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General Reports and Other Publications

DfE: The independent Wolf Review into vocational education, commissioned by Education Secretary Michael Gove, was published last week. Professor Alison Wolf analyses how millions of children have been failed over the past 20 years and ‘sets out a blueprint for a very different system in which almost all young people have the chance of further education or a good job’.
Many 14 to 16 year olds are on courses which the league table systems encourage but which lead children into dead-ends.  They have not been told the truth about the consequences of their choice of qualification.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published its first Retail Conduct Risk Outlook (RCRO), which examines how a range of current, emerging & potential risks could impact customers. The RCRO is a key component in the FSA’s consumer protection strategy to identify risks earlier, proactively intervene earlier in the product chain and prevent consumer detriment.
The report’s analysis of current & upcoming risks informs how the FSA will set its priorities & deploy its resources.  These will be outlined in the FSA’s Business Plan, next month.
ESRCUnderstanding Society, the largest household panel study in the world, has published its 1st book of findings drawn from Wave 1 data collected in 2009.  This UK wide household panel study will follow 40,000 households and is run by the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex.
This first volume is an initial analysis of the data by researchers from ISER and the universities of Oxford, Surrey and Warwick.  It gives a glimpse of the breadth of the methodological & design innovations that are an essential part of Understanding Society as well as a taste of the research opportunities available.
TWF: With the announcement of a new generation of Enterprise Zones widely expected in the Budget, a report published this week by The Work Foundation warns that such schemes are likely to be ineffective at stimulating sustained growth in depressed areas.

 Do Enterprise Zones work? warns that while Enterprise Zones, tax breaks and other localised incentives may stimulate rapid investment in the short-term, this typically lasts no more than 3 years before the area begins a long-term reversal back into depression.  Prior schemes also indicate that up to 80% of jobs created are displaced from other areas.
NIA: The Assembly Committee for the Environment has released its report on the Planning Bill.  One of the main changes the new Bill will introduce is that local councils will again be responsible for deciding whether to grant planning permission.  Currently it is Planning Service - an agency of the Department of the Environment - which makes the decision.
NAO: The Typhoon fighter aircraft is already fulfilling some key defence tasks, but it is unlikely to reach its full potential as a multi-role aircraft (including in a ground attack role) until 2018, according to a National Audit Office report to Parliament.  Getting full value for money from the significant investment in the project will depend on the MOD’s successfully progressing the delivery of multi-role capability so that the aircraft can be deployed when required & affordably.
Despite the MOD’s now buying 72 fewer aircraft (down from 232 to 160, a reduction of 30%), the forecast development & production cost has risen by 20% to £20.2bn.  This is a 75% increase in the unit cost of each aircraft.  The cost of supporting each aircraft has also risen by a third above that originally expected.  The MOD now estimates that, by the time the aircraft leaves service, some £37bn will have been spent.
DWP: The Department for Work and Pensions has published the findings of research exploring the use of vesting rules and default options in occupational pension schemes. The research was undertaken to understand how vesting rules are currently used and how this may change after the implementation of the workplace pension reforms.
ScotGov: Children's Minister, Adam Ingram has welcomed new ideas & proposals from Professor Susan Deacon on how to improve children's early years. A report was commissioned by ScotGov last year because Ministers felt that while successive Governments (local & national) had recognised the importance of the early years, progress in this area had not been made quickly enough & needed to be stepped up.
TKF: The King’s Fund has questioned whether the government’s health reforms will deliver much-needed changes to the provision of hospital services, in a new report. The report, Reconfiguring hospital services: lessons from South East London, outlines recommendations for policy-makers to ensure that so-called 'reconfigurations' of hospital services improve the quality of care for patients.

It is based on a detailed analysis of protracted efforts to reorganise services in South East London, where financial problems & concerns about patient care have plagued 4 of its 6 local hospitals. With the NHS needing to find up to £20bn in productivity improvements over the next few years, the report warns that major changes to the provision of hospital services are urgent & essential.  

It shows that relying on market forces alone will not deliver the changes needed, with the risk that the quality of patient care will deteriorate in hospitals faced with large financial deficits.
Press release and related links
IISS: The International Institute for Strategic Studies has published its latest Strategic Comment on the impact of record food prices in creating unrest in the Arab world and the structural shifts that have led to a tightening of the international food-supply system, magnifying the effect of disruptive events such as weather-related crop failures in 2010.
Press release and related links
Newswire – FAC: The British Government must use its influence to persuade the US to engage more fully, & swiftly, with the process of political reconciliation in Afghanistan if the US wishes to disengage its forces there, says the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee in a new report – ‘The UK's foreign policy approach to Afghanistan and Pakistan’.
The report states that although the current international emphasis favours intense military pressure, aimed at defeating the insurgency, it is clear that military pressure alone is not enough to bring security and stability to Afghanistan.
Press release and related links
EHRC: New research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found that bullying based on students' identities remains a widespread problem and is limiting the achievements of those who are bullied.  Efforts to tackle the problem vary between local authorities and for different types of prejudice related bullying. 
The failure of local authorities to address the problem has a negative impact on the achievements of young people who are being bullied.  They do worse in their GCSE exams and are twice as likely as others not to be in education, employment or training at the age of 16. 
Press release and related links
NAO: Despite good progress in improving the professional capability & capacity of government finance departments since the National Audit Office last reported in 2008, good financial management is still not embedded in the civil service culture, and financial matters do not have sufficient influence over departments’ strategic decision making, according to the spending watchdog.
Newswire – IDC: The Government development fund – CDC – is not doing enough to alleviate poverty, does not focus on the sectors most in need and is paying its bosses too much, according to a new report by MPs on the International Development Committee.
Press release and related links
ScotGov: Considerable improvements have been made in prisoner progression & risk assessment processes but it is impossible to eradicate risk completely when reintegrating prisoners back into communities from open prisons and National Top End facilities, according to a report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons.
Press release and related links
NAO: The Higher Education Funding Council for England, the funder & regulator of the higher education sector, has overseen the financial sustainability of the sector through a period of growth in income and student numbers, according to a report published by the National Audit Office.  The HEFC has taken a cost-efficient approach and has delivered value for money in the context in which it has operated to date.  However, the sector is facing a period of transition to a very different financial environment.
Press release and related links
Newswire – STC: In a report published recently on the use of scientific advice & evidence in emergencies, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee is critical of the Government’s preparedness for dealing with emergencies, saying it is simply not good enough that scientific advice is often only sought after events have struck.
Press release and related links
Date Posted
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