In the News
DCSF: But where will the funding come from to implement them? - Parents & pupils were given details of the currently existing & new guarantees they can expect from schools, when Ed Balls launched a consultation (closes on 5 April 2010) alongside the second reading of the Children, Schools and Families Bill.
Details of the guarantees were published in the Pupil & Parent Guarantee Document, which will have similar legal standing as the admissions code, setting out what pupils & parents should expect from schools and how they can ensure that they receive the best education possible.
In addition, the Government also launched a new consultation (closes on 5 April 2010) on changes to the role of School Improvement Partners and responded to the consultation on Home Education.
NAO: Symptomatic of the general level of efficiency in the NHS? - While the Department of Health has developed an ambitious & comprehensive strategy for dementia, there has not yet been a robust approach to implementation, according to a National Audit Office report.
Despite the Department stating, since 2007, that dementia is now a national priority, it has not been given the levers or urgency normally expected for such a priority and there is a risk that value for money will remain poor unless these weaknesses are addressed urgently.
The Department does not have evidence on current & future costs and benefits; the strategy is likely to cost much more than the estimated £1.9bn over 10 years. The Department also expects implementation of the strategy to be mostly funded through efficiency savings arising from the acute hospital and long-term care sectors.
However, this will be difficult to achieve without joined-up, well-informed commissioning and the actual releasing or re-directing of resources from secondary to primary care, or from NHS to social care is likely to be difficult to achieve in the short to medium term, particularly in a time of financial constraint.
There is as yet no basic training for healthcare professionals on how to understand & work with people with dementia. Strong leadership is also key to improving services, but this is not yet in place in local NHS and social care delivery organisations.
There is not yet enough joined-up working between health & social care services for people with dementia: for example, demand for care homes is going to rise, but the independent care home sector feels excluded from the strategy.
MoJ: But how does it personally penalise those at fault rather than just cut the resources of a service? - The government has published its response to the public consultation 'Civil Monetary Penalties - Setting the maximum penalty' and has laid new regulations before Parliament to bring these penalties into force.
'Civil Monetary Penalties - Setting the maximum penalty' asked for views on whether new fines of up to £500,000 would provide the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) with a proportionate sanction to impose on those who either deliberately or knowingly seriously contravene the data protection principles.
The government's response to the consultation, also published last week, indicates that a majority of respondents supported the government's proposal to set a maximum penalty of £500,000. The civil monetary framework regulations, laid last week, provides the legislative structure to bring the Information Commissioner's power to serve these penalty notices into force.
NAO: Will there be anyone left to answer the phones with post-election staff cuts? - HM Revenue and Customs' performance in answering telephone calls in 2008-09 was well below its own targets & industry standards, the National Audit Office has reported.
In its Customer Contact Directorate, which answers 95% of calls to the Department's contact centres, only 57% of 103m call attempts were answered, compared with 71% in the year before and an industry benchmark of over 90%.
Recognising that this level of performance was unacceptable, the Department launched initiatives to improve its management of caller demand. There have been signs of significant improvement in 2009-2010, with the percentage of calls answered rising to 73% in the first half of the year. The Directorate has introduced a change programme with the aim of answering 90% of calls at around 30% less cost by March 2012.
NE: For our Children’s, Children’s sake - Lundy Island, one of England’s most spectacular marine habitats, has become England’s first Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ). Its new status establishes it as the first example of the new approach to marine protection being taken under the Marine and Coastal Access Act, which will contribute towards the creation of the network of ecologically coherent and well-managed marine protected areas by 2012.
The new Zone will cover the same area as the former Marine Nature Reserve (and is being created by the automatic legal transition from MNR to MCZ). A timetable for developing conservation objectives, and for carrying out public consultation on them, is currently under consideration by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The existing management of the island’s waters, including the No Take Zone, will remain in place unchanged.
WAG: Help for that oldest of New Year resolutions - The Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones and Wales’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Jewell have set out plans to get the nation more physically active. Creating an Active Wales sets out the steps the Welsh Assembly Government will take, with partners, to achieve an active, healthy and inclusive Wales.
The action plan focuses on 4 strategic aims, to;
* develop a physical environment that makes it easier for people to choose to be more physically active
* support children & young people to live active lives & become active adults
* encourage more adults to be more active, more often throughout life
* increase participation in sport, by all sectors of the population
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For information on other forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
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