Cabinet Office: Just how much will be expected from the Third Sector? - The PM has set out a new agenda on social action when presenting his vision of a partnership in which ‘government empowers and enables individuals and organisations working for positive social change’.
He welcomed the publication of the final report of the Third Sector Review, which announces major new commitments to boost the sector & its partnership with government and sets out £515m funding over the next three years.
He claimed that it sets the framework for government working in partnership with the sector for the next 10 years, responds directly to the largest ever public consultation with the sector and outlines some important developments in the Government's approach under three cross-cutting themes:
* supporting a wider range of activities by the third sector, particularly community action & campaigning
* focusing more on investing in the long-term future of the third sector's work
* focusing more on improving local partnerships
It outlines a series of measures to build on the government's partnership with the third sector and feed into the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Round, under five key headings:
* Enabling voice and campaigning
* Strengthening communities
* Transforming public services
* Encouraging social enterprise
* Supporting a thriving, healthy third sector
DBERR: Absolutely necessary, but will departments truly deliver? - The next steps in tackling regulation reform and creating a dynamic business environment have been announced by John Hutton, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. The announcement contained a number of themes aimed at continuing progress towards turning ideas into action and setting the foundation for future success:
* Transparency & prioritisation
* Targeted Simplifications
* Improved Delivery
CLG: Fewer means less cost - Local Government Minister John Healey has announced that 9 proposals for unitary status will now go ahead towards implementation with the intention that all new authorities are fully up and running in 2009. The number of councils in these areas will be reduced from 46 to 11 and it is estimated that the 9 new unitary authorities could save over £150m per year, which can be used to directly improve front line services or to reduce council tax bills.
The proposals open the door to creating flagship councils that will lead the way on promoting prosperity, empowering citizens & communities and improving public services for the 3.5m covered by the new LAs.
The full list of successful authorities that will proceed, subject to the enactment of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health (LGPIH) Bill, is as follows:
Councils Submitting Proposals Proposed unitary structure
Bedford Borough Council Bedford Unitary
Chester City Council 2 Unitary Cheshire
Cornwall County Council County Unitary
Durham County Council County Unitary
Exeter City Council Exeter Unitary
Ipswich Borough Council Ipswich Unitary
Northumberland County Council County Unitary
Shropshire County Council County Unitary
Wiltshire County Council County Unitary
DfT: Remembering that LAs are there to serve the public - New powers to make parking enforcement more motorist-friendly & consistent are being introduced to give independent adjudicators more power, including the right to ask local authorities to scrap fines for motorists who have mitigating circumstances. The regulations will come into force in March 2008 to give local authorities time to prepare for the new system.
Further regulations, to be laid later this year, will introduce a number of improvements including lower penalties for less serious offences. New guidance also requires local authorities use parking enforcement to improve road safety and cut congestion, not make money.
The DfT will consult on detailed Operational Guidance to local authorities in early August and the guidance will make it clear performance & rewards/penalties should never be based on the number of PCNs, clampings or removals
HC: A £1bn headache problem for the NHS - The Healthcare Commission recently published a national study into healthcare-associated infection that outlines practical advice for trusts to consider in their attempts to reduce rates of infection. The report emphasises that while boards of trusts have to balance a range of priorities, the safety of patients is paramount.
The Commission conducted a detailed analysis to identify any significant relationships between information from the survey and data on rates of infection and the report identifies how different processes to prevent & control infection affect rates of infection.
It claims that in order to prevent & manage healthcare-associated infection better, trusts must:
* Develop a culture of safety
* Have good systems of corporate and clinical governance
* Review performance
* Manage risk
* Communicate with patients and the public
The National Audit office has estimated that healthcare-associated infection could cost the NHS as much as £1bn each year.
DCSF: Will the funding be sufficient and what happens in 3 years time? - Ed Balls has promised an ‘investment’ of £1bn+ in the extended schools programme over the next 3 years, so that every child will be able to access breakfast clubs, out-of-hours tuition and after-school clubs in sport, music & drama by 2010.
The government claims that families will also be able to access services such as wraparound childcare 8am-6pm (all year round for primary schools), family learning & parental support, community use of facilities including adult & family learning and ICT, as well as having quick & easy access to specialist services for their child such as speech therapy.
Recently Ed Balls also announced a £265m extended school subsidy scheme to ensure that children from disadvantaged families can access the full range of extended services, which research shows can gain a greater benefit from extended services, bringing the amount up to £1.3 billion.
Schools can also offer use of their facilities to local communities, where they can access services provided by other organisations such as:
* after-school childcare by professionals
* links with Primary Care Trusts to offer access to child healthcare services
* parents' rooms where mothers & fathers can study together or find our how to help their child with their studies
* encourage parenting organisations to offer classes to improve parents' confidence and skills
DfT: A re-announcement of much already promised - A railway that will expand to carry at least 180 million more passengers is at the heart of the Department for Transport's rail White Paper. Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly announced that capacity will increase to cope with more than 20% growth in the next seven years, on a network which will be even safer and more reliable.
The strategy, Delivering a Sustainable Railway, also allows for potential doubling in capacity over 30 years through ‘continual & rational growth of a rail network which is flexible enough to respond to changing passenger demand’.
Precise, costed plans for the near future include approval for the £5.5bn Thameslink project, major redevelopments at Birmingham New Street and Reading stations to eliminate the system's biggest bottlenecks, and £200m to start work on a strategic freight network.
Major cities around the country will benefit from extra capacity - with the Government delivering 1,300 extra carriages in the years to 2014. More than £10bn will be invested in growing capacity in this period.
Scottish Executive: Its not just humans they annoy - Research is to be carried out into the Scottish midge population, which has been linked to the spread of the bluetongue virus, it has been announced. The results from the research will support contingency planning for any outbreak of bluetongue in Scottish livestock.
The research will be led by Advanced Pest Solutions based at the University of Edinburgh, with partners at the University of Aberdeen, the Institute for Animal Health, Pirbright and the Scottish Agricultural College.
Bluetongue is a viral disease which can affect cattle, sheep and other ruminants. The virus is transmitted between animals by some species of midges. The disease can cause mortality in infected animals as well as welfare problems. Bluetongue is a notifiable disease and anybody suspecting it should contact their local Animal Health Office. Bluetongue has no food safety or public health issues.
ESRC: Local knowledge is often vital to success - The popular impression that management consultants are key to spreading new ideas in organisations is exaggerated & misleading, according to a unique fly-on-the wall study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
The consultant’s image as an expert outsider bringing new knowledge or understanding to clients is firmly contradicted by findings from the three-year long project which concluded that, contrary to widespread belief, management consultants are, like their immediate clients, more ‘knowledge brokers’ than innovators. Both groups are often more concerned with managing projects and getting the job done.
The study findings suggest that consultants walk a tightrope between offering what might be seen as either a ‘helpful’ challenge or an unconstructive interference. So whilst clients were generally happy to be challenged, this was only if the consultant did so sensitively, showing a good understanding of the business. It was frustrating when they failed to appreciate a client’s particular circumstances and seemed to impose a standard solution.
As an alternative to consultants, the ESRC Business Placement Fellows Scheme aims to enhance business sustainability by giving businesses access to experienced social science researchers to work on projects crucial to the needs of the business organisation.
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