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PX:  No more ‘free rides’, only a safety net for the ‘deserving’ - A new poll from think tank Policy Exchange shows that the public overwhelmingly backs 'redesigning the welfare system to reward good behaviour & sanction bad.'  Voters have a strong sense of the deserving & the undeserving poor and also support a cap on child benefits.  Exactly two-thirds say that there should be no extra child benefit after the third child. 

Roughly the same proportion say that the state should discourage people becoming lone parents.  But for people who have found themselves facing hard times through no fault of their own, there still is strong support for a ‘proper safety net’.

In a sign that coalition policies have strong support, the study – entitled ‘Just Deserts?’ – finds there is much more backing for cutting tax as a way of creating a fairer society – rather than increasing the size of cash hand-outs.  The least popular option to make Britain fairer was to reduce tuition fees and ban private education.  The polling comes at a time when the words ‘fair’ & ‘fairness’ have come to dominate political debate.

Other key findings include:
* 80% agree that anyone who has been out of work for 12 months and is capable of work should have to carry out community work in return for benefits.  
* Voters think different regimes are appropriate for different groups of claimants.
* There is support for stronger work search requirements.
* The public are also strongly sceptical about simply increasing the size of benefit payments as a way of tackling child poverty.
Press release & links ~ Just Deserts? Attitudes to Fairness, Poverty and Welfare Reform ~ Polling figures for the report ~ Related PCS union PR ~ DWP related PR ~ DWP: Work programme ~ DWP: Effective Job search PR ~ RR 726 Job Search Study: Literature review & analysis of the Labour Force Survey (3.3Mb) ~ Errors in benefit system ~ Demos: incapacity benefits protection ~ ScotGov: Regeneration ~ DWP: Work Capability Assessment ~ DWP: Latest ESA: Work Capability Assessment statistics ~ IFS PR ~ The effects of tax and benefit reforms to be introduced in April 2011 ~ Distributional analysis of tax and benefit changes ~ Work Foundation: Bottom 10 Million ~ Welfare to What? Prospects and challenges for employment recovery ~ iea PR ~ A New Understanding of poverty (click on pdf links for free download) ~ JRF: A review of benefit sanctions ~ TUC Frank Field review into poverty PR ~ Unicef’s response ~ ippr’s response ~ WAG: Supporting People programme PR ~ Supporting People Programme in Wales ~ JRF: Working people Strong work ethic PR ~ How and why do people become trapped in a long-term cycle of low-paid jobs and unemployment? ~ DWP White paper PR ~ The White Paper – Universal Credit: Welfare that Works ~ Work Foundation PR ~ TUC PR ~ CBI PR ~ Adam Smith Institute PR ~ CAB PR ~ ippr PR ~ PCS union PR ~ iea PR ~ DWP: Helping lone parents back to work PR ~ ippr: Welfare spending – Time to reassess universal benefits? PR ~ ippr: The new landscape of welfare to work ~ LSIS: A step towards work or just stuck in a warehouse? ~ Demos: Liberation welfare collection ~ DWP: Building Bridges to Work ~ Professor Harrington review ~ Related DWP press release ~ The Jobseeker’s Allowance (Mandatory Work Activity Scheme) Regulations 2011 ~ Child Poverty Strategy for Scotland ~ Severe Child Poverty: Nationally & locally ~ Save the Children: UK child poverty ~ Poorer families forced to pay more for heating & services ~ WAG: Child poverty

DFIDA ‘war’ that we cannot afford to lose - Britain is to intensify its work in Burma amid fears that drug-resistant malaria detected in the country could spread to other parts of the globe, with potentially devastating consequences.  Britain will provide additional funding with other donors which could help over 1m people this year.

This extra UK support will help:
* train more than 2,000 health workers & community volunteers to correctly diagnose & treat 166,000 cases of malaria with Atermisinin Combination Therapies (ACTs)
* supply 350,000 long lasting insecticide-treated bednets & re-treat a further 450,000 bednets
* improve malaria awareness in high risk communities which are most vulnerable to resistance

A 5 year containment programme has also been launched in the country after the presence of artemisinin-resistant malaria parasites was detected.  The rise of drug-resistant malaria is threatening to render treatments that have saved millions of lives in Africa & Asia over the past decade virtually useless
Press release ~ HPA: UK Malaria cases up nearly 30% in 2 Years ~ World Malaria Day 2011 ~ Related Unicef press release ~ Three Diseases Fund’s ~ EU breakthrough in malaria treatment ~ Malaria: breaking the cycle – UK plan of action ~ Previous DFID action in Nigeria ~ Nigeria's 5-year National Malaria Programme ~ Malaria Consortium ~ Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis & Malaria ~ DFID: Malaria ~ Support to National Malaria Programme (SuNMaP) project
NAO:  Does the Government have the intelligence to be a customer who gets good value? - The National Audit Office has concluded that ‘lessons from the large body of experience of using PFI can be applied to improve other forms of procurement and help Government achieve its aim of securing annual infrastructure delivery cost savings of £2bn - £3bn.  Government should also do more to act as an ‘intelligent customer’ in the procurement & management of projects’.

To secure the best value for money from all types of procurement, the public sector needs to develop the ‘enablers of success’ which the NAO has identified. These are:
* collecting better data to inform decision-making
* ensuring projects have the right skills
* establishing effective arrangements to test, challenge & , if necessary, stop projects
* using commercial awareness to obtain better deals

The case for using private finance in public procurement needs to be challenged more, given the spending watchdog’s previous analysis that the cost of debt finance has increased since the credit crisis by 20% to 33%.  Also, under the national accounting rules, privately financed projects will often still be off balance-sheet which may continue to act as an incentive to use PFI.  The NAO concludes that, in the current climate, the use of private finance may not be as suitable for as many projects as it has been in the past.
Press release ~ Lessons from PFI and other projects ~ CBI comment ~ Related reports ~ HMT: Pilot to achieve saving in PFI contracts ~ Report: PFI in Housing and Hospitals ~ Build and Beyond: The (r)evolution of healthcare PPPs ~ Report: Financing PFI projects in the credit crisis and the Treasury's response ~ HCA: Housing PFI projects in procurement ~ Related press release ~ NAO report on widening M25 ~ Related links ~ NAO: Financing PFI projects in the credit crisis and the Treasury's response ~ Infrastructure Financing Unit ~ The performance and management of hospital PFI contracts ~ Managing high value capital equipment in the NHS in England ~ Who is responsible for Typhoon cost rising? ~ NAO: The Major Projects Report 2010 ~ Full report - Assurance for high risk projects ~ OGC Gateway reviews ~ Major Project Review Group ~ NAO: Commercial skills for complex government projects ~ OGC’s skills strategy ‘Building the procurement profession in government’ ~ Senior Responsible Owners ~ Project management framework agreement ~ Value For Money in public sector corporate services - A joint project by the UK Public Sector Audit Agencies ~ Public Sector Performance: Efficiency or Quality? ~ Public service reform in Scotland ~ Capability review website ~ News of Good Project Management in the MoD ~ Buyers of public services could reap greater benefits from competition - OFT

WAO:  Food for thought as hospital budgets begin to be squeezed - A recent Wales Audit Office report found hospital catering services in Wales have improved and many patients are satisfied with the food they receive, but more needs to be done to ‘make sure patients get the nutritional care they need’.  Many hospitals in Wales provide patients with an appropriate choice of good quality food and nurses are making efforts to clear up wards before food arrives.

Protected mealtimes times - when all non-urgent clinical activity stops on wards allowing patients to eat without interruptions and nurses are able to assist are becoming more common.  Assembly Government policy initiatives have identified the standards of nutritional care that need to be applied and have encouraged ward sisters to take greater ownership of catering arrangements on their wards. The report highlights that where this strong leadership by nurses was in place, nutritional care of patients was invariably better.

However, there is still much room for improvement. Although most patients are screened for nutritional problems, important information about patients’ nutritional status is often missing.  Not all patients get the help they need at mealtimes and the recording of food intake for at risk patients is not always carried out.

The report found that financial information about catering services is typically poor and needs to improve. Where it exists, it shows that catering costs varies significantly in hospitals across Wales. The daily cost of feeding a patient ranges from £1.33 to £5.66 per day, while non patient catering services (provided by hospitals for staff & visitors) are heavily subsidised, often unknowingly.
Press release & links ~ Hospital Catering & Patient Nutrition ~ Channel 4 Dispatches: Various links on Hospital Food ~ All Wales food record chart & nutritional care pathway ~ Council of Europe Alliance (UK) ‘10 Key Characteristics of Good Nutritional Care’ ~ National Patient Safety Agency: Patient care & treatment (including nutrition)Rehabilitation after critical illness guideline ~ A taste for improving patient safety & quality of life ~ What's food got to do with it? - the Dewsbury Link Nurse Project ~ Spending on hospital food ~ Related PR ~ National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death ~ NCEPOD press release ~ CMO(2009)08,CNO(2009)05: All Wales food record chart and nutritional care pathway ~ Free to Lead, Free to care ~ DH – Better Hospital Food programme ~ DH - Sustainable food: a guide for hospitals ~ Improving Nutritional Care: A joint Action Plan ~ Enhancing the taste of hospital food PR ~ Department of Food Biosciences at Reading ~ See team members talking about the project ~ Patient Environment Action Teams (PEAT) ~ Food Standards Agency - Guidance on food served to older people in residential care ~ British Nutrition Foundation ~ Bapen ~ NICE Guidelines - Nutrition Support in Adults
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