MoD: MoD gets creative with its ‘savings’ - Defence Minister Lord Drayson has welcomed a report by a committee of MPs into improvements MoD is making to the way it buys new equipment for the Armed Forces - but took issue with some comments in the committee's press notice regarding cost allocation.

Quoting extracts from the Committee of Public Accounts press statement:
'Fourteen projects have been reported as incurring no new delays in the last year. But the truth is that the Department’s track-record in managing these projects is pretty dire and it is too early to say whether its confidence is genuinely justified.

We are pleased to see efforts by the Department to control the costs of projects. But old habits die hard. More than half of the sum which the MOD has claimed to save has simply been loaded on to other budgets. We have no idea what cuts will have to be made to other activities of our Armed Forces as a result of this massaging of the figures.

£448 million of costs were either re-classified as expenditure in other procurement or support budgets or transferred to other budgets for corporate management. These re-allocations have achieved cost reductions for the individual projects but do not represent a saving to the Department as a whole. By transferring the costs elsewhere it may potentially have to forego activities which could otherwise have been provided’.

Lord Drayson, Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, was responding to a report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee on the National Audit Office Major Projects Report 2006. The Ministry of Defence will respond fully to Parliament on the Report's recommendations and conclusions in due course.
MoD press release ~ PAC press release ~ Public Accounts Committee: Ministry of Defence Major Projects Report 2006 ~ National Audit Office: Major Projects Report 2006

DCSF: An integral part of the education system - Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faith school backers have unveiled a joint declaration and shared vision of schools with a religious character in 21st century England.

In 'Faith in the System,' the Government and religious groups providing schools "confirm our commitment to continue to work together and with schools with and without a religious character to improve the life chances of children, to build bridges to greater mutual trust and understanding and to contribute to a just and cohesive society."

The document also aims to dispel some of the common myths & misunderstanding around schools with a religious character and seeks to promote greater respect of the differences between different faiths and different types of schools.

Around a third of all maintained schools have a religious character - approximately 6,850 schools from a total of nearly 21,000. Around 600 are secondary schools with the remainder being primary schools. The great majority are Church of England and Roman Catholic.
Press release ~ Faith in the System ~ Admissions Code ~ DfES - Religious education in faith schools ~ Teachernet Faith Schools ~ Impact of Specialist and Faith Schools ~ Catholic Education Service ~ National Society for promoting religious education ~ Becoming Fit for Purpose ~ National Secular Society ~ Network of Sikh Organisations ~ I-Foundation

ScotGov: As the smoke clears the health benefits become evident - A study of nine Scottish hospitals has found a 17% fall in admissions for heart attacks in the first year after the smoking ban came into force. The figure is included in one of a series of research papers which was presented recently at an international conference discussing the impact of the smoking ban on Scotland's health, air quality and society.

The research is part of a national evaluation of the impact of Scotland's smokefree legislation which shows that the smoking ban has had an overwhelmingly positive effect.

Other findings of the evaluation included:
* a 39% reduction in second hand smoke exposure in 11-year-olds and in adult non-smokers
* an 86% reduction in secondhand smoke in bars
Press release ~ Smokefree conference ~ Scotland's smokefree legislation ~ Changes in exposure of adult non-smokers to secondhand smoke after implementation of smoke-free legislation in Scotland: national cross sectional survey ~ Smoking in the home after the smoke-free legislation in Scotland: qualitative study ~ Changes in child exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (CHETS) study after implementation of smoke-free legislation in Scotland: national cross sectional survey ~ Bar Workers' Exposure to Second-Hand Smoke: The Effect of Scottish Smoke-Free Legislation on Occupational Exposure ~ Health Scotland - Smoking ~ ASH Scotland

DIUS: Automatic shopping on the Horizon - The UK's first public discussion about the future of science and technology has found that many people would not mind strangers knowing what was in their fridge, if it meant that supermarkets could help them plan meals and automatically restock it to make grocery shopping a thing of the past.

The Sciencehorizons programme was the first public engagement exercise in the UK to focus on the potential future uses for science and technology, using a set of fictitious potential scenarios set from 2025. It involved a deliberative panel of 30 members of the public which met twice over two months for extended discussions and presentations from expert speakers on range of topics including climate change and cyber-security and genetic testing.

The other two strands of the programme included facilitated public meetings in science centres and community spaces & self-managed group discussions run by community bodies including schools, Women's Institutes and faith groups.

The discussions used a specially designed pack showing how life in 2025 could differ from today, which was based on a series of papers called Horizon Scans, written by expert scientists mapping out potential future technological developments. Along with the pack, an interactive web site was developed to stimulate discussion & debate.
Press release ~ Science Horizons ~ Sciencewise – Funded Project ~ BA Festival of Science ~ DIUS ~ Universal Ethical Code for Scientists ~ Institute for the Future (IFTF) ~ Foresight ~ Delta Scan ~ Sigma Scan

: An honest response or just a politician’s promise? - In response to the launch of the Royal British Legion's Honour the Covenant Campaign, the Armed Forces' Minister, Bob Ainsworth, said:
"I welcome the Royal British Legion's campaign to generate debate about the covenant between the Nation and the Armed Forces. I will look in detail at the Royal British Legion's concerns and respond in full as soon as possible…………….. There are areas where we have already made significant progress, but we acknowledge that we must do more. These areas include mental healthcare for veterans, compensation, inquests and accommodation."
Press release ~ Honour the Covenant Campaign ~ Military Covenant ~ Armed Forces' Compensation Scheme ~ MoD - Managing the Defence Estate: Quality and sustainability ~ BBC video report ~ Project SLAM

DfT: Disabled get the blues over problems with parking - Transport Minister Rosie Winterton has recently announced a series of changes to update the Blue Badge disabled persons' parking scheme and hopefully make it tougher on fraud.

The changes, which come into force on 15 October 2007, include:
* extending the scheme to children under two who, because of their specific medical conditions, need to travel with bulky medical equipment or be close to a vehicle for emergency medical treatment. This will include children who suffer from hip dysplasia

* amending the design of the badge, including the addition of a hologram, to help prevent fraud and aid enforcement

* extending the scheme to include people with severe disabilities in both arms who drive non-adapted vehicles regularly, but are unable to operate parking meters, such as people with Thalidomide-related disabilities

While the biggest single change is the introduction of an anti-fraud hologram to help prevent forgeries, in addition, as a result of the feedback from the consultation, the new badge will also include a gender specific serial number to aid parking enforcement and clearer information about the use & abuse of the scheme directly on the badge.
Press release ~ DfT Blue Badge web page ~ Guidance on enforcement ~ Directgov Blue Badge web page ~ Blue Badge Network ~ Traffic Management Act 2004 ~ Disability Now ~ DfT - Measures to tackle abuse of the Blue Badge Scheme

Ofsted: Room for improvement - The most successful pupil referral units (PRUs) are offering pupils a ‘second chance’ in mainstream education by setting them high expectations, offering them an interesting & relevant curriculum and focusing on improving their academic and personal development and confidence. But schools and local authorities need to do more to help PRUs reintegrate pupils into mainstream education.

In 2005/06 over half of the PRUs inspected nationally were judged good or outstanding, however in 2005/06 one in eight units was judged to be inadequate.

Inspectors visited 28 good or outstanding PRUs for a new Ofsted report - Pupil referral units: Establishing successful practice in pupil referral units and local authorities - to identify effective practice in the most successful units.

The report found that a clear sense of purpose and a strong working relationship with the local authority were key features of successful PRUs. Partnerships with a wide range of agencies also supported pupils and enriched their experiences.

Many PRUs face common problems that can affect their ability to provide children and young people with a good education. These include inadequate accommodation, pupils of different ages with diverse needs arriving in an unplanned way, limited numbers of specialist staff and difficulties in reintegrating pupils into mainstream schools.
Inspectors found that the success of PRUs depends on their responses to these challenges and the support they receive from their local authority.
Press release ~ Establishing successful practice in pupil referral units and local authorities ~ DfES, Exclusions & Alternative Provision - Pupil Referral Units ~ PRU – legal aspects ~ Improving Behaviour and Attendance: Guidance on Exclusion from Schools and Pupil Referral Units

For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar

For Industry News please click HERE
Please choose from the links below to view individual sections of interest: