NHS reforms and six other policies the coalition might regret

Evan Bartlett@ev_bartlett
Monday 13 October 2014 12:30
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(Picture: Getty

Senior Conservatives have admitted that their reorganisation of the NHS was their biggest regret in government.

An anonymous cabinet minister speaking to The Times (£) described Andrew Lansley's reforms as a "huge strategic error", amid reports that £5bn is wasted every year through inefficiencies in the new system and that waiting times are now longer than they were in 2011.

That admission comes as 400,000 health workers go on strike across the country today in the first walk-out of its kind in more than 30 years.

So what other strategies might the Coalition government regret?

Bedroom Tax

As part of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, an estimated 500,000 council tenants were affected by the so-called "bedroom tax" which reduced housing benefit for those who have bedrooms that are unoccupied.

Although it was supposed to free up living space for overcrowded families, critics have argued that the reform has resulted in higher levels of rent arrears and greater homelessness affecting the most vulnerable in society.

Tuition fees

Despite a pledge not to increase university tuition fees being one of the key parts of their election manifesto, the Liberal Democrats made a U-turn once part of the Coalition and oversaw a rise of fees to £9,000 per year.

In response, widespread student protests were held across the country in 2010 and the Liberal Democrats, who boasted a 50 per cent approval rating among students four years ago, now only enjoy a five per cent rating.

EU referendum

David Cameron made a U-turn in 2009 on his "cast-iron guarantee" to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. A ConservativeHome poll in 2011 claimed this was his biggest mistake in his short tenure as prime minister.

Following the rise of Ukip, Cameron has promised to hold an in-out referendum on the EU if he is elected to power next year.

"Greenest government ever"

A husky-hugging David Cameron pledged that his Conservative government would become the "greenest government ever" in opposition. However, following a backlash from backbenchers, Cameron became an advocate for fracking this year and his pledge seems to be in tatters.

Greenpeace activists also "fracked" the prime minister's home by sealing off the house’s front entrance with fencing and erecting a huge sign reading “We apologise for any inconvenience we may cause while we frack under your home.”

Austerity

Despite seeing an improvement in employment figures following the financial crisis of 2009, in-work poverty has soared under the Coalition government and an estimated 5.2m people now work for less than the living wage. It has also been estimated that Britain ranks among the five worst developed countries for low pay. An extra 200,000 children are in poverty due to the coalition's changes to benefits.

Education

Michael Gove's sweeping reforms on education reportedly made him so unpopular with the teachers' vote that he was outsted as education secretary following Lib Dem warnings they would exploit Mr Gove's unpopularity.

Gove was instead given the role of chief whip in the reshuffle earlier, reportedly as part of Tory election strategist Lynton Crosby's attempts to improve the party's image among public sector workers.

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