WAGWill there ever be a UK-wide policy for Care of Elderly resourcing? - Deputy Minister for Social Services, Gwenda Thomas has launched the Green Paper on ‘Paying for Care in Wales’, which sets out proposals for reforming the current system of paying for care & support for disabled & older people who need it. The consultation closes on 28 February 2010.

The paying for care options favoured by the UK Government are based on the principle that the new way to pay for care should be a partnership between the individual & government.  Everyone who qualifies for care & support would have a proportion of their costs paid for by the government, but would have to fund the rest themselves.  
Press release ~ Paying for Care in Wales: Green Paper consultation on options for reformWAG: Health and social care ~ Building a Society for All Ages ~ NHS – Over 60s ~ British Geriatrics Society (BGS) ~ Royal Commission on Long Term Care for the Elderly ~ DH – Older People’s Services ~ Financial care models in Scotland and the UK ~ Future demand for long-term care in the UK: A summary of projections of long-term care finance for older people to 2051 ~ WAG – Charging for Social Services

Ofsted:  Cut off from their Family - Being separated from your siblings & losing touch with them, not being adequately supported by social workers and often moving from one carer to the next are just some of the concerns voiced by children in care, in a report that gives first-hand accounts of their experiences.

The report - Children’s messages to the Minister (produced by the Children’s Rights Director for England, Roger Morga) - reports children’s messages from a survey, focus groups and a conference.  It will contribute to the Government’s stocktake of how well services are supporting children in care & care leavers and is designed to help to develop future government policy for children in care.

One of the main concerns raised by children in the report is that on first coming into care many are being separated from their brothers & sisters, even though they had wanted to stay together – and decisions are often being made without asking the child.  Siblings in care also tend to lose touch with each other as they stay in care. Those who did manage to stay in contact often had to arrange it themselves.

Having proper support from social workers was also expressed. There was general agreement that seeing your social worker less than once a month was not enough. However, children did recognise the challenges social workers faced.
Press release ~ Children’s messages to the Minister report ~ Office of the Children’s Rights Director ~ Support for care leavers ~ Children leaving care - Every Child Matters ~ Care Matters: Time for Change ~ Educational achievement of looked-after children ~ Frank Buttle Trust Quality Mark ~ Carelaw : A guide for young people in care ~ Looked After Children and Young People: We Can and Must Do Better ~ Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) ~ Looked after Children 2008 ~  KLOE 8 - Reliable Data and Information ~  Childline information sheet ~ JRF: Barriers to change in the social care of children ~ Care and prejudice ~ Future rules ~ Parents on Council Care ~  Ofsted – Children’s Rights (scroll down) ~ Ofsted: Looked after children: good practice in schools ~  Care Matters - Transforming the Lives of Children and Young People in Care ~  Children on the edge of care: Human rights and the Children Act ~  Reuniting looked after children with their families ~ Resilience and young people leaving care ~ Mentoring for young people leaving care ~ Personal Education Allowances for Looked After Children: Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities ~ Care Matters implementation plan ~ Leavingcare.org ~ Positive Futures programme

WAGOdds stacked against the poor - Social Justice Minister Dr Brian Gibbons has welcomed the Bevan Foundation report - Paying the price of being poor - which was launched at the Senedd recently.  The research, which is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government’s New Ideas Fund, focuses on the ‘poverty premium’ that means that people from low income backgrounds often have to pay extra for products because they are unable to pay by direct debit, buy in bulk, or access mainstream services.

The report considers how WAG can help to ensure that low income families are not disadvantaged by having to pay more for services and makes recommendations in 3 areas:
* education
* financial services
* fuel poverty
Press release ~ Bevan Foundation ~ Paying the Price of Being Poor ~ Senedd ~ WAG: New Ideas Fund ~ WAG: Financial Inclusion strategy ~ WAG: Credit Unions ~ Report calls for expansion of credit unions ~ WAG: Home Energy Efficiency Scheme ~ WAG: Children and Families (Wales) Measure ~ JRF: Monitoring poverty and social exclusion in Wales 2009 ~ The Poverty Site - Welsh Indicators ~ Child Poverty and Social Exclusion in Rural Wales (scroll down) ~ WAG: European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion ~ ‘Child Poverty Solutions Wales’ website ~ WAG – Child Poverty ~ Children in severe poverty in Wales: an agenda for action ~ Cymorth ~ Genesis Wales website ~ National Energy Efficiency and Savings Plan ~ Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES) ~ Energy Saving Trust Wales ~ WAG – Fuel Poverty ~ National Public Health Service for Wales (NPHS) - Fuel poverty

BIS / LSN:  No more targets please, just real actions - The Government has set out how it will invest in the skills critical to the recovery & long-term success of the UK economy.  The Skills Investment Strategy 2010 -11 underpins the priorities announced in the recently published national skills strategy, Skills for Growth.

The Learning and Skills Network has responded to the Government’s new National Skills Strategy, applauding its promise of greater freedom for colleges & other training institutions demonstrating teaching excellence.  They also welcome the importance it places on advanced vocational skills, with the expansion of advanced apprenticeships and stronger progression routes from apprenticeships into higher education.

In particular LSN supports the strategy’s move towards a system defined not simply by targets but real world outcomes, with real market value.  They have been concerned about the distorting effect of the qualifications paper chase – ultimately it’s skills that matter and it’s the balance between supply & demand at local level that actually makes the difference.

But they are concerned that chasing national high level targets - such as the Skills Strategy’s aim of 75% in higher education or completing an advanced apprenticeship or equivalent by 30 - would lead to an overqualified & inappropriately skilled workforce.  Recent research suggests that jobs growth occurs across the whole skills spectrum, not just at higher qualification levels.

The strategy’s pledge to cut through the clutter and simplify the learning & skills landscape is also welcome.  However, while they accept the recommendation of removing 30 quangos, reducing the number of bodies without a root & branch review of the complexity of the system could actually make things worse.
Press release ~ Skills Investment Strategy 2010 -11 ~ Skills for growth: the national skills strategy ~ LSN related press release ~ Centre for Innovation in Learning ~ Beyond Leitch; skills policy in the upturn

ScotGov:  More responsibility please! - A National Conversation paper on people & communities, focusing on areas including health, housing and law & order has been published. Constitution Minister Michael Russell said that the paper underlined the urgent need for Scotland's Parliament to be given more responsibilities for the people it serves.

People & Communities is the seventh in a series of papers being published by the Scottish Government as contributions to the National Conversation.  It sets out options for the people of Scotland if they choose to seek further responsibilities for their Parliament & Government.
Press release ~ People & Communities - A National Conversation paper ~ A National Conversation

WAGUs too please! - The All Wales Convention, chaired by Sir Emyr Jones Parry, was set up as a commitment under One Wales to monitor public opinion and assess the levels of support necessary to trigger a referendum on further law-making powers for the Assembly at, or before, the end of the term in 2011.

The Welsh Assembly Government has welcomed the publication of a report from the All Wales Convention, which will now be considered by the WAG, with First Minister Rhodri MorganI making a full statement to the Assembly this week.
Press releaseAll Wales Convention website ~ All Wales Convention Leaflet - Our conclusions at a glance ~ One Wales: A progressive agenda for Wales

Newswire - P&HSOBig government too often looses sight of the individual - Parliamentary Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, has urged public bodies to improve customer service by acting swiftly & effectively to resolve complaintsSmall mistakes, big consequences contains 11 case studies illustrating how the relatively minor mistakes of large government departments can have a major impact on the people they are attempting to serve and on the public purse.
Press release ~ Small mistakes, big consequences ~ Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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