With the departure of Ministers to the four corners of the earth, the WGPlus team is taking its own summer break, following publication of this week’s newsletter. The next edition will be published on 11 September and will include any important press releases that may be announced during that period.
Audit Commission: Shaping Local Services for new framework - The future shape of local services inspection is the subject of an Audit Commission discussion paper - Assessment of Local Services Beyond 2008 - which builds on the principles laid out in the Commission's paper, The Future of Regulation in the Public Sector (March 2006).
It looks at how a new framework for performance assessment, assurance & accountability can continue to raise standards and deliver value for money, while acknowledging that the primary responsibility for managing the performance of local services lies with those who deliver or commission those services.
The Commission sets out the questions it believes must be answered to ensure that the future performance assessment framework achieves these goals and balances national, regional & local priorities, including:
· How can a future approach reinforce the core responsibility of councils and their partners to manage their own performance?
· How will a future framework ensure that assessment activity is directly related to risk?
· How can the local government sector as a whole contribute to the success of a future performance assessment framework?
· How will the framework ensure an emphasis on value for money and the interests of taxpayers?
The Commission explores the potential of area-based rather than institution-based assessment to reflect more effectively local citizens' perspective on service delivery.
Press release ~ Assessment of local services beyond 2008 ~ The Future of Regulation in the Public Sector ~ Consultation response ~ Inspections web page ~ Inspecting for improvement ~ Government policy on inspection ~ Delivering Efficiently: Strengthening the links in public service delivery chains ~ Knowing Your Communities: User Focus and Diversity Toolkit (needs password) ~ CPA – The harder Test ~ Local:vision website ~ Public Service Inspection website
HC: As ever, communication is the key - The Healthcare Commission has urged NHS hospitals to step up efforts to improve the prescribing & dispensing of medicines following the publication of its comparative assessments on medicines management for all 173 acute hospital trusts in
The National Patient Safety Agency’s National Reporting and Learning System data shows that 41,220, or 9% of all incidents were related to medication, but emphasises that 95% caused ‘no or low ‘harm to the patient.
The Commission added that pharmacists should have a significant role in advising hospital staff & patients about drugs and their management to prevent errors occurring.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) commented that it was pleased to see that the importance of pharmacy in hospital medicines management had been recognised, however it warned that investment in hospital pharmacy services must be made to address the recommendations highlighted in the research.
Areas of good performance identified in the review include:
· Managing the risk of infection through prescribing and administering medicines
· Preventing allergic reactions
· Getting patients to use their own drugs
Areas needing improvement include:
· Giving information to patients
· Involving pharmacists in patient care
· Assessing the risks of intravenous drugs
· Empowering patients to take control of their own medicines
The medicines management review is the first in a series of ratings which feed into the NHS’s overall performance ratings - the annual health check - which will be published on
King’ College: Government policy cut to pieces - The Government lacks a coherent evidence-based strategy for dealing with knife carrying and knife-related offences, according to a new report by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, an independent charity based at King's College,
The report - Knife Crime: Ineffective reactions to a distracting problem? A review of evidence and policy - says that there is a lack of knowledge about the carrying & use of knives and the motivations for this behaviour.
Furthermore, there is insufficient evidence that a knife amnesty or harsher sentences for carrying knives and knife-related offences will decrease the level of knife use & carrying.
The report welcomes the fact that the recent knife amnesty in England & Wales resulted in the disposal of some knives, but highlights the fact that overall the amnesty has had a negligible impact on the opportunity for people to carry & use knives in crime.
It states that it is extremely difficult to limit the availability of knives and that they are merely a tool used in crime. Success in tackling knife crime will only come with success in dealing with the underlying causes of violence, fear & insecurity.
Press release ~ Knife Crime: Ineffective reactions to a distracting problem? A review of evidence and policy ~ Centre for Crime and Justice Studies ~ Knife Amnesty ~ Knife crime in Scotland ~ Scottish consultation on tackling knife crime ~ Teachernet ~ school security
King’s Fund: The money has gone here! - Stark variations in how much the NHS spends locally on different diseases have been revealed in a new King’s Fund briefing. Local variations in NHS spending priorities analyses new DH data that shows how much money is being spent by primary care trusts (PCTs) in England on different diseases.
The briefing reveals that some PCTs spend much more than others on particular diseases, such as cancer, mental health and coronary heart disease, even after differences in the health needs of local populations and other factors have been taken into account.
At the extremes, on mental health, Islington PCT is spending four times the amount spent in Bracknell Forest PCT after accounting for needs and other factors. Leaving aside the most extreme contrasts, there are still large variations with a two-fold difference in mental health spending per head across 90% of PCTs.
There are similar variations for other diseases with the proportion spent on cancer care ranging from 3% to over 10% of PCTs’ budgets.
The briefing also shows in which areas the extra money allocated for the NHS in 2004/5 has been spent. The largest share of spending (over £7 billion – 11%) was devoted to mental health services - twice as much as spent on cancer care.
DWP: In sight and positive in our minds - A new website has been launched that contains guidance about portraying disabled people in communications materials. The website is aimed primarily at communications professionals to provide them with support & guidance in producing effective & inclusive depictions of disabled people.
The new website covers a broad range of useful material including:
· An extensive Media Gallery - containing examples of positive portrayals of disabled people across a range of media channels
· 'How to...' guides and templates - from campaign briefing to production
· Sample briefs
· Tips & techniques about effectively applying a disability message to a campaign
· Useful research material
· Case studies and articles about disability
WAG: How will you be served? - The Welsh Assembly Government is asking the people of
Putting principles for customer services in place was one of the top 10 commitments in the Delivering the Connections Action Plan. These principles provide a framework for public services to judge the strength and weaknesses of their current customer service and decide priorities for improvement.
Along with the core principles, a supporting document on 'Good Practice Guidance' has also been published, which provides comprehensive advice on customer service and includes examples of good practice in public services.
Press release ~ 'Building Better Customer Service: Core Principles for Public Services' ~ 'Good Practice Guidance' ~ Delivering the Connections Action Plan ~ Annex ~ Leaflet summarising the Action Plan and Top 10 Commitments ~ Wales: A Better Country ~ People, Places, Futures - The Wales Spatial Plan
Forthcoming event: Problems at Heathrow are only part of issue - While recent events at Heathrow might dominate the headlines in the media, it is becoming increasingly apparent to everyone that access to and efficient delivery of services (both public & private) depends on personal information being both held and shared.
Where it is held, how it is shared, what it is used for and the penalties for its improper use are ongoing issues.
The only certainty being that it will be shared!
The ‘intellectual’ debate over whether we should have National Identity Cards is in fact mostly irrelevant to public service providers trying to provide clients with services.
Whether one is trying to recruit Scout/Guide Leaders, Teachers, Clinical Staff, Care Workers, organise a treatment path for an elderly person with a long-term health condition, track down un-paid taxes / assets gained through criminal activities, or gain approval to travel to a foreign country, the one factor that is common to all activities is the sharing of data.
The conference - Information Sharing and Data Protection - Striking the Right Balance – on
Full Details ~ Bichard implementation ~ Code of Practice on the Management of Police Information ~ CRB ~ Criminal Justice Information Technology (CJIT) ~ CJS Exchange ~ IMPACT Police Computer System ~ ViSOR ~ National Identification Service ~ DfES Information Sharing practice ~ Working Together to Safeguard Children ~ Every Child Matters website – Vetting and Barring scheme ~ DfES (information Sharing Index) ~ DfES: The Protection of Children Act 1999 - A Practical Guide to the Act for all Organisations Working with Children (Revised September 2005) ~ Teachernet - Safeguarding Children: Safer Recruitment and Selection in Education Settings ~ List 99 ~ ’Better use of personal data in an information-rich society - opportunities and risks ~ Research into the use of personal datasets held by public sector bodies ~ DCA Data Sharing website ~ Transformational Government - Enabled by Technology (scroll down) ~ Data Sharing: The key issues - a local authority perspective ~ Consultation paper for increasing penalties for deliberate and wilful misuse of personal data ~ What price privacy? The unlawful trade in confidential personal information ~ DCA – DP Act 1998 ~ Data Sharing ~ Information Commissioner ~ Data Protection – Myths and Realities ~ Aurora - Facial Biometrics and intelligence ~ The Information Centre for Health and Social Care ~ Framework for Information Sharing in a Multi-Agency Environment (FAME)
For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
For Industry News please click HERE
Professor Paul Longley and his colleagues have assembled a range of private and public sector data sources to investigate three things:
· FONT> how we access new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)
· FONT> what we use them for; and
· FONT> how where we live influences the kinds of e-services that we use
The research team used data provided by data warehouse Experian alongside public sources to develop & illustrate a nationwide neighbourhood classification.
DTI: The government has announced a further £2m for constructing & testing out a prototype particle accelerator facility at the Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire, to be the world's first, which will help assure the North West of England's place on the international science map. A decision on the full 4GLS might be expected within 18 months to two years
This additional funding for the Energy Recovery Linac Prototype (ERLP) is intended to help prove concepts vital to the development of plans for 4GLS technology (Fourth Generation Light Source), at science's cutting edge.
4GLS will be designed to produce very short pulses of light, over a million, million, million times brighter than a household light bulb and could allow researchers to study molecules working in real time, follow chemical reactions as they happen, look at potential drug molecules as they interact with cells and examine the spin of electrons.
Press release ~ Energy Recovery Linac Prototype (ERLP) ~ 4GLS technology (Fourth Generation Light Source) ~ Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC) ~ Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) ~ Office of Science and Innovation
Highways Agency: A giant new barrier transfer machine (BTM) that can lift 12 tons of concrete safety barriers for motorway roadworks into place at a speed of 7 mph, will help the Highways Agency to keep more lanes open for drivers during peak periods and offering a higher level of barrier protection to motorway road workers.
It has been leased for two years at a cost of around £1million and it will be first used in the autumn, during maintenance work during the construction of a 'crawler' lane for slow-moving vehicles on the A21 Sevenoaks bypass. The QMB system can move sections of a concrete barrier sideways quickly and safely. Without it, the sections of concrete barrier would have to be laid in place one by one.
A vehicle travelling at 70mph on a motorway will enter roadworks only 51 seconds after seeing the 'roadworks one mile ahead' sign.
Press release ~ 2006-07 Road worker Safety Action Plan & other documents ~ ‘Safer Driving Through Roadworks' campaign ~ Leaflet ~ Operation Stack: M20 Contraflow Junctions 11 to 12 and 8 to 9 - Use of Quickchange Moveable Barrier System Technical Feasibility Study ~ Non-technical summary report
DH: Health Minister Lord Warner has announced a new programme of work to reduce the amount of administration involved in the regulation of over the counter (OTC) medicines, reducing the burden on industry and allowing regulators to focus on medicine safety.
The rules governing minor changes to labelling and patient information leaflets can cost individual companies thousands of pounds and these costs are often passed on to the consumer through pricing of OTC medicines.
Through the Better Regulation of Over the Counter Medicines Initiative (BROMI), measures have already been put in place to allow simple changes to medicines labels and patient information leaflets without time consuming administrative assessment.
As well as the new scheme for labelling and patient information leaflets, statutory warnings will be reviewed with the aim of replacing them with information that is clear and in plain English and a code of practice for pack design is in development.
DCMS: Creative Industries Minister Shaun
Woodward has announced that new proposals, by a group of experts to boost the
Following consultation with the industry, the experts identified themes such as business skills, education and high city centre rents, which create barriers that prevent small & medium sized businesses growing and also produced recommendations for breaking down these same barriers, including:
· a complete re-assessment of business education in the creative sector
· a network of UK Creative Ambassadors to promote our small and medium sized companies abroad
· a creative business "health check" service to ensure businesses are getting quality, tailored advice
· a creative industries 'dating agency' to broker & co-ordinate new relationships and partnerships.
Press release ~ Creative Economy Programme ~ Consultation documents ~ DCMS Creative industries website ~ Creative London ~ Money Map ~ Creative Industries Network ~ The Report from the Intellectual Property group of the Government`s Creative Industries Task Force. ~ DTI – Creative industries
Defra: Consultation has begun (closes
This specific decommissioning scheme will allow some funding to be released for other EU fisheries grant funded projects. These could include fish processing, port facilities, sustainable projects, vessel modernisation, fish promotion, aquaculture and innovative measures.
HMRC: A consultation document (closes 1 November 2006), setting out how the powers & accompanying safeguards used in the investigation of tax crime could be updated, has been published by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Currently HMRC relies on provisions inherited from its predecessor Departments - the Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise. Existing powers for investigating suspected tax crime can be cumbersome and require duplication of effort where different law applies for different taxes.
Modernising these provisions would give trained officers harmonised powers to apply for search warrants & production orders and powers of arrest across all taxes, all of which would be subject to the important safeguards which attach to criminal investigations generally.
It is anticipated that, in the light of responses to this consultation, specific proposals will be worked up in detail, on which there will be a further opportunity to comment.
Welsh Assembly Government has published for consultation (closes
· FONT> the development of departmental action plans stating how they intend to address disability equality
· FONT> improving the statistical information available to support departments making policies
· FONT> attracting more disabled people to its workforce
· FONT> taking account of the needs of disabled people at the design stage of its new offices
The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 imposes a specific duty on public authorities, including the Welsh Assembly Government, to publish a Disability Equality Scheme and action plan by December 2006.
Press release ~ Disabled Equality Scheme ~ Social Model of Disability ~ Accessible Venues Guidance ~ Mainstreaming Rights & Equality ~ Disability Wales ~ Mainstreaming Equality in the Welsh Assembly Government ~ Equal Opportunities Committee ~ Wales; A Better Country – The Strategic Agenda of the Welsh Assembly Government ~ DRC: Disability Equality Duty ~ Communities @One ~ Joint Mobility Unit (JMU) Access Partnership ~ Cabinet’s Office’s 10-Point Plan to recruit and promote under-represented groups
DCLG: The Government has launched a
consultation on powers for the Mayor of London to decide planning applications
of major strategic importance (closes on
In summary, the Mayor's proposed new planning powers are to:
· direct changes to boroughs' programmes for the local development plans they produce
· have a stronger say on whether draft local development plans are in general conformity to his London Plan
· have the discretion to determine planning applications of strategic importance
DfT: New guidance to assist local authorities in setting local speed limits has been published by the Department for Transport and is intended to promote greater clarity & consistency. It covers the setting of all local speed limits on single & dual carriageway roads where drivers should adopt a different speed to the national limit.
The new guidance replaces the previous advice issued in Circular Roads 1/93, which is now cancelled.
Traffic Authorities have specifically been asked to review the speed limits on all of their A and B roads and implement any changes by 2011.
Press release ~ Guidance: Setting Local Speed Limits ~ Tomorrow's Roads - Safer for Everyone ~ First Three Year Review ~ New directions in speed management: a review of policy ~ Think Road Safety ~ Aide Memoire on Speed Limit and Safety Camera Signing ~ Estimated effects of an 80mph speed limit on motorways ~ Adhering to the speed limit - helpful information ~ Effective Interventions for Speeding Motorists ~ Stopping distances (scroll down)~ Speed: Know your limits ~ 20 mph speed limits and zones ~ Village Speed limits
Guidance setting out changes to the adult's social services complaints procedure which come into
DCLG: Planning Minister Baroness Andrews has announced that, as part of its commitment to drive up standards of design and quality in all new developments, planning applications will now require a Design and Access Statement.
Applicants must demonstrate consideration of the layout, appearance, scale & landscaping to ensure good design and that they have thought carefully about how everyone, including disabled people, the elderly & young children will be able to travel to and use the places they want to build.
Householders who are applying for permission to make home improvements will not generally be required to provide Design and Access statements, nor will change of use and engineering & mining operations.
A good practice guide on how the statements will work has been issued by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE).
Press release ~ DCLG Circular: Guidance on Changes to the Development Control System ~ Cabe Guidance: Design and Access Statements: How to write, read and use them ~ Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE)
DH: Lord Warner has announced new good practice guidance - Care and Respect in Death - for NHS mortuary staff to ensure that they deal with the bodies of people who die in hospital, and their friends and family, in a safe, secure & sensitive way.
The guidance sets out eight key principles to develop a mortuary service at a local level and brings together existing good practice from hospital mortuaries in one document in order to spread it widely across the NHS.
Press release ~ Care and Respect in Death ~ Modernising Pathology Services: good practice guidance to the NHS on building better pathology services ~ Modernising Pathology: Building a Service Responsive to Patients ~ DH Pathology website ~ Independent Review of NHS Pathology Services ~ When a Patient Dies - Advice on Developing Bereavement Services in the NHS ~ Human Tissue Authority (HTA) ~ College of Healthcare Chaplains
DTI: First annual reports have been published for North Hoyle and Scroby Sands offshore wind farms and they include the following conclusions:
· FONT> enough clean energy produced to power almost 80,000 homes
· FONT> more than a quarter of a million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions saved
· FONT> minimal impact on bird and sea life
· FONT> a good safety record and valuable lessons learned for the future development of a key industry
Surveys carried out into residents' attitudes in Rhyl and Prestatyn before and & construction of North Hoyle show a rise in support for the project from 62% to 73% with only 5% opposing the scheme.
The annual reports provide details of the wind capacity at the sites over the first 12 months of operation, as well as the impact on access from adverse weather conditions. There are also details of the ongoing environmental monitoring, information on maintenance plus health and safety records.
Press release ~ North Hoyle operational report ing ~ Annual Report ~ Scroby Sands report ~ npower renewables ~ Vestas Celtic Wind Technology Limited ~ E.ON UK Renewables ~ Wind power: 10 Myths explained ~ DTI wind website
MOD: Defence Secretary, Des Browne has
responded to the recent Defence Select Committee report on
Quoting an extract from the summary of the HCDC report:
It is clear
that there are problems with equipment that require urgent attention from the
Ministry of Defence (MoD). We are
concerned at the vulnerability of our troops travelling in Snatch Land Rovers
and about the extreme temperatures to which Service personnel are subjected.
We are impressed by the work of
the Joint Helicopter Force—
The MoD’s confidence that the UK Armed Forces are not overstretched contrasts with what we heard from Service personnel on the ground. The Armed Forces can tolerate short-term pressure but sustained breaches of Harmony Guidelines will damage the Services’ operational capability. The MoD’s reliance on reservists also gives us cause for concern.
Defra: The government claims that
millions more people have been encouraged to recycle thanks to a series of
incentive schemes funded by a £3.5 million Defra grant. Over 50 pilots were run by local
authorities across the country to test a variety of approaches to encourage
their residents to reduce, re-use & recycle their
waste. Individual prizes such as cash, cars and holidays were offered in some
schemes, whilst in others, communities were rewarded with funding for local
initiatives and improvements. In over half the areas, the tonnage of recyclables collected increased,
while in others the contamination rates were reduced considerably. Other incentive pilots targeted waste
reduction by encouraging reuse.
Some of the trials led to enthusiastic recycling community champions and
a range of voluntary community groups. The diversion of biodegradable municipal waste (which is mainly
household waste) from landfill is a key objective under the EU Landfill
2010, biodegradable waste going to landfill must be 75% of the
amount disposed in 1995; by 2013 this is reduced to 50% and by
2020 to 35%. Press release ~
Results of all the pilots ~ Defra Recycling Reward website ~
EU Landfill Directive ~ Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme
~ Local authority statutory recycling
targets ~ LA performance management ~
Review of Waste Strategy consultation
responses ~ 16 pain-free ways to help save the
Employers can benefit from older workers and should do more to tackle
age discrimination, according to new research published by the Department for
Work and Pensions. The Age Partnership Group
(APG) sector specific research reports look at the challenges faced by nine
sectors of the economy relating to the recruitment, training & retention of
older workers and will be used for the Age Positive campaign ahead of the
introduction of the Age Discrimination Legislation on The research found that: ·
8 sectors use length of experience to fix
starting salaries or as a criterion in selection for recruitment &
7 sectors use age or length of service as the
basis for redundancy decisions ·
5 sectors provide age information on
candidates to short-listing & interviewing staff ·
4 sectors set maximum or contractual
retirement ages and ·
for 2 of these sectors the contractual
retirement age is often below 65 Press release ~
Positive website ~
Nine Reports ~ Centre for
Research into the Older Workforce ~ 'Survey of employers' policies, practices and preferences
relating to age' ~ Age Partnership Group (APG)
Defra: The government claims that millions more people have been encouraged to recycle thanks to a series of incentive schemes funded by a £3.5 million Defra grant. Over 50 pilots were run by local authorities across the country to test a variety of approaches to encourage their residents to reduce, re-use & recycle their waste.
Individual prizes such as cash, cars and holidays were offered in some schemes, whilst in others, communities were rewarded with funding for local initiatives and improvements.
In over half the areas, the tonnage of recyclables collected increased, while in others the contamination rates were reduced considerably. Other incentive pilots targeted waste reduction by encouraging reuse. Some of the trials led to enthusiastic recycling community champions and a range of voluntary community groups.
The diversion of biodegradable municipal waste (which is mainly household waste) from landfill is a key objective under the EU Landfill Directive. By 2010, biodegradable waste going to landfill must be 75% of the amount disposed in 1995; by 2013 this is reduced to 50% and by 2020 to 35%.
Press release ~ Results of all the pilots ~ Defra Recycling Reward website ~ EU Landfill Directive ~ Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme ~ Local authority statutory recycling targets ~ LA performance management ~ Review of Waste Strategy consultation responses ~ 16 pain-free ways to help save the planet
DWP: Employers can benefit from older workers and should do more to tackle age discrimination, according to new research published by the Department for Work and Pensions.
The Age Partnership Group
(APG) sector specific research reports look at the challenges faced by nine
sectors of the economy relating to the recruitment, training & retention of
older workers and will be used for the Age Positive campaign ahead of the
introduction of the Age Discrimination Legislation on
The research found that:
· FONT> 8 sectors use length of experience to fix starting salaries or as a criterion in selection for recruitment & retention
· FONT> 7 sectors use age or length of service as the basis for redundancy decisions
· FONT> 5 sectors provide age information on candidates to short-listing & interviewing staff
· FONT> 4 sectors set maximum or contractual retirement ages and
· FONT> for 2 of these sectors the contractual retirement age is often below 65
Press release ~ Age Positive website ~ Nine Reports ~ Centre for Research into the Older Workforce ~ 'Survey of employers' policies, practices and preferences relating to age' ~ Age Partnership Group (APG)
Defra: Short-term letting of rights of common has been approved by Rural Affairs Minister Barry Gardiner in an order laid before Parliament which enables commoners to let most rights of common to other graziers for up to two years. The order will ensure that the letting of rights can continue on a short-term basis until the long-term position is settled after a forthcoming consultation.
The order comes into force on
Defra plans to consult early next year on more localised exceptions to enable the letting of rights of common for longer terms or for particular purposes, where justified.
Faith-based groups whose work promotes understanding and dialogue stand
to gain access to a funding pot of £4.5 million with the launch of the second
round of the
First announced in 2005 as part of the Government's 'Improving
And now organisations have another opportunity to bid for the funding which has two key priorities:
· FONT> capacity building and
· FONT> inter faith activity
HMRC: New rates of interest have been announced (to take effect from 14 August 2006) that cover quarterly instalment payments and early payments of corporation tax not due by instalments, in respect of accounting periods ending on or after 1 July 1999.
The rate of interest charged on underpaid instalment payments of corporation tax changes from 5.50% to 5.75%, while the rate of interest on overpaid instalment payments of corporation tax, and on corporation tax paid early (but not due by instalments) changes from 4.25% to 4.50%.
See HMRC consultation setting out how the powers & accompanying safeguards used in the investigation of tax crime could be updated
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