In the News
DFID: A little help can go a long way at the right time - Launching a new White Paper - Building our Common Future – the government claims the proposed measures would bring help to the 50m people worst hit by the global recession, keeping children in school, parents in jobs and the most vulnerable out of destitution.
It represents a shift in the way the UK delivers development aid, refocusing resources onto fragile countries and treating security & justice as a basic service alongside health, education, water and sanitation. There are currently 1.4bn people living in extreme poverty, of whom one-third live in countries affected by conflict & instability. The economic crisis will force a further 90m people into poverty and could lead to 400,000 more children dying every year.
Wales Office: But what is the English taxpayers view? - Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain has welcomed the publication of the Holtham Commission report which looked at funding & finance in Wales, including the Barnett formula. Among its findings are that spending per head in Wales is 14% above England compared with 10% above for the North East, which is the poorest English region.
In a statement the First Minister, Deputy First Minister and Minister for Finance & Public Service Delivery, said: “We welcome the report and are grateful to the Commission, chaired by Gerry Holtham, for producing such a thought-provoking analysis and a clear set of recommendations. The report makes a persuasive case for reforming our current funding arrangements and for strengthening the devolution resource allocation process”.
WiredGov-DCSF: Caring that they get a job - Ed Balls, Children’s Secretary, has launched a national programme to encourage & support organisations across the country to provide employment opportunities for young people leaving care. The From Care2 Work programme funds the National Care Advisory Service (NCAS) to work closely with national employers & local authorities to offer opportunities for work experience & mentoring to support care leavers into work.
From Care2Work will also include linking participating local authorities to a new national network of employers from the private, public & third sectors. The employers in turn will offer a range of appropriate career opportunities including, advice, training, work experience, job mentoring, apprenticeships and employment as part of a supported career development pathway.
MoD: Stretched to breaking point? - Secretary of State for Defence, Bob Ainsworth has set out the process towards undertaking a Strategic Defence Review in the next Parliament. The recently updated National Security Strategy (NSS) will provide the framework for the review which will be designed to ensure that the UK’s Armed Forces are fully prepared for future threats & challenges to Britain’s security.
As a first step it will involve a detailed examination of a range of issues including: the lessons we have learned from our recent operations; the changing character of conflict; the requirements on and aspirations of our Armed Forces. This will be set out next year in a Green Paper which will help to inform the defence review.
DH: Communication is the key - A £5m package of measures is being rolled out to help improve services for children & young people with communication problems. A new Communication Champion is also being recruited to raise the profile of these issues.
Communication problems can lead to serious disadvantages in later life – from initial frustration at not being able to express oneself, to bullying, reduced educational achievement, fewer job prospects and even the descent into criminality.
The latest package of measures includes 16 pilot areas being chosen to identify good practice in providing support for children with speech, language & communication needs through the joint working of organisations such as PCTs and Local Authorities. This will be used to develop a national framework to improve the way services are delivered for children across the country.
ESRC: What makes good teachers even better - Knowledgeable, innovative, skilful, fun-loving, caring, supportive, task & pupil centred – it’s official – the most effective teachers are in a class of their own. They stimulate a pupil’s imagination, challenge their views, encourage them to do great things and motivate them through tailored teaching practices to ensure that every pupil feels a sense of achievement and valued as part of the class community.
These are the latest findings of a 2 year Effective Classroom Practice (ECP) research study in primary & secondary schools, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), into what makes good teachers even better.
The results show the best teachers are not necessarily those with the most experience. They are the ones with enthusiasm for their work, high aspirations for the success of every pupil, positive relations, high motivation, commitment and resilience. Combining good knowledge of their subject & teaching practice and providing support tailored to the individual needs of each child, these teachers focus on building self esteem, engendering trust and maintaining respect.
The main impact relating to teaching practice has been for training & development purposes. The research points to the importance of providing teachers in service with structured, regular opportunities to reflect on their roles & classroom practices and learn from examples of best practice in a variety of school and classroom settings. It points to the value of classroom observation and feedback as part of this process.
Industry News: Twin drivers push e-access to public services - According to Socitm (Society of Information Technology Management), web self-service must become the major route for delivery of all public services in order to:
* achieve the £15bn public sector savings required by the Chancellor in his 22 April 2009 budget
* satisfy the requirements of the Government’s National Indicator 14, which aims to reduce ‘avoidable contact’ between the community & local authorities. Examples of ‘avoidable contact’ include calls from citizens to chase progress on service requests. Such calls are usually of little value to either the citizen or the local authority. However, they can often represent a significant proportion of contact volumes.
Recent figures from Socitm Insight confirm that the cheapest channel by far is the web at £0.27p per transaction compared with £3.22 for the phone and £6.56 for face-to-face. So while the term e-Access can include ‘letter, phone call, SMS, web site or self service’, it is obviously in a LA’s interest to encourage clients towards a self-service web channel, rather than one of the others.
In response to this challenge, one of the leading providers of Content Management, eForms and Knowledge Management to the Public Sector, Web Labs Ltd has introduced the new E-Service Desk, which has been specifically designed to adhere to Government guidelines such as the N14 National Indicator and has been developed while working with some of the UK’s leading Local Authorities from Fylde Borough Council to Reading Borough Council.
Forthcoming Event: Cost Optimization and Beyond: Enabling Business Change and the Path to Growth - Cost optimization, cost reduction, cost… has been the focus for many organizations so far in 2009. But delivery of services does not stop, should not stop, will not stop. At the Gartner Data Center Summit 2009 (5–6 October 2009), Gartner will help you to manage this unique turbulence of our time: cost optimization and enabling increased/additional service(s) at the same time.
Key topics include:
* benefiting from virtualisation
* innovating IT operations & the latest storage options
* business continuity & disaster recovery
* green IT
* facilities & location and the issue of outsourcing
For other information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
For other Industry News please click HERE
CIOB: In response to the Government’s consultation for changes to the LocalAuthorityBuilding Control charging regime, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has called for a payment system that rewards good builders with lower Building Control fees and penalises poor quality & building control non-compliance.
The CIOB seeks greater clarity & definition of any fee regulations that act as an incentive for ‘green’ building and the implementation of these in a fairer way. In addition, it is highly desirable that fee regulations promote quality builders, whilst exposing the ’cowboy builder' as a more expensive alternative.
ScotGov: An updated Homecoming Scotland guide featuring 44 new events was launched by First Minister Alex Salmond recently at the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, at Portsoy. The 40-page guide showcases the updated list of events taking place throughout Scotland over the rest of 2009.
The new additions include the Edinburgh Mela Festival, Ice Hockey's Homecoming: The Gardiner Cup and the Clan Cameron Gathering. Thousands of Homecomers have already taken part in events across Scotland since the programme launched with the year's programme now totalling more than 400 events.
LSIS: The Learning & Skills Improvement Service has launched a new web service and announced that the Excellence Gateway registrations are up 88%. In addition the online portal for the learning & skills sector, has added a new research section to its site.
The new research section enhances the existing resources in Excellence Gateway with easier access to research materials, links to other useful sites and the opportunity to use discussion forums & collaborative workspaces to raise research queries & discuss individual research projects.
PCS: An overtime ban involving 70,000 PCS members working for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) began last week week, as the department allegedly spends £ms on the use of overtime to mask the true impact of job cuts. The union is calling on HMRC to employ permanent staff rather than relying on routine overtime to cover the loss of just under 19,000 jobs over the last 3 years.
During that period the department have become increasingly reliant on using overtime & temporary staff to clear backlogs of work & post which have built up due to job cuts. Just in the processing area of HMRC alone, £4.5m (or 10% of the area’s budget) was spent in the last financial year on overtime. This is money which the union argues would be better invested in permanent staff to provide a better service and to chase the £25.8bn of uncollected tax.
WAG: On the first day of the Llangollen International Eisteddfod, the Heritage Minister pledged the Welsh Assembly Government’s support for one of Wales’ cultural jewels by making £1m available for maintenance & refurbishment of the Llangollen Royal Pavilion.
The Welsh Assembly Government is making this investment alongside Denbighshire County Council, who has pledged an additional £600K, to upgrade the Pavilion and secure the festival’s long-term future as one of Wales’ high profile cultural events.
ScotGov: Intrallect, a Linlithgow-based software design company, has won the contract to develop Scotland's National Assessment Resource, Minister for Schools & Skills, Keith Brown, has announced. Currently Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) operate a number of manual & online assessment systems, to allow teachers to judge the knowledge & understanding of young learners.
The National Assessment Resource will provide the education profession with a single online assessment system. It will act as a store of assessment resources, a tool for the development of new resources and a coherent infrastructure for assessment within Curriculum for Excellence.
The Scottish Government has provided £1.7m over 5 years to a partnership between LTS and SQA to manage the development of this resource. The initial phase of the development is expected to be completed by autumn 2010.
HO: Maintaining passport security and delivering a high quality service to customers is the ‘driving force’ behind a fee increase of £5.50 for a standard passport, the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) claimed last week.
The IPS and FCO intend to introduce an increase in the price of a 10-year adult passport from £72 to £77.50. There will also be a rise of £3 to the cost of a child’s passport to £49. The increase will take effect from 3 September 2009 following final approval by the Privy Council.
The adult passport will continue to be issued for free to applicants born on or before 2 September 1929. An increase of 50p has also been announced to cover the cost of consular assistance services provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) abroad.
NSG: The Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell and the Dragons’ Den star & one of the UK’s leading business entrepreneurs, Peter Jones, were just 2 of the speakers lined up to attend Civil Service Live 2009 at London’s Olympia last week.
LSIS: At a special ceremony held in London recently, Kevin Brennan, minister for further education, skills, apprenticeships and consumer affairs, awarded Learning and Skills Beacon status to 12 outstanding further education & skills providers.
Among the new Beacons are a wide range of providers, including general further education & sixth form colleges, work-based learning providers, adult & community learning providers and the first offender learning provider to gain Beacon status.
ScotGov: Roseanna Cunningham, Minister for the Environment, has met with organisers & producers behind the Fife Diet project. The project encourages people to sign-up to eating food from the region, monitor their progress and share their experience. Working closely with suppliers & local farmers, the group aims to shorten the supply chain, reduce food miles, create innovative distribution services and re-localise produce.
The Fife Diet is free to join and you don't need to commit eating 100% from Fife any more, you just need to be interested in sourcing more of your food locally. They can help with information, events and food offers.
MoD: Danish military reservist field hospital staff have been training with 2 Medical Brigade at the Army Medical Training Services Centre in Strensall, Yorkshire, ahead of their 3-month deployment (beginning on 20 July) to take over the running of the Camp Bastion field hospital in Afghanistan from 202 (Midlands) Field Hospital. 256 (City of London) Field Hospital will deploy to Camp Bastion to replace the Danes in October 2009.
The Training Centre has a mock-up of a field hospital to mirror the facilities in Afghanistan. Training includes dealing with casualties who have lost limbs and learning how to treat civilian casualties who require an Afghan interpreter.
The field hospital at Camp Bastion provides emergency medicine, primary surgery, an Intensive Care Unit, general care beds, diagnostic support and a variety of clinical specialities for deployed medical care. Some UK Defence Medical Services specialists, together with US medical personnel, will remain at Camp Bastion Field Hospital during the deployment of the Danish Hospital personnel.
UKOnline: In the wake of Digital Britain, it’s clear one of the core challenges ahead lies not in the creation of infrastructures or content, but in winning over hearts & minds. Recent research has revealed a significant job to do in getting stakeholders within parliament, local government and across industry on board with the report’s basic principles.
Helen Milner, Managing Director of UK online centres said: “Anyone who hasn’t used computers or the internet in 3 months or more is officially classed as ‘digitally excluded’ and that applies to 29% of the population……… There is a big job ahead to communicate not just Lord Carter’s plans but the basic issues to some very key stakeholders. Without the buy-in of cross party MPs, councillors and especially businesses, the growth of a ‘digital’ Britain will continually be stunted and the opportunity Digital Britain presents will be lost”.
MoD: The Royal Air Force Regiment, which provides essential protection to Armed Forces personnel and air assets in Afghanistan, is to be expanded, with the formation of a new Field Squadron and Force Protection Wing Headquarters later this year. The new unit is expected to be deployed to Afghanistan, as part of Operation HERRICK, in April 2011.
The new Field Squadron will be based at either RAF Leuchars in Fife or RAF Shawbury in Shropshire and a study is currently under way to determine which of the two stations is most suitable to host the new squadron when it is formed in October 2009. The location of the Force Protection Wing Headquarters will also be decided shortly.
The RAF Regiment’s role is to protect deployed air bases, keeping personnel, equipment & infrastructure and particularly aircraft approaching & leaving bases, safe from ground based threats. In Afghanistan, the Regiment protects airfields at Kandahar and Bastion, while in Iraq it has recently completed 6 years safeguarding the airfield at Basra International Airport.
NSG: A New Deal to provide the Civil Service with the skills & training to deliver better value for money services for people was outlined at Civil Service Live 2009 last week. It brings together Permanent Secretaries, the human resources community, Government Skills and others to agree a Core Learning Programme to cover the essential areas of policy, leadership & professional development. As the corporate learning resource for the Civil Service, the NationalSchool is responsible for its design & delivery.
STFC: The UK-led SPIRE instrument on board the Herschel Space Observatory has made its first astronomical observations, with spectacular results. The first SPIRE images, together with first light observations from the other two Herschel instruments, have been released by the European Space Agency (ESA).
The SPIRE camera responds to light at wavelengths between 250 and 500 microns (500-1000 times longer than the wavelength of visible light). It is designed to look for emission from clouds of dust in regions where stars are forming in our own and other galaxies.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
ScotGov: A second phase of activity to raise awareness of the dangers of airguns, including a new internet ad, has started. The campaign, which uses MSN adverts, internet virals, posters and leaflets, is restarting for the summer - as police advice indicates this is when airgun incidents are most likely to occur.
It comes as figures revealed the first phase of the campaign saw over 130,000 plays of the internet viral and almost 15,000 visits to the campaign web site.
WAG: Holidaymakers can combine a personal challenge with a low carbon trip of discovery in 2009, with two maps highlighting the National Cycle Network through Wales thanks to funding from the Welsh Assembly Government.
Two maps from Sustrans cover the 251-mile National Cycle Route that runs from Holyhead to Cardiff. The maps are of the north & south sections of Lôn Las Cymru and detail how to undertake the entire tour, as well as providing several options for day rides. The revised maps – which include local transport information & gradients – allow users to see the route in its geographical context and provide more detail on the surrounding areas than previous maps.
HMT: The Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling has published 'Reforming Financial Markets', a document setting out the Government’s proposals for the reform of the financial system. The proposals focus on reform of the way banks are regulated, with more emphasis put on the risks financial firms can present to the economy and greater protections for consumers.
WiredGov-DCSF: Iain Wright, Minister for Children, Schools and Families, has launched a revised version of a course for male adult prisoners. The course, entitled Family Man, teaches prisoners how to work within a family, how to reflect & act on their responsibilities as a family member and how to articulate their own ambitions.
The revised Family Man course features two principal new developments:
* The course now enables prisons to involve a ‘family supporter’ (e.g. a prisoner’s adult relative or significant other, in the sentence planning process). Their joint Plan of Action is shared through the education department with the Prison Service’s Offender Management.
* There is now more integrated follow-through when the course is complete, because the prisoner and his supporter are exposed to a range of other interventions associated with the prison.
DCLG: A £70m Migration Impacts Fund, financed by a levy on migrants, will be used to tackle illegal working practices and reduce local pressure on public services. The money will be made available to local services across the country, including police, schools, hospitals and voluntary organisations.
Frontline services have already identified projects in their area that will make the biggest difference to insulating them and local people against the impact of migration. Every region of England will benefit, with the amount each receives being weighted towards the areas where international migration has had the greatest short-term impact.
WAG: Environment Minster Jane Davidson announced £5m of new funding to help businesses & the public sector to become more energy efficient and tackle climate change. The money will support initiatives to promote energy efficiency and low carbon technology in businesses & the public sector.
This includes working with Carbon Trust to provide loans for ‘spend and save’ projects that will reduce energy costs & contribute to reductions in greenhouse gasses. The move supports the Welsh Assembly Government’s recently published consultation on its Climate Change Strategy – Programme of Action which includes advice and support for businesses to go green.
The Assembly Government’s Climate Change Strategy phase 2 consultation sets out how the Ministers will cut carbon emissions. The proposals are supported by £300m from across government.
ScotGov: New affordable housing projects in North Lanarkshire, backed by £8.5m of Scottish Government funding, are safeguarding more than 100 jobs in the construction industry. Local housing associations - Cumbernauld Housing Partnership Ltd and Lanarkshire Housing Association Ltd - who are jointly contributing £4m, are building 99 new homes securing jobs for joiners, plumbers, electricians and bricklayers.
The two projects - in Cumbernauld and Bellshill - are benefiting from £1.5bn being invested in affordable housing by the Scottish Government over the next three years. Across Scotland, £675m will be spent to approve over 8,100 affordable homes for rent in 2009-10.
Defra/NE: An agreement between the farming industry and Government means farmers will take action to ensure their farms support & protect wildlife and biodiversity. The new agreement will see the National Farmers Union, the Country Land & Business Association and other industry partners work with Natural England, the Environment Agency and the RSPB to get more farmers into Environmental Stewardship and expand voluntary action to help protect water quality and the farmland birds, plants & animals typical of the local landscape.
This commitment by the farming industry has enabled the Government to avoid having to regulate to recapture the environmental benefits of set-aside, which was abolished last year.
HO: The Vigilance programme includes the provision of pre-emptive support, training & additional resources for areas across the country that have started to see rises in burglary & robbery over the last 12 months. It also includes a crackdown on known offenders in those areas with more proactive methods including;
* surprise home visits by police officers
* text messages reminding them to turn up to meetings with probation officers & job interviews
* targeting of prisoners released from short term sentences who might be more likely to reoffend
35 areas were invited to be part of the scheme, which is designed to be a pre-emptive approach to preventing early signs of rises in burglary & robbery over the last six months. In the majority of areas the rises are relatively modest and overall crime remains low. The programme of support will last for one year and will then be reviewed.
WAG: Two new specialist teams will be set up to improve diagnosis, care & support for people with eating disorders in Wales. The new teams – for North Wales & South Wales – will comprise of specialist clinicians and work closely with existing services such as GPs surgeries, social services, child & adolescent mental health services and community mental health teams.
An additional £0.5m will be available this year for the recruitment of additional staff and extra training. After that, £1m will be available every year to sustain & develop services.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published plans (consultation closes on 21 October 2009) to create a consistent & more transparent framework for calculating financial penalties which could mean some fines treble in size. The new plans reflect the FSA’s determination to change behaviour and address concerns that firms are repeatedly failing to improve standards (e.g. in relation to mis-selling to consumers and market misconduct).
They will also ensure that fines better reflect the scale of the wrongdoing and that any profits made from the breaches are clawed back. Any new policy is likely to apply to breaches committed after February 2010.
Under the new proposals, fines will be linked more closely to income and be based on:
* Up to 20% of the company’s income from the product or business area linked to the breach
* a minimum starting point of £100,000 for individuals in market abuse cases
* Up to 40% of an individual’s salary & benefits (including bonuses) from their job relating to the breach in non-market abuse cases
BIS: The Department for Business has launched a consultation on new regulations that will make it unlawful for trade union members to be denied employment through secret blacklists. This consultation will run for a shorter than usual period of 6 weeks (closes on 18 August 2009) to enable legislation to be brought forward as soon as possible. Ministers plan to seek Parliamentary approval for the regulations in the autumn and implement them urgently as soon as it can thereafter.
DCLG: The Government is currently asking for views on a £2bn relief scheme to support the minority of businesses who could see their rates increase as result of a 5-yearly revaluation of business property. While the government claims most businesses (60%) will see falls in their rate bills next year following revaluation, it admits some will pay more.
A £2bn transitional relief scheme will limit & phase in increases to rate bills resulting from the revaluation. The relief scheme is self-financed by businesses by redistributing money collected across the country from business rates. The Government is now consulting (closes on 23 September 2009) and asking businesses how this scheme should be run.
Defra: New Environment Minister, Dan Norris, addressed the water industry at a special conference on the UK Climate Projections 2009 released by Defra last month. The first Projections in Practice conference explained how the UK Climate Projections illustrate the extent of the changes the UK could face if nothing is done to cut greenhouse gas emissions – warmer and wetter winters, hotter and drier summers, increased risk of coastal erosion and more severe weather.
All of these changes could have an impact on the water industry and its ability to deliver high quality water and sewerage services – from increased water scarcity to ensuring water infrastructure can cope with a changing climate. It is vital that climate change considerations, using the best available science, are fully integrated in all water policy, operations and management.
The water industry is the first sector to have a legal requirement to plan ahead on the basis of climate change considerations, through the production of statutory water resources management plans. In addition, the Government is currently consulting on proposals that 103 priority organisations should have to report to Government on the risks climate change poses to their operations and businesses and the plans they have in place to respond.
DH: A consultation (closes on 20 August 2009) on a new national three-digit number – 111 – that will make it ‘easier for patients to access urgent care’ wherever they are, has been launched by Ofcom. In the final report on his review of the NHS, Lord Darzi recommended that the NHS continue to explore options for a single national three-digit number providing access to advice & information on non-emergency care. Asking Ofcom to consult on providing a number is the next stage in the process.
111 will not replace existing local telephone services or NHS Direct; it will provide patients with an additional choice in how they find urgent care. In the long-term, 111 could become the single number to access non-emergency care services in England, including NHS Direct. 999 will remain the number to call in an emergency situation.
If the Ofcom consultation finds that a three-digit should be allocated, pilot schemes will be launched later this year to identify the best model for the number. The Department of Health is working closely with the NHS to make sure any new number, which is introduced, complements existing services.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published proposals that will enable people to see how firms handle complaints – including the number received, the main products and services covered and how quickly they are resolved. The proposals would see firms publishing their own complaints data every six months and the FSA would publish results from the whole sector twice a year.
The FSA is inviting stakeholders to comment on its proposals relating to the publication of firms’ complaints data – the closing date for responses is 30 October 2009.
HMRC: Two consultation documents (closing on 1 October 2009) on modernising HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) powers, deterrents & safeguards have been published:
* The first paper contains proposals for modernising & improving HMRC’s information powers and accompanying safeguards, in 2 key areas: bulk information powers & specialist unnamed taxpayer powers
* The second consultation looks at ideas for a new & modernised excise checking framework, as well as ways of improving excise administrative procedures, in order to reduce admin burdens for business
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
CLG: Planning departments in England have this month taken delivery of the Planning Portal’s Best Practice Guide – a toolkit which provides helpful advice on how LPAs can reduce the amount of time staff spend on general planning enquiries, simply by implementing effective click-through links to the Planning Portal website.
It is envisaged that significant time & cost savings will be made by the LPAs, simply by empowering website users to educate themselves on relevant aspects of the planning process. Free, high level planning information for everything - including the installation of a satellite dish to a loft conversion - will be just one click away from the local authority’s website.
LR: Land Registry has published a new guide where deeds lodged for registration require correction or alteration. It also gives advice about how to deal with the different situations that can arise. A completed deed sometimes needs to be altered if the owners (or their successors) decide that its effect should be changed.
Practice Guide No 68 - Amending deeds that effect dispositions of registered land outlines the procedures that need to be followed where the original deed has already been registered,and distinguishes these from where the deed has not been lodged for registration, or where the application to register it has not yet been completed.
The guide also advises practitioners about situations where a later deed, drawn up for the purpose of correcting or altering an original deed that has already been registered, needs to follow one of the prescribed forms of transfer and/or comply with other specific requirements of the 2002 Land Registration Act and Rules.
Newswire – AC: Doctors must learn the basics of NHS finance to help drive greater efficiency and better outcomes for patients, according to the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the Audit Commission. The new Guide to Finance for Hospital Doctors is a practical manual that aims to help hospital doctors get to grips with the way the money works in the health service. It is especially useful for medical students and doctors in the early stages of their careers.
The guide is not about focusing on cost alone. It is about how money can best be used to improve the quality of care, combining operational and clinical effectiveness. Efficient use of resources and good quality services go hand-in-hand.
In February 2009 there was a call for clinicians to become more involved in NHS finance, agreed by the Royal College of Nursing, the NHS Institute for Improvement and Innovation, the Healthcare Financial Management Association, the Department of Health, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the Audit Commission.
LDA: The London Development Agency (LDA) has increased its support for small businesses and job seekers in the capital with the release of a new online guide to help them meet the challenges of the current economic downturn.
The guide – a response to the Mayor of London’s Economic Recovery Action Plan - gives Londoners easy access to the key contacts they need to boost their prospects – whether a business owner is facing difficulty or an individual’s job is at risk.
NA: Business leaders recently attended a reception at the House of Lords, hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Archives and the National Council on Archives, where they discovered the power of an often forgotten asset, as The National Archives launched a new publication - Corporate memory – a guide to managing business archives.
Through this guide, The National Archives demonstrates how businesses can use their archives to explore new markets, provide legal & regulatory protection and succeed in today's competitive markets. The guide highlights many different ways organisations are successfully using their archives and the benefits of maintaining high quality records.
The guide's release coincides with launch of the National Strategy for Business Archives, written by NA in partnership with the Business Archives Council, the Society of Archivists and other sector bodies. The strategy aims to ensure that the archives of our nation's business are cared for, protected & properly used in the future.
ScotGov: The latest figures from Health Protection Scotland show rates of MRSA have also dropped - down 15% on last year. Among the reports' findings are:
* C.diff rates are at their lowest level since monitoring began in 2006
* C.diff levels are down 38% for January to March compared with the same period last year
* Compared with the previous quarter, C.diff levels are down 11% - from 1,299 to 1,152 cases
The Scottish Government is committed to reducing all staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia (including MRSA) by 30% by 2010. The government's new target for C.diff is to reduce infections by 30% by 2011 for over 65s.
CAC: The Central Arbitration Committee has published its Annual Report for 2008-09. Statutory recognition continues to provide the bulk of the CAC’s workload and the report contains statistical & descriptive information about all the CAC’s jurisdictions.
An on-going survey of customers’ views of CAC services indicated that there is a high level of customer satisfaction, with 96% of returned comments expressing satisfaction.
CompC: The Competition Commission has published its Annual Report. During the reporting year, the CComp completed 3 major market investigations into Groceries, Payment Protection Insurance, and BAA, although work continues on implementing remedies following these investigations.
In addition, the CComp completed 4 merger inquiries and 2 regulatory inquiries - into mobile phone termination charges (as part of an appeal to the Competition Appeal Tribunal by BT and Hutchison 3G) and a review of landing charges at Stansted airport.
The report also reveals that an assessment of the benefits for consumers resulting from the CComp’s and Office of Fair Trading’s work in merger & market inquiries, provides an estimated ‘benefit’ figure of just over £400m a year attributed to the CC, whose running costs come to less than 6%.
Monitor: Improving quality in the NHS against a backdrop of tighter public finances will be best achieved when all NHS trusts have achieved the better standards of governance & financial management required for foundation trust status, according to Monitor, the independent regulator.
Monitor’s Annual Report for 2008/09 describes how the regulator is responding to the challenges facing the NHS and urges all remaining NHS trusts not to lose focus in preparing their organisations for foundation trust status.
MoJ/OLSO: Zahida Manzoor CBE, the Legal Services Ombudsman, has commented on the first steps towards the implementation of the Legal Services Act in her annual report & accounts. The Act creates two new bodies, the Legal Services Board and the Office for Legal Complaints.
The Act requires the current legal professional bodies to separate their functions as both regulator & representative of their professions and will see the removal of complaint handling from them. The LSB will have oversight of the approved regulators who will have responsibility for the regulation of legal professionals’ professional conduct. The LSB will also have responsibility for the new complaints-handling body, the OLC.
The Ombudsman reported that in 2008/2009 her Office has again performed to a very high standard. Of particular note is that her Office’s 2.2 months average turnaround time for investigations significantly exceeds the Office’s government target of completing 90% of investigations within six months.
The Ombudsman was pleased to report that the Bar Standards Board has maintained their high level of performance and continues to improve their complaints & disciplinary processes. She did however note a slight drop in the performance of the Law Society Solicitors Regulation Authority. She was critical of the overall performance of the Law Society Legal Complaints Service, although she did see some welcome improvements in their turnaround times and service delivery.
DH: The number of suicides in England are at an all-time low according to the latest annual report on suicide prevention. Care Services Minister Phil Hope said: “Investment in good mental health services, including early intervention when people have mental health problems is very important. Our new strategy for mental health, called New Horizons, which will be published shortly, will focus on promoting positive mental health and wellbeing.”
Defra: The number of beekeepers has grown over the last year, according to the National Bee Unit, which runs BeeBase, the national beekeepers’ database. Increasing the numbers of registered beekeepers is an important feature of ‘Healthy Bees’, the long term plan to protect and improve bee health.
More than 1,500 new beekeepers have registered on BeeBase this year and much of this has been attributed to the increased publicity on bee health. There are also large numbers of new entrants being seen at beekeeping training events provided by the National Bee Unit’s team of bee inspectors & beekeeping associations. Recent training events have seen over 13,000 attendees.
General Reports and Other Publications
HA: The Highways Agency has published its new procurement strategy, setting out its approach to procurement of goods, services & construction expertise for the next 5-10 years. The strategy – called ‘Delivering Sustainable Value through Supply Chain Management’ – is structured around the three key themes of value for money, delivery & sustainability and sets out a prioritised plan of actions.
It builds on the earlier strategy of 2001 and highlights new areas, such as the Agency’s drive to greater commercial awareness & practices. The current project to map & better understand supply chain patterns, participants and their contributions is also described - part of the continuing search for greater efficiencies and improved value for money.
NE: Natural England has welcomed the report by the Public Accounts Committee into Natural England’s role in improving SSSIs. The report highlights the improvement in the fortunes of SSSIs in recent years. At the end of March 2009, 88% of the land area of SSSIs was in favourable or recovering condition. This is a very significant achievement given the situation that existed only 6 years ago, when the figure was at 57%.
The 4,115 SSSIs in England cover over 1m hectares, designated as special for their habitats, wildlife or geology. Since 1949, they have formed a vital network for wildlife & geological conservation and it is clear that delivery of the 2010 target is fundamental to maintaining the diversity of wildlife & geology in England. SSSIs also have an important role to play in maintaining water quality, flood alleviation, carbon storage and air quality.
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities has welcomed the Business & Enterprise Committee's new report 'Post offices - securing their future'. It recognises the need for the Post Office to find new business and suggests a variety of ways in which this might be done. In the CRC’s contribution to the Committee’s inquiry, they called for the Post Office to expand its range of financial & banking services.
The report also suggests the Post Office could provide a wider range of community services and calls on local authorities to use post offices to supply more of its services. The report notes that in deciding to support the retention of some post offices, Essex County Council took the view that an important part of aim in doing so was to counter isolation in communities.
MLA: How do museums, libraries and archives help deliver local priorities? A research study commissioned by the MLA provides valuable evidence of the role they can play in meeting Local Area Agreement (LAA) targets.
The study identifies the contribution of the sector to the outcome of the 2008 LAAs. It provides a useful analysis of how museum, library and archive services best become strategically engaged, and the barriers that get in the way.
The report highlights how museums, libraries and archives contribute most to the achievement of priorities of building stronger communities; children and young people; and promoting adult health and wellbeing. It shows 70% of upper tier local authorities are using libraries to deliver their local priorities through LAAs and Sustainable Community Strategies; 57% using museums and 17% are using archives.
NAO: The Department for Children, Schools and Families is achieving its aim of promoting partnering in secondary education in England, according to a report by the National Audit Office. Some 87% of schools work with other schools & organisations on improving attainment & behaviour - and headteachers are clear that partnering is delivering very substantial benefits that support school improvement. But partnering has yet to realise its full potential.
It is difficult to demonstrate a direct, quantifiable impact of partnering, but the NAO does find evidence that partnering has wider benefits. Headteachers told the NAO that partnerships are a valuable tool for improving standards and that they had positive outcomes beyond the impact on pupils’ test results, such as sharing resources, energizing teachers and broadening the curriculum.
WiredGov – AC: Schools could save £400m a year if they bought desks, equipment & services more sensibly, according to a new report - 'Valuable lessons’ - from the Audit Commission, the public spending watchdog. It also says schools are sitting on cash reserves of nearly £2bn. While the Commission believes it is reasonable for a school to carry over some money from year to year; almost two out of five schools hold more than the recommended amount.
The report says school inspections focussed on educational standards and what teachers do, which is necessary. They pay less attention to economy & efficiency. Councils also pay insufficient attention to value for money in their support of schools. Many school governors should be tougher in seeking value for the public purse.
TfL: The Mayor of London’s office and Transport for London (TfL) have responded to the London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee’s report on fares. They made it clear that fares will remain affordable and that £bns will continue to be invested to improve transport in London.
The Assembly report looks at the potential level of TfL’s fares for 2010 and in subsequent years. It asserts that TfL is facing a shortfall of £112m this year due to lower than projected fares revenue. However, this is not a new projection and the £112m was taken in to account when TfL’s budget for 2009/10 was published earlier this year. TfL therefore do not recognise the Assembly’s range of numbers.
ScotGov: Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil has branded the effects of Right to Buy legislation on numbers of homes for rent as a 'dreadful legacy' for housing in Scotland. He was responding to a Shelter Scotland report which shows that the number of housing association and council homes for rent is at its lowest for 50 years.
Between 1980 & 2005 nearly 450,000 homes for social rent were sold at a discount in Scotland as a result of Right to Buy. Reforms proposed in the draft Housing (Scotland) Bill would end the Right to Buy for new social housing tenants and ‘incentivise’ LAs to build council homes for the first time in a generation.
Ofsted: Effective integration of services, a positive ethos and a 'can do' approach by professionals at Sure Start children’s centres are providing invaluable support for children, their families & the local community, according to Ofsted’s latest report - The impact of integrated services on children and their families in Sure Start children’s centres.
Surveying 20 children’s centres in 6 local authorities – all within the 30% most deprived areas in the country – this small scale survey found over half of the centres are providing effective integration of services in supporting children & their parents making life changing differences.
Legislation / Legal
GEO: The Equality Bill has been amended to make clear that treating a woman unfavourably because of pregnancy or maternity - at work or in shops and public services - is unlawful & cannot be justified. A new ‘dual discrimination’ clause was also inserted into the Bill to allow people directly discriminated against because of a combination of two protected characteristics to make a claim.
The Equality Bill will now go to the Report stage in the House of Commons, when all MPs will be given the opportunity to debate & propose further amendments to the Bill. The majority of the Equality Bill should come into force by Autumn 2010, subject to its progress through Parliament. This is the earliest anticipated commencement date following Royal Assent.
DSA: Drivers who passed a car driving test before 1997 were given so-called ‘grandfather rights’ to drive small lorries & minibuses. They will be able to continue driving these vehicles, but will only be able to give tuition in them if they pass the appropriate driving test for the relevant category before 6 April 2010 and meet the relevant medical standards.
Drivers who do not pass the relevant driving test before then will have to wait 3 years from the date they do pass until they can supervise learner drivers.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
WAG: Welsh inventors have walked off with three of the top awards at the British Female Inventor and Innovator of the Year competition. All 9 Welsh finalists were given a Special Recognition Award.
ScotGov: Scotland's fisheries sectors received a major lift last week with the announcement of £3m in fisheries grants. 17 projects will share the funding as part of the latest round of European Fisheries Fund (EFF) grants. The new investment will create 48 new jobs and safeguard 300 more in Scotland's fishing, processing and aquaculture sectors. Several of the projects have been fast-tracked as they are time-critical.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: Veterans across the nation are set for trips to Normandy and theatres of war throughout the world to commemorate the battles that led to the end of WW2. A total of 457 awards (worth over £931,000) have been made from BIG’s Heroes Return 2 programme, funding 1,572 WWII veterans, widows, spouses and carers to mark overseas anniversaries throughout 2009 and 2010.
Launched to mark the historic 60th anniversary of D-DAY in 2004, BIG’s first Heroes Return scheme awarded £16.6m to over 39,000 veterans, spouses, widows & carers to fund commemorative visits to Second World War battlefields, cemeteries and other significant places across the world.
Heroes Return was the centrepiece of the Veterans Reunited programme, including Home Front Recall which awarded £19.2 million to support UK-based group events & activities to commemorate those who contributed to the war-effort on the home front. The programme also includes Their Past Your Future, a schools & education programme to give young people the opportunity to learn first-hand from veterans about their experience of war.
Cabinet Office: Baroness Julia Neuberger, the Government’s independent Volunteering Champion, has called for all civil servants to be given up to 5 days off per year to volunteer. The report explores the difference between private sector & public sector attitudes to volunteering and it finds that outside the civil service (in 2007) 36% of employees had an employer-supported volunteering scheme available to them. Approximately 70% of FTSE 100 companies have some kind of employer supported volunteering programme.
In the report Baroness Neuberger sets out the business case under three main headings:
1. Outreach & community engagement enables government to be more responsive
2. Volunteering is in itself a way of enabling practical learning & development
3. It boosts staff morale & builds teams
Business and Other Briefings
ECGD: Given the progress of the
economy and improvements in security, the Export Credits Guarantee
Department has now decided to make available a limited amount of cover on
basis from 7 July 2009. ECGD has not provided medium-term
cover since before Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
& Investment (UKTI), the government organisation that helps British
business grow internationally, has also expanded its presence in both Baghdad
and Basra. Its trade & commercial teams can provide tailored support
and advice for any UK companies looking to do business in the
gives details of the VAT treatment of 'Dutch barges' and similar vessels
designed for and used as permanent residential accommodation by owners.
gives details of the VAT treatment
Editorial Content Statement
Any views expressed are therefore entirely those of the WGPlus editorial team and
independent of any sponsor, government organisation or political party.
For the official view of a source
organisation, readers should click
on the ‘press release’ that is the first link attached to each
Speed of download - Readers are reminded that some documents linked to can be large (VL)
or even very, very large (VVL) and may take some time to download, even with a
broadband link. Readers are encouraged to be patient.
While every care is taken to ensure that all links
’work’ in the newsletter (including checking just before
publication), WGPlus cannot guarantee that websites will not make changes that
will nullify individual links, especially over a period of
WGPlus is not responsible for the content of external