NAO: Public Services still being subsidised one year after deadline - Third Sector full cost recovery remains an important principle for financial relationships between government and the third sector, but government departments have found difficulties in translating the principle into practice, according to a review published by the National Audit Office.

The review examines the progress made by central government departments in ensuring that, by April 2006, third sector organisations were being fully paid for the services they delivered on behalf of the public funder.

The NAO found that a significant proportion of third sector organisations do not consider they are receiving full cost recovery (even though the target date has passed) and that few departments had made significant practical changes to funding practice in response to the target.

The review concludes that full cost recovery is not a concept that public funders can implement or roll out in a mechanistic way and the term has the potential to mislead participants into thinking that all costs will be recovered in all situations, risking an expectation gap persisting between funder and funded. The concept also fails to reflect some third sector organisations’ preparedness to share the costs and risks in ‘joint ventures’ with public bodies.

The NAO recommends that the Office of the Third Sector and HM Treasury develop more sophisticated statements on full cost recovery that reflect funders’ responsibilities for fair treatment and risk management.

The review also provides a framework for government departments to use in reviewing their major programmes and funding streams, and recommends they develop more explicit judgements on the application of full cost recovery to each, to arrive at agreed and mutual expectations on the issue with third sector organisations.
Press release ~ The implementation of full cost recovery ~ Office of the Third Sector ~ National Councils for Voluntary Action (NAVCA) ~ National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NVCO) ~ Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Associations (ACEVO)Full Cost Recovery ~ Mind the Gap: A funders’ guide to full cost recovery ~ HM Treasury's 2002 Cross Cutting Review ~ Change Up ~ Capacity Builders~ Charities and Public Service Delivery (CC37) ~ Regulating for the future ~ Policy statement ‘Charities and public service delivery' ~ Third sector market mapping report ~ Third Sector Commissioning Task Force: No excuses: embrace partnership now: step towards change ~ NAO: Working with the Third Sector ~ Financial relationships with third sector organisations - NAO ~ Third Sector Network ~ The role and resourcing of the Third Sector – A view from the Treasury ~ Care Services Efficiency Delivery (CSED) ~ DH – Working with Stakeholders ~ CEMVO : Council of Ethnic Minorities Voluntary Sector Organisations

HC: Are hospitals as clean as the law requires? - The Healthcare Commission intends to carry out unannounced inspections at 120 NHS trusts over the coming year in its biggest ever programme of visits relating to healthcare-associated infection. It will check compliance with the Government’s Hygiene Code, which outlines 11 compulsory duties to prevent and manage healthcare-associated infections such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

Assessment managers will look at the cleanliness of the hospital’s environment as well as practices & procedures that are in place to prevent and manage infection. For example, assessment managers will be looking at procedures for isolating patients, hand-washing and for the cleaning of equipment.

Where the Commission identifies breaches of the Code, it will require trusts to outline an action plan to rectify problems within a specified time. Trusts must assure the Commission that the breach has been rectified or that systems are in place to reduce the risk of it happening again.

Failure to provide this assurance will result in the Commission publicly issuing an "improvement notice", which requires trusts to make immediate improvements. If a trust does not adequately respond to an improvement notice, the Commission can ask the Secretary of State to impose special measures and oversee a programme of improvements in the trust

To reinforce the importance of the Hygiene Code, the Commission will for the first time make compliance an automatic part of all inspections carried out as part of the 2006/7 annual assessment of NHS trusts.
Press release ~ The Health Act (2006): Hygiene Code of Practice ~ Reducing health care associated infections (HCAIs): Regulatory Impact Assessment ~ Healthcare CommissionHealth Protection Agency figures ~ DH – Clean Hospitals ~ Healthcare associated infection ~ RCN: Good practice in infection prevention and control Guidance for nursing staff ~ Investigation into outbreaks of Clostridium difficile at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust ~ Cleanyourhands

NAO: Could do better by following guidance of lessons learnt - A new report from the National Audit Office examines early examples of the public sector using contractual processes evaluate the ongoing services component of PFI projects.

It found that value for money had been achieved through the value testing process in about half of the cases. In other cases including some where the private sector negotiated price increases during these processes, the information available suggested it was uncertain whether value for money was likely to have been achieved through the value testing process.

The report details lessons that have been learned in these early examples where services such as catering & cleaning were value-tested and states that there is now new detailed Treasury guidance which public officials can call on when using these processes.

The report sets out a legal opinion that, in a sample of early contracts, clauses dealing with market testing and benchmarking were often not well drafted which limited their expected effectiveness, although the parties may still be able to conduct effective value-testing procedures.
Press release ~ Benchmarking and market testing the ongoing services component of PFI projects ~ Executive Summary version ~ NAO PFI & PPP/Privatisation Recommendations website ~ Update on PFI debt refinancing and the PFI equity market (1Mb) ~ HM Treasury PFI website ~ 4Ps ~ 4Ps – Competitive dialogue publications ~ Glossary of Terms ~ Procurement Options ~ BSF guidance note - How to Conduct a Competitive Dialogue Procedure ~ OGC guidance on Competitive Dialogue

Home office: Having tried ‘tougher’, the government is now trying ‘simpler’ - Home Office Minister Liam Byrne has launched proposals to simplify complex immigration and citizenship laws, with a consultation (closes 29 August 2007) - Simplifying immigration and citizenship law – which aims to draw together views on how to radically simplify the Border and Immigration Agency's (BIA) legal framework.

The government believes that simplifying the legal framework, including primary legislation and rules & guidance, will create a user friendly & clearer decision making process and will hopefully:

  • help increase the number of removals of those who have no legal right to stay here
  • decrease the likelihood of legal challenges following refusals of asylum claims, and also
  • provide a new clear decision making system that potential asylum applicants can use to assess the strength of their case before submitting it, helping BIA to work more efficiently

Press release ~ Consultation document: Simplifying immigration and citizenship law ~ 'Fair, effective, transparent and trusted. Rebuilding confidence in our immigration system' ~ Enforcing the rules: A strategy to ensure and enforce compliance with our immigration laws - Home Office March 2007 ~ Border & Immigration Agency ~ Law & Policy ~ Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 ~ Border and Visa Strategy ~ On-line employer guide to employing migrant workers ~ Identity and Passport Service (IPS) ~ UK Borders Bill ~ A Points-Based System: Making Migration Work for Britain ~ Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship ~ e-Borders pilot, Project Semaphore ~ Life in the UK test ~ Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship ~ Advisory Board on Naturalisation and Integration (ABNI)

: The future direction of online services - Reporting crime and bad drivers, having job interviews, calculating carbon emissions and truancy alerts for parents are just some of the services that Britons ‘long’ to have access to online, according to recent research.

The national study commissioned by public services supersite ‘direct.gov.uk questioned parents, teenagers, over 50s, motorists and disabled people. When asked what one online service they want from the internet in future the top answers were:

  • 'No show' truancy alert if child doesn't arrive at school – Parents
  • Taking a virtual tour of colleges or universities -
  • Guide to local services for older people - over 50s
  • Renew car tax online – Motorists
  • Personalised journey planners mapped by accessibility - Disabled people

When asked ‘What are the most useful services that are currently offered online?’ responses differed:

  • Access to local health services & getting information about schools - UK parents
  • Communicating with friends such as social networking sites & instant messaging - 14-18 year olds
  • Staying in touch with friends & family, as well as using it to book travel or research hobbies - over 50s
  • Finding Blue Badge parking spaces before leaving the house & route planning - Disabled people

Press release ~ direct.gov.uk~Ufi ~ UK online centres – Help is at hand ~ Varney Report - Service transformation ~ UK online centres: Supporting delivery of e-government services - Research summary ~ NAO: DfES - Extending access to learning through technology - Ufi and the learndirect service ~ Enabling a digitally United Kingdom ~ The Digital Divide in 2025 ~ Inclusion Through innovation: Tackling Social Exclusion Through New Technologies ~ Citizens Online ~ Alliance for Digital Inclusion ~ Digital Divide network ~ e-Government unit ~ Local e-Gov ~ e-Government strategic support unit ~ Connecting the UK: Digital Strategy

Home Office: Is it safe to drink socially? - 'Safe, Sensible, Social - next steps for the National Alcohol Strategy', unveiled recently by Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker and Public Health Minister Caroline Flint, is meant to build on the foundations laid & the lessons learnt since 2004, when the country's first Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy was launched.

The new strategy is meant to ensure that the laws & licensing powers introduced to tackle alcohol-fuelled crime & disorder, protect young people and tackle irresponsibly managed premises are being used widely & effectively. In addition the government hopes that it will sharpen the focus on the minority of drinkers who cause or experience the most harm to themselves, their communities and their families.

Key actions in the strategy include;
  • Sharpened criminal justice for drunken behaviour
  • A review of NHS alcohol spending
  • More help for people who want to drink less
  • Toughened enforcement of underage sales
  • Trusted guidance for parents & young people
  • Public Information campaigns to promote a new 'sensible drinking' culture
  • Public consultation on alcohol pricing and promotion
  • Compulsory local alcohol strategies

Press release ~ 'Safe, Sensible, Social - next steps for the National Alcohol Strategy' ~ DH: Alcohol Misuse ~ Turning Point ~ Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy ~ Respect ~ Patient UK: Alcohol abuse help services ~ NHS – Alcohol Abuse ~ Drinkaware TrustMemorandum of Understanding between the Government and alcohol industry ~ National Organisation on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome ~ FAS Aware UK ~

CLG: Real consultation or an imposition of yet more central control? - Plans to ensure that local government re-structuring will ‘cut council tax and deliver the maximum service improvements for local communities under sound fiscal rules’ have been published by Local Government Minister Phil Woolas. The consultation on prioritisation will run until 18 July 2007.

Sixteen proposals in thirteen areas across England are currently out to consultation after initial assessment against the Government's criteria, which require that they are ‘affordable and will provide stronger leadership, improve public services, empower local communities and have a broad cross section of support’.

No decisions have been made about which of these proposals may be implemented. However, if more are assessed as meeting the criteria than are affordable under rules on the use of reserves to finance transitional costs, then the Government proposes to prioritise those proposals.

Following the stakeholder consultation on the proposals which ends of 22 June, the Government intends to make decisions on which proposals will proceed to implementation.
Press release ~ Proposals for future unitary structures: means of prioritising proposals ~ Proposals for future unitary structures: Stakeholder consultation ~ CLG – Local Government

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