Welcome to WiredGov Plus

WiredGov Plus provides a weekly roundup of news from the UK Government and Public Sector. To save your time, we research & validate the links to websites / documents and selectively add additional background links as appropriate.

Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive

A silent memory!

The FM of Wales, Carwyn Jones, is calling upon the people of Wales to pause & remember the Aberfan disaster with a minute’s silence at 9.15am on Friday 21 October 2016; exactly 50 years after the tragedy took place.

The 1966 disaster claimed the lives of 144 people, 116 of them primary school children, when a spoil tip containing waste material from coal mining slid down from its position on the hillside above the village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil.

Researched Links:

WAG:  Remember the people of Aberfan, says FM

BBC On This Day | 21 | 1966: Aberfan - a generation wiped out

Aberfan: decent men, led astray | Health and Safety at Work

Aberfan 1966 - AGOR

Aberfan Disaster Documentary - YouTube

This Is Tragedy - British Pathé

Aberfan 1966-2016 | Hiraeth

Aberfan disaster - The National Archives


With over 2,500 IT users and services spread across more than 90 separate buildings, many of which were outdated and inefficient to run, Bath & North East Somerset Council (BANES) operating costs were too high and staff were far too scattered for effective communication and collaboration.

A recent property rationalisation programme has seen the closure of a number of offices with services centralised in a new civic centre. This building is part of a £34 million regeneration project, achieving the top-level Display Energy Certificate (DEC) rating of A for energy efficiency (held by less than 1 per cent of public buildings in the UK).

The plan also included a large increase in flexible working with hot desks in the new building and a much greater degree of working from home.

BANES’ virtual desktop has been very successful. All main council offices have a ratio of two desks to three people. Staff members can sit wherever they choose to support their day’s work, encouraging cross-functional collaboration and ad hoc teaming.

As a result, the council has closed seven major offices and reduced total floor space by 40 per cent, enabling revenue savings of £3.5m per year.

Click here to find out more and access this latest case study.

The sad loss of babies / children still happens for some on a daily basis

Babyloss Awareness Week is held annually from 09 – 15 October.  Involving 21 pregnancy & baby loss charities in the UK, it’s a special opportunity to mark the brief lives of babies lost in pregnancy or soon after birth.  The Miscarriage Association’s National Director, Ruth Bender Atik, takes a look at how we can improve experiences of care when loss occurs.

For many if not most women and their partners, a positive pregnancy test means a ‘baby’ – not ‘fetus’ or ‘embryo’, so if they experience a miscarriage, however early in the pregnancy, that is what they are losing, along with their hopes, plans and dreams for their future child.

Of course that’s not true for everyone – not every pregnancy is greeted with joy and for some miscarriage may come with a sense of relief – but for many, feelings of shock, loss and grief can hit them hard.

Researched Links:

NHS England:  Caring for patients with pregnancy loss

When Mother & baby are at their most vulnerable

NICE guidance recommends new tests to help rule-out pregnancy complication and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions

Kings Fund - Feedback from service users is crucial for improvement in maternity care

NHS England prepare to invest in 3 new units for mums with mental ill health

NHS England kickstarts programme to help 30,000 more new or expectant mums with serious mental illness

NHS sets out plan to road test maternity services of the future

LGA:  Tackling mental illness in children should begin before birth

Improvements needed for how newborn babies and infants with complex health problems are cared for

Infant cremations

From review to implementation: embedding the 2020 vision for maternity services – Baroness Julia Cumberlege

All pregnant women to receive vitamins

Patients Association Welcomes Personal Pregnancy Plans

Pregnant women warned of health risk from animals giving birth

Finalising the Maternity Review report – Baroness Julia Cumberlege

NICE publishes new guideline to reduce premature birth rates

NICE issues standard on improving maternal and child nutrition

NICE publishes guidelines to tackle premature birth and manage breathing disorders in children

Thousands of women confront mental health issues in thriving community perinatal scheme

NHS England announces new action to cut stillbirths

Over £2m investment in safer maternity care

Rubella susceptibility screening in pregnancy to end in England

NICE says more evidence needed on promising new tests to help diagnose pregnancy complication

There is no ‘Soft’ option; the ICO will come down ‘Hard’ on non-compliance

The Information Commissioner’s Office is warning business leaders that transparency with customers is fundamental if they want to succeed in the digital economyA new code of practice has recently been launched by the ICO which sets out how organisations should explain to people how they’re using their personal information.  It follows an ICO survey which found that only 1 in 4 adults trust businesses with their information.

The recent Privacy Notices guidance launch reinforces the message set out in Elizabeth Denham’s first speech as UK Information Commissioner that transparency & trust are essential to reputation & innovation in business.

The code of practice is the first piece of guidance published by the ICO that has been written to explain how to comply with both the existing Data Protection Act and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). EU countries must comply with the GDPR from 25 May 2018 (i.e. BEFORE Brexit is likely to happen)

Researched Links:

ICO:  Transparency with customers vital to success in digital economy

How to Prepare for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Brexit’s Article 50 ‘negotiating period’ will probably not end until at least 4+months of EU GDPR regulation

A Guide to GDPR Grade Security for Government

AXELOS:  ITIL® Practitioner - Be Transparent

£50k p.a. each up to the age of 25!

The French Interior Minister and British Home Secretary have agreed to work together to ensure the successful dismantling of the Calais camp.  A meeting on Monday 10 October 2016, focused on the strengthening of Franco-British cooperation in Calais, specifically in relation to the protection of children before, during & after the planned dismantling of the camp.  Both the UK and French governments jointly agreed that the safety of vulnerable children in Calais is their utmost priority.

Amber Rudd confirmed the British government’s support for the French authorities in order to address the humanitarian situation in the camp and to protect the shared border.  The British government will work to ensure the success of this operation, particularly in relation to 3 key points:

Firstly, in order to respond to the various humanitarian challenges in Calais, the Amiens agreement between the 2 countries of March 2016 which foresaw the resettlement of isolated minors in Calais with established family ties in the UK will be implemented & enlarged.

Secondly, France and the UK’s close cooperation against illegal immigration networks targeting the UK will be strengthened, with the aim of definitively ending all criminal activity carried out by people-smugglers.  31 smuggling networks have already been dismantled since the beginning of the year

Thirdly, British financial investment in Calais to help tackle the impact of migratory pressures in Calais – amounting to over €100m in the last 2 years – will be expanded to ensure the overall longer term security of the border and to contribute to the resettlement of migrants outside of Calais as part of the clearance operation.

Researched Links:

Home Office:  Joint press statement from Bernard Cazeneuve and Amber Rudd

Children’s Commissioner:  Anne Longfield comments on closure of Calais refugee camp

WAG:  Joint statement from the First Minister and Welsh charities on child refugees

Unicef UK Statement: response to the Home Secretary’s comments on safeguarding refugee children in Calais

Statement from Unicef special coordinator for the Refugee & Migrant crisis in Europe

Children’s Commissioner:  Countdown to Calais camp closure: clock is ticking to protect children

Editorial Comment: Helping refugees is not the only important issue to consider when dividing the ‘economic cake

Illustrating the potential cost of ‘open borders’ for refugees

SME Supplier Locator update...

UK Government and public sector spend with SME’s is continually on the increase and by 2020, it is the stated intent of Cabinet Office that £1 of every £3 spent on government contracts goes to SME’s. The past 5 years have seen government make a priority of getting money through its supply chain into the hands of SMEs, by both setting targets and introducing new procurement mechanisms.

Against this backdrop, the WiredGov Supplier Locator service has been developed specifically to embrace the SME Agenda and provide the ideal platform for SME’s to promote their services, solutions, accreditation and success stories directly to our ever increasing audience across all government and public sector verticals and Tier 1 suppliers.

Click here to find out more and view this week’s new arrivals to the SME Supplier Locator service. 

It is not just a question of funding; more likely one of leadership & management

The Department for Education has recognised since 2010 that child protection services are not good enough but its subsequent response has not yet resulted in better outcomes.

Spending on children’s social work, including on child protection, varies widely across England and is not related to quality.  Neither the DfE nor authorities understand why spending varies, according to a National Audit Office report.

Researched Links:

NAO:  Children in need of help or protection

Children’s Commissioner comments on NAO's report on Children in Need of Care or Protection

LGA responds to NAO report on children in need of help or protection

While some records are critical / important (child protection, immunisation, etc.)...

Should have been done years ago

Impacts on all parts of UK

Before you have ‘a place of safety’ one needs ‘a system that identifies a need for safety and then acts to meet that need’

If it wasn’t for Grexit and Tunisia this would be front page news

‘Root & Branch’ reform is so difficult to achieve despite the best of intentions

While being ‘relentless in our search for the truth’, we must be careful to highlight any good practices

Unlike Manchester, No TV headlines for this report!

Sorting out NHS & Social care is on a par with Brexit; All are critical to our financial future

Stephen Dalton, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, has responded to the CQC State of Care report released last week:  “The report shows that the NHS is being stretched to the limit, especially after additional pressure caused by ongoing cuts to social care, mental health and public health.……

A major concern is the sustainability of social care provision. The CQC report exposes that one consequence of cuts to social care is a "race to the bottom" when awarding contracts to care providers. This means contracts are being handed back and providers withdrawing from this market."

Researched Links:

NHS Confederation:  CQC report shows a stretched NHS that needs social care to be better funded

CQC:  State of care

LGA responds to Care Quality Commission Report on Adult Social Care

LGA warns £2.6bn could be needed to fix social care

Is joined-up care really about to happen?

Like pensions, most people don’t think about their care needs in old age

This is NOT just a case of inadequate resources

Is the answer no diesel & electric cars 2030 at the latest?
Harry Quilter-Pinner, IPPR researcher on health, has responded to the Mayor of London’s announcement of a new consultation on tackling air pollution in London.
Researched Links:

Air pollution in London - IPPR response to launch of Mayor's consultation ~ Breathing may endanger your health!

Saving the world!

Poor air quality is not something that you can always ‘see’

Why do they love electric cars in the Arctic Circle? - BBC News

EV Norway | Norsk elbilforening

All new cars mandated to be electric in Germany by 2030

We need a ‘front rank’ digital future (especially with Brexit) 
BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, has started its annual hunt for today’s academics & industrialists who deserve to be recognised for their contribution to computer science & engineering.  The Institute is inviting nominations (by 16 January 2017) for its two annual academic awards; the Lovelace Medal, for senior academics & industrialists, and the Roger Needham* Award (sponsored by Microsoft Research), for those at mid-career.

BCS:  Nominations invited for 2017 BCS Lovelace Medal and Roger Needham Award

Being white & middle-class should not make one a ‘more suitable’ candidate for promotion, but it appears to do so!

Unite, the union, is reaching out to NHS workplaces to combat the scourge of racism that holds back the promotion prospects of black Asian and ethnic minority (BAEM) workers in the health serviceUnite in Health, which has 100,000 members in the health service, has launched its Race Ahead In Health toolkit aimed at tackling race discrimination in the workplace.

A recent Unite snapshot survey of its BAEM members revealed lack of promotion for BAEM workers; racial harassment & bullying; and race discrimination in the job market.  The launch of the toolkit will be accompanied by the offer of training by Unite to NHS staff & managers to tackle conscious & unconscious bias, and opposing race discrimination in the workplace.

Researched Links:

Unite toolkit launched to combat racism in the NHS

This ‘Train’ looks like it might leave the platform next year

The Transport Secretary has confirmed that the government is committed to pressing ahead with HS2 to tackle the looming capacity crisis the rail network faces and to help boost jobs & regeneration along the line of the route and across the country.  Construction is due to begin on the scheme in the first half of 2017.

He has also confirmed plans to make £70m of government funds available to support local communities and road safety along the route between London and the West Midlands.

Researched Links:

DfT:  Transport Secretary confirms government commitment to HS2

IEA:  HS2 decision is economically unjustifiable

Instead of imposing the controversial, noisy & dubiously beneficial HS2 on the Shires, why not start with the ‘urgently needed’ HS3 & other road / rail improvements in the North

Will this ‘power-up’ the northern economy?

Editor’s Commentary: The devil is in the detail with consultations

An independent Scotland could require more than the ‘benefits of £24bn’ to both pay for the extension of HS2 and the subsidies of the existing railway(s)

PC&PE:  Government must 'get a grip' on monitoring rail franchise agreements

Remember the days of Sandwich courses and Day release / Evening Classes?

CIPD research suggests that for too many jobs the cost of university outweighs the economic benefits, and that the prevailing rhetoric on the need to get more & more young people into university needs to change. 

The report by the CIPD finds that, for a wide range of occupations which have seen significant increases in graduate rates over the last 35 years, alternative vocational routes into employment are both possible & less costly, with a smaller proportion of this lower cost falling on the learner.

The Alternative pathways into the labour market report is published at a time when the average student is now leaving university with £44,000 of debt and, even by the Government’s own estimates, 45% of the value of student loans will not be repaid.  The report calls into question the continued focus on the ‘graduate premium’, with previous CIPD research showing that more than half of graduates were working in non-graduate jobs after they left university.  Furthermore, Brexit makes it even more important that the UK’s investment in education & skills delivers value for learners, employers and the economy.

Researched Links:

CIPD:  Government needs to end ‘conveyor belt’ approach to university and do more to create & promote high-quality vocational pathways into work

Reducing confusion of route to gaining technical skills

A Degree’s value depends on its degree of requirement by employers

Some of the ‘brightest & best’ choose an alternative to university

Only the highest standards are good enough

Celebrating the resurgence of apprenticeships

Don’t take this scam lying down
Complaints about cheap ‘fireball’ mattresses sold online or from the ‘back of a van' have soared in some towns & cities, prompting a safety warning by councils & fire authorities.  They often come with professional looking paperwork to buyers, but this contains false or limited contact details which makes it almost impossible for a consumer to get their money back under the 14-day ‘cooling off period'.

LGA:  ‘Back of a van' fire-risk mattress scam prompts warning by councils

Reward those who ‘go the extra mile for others’
There is less than 1 week to go until the close of nominations in the St David Awards.  The Awards acknowledge the achievements and great deeds & contributions made by people from all walks of life of people the length & breadth of Wales.  Closing date for nominations is midnight on the 21 October 2016.

WAG:  Give your local heroes the recognition they deserve

Faulty defibrillator warning
People & organisations should check if they have the defibrillator models, LIFEPAK CR Plus and LIFEPAK EXPRESS Automatic External Defibrillators (AED), because an electrical fault.   Approximately 2,577 devices are defective.

MHRA:  Faulty defibrillator warning


 More contributions following EU Referendum

Still a ‘hot topic’, with widely spread views, for those who put fingers to keyboard in order to ‘share their views’:

Researched Links:

NEF:  Building A New Economy Where People Really Take Control

NEF:  Political Leaders Ignore Remain Voters At Their Peril

techUK Joins Business Leaders in Open Letter on Brexit Negotiations

CBI: Protect London's position as magnet for workers from all over the world

DfE:  Funding support for EU students

WAG:  EU student funding guarantee for Welsh universities extended

FDA:  Government can’t rely on ‘make do & mend’ approach to civil service delivering Brexit, says FDA

FRC: Speech by Sir Win Bischoff, FRC Chairman - Financial Services BREXIT summit


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:

Local authority chief executives were in Newcastle last week for their annual conference, where newly-elected president Jo Miller, chief executive of Doncaster, told them she would champion women, inclusion and diversity. Some of the same themes emerged when Dawn Foster interviewed the elected mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees.
There has been much complaint about the lack of diversity among mayoral candidates, particularly for the metro mayor elections next year - Rees is an exception, though he notes that there is a stark lack of women being selected. He wants to see greater diversity not just in politics, but from within the council too.
“Our case on diversity doesn’t start with the idea that it’s a nice thing to have for fluffy liberals. This is an essential part of getting a competent leadership that understands its city and can design services right first time,” he says.
Also on the network last week, a piece by Rob Whiteman, former chief executive of the UK Border Agency, on why the government should offer an amnesty to the UK's illegal immigrants.
"I believe the public is ready for a mature debate where the outcome is a country that, post-Brexit, is more comfortable about the role of immigration in our economy and society," he writes. That remains to be seen.

Also on the network

Why the government should offer an amnesty to the UK's illegal immigrants

Why the government should offer an amnesty to the UK's illegal immigrants
Closing long term cases would allow a short-staffed Home Office to focus on higher risk areas and improve post-Brexit border control

After the army, I had post-traumatic stress disorder. Now I run a cafe

After the army, I had post-traumatic stress disorder. Now I run a cafe
This year’s World Mental Health Day focuses on dealing with trauma. As a former soldier, I know how hard it is to ask for help

Easier, cheaper travel needs joined-up government thinking

Easier, cheaper travel needs joined-up government thinking
Increased data sharing and confidence about long-term investment is needed to boost better transport, according to our transport experts

News in brief
• Hundreds of jobs at risk as councils publish budget plans
• Paul Maltby to leave Government Digital Service
• Cabinet Office recruiting new director of civil service group
• Department for Transport sets up Brexit-focused trade team
• Child protection services judged 'unsatisfactory and inconsistent'