DfTA proper job for ‘Traffic Wardens’ - Another stage in the overhaul of the Blue Badge scheme has been announced by Transport Minister Paul Clark.  The Department for Transport is also looking at new technologies to make Badges harder to forge, including barcodes that can be read through windscreens.

A £10m national data sharing system will be established by councils to ensure stolen or forged Badges from outside their local area can be easily identified for the first time.  The Government is looking to give councils the power to confiscate stolen or forged Blue Badges immediately when they find them.

The government’s strategy commits to extending the scheme to:
* seriously disabled Armed Forces personnel & veterans
* people with temporary but serious mobility problems
* young children with specific disabilities
* individuals with severe mental impairments
NAOIt’s difficult to concentrate when you’re being shot at - The Department for International Development has given priority to the needs of the poor in insecure countries, but DFID could be better & faster at learning lessons, according to a National Audit Office report.  It has delivered benefits for the poor in difficult circumstances, but the higher risks run in insecure environments have led to lower project success rates.

The damaging effects of insecurity have hindered progress in reducing poverty.  DFID has had limited experience of operating in insecure countries and insufficient evidence on how best to adapt its approach to counter the risks posed by insecurity.  Guidance for staff needs to be adapted to reflect the challenges of working in an insecure environment.

Much of DFID’s work in insecure countries is delivered through partners such as host government agencies and international or voluntary organisations, but two thirds of the projects the NAO reviewed from insecure environments had problems arising from weak partner capacity.
Press release ~ Department for International Development: Operating in insecure environments ~ Executive Summary ~ Survey of country teams ~ Individual staff survey results ~ DFID: Poverty Reduction Budget Support ~ Millennium Development Goal of ending poverty ~ NAO: Tackling Rural Poverty in developing countries ~ Supporting paper: DFID - Study on Rural Poverty in Developing Countries (LF 2Mb) ~ Human Security Support project ~ Aid agencies suspend work in eastern Chad because of insecurity - UN ~ Providing aid in insecure environments: trends in policy and operations

DH:  Control of finances promotes control of personal care - An independent evaluation, conducted by a combined team of five university research units, has reported that individual budgets can give people more choice, flexibility & control over their personal care, as well as a better quality of life.

While there were no important differences in overall cost (IBs cost on average about £280 compared with £300 for standard mainstream services), there were indications that individual budgets have the potential to offer greater value for money.

Mental health service users in the individual budget group reported a significantly higher quality of life, while people with learning disabilities were more likely to feel that they had control over their daily lives and younger physically disabled people were more likely to report higher quality of care and were:
* more satisfied with the help they received
* the choice & control they experienced and
* felt they had the opportunity to build better quality support networks

However, the report found that older people did not find the individual budget system used during the pilot as easy to use as the other groups and they did not appear to like the idea of managing their own support.  The Government will introduce a pilot programme in early 2009, learning from the experience of individual budgets in social care and from other health systems.
Press release ~ Evaluation of the Individual Budgets pilot programme: final report ~ DH - Personalisation of Care ~ ‘Putting People First' - a vision for the transformation of social care ~ High Quality Care for All, the final report of the NHS Next Stage Review ~ Individual Budgets Evaluation Network (IBSEN) ~ Kings College London's Social Care Workforce Research Unit ~ Personal Social Services Research Unit ~ Audit guidance for Individual budgets and direct payments ~ The In Control Website ~ Independence, choice and risk: a guide to best practice in supported decision making ~ ESRC: Disabled People and Direct Payments: a UK comparative study

DIUS:  Good mental health leads to better general health - Proposals aimed at helping society realise its mental potential at every stage of peoples' lives are contained in a new report published by Foresight, the Government's futures think tank.  The study into 'Mental Capital and Wellbeing' looks at how a person's mental resources change through life, as a child, adult & in old age and identifies factors that can help or hinder their development.  The consequences are substantial for individuals, wider society and the economy.

The report concludes that there is a clear case for action across society, including by Government, companies & individuals, to boost both mental capital and wellbeing.  This could reap very high economic and social benefits in the future.

Its main findings are that:
* Early intervention is crucial in developing & maintaining mental capital & mental wellbeing
* A small increase in levels of wellbeing can produce a large decrease in mental health problems
* There is substantial scope for improving how to tackle the huge problem of mental-ill-health

DIUS will now take responsibility for the report's recommendations to assist in policy development across government.  A report in 12 months time will outline the project's progress.
Press release ~ Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing ~ Bercow Review ~ Investors in People – Health and Wellbeing at work ~ Working for Health ~ NICE: Guidance for employers on promoting mental wellbeing through productive and healthy working conditions

HOSupport for young victims of crime - Five areas across the country have been awarded a share of nearly half a million pounds to create the next generation of support services for young victims of crime, the Justice Secretary and Home Secretary has announced, during Inside Justice Week.

The 5 pilot schemes are one part of the delivery of the £100m Youth Crime Action Plan announced in July 2008.  As well as improving support for young victims, the plan sets out a 'triple track' approach of:
* enforcement & punishment where behaviour is unacceptable
* non-negotiable support & challenge where it is most needed
* better & earlier prevention

Although young people are more often victims of crime than adults they are much less likely to report incidents to the authorities, which is the main way that adults are able to get support.
Press release ~ Youth Crime Action Plan ~ Staying Safe Action Plan ~ Code of Practice for Victims of Crime ~ Victim’s Personal Statement ~ Victim Support ~ Inside Justice Week ~ London Criminal Justice Board ~ Victim Advisory Panel ~ Fairbridge ~ Women's Aid ~ Flipside

DCMS:  Securing the future of creative industries - The inaugural Creativity & Business International Network (c&binet) will take place at The Grove in Hertfordshire from 26 - 28 October 2009.  It will give people from different creative fields, and from commercial & business communities, the opportunity to do business, share ideas and work together to secure enduring success for creative industries around the world.

C&binet has been developed following a commitment in the Government's 'Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy' to create an international creative business conference to help maximise the contribution of the creative industries to the wider world economy.
Press release ~ C&binet ~ 'Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy' ~ DCMS – Creative Economy programme ~ Creative and Cultural Skills ~ 'Find Your Talent' programme ~ Creative Partnerships from Arts Council England ~ NESTA - Creative Innovators Growth Programme ~ NESTA - Creative Economy ~ Creative Industries Technology and Innovation Network (CITIN) ~ Accessing and Commercialising Content in a Digitally Networked Age ~ Arts Council England – Our Creative Economy ~ Young Enterprise Quick Start Music programme ~ UK Film Council ~ Arts and Humanities Research Council ~ Live Music Forum ~ UK Trade and Investment

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