HOSafe as Houses? - More than 45,000 homes will have their security improved after a cash injection of nearly £5m from the government.  The money has been allocated from the £6m safer homes fund which was set up in April 2009 to pay for local handy-people to visit up to 45,000 homes in 93 priority areas.

The cash has been awarded to 66 voluntary & community projects who bid for the grants and they will use it to help secure homes and provide training, community awareness events & security checks of vulnerable peoples’ homes. 

A free advice pack for people concerned about becoming victims of burglary that provides simple & practical advice on what they can do to prevent it is also available.  It includes discount vouchers for home security products from B&Q and Homebase.  To request a pack ring 0800 456 1213.

The Vigilance programme is a £3m package of support to help 35 areas tackle & prevent burglary and personal robbery.  It includes a crackdown on known offenders, particularly offenders released from short term prison sentences, with more proactive methods.  Participating areas will also be provided with pre-emptive support, training & additional resources for areas across the country that have started to see rises in burglary & robbery over the last 12 months.
Press release ~ Safer Communities initiative ~ Vigilance programme ~ Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs) ~ Safer Homes fund ~  Securing Homes initiative ~ HO – Secure your home ~ HO - Burglary ~ British Crime Survey ~ Victim Support ~ Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network (England and Wales) ~ Tackling Burglary mini-site ~ Guide to Home Security

PCS:  ‘Decreed savings’ are not always ‘Actual Real savings’ - The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) have echoed concerns over staff morale & arbitrary efficiency targets highlighted in the report - Evaluating the Efficiency Programme – published by the House of Commons Treasury select committee.

The committee shared the union’s concerns over low staff morale in Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which the union warned would get worse as the department ploughed on with plans to cut 25,000 jobs and close 200 offices by 2011.

The union went on to warn that services in HMRC were suffering as a result and highlighted concerns in the report over deteriorating services by the Charted Institute of Taxation, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales and the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group.

The select committee also expressed concern over the measurement of efficiency & service quality, with the union also supporting the committee’s view about the arbitrary nature of the extra £5bn added to the value for money target in the 2008 pre-budget report.
Press release ~ Evaluating the Efficiency Programme ~ PCS ~ Operation Efficiency Programme prospectus ~ Gershon Review ~ CPA previous press release ~ Committee of Public Accounts - The Efficiency Programme: A Second Review of Progress ~ NAO - The Efficiency Programme: A Second Review of Progress ~ PCS previous press release ~ OGC - The Efficiency Team and What We Do ~ Value For Money in public sector corporate services - A joint project by the UK Public Sector Audit Agencies ~ Audit Commission ~ Audit Scotland ~ Northern Ireland Audit Office ~ Wales Audit Office ~ ESRC – The Management of Second Best ~ Public Sector Performance: Efficiency or Quality? ~ Public service reform in Scotland ~ NHS Better care, better value indicators ~ NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement ~ NHS Institute – Service Transformation

TfLLimiting Streetworks – the ‘holy’ grail in traffic management - As part of the commitment by Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to smooth traffic flow in the Capital, Transport for London has submitted its application for a new London Permit Scheme to the Department for Transport.  The scheme could be in place before the end of 2009.

The permit scheme, which is also being submitted by 18 London boroughs, aims to regulate street works and would help to ensure that any company that wants to dig up London roads agrees to conditions & timing that limit the consequential disruption suffered by Londoners.

Feedback from consultation has led to the inclusion of a section to ensure the needs of Disabled & Visually Impaired pedestrians are taken into consideration when it is necessary to work on footpaths or alter road crossings.

It is estimated there are around 1m holes dug in London’s roads each year, with little or no regulation.  There are more than 100 utility companies who are currently only required to give short notice of upcoming works – 80% of works are carried out in less than 3 days notice to the highway authority.  The final decision rests with the Secretary of State for Transport and a decision is expected in the next 3 months.
Press release ~ Co-ordination of Street Works and Works for Road Purposes and Related Matters ~ Street Work Qualifications Register (SWQR) ~ The New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (NRSWA) ~ Traffic Management Act 2004 (TMA) ~ HAUC(UK) ~ Department for Transport - Street works Regulations ~ The Traffic Management Permit Scheme (England) Regulations 2007

DCSF:  In the end it will come down to adequate resourcing - The Government has published a report setting out the interim findings & recommendations of the Social Work Taskforce, which was tasked with supporting & developing the long-term reform of the social work profession, including training, recruitment and day-to-day practice.

Recommendations from the report include:
* The creation of a National College for Social Work
* Greater partnership between employers & educators for the improvement of social work education
* Clearer career & progression structure
* A much more sophisticated understanding of supply & demand
* Securing the resources social workers need to be effective

The Government has also launched a new peer support programme for middle managers of social care functions in local authorities.  The programme will help managers to explore & tackle the challenges of leading & managing workforce change to improve services and outcomes.
Press release ~ Facing up to the Task: The interim report of the Social Work Task Force ~ Social Work Task Force ~ The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report ~ Social Work Transformation package ~ Evaluation of the new social work degree qualification in England ~ Roles and tasks of social work: A consultation ~ Social work practice with depressed mothers in child and family care ~ Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSW) pilots

CIIFinally the Truth? - Sir John Chilcot, chairman of the Iraq Inquiry, made a statement at a news conference to launch the inquiry on Thursday 30 July 2009 at the QEII Conference Centre, London.
Press release ~ Chilcot Iraq Inquiry website

Industry NewsCollaboration generates real savings while arbitrary efficiency saving just lower staff morale (see above PCS item) - Government departments are located across the length & breadth of the UK.  The Internet has reduced the need for physical, face-to-face interaction and enabled these departments to work together online to work on documents, share information, allow remote working, talk live in chat rooms and hold web conferences.

In a nutshell, online collaboration increases productivity, streamlines procedures & reduces cost.  For example, recent research indicates that cross-government collaboration has the potential to save 70% on traditional IT costs and improve the workings of central & local government.

Huddle.net’s collaboration tools are already being widely used within the UK Government.  The Home Office, NHS, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Department for Innovation, University and Skills, and the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) are all benefiting from collaborative working.

Yet some departments may have reservations about using collaborative tools.  The key barriers to the adoption include slow take-up, perceived costs, security, complexity and some tools were not popular after testing.  There is an organisational mindset that needs to be overcome and internal training to successfully engage in collaboration. 
Once those hurdles have been addressed, departments can start thinking about the many benefits of collaboration.  They can create virtual teams, discuss & agree policy, connect head offices with local branches, approve documents online, brainstorm new ideas, share files securely and eliminate the need for meetings.

So why not apply for a FREE copy of Huddle.net’s White paper - 'Guide to Collaboration for Government and the Public Sector' – which describes the different types of collaboration products and illustrates the benefits of collaborative working?  Read also about how Northamptonshire Enterprise works with a large number of stakeholders to co-ordinate development of the local economy, sometimes involving as many as 20 partners working together.

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