General Reports and Other Publications
IFS: The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) Green Budget forecast is that the Government will need to borrow slightly less in 2010-11 (£2.9bn) than the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts. Having set out his fiscal consolidation plan, the IFS considers that it is important that Chancellor George Osborne resist the temptation to engage in any significant net giveaway in the Budget.
Ofsted: The wider schools workforce, including teaching assistants & learning mentors, is making a difference to pupils’ learning, according to a report (Workforce reform in schools: has it made a difference?) published recently by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. However, the report also shows that these staff must be effectively deployed, well managed and properly trained.
Demos: Just 7% of 16-24 year olds feel that Government makes decisions with their age group (11-20 years old) in mind according to a new report published by the independent think tank Demos. They feel their age group will bear the brunt of the spending cuts, with 32% of 18-21 year olds thinking that 16-24 year olds would be the age group worst affected by the spending review and 28% thinking those slightly older aged 25-34 would have to feel the biggest impact.
Despite this, young people think OAPs should be protected from Government spending cuts and favour cuts to education rather than health (43% compared to 28%), showing long-term thinking and prioritising the needs of older people before their own.
NLGN: A new report is calling on councils to be given new powers to charge for local services. The report, from the New Local Government Network think tank, follows Deputy PM Nick Clegg’s demands for new freedoms for local government to raise money from a wide range of new charges.
The Communities in Charge report calls for councils to be freed from Whitehall restrictions to introduce charges for services such as parking, planning & licensing, to vary charges based on usage and to means-test on users’ ability to pay.
IFS: As the governor of the Bank of England predicts stagnant real earnings for some time to come, households will be hit by a further average £200 a year loss from tax increases & benefit cuts due in April 2011. In addition there will be big changes in marginal tax rates for some. Around 750,000 more people will become higher rate taxpayers as a result of a reduction in the level of income at which the higher rate starts to bite. This reduction accompanies the increase of £1,000 in the tax allowance which itself will take 500,000 other people out of tax altogether.
Press release ~ The effects of tax and benefit reforms to be introduced in April 2011 ~ Distributional analysis of tax and benefit changes
Newswire - CPA: The Committee of Public Accounts has published a report on Ministry of Justice financial management. The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said: “If the Ministry of Justice is to minimise the impact on its frontline services of its tough spending settlement, it must fully understand the cost and value of those services. But the Ministry and its arm’s length bodies currently lack that detailed information. “It is simply not acceptable that, after two years’ work, the Ministry still does not fully understand the cost of its staff activities in its largest executive agency.
“This is indicative of the poor state of financial management in this ministry. So is the fact that it was the only government department to miss the deadline for producing its accounts for 2009-10”.
Newswire - PAC: The Public Administration Select Committee has rejected the Government’s response to its report on UK National Strategy and describes it as ‘disappointing’. The Report calls on the Government to think again about how it approaches strategy-making and restates the need to create a ‘community of strategists’ from across Whitehall (and beyond) to provide the Government with the capacity to make National Strategy.
Press release ~ Public Administration Select Committee ~ Public Administration Committee Report: Who does UK National Strategy? Further Report with the Government Response to the Committee’s First Report of Session 2010-11
Newswire – C&LGC: Some of the proposals to curb the publication of 'propaganda on the rates' by local authorities run counter to 'localist' principles and have potentially negative implications for local democracy says the Communities and Local Government Committee in the report of its inquiry into a draft Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity.
Press release ~ Communities and Local Government Committee ~ Report: Proposed Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity
TWF: A focus on job entry alone is not enough for the Coalition to meet its targets for benefits savings & poverty reduction, according to a new report from The Work Foundation. The report argues the government must look beyond worklessness to expand opportunities for around 10m workers already struggling on less than £15,000 a year.
Welfare to What? Prospects and challenges for employment recovery is the first report from The Work Foundation’s Bottom Ten Million 2-year programme, which examines in-work poverty as both a serious social injustice and a major hindrance to the UK’s economic performance.
Press release ~ Welfare to What? Prospects and challenges for employment recovery ~ Bottom Ten Million ~ Private Equity Foundation ~ Tudor Trust ~ Working Links
NAO: The BBC Trust has published an independent report commissioned from the National Audit Office on the BBC’s management of its Digital Media Initiative (DMI). The DMI is a technology transformation project designed to allow BBC staff to develop, create, share and manage video & audio content and programming on their desktop, and intended to improve production efficiency across the BBC. The estimated gross cost of delivery & implementation to the end of March 2017 is £133.6m.
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities has produced a short note explaining the importance of broadband to rural communities and the benefits it brings to businesses, public service delivery and community cohesion.
NAO: NHS hospitals often pay more than they need to when buying basic supplies, the National Audit Office has reported. A combination of inadequate information & fragmented purchasing means that NHS hospitals’ procurement of consumables is poor value for money. The NAO estimates that at least £500m a year could be saved by the NHS on its spending on consumables and potentially much more for some products.
Some trusts are not getting value for money because they are buying many different types of the same product. For example, trusts bought 21 different types of A4 paper, 652 types of medical gloves and 1,751 different cannulas. There is also a large variation between trusts: one bought 13 different types of glove, whilst another bought 177 different types.
Press release ~ NAO: The procurement of consumables by NHS acute and Foundation trusts ~ CBI response
OFT: The OFT has published its market study into the outdoor advertising industry which has found that the sector is broadly competitive amongst both specialist buyers & media agencies. The study also looked at potential barriers to entry & expansion for media owners.
In light of the investigation under the Competition Act and its other recommendations, the OFT has provisionally decided that a market investigation reference to the Competition Commission would not be appropriate at this time. It is now consulting on this conclusion and responses should be sent by 5pm on 18 March 2011.
Newswire – AC: A government scheme that incentivises general practitioners (GPs) to improve their services to patients may not be having the impact it should because of poor oversight of the payments being made, the Audit Commission has found.
Areas of weakness in other trusts fall into two areas: probity and value for money. Some cannot be confident that payments made to GP practices are correct & justified, or delivering good value. And some patients may not be getting the services they should be.
Press release ~ AC: Paying GPs to improve quality - Auditing payments under the Quality and Outcomes Framework
IISS: Mark Fitzpatrick (Director, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Programme, The International Institute for Strategic Studies, London) says that 'Claims about Iranian strategic-weapons programmes should not be made lightly'. Claims that Iran has carried out activities in violation of its CWC & BWC obligations cannot be determined from the available public information and may have been exaggerated.
Newswire – EC: A curriculum which is poorly differentiated for children with different strengths will not hold children’s attention and will lead to misbehaviour, warns the Education Committee in a report published last week. The Committee recommends that the future curriculum should contain a mix of academic & vocational subjects in order to meet the needs of all pupils.
Newswire – IDC: MPs from the Commons International Development Committee examining the Department for International Development's (DFID) annual accounts have said that the Government’s commitment to channel more UK aid toward fragile & war-torn states will make it difficult to ensure that every £ is well spent and that less aid money is likely to reach some poor countries where it may be able to achieve more.
Newswire – WWF: All of the world’s energy needs could be provided cleanly, sustainably & economically by 2050, according to a major new study by WWF published last week. The Energy Report breaks new ground with its global scope and its consideration of total energy needs.
Newswire – CTC: The Commons Treasury Committee published its Report, 'Financial Regulation: a preliminary consideration of the Government’s proposals' last week. The Government proposes to do away with the tripartite system, in which the Treasury, Bank of England, and Financial Services Authority work together, replacing it with a ‘twin peaks’ structure, separating macro-prudential and conduct of business regulation. Last week’s Report is the Committee’s response to what has been set out so far with regard to those proposals.
Press release ~ Treasury Committee Report: Financial Regulation: a preliminary consideration of the Government’s proposals
Ofsted: A polarised picture of school geography teaching has emerged from an Ofsted report launched last week. While geography was flourishing in a minority of the schools visited by inspectors, it was found to be under pressure in the rest.
With climate change and other geographical issues such as population growth, sustainability and natural disasters increasingly making headline news, the report, ‘Geography - Learning to make a world of difference’, describes the value of the subject and what needs to be done to reverse its decline. It builds on ‘Geography in schools: changing practice’, published in 2008