The UK's No.1 government & public sector news alerting service.
WIREDGOV NEWSLETTER ARCHIVE
NAO: Successful delivery requires everyone to work together - According to the National Audit Office (NAO) and Audit Commission (AC) few national targets for improving public services can be achieved by central government departments alone.Successful delivery relies on a complex chain of organisations involving public, private, voluntary and community organisations.
‘Government departments should build stronger partnerships with local bodies and come to a better understanding of the challenges they face’ is the key message of the report, which analyses the different ways in which public services are delivered, examines the nature of the links between partners in public service delivery chains and explores how these can be made more efficient & effective
The report recommends that government departments and their delivery partners ask themselves 12 key questions to help them understand their capacity to deliver efficient and effective public services.
The new report draws on a series of joint publications from the AC and NAO which analyse national & local aspects of three major PSA targets: supplying affordable housing, promoting bus use and halting the rise in child obesity (prepared with the Healthcare Commission)
DRC:Access for all is not just a legal right - Key guidance on how to develop a website which is user-friendly for disabled people.Following an investigation by the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) which revealed 81% of British websites are inaccessible to disabled people, the DRC sponsored guidance document, Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 78, has been developed by the British Standards Institution (BSI).
PAS 78:Guide to good practice in commissioning accessible websites is applicable to all organisations and is intended for use by those responsible for commissioning or maintaining public-facing websites and web-based services.The document covers six key areas:
·The accessible website process
·Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) guidelines
·Involvement of disabled people
·Additional accessibility provisions
Benefits of using PAS 78 not only include compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and a wider audience reach, but also the potential to access the £80bn annual spending power of disabled people.
ESRC:What’s science all about? - Well, it’s not just test tubes & technology. It's about people and society too. And that’s what Social Science Week, running this week aims to illustrate.Organised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), it celebrates some of the very best British social science research as well as highlighting the ways in which social science touches our everyday lives.
Broadly speaking, social scientists study society, how we behave and our impact on the world around us - in other words, just about everything that really matters in our lives - From old age and pensions, healthcare, education, economics, environmental change to law & order.This year it is being run in conjunction with National Science Week in March in order to demonstrate just how integral social science is to the wider science agenda.
Cabinet Office:White Bandages not Red Tape – In the report - Making a Difference: Safe and Secure Data Sharing Between Health and Adult Social Care Staff – the governmentoutlines how it aims to ‘reduce or remove present burdens on frontline staff and introduce clarity where confusion can currently exist, while ensuring that patients remain confident that this work will not relax existing controls over the security & confidentiality of their information’.
By September, the Department of Health will issue guidance promoting consistent interpretation of legislation on the use of patient information for medical research and by December, a single information sharing protocol will be developed that the government claims will cut through the current confusion created by copious amounts of legislation & guidance, enabling health & adult social care staff to exchange data more appropriately & effectively.
HC:Improving healthcare at a stroke - The Healthcare Commission (HC) has called for a fresh drive to improve hospital & community services for people who have had a stroke.The HC makes the move as it publishes a new survey - Caring for people after they have had a stroke - which shows that the care patients receive following a stroke declines after leaving hospital.
Described by some as the brain's equivalent of a heart attack, each year around 110,000 people in England have a stroke with the following impacts:
·10% of all deaths are caused by stroke
·around half of stroke survivors are left dependent on others for everyday activities
·after-care is crucial to their ability to recover and subsequent quality of life
Care outside hospital should be provided by a multi-disciplinary team, which will include a host of different professionals and support workers across health and social care (for example, physio-therapists, speech therapists, home carers, etc). All patients should have a named stroke care coordinator to coordinate access to services.
Home Office:Government points out new criteria - The Home Secretary has launched a new points-based system intended to enable the UK to control migration more effectively, tackle abuse & identify the most talented workers.The scheme include a ‘tougher’ approach from British embassies abroad to weed out false applications and will place increased obligations on UK businesses & universities who will now be required to sponsor migrants and help to ensure that those they sponsor adhere to the terms of their visa.
Key elements of the system include:
·consolidating more than 80 existing work and study routes into five tiers:
·points to be awarded to reflect aptitude, experience, age and also the level of need in any given sector
·the establishment of a Skills Advisory Body to identify these shortages
·consolidating entry clearance and work permit applications into one single-stage application
·a system of sponsorship by employers and educational institutions to ensure compliance
·financial securities for specific categories where there has been evidence of abuse and
·the ending of employment routes to the UK for low-skilled workers from outside the EU except in cases of short-term shortages
MCA:Want to buy a lighthouse?AIS is a radio-based ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore system that can identify & track the movement of ships up to 30 miles out from the UK's coastline.
The government believes that AIS technology will form a key building block in an 'e-navigation' system of the future - an internationally integrated, electronic navigational aid that could transform the shipping industry and provide a safer & cleaner marine environment across the world.
But for those of you who want to get away from the modern e-world, we bring you news of two options; buying your own ‘get away from it all lighthouse’ and an unconventional ‘tour’ of UK waters.
Industry News: Ineffective or impractical and may risk worsening the problem - The National Trust has responded to a Defra consultation that proposes to implement widespread badger culling. As the owner of numerous farms with dairy &beef cattle the Trust has direct concern for the welfare of the cattle involved, for the livelihood of its farmers and farm tenants and for the conservation of wildlife.
But the scientific evidence does not support Defra’s proposals (outlined in their consultation document) and, in fact,suggests that culling will be ineffective or impractical and may risk worsening the problem.
The Trust recognises that TB in cattle is a serious problem in the UK and that urgent action is needed to combat it, so it is not against the culling of badgers in principle, but has always maintained that sound scientific evidence is required to support the case for using it as a disease control measure.
But the General News
DTI:Malcolm Wicks has announced that the amount of compensation paid to sick miners, their widows & families has passed £3 billion and that the government is currently paying out around £2 million every working day in compensation for respiratory and vibration related injuries to miners and families of the deceased.
In 1997 and 1998 British Coal was found negligent in relation to vibration white finger and respiratory damage respectively.The liabilities were subsequently transferred to the DTI under the terms of the Coal Industry Act 1994 and the judges ordered DTI to work with solicitors representing miners to formulate schemes to handle the payment of compensation.
Nearly 750,000 claimants have been registered under the schemes and it is estimated that around £5 billion in compensation awards will be paid out by the Government to settle all claims.
FSA:The Financial Services Authority has confirmed that its detailed rules on training & competence (T & C) will not apply from next year to those individuals in financial firms who deal only with wholesale or non-private customers. However firms will still need to ensure that their employees are competent, and remain competent, to carry out the roles assigned to them.
The FSA will also conduct this year a wider review of its T & C regime which will take account of the impact of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) due to be implemented in the UK in November 2007. The removal of detailed T & C rules for wholesale business, together with any further changes resulting from the wider review, will be made at the time MiFID is implemented.
National Statistics:About 2,000 submissions from around 500 census users have created a much larger than expected response to the consultation over questions for the 2011 Census of England and Wales, published by the Office for National Statistics.
A report gives details of the responses received and provides an updated view on the likely content of the 2011 Census questionnaire.Of the topics strongly supported, ONS is not intending to include a question on sexual orientation in the 2011 Census.
Progress of the census is subject to sufficient funding being made available and decisions will be informed by the programme of question development & testing that is underway. The emerging results of this testing will determine the choice of questions for the 2007 Census Test. The Test questionnaires will be finalised in September 2006.
DH:Tens of thousands of residents across the East End and Thames Gateway are hoping to benefit from a £1 billion redevelopment of two London hospitals - St Bartholomew's and the Royal London – which would create Britain's biggest hospital and the largest A&E in Europe by 2016.
Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has given the go-ahead for the scheme which, when complete, will include up to 1,248 beds on two sites.The government claims that the agreed re-development will save nearly £650m over the 35 year life of the contract.
DWP: From April the maximum weekly payment from the Independent Living (1993) Fund will increase from £420 per week to £455 per week (£23,660 per year) and for the Independent Living (Extension) Fund from £715 per week to £785 per week (£40,820 per year).
The Independent Living Funds make grants to people with high support needs who wish to live independently in the community and currently support over 17,500 people.
Defra:Operators across the UK are being asked for data (by 9 May 2006), which will help determine the number of allowances for the UK's National Allocation Plan for the second phase of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, which begins in 2008. Operators are also being given the opportunity to apply for Phase II Allocation Methodology Rules.
Electronic letters are being sent by the Scheme's regulators to all the 1,000+ installations covered by Phase I of the EU ETS as well as a number of new installations.The vast majority of operators will not be required to provide additional data if their data remains unchanged, but it is likely that operators of around a quarter installations may have to submit data, which must be confirmed by independent verifiers.
A series of seminars to assist operators in complying with the data requirements will be held in late March/ early April. Details will be available on the Defra, Scottish Executive and regulators websites.
Alongside this request, the Government has published detailed guidance on the Phase II allocation methodology and definitions of activities to be covered following expansion of the scope of the second phase of the EU ETS.
Defra:Every year a number of significant new pest or disease risks are identified as a result of findings in other countries, or interceptions by Defra's Plant Health & Seeds Inspectors on imported plants and produce.
In future the most significant pest risk analyses will be placed on the plant health pages of Defra's website, and comments will be invited on the best risk management options; whether there should be any statutory controls and, if so, what those should be
DfES:Children's Minister Beverley Hughes has announced that young people from 13 to 19 will have ‘responsibility’ for deciding how a £115m fund is spent.The funding will be available over two years through the Youth Opportunity Fund and the Youth Capital Fund(from April 2006)- ring fenced money that young people will be able to bid for from their local authorities to improve facilities & activities in their neighbourhood.
In addition, all 13-19 year olds will be eligible for a youth opportunity card giving them access to a range of discounts on things to do and places to go as well as from high street stores.
Home Office: Volunteering For All is a two-year strategy led by the Home Office to identify & remove barriers to volunteering and to promote these opportunities to potential volunteers. It will specifically target three groups less likely to volunteer, as identified by the biennial Home Office Citizenship Survey (HOCS):
·people with disabilities or limiting long-term illness
·people with no formal qualifications and
·people from black and minority ethnic communities
DTI:The DTI has published a consultation (closes 31 May 2006) on paternity leave & pay, which focuses on giving working parents the right to choose who cares for a child in the first year of life.
The consultation sets out proposals to offer fathers the opportunity to choose to take up to 26 weeks Additional Paternity Leave to care for children under one. This additional leave could only be taken if the mother has chosen to return to work and both parents will not be entitled to take leave at the same time.
DCMS:The DCMS has launched a consultation (closes 10 May 2006) on whether the United Kingdom should bring in anti-seizure laws to protect items lent from abroad for exhibition in our museums and galleries, and if so, what form such legislation should take.
Unlike many other European countries, the UK does not have legislation granting immunity from seizure to items lent to exhibitions held here, which places the UK at a serious competitive disadvantage compared, for example, to New York, Paris and Berlin. The issue of immunity from seizure rose to prominence in 2005 when a number of Impressionist works from the PushkinMuseum in Russia were seized in Switzerland but later released.
DCA:Significant changes to law and how care is provided to people lacking mental capacity are set out in a draft Code of Practice published for consultation (closes 2 June 2006).The Mental Capacity Act 2005 is intended to provide a legal framework and clear safeguards for acting & making decisions on behalf of people who are unable to do so for themselves and for those wishing to make provision in the event they lack the capacity in the future.
The Code provides guidance & information for those working with or caring for those who cannot make decisions for themselves, or who have a limited capacity to do so without assistance. It sets out good practice and covers an extensive range of different roles, circumstances & decisions that might need to be taken.
The readers are reminded that the consultation on Lasting Powers of Attorney forms and guidance, whichwill replace Enduring Powers of Attorney as the main way of choosing a decision-maker to act in the event of loss of mental capacity, closeson14 April 2006.
DfES:Ruth Kelly has launched a programme to refurbish half of all primary school buildings with additional investment of £1.15 billion.The proposals for consultation (closes 14 June) will involve demolishing or rebuilding over 900 of the worst condition primary schools and significantly improving a further 8,000 primary schools across the country by 2022.
DTI:HR professionals and managers are being invited to visit companies around the country to see first-hand how they have benefited from implementing systems to inform and consult their employees.
The scheme is part of a wider campaign to encourage the development and improvement of employee involvement practices and follows the introduction of new laws in 2005 to encourage employers to inform & consult employees on issues that affect them.
Around 20,000 businesses will be invited to take part in the scheme and a new website will provide supporting information including case studies and frequently asked questions on Information & Consultation.
HSE:In catering and hospitality industry kitchens there are many tasks that, without proper controls, can cause back pain or upper limb injuries.Aimed at raising awareness amongst employers, new guidance from the HSE offers practical information on good manual handling techniques and lifting aids that will be useful to any section of the hospitality industry.
CSPL:Launching the Committee on Standards in Public Life's Annual Report for 2005, Sir Alistair Graham pledged that the Committee would continue to press for changes to the system for inquiries into allegations of breaches of the Ministerial Code and also announced a review of the Seven Principles of Public Life.
Speaking at the Committee's first open annual meeting in central London, Sir Alistair Graham said:
“As we have seen, a very small number of incidents can have a disproportionate impact on public confidence in the procedures.I am puzzled why the Prime Minister has not acted on this issue.
At regular intervals he has been faced with allegations of breaches of the Ministerial Code in which he and his Government have become the centre of a media storm. This leads to immense pressure on a Minister whose future will often depend on the vagaries of an ad hoc investigation. There must be a better system and there is one.
NAO:The National Audit Office has reported on the support provided to MG Rover by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and other public bodies before and during the Company’s collapse in 2005, and on the effectiveness of plans to deal with & mitigate the consequences of the firm’s closure.
In the report the NAO makes a number of recommendations, in the event of a large-scale company failure, to improve decision-making, contingency planning and the delivery of training & support
NAO:The National Audit Office has reported that since 2003-04, savings of some £2.5 million have been made each year from expenditure on food and some £1.7 million a year on catering staff – mainly through civilianisation of catering staff posts. Other savings have arisen from more efficient procurement and reduced stockholdings of food. In addition most prisoners are offered full & varied programmes of physical education activities.
The average is £1.87 for three meals a day but there are wide variations ranging from £1.20 at an open prison to £3.41 at a young offenders’ institution (because juveniles eat more than adults).
DWP:Research published by the Department for Work and Pensions presents the findings of a review of Action Teams for Jobs. Action Teams were introduced in June 2000 in three pathfinder areas and currently operate in 64 areas. They operate in disadvantaged areas with particular problems of labour market disadvantage and aim to increase the employment rate amongst disadvantaged groups.
The report was commissioned to examine the current operation and efficacy of Action Teams and gather together the lessons learned from the Action Teams experience in order that the best practice can be taken forward in future provision for disadvantaged areas.
DWP:New research explores the extent to which current employment policies & practices accord with equal opportunity with respect to age.The report sets a baseline to evaluate the effects of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, as well as providing information on practices relating to equal opportunities, pay & benefits, retirement, recruitment, appraisal, training, promotion and redundancy as well as attitudes & awareness.
ODPM:England's cities have the best chance since the end of the 19th century to join Europe's top performing cities, according to a report - State of the English Cities - an independent report to ODPM, which focuses on 56 major towns and cities in England.The report looks at their performance, the challenges they face and their potential
A second round of City Summits led by ODPM, to include smaller urban areas, will take place from March to May this year.In addition, the Deputy Prime Minister has also announced that the third Sustainable Communities Summit will be held in Manchester, during the week commencing February 5, 2007, and will focus on the role of cities in the global economy.
CC:The Competition Commission (CC) has today confirmed its provisional conclusions reached in September 2005 that there is an adverse effect on competition in connection with the supply of consumer credit through store cards and associated insurance in the UK. It is imposing remedies to address specific problems.
DTI:The UK materials industry must continue moving up the value added chain and discover new markets & opportunities in order to continue as a world class player was the message to the industry from the Minister for Industry & the Regions, The Rt Hon. Alun Michael MP speaking at the launch of - A Strategy for Materials - produced by the MaterialsInnovation and Growth Team (MatIGT).
The MatIGT has produced a list of priority topics for materials Research & Development that the Technology Strategy Board can use and have also identified energy generation, efficiency, conservation & supply as a major driver for new materials activity in the UK.
DTI:Post Office Limited has recently published a report on Rural Pilot Activity, which was commissioned by the Government to report on the findings of their trials of new ways of delivering post office services to rural areas.
DH:Health Minister Lord Warner has announced that all doctors wishing to work in the UK, from outside the European Union (EU), will be required to have a work permit from July 2006.The move means that any NHS trust wishing to employ a doctor from outside the EU will have to prove that a 'home-grown' doctor cannot fill the vacant post, ending the current permit free training arrangement for international doctors.
Overseas doctors and dentists will still be able to come and train in the UK. However, they will now be considered as being in employment for immigration purposes and will therefore need to meet the requirements of an employment category of the Immigration Rules, such as the work permit system.
DTI:The final measures to outlaw age discrimination in the workplace have been published by Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Johnson.Age discrimination is the most frequently cited form of discrimination by employees.
These final regulations include transitional provisions to ensure that employers can manage the process of retirement effectively in the first six months of the regulations coming into force.They are the last major stage of the European Employment Directive. Subject to parliamentary approval they will come into effect in October.
HMRC:Employers throughout Northern Ireland are being invited to a series of free workshops hosted by HMRC Business Support Team, which are designed to help employers complete & file their Annual Tax Return using the HMRC Online Forms Service or a paper return.
Gillian McIntyre, HMRC Business Support Team Manager, said: "Online filing is a quicker, convenient way for employers to send their Employer's Annual Return (P14s and P35). Employers who have fewer than 50 employees can get up to £575 tax-free over four years if they file their 2005-06 Employer's Annual Tax Returns electronically”.
Pensions Regulator:Two draft codes of practice, Reporting late payments of contributions to occupational money purchase schemes and Reporting late payments of contributions to personal pensions have been laid before Parliament. The legislation on late payments is expected to be effective from April 2006.
The codes of practice include examples of when late payments should & should not be reported and:
·give guidelines about reporting to the Regulator and to members the late payment of contributions; and
·clarify the obligations of trustees and pension scheme managers to report to the Regulator the late payment of contributions into the pension scheme. They only need to do this where it is likely to be of material significance.
Also available on the regulator's website is a consultation report for each code summarising the Regulator's responses to the helpful feedback received from stakeholders during the consultation period.
WGPlus would like to make it clear that the commentary & links provided, in respect of any particular item, are published in its capacity as an independent non-government funded organisation and reflect the editorial team’s need to both précis & re‑format the content of news releases.
Any views expressed are therefore entirely those of the WGPlus editorial team and independent of any sponsor, government organisation or political party.
For the official view of a source organisation, readers should click on the ‘press release’ that is the first link attached to each item.
While every care is taken to ensure that all links ’work’ in the newsletter (including checking just before publication), WGPlus cannot guarantee that websites will not make changes that will nullify individual links, especially over a period of time.
WGPlus is not responsible for the content of external websites