COSome better news for the government - The Prime Minister's Strategy Unit has published 'Getting On, Getting Ahead,' which identifies and analyses the ‘trends & drivers of social mobility' based on independent academic research.  It finds that social mobility remained broadly stable since 1970, but the evidence since 2000 suggests it may start to rise in future.

The report identifies 4 key areas where the Government can have the most significant impact on improving social mobility:
* early years provision of childcare
* education
* post-16 education and training
* workplace skills

In June 2008, the Prime Minister announced that a flagship White Paper will be published by the end of 2008, setting out the Government's vision of ‘a Britain where everyone can make the most of their potential’.
Press release ~ Getting on, getting ahead: A discussion paper: analysing the trends and drivers of social mobility ~ Realising Britain's Potential: Future Strategic Challenges for Britain ~ Foresight Project ~ Social Mobility Foundation ~ DWP - Factors influencing social mobility ~ Disturbing finding from LSE study ~ ESRC Society Today - Social Mobility ~ Human tide: the real migration crisis - Christian Aid

DHJustice for the dying - More drugs are to be made available to patients on the NHS, particularly for those facing a terminal illness, Health Secretary Alan Johnson has announced, following the publication of the National Cancer Director’s report - 'Improving access to medicines for NHS patients’ – which recommends a package of measures to substantially widen access to drugs on the NHS and reduce the need for patients to resort to private treatment.

The Health Secretary also announced that, in future, the NHS should not withdraw treatment from the few patients who may still choose to pay privately for additional drugs.  But he made clear that while private care can be carried out alongside NHS care, private treatment should take place in a private facility and must not be subsidised by the NHS. The consultation on draft guidance closes on 27 January 2009.

New proposals by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) set out a new system for appraising expensive drugs designed to help those with severe illness (consultation closes 10 December 2008).  At the same time, NICE will work with the Department of Health to speed up the appraisal process, so that patients have faster and more consistent access to new therapies.

The government says that the measures build on the principles already enshrined in the NHS Constitution, which include the right of all NHS patients to access NICE approved drugs or treatments if their doctor recommends them as clinically appropriate.
Press release ~ Consultation on draft guidance on NHS patients who wish to pay for additional private care ~ Improving access to medicines for NHS patient' ~ Paying for (expensive) drugs in the statutory system: an overview of experiences in 13 countries ~ NHS Constitution ~ NICE - Appraising end of life medicines ~ NICE press release

ESRC:  Who can afford to live & work in London? - Against a backdrop of stories about Britain’s ‘broken society’ there are examples of community action bringing positive changes.  One recent example of such community spirit is in London where ‘London Citizens’ recently fought for & won higher wages for some of the city’s lowest paid.

A new study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), highlights the success of a grassroots coalition of faith groups, unions and community organisations in winning a ‘living wage’ for thousands of low-paid migrant office cleaners who had been struggling to support themselves and their families. 

A special London Living Wage Unit, established by the Greater London Authority in 2005, has calculated a separate minimum standard for workers in the capital (currently £7.45 per hour) compared with the national minimum of £5.52 for workers aged 22 years & older.  A recent project funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, has confirmed that even a single person with no dependents, living in council housing, needs at least £13,400 a year (before tax) to afford a basic, but acceptable standard of living.
Press release ~ Work, identity and new forms of political mobilisation: An assessment of broad-based organising and London’s living wage campaign ~ ESRC’s Identity and Social Action programme ~ London Living Wage Research ~ London Living Wage Unit ~ Minimum Income Standard ~ London Citizens ~ Fair Pay Network ~ The East London Communities Organisation

BIGLocal assets managed locally - The people of Chester-le-Street are the first to take charge of a community centre under the Government’s £30m Community Assets programme.  Dozens of similar projects up & down the country will see community sites taken over, refurbished and maintained by the local people who actually use them.

The Pelton Fell Community Resource Centre in Chester-le-Street will benefit from a £337,000 grant (the first to be awarded under the scheme) funded by the Office of the Third Sector in the Cabinet Office and delivered by the Big Lottery Fund. 

Facilities will include toddler, youth & older people’s clubs, plus history & environmental interest groups, art in the community and offices for use by groups such as the neighbourhood regeneration partnership.  The asset will be transferred via a 99-year lease for a peppercorn rent.
Press release ~ BIG - Community Assets programme ~ Office of the Third Sector in the Cabinet Office ~ Review of Community Management and Ownership of Public Assets ~ ProHelp ~ Development Trust Association - Community Assets ~ Opening the Transfer Window: The Governments Response to the Quirk ReviewCLG – Community Empowerment ~ Community Call for Action ~ Public Request to Order Disposal (PROD) ~ Participatory Budgets

FSCS:  Mass email brings some better news - The first emails to UK customers of Icesave have now gone out with more information about how to claim back their savings according to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.  The email is the first stage of a process that will lead to compensation for thousands of Icesave customers.

It will be followed up by FSCS sending second emails to customers, in phases, with a view to starting compensation payments in the second week of November, as planned.  The second email will provide instructions on how depositors can log on to their existing Icesave accounts in the normal way to complete a short electronic process allowing them to receive their compensation.  Customers are asked not to log in until their second email which will specifically invite them to do so.

Any Icesave customers who did not receive their first email from FSCS by the close of business last Friday should contact FSCS on 0845 7300 131 (Icesave enquiries only). (N.B.  It could be worth checking your ‘spam file’ before phoning and also ensuring that the email is genuine (there have been warnings of phishing).
Press release ~ FSCS - Icesave FAQs ~ Previous important announcements

Industry NewsHow do you know your car's in good hands? – Improving public confidence in the motor industry by formally recognising the skills and ethical competence of motor technicians in the UK is the objective of the ATA (Automotive Technician Accreditation) scheme, which has been launched to the public this year.

Governed by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), the ATA is the first voluntary accreditation scheme of its kind, recognising professional motor technicians who have:
* have proved they have the right skills to work competently
* have signed a code of honest conduct, and
* are regulated

ATA has the support of consumer groups. Steve Brooker, Senior Policy Advocate at the National Consumer Council (NCC), said: “It can be difficult for consumers to find a reliable garage, so we welcome the ATA scheme as a means to reassure motorists that their technician has been properly trained and adheres to a code of conduct.” 
Full article ~ Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) ~ ATA (Automotive Technician Accreditation) scheme ~ Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) ~ ATA online register ~ Leitch Review of Skills ~ IMI Automotive Skills division

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