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PC&PE: The debate on global warming may still be on-going but the result of building on flood plains is self-evident
- The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published its latest report on Flood Risk Management in England

The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee said: 
"5m properties in England - 1 in 6 - are currently at risk of flooding.  The annual cost of flood damage is at least £1.1bn and ageing defences & climate change will increase that bill.  So flood protection is a national priority.

Yet it is unclear where the buck stops and who is ultimately responsible for managing the risk of flooding.  There is also a great deal of uncertainty about whether there will be enough money to maintain and improve flood protection in the longer term, and who will pay. …….. It is not acceptable that local people should be left in doubt about where responsibility and accountability lie. …….

All of this is fuelling uncertainty over the future availability & affordability of insurance cover for buildings in areas at risk of flood.  The current agreement between the Government and the insurance industry runs out in 2013. A new agreement is needed urgently."
Press release ~ Report: Flood risk management in England ~ ABI news release ~ RUSI: Flood Resilience, Response and Recovery ~ RUSI: Emergency Management ~ National Risk Register ~ UK Floods: Changing Attitudes ~ Turning the Tide ~ Learning lessons from the 2007 floods: the final recommendations of the Pitt Review ~ ICE report: Flood Risk Management - a local issue of national importance ~ Ryedale Flood Research Group ~ The Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009: Delivering Sustainable Flood Risk Management ~ SEPA consultation - Flooding in Scotland ~ SEPA: Flooding ~ EA: List of schemes going ahead in 2011/12 ~ Defra: Flooding and Coastal change ~ Defra: Flood Emergency Preparedness ~ EA: information on flooding ~ Report: Future flood and water management legislation ~ Guidance and standards for drying flood damaged buildings. Signposting current guidance: BD 2760 ~ National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy ~ Inland flood rescue association ~ UK Resilience ~ Disaster and Emergency Management on the Internet ~ National Flood Emergency Framework ~ Flood risk management role for local authorities ~ Flood & Coastal Erosion Risk Management: Development of a National Strategy for Wales ~ WAG:  Water and flooding ~ Property Level Flood Protection Grant Scheme ~ HR Wallingford ~ EA: How can I be prepared? ~ National Flood Forum - BSI: PAS 1188 ~ NFF: Blue Pages ~ Pickering Flood Group

Ofsted:  It can be difficult to balance the needs of children in care with their ‘duty to fit in to society’, especially on a limited budget - Focusing on the child’s journey & experience and looking at what makes the most difference in improving children’s lives, Ofsted is to introduce ‘no notice’ inspection for child protection services.  The new child protection framework, published last week, will come into effect in May 2012.

The no notice inspections, carried out over a 2-week period, will see a team of experienced inspectors spending the majority of their time talking directly to children & their families about their experiences, as well as front-line social workers and managers. Inspectors will also shadow social workers in their work with children and their families, and observe multi-agency working.

The number of cases being examined by inspectors will be doubled to ensure there is an in-depth understanding of how well children are protected.  Inspectors will sit alongside social workers & managers to go through case files and explore the support provided for each child.
Press release & links ~ Related Ofsted press release & links ~ Improving child protection by shining the light on good practice: how a number of Local Safeguarding Children Boards are showing the way ~ No-notice inspections for welfare provision at boarding and residential special schools as Ofsted introduces a new inspection model ~ Munro review of child protection
ICOAt least these days the ICO has some ‘teeth’ - Too many consumers are being denied the right to access the information that companies or public bodies hold about them, Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said recently.  In order to resolve this issue, the ICO has launched an awareness-raising campaign called Access Aware.

The campaign aims to promote awareness of what a subject access request looks like and what to do if one is received.  Requests can be received by anyone working in an organisation and can take many forms – from a detailed email asking for specific information to a single sentence within a more general complaint letter. Requests must be answered within 40 calendar days.  Some organisations may choose to charge a fee (max. £10) for handling a subject access request. 
Press release & links ~ Monetary penalty of £140,000 imposed on Midlothian Council ~ New plain English guide to Freedom of information ~ ICO clarifies law on information held in private email accounts ~ ‘Must try harder’ on cookies compliance, says ICO ~ Government, business and consumer groups commit to midata vision of consumer empowerment ~ ICO - Businesses ‘waking up’ to data protection responsibilities ~ ICO - Businesses ‘waking up’ to data protection responsibilities ~ ICO - The citizen should be in the driving seat over what information is made public, says Information Commissioner ~ ICO issues advice on the disclosure of research information ~  Information rights should be embedded in schools, says ICO

EU NewsBut how will it resolve the (richer) North / (poorer) South split - At the informal summit on 30 January 2012 a new Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union was finalised by all EU member states with the exception of the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic.  The Treaty aims to strengthen fiscal discipline through the introduction of more automatic sanctions and stricter surveillance, and in particular through the ‘balanced budget rule’.

The treaty will be signed in March 2012 and will enter into force once it has been ratified by at least 12 euro area member states.  It will be legally binding as an international agreement and will be open to the EU countries which do not sign it at the outset.  The aim is to incorporate it into EU law within 5 years of its entry into force.
Press release & links ~ Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union

IFSSo should it be the taxpayers who go on strike? - Latest public pension reforms unlikely to save money over longer term; 4-year pay squeeze returns public/private differential to pre-recession level.  These are 2 headline findings from an in-depth analysis of this government’s public pensions & pay policies done by Institute for Financial Studies researchers in preparation for the launch of the annual IFS Green Budget.
Press release & links ~ TUC comment ~ Previous TUC PR re; Change from RPI to CPI for public sector pensions ~ HMT:  To be asked to ‘pay more for less’ is always upsetting, especially when the extra payments seem un-necessary to fund the pension

AUKThe benefit cake can only be shared so many ways - Age UK’s new Care in Crisis 2012 report shows that this year spending on older people’s social care in England has fallen £500m short of even maintaining the inadequate levels of provision in place when the Coalition came to power.

AUK analysis shows that the combined impact of growing demand for services and a £341m reduction in older people’s social care budgets this financial year – equivalent to a 4.5% cut – has created a £500m shortfall.
Press release & links ~ Care in Crisis petition ~ AUK:  Little dignity or safety in old age for many ~ Newswire – CSJ:  Often ‘out of site & rarely protesting’ and therefore ‘out of the political mind’ (fifth item)

DfEQuality, not quantity - Only the very highest quality qualifications will be included in future secondary school Performance Tables, the Department for Education announced last week.  The announcement follows recommendations made in a report by Professor Alison Wolf last year.  She highlighted how the current Performance Table system creates perverse incentives for some schools to put pupils on courses which might boost their Performance Table positions.  

At the moment there are 3,175 so-called equivalent qualifications accredited & approved for study by 14- to 16-year-olds, all of which count in the tables. Under the last government some of these were worth as much as 4, 5 or even 6 GCSEs.  But from the 2014 Performance Tables (published in January 2015), just 125 of these qualifications (3.9% of the current total) will count.
Press release & links ~ Ofqual: Monitoring the qualifications system ~ Professor Alison Wolf’s report ~ Other links on DfE website

COWhat happens if it goes ‘down’? - The delivery of digital government information that is fit for the 21st century and will lead to anticipated savings of £50m a year has come one step closer with the beta release of a single domain, Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude announced last week.

The beta domain tests a new way of delivering public services digitally so that people can access the information they need quickly, easily & securely in one place, without having to wade through many different government websites.  The projected cost of the beta project is £1.7m and it is currently running within budget.
Press release & links ~ gov.uk ~ Directgov 2010 and Beyond: Revolution Not Evolution ~ IFS: How much does a government website cost? ~ Clamp down on Government websites to save £ms ~ A fifth of those aged 55-64 have never been online. This rises to three in five among those aged 65 and over ~ Third Sector Foresight ~ Demos: Web I’m 64 ~ UK Online Centres

Forthcoming eventGartner Identity & Access Management Summit | 12-13 March 2012 | London UK - The need to limit costs is forcing IAM professionals to look beyond traditional technology approaches and delivery models and to take a more strategic approach to IAM.

At the Gartner Identity & Access Management Summit, we’ll focus on the practicalities of delivering a successful, mature IAM program, the challenges and opportunities of new technologies such as cloud computing, and the need to incorporate and integrate with business disciplines such as business intelligence and business process management.

Experience two days of interactive presentations, guest keynotes, real-world case studies, panel discussions, peer networking and topic-specific roundtable and workshop discussions.

View the full agenda and register here

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