OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has published the findings of its consultation into markets in remote communities across the UK. Around half a million people live in remote areas in the UK and those who responded to the OFT's call for evidence raised concerns about high fuel & grocery prices, limited or high cost delivery services, inadequate public transport, slow internet speeds and poor mobile phone coverage.
NIA: Northern Ireland must develop better support structures for accessing crucial innovation, research and development opportunities. That’s the message from the Assembly Committee for Enterprise, Trade & Investment, which presented a wide ranging report into developing the Northern Ireland Economy through Innovation, Research & Development (R&D) to the Assembly last week.
The report highlights the need for the Executive to focus on co-ordinating and integrating R&D across Government, business and academia and warns that to fail to do so could result in Northern Ireland not being able to compete with its neighbours and competitors.
WAG: Business Minister Edwina Hart has published the findings of an independent Task & Finish Group's review of business rates in Wales. 'Business Rates Wales Review: Incentivising Growth' contains 19 key recommendations which cover an array of issues relating to business rates in Wales.
NAO: The National Audit Office has published a report on the effectiveness of central government’s communication with local government. The report recognises that, now more than ever, it is essential that central government communicates and engages well with local government. Responsibilities such as public health are moving to local government, local authorities are playing a vital role in the Government’s decentralisation agenda, and substantial reductions in staff are causing pressure.
DH: The Department of Health explains what they think the proposed NHS pension deal means for doctors.
iea: This report from the think tank Institute of Economic Affairs argues that, when government funds the lobbying of itself, it is subverting democracy and debasing the concept of charity. It is also an unnecessary & wasteful use of taxpayers’ money. By skewing the public debate and political process in this way, genuine civil society is being cold-shouldered.
Sock Puppets: How the government lobbies itself and why, shows that 27,000 charities are now dependent on the government for more than 75% of their income and the ‘voluntary sector’ receives more money from the state than it receives in voluntary donations. State funding weakens the independence of charities, making them less inclined to criticise government policy.
PC&PE: The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee has published a report on the impact of its work in the 2010–12 Session of Parliament. The Traffic Light Report, the first of its kind, scores Government responses to each of the Committee’s recommendations as green, red or yellow, to indicate whether, in the Committee’s view, they have been accepted by the Government, rejected, or are still under consideration or development.
ESRC: Teaching & learning in the 21st century needs to be 'turbo-charged' by educational technology rather than using technologies designed for other purposes, according to a new report developed by the Technology-Enhanced Learning Research Programme (TEL) - a 5-year research programme funded jointly by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council.
The report System Upgrade: Realising the vision for UK Education warns, that to prosper in the 21st century, people need to be confident digital collaborators & communicators, discerning users of the internet, and equipped with computational thinking skills such as understanding how to use & write the computer programs that underpin emails, searches & maps. Enhancing learning through digital technology can make this happen and should be seen as an investment, not a cost.
IfG: The Institute for Government has published 7 tests for a successful civil service reform plan. This is a pivotal moment for the future of the Civil Service - despite the cuts over the past two years the Civil Service is only half way through its ambitious cuts programme.
AS: Public sector mergers need strong leadership from the outset to ensure important decisions are made about the new organisations’ vision, structure and plans. An Audit Scotland report, Learning the lessons of public body mergers, looks at 9 mergers that took place between 2008 and 2011 under the Scottish Government’s programme to reduce the number of national public sector bodies by 25%.
The report finds that most recent mergers happened on time, but that permanent leaders were not always in place early enough. There were gaps in the planning for new organisations’ later development, some organisations were operating for too long without a clear vision and plan, and other important decisions were delayed.
IfG: The coalition government needs a renewal plan to help it work more effectively over the next two and a half years, says the Institute for Government. A mid-term review leading to a renewal plan, which sets out progress so far and objectives & priorities for the second half of the term, will help the parties in government work more effectively, the Institute’s latest report 'A game of two halves: how coalition governments renew in mid-term and last the full term' says.
JRF: A report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation warns of an escalating housing crisis which is set to lock over 1m young people out of home ownership by 2020. The report, Housing options and solutions for young people in 2020, finds that an extra 1.5m 18 to 30-year-olds will be forced into private renting in just 8 years' time.
DECC: A new report launched recently by the industry-led Offshore Wind Cost Reduction Task Force shows that the UK is on course to reduce the cost of electricity from offshore wind substantially over the next 7 years.
HL: Figures released by Homeless Link last week revealed that almost 4,000 bed spaces have been lost in accommodation services for homeless people, as the latest Government statistics show a 16% rise in demand for homelessness services.
CH: The risks of violence in Bahrain are escalating and none of the root causes of the 2011 uprising have been seriously addressed, says a new paper (‘Bahrain: Beyond the Impasse’) from Chatham House.
Socitm: The crisis facing public service organisations is now so severe that they need to experiment and start taking a mature approach to risk, says the latest briefing, available now, from Socitm Insight. While yesterday's top management recognises the potential for ICT innovation to deliver solutions, they do not necessarily understand how, says the briefing.
NAO: The National Audit Office has concluded, on the basis of an examination by former High Court tax judge Sir Andrew Park of 5 large tax settlements, that all 5 settlements were reasonable and the overall outcome for the Exchequer was good. However, the spending watchdog has expressed concerns about the processes by which the settlements were reached and over poor internal communication of the reasons for settlement.
CBI: With the coalition Government committed to raising the proportion of revenue from environmental taxation, the CBI has published a new report calling on the Government to undertake an independent review of its existing environmental tax landscape. The use of environmental taxation has been steadily increasing since the mid-1990s, from just 4 taxes in 1989, to 12 in place today, raising £43.4bn in 2010/11. This represents almost 8% of total tax revenue.
The CBI’s research shows some individual taxes have been successful – both Landfill Tax and Vehicle Excise Duty are well regarded. But others, particularly Air Passenger Duty (APD) and the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), are viewed much more negatively.
DWP: The first report from an independent research consortium led by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University covers the early months of housing benefit reform in Autumn 2011.
Researchers from the consortium worked with landlords & tenants in 19 local authority areas across Great Britain to assess attitudes to housing benefit reform in the private sector. The housing benefit reforms are designed to bring fairness back to a system that has seen costs spiralling out of control & reverse benefit dependency. Further reports will be published later this year and in 2013.
RUSI: A research study by RUSI and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), New Delhi, has found that there is a clear danger to India from CBR terrorism due to the known intentions of terrorist groups active within India's borders.
CEOP: A report published by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre underlines the significant risk posed by those who possess indecent images of children (IIOC) and makes key recommendations about how police forces can manage that risk to safeguard and protect more children.
The report, ‘A Picture of Abuse’, brings together current academic thinking & operational police experience in the form of case studies and practitioner debriefs, in order to better understand the risk posed by ‘image only’ offenders. The report is published in a full restricted version for law enforcement only and a public version of the Executive Summary.
Civitas: While police forces and the prison system grapple with the swingeing cuts inflicted by the Coalition Government, a new Civitas report reveals that policing strategies that target individual offenders could help protect the public.
Offender-Desistance Policing and the Sword of Damocles argues that letting the police deal with low-risk offenders quickly with a structured supervision plan linked to a deferred prosecution could reduce offending and allow police & the other agencies to focus more on preventing serious crime.
WWF: WWF's One in Five Challenge, a 5-year programme designed to help companies reduce their reliance on business flying and transform the way they meet & travel, has just produced its latest set of results, showing that member companies have, on average, cut their flights by 41% over 2 years, saving £2.4m and reducing emissions by 3,600 tonnes CO2.