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DfES: Complaints are a necessary part of the learning process - The Department of Health has launched a consultation paper (closes 17 October 2007) on a new approach to dealing with complaints in health and social care which is supposed to make it easier for people to complain when things go wrong.
It is intended to; make the whole experience of making a complaint easier, more user-friendly, co-operative and much more responsive to people's needs, involving an independent element where required. It also emphasises that health & social care services should routinely learn from complaints, feeding into service improvement.
Currently there are separate complaints procedures for health and adult social care which make it particularly difficult for people who use a combination of services to make a complaint, or for those services to respond. There are also different arrangements for children's complaints.
The different systems are not easy for people to understand and are seen as lengthy & bureaucratic, so some people feel too intimidated, or worried about the potential impact a complaint may have on their relationship with their social worker or GP. As a result people may choose not to complain, problems are not dealt with and an opportunity for learning is lost.
Home Office: Migration is, like global warming, a global problem needing a global approach - The Government has vowed to use its international relations to strengthen the UK's border controls, crack down on migration abuse and tackle trafficking. Home Secretary John Reid has announced that the UK and US should routinely share information about travellers of interest, people using false documents and other immigration offenders.
Immigration Minister Liam Byrne and Lord Triesman, the Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Returns, also met with their new French counterpart to begin discussions on new measures to strengthen both countries' borders.
The ministers signed a treaty which will pave the way for successful juxtaposed controls to continue when Eurostar relocates its London operations to St Pancras and Ebbsfleet. The agreements mark the recent launch of the Borders and Immigration Agency (BIA) international strategy: Managing Global Migration, which sets out the UK's global plans in the fight to halt illegal immigration.
The strategy describes how the Government will:
  • put migration at the heart of many of our bilateral and multilateral relationships
  • make greater use of biometric data and share data legally with our international partners
  • intensify our efforts to work with our partners to tackle human smuggling & trafficking, and
  • work with EU partners to reduce 'asylum shopping' across Europe
Defra: A walk along the Seaside - Plans to open up the whole of England's coastline to the public have been set out by Environment Secretary David Miliband in a consultation paper (closes 11 September 2007). At present parts of the English coastline are out of bounds to walkers who find their routes blocked and are forced to make detours inland.
Ministers favour a strip allowing access along the full length of the coast as well as access to headland, coves & beaches, so that a continuous route will always be available as close to the coast as possible. The consultation seeks views on four options:
  • Use existing rights of way legislation to create a footpath all round the coast
  • Extend open access using the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000
  • Voluntary agreements with landowners using existing mechanisms
  • New legislation to allow Natural England to designate a coastal corridor
DfES: Hopefully joined-up services will result in better chances to achieve full potential - The Department for Education and Skills, Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health have joined forces to demonstrate their collective resolve to improve the outcomes for all learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and show their commitment to ensuring learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities are given the best chance to achieve their full potential.
'Progression through Partnership' is the Governments' joint response to 'Through Inclusion to Excellence'. Known as the 'Little Report', it sets out plans for:
  • Increased joint policy development
  • Improvements in provision and services
  • Workforce performance
  • The development of joint evaluation and monitoring systems
  • Specific activities with delivery partners around issues requiring immediate attention
Press release ~ 'Progression through Partnership' ~ 'Through Inclusion to Excellence' ~ CLG: A Framework for Fairness: Proposals for a Single Equality Bill for Great Britain - A Consultation Paper ~ Good Practice guides and related documents ~ DH - Learning disabilities ~ Disability Rights Commission’s Formal Investigation into Health Inequalities for people with learning disabilities and mental health problems ~ Connects: the Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Portal ~ Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability ~ Learning disabilities white paper ~ CSIP: Our initiatives: Learning disabilities ~ Valuing People Support team ~ Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities ~ Survey of adults with learning difficulties in England 2003/4: Final and summary reports ~ British Institute of Learning Disabilities ~ NLH - Learning Disabilities ~ LDUK

CLG: Better service or just a way of cutting Public Sector staff? - Local Government Minister, Phil Woolas has unveiled a new strategy for delivering housing related support services to vulnerable people with a key role for the third sector at its heart. The Supporting People Strategy builds on the current programme which the government claims helps more than a million people a year maintain their independence, through housing related support services.
Currently £1.7bn is allocated through the Supporting People programme to provide the life skills, such as cooking & budgeting which vulnerable people need to maintain their independence in a settled home. The Supporting People strategy outlines the vital role of the third sector and asks them to help in shaping how the programme will be delivered in the future.
The strategy also suggests exploring new approaches that would give service users greater say about the services they receive through the Individual Budget pilots and new 'Charters for Independent Living'. The charters would provide a clearly set out statement of service outlining what services people can expect to access locally.
Press release ~ Supporting People Strategy ~ Supporting Peoples Strategy Toolkit ~ Independent Living Funds ~ NAO: The implementation of full cost recovery ~ Office of the Third Sector ~ National Councils for Voluntary Action (NAVCA) ~ National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NVCO) ~ Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Associations (ACEVO)Full Cost Recovery ~ Mind the Gap: A funders’ guide to full cost recovery ~ Charities and Public Service Delivery (CC37) ~ Policy statement ‘Charities and public service delivery'NAO: Working with the Third Sector ~ Financial relationships with third sector organisations - NAO ~ Third Sector Network ~ National Centre for Independent Living ~

NAO: Still mainly just ‘Talking the talk’ , rather than ‘Walking the walk’ - Local authorities should work more collaboratively with voluntary & community organisations to help them improve the delivery of public services, according to a report by the National Audit Office, which looked at whether Local Area Agreements (LAAs) are helping to promote better value for money in the way government works with third sector organisations (TSOs) to deliver public services and examined the impact LAAs have had on the role of TSOs in the delivery of public services.

The NAO found that government has put in place a range of initiatives to support TSOs and to encourage public bodies to work with them, but LAAs include only limited references to the third sector and there are as yet no visible changes in local patterns of service provision or in local public bodies’ funding practices towards the third sector. Where changes have occurred, they are due to other initiatives rather than to LAAs.

Among the NAO’s recommendations are that the DCLG and the Government Offices should encourage local bodies to consider third sector organisations as potential partners in the delivery of public services, alongside other private & public partners. The Office of the Third Sector and the Treasury should promote awareness of guidance on the third sector and should find ways of spreading good practices more widely.

This report is the second of three reviews of the third sector’s relationship with government, which NAO is publishing in summer 2007. The first examined ‘full cost recovery’, while the third will look at the public funding of large national charities.
Press release ~ Local Area Agreements and the Third Sector: Public Service Delivery ~ Local Area Agreements (LAAs) ~ Office of the Third Sector (in the Cabinet Office) ~ Government Offices for the Regions (GOs) ~ National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA) ~ NAO: The implementation of full cost recovery (1st of 3 reports) – See also item above: CLG: Better service or just a way of cutting Public Sector staff?

DfES: Caring about long-term outcomes for those ‘in care’ - Big business will offer children in care private tutors, apprenticeships and management training as part of the Government's package of measures to give them a better start in life, Education Secretary Alan Johnson announced when launching the Care Matters White Paper last week.

Measures in the White Paper include a £500 annual education budget for each child in care at risk of falling behind in their education to spend on books & after school activities and a £2,000 university bursary.

Children in care will also have their education overseen by a 'virtual school head', who will take responsibility for all the children in care in their area. In addition, children in care have also been given the highest priority in school admissions, with an expectation that they will get places in the best schools, even if they are full.

The Care Matters White Paper will also give children the right to stay in care up to the age of 18, or even to remain with foster carers up to the age of 21. They will also have the support of a personal advisor up to the age of 25 to help provide a smooth the transition to adulthood and support the young person until they are ready to cope on their own.

The Government is also publishing a consultation on its revised version of Volume One of the Children's Act 1989 guidance and regulations ‘Court Orders’ (closes 28 September 2007).
Press release
~ White Paper: Care Matters: Time for Change ~ Making Good Progress project ~ HSBC Global Education Trust ~ HSBC Management Academy Programme ~ Looked-after children - Every Child Matters ~ Educational achievement of looked-after children - ECM ~ Court Orders consultation ~ DfES: Looked-after children – the struggle for stability ~ Green Paper and responses to consultation ~ Prince's Trust - Care ~ Carelaw : A guide for young people in care ~ Review of the Child Care Proceedings System in England and Wales ~ Looked After Children and Young People: We Can and Must Do Better ~ Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) ~ Outcome Indicators for Looked after Children ~ Children’s Commissioner ~ Your Voice, Your Choice ~ Education Protects - Collecting & Using Data to Improve Education Outcomes for Children in Public Care ~ Childline information sheet ~ Useful Links ~ JRF: Barriers to change in the social care of children

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