View all briefings on welfare and pensions