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In the News

DH:  Improving care through registration - The government has announced that over 750,000 care workers looking after vulnerable older people, adults & children will be registered, trained & vetted for the first time. 


In a speech to the first national Skills for Care conference, this week, Care Services Minister, Liam Byrne asked the General Social Care Council to start the process that will lead to registration. The GSCC will be asked to explore the possibility of pegging registration and re-registration to a process of continuous professional development.


He also announced a £600k joint research project with Comic Relief into elder abuse and his intention to undertake a national tour to listen to older people and frontline staff.


Professor Ian Philp, the older people's "tsar", has been asked to come up with ideas to reinvigorate the network of Older People's Champions first set up by the National Service Framework for Older People.

Press release ~ Our Health, Our Care, Our Say White Paper ~ Comic Relief ~ Options for Excellence forum ~ Older People's Champions ~ National Service Framework for Older People ~ A toolkit for older people's champions: A resource for non-executive directors, councillors and older people acting as older people's champions ~ Practical guide to Protection of Vulnerable adults scheme ~ Action on elder abuse


LSDA:  Education for jobs not just bits of paper - There are signs of a widening mismatch between the skills that employers are demanding and what young people are learning at school and college. Qualities such as confidence, self-discipline, persistence and reliability are what most employers are looking for – but our education system is failing to cultivate them or to give them the priority they deserve. 


This mismatch threatens Britain’s economic future as an advanced service economy and is also impeding reform to make public services more responsive to the public.


These are the key messages that Geoff Mulgan, Director of The Young Foundation (and former head of policy at No 10 and head of the government Strategy Unit) made to an audience of leading figures in education & training at the Learning and Skills Development Agency’s (LSDA) recent third annual New Year lecture.


Mulgan argues that the debates about our education system are overly concerned with structures, with insufficient attention given to extra-curricular activities, sports and project work – the activities that help to develop interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence.

Press release ~ Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA) ~ The Young Foundation ~ Scottish Enterprise ~ NEETs ~ Tackling NEETs - Summary Report ~ Employment, Skills and Productivity Partnership (esp) ~ Employability and myths uncovered


Home Office:  At last something has an impact on Police records - Hazel Blears has officially launched a new computer system - IMPACT Nominal Index (INI) - to share information to track and trace individuals wanted as part of criminal investigations. The INI is the first system to be delivered by the IMPACT Programme, set up to implement a number of the recommendations in Sir Michael Bichard's report following the murders of Soham schoolgirls Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells.


INI works using information which every force in England and Wales sends to the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) - a list of names and dates of birth of people they hold on local force records for use in CRB vetting checks. The INI accesses this information and makes it available to police forces in a form they can use in their enquiries.


Since INI went live in December it has already thrown up a number of new leads in ongoing

·         A check on the INI by police hunting for a dangerous armed robber wanted by officers since 2004 provided vital new lines of enquiry

·         In another case a person alleged to have committed an indecent assault on a 15-year-old girl was linked by the INI to an identical case in another force and

·         One force carried out an INI check on a man acquitted of assaulting his girlfriend's eight-year-old daughter to see if he appeared likely to present a continuing risk. The system showed that the man had been linked to identical incidents in five other forces.

Press release ~ IMPACT Nominal Index (INI) ~ Code of Practice on the Management of Police Information ~ CRB


Defra:  Country life gets healthier - The Government's Chief Medical Officer has welcomed the launch of a new guide that provides essential information for people and organisations addressing rural health issues across the UK, saying:

"We often think of life in rural areas as being something of an idyll, but there is now a wealth of evidence highlighting issues of rural deprivation and social exclusion which has a potential impact on the health of those living in rural communities”.


The guide recommends collaboration between major data providers under confidentiality agreements to provide more rurally sensitive information at a local level.

Press release ~ 'Think Rural Health Data' booklet (includes CDRom) ~  'Health Data, a Health Check' ~ Institute of Rural Health (IRH) ~ Rural Health Forum ~ Defra Rural Affairs website ~ Rural Proofing for Health: A Toolkit for Primary Care Organisations ~ Rural Stress Information Network ~ Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution ~ Farm Crisis Network ~ 'Farming Help' ~ 'RuralMinds'


FSA:  Not tonight Josephine - 74% of British couples find money the hardest subject to talk about with their partners a new survey by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), plus a third would rather discuss sex or their previous relationships than their bank balances.  In addition:

·         27% of couples regularly argue when they try to discuss their finances

·         32% of couples lie to their partners about how much they spend on their credit cards and

·         35% of British couples are kept awake at night worrying about their money situation


To help people get to grips with their finances and feel more confident about the subject of money, the FSA has launched an impartial new website, which includes top tips on how to:

·         manage your money

·         how to plan ahead and

·         where to get further help


The site also contains two simple interactive tests, The Debt Test and The Financial Healthcheck, which help people identify their financial priorities so they can start to take control of their money.

Press release ~ 'moneylaidbare' website ~ Building financial capability in the UK ~ FSA priorities ~ National Debt line ~ OFT Debt website ~ DTI debt website ~ Consumer credit Bill update ~ DCA- A choice of paths ~ Financial inclusion fund


Industry News:  Merton e-chieves Leisure 24/7 - Merton Borough Council serves a diverse population of approximately 190,000 residents (in 78,000 households) who are provided with a variety of bookable resources by the council, including sports pitches, hall & pavilions and Easter & summer courses for children.


The Council has selected AchieveBookings, an online bookings system provided by Business Web Software, to provide online booking for sports & leisure facilities and to also allow the council to meet e-Government Priority Outcome R13.


The new system will increase the availability of leisure facilities for the residents of Merton by providing online access to the booking system around the clock. Business benefits will also be experienced within the council, as administrative time is reduced and accuracy increased.


The flexible structure of the system allows all bookable assets to be configured as resources, thus enabling a pavilion to be booked through the same format as a pitch, for example, with a process created to match exactly the requirements of booking that particular resource.


Using the eBookings system as a feedback tool, the development team will access precise information about the use of the council’s facilities and the demographics of the users, including place of residence, age and ethnicity. This data will allow the council to further improve their services by tailoring availability to exactly match the diverse needs of Merton residents.

Full article ~ LB of Merton ~ Business Web Software ~ AchieveBookings factsheet ~ e-Government Priority Outcome R13 ~ National Project - LAWs ~ ODPM – Defining e-government outcomes for 2005 ~ Radius payments


Forthcoming Event:  Speed – the missing link in our railway system - A report – The Missing Link - launched by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) in early December 2005 focused on whether or not High Speed Rail is a feasible option within the UK to address growing transport issues.


ICE and The Railway Forum are launching a one-day conference -High Speed Rail in the UK – a major issue for consideration (on the 8 May 2006) - to announce findings of the ICE report and discuss a number of key themes such as:

·         Can high speed rail help to address the UK’s transport problems?

·         Developing funding, technology and infrastructure

·         The impact on integrated transport and the environment

·         Country case studies – technology and business models adopted for high speed train operation


High speed rail could cut up to 50% on commuter times and enable over twice as many trains to run between major cities within the UK, easing the pressure on already crowded commuter routes and demand for new roads.

Full details ~ ICE report - The Missing Link ~ Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Conferences ~ The Railway Forum ~ Commission for Integrated Transport ~ Factsheets - No.15: High-speed Rail ~ DfT Transport strategy website ~ DfT Railways website ~ Scotland - Future for railway put on the line ~ FoE: Paying for rail - Funding the railway of the future ~ House of Commons Transport Committee:  The Future of the Railway Seventh Report of Session 2003–04

General News

National Archives:  Under the Freedom of Information Act, anyone in the world can request information held at The National Archives.  If you want to see a record that has not been released, you can submit a ‘Freedom of information’ request.  The NA will review the record in consultation with the government department which transferred it to us and, if it is no longer subject to a Freedom of Information exemption, the information will be released to you.

Press release ~ Freedom of Information request ~ 'Releases in 2005' ~ Catalogue ~ document copying service


DH:  The latest national and trust-level figures on MRSA bloodstream infections have been published by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), showing 3,580 MRSA bloodstream infections occurring in NHS Acute settings during April - September 2005.


Only around half of trusts are currently on target to make a 50% reduction in MRSA infections by 2008.

DH press release ~ HC press release ~ DH - Healthcare associated infections ~ Saving Lives: a delivery programme to reduce healthcare associated infection (HCAI) including MRSA ~ Health Protection Agency (HPA) ~ Hospital Infection Society ~ Renal National Service Framework ~ Renal Advisory Group ~ Towards Cleaner Hospitals and Lower Rates of Infection ~ Standards of cleanliness ~ Clean Hospitals PEAT 2004 ~ NAO report: Improving patient care by reducing the risk of hospital acquired infection: A progress report ~ National Patient Safety Agency


DH:  Routine pneumococcal vaccine is being introduced as part of a series of changes to the childhood immunisation programme announced by the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson.  Sir Liam also announced two other changes to maximise protection against Meningitis C and Hib disease.  The new vaccines will be introduced in 2006/07.

Press release ~ Immunisation website ~ < FONT color=#800080>Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation Advice ~ Meningitis Trust ~ Meningitis Research Foundation ~ DH Immunisation website ~ MMR – the facts ~ BMA - Childhood immunisation : a guide for healthcare professionals ~ The case against


Home Office:  A new website that provides information for those working with refugee children has been launched by the Home Office.  The website will highlight the work of the National Refugee Integration Forum (NRIF and the first section of the website to go live covers educational issues).


The main issues affecting each age group are identified & addressed through case studies of successful projects and practical guidance, linking the user to additional external information.  

Press release ~ National Refugee Integration Forum (NRIF) ~ Every Child Matters ~ Integration Matters ~ Refugee Council ~ Daring to dream: Raising the achievement of 14 to 16 year old asylum-seeking and refugee children and young people

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DWP:  Margaret Hodge has announced that the New Deal for Lone Parents Plus (NDLP+) pilots will be extended into two further Jobcentre Plus districts in Scotland (Edinburgh, Lothian and Borders) and Wales (The former Cardiff and Vale sites within the new, enlarged SE Wales) from October 2006.

Press release ~ New Deal for lone parents website ~ The New Deal for Lone Parents Plus (NDLP+) - guidance ~ Robert Owen Early Years Centre ~ Welfare Reform Green Paper ~ DWP report 214: Lone parents, Health and Work ~ Working Tax Credit helpline


Home Office:  The Home Secretary has announced an amnesty for those who carry knives and offensive weapons, which will run in England, Scotland and Wales from 24 May to 30 June 2006.  It will be backed up by a police enforcement campaign to drive home the message that carrying knives is not acceptable.

Press release ~ Operation Blunt ~ Connected Fund ~ Scottish consultation on tackling knife crime ~ Violent Crime Reduction Bill (click on ‘V’) ~ Knives Act 1997


Home Office:  Home Secretary, Charles Clarke has announced that as part of the Government's five year strategy for 'Protecting the Public and Reducing Re-offending', the total number of hours of unpaid work carried out as part of tough community sentences will double to almost 10 million hours.


Visible reparation & reducing re-offending to cut crime and protect the public are supposed to be at the heart of the strategy, which is intended to address those whose offending behaviour can best be ‘punished’ in the community.

Press release ~ Protecting the Public and Reducing Re-offending ~ Community Payback ~ Reducing Re-Offending Through Skills and Employment ~ Reducing re-offending by ex-prisoners - Report by the Social Exclusion Unit ~ 21st Century Social Work: Reducing Re-offending: Key Practice Skills


Defra:  Farmers, growers and other suppliers of food to the public sector will be able to find out about opportunities to better supply schools, hospitals and prisons with fresh produce through a series of government-run regional workshops in February-March 2006.


The workshops will provide delegates with an opportunity to understand how the Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative works and how to do business with the public sector and primary suppliers.   They will help farmers to understand how to deal with concerns about price, product quality & consistency and volumes of supply.


If farmers lack the capacity to supply the public sector directly, they can learn how to do this indirectly, through primary suppliers - for example wholesalers, contract caterers, regional distributors and local butchers.

Press release ~ Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative ~ Tenders Electronic Daily ~ English Farming and Food Partnerships ~ Meat and Livestock Commission ~ Institute of Grocery Distribution ~ Office of Government Commerce


Ofwat:  Water industry regulator Ofwat and Ofgem, the energy regulator, have published a joint discussion paper for consultation (closes on 5 May 2006) looking at ideas for regulating the efficient financing of utility companies' capital investment programmes.  The paper also looks at ways these companies and the regulators could deal with the financial constraints arising from the need to deliver large capital programmes.


The publication, Financing Networks, was commissioned by HMT and the DTI who wanted to look at financial issues facing regulated utility businesses.  It is designed to stimulate further debate and a joint seminar will be organised allowing further discussion of the issues set out in the paper.

Press release ~ Financing Networks ~ Ofwat ~ Ofgem


Defra:  The fees for marine industry environmental licences are under review in a consultation (closes 3 May 2006), which considers each licence component in detail, examining how the fees are built to recover full cost to the regulator.


Action is needed because the cost of regulating industries like dredging and marine construction, is not being fully recovered through the licensing system.

Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Defra Marine Environment website ~ Marine Consents and Environment unit


Defra:  Fishermen charged with some fisheries offences could face fixed penalty fines rather than a court appearance, a Defra consultation (closes 5 May 2006) suggests. 


The proposals would introduce a series of fixed levels of Financial Administrative Penalties (FAP) ranging from £200 to £2,000, which an individual could choose to pay in place of criminal court proceedings.  They have been designed as a generic system that can be applied in all administrations, however there may be slight differences in how this will be applied across the UK, due to different legal systems.

Press release ~ Consultation document(s) – scroll down for links to where SEERAD and DARNI consultations will be published ~ Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD) ~ SEERAD online ~ DARDNI ~ Defra Fisheries website


Defra:  The Independent Review on the future of the Seafish Industry Authority (SFIA) has been released for public consultation (closes Friday 5th May) along with the Government's proposed response.  Stakeholders are invited to provide comments on the review and the proposed response to the four UK Fisheries Administrations which will be taken into consideration by the Fisheries Ministers.  A final report will be published later this year.

Press release ~ Report and the provisional response ~ SeaFish Industry Authority (SFIA) ~ SEERAD ~ DARD ~ WAG

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

Home Office:  Home Office Minister Hazel Blears has announced that every home in England and Wales is to receive information about local policing, including an assessment of their force's performance.  New guidance sets out the information that should be communicated to local people on their police force's performance and provides advice on further ways to inform and reach out to communities.

Press release ~ Guidance on producing local policing summaries ~ Evaluation of the National Reassurance Police Programme (a model of neighbourhood policing)


DH:  The Department of Health has published a booklet by professional leaders of top tips, practical ideas and case studies which GPs, practice staff, allied health professionals and other primary care staff can use to help them get involved in practice-based commissioning.


The booklet, Practice-based commissioning: early wins and top tips, contains detailed ideas for nine clinical areas which the DH claims are:

·         easy to implement

·         can make a rapid difference to patients and

·         benefit the local health economy as whole

Press release ~ Practice-based commissioning - early wins and top tips ~ Practice based commissioning: achieving universal coverage ~ Practice-based commissioning support: programme ~ DH PBC website

Annual Reports

General Reports and other publications

Socitm:  UK councils are transforming themselves to achieve step changes in efficiency and customer service say new reports from Socitm Insight:

·         Modern public services: challenge of transformation shows why councils need to transform and how this can be made to happen

·         Modern public services: transformation in practice features 35 case studies from UK councils that are already transforming themselves


The reports are the first in a planned series on transformation, which is emerging as the main thrust behind the Government’s ongoing drive to modernise public services following publication of last November’s Cabinet Office paper Transformational Government: enabled by technology.

Press release ~ Modern public services: challenge of transformation ~ Modern public services: transformation in practice  ~ Transformational Government: enabled by technology


LSDA:  Drawing on case studies from across the learning and skills sector, a report from the Learning and Skills Development Agency - Good practice transfer in post-16 learning: strategies that work - not only identifies the different ways that colleges and training providers share ideas, skills & knowledge, but also at how good practice can be successfully transferred from one institutional setting to another, to create lasting improvements.


It examines the techniques used by providers to share good practice, to adopt, or adapt, such practice and to deal with the organisational changes necessary to support its transfer.  It also reviews approaches to assessing the direct and wider benefits of good practice sharing, for sustaining improvement and extending the lessons learned.

Press release ~ Good practice transfer in post-16 learning: strategies that work ~ Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA) ~ Quality Improvement Agency for Lifelong Learning (QIA) ~ Realising the Potential


NAO:  Against a background of rising gas prices, Sir John Bourn has reported on major developments in the gas industry that have the potential to reduce gas bills in the longer term.


A lot depends on Ofgem being able to set tough price controls on the distribution companies in 2008, 2013 and 2018 and Ofgem claims that it is determined that the potential benefits for consumers are realised.  It has already started to consult on the next price control and to put in place the information systems that will enable it to compare the efficiency of the distribution companies.

Press release ~ NAO:  The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets - Sale of gas networks by National Grid: ~ Full Report ~ Executive Summary ~ Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) ~ National Grid

Legislation / Legal

DCA:  The government is claiming that it is putting bereaved families at the centre of improvements in the coroner inquest system in England and Wales.  Harriet Harman told MPs that although there were many dedicated coroners and staff, the coroner system could be 'much, much better’ and that inquests today are held amid a fragmented, unaccountable and archaic system.


 A draft Coroner Reform Bill will be published in April this year.

Press release ~  DCA – Coroners website ~ Oral Statement to Parliament on coroner reform ~ Reforming the Coroner and Death Certification Service - A Position Paper ~ Independent fundamental review of coroner and death certificate systems, chaired Tom Luce CB (316 pages) ~ Third report of the Shipman Inquiry ~ Coroners Act 1988 ~ Data results for Coroners


DCA:  Reforms to introduce a more sustainable market for publicly-funded criminal defence services have been proposed by Lord Carter of Coles as part of his review of legal aid procurement.  The report – ‘Procurement of Criminal Defence Services: Market Based Reform’ - recommends a phased transition towards a vibrant, good quality and efficient market nationwide by 2009.


The report recommends the reforms are introduced over a three-year period involving the following three phases:

·         fixed pricing for all criminal legal aid work, including that provided in police stations, magistrates' courts and Crown Courts

·         a managed market, awarding contracts to efficient and good quality suppliers that can take on more cases, either individual firms or collection of firms formed to deliver the benefits of scale

·         managed price competition between efficient, good quality suppliers with safeguards to protect standards of quality, coverage in rural areas and diversity

Press release ~ Legal Aid procurement review website ~ Procurement of Criminal Defence Services: Market Based Reform ~ Fairer Deal for Legal Aid ~ DCA Legal Aid website ~ Legal Services Commission ~ Criminal Defence Service Bill (click on ‘C’)

EU legislation, initiatives, etc.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

British Red Cross:  The British Red Cross has said that the emergency relief efforts to Pakistan, will continue throughout the year and that they have already spent £16 million bringing emergency aid & relief items to those affected by the disaster including 271,875 hygiene kits and 6,600 winterised tents.


The Red Cross has also been distributing corrugated iron sheeting, which is available on the local market and can be used to build shelters that protect from the cold. A higher degree of insulation can be achieved by adding a layer of grass between the sheeting and the underlying wooden structure.


Families worried about missing relatives following the earthquake can visit

Press release ~ British Red Cross - Asian earthquake, India, Pakistan & Afghanistan ~ MOD aid factsheet ~ DFID website


DfES:  Children's Minister Beverley Hughes has announced a £17 million grant boost for voluntary organisations working with children, young people and families.


The newly formed Children, Young People and Families Grant Programme (CPYF) is intended to help fund voluntary organisations to do work of national significance that supports the outcomes of the Every Child Matters: Change for Children programme.  Grants of up to £1.9 million have already been awarded to 65 organisations for 2006-07.


The grant programme brings together 5 existing grant programmes, from April 2006.  

Press release ~ Children, Young People and Families Grant Programme ~ Every Child Matters: Change for Children programme

Business and other briefings

Pensions Regulator: 

The Pensions Regulator has now collected more than 7,000 scheme return forms from defined benefit schemes, and is requesting that those outstanding be returned.  Since June 2005, the regulator has issued approximately 9,000 notices and, excluding those schemes that have wound up or are winding up, there are approximately 900 schemes who have failed to return their forms.


The regulator wishes to remind these schemes that they have a statutory duty to complete the scheme return.

Press release ~ scheme return process


FSA:  The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has launched an e-learning package for small firms (cost £30) to help them work out what financial resources they need to meet regulatory requirements (takes 1 hour to complete). Firms need to keep adequate financial resources at all times and this online training course is designed for those with little or no accounting knowledge.

Press release ~ e-learning package ~ communications survey ~ FSA Small Firms website

Industry News

The Professional Contractors Group (PCG) has joined forces with specialist firm to offer members a background checking service. The new scheme, called PCG (QP) - for "Quality People" - allows members to have their qualifications, work experience & references independently verified to BS7858 standard.


With increasing pressure from regulators and legislation, employers & agencies are taking more care about checking the backgrounds of, not only of potential employees, but also freelance contractors & consultants.


A 2002 Mori poll found that one third of respondents admitted to fabricating elements of their CVs, so it’s no wonder then that agencies are keen to find a way of ensuring that information on a CV is accurate.


For freelance contractors, the vetting process can delay starting on a new project or assignment. The PCG (QP) scheme seeks to overcome this obstacle by providing candidates with a rolling three-year "passport", once their curriculum vitae has been thoroughly checked to BS7858 level and certified.


The checking process covers:

·         Basic personal & financial check - electoral roll, county court judgments (CCJs), bankruptcy check

·         Highest educational qualification

·         Further technical or professional qualification or membership

·       Full ten-year continuous history to include date of leaving continuous education, verification of employment dates, employment gaps and basic criminal records check (unspent convictions).

Full ~ Professional Contractors Group (PCG) ~ PCG (QP) ~ BS7858 standard ~ Wreay Group ~ Association of Technology Staffing Companies (ATSCo) website ~  CIPD on references ~ CIPD - Employing people with criminal records ~ Criminal Records Bureau ~ Disclosure Scotland



For other articles please click HERE

Forthcoming Event

Date: 23 – 24 February 2006

Venue: UK

Organiser: Ark Group - Developing an effective records management strategy in the public sector


With the continuing & increasing demands of FOI and now the PSI directive, it has never been more important to maintain an effective records management strategy.   Faced with the daunting volume of complex, exempt and commercially sensitive requests, the development of such a strategy can easily become sidelined.


Crucially, as workloads increase it becomes ever more difficult to establish the necessary foundations for seamless implementation of EDRM. All too often, meeting the immediate demands of the modernisation agenda overshadows the need to establish a well formulated and forward thinking records management strategy.


Ark Group’s two-day conference with interactive workshop will focus on how to develop an effective corporate records management strategy and ensure its adoption across your organisation. Expert advice will help you implement retention schedules and establish information management principles in advance of rolling out an EDRM strategy across your entire organisation.


In particular, you will hear from leading Local Authorities discussing the route towards effective implementation of EDRM and a future of organised and readily available records.   These case studies will ensure you can meet the demands of the modernisation agenda without compromising the development of your records management strategy.

Full details ~ FOI Act ~ PSI - Re-use of Public Sector Information ~ Lord Chancellor's Code of Practice on the Management of Records ~ Briefing Paper: Electronic Social Care Records ~ e-Government Policy Framework for Electronic Records Management ~ Complying with the Records Management Code: Evaluation Workbook and Methodology - Consultation Draft ~ Guidelines for management, appraisal and preservation of electronic records ~ < FONT color=#800080>Electronic records toolkits



For information other events please click HERE

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