Last week's National Apprenticeship Week was full of discussion. We heard about the productivity gains of hiring apprentices, and concerns around the gender divide. We celebrated the amazing things apprentices have achieved, and heard from business leaders who are pledging to create more apprenticeships.
Last week's budget announcement was peppered with George Osborne's new catchphrase - long-term solutions to long-term problems are needed, he repeatedly said.
To be fair to George Osborne, he has announced plans to raise duty at the rate of inflation on other alcoholic drinks. However, it's the cheap drinks that George Osborne is keeping cheap and that's a real problem. The UK's binge drinking problem is no longer about having fun, it's become a serious issue that's affecting both the health and academic performance of our young people.
If the Chancellor does nothing, or too little, he will be forever tainted as the worst kind of Tory - the kind that merely seeks to entrench advantage for the benefit of his own class. But if the Chancellor were to adopt this simple 10 point plan he could become the best kind of Tory - a new Peel or Disraeli. The choice is, almost entirely, his.
After a litany of failure, it's now time that Osborne recognised the damage and pain these cuts will cause and end his targeting of disabled people. This is the right thing to do not just for disabled people - but for all of us who believe in a fair, decent and caring country.
Sometimes it's the people with whom we work most closely that end up knowing us the best. So it has proved with George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith. That's why IDS's observation in his resignation letter to the Prime Minister was so revealing. In it, he said: "I am unable to watch passively whilst certain policies are enacted in order to meet the fiscal self-imposed restraints that I believe are more and more perceived as distinctly political rather than in the national economic interest". For once IDS has hit the nail on the head. George Osborne is a man who always puts his career before his country. The nation's economic interest is not his primary concern.
The austerity narrative is finally being meaningfully punctured from the front bench of the opposition. If Labour maintains this level of pressure it can expect to do rather better than its critics predict in the upcoming local elections.
The economy slows yet the government persists in following the same scorched-earth cuts policy which has already so abjectly failed. And of course this isn't just an abstract failure, to be pointed out on a graph in an economic journal, it has real human consequences.
This was not David Cameron's victory. In fact, his role in this is only just beginning. Time will tell if he is prepared to follow through and make sure that this regressive tax is finally scrapped. Working alongside my Labour colleagues in Brussels and Westminster, I'll be pushing him all the way to make sure he does.
Encouraging more saving is a worthy objective that public policy should be looking to achieve, and this kind of measure will help younger people save for both of these events. However, like other recent initiatives, such as Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantees, or Starter Homes, they provide an attractive product for consumers now, but may prove much less helpful in the long-run.
There has been a rise almost 10% in child hospital admissions for severe tooth decay in England over the last four years. Researchers have pointed to a strong correlation between area deprivation and the rate of tooth extraction. Which is why I find it bizarre that one of the main arguments deployed against the sugary drinks tax is that it will hit the poorest hardest. Irrespective of how much income people have, how is it morally sound to keep the prices of dangerous food low? Powerful companies spend a lot of money each year advertising to us and selling us sugary drinks that are giving us diabetes and more. They put them in front of us all day in train stations, newsagents, even leisure centres.It is time for society to protect itself and our children.
Quite frankly, I can't vote in an election in favour of the position put forward by members of UKIP, even if that leaves me siding with Cameron and Osborne.
It's a weird priority. Does Osborne seriously believe that in thirty years' time he could have had George Jr. Jr. bouncing on his knee, asking him "Why didn't you take action Grandpa? The science was clear for decades. The warning signs were there. Why didn't you do something about fizzy drinks?" Our Chancellor told us that this was a Budget for the next generation. If he meant it, he'd tax carbon, not carbonated drinks.
If any of these factors have more of an effect than the OBR has suggested then the Chancellor will find he has far more room for manoeuvre. I suspect that he already knows this: his largest "cuts" in response are either a re-phasing of existing commitments or subject to a review that wont publish until 2018, by which time the picture will be very different.
Did the Chancellor invest in improving our children's prospects in yesterday's Budget? Kind of. He certainly invested. Over four years he is spending £640 million on turning all schools into academies and moving to a new funding formula, £690 million on longer school days, £490 million on school sports and £80 million to improve attainment in Northern schools. Sadly, the chances of this windfall actually improving education, especially for children from low income backgrounds, is uncertain at best.
This budget will, like the last, undoubtedly see some U-turns on its most callous and unpalatable elements, which will probably be enough to satiate growing public anger and satisfy the small number of Tory MPs who threaten the government's slim majority. But the foundations of an economic recovery, built on the political expediency of a Chancellor looking to move next door and the backs of those who can afford it least, will inevitably be one built on sand.