In the News
DWP: Retirement – an ever more distant dream in the future? - The Government has launched a strategy - Building A Society For All Ages - to help Britain prepare for our ageing society. It is intended to draw together action to help individuals, families, businesses, public services and communities respond to demographic change and it follows the Government’s reforms to respond to demographic change.
As part of helping the economy respond to an ageing society, a review of the Default Retirement Age (DRA) will be brought forward to take place next year. Currently employers can require all staff to retire at 65 regardless of their circumstances. 1.3m people choose to work beyond state pension age and many more say they would work past 65 if their employer permitted it.
In addition, building on the National Insurance measures taken in the budget to help those caring for grandchildren, a summit will take place in the autumn to explore the changing role of grandparents more widely and what more we can do to support them in maintaining strong relationships with their grandchildren after parental separation and divorce. The strategy consultation closes on Monday, 12 October 2009.
DH: Prudent provision or just another stealth tax on savers? - Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, has claimed in the Green Paper: Shaping the Future of Care Together that ‘everyone in England will have access to a National Care Service that is fair, simple and affordable’. More people need care because they are living longer – in 1948 life expectancy was 66 while today it is 78. For the first time there are more people over the age of 65 than there are under the age of 18.
The National Care Service is supposed to ‘create a level playing field and end the postcode lottery of care services’. The Big Care Debate (consultation closes 13 November 2009) will canvas the public’s and people who work in care & support services’ views on what the National Care Service should look like and how care should be paid for. 20% of people will need care costing less than £1,000 – but 20% will need care costing more than £50,000.
Under the National Care Service, everyone will get SOME care for free, funded by 1 of 3 proposals:
* partnership – the responsibility for paying for care would be shared between the Government and the person who has care needs. The Government provides 25 – 33% of the cost of care, more for people on a low income
* insurance – the same as ‘partnership’ but the Government could help people to prepare to meet the costs that they would have to pay, through an insurance-based approach. Estimated cost: £20k - £25k
* comprehensive – everyone who can afford it would pay into a state insurance scheme meaning everyone who needs care will receive it free. Estimated cost: £17k - £20k
CQC: Have any lessons been learnt this time? - The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has urged NHS trusts to respond to the tragic death of Baby P by delivering major improvements in compliance with measures to safeguard children. It is publishing a review of child safeguarding in the NHS, commissioned by the Secretary of State for Health as part of the response to the case of Baby P (now known as Peter).
Based on a detailed survey of 392 NHS trusts, the findings indicate that a majority of organisations had the right people & systems to help protect children. But they highlight worrying shortfalls in the numbers of staff up to date with mandatory training, designed to help them identify & respond to concerns.
This was true for staff across the NHS, as well as those dealing with children routinely, such as GPs and those in A&E, paediatric and sexual health services. In addition, 29 out of 152 primary care trusts (PCT) reported case loads of more than 500 children per health visitor, well above Lord Laming’s recommendation of 400.
Guidance issued by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health says all healthcare staff:
* should have basic training in child protection (level one)
* with regular contact with children & young people should have child protection training (level two at least).
OS: All reading from the same map at last - An event to mark the launch of the One Scotland Mapping Agreement, jointly hosted by the Scottish Government, the Improvement Service and Ordnance Survey, has been held in the Tolbooth, Stirling. The new agreement, which covers 73 Central & LG, as well as some Scottish NHS organisations, provides easy access to a range of OS products to help deliver public services.
The Agreement is the first time that all public sector organisations in Scotland have licensed Ordnance Survey products under a single agreement. The 4-year partnership replaces the local government Mapping Services Agreement and the Pan Government Agreement for central government and provides common terms for all the member organisations, therefore ensuring much greater opportunities for data sharing between those organisations who increasingly work in partnership with one another.
The agreement includes a broad range of OS products, including OS MasterMap Topography and Integrated Transport Network Layers, as well as almost all the supporting scales of contextual digital mapping. These products will support a diverse range of services including land registration, grant & subsidy management, environmental protection, habitat mapping, emergency planning & response, community development initiatives, the digital television switch over and the provision of health & social care services.
Industry News: Improved IT skills reduce risk of 'crashing' - Westminster's approach to running large IT projects is akin to "trying to avoid a car crash by looking in the rear-view mirror", a panel of chief civil servants and MPs concluded in March of this year.
In truth, many public sector IT projects overrun and exceed budget due to the staff or contractors employed not having the necessary skills and experience.
In the current economic climate, it is imperative to develop and deliver complex innovative and cost-efficient public sector IT solutions on time and on budget. To do this organisations need experienced and business aware IT professionals to plan, design, implement and operate these solutions to a recognised quality standard.
Open Group’s IT Architecture Certification (ITAC) and IT Specialist Certification (ITSC) programs have been created to help address the issues faced by both public sector organisations and individual IT professionals when it comes to delivering large IT projects.
Click here for further information, white papers on the programs and to receive a FREE copy of the ITAC Interactive Self Assessment Tool
For other Industry News please click HERE
For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
BIS: The first Government backed innovation awards, the iawards, were launched last week at the Science Museum, aim to celebrate the best of cutting edge British science & technology. The closing date for entries is 16 September 2009.
Entries for the 13 categories are open to all organisations, but must specify the British involvement in any innovation - demonstrating that innovative thinking & development came from a British organisation or team. Each entry must demonstrate how its innovative qualities relate to at least one of the following challenges: addressing the healthcare needs of a aging society; increasing international security from tackling global poverty to minimising the threat of terrorism; preserving finite natural resources in the face of population growth and climate change; and delivering public services which make best use of new technologies.
ScotGov: The electronic Acute Medication Service, or eAMS, is the first national system of its kind to go live anywhere in the UK, allowing doctors to send prescriptions electronically to pharmacies. It is now enabled in 99% of Scotland's GP practices & pharmacies.
In addition to cutting the risk of errors between GPs & pharmacists, eAMS adds improvements such as using universal codes for virtually all medicines. Patients will continue to be given traditional paper prescriptions in addition to the electronic version and this will continue until the system is well-established. There is no intention of moving to an entirely paperless prescribing system.
LD: The National Land Information Service (NLIS) Hub has announced a decision to reduce its local authority combined LLC1 and CON29R service provider charge to NLIS channels by more than 50%. The reduction will happen in October 2009 and licensed conveyancers who subscribe to the NLIS channels will benefit.
DCMS: A competition open to the whole of the UK to find the nation’s first ‘City of Culture’ has been launched by Culture Secretary, Ben Bradshaw. The winning city will become a focus for national attention in 2013 and could host high-profile media events including the Turner Prize, BBC Sports Personality of the Year, The Brits and the Stirling Prize as part of their year in the spotlight.
Building on Liverpool’s success as European Capital of Culture in 2008 the government claims that the successful city could expect to see economic & social benefits flow in, leaving a lasting legacy. Bids will also be welcome from closely linked urban areas, or cities with their surrounding areas. The important thing is that there must be a clear central focus to the area.
Bidders will have until 16 October 2009 to submit an outline application, with a deadline of 11 December 2009 for initial bids. Those bids that are short listed have until 28 May 2010to submit their full & final bids. The winning city will be provided with the title of UK City of Culture for their year, and given rights to the UK City of Culture brand, with scope to tailor it to their own city if desired.
HA: A new framework contract worth up to £130m for technical consultancy services to support the operation & improvement of England’s motorways and major A roads has been awarded by the Highways Agency. It gives the Agency access to specialist technical consultancy advice in areas ranging from research & development through to the implementation of standards & guidance.
The framework approach builds on the success of previous similar arrangements and is designed to ensure good value for money by giving the Agency access to specialist expertise without the need tender for individual projects. The scope of services provided will be extremely wide, ranging from support on major projects valued at several million pounds and lasting several years to small tasks requiring just a few days work.
HO: The Home Office has announced that, following a pricing review, the CRB has agreed to reduce the fee charged for a Standard Disclosure from £31 to £26. The change will come into effect from 1 October 2009. The fee reduction has been made possible due to an expected increase in the volume of disclosure applications being processed as the new Vetting & Barring Scheme goes live in October.
The following fee levels will apply from 1 October throughout the remainder of 2009/10:
* Standard CRB check £26 (reduced from £31)
* Enhanced CRB check £36
* POVAFirst check £6
ACE: Arts Council England have announced final details of an organisation-wide restructure that will ‘transform’ the way it serves the arts & audiences, while saving £6.5m a year in administration costs. This major review was informed by recommendations of the 2008 McMaster, McIntosh and Hodge reviews and Chief Executive Alan Davey’s vision for the organisation.
Details of the proposed changes can be found here. Implementation of the changes will begin immediately and the new structure will be in place by April 2010.
ACE: Fans of the cult hit BBC3 series ‘Being Human’ and the Richard Curtis classic ‘Notting Hill’ are in for An Afternoon Less Ordinary when beauty meets the beast on stage at the Royal Court on 21 July 2009 at 4pm. Actors Russell Tovey – George the werewolf from ‘Being Human’ and one of the original History Boys – and Gina McKee who played the lovely Bella in Notting Hill, are the first star names to be announced for a special event to celebrate A Night Less Ordinary, Arts Council England’s free theatre ticket scheme for under 26 year olds.
After a 20 minute performance – a reading of a new play by young playwright Anya Reiss - members of the audience will have the chance to mingle with the stars at an informal gathering in the theatre bar. All tickets for the special event are available free to anyone under 26 by calling 0845 300 6200 and are sure to go fast. Lines are open Monday-Friday 9am – 5pm. Proof of age is required on collection and drinks are not included.
GEO: Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, has announced the reappointment of Trevor Phillips as Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission for a second three-year term. She also announced the reappointment of Baroness Margaret Prosser as Deputy Chair for the same period.
The reappointments of Trevor Phillips and Baroness Prosser will be accompanied by a restructured EHRC Board. The number of Commissioners will be reduced to reflect the new structure of the organisation and to help prepare for its new role in delivering the Equality Bill.
MCA: A Coastguard radio ad warns about ‘tombstoning’. The new radio filler is part of an ongoing campaign advising against the madness of tombstoning by HM’s Coastguard following a spate of deaths from the activity in the last few years. Since 2005, they have dealt with 10 deaths and 36 serious injuries from Tombstoning.
Nick Biddlecombe, a tombstoning victim who is permanently wheelchair bound after a devastating spinal injury when he was 17 years old said in an interview: “We’d all go down there, but none of us had the intention of jumping; seeing who could prove that they were the bigger man really. I was bet 50p and a cigarette that I wouldn’t jump first, so I did. …. I remember waking up under the water, I tried to move my arms and my legs to swim up and I couldn’t”
HA: Motorway signs that automatically read the road ahead are being used to make journeys easier & safer as thousands of holidaymakers head for the coast. The signs encourage drivers to slow down gradually if there is congestion ahead, which means queues are more likely to disappear and traffic keeps moving at a steady rate.
Among the most frequent are the ‘MIDAS’ signs (Motorway Incident Detection and Automatic Signalling). These use sensors buried in the road surface to automatically detect slow-moving traffic and warn traffic further back – effectively increasing the ‘view’ of the road from a few hundred metres to several miles ahead. Sometimes this means that when the signs warn of a ‘queue ahead’, the queue will actually have dispersed by the time drivers reach the point of the original problem.
Another type of sign, called Travel Time Variable Message Signs, use monitoring equipment to measure the actual time taken by vehicles on a particular stretch of motorway. For example, a sign on the M5 at Exeter displays the current time it is taking vehicles to reach Bodmin via the A30, 65 miles further ahead.
Defra: Movements of fish into, out of and within 3 fisheries in Norfolk have been restricted, following the confirmation of koi herpesvirus disease. Cefas, acting on behalf of Defra, has issued Confirmed Designations prohibiting the movement of fish into, out of and within the affected sites, all of which are operated by Barford Lakes, Chapel Street, Barford, Norwich, Norfolk, NR9 4BJ. The designated fisheries are as follows:
* CD 27/ 2009 Barford Lakes, Chapel Street, Barford, Norfolk, NR9 4BJ also including Marlingford Mere, Marlingford Hall, Norfolk
* CD 28/ 2009 Colton and Greenacres Reservoirs, Colton, Dereham, Norfolk
* CD 29/ 2009 Railway and Willow Lakes, Station Road, Thuxton, Dereham, Norfolk
Under the requirements of the designations, the waters listed above operated by Barford Lakes have been directed to establish & maintain on-site facilities for the disinfection of angling equipment at all access points for each of the designated sites and anglers must comply with their use.
TfL: More than 140,000 cyclists in the Capital are being sent a link to a new cycle safety training film for cyclists & lorry drivers as part of work by Transport for London (TfL) to reduce the number of cyclists killed and seriously injured in the Capital.
The 5 minute film, which anyone can watch online, has been designed to help cyclists & lorry drivers navigate London´s busy roads – and each other – safely. Filmed from both the cyclists & drivers points of view, it outlines a series of golden rules
TfL continues to work with haulage companies though the Freight Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) to address the problem of collisions between cyclists and goods vehicles. Companies are working with TfL to put warning signage on the back of their vehicles and educate their drivers about how to behave around cyclists (9,800 signs have been distributed to date).
In the past year, TfL has distributed 15,000 free safety lenses (through FORS), known as ‘Fresnel’ lenses, to freight companies operating vehicles in London. The easy to fit lenses stick on to the passenger window of a truck cab, improving lorry drivers' vision of cyclists who come within close proximity of their vehicles.
STFC: Two spacecraft that will be used to monitor disaster areas across the world in the event of a catastrophe on the scale of the 2004 tsunami are being tested at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC’s) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.
NigeriaSat-2 and NX owned by the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) will form part of the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) when they are launched next year. DMC was set up by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (a satellite company that delivers operational space missions for a range of applications) and brings together a unique collaborative partnership of several nations to provide emergency images in the event of a disaster.
High resolution photos can be taken on a daily basis at any given point on the globe as was the case during the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina in 2007.
LSN: The Learning and Skills Network is taking a new strategic direction, offering its expertise to new sectors, while extending its support for further education & training. Its new mission – ‘making learning work from the classroom to the boardroom’ – underlines an ongoing commitment to such crucial national programmes.
After 3 years as the ‘Learning and Skills Network’, the organisation will now be known simply as ‘LSN’. In addition, it has changed its website address to www.lsnlearning.org.uk and is launching a new, distinctive version of its brand.
IfL: Monday 13 July 2009 was a landmark occasion for teachers & trainers in the further education & skills sector. The Institute for Learning (IfL) hosted an awards ceremony for the first ever group of teachers & trainers in the sector to complete the professional formation process and gain Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) or Associate Teacher Learning and Skills (ATLS) status.
IfL is responsible for conferring QTLS or ATLS status, a new requirement for those joining the sector after September 2007 and open to all teachers & trainers across the sector. Formal recognition of full professional status, awarded by IfL, puts FE teachers & trainers on a par with other professionals.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
BIS: The government has published its Strategy for Low Carbon Businesses. The strategy follows from Building Britain’s Future: New Industry, New Jobs, and sets out how the Government aims to ensure that the transition to low carbon is a source of quality jobs & business savings in Britain.
The strategy identifies a range of low carbon sectors with potential for job creation & growth. These include: wave and tidal power; civil nuclear power; offshore wind; and ultra-low carbon vehicles. It also sets out the Government’s strategy for removing barriers that are blocking the development of Britain’s full potential in these areas.
The strategy recognises that local & regional strengths offer a good foundation to realise future economic benefits for Britain. The first Low Carbon Economic Area in the South West of England will create a business & skills focus on marine energy demonstration, servicing and manufacture.
The strategy also recognises that there are challenges for the workforce particularly for those in high carbon industries. The Government will create a new Forum for a Just Transition to advise on how to address the issues, with representatives from Central Government, national, local & regional bodies, Trade Unions, business organisations and third sector bodies.
WAG: A new £25m investment to generate jobs & leisure opportunities based on the outstanding wildlife & landscape of North and West Wales has been announced. The monies will be made available through two flag ship schemes:
* Communities and Nature (CAN) Strategic Project
* Wales Coastal Path
Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "Yesterday, we launched a Green Jobs Strategy for Wales ………. This latest investment also demonstrates how this Government wants to use our natural environment in Wales to create economic opportunities through leisure and tourism - providing valuable, sustainable jobs in areas and communities where they are needed."
WAG: A new joint agreement on flooding reached between the Welsh Assembly Government and the insurance industry will give homes & businesses greater protection against the impact of flooding. Ministers and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) have agreed to work together to improve the management of flood risks and to help people recover more quickly when flooding occurs.
The agreement outlines how the WAG and the ABI will work together to provide a long term solution to enable flood insurance to continue to be made as widely available by putting in place a long-term strategy (of over 25 years) to reduce flood risk and encourage action to mitigate & minimise the risks & costs of flooding.
Previous agreements have been made between the ABI and UK Government and did not always reflect the circumstances in Wales. This agreement will be reviewed annually.
HO: Plans to create a more hostile environment for organised criminals, seize their assets and shut down their businesses were part of a strategy to step up the fight against serious organised crime published by Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, recently.
The new strategy - Extending Our Reach: A Comprehensive Approach to Serious Organised Crime - follows an assessment of how criminals are exploiting new global trends and outlines new approaches for the Government & law enforcement agencies. Serious & organised crime is a multi-billion pound global business: trafficking in drugs & people, fraud & financial crime cost the UK Exchequer alone in the region of £30bn a year.
As well as a new emphasis on using all powers available to tackle organised criminals, the strategy sets out plans to create a new strategic body within the Home Office to drive the proposals forward, scrutinise performance and take the lead across the Government.
WAG: The Welsh Assembly Government has announced an extra £100,000 funding to support the National Dignity in Care Action Plan, which will include providing a programme of regional training events across Wales. A National Dignity in Care Co-ordinating Group was set up in October 2007 to ensure good practice in relation to promoting dignity and respect across the health and social care sectors.
BIS: A new Blueprint to ‘put innovation at the heart of healthcare delivery’ has been launched by Lord Drayson and Lord Darzi. The Office for Life Sciences (OLS) Blueprint sets out to transform the UK environment for life sciences companies and ensure faster patient access to cutting-edge medicines and technologies.
In addition there will be a 3-year ‘Innovation Pass’ scheme, which will be a initiative for selected medicines that will be funded for time-limited use across the NHS, from a new ring-fenced budget, without going through a NICE appraisal. NICE will play a key role in developing & applying eligibility criteria for the Pass.
This will give earlier access to innovative drugs for patients with the greatest need. The Pass will be piloted with a budget of £25m in 2010/2011. The pilot will be developed with input from industry, NICE & the NHS and will be the subject of consultation by November 2009.
WAG: Plans to improve access to occupational health services in Wales to help tackle absenteeism & ill-health in the workplace have been announced. The economic cost of sickness & absenteeism among the working age population is over £100bn a year in the UK, while work-related ill health costs the Welsh economy more than £500m per year. The One Wales programme included a commitment to explore proposals to place occupational health services on a statutory basis.
Defra: Environment Minister, Huw Irranca-Davies, has pledged that action will be taken on surface water drainage charges, sometimes referred to as the ‘rain tax’. The charges are a way of charging non-domestic properties for surface water drainage based on the ‘site area’ of the property rather than its rateable value.
Mr Irranca-Davies said: “We all agree that something is clearly wrong if Scout groups, churches and community organisations face huge hikes in their water bills……. As we have repeatedly made clear, some companies have been charging people in a way that doesn’t meet the guidance and is not fair and equitable. Following meetings with ministers, United Utilities placed a year-long moratorium on these charges. And I could not be more clear that Ofwat and water companies must resolve the issue……..
I’m determined the Scouts and other organisations are not met with huge bills this year or next so I hope that water companies will come up an acceptable solution without the need for anything else. Any group or organisation who feels that their bill is wrong should contact Ofwat who have agreed to take it up with the water company on their behalf.”
ScotGov: A 'record high' of nearly 40,000 Scottish Primary 5 children have been introduced to golf for the first time through the Government funded clubgolf initiative. Already, this year 38,784 P5 pupils have been introduced to the game through clubgolf's introductory game, which uses modified equipment to give children a taste of the sport in school. This figure is 7% of the total number of P5s in Scotland and represents an increase of 15% over last year's participation figures.
Launched in 2003, following Scotland's successful bid to host the 2014 Ryder Cup, clubgolf has been developed as a direct result of the ScotGov's commitment to introduce every 9-year-old child to golf.
DH: Carers across the country will be given better access to healthchecks, more support from the NHS and more opportunities to take time off thanks to a £16m demonstration programme. From October 2009, 25 demonstrator sites will test different ways of supporting people who care for friends or family.
The sites will look at:
* helping carers take time off or go on holiday through a ‘choose & book’ website and a ‘valuing our carers’ discount scheme for travel, holidays, sports and leisure activities
* providing healthchecks, at locations that fit in with the carer’s schedule
* providing paid replacement care so carers are able to take breaks
* teaching carers stress management techniques, giving advice on healthy eating and smoking cessation to carers in their own homes
* supporting carers more effectively through the NHS, for example, by ensuring that the NHS considers carers’ needs when booking & holding GP & hospital appointments and involving carers when making hospital discharge arrangements
ScotGov: A new child-friendly training scheme is helping single parents to gain new skills and get back into work. The scheme offers qualifications for healthy cooking, budgeting & hygiene training, with an on-site crèche providing free child care. The new skills help single parents back on the road to employment and benefit home life by providing economical healthy cooking ideas & skills.
The 101 training scheme delivers the course one afternoon a week, spread over 6 weeks. It aims to provide training for 100 single parents every year and is also set to deliver a new sports course, which will give single parents the skills for community leisure leadership positions.
The first six mums to benefit from the Dundee based scheme - supported by the Scottish Government Fairer Scotland Fund – have just received their SVQ certificates from Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil.
DfT: Transport currently makes up 21% of all UK domestic carbon emissions. A new strategy entitled - Low carbon transport: a greener future - sets out the policies & proposals for reducing transport sector emissions through to 2022. It also frames the debate for the longer-term decarbonisation of transport to give people and businesses more low carbon choices about when, where & how to travel or transport goods.
It sets out how an additional 85m tonnes of CO2 from domestic transport can be saved from 2018-2022 by:
* supporting a shift to new technologies & fuels
* promoting lower carbon choices
* using market mechanisms to encourage the shift to lower carbon transport
A proposed eligibility criteria for the £2-5,000 consumer incentives for electric & plug-in hybrid cars, is expected to apply from 2011. This includes the requirement for the vehicle to have maximum tailpipe emissions of 75g CO2/km. An update has also been published on the infrastructure framework which is supporting this scheme.
Cabinet Office: The Prime Minister has set out a number of measures to address the key nuclear challenges of the modern era and to lead international efforts to promote greater global nuclear security. The Road to 2010 paper published last week sets out a plan of action across the full range of global nuclear challenges. It sets out a detailed plan of action by the UK – in partnership with other countries – in the run up to next year when the world will gather to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
DECC: Community projects aimed at reducing carbon & and developing clean, local energy sources are set to receive up to £20,000 funding under a new partnership between the Department of Energy and Climate Change and NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts).
The collaboration will see direct funding & support packages, worth a total of £600,000, provided by DECC to 17 grassroots projects across England. NESTA will administer the scheme.
ScotGov: Leading supermarkets and their Scottish customers have virtually met a challenging target to halve the number of single-use carrier bags handed out. New figures, announced by the British Retail Consortium and the Scottish Government, show a 49.4% reduction in the number of bags handed out by Asda, the Co-operative Group (including ScotMid), Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's, Somerfield, Tesco and Waitrose.
This is the equivalent of nearly 39m million bags less in May 2009, compared to May 2006: comparable to the weight of 45 African elephants (as used in the Scottish Government's marketing campaign). ScotGov agreed with the supermarkets the voluntary target of a 50% reduction by May 2009. The target was subsequently adopted across the rest of the UK.
DH: The Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery held a listening event at the City of Manchester Stadium last week, which was intended to give the 10 Commissioners attending the opportunity to meet participants face-to-face and hear their views on what:
* the skills & attributes of the ‘ideal’ nurse or midwife are
* nurses & midwives could do more of or do differently in the future
* might be preventing nurses & midwives from doing this now
All views & evidence will be added to the submissions currently coming in from the public consultation launched by the Commission on May 10 2009. The submissions will then be analysed and these will then be fed back to professions & the public during a second engagement phase in the autumn, which will include a national deliberative event. The final report with recommendations will be submitted to the PM by March 2010. Further submissions are welcome and should be received by 10 August 2009.
Newswire – TSA: Social housing tenants up & down the country are being asked to host their own Local Conversation events to help shape the Tenant Services Authority’s (TSA) new standards for social housing landlords in England. Anyone interested in hosting an event can download an application pack or request a copy by calling the TSA on 0845 230 7000.
The local events are being encouraged as part of the second phaseof the National Conversation – the largest consultation to ever be held with social hosing tenants. More than 27,000 tenants took part in the first stage, where getting repairs & maintenance right and tackling anti-social behaviour were listed as top priorities for their landlords.
Using the results of the first phase of consultation, the TSA recently published a discussion paper on the proposed new standards. The consultation on the draft standards runs until 8 September 2009. The final phase will be a statutory consultation, which will be launched in Autumn 2009.
WAG: The Deputy First Minister and Minister for the Economy and Transport, Ieuan Wyn Jones, has set out how he will deliver the One Wales vision of a modern & sustainable transport system for Wales. Launching the first ever National Transport Plan for consultation (closes on Monday 12 October 2009), Mr Jones explained how the Welsh Assembly Government will deliver the Wales Transport Strategy over the next 5 years.
The plan is based on 3 key principles:
* to meet the demand for enhanced mobility which will enable economic growth & improve the quality of life for the people of Wales
* to put transport onto a more sustainable & less carbon-intensive path
* to use transport funding more effectively in light of increased pressures on public finances.
BIS: Industry, academia & consumer groups have been invited to use a new website to help develop a UK Strategy For Nanotechnologies, building on & consolidating the existing research and consultations that have already taken place (contributions by 31 October 2009).
The aim of the strategy is to describe the actions necessary to ensure that the UK obtains maximum economic, environmental & societal benefit from nanotechnologies, while keeping the risks properly managed.
MoD: The MoD has published a Green Paper - The Nation’s Commitment to the Armed Forces Community: Consistent and Enduring Support - which will look at how to prevent Service personnel and their families being disadvantaged due to their unique circumstances in accessing public services such as housing, education and healthcare. It will also look to provide them with tailored routes through which to address complaints.
Options in the Green Paper include creation of a Charter for the Armed Forces community, exploring the value of a legal duty being placed on public bodies, and an Armed Forces hotline to help Service personnel and their families make complaints if they are dissatisfied with the public services they receive. The consultation closes on 31 October 2009.
Cabinet Office: The Government has launched a consultation (closes on 7 October 2009)into the design & functions of a Social Investment Wholesale Bank. If positive this consultation could result in a new breed of financial institution – a bank with the primary purpose of investing in society, the environment and the economy.
Originally it was proposed that a Social Investment Wholesale Bank could be funded predominantly by unclaimed assets lying in dormant bank accounts. The Government is looking forward to seeing the banks make progress on releasing these resources for reinvestment over the coming months. However, this consultation is not about identifying the financial resources, but more about how the bank would work.
Defra: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published draft noise action plans for 23 English large urban areas, major roads & major railways, for consultation (closes on 4 November 2009).
This follows an informal consultation on earlier versions of draft template noise action plans, which gave the public & local authorities the opportunity to comment on the proposed way forward and what information should be included in noise action plans. The UK is required to produce noise action plans in order to fulfil its obligations under the Environmental Noise Directive.
DH: Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, has claimed in the Green Paper: Shaping the Future of Care Together that ‘everyone in England will have access to a National Care Service that is fair, simple and affordable’. The Big Care Debate (consultation closes 13 November 2009) will canvas the public’s and people who work in care & support services’ views on what the National Care Service should look like and how care should be paid for – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
DWP: The Government has launched a strategy - Building A Society For All Ages - to help Britain prepare for our ageing society. It is intended to draw together action to help individuals, families, businesses, public services and communities respond to demographic change and it follows the Government’s reforms to respond to demographic. The consultation on the proposals in the strategy closes on Monday, 12 October 2009 – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
DCSF: Children transferring to secondary school in September 2009 will be the first who will need to continue in education or training until they are 18, following the passage of the Education and Skills Act in 2008. A short informal booklet – Moving up – will be available from September to help new ‘Year 7s’ with the transition and explain the choices ahead.
The DCSF produced a similar booklet for the young people who moved to Year 7 in September 2008. This latest version incorporates feedback from children, parents & schools. These booklets can help support induction programmes and will be available in the first week of term, along with classroom materials.
Newswire - HCA: The Homes and Communities Agency’s approach to co-ordinating investment decisions with planning policy obligations to help unlock many more developments across the country, is set out in a new Good Practice Note. The publication - HCA investment and planning obligations: responding to the downturn - has been produced for staff & partners of the national housing & regeneration agency.
Working with Local Planning Authorities, through the HCA’s Single Conversation (a place-based approach to investment), the Agency will ‘support housing & regeneration priorities for an area by investing in ways that unlock schemes that are currently unviable, using public investment alongside private investment, to help make best possible use of developer contributions through planning permissions and planning obligations’.
The purpose of the document is to set out the approach the HCA will take to help local authorities meet immediate housing need and ensure that when the upturn begins, a recovering market is not hampered by a proliferation of lapsed consents, or delays due to a glut of re-applications.
HEFCE: Universities and higher education (HE) colleges in the UK provided ideas & services worth £2.812Bn in 2007-08 (a rise of 6.5% on the year before), according to the annual Higher Education - Business and Community Interaction Survey. The survey provides a comprehensive look at how HE exchanges knowledge with business & community partners, stimulates innovation, develops human capital & generates new enterprise, to the benefit of businesses, public services and the wider community.
HE is now providing new forms of support (such as internships) and offering lower-charged services for local & community enterprise: these are described as examples in the Universities UK brochure ‘Standing Together’.
Cabinet Office: Leadership, strategy & delivery in Government departments continue to improve because of Capability Reviews, the Cabinet Secretary has told the annual Audit Commission lecture at HM Treasury. The latest set of results for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Department of Health (DH) and the Department for Transport (DfT) have been published. To build on these results, Sir Gus has unveiled a new strengthened, Capability Review model for the future.
HO: The annual publication ‘Crime in England and Wales 2008/09’ includes results from the British Crime Survey and crimes recorded by the police for the 12 months up to March 2009.
CCC: The Civil Service Commissioners have published their online annual report for 2008-09. It gives the results of the Commissioner’s new audit of all government departments’ processes for ensuring that their civil servants are aware of the Civil Service Code and understand where to turn if they have concerns they would like to raise under the Code.
The report also details the work of the Commissioners in regulating appointments to the Civil Service and hearing appeals under the Civil Service Code.
CCRC: The Criminal Cases Review Commission has published its Annual Report & Accounts 2008/09, which sets out the Commission’s assessment of its own performance in 2008/9 and makes public the accounts of the organisation which was set up to investigate alleged miscarriages of justice.
The high profile cases of Sean Hodgson and Ian Lawless, whose convictions were quashed in April & June respectively, were both referred to the Court of Appeal by the Commission during 2008/9. They were, however, just two of 39 referrals made to the appeal courts between 1st April 2008 and 31st March 2009.
During the year the appeal courts dealt with the cases of 29 people whose convictions or sentences were referred by the Commission. Of those, 22 convictions were quashed or sentences varied while 7 were upheld.
ACOBA: The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments has published its annual report, which records the advice the Committee gave on the outside appointments which were taken up in 2008-2009 by former Ministers and senior Crown servants within 2 years of leaving government.
HA: The Highways Agency has published its Annual Report for 2008-09, which shows that the Agency is ‘making journeys safer, delivering better information for road users and using innovative techniques & technology to manage increased network capacity & traffic levels more efficiently, while working to reduce the impact of our major roads on the environment’.
TS: Latest performance figures for the Tribunals Service show that productivity & efficiency levels continue to improve – despite a backdrop of unexpected & increasing workloads across many jurisdictions, including employment; social security & child support; and asylum & immigration appeals.
Moreover, in spite of extra workload pressures the Service was able to reduce its net operating costs by £9m in its third year of operation; a reduction of 3% and on target for its key performance indicator.
General Reports and Other Publications
DC: A shortage of medium & heavy lift battlefield helicopters is undermining current operations say the Defence Select Committee in its latest report entitled, ‘Helicopter capability’. Chairman of the Defence Committee, the Rt Hon James Arbuthnot, said:
“It seems to us that operational commanders in the field today are unable to undertake potentially valuable operations because of the lack of helicopters for transportation around the theatre of operations. We are also concerned that operational commanders find they have to use ground transport, when helicopter lift would be preferred, both for the outcome and for the protection of our forces.”
The Committee is critical of the plan to extend the lives of Sea King and Puma to bridge the capability gap that will exist before the introduction of the Future Medium Helicopter in about ten years’ time. Given the age of these fleets and the poor survivability of the Puma, extending their lives at considerable cost is not the best option, either operationally or in terms of the use of public money.
The Committee praises the work of the Armed Forces personnel responsible for manning the helicopter fleet, but there is concern over the problems associated with manpower and harmony guidelines. There is an imbalance in the frequency of operational tours between squadrons from each of the three Services.
LBRO: Successful initiatives in the fight against underage sales of alcohol have been highlighted in a new study for the Local Better Regulation Office, as part of a drive to help local councils & police forces keep alcohol out of the hands of the under 18’s. According to the DCSF the number of alcohol units consumed by 11 – 15 year olds has doubled between 1990 & 2000 and has remained at the same level since.
LBRO is now urging others to adopt the best practice undertaken by local authorities and police forces in small cities & towns across the UK. LBRO is keen to work with councils & police forces on identifying the initiatives that work best.
NAO: Too many people with rheumatoid arthritis are not being diagnosed or treated quickly enough, and some services for people with the disease are not coordinated enough, according to a report published by the National Audit Office.
Delay in treatment is detrimental to patients’ health and their quality of life. With three quarters of people of working age when diagnosed, the estimated cost to the economy of sick leave & work-related disability for people with rheumatoid arthritis is £1.8bn a year.
Early diagnosis is the key to the successful treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, but public awareness of the disease is low. The average length of time from symptom onset to treatment is 9 months, compared to the clinically recommended period of 3 months, and this has not improved in the past 5 years. The disease is incurable, but there are a range of treatments which can slow damage to joints and there is increasing evidence that aggressive treatment very soon after the onset of symptoms can lead to remission.
CLG: Turning around underachievement of young Black men is a generational challenge that will be met by a long term commitment from Government, Communities Secretary John Denham, said last week. Recommendations from an independent REACH report made to Government 2 years ago identified the specific & unique barriers that are still holding back too many Black boys and young Black men.
Responding to those specific challenges has been the focus of Government's work in partnership with the community. A report published last week shows the progress that has already been made and highlights what further work is needed in three key areas:
* More action in communities
* Tackling underachievement in schools
* Raising aims & aspirations
Cabinet Office: Drawing on more than 30 of the best examples from around the world, Power in People’s Hands: Learning from the World’s Best Public Services is intended to show how giving people more control over the services they use and freeing frontline public servants to innovate can deliver better services & greater value for money.
The report, produced by the Strategy Unit in the Cabinet Office, looks at services that fall into five key strands. The report does not set out to identify the countries that are the ‘best in the world’ at providing public services, but to highlight specific schemes and projects that are world-leading.
BIS: The MacLeod Review of employee engagement has recommended government support and more cooperation by UK businesses both large & small to make sure the relationship between employees & employers is at the centre of successful business plans.
NAO: A review by the National Audit Office of overpayments to public service pensioners totalling £90m has found a complex & fragmented administrative process, prone to error, and for which there is no clear overall responsibility. The process requires effective joint working between the parties involved (the 5 public service pension schemes, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), and the Pension, Disability and Carers Service (PDCS), but they have failed to achieve this.
The errors, which affect 6% of pensions being paid to members over state pension age in the 5 schemes, occurred over many years. Some of the parties involved raised concerns about the process as far back as the mid 1990s. No one party has taken responsibility for overseeing the whole process, ensuring it runs smoothly and resolving errors. The process therefore broke down in a number of ways.
Ofsted: A new report highlights how the best provision in family learning is boosting the skills, qualifications and confidence of children & adults in England. Published by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), the report highlights the key features enabling children & adults to make good progress in their learning & attainment.
The survey focuses on targeting families most in need of support, the features of effective learning programmes, the impact of family learning on participating children & adults, and the models adopted to promote community cohesion.
NAO: According to a new National Audit Office report, the Department for Communities and Local Government has shown commitment to financial leadership & governance and has improved its financial management over the last couple of years. However, there is more to do for the department to embed good financial management throughout the department and to improve the financial & business management skills of its staff.
The department has increased the number of professionally qualified finance staff, particularly in senior finance roles, and has shown a commitment to improving financial leadership & governance throughout the organisation. Further recruitment & training of staff with financial & business management skills would allow the department to improve further its analysis & interpretation of financial data and its management of complex activities.
Legislation / Legal
HO: An Anti Social Behaviour Action website is part of the Home Office’s commitment to ensuring those suffering harassment or intimidation feel confident they know who to turn to. The website allows the public to find the person or team in their area who can tackle local problems with anti-social behaviour.
It also includes the latest data showing what public perceptions of anti-social behaviour are in each area and which of the many powers available to hit back at yobbish behaviour are being used. It even allows them to compare their local area with others across the country.
As part of wider & ongoing work with local partnerships across the country the Home Office has agreed to prioritise 16 local partnerships to support them in tackling ASB, increasing the use of ASB powers and in lowering perceptions of anti-social behaviour. An ASB Action Squad will be working closely with these and other areas to ensure they are fully supported and have the expertise to use all the powers at their disposal.
DH: New alternatives to statutory regulation for currently unregulated health & occupational professions have been proposed by the Extending Professional Regulation Working Group, which has recommended that unregulated groups could be covered by new licensing laws, which will reassure patients and the public that they are getting the highest quality of care possible.
The report does not commit Government to firm changes in policy at this stage and the DH will now assess their full implications before any implementation.
SGC: The approach to sentencing in cases of attempted murder should be based on the degree of harm inflicted on the victim and the extent to which the attempt was planned, new advice from the Sentencing Guidelines Council says. Around 70 cases of attempted murder are sentenced each year and vary widely both in the degree of harm inflicted or foreseeable and in the way the attempt was carried out.
The starting points & sentencing ranges reflect the minimum terms within a life sentence that would have applied had the offence been murder, as well as guidance issued by the Council in relation to other serious violent offences. Where a court finds that there is a real risk that an offender convicted of attempted murder will cause significant harm in the future, a sentence of imprisonment for public protection under the dangerous offender provisions may be imposed.
MoJ: Simpler forms allowing you to choose someone now that you trust to make decisions on your behalf in the future if you lose your mental capacity have been presented to Parliament. The redesigned 'Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)' forms give the person you choose (the attorney) the power to make decisions about your (the donor's) property or personal affairs if you have an accident or illness that stops you being able to make decisions for yourself - for example a brain injury, or a degenerative disease.
There are two new proposed forms, one for Property & Financial Affairs and the other for Health & Welfare. The forms are shorter, simplified versions of longer forms already in existence since October 2007. When registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (along with a fee of £120 for each form), the LPA gives the donor the peace of mind that it will be a person they trust who will look after their affairs if needed.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
NE: On the eve of the Angling Trust’s National Fishing Week (24 July - 2 Aug) – designed to encourage newcomers to take up fishing - Natural England has highlighted the important role that angling often plays in inspiring an appreciation of the natural environment and the need to look after it.
An appreciation for all types of angling can raise awareness & increase respect for the many different kinds of wildlife that depend on fish for nourishment and survival – from mammals & birds to insects. Equally, it can generate support to campaign for better quality freshwater, which will establish healthy breeding & spawning grounds for fish and amphibians.
Natural England is leading the STREAM and LivingRiver projects, which benefit the wildlife and landscapes in & around the main tributaries and river valleys of the River Avon in Wiltshire. It is also helping to shape the Marine & Coastal Bill that is currently working its way through Parliament.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
MoD: Army and Navy ‘Centurions’ are combining forces for a ‘Barbarian stomp’ to raise funds for Help 4 Heroes and the Army Benevolent Charities. The 84 mile march will commence at 0900 at the Gateway to Hadrian’s Wall in Bowness on Solway on 20 July 2009 with the squad hoping to cover 20 miles on the first day and average 12-15 miles on the following days finishing at Tynemouth hopefully on 25 July.
Curiously both the Army & Navy groups were considering the same fundraising idea and were brought together by David Richardson from the Portsmouth-based Roman re-enactment group Legio Secunda Augusta when they were researching costumes for their fundraising idea.
The 8 Navy Centurions are from the Base Logistics Department in Portsmouth Naval Base and they will be marching as ‘4th Century Centurions’ from the aptly named Classis Britannicus squad. They will be carrying hide edged shields with iron bosses and First century replica iron tipped throwing javelins and spatha swords. The Army team of 8 will include members of the 159 Supply Regiment and the Royal Logistic Corps Volunteers, marching as 1st century AD Romans.
BIG: An England-wide scheme to provide specialised storytelling sessions for children with profound learning difficulties is amongst 27 projects receiving funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme. This latest announcement sees over £5.5m awarded to voluntary & community organisations working with some of the most vulnerable & socially excluded people across England.
BIG: At a time when redundancies in rural areas have increased by some 128%, the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) is reminding rural villages across the UK that there are now less than 4 weeks left to submit an application to take part in Village SOS - a new funding scheme from the Big Lottery Funding partnership with BBC One.
Village SOS aims to help revive these village communities, many of which are feeling the affects of the recession including local job losses and the closure of local amenities. Village SOS funding will be awarded to six rural village communities and the search is also on for six enterprising and visionary individuals to become ‘Village Champions’ and work with the villages to help achieve their ambitions of starting a successful rural business. Applications close on 14 August 2009.
Business and Other Briefings
This Brief sets out HMRC's position on the the judgment of the Court of Session in this case and tells claimants and appellants what to do.
This Brief announces claims of overpaid VAT in respect of Mechanised Cash Bingo to be processed.
Amberhawk Training Ltd have just launched ‘Hawktalk’ - a new information law blog, which not only provides ‘insight articles’ into the legal ‘niceties’ of Data Protection and FOI, but also brings a touch of humour to the subject matter with some amusing cartoons.
A recent item is a data protection analysis that shows that URLs and IP addresses can become personal data, unambiguously. It means that any individual user of the Internet can, at any time, seek the protection of a data protection regime by providing the necessary identifying details to any organisation that stores their IP address or URL.
Organisations that use such data will have to adjust their procedures to take account of the reality that any subsequent processing of URLs or IP addresses, can be, at any time the processing of personal data. The process puts the internet user in charge of his/her own privacy.
Click HERE for more information or to subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed.
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