NAO: Delivery of anticipated benefits not so simple to achieve - According to a National Audit Office report, the NHS has successfully transferred 1.1m NHS employees on to a new simplified pay system. This was a substantial task which the NHS, in partnership with the trade unions, achieved in a short timescale.
There are some examples of NHS trusts using Agenda for Change to help introduce new roles. But the DH did not put enough emphasis on getting trusts to develop these new ways of working to secure the full benefits from the new pay system, so the programme is not yet achieving the intended value for money.
The Department predicted that Agenda for Change would save at least £1.3bn by 2008-09 and productivity would increase. It did not, however, put in place any comprehensive central monitoring arrangements to show what impact the new contract has had on productivity and it appears that overall productivity may be continuing to fall (though at a slower pace).
A key element of Agenda for Change, the Knowledge and Skills Framework, which defines the skills needed for a certain role and provides a tool for reviewing their use in the workplace, has not yet been fully implemented by many trusts. Effective use of the Framework is fundamental to achieving the full benefits of Agenda for Change, but initial take-up was limited and the Framework had to be re-launched in 2007.
Newswire – AC: Policy makers fail maths test - It costs 4 times as much to put a young person through the criminal justice system as it does to keep them out of it, but sport & leisure projects designed to help keep teens on the straight and narrow struggle with a funding system that is wasteful, inefficient and bureaucratic.
Michael O'Higgins, chairman of the Audit Commission, called the grants system 'a dog's breakfast', saying: “It's ludicrous that funding schemes for young people in trouble with the law should be so complicated. Major opportunities to save public money are going begging."
A young person in the criminal justice system costs the taxpayer £200,000 by the age of 16, but one needing support to stay out costs less than £50,000. Over £113m would be saved if just one in ten young offenders was kept out of further trouble.
These findings are published in an Audit Commission report, Tired of Hanging Around, which shows that sport & leisure activities can help stop young people aged between 8 and 19 from drifting into anti-social behaviour and highlights the problems that threaten the success of projects.
Youth workers, who should be devoting their attention to young people, can spend a third of their time managing budgets and chasing new funding. On average, projects are funded from 3 different sources, each with its own application system & monitoring criteria. In some cases, the administrative cost of bidding for grants exceeds the amount of funding applicants are hoping to receive.
BGS: This technology just has to work to make any impact on global warming - China's potential for carbon capture & storage (CCS), an essential technology to achieve low global emissions, will be examined this week at a conference of senior scientific experts from China and the EU. It will be hosted by the British Geological Survey (BGS) in Nottingham on February 10-12 2009.
The conference will highlight how British science is supporting China in developing their capabilities to bury CO2 from power stations in rock formations deep below the surface. The experts will discuss technical assessments of storage potential from ongoing research on the COACH (Cooperation Action within Carbon Capture and Storage China-EU) and NZEC (Near Zero Emissions from Coal) projects, as well as other European projects.
The lowering of CO2 emissions in China is vital to the global goal of avoiding a catastrophic temperature rise of 2C before 2100, and it could be argued that CO2 emission reductions elsewhere are irrelevant without China's involvement. China is committed to using its vast coal resources in electricity generation as it will be a long time before other energy sources such as renewables are able to meet their energy demands.
It is thought that China builds around one coal power station per week and CO2 storage will allow it to maintain energy supplies at the same time as reducing emissions. Thus projects like COACH & NZEC, which foster technology transfer are very important in achieving low global emissions.
DWP: Grey power recognised by politicians - Older people are to have a bigger say in developing central, regional and local Government policies announced Rosie Winterton, Minister for Pensions and the Ageing Society, in response to John Elbourne's review of older people's engagement with Government.
A new national UK Advisory Forum on Ageing will give older people a direct line to Government to comment on new policy ideas, services, legislation and what areas they feel the Government needs to address. A designated lead regional coordinator will support local older people's forums, who will work with them to set up Regional Forums play a vital role in addressing regional issues and provide a channel of communication between local and national Government.
HO: Government gets tough on tough neighbourhoods - A new power to prevent gang-related violence will be introduced in the Policing and Crime Bill, the Home Secretary has announced. The proposed new injunction would enable a court to impose a range of restrictions or requirements on an individual such as:
* Not entering a specified place, for example, the neighbourhood that the gang regards as 'its' territory
* Not being with named members of a gang
* Not using or threatening to use violence
* Not wearing particular items of clothing such as gang colours or balaclavas which prevent identification
Alongside this, the Government is proposing that the court should have the power to require those given an injunction to take part in positive activities such as community outreach programmes or mediation sessions between rival gangs to ensure that they are provided with alternatives to their gang lifestyle.
Similar injunctions were used successfully by Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police in 2007 to deliver a reduction in firearms offences, woundings and robberies in key gang-affected areas while they were in place. The first opportunity after the Bill is passed to amend the rules would result in injunctions becoming operational in April 2010.
DIUS: It’s difficult to tackle global warming when many in the world are starving - A new project that will examine how the world can feed a rapidly expanding population has been launched by Foresight, the Government Future's think tank. By 2050 we will need food for a world population of up to 9bn - significantly up from current levels of around 6.5bn.
The 'Food and Farming Futures' project will ask how this many people can be fed healthily & sustainably as we adapt to a warming and less predictable climate. It will analyse the global food system including changing demand, production and supply. It will also consider food & farming in oceans and freshwater environments as well as on the land. The findings will be launched in late 2010.
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