In the News
ACE: Great art despite the cuts - A new National portfolio funding programme will, from April 2012, replace the Arts Council's current regularly funded system.
Central to this new funding system is ‘Achieving great art for everyone’, a strategic framework for the arts, which will provide the policy context for ACE investment in the arts with 5 clear strategic goals informing future funding decisions (in the context of an almost 30% cut in ACE funding from government).
The new system is open-application, with all organisations invited to apply online. Applications must be received by 10am on 24 January 2011 and decisions on the national portfolio organisations will be announced at the end of March 2011.
Newswire – LGA: A cheaper (but effective alternative) to personal care - High-tech gadgetry is saving £ms on care for the elderly while helping them stay in the homes they love. Pioneering research from one council shows modern technology could save its health system £7.5m a year. If expanded across England & Wales this would represent savings of £270m and extra years of independence & dignity for users.
DWP: Those that work & pay taxes don’t see why those who don’t, can’t, unless they are truly physically unable to do so - Launching the White Paper; Universal Credit: Welfare That Works alongside Deputy PM, Nick Clegg, Iain Duncan Smith set out how it will remove the complexities of the current benefit system which, at the moment, means it pays to stay on benefits rather than go into work.
The new Credit will provide a basic amount with additions for those with children & other caring responsibilities, people with disabilities and those with housing needs.
It will ‘be available for people both in & out of work and will replace the complicated & inefficient patchwork of existing support’ including: Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and income-related Employment & Support Allowances. In the long run the reforms are expected to lift 350,000 children & 500,000 adults out of poverty.
The new Universal Credit will ensure that support is withdrawn slowly & rationally as people return to work and increase their working hours, meaning that they get to keep more of their earnings for themselves and their families, regardless of how many hours they work.
Newswire – NHSConfed: There is no point in medically ‘saving’ them if their basic care is then neglected - Responding to findings that only one-third of elderly patients who died in hospital within 30 days of surgery had received good care, the NHS Confederation said there is absolutely no excuse for poor care, regardless of the person's age.
Responding to the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) report from last week, NHS Confederation deputy director for policy, Jo Webber, said: ……“The study suggests that there is more work to do on getting the basics like pain management right. Getting specialist teams in place can be difficult at short notice but it is clear that we need to do better".
CPAC: Even if Social/Health workers act in time, children’s futures are still ‘at risk’ - The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published a report on the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service's (Cafcass) response to increased demand for its services.
The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPAC, said: “Cafcass was ill-prepared for the very large increase in care cases in 2009-10, which followed the Baby Peter tragedy and caused chaos in the family justice system.
This lack of readiness was a direct result of the organisation’s continued failure to get to get to grips with the fundamental weaknesses in its culture, management & performance. It is still dealing with a legacy of low morale, unacceptably high levels of sickness absence and under-performance by some staff.
While judges are satisfied with the quality of the reports produced by Cafcass staff, it is a serious matter that an organisation whose role is to look after the interests of vulnerable children in family court proceedings is still not providing a timely service. This Committee does not share the Department for Education’s confidence that all will be well by 2011”.
Following the publicity around the Baby Peter tragedy in 2008, Cafcass experienced a significant & sustained increase in demand for its services, receiving around 34% more care cases in 2009–10 than the previous year. This led to chaos across the family justice system, and exposed Cafcass as an organisation that was not fit for purpose in dealing with the increased number of cases.
EC: Will we get another ‘lockout’ of voters? - Preparations are currently ‘on track for the proposed referendum and scheduled elections on 5 May 2011, but it will still be a significant challenge to make sure they are well run, according to the Electoral Commission.
Chair of the Electoral Commission, Jenny Watson, (who will be the Chief Counting Officer responsible for the conduct of the referendum) said: …. “But delivering well-run polls on 5 May will be a major challenge and it’s important local authorities have the right resources and staff in place to do this. Some members of the Steering Group we’ve set-up have highlighted the risks that could arise from the pressure local authorities are under between now and 5 May. ……
“We are also disappointed that the UK Government has not taken the opportunity of this (PVSC) Bill to implement our May 2010 recommendation to change the law so that Returning Officers can issue ballot papers to anyone who is at a polling station, but has not yet voted, when polling closes at 10pm.”
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