The smarter way to develop a national infrastructure
techUK, the voice of the UK technology industry, has launched the UK's first smart infrastructure initiative, SmarterUK.  With a focus on Energy & Utilities, Transport & Smart Cities, SmarterUK will be the national champion for smart infrastructure development in the UK, committed to growing the market and overcoming obstacles to its development.
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Engaging Connected Citizens with Digital Services

As internet user habits evolve and the explosion of bandwidth-hungry applications continues, Councils across the UK are under increasing pressure to deliver cost-efficient, scalable and uninterrupted digital services to their citizens, staff and remote offices.

These latest case studies detail how:

  • The Diocese of Hereford collaborated to deliver superfast, highly reliable internet service via a network of antennae fitted onto church towers across the most rural region of England.
  • Dundee City Council met the challenge of providing a wireless connection enabilng high-speed broadband to its user community on budget and within a secure, compliant environment.

Click here to receive both case studies.

A chance to prove your idea works
The STFC Hartree Centre has announced the launch of a £50,000 competition for UK SMEs to win ‘Proof of Principle’ vouchers to help them unlock the business opportunities offered by the Internet of Things (IOT).  The competition is building on the Hartree’s transformation of STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory into an IoT ‘living lab’ – one that is instrumented, interconnected & intelligent.  Application forms can be downloaded from the website and must be submitted by Friday 20th November 2015.
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An alternative option for the Chancellor to ‘think about’?

The government should replace tax credits, Jobseeker’s Allowance, the Universal Credit, and most other major welfare payments with a single Negative Income Tax (NIT), according to a new report (Free Market Welfare: The case for a Negative Income Tax) from the Adam Smith Institute.  This NIT would act as a minimum income guarantee for all British citizens and be tapered away as people’s earnings rise through work.

Britain’s existing welfare programmes are ‘costly to administer, complicated to navigate, & designed for a postwar-style labour market that no longer exists’, and the paper argues abolishing the existing system would save the DWP up to £6bn in administrative costs.   The payment scheme is structured so that the claimant is always better off working more hours or taking higher wages than in their current position. These payments would be automatic for workers within the PAYE system.
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Editorial Commentary;
Another ‘omnishambles’ or brilliant political ‘trap’?

While Labour & LibDems ‘crow’ over their recent political victory it might be worth looking at what has happened from a Conservative viewpoint;

  • You win an unexpected election majority, after promising £12bn in welfare cuts in the expectation of being able to reduce this amount in the negotiations with your junior coalition partner, and you face the problem of being ‘held’ to these savings, by the Opposition, media and voters.
  • You realise that achieving that figure in the promised timescale is impossible without seriously annoying many of your ‘floating voters’, but you will be ‘crucified’ by the Opposition & media if you don’t achieve your savings target on schedule, especially as it has been voted through the HoC 3 times in a democratic vote.
  • You ‘stir up’ the issue in the HoL so that Labour & the LibDems only think about the immediate ‘victory’, rather than giving the Tories ‘enough rope to hang themselves’ as the cuts begin to bite next April.  Added to which the Tories are now able to claim that ‘We would have made the savings on schedule if it hadn’t been for the unelected Peers voting it out’.  More ‘Brilliant political trap’ than ‘Omnishambles’ one would have thought!
Local democracy restored
Greater responsibility for the governance of Tower Hamlets Borough Council will now fall to the mayor, Greg Clark.  From last weekend, the government’s commissioners will no longer have the power to directly run the council, but will continue to carry out some functions and will oversee further improvements, which will be led by the mayor.

CLG:  Day-to-day running of Tower Hamlets to return to the council

Eternal Vigilance is price of democracy

‘Sticking Plaster’ agreed
The past weeks have shown that the challenges currently faced along the Western Balkans migration route will not be solved through national actions.  Last week, leaders representing Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia & Slovenia met in Brussels and agreed to ‘improve cooperation & step up consultation between the countries along the route and decided on pragmatic operational measures that can be implemented as of tomorrow to tackle the refugee crisis in the region’.
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Timely announcement
The ICO has signed an agreement to be part of a new technical solution for international agencies involved in privacy enforcement, the GPEN Alert, which is intended to be a secure & confidential information sharing tool for Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN) members.

Information Commissioner's Office:  Alert to help cross border privacy enforcement

ICO issues £200,000 fine for unsolicited text messages

Hitting the spot with ‘smart’ funding
A novel interactive rebound wall for ball games has made its debut on BT Spot’s Football Tonight show.  Former England star Michael Owen was the first to test his talents against a wall designed especially for the show by WallJAM.  Innovate UK provided support through Smart awards totaling £75,000 for proof-of-market & prototype development.
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Recognising excellence in Social Value
The Cabinet Office has opened nominations for the Social Value Awards, which recognise & celebrate good practice in commissioning & providing social value.  Nominate people or organisations for the awards by completing the online form by 20 November 2015.  The Cabinet Office has also announced almost £30,000 funding for 8 social value projects around the country.
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Sweetest ‘Policy’ in Whitehall
The first jars of honey produced from Defra’s beehives have been collected.  Defra’s first yield of 6.5kg have been bottled with the label ‘Whitehall Honey’ – just in time for National Honey Week.  Defra installed beehives on the roof of Defra’s building in Westminster to demonstrate government commitment to improve health & well-being of pollinators.  The government’s National Pollinator Strategy, which was launched last year, aims to raise awareness of what pollinators need to thrive.  As part of the strategy, Defra launched the Bees’ Needs campaign, which consists of 5 simple actions.
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Patient Safety Alert
A PSA has been issued by NHS England to support providers of NHS funded care to minimise the risk of distress & death caused by inappropriate doses of naloxone.  The new ‘Stage 2: Resource’ alert highlights a number of resources now available to help providers ensure their local protocols & training related to naloxone reflect best practice.  These resources have been developed in response to a previous Patient Safety Alert issued in November 2014 to raise awareness of the risk.
NHS England:  Patient safety alert – Support to minimise the risk of distress & death from inappropriate doses of naloxone

 More contributions to the UK constitutional debate

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

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ScotGov:  Steel talks

Wales Office:  Stephen Crabb "The world won't wait for Wales"


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Newsletter Archive

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

The sugar tax campaign is gaining momentum and so is the revelation of bacon's carcinogenic credentials, Meanwhile, it was the Open Government Partnership summit last week, with 2,000 people travelling to Mexico to talk about transparency. Will it actually bring about positive change to global democracy or is it just a PR stunt? Involve's Simon Burall explains why we shouldn't be wholly cynical.

Also on the network
Open government summit: PR stunt or a chance for real change?

Open government summit: PR stunt or a chance for real change?
It’s easy to be cynical, especially when the UK is rethinking the FoI Act, but OGP can achieve reform

Public sector employers should pay all their staff the real living wage

Public sector employers should pay all their staff the real living wage
Legislation for real living wage might cost too many jobs, but government should at least set a good example

*New series* | tackling financial exclusion
Councils want to help people in financial crisis, but reality is bleak – on both sides

Councils want to help people in financial crisis, but reality is bleak – on both sides
Cash-strapped local authorities are looking for new ways to combat poverty and offer support

'I felt out of control with my finances, stuck at home having panic attacks'

'I felt out of control with my finances, stuck at home having panic attacks'
Low paid social tenants have little leeway for budgeting errors, but many lack basic maths skills

News in brief
• Controversial powers to instruct civil servants ushered in for spads
• Chuka Umunna called for the wholesale federalisation of Britain
• Medical groups warned that public health cuts undermine extra NHS funding
• Tax credits cuts could leave public sector staff up to £12,000 poorer
• Tories are rethinking tax credit cuts after Lords defeat