Time to ‘lift the rock & expose the problems’

A new approach to addressing the problem of hidden domestic abuse in Scotland has recently received a cash boost of £869,000 from the Big Lottery Fund.  Community justice organisation, Sacro will roll out the FearLess project in 18 of Scotland’s local authorities combining a domestic abuse helpline with intensive 1 to 1 support & mentoring.  This will include a range of practical & emotional support including help with accommodation, personal finances, creating a personal safety plan, education, training and employment.

In partnership with statutory agencies, housing providers and 3 specialist third sector organisations (Shakti Women’s Aid, Respect and LGBT Youth Scotland), the project will reach out to those people who are ‘less inclined to come forward or recognise their experiences of abuse’.   This will include women from the black & ethnic minority community, LGBT people and men.

Researched Links:

BIG:  Lottery funds new, fearless approach to tackling domestic abuse

Community justice organisation, Sacro

Shakti Women’s Aid


LGBT Youth Scotland

BIG’s Becoming A Survivor programme

They have already 'paid a price'

New crackdown on domestic abuse

Electronic Monitoring

Domestic abuse pilot areas announced

New fund planned to support the victims of crime

Vital support for Domestic Abuse Charity

Criminal Justice Bill

Family mediation projects secure £1.5m Lottery funding

Reforms needed to protect victims

Human cost of corroboration

Forced marriage

Greater rights for victims & witnesses

Tackling domestic abuse

Funding to help families

Over £3m in BIG funding for two UK projects

New £8m Lottery fund to help Scots affected by domestic abuse stay safe

BIG boost for Stirling Women’s Aid

There is no justification for either male or female domestic violence or abuse

IPCC is trying to 'improve'

NICE delivers wake-up call to NHS on domestic violence

Click here to find out more April 23rd 2015 | London


Socitm Spring Conference, April 23rd 2015, London

The 29th Socitm Spring Conference will bring together over 100 digital leaders from councils, the NHS, emergency services and third sector, with the aim of supporting efforts to ‘open-up digital’.

Prices start from as little as £125 plus VAT.

Click here to visit the conference website for full details and to register.

Will it be ‘all change’ or ‘Build on what’s there’?

PMs often complain that the rest of government fails to deliver their agenda – Cameron recently griped about the ‘buggeration factor’ and Blair famously referred to the ‘scars on my back’.   But after the election, whoever is PM needs to invest in the unglamorous but essential topic of Whitehall reform, or be complicit in the likely failure to deliver on their election promises.

The next government faces repeating a common mistake of over-promising on the campaign trail and under-delivering in office, the Institute for Government cautions in a new paper - All in it Together.  The IfG says that a new administration can hope to break this cycle by building on the existing long-term reform initiatives – which are only now starting to address the entrenched weaknesses found across government departments.

Researched Links:

IfG: Next government must build on existing Whitehall reforms

IFG:  How to build an effective government

IFG:  Politicians should devolve power

HMRC 'Aspire' to unachievable transformation

Implementation is always the main issue

PASC doesn’t obfuscate when considering Sir Humphrey’s future (3rd item)

Let's face it, the bigger the organisation the more difficult it is to manage & ensure effective delivery of its 'service products'

‘We trained Hard’ Petronius (AD 166) quote

Report: Change in Government: the agenda for leadership

Government policy and the capacity for strategic thinking in Whitehall

NAO:  Assessing the impact of proposed new policies

NAO:  Reorganising central government

Whoever gets elected (& in whatever combination), the pressure to reduce costs of service provision will increase
A focus on improving & refining IT Service Management (ITSM) through the adoption & adaption of ITIL® is helping local authorities to meet objectives despite continued financial pressures.  A new case study, presented by AXELOS Global Best Practice, outlines how Essex County Council used ITIL to improve services while reducing costs.
Researched Links:

AXELOS:  Essex County Council shows how improved IT Service Management can help local government overcome budget challenges

Bigger & more potholes filled with street rubbish

More than half of what people pay in council tax will soon be spent on caring for vulnerable children & adults, creating a huge squeeze on councils' ability to fix roads, clean streets and keep libraries open.  New analysis published by the Local Government Association breaks down how every £1 of council tax is allocated by councils. 

For every £1 of council tax collected by councils in 2019/20, 60p will be spent on caring for the elderly, vulnerable adults & vulnerable children. This is up from 41p in 2010/11.  By contrast, 1p in every £1 will be spent on street cleaning & flood defences, 5p in every £1 will be spent on road maintenance & street lighting and just under 5p in every £1 will be left to fund all libraries, leisure centres, parks, museums & arts.

Researched Links:

LGA:  Majority of council tax will soon be spent on social care

The NHS is not the only ‘care service’ with a funding ‘Black Hole’

How some future savings can be made

A recent government report sets out how new measures to tackle fraud & error will save the taxpayer £2.6bn a year.  Measures include simplifying the benefit & tax credits system, more accurate monitoring of changes in income through Real Time Information (RTI) data, and improved detection of fraud & error through improved sharing of data across government.

The report – Tackling fraud, error & debt in the benefits and tax credits system – published jointly by the Department for Work and Pensions & HM Revenue & Customs - explains how changes to the benefits & tax credits system (including the full roll-out of Universal Credit with RTI) will lead to the savings.

Researched Links:

DWP:  New fraud, error & debt measures will save taxpayer £2.6bn a year

Will they also provide an extra £16m to fight tax fraud?

An opportunity that is ‘out of this world’
A ‘space’ mission this May will see up to 15 innovative UK satellite companies head to the US to secure investment & new partnerships.   Innovate UK are giving entrepreneurs from the UK’s space industry the chance to win a place on the trade mission to Boston, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley.  If you think your business could benefit from investment and developing strategic partnerships with US space companies, you can apply to attend the mission.
Researched Links:

Innovate UK:  US Space Mission will help UK entrepreneurs take off

Some of us with just the old paper licence are awaiting a free photocard when we reach 70
Updates & advice to motorists on abolition of the counterpart to the photocard driving licence.  From 8 June 2015, the paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence will not be valid and will no longer be issued by DVLA.  The counterpart was introduced to display driving licence details that could not be included on the photocard. These details include some vehicle categories you are entitled to drive and any endorsement/penalty points.  Please note; this does not affect photocard licences issued by DVA in Northern Ireland.
Researched Links:

DVSA:  Driving licence changes

The path marches ever onwards
Folkestone to Ramsgate route has been approved and Ramsgate to Whitstable route proposals have been published.
Researched Links:

NE:  England Coast Path in Kent - two steps forward

Weymouth coastal access route to be open in time for Olympic sailing

RAF supports development of Anglesey Coastal Path

Public consultation opens on improved coastal access for north Norfolk

England Coast Path: improving public access to the coast

Wales coast Path

Complete it or lose it!

If you are applying to Ofsted for registration to run or manage a social care service, the online social care application forms (SC1, SC2 and SC3) will be unavailable from 6:00pm on Tuesday 31 March until Friday 15 May 2015.  Ofsted is updating its systems for new legislation coming into force at this time.

If you have partially completed any online forms, please make sure that these are completed & submitted, and that any payments required by Ofsted are received by midday on 31 March 2015.  If you don’t do this, work you’ve done on any form you’ve not then finished will unfortunately be lost.  New online forms will be available from 15 May 2015.  In the meantime, from 1 April until 15 May 2015, you can download & print paper copies of the new application forms (SC1, SC2, SC3).

Researched Links:

Ofsted:  Online social care registration unavailable 31 March to 15 May

Proof of ability to care
All new healthcare assistants & social care support workers will be expected to get a Care Certificate within 12 weeks of employment.  The Care Certificate assesses the fundamental skills, knowledge & behaviours that are required to provide safe, effective & compassionate care.  It will be awarded to staff in health & care roles who can demonstrate that they meet each of the 15 Care Certificate standards.  It is expected that the Care Certificate requirement will be extended to NHS funded student nurses in 2016.
Researched Links:

DH:  Care Certificate launching on 1 April 2015

NHS Employers:  Care Certificate

‘More than my jobs worth’ is alive & well

From dangerous daffodils being banned on a village green, to pork crackling not on the menu at a restaurant because it might splash the chef – complaints from the public being fobbed off with ‘elf and safety excuses are at a record high.

More than 600 people approached the HSE’s Myth Busters Challenge Panel in its first 3 years after being told ‘health & safety’ stops them from doing something.  In the overwhelming majority of cases, the HSE panel has confirmed that H&S regulations do not ban the activity and that ‘health & safety’ is being used as a smokescreen, usually to hide poor customer service.

Researched Links:

DWP:  ‘Dangerous’ daffodils and 10 more ‘elf and safety myths

Wonder who gets to be ‘No. 5!’

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, has announced that the public will soon be able to choose from 5 new identity providers as well as the existing 4 providers when accessing government digital services.

GOV.UK Verify is transforming how the public identify themselves when using government services.  The new system works by letting users pick from a range of certified companies who check & verify their identity.  People simply verify their identity once in a process that takes just 15 minutes and can then use this single account whenever they subsequently use a government service, such as HMRC’s Self-Assessment tax returns.

Researched Links:

CO:  5 new providers join flagship identity verification service

As the winter ends and it starts to get warmer!
Local Authorities ‘on the front line of tackling cold homescan now apply for their share of a £25m Central Heating Fund.   The money is expected to help up to 8,000 fuel poor homes living off the gas grid stay warmer for less through the installation of complete first-time central heating systems.  New details have also been unveiled of the £1m warmth-on-prescription fund that will boost 9 local authorities in their efforts helping people in fuel poor households whose health is affected by cold homes.
Researched Links:
DECC:  The heat is on to ensure warmer, healthy homes for everyone

 More contributions to the UK constitutional debate

More news, opinions, documents, claims & counter-claims;

Researched Links:

PC&PE:  Civil servants must remain impartial in future referendums

PC&PE:  Devolution proposals process risks continued constitutional instability

ScotGov:  Scottish Fiscal Commission consultation


Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the

Newsletter Archive

Please choose from the links below to view individual sections of interest:

By 2020 more than half of council tax will be spent on social care, significantly squeezing already tight budgets for road maintenance, libraries and flood defences, according LGA analysis. Click here to see a breakdown of how money is funnelled into council services, and how this might change over the next five years.

Most Popular
No one identifies as a 'neet': why words are so important in public services

No one identifies as a 'neet': why words are so important in public services
Commissioning jargon keeps cropping up in conversations. Here’s how to get it right

Why governments need guinea pigs for policies

Why governments need guinea pigs for policies
Unless policies are tested on citizens, we won’t know how to teach kids to read or help people find jobs

Global Views
The Greek tech revolution: meet the citizens battling corruption

The Greek tech revolution: meet the citizens battling corruption
Despite technophobia and a brain drain, ordinary Greeks are using technology to tackle tax evasion

What to expect from the Women in Parliaments Summit 2015

What to expect from the Women in Parliaments Summit 2015
More than 400 female parliamentarians convene this week to discuss getting more women into power

News in Brief

• Civil servants accused of bias during Scotland's independence referendum
• Durham council leader is assembling a regional authority in the north-east
• Councils face £100m bill for surge in legal safeguards for vulnerable people
• Transport for London Bill falls but wider public land issue remains
• Indian civil servants to get free – and potentially compulsory – daily yoga lessons