In the News
HO: The trouble with statistics is that they rarely tell the whole story - A new interactive national map giving the public access to local statistics & details on neighbourhood policing in their area was launched last week by the Home Office and National Policing Improvement Agency.
The online map will allow residents to view figures for all crime as well as burglary, robbery, violence, vehicle crime and anti-social behaviour in their area ‘at the touch of a button’.
People can now compare one police area with another, compare figures over a 3-month period against the same period for the previous year and see annual crime rates. The public will also be able to see details of their neighbourhood police team, local policing priorities and information about forthcoming local events such as crime prevention meetings and local surgeries.
ScotGov: The issue is that Westminster must consider the interests of all the UK, while ScotGov only need consider Scotland’s - Independence would enable Scotland to maximise its full renewable energy potential and have its voice properly heard in Europe on crucial issues such as agriculture, fisheries & food. The latest National Conversation policy paper, which looks at rural affairs, the environment & climate change, illustrates thinking on how the current constitutional arrangements are holding Scotland back in these crucial areas.
Issues highlighted in the report include:
EU representation - Scotland currently has to feed into the UK negotiating line, even in policy areas such as fishing where it has 70% of the UK industry and agriculture where the UK Government's vision for the future of the Common Agricultural Policy is quite distinct from the Scottish Government's
Climate change - Energy policy & regulation are reserved to Westminster, as are vehicle excise & fuel duty
Zero waste - At present Scotland can increase landfill bans but has no powers to control landfill tax
Food - the UK Government consistently rejects Scotland's opposition to GM crops & foods when EU votes are taken on the issue; independence would also allow Scotland to create a Supermarket Ombudsman
IPC: For the greater good of all rather than local wishes - The Infrastructure Planning Commission has announced the first major infrastructure projects that it expects to receive as applications. 5 major wind farms and two new nuclear power stations are included on the list, as well as a biomass power plant and 2 national grid connection projects.
The IPC (currently in advice-giving mode) will start taking applications from 1 March 2010. Where the relevant National Policy Statement is in place, the IPC will decide applications. Where it is not, the IPC will make recommendations to the Secretary of State.
DFID: 8 Million Trees a day lost - The International Development Secretary, Douglas Alexander, has pledged up to £100m to a global fund to tackle deforestation. He is backing pilot schemes ranging from supporting trained forest rangers to large scale forest governance reforms. Countries will be assisted in applying for money from the fund through an expert group. Participating countries will be selected by March 2010.
The projects will form part of the £220m Forest Investment Programme (FIP), a fund designed & managed by a group of developed & developing countries that will set out how best to reduce the number of trees cut down each day, which currently stands at 8m.
Deforestation will be a key agenda item at December’s Copenhagen climate negotiations, with an agreement on the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) programme likely to be central to future forestry reform.
Newswire – AC: Just 8 hours to become a more effective manager - The Audit Commission has worked with the National School of Government to produce a unique web-based learning scheme on the core skills in financial management for local government. It is flexible, friendly and free to use.
Financial management & financial reporting are an essential part of good corporate governance. They underpin service quality & improvement, plus they reinforce accountability to stakeholders for effective stewardship and use of resources. Top managers (both executives & non-executives) need to be financially literate and able to understand fully the fiscal environment their organisation operates in.
This free programme gives managers, who are not finance experts, a ‘grounding’ in the core financial management skills. It takes around 8 hours of flexible learning time to complete all 10 modules in the user-friendly e-learning scheme. You will need to register to use the tool, but this means you can dip in & out when it suits you and you can go back for a refresher whenever you want.
FSA: Never Again - The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has issued a discussion paper (DP) (comments by 1 February 2010) focusing on policy measures to address the problem of systemically important ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks. The paper also examines the trade-offs involved in increasing capital & liquidity requirements and stresses the need to assess the cumulative impact of multiple reforms.
The paper identifies the dangers posed by those firms that are seen as too-big or too-interconnected-to-fail, or too-big-to-rescue. It describes the full range of policy options - including the creation of ‘narrow banks’ – in order to provide the basis for an informed debate, but also outlines the position which the FSA is currently proposing in international fora.
The issues discussed in the DP will set the agenda for the 2nd Turner Review conference which is being held on 2 November 2009.
Press release ~ Discussion Paper ~ Second Turner Review conference ~ Turner Review feedback statement ~ Turner Review ~ Discussion paper that accompanied the Turner Review
Industry News: The PM may think he has only 50 Days left (to save the world again), but what do organisations think in the real world - Reducing carbon emissions is now a highly important task for all public sector organisations, and there are a variety of factors which are driving the procedure.
As well as the clear, widespread environmental & financial benefits, carbon reduction is now being enforced through a variety of government schemes, in order to meet ambitious reduction targets for both the UK and throughout Europe.
A survey conducted during May 2009 by the Low Carbon Innovation Network looked to examine attitudes, knowledge, current & future practices and factors affecting carbon reduction within UK organisations.
Click HERE to receive your free copy of the survey along with a case study from Birmingham City Council and the latest white paper on reducing power consumption from Kyocera and Alto Digital.
For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
STFC: The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has received £12.32m, from the Government’s Large Facilities Capital Fund, to invest in new hardware for the UK’s High Performance Computing Consortia (HPC) – providing UK particle physicists & astronomers with upgraded HPC technology to address some of the most challenging scientific problems.
The new funding will allow the UK’s HPC facilities to continue pooling their complementary expertise and help ensure that the UK remains one of the world-leaders of theoretical modelling in particle physics, astronomy & cosmology.
HMT: The Government and the Financial Inclusion Taskforce (FIT) have announced that the ‘shared goal to halve the number of adults living in households without access to a bank account’ has been achieved. The latest report on access to banking by the FIT shows that the number has fallen from 2m in 2003/04 to less than 900,000 in 2007/08.
PCS: A new style staff survey is now being rolled out across the civil service and the PCS union is urging its members to take part. Results of the survey will help both managers & union representatives understand what action needs to be taken to maintain & improve the working experience & well-being of civil servants and enhance the delivery of the essential public services they provide.
The union has supported the development of a standard annual staff survey across all parts of the civil service. Following consultation on the design of the questionnaire and detailed testing in a number of different departments, they believe that the survey will result in robust & reliable evidence.
The Council for Civil Service Unions (CCSU) is encouraging departmental trade union sides to get involved in the survey process and promote the survey to union members. PCS therefore advises members to take part in the survey and respond honestly to the questions raised.
STFC: The success of 3 sea temperature measuring devices, which have enabled the Met Office and other scientists to produce accurate climate change data and contributed to climate change modelling was celebrated last week at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC’s) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL).
Scientists from as far afield as Australia who have worked on the satellite instruments known as Along Track Scanning Radiometers (ATSRs) gathered to mark the coming of age of the devices which provide accurate measurements of sea surface temperature, vital to the process of monitoring climate change and improving the quality of our weather forecasts.
PCS: UK Border Agency (UKBA) staff working at juxtaposed controls in Calais, Dunkirk, Coquelles and Boulogne have voted for industrial action as management plans to scrap allowances for day & night shifts and cut the overnight allowance from 68 Euros to 45 Euros, according to the PCS union.
The union estimates that the average staff member could lose over £500pm in allowances which are given to UKBA staff who work on immigration controls and undertake freight searches in France on detached duty.
ACE: Arts Council England Chief Executive Alan Davey has called for any future government to maintain levels of investment in the arts because to do so is ‘rational, economically sound and essential to our quality of life.’ In his keynote speech at the recent ‘Culture Is Right’ conference, he challenged those who argue that subsidising the arts does not offer value for money.
He illustrated how every £1 of public money invested in the arts levers in a further £2 from elsewhere, creates jobs and contributes significantly to the fastest growing sector of our national economy.
EHRC: The Equality and Human Rights Commission has launched a new review of evidence that captures the experiences & challenges facing transgender people in Britain. The Trans Research Review highlights that some transgender people experience transphobia including bullying & discriminatory treatment in schools, harassment & physical/sexual assault and rejection from families, work colleagues & friends.
Commission research in Wales found that 45% of respondents would be unhappy if a close relative married or entered into a long-term relationship with a transgender person and a third felt that a transgender person would be unsuitable as a primary school teacher.
The review highlights significant gaps in knowledge about key areas of life for trans people and the need for improving policies and practices designed to reduce discrimination.
ScotGov: The Homecoming of the first of hundreds of archive records to the Highlands has been marked by Parliamentary Business Manager Bruce Crawford, during a visit to the new Highland Archive and Registration Centre in Inverness.
Hundreds of volumes from 150 Church of Scotland Highland parishes & congregations as well as Customs & Excise, Fishery and JP court records are due to be sent to the Highlands from the National Archives in Edinburgh by the Keeper of the Records of Scotland.
PCS: The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has criticised a policy by conciliation service Acas to dismiss staff just before they gain full employment rights and qualify for the right to claim unfair dismissal. The policy for Acas directors says: ‘In terminating the contracts of temporary staff after 52 weeks’ service we are at risk from ET claims, particularly when work they are engaged to carry out is still required.’
Acas has recruited a number of temporary administrative staff pending the introduction of a new computer system which is due to go live shortly. PCS believes that to avoid the possibility of those individuals earning employment rights Acas has actively pursued a policy of dismissing them at 51 weeks, avoiding the possibility of unfair dismissal claims. Dismissed staff have then been replaced with new temporary employees.
DfT: Children are being urged to ‘Be Bright, Be Seen’ this winter in a THINK! road safety campaign launched as the clocks went back an hour last Sunday (October 25). In 2008, 712 children aged 6 to11 were killed or seriously injured while walking in Great Britain while 155 children of the same age were killed or seriously injured while cycling.
FSA: Hershey’s Chocolate Reeses Cookies bought on or after 2 August 2009 from www.ocado.com have been withdrawn from sale because the product may contain peanuts, which is not mentioned on the label. This means this product is a possible health risk for anyone who is allergic to peanuts and the agency has issued an Allergy Alert advising anyone with an allergy to peanuts to not eat this product. No other Hershey’s products are known to be affected.
UKOC: The nation's third Get online day took place last week with Barnsley at the centre of festivities across the country. As part of the Totally Online Barnsley campaign, the town officially launched Get online day and played host to the flagship event split across two UK online centre venues - Royston Community Learning Centre in the morning, and Barnsley Central Library in the afternoon.
The aim of the day was to encourage thousands of off-line people to be a part of IT and take their first steps onto the internet. For those already online, it is a chance to find out more about how the internet can save them time, hassle & money - and a chance to pass IT on to other people they think could benefit from online life.
DH: A new advertising from drugs information & advice service, FRANK, has been launched to warn 15 to 18 year olds about the risks of using cocaine and the damage it can do to the heart & nose. The £1.6m campaign will extend last year’s successful ‘Pablo the drug mule dog’ campaign, with two new additional TV ads continuing Pablo’s journey to expose the darker side of coke.
One ad, featuring a gory beating & talking heart, will show the link between cocaine and heart attacks & seizures. The other ad, featuring a snotty & bloody talking nostril, will show the immediate and longer term damage the drug can do to the structure of the nose.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
Defra: Travellers are being urged to check the rules on what foods they can and can’t bring back into the UK if they journey outside the EU. The Government’s ‘Don’t bring it back!’ campaign aims to increase awareness among travellers heading to countries outside the EU about what foods cannot be brought back. This is in order to minimise the risk of animal diseases like Foot & Mouth Disease and Bird Flu entering the country.
Sticking to the rules will also avoid the inconvenience of being searched by Border Force Officers or even potentially prosecuted. Key advice to travellers includes ‘Before travelling, use the ‘Can I bring it back?’ food-checker to see examples of local products which can and cannot be brought back from popular destinations outside the EU’.
ScotGov: Right To Buy for new tenants entering the social rented sector will be ended soon in Scotland. First time tenants and those returning to social housing after a break, will no longer be entitled to Right to Buy. Existing tenants will not be affected.
Since its introduction 30 years ago the Right to Buy has resulted in the sale, at a discount, of almost half a million homes for rent in Scotland. Over a 10 year period it is estimated the Right To Buy reforms will retain up to 18,000 properties in the social housing sector that otherwise would be sold off. The Housing (Scotland) Bill (to be introduced in early 2010) will do this by reforming Right to Buy and modernising regulation to improve value for tenants & taxpayers.
ScotGov: Efficiency measures which have saved the NHS almost £300m were yesterday revealed by Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon. She announced that the NHS not only met its target to make savings of 2% last year, amounting to £215m, but exceeded it, saving a total of £297m. Ms Sturgeon said every penny saved had been reinvested in front-line health services.
WAG: A new Park & Ride scheme has opened in Cardiff. Located just off the A48 in Pentwyn, the Cardiff East Park & Ride has 300 car parking spaces, with buses (taking 15 minutes) running direct to Dumfries Place in the city centre at the end of Queen Street via a dedicated bus lane.
The scheme is part of the wider Assembly Government funded initiative to make Cardiff the first SustainableTravelTown in Wales. As well as the Park & Ride other key elements of the project include a free bike hire scheme, free city centre circular buses and a package of measures to tackle congestion.
The plan includes a combination of infrastructure & service improvements which aim to cut congestion in the city and improve local & regional access. A further 3 towns in Wales, which have been chosen as the next Sustainable Travel Towns, will soon be announced.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has set out proposals for the major reforms required in the UK mortgage market to ensure that it works better for consumers and is sustainable for all market participants.
The proposals, published in the mortgage market review discussion paper (out for discussion until 30 January 2010), reflect the FSA’s changed approach to a more intrusive and interventionist style of regulation.
The proposals are designed to tackle the problems identified while maintaining a vibrant & sustainable market. However, the FSA has not ruled out further change if the initial proposals do not have sufficient effect, including caps on loan-to-value, loan-to-income or debt-to-income. A feedback statement will be published in March 2010. Implementation will be phased, with the focus on speed for areas of high detriment, such as arrears.
ScotGov: NHSScotland employs a number of staff in the Reserve Forces who may be mobilised to serve their country in areas of conflict and they are set to benefit from increased support. The new policy will set out arrangements for mobilisation & support for Reservists on return to work. Paid leave of two weeks per year will now be available to Reservists to attend annual camp or continuous training.
Additional unpaid leave or annual leave from the employee's normal annual allocation of up to three days may also be granted for short periods of training. The policy also aids in providing a supportive & positive work environment and will help ensure a smooth re-integration into the workplace
DECC: The Government’s 4 next steps to help low income homes deal with high energy bills have been set out, as the latest fuel poverty statistics are published:
* Action to help the poorest insulate their homes
* Provision of street by street help in low income neighbourhoods
* Action on prices for the most vulnerable
* Tougher regulation to make sure all consumers get a fair deal
BIS: New models to help small businesses take on greater numbers of apprentices have been launched by Apprenticeship Minister Kevin Brennan. 12 organisations have won a share of £7m of Government funding to set up new Apprenticeship Training Associations (ATAs) and Group Training Associations (GTAs).
The new models will hopefully help a range of organisations, especially small businesses, to offer over 14,000 apprenticeship places for young people over the next 3 years, with a focus on opportunities for 16 to 18-year-olds. The apprenticeships will be offered in industries vital for the country’s economic growth, including environmental, creative, engineering, manufacturing, logistics and business administration.
In addition, the National Apprenticeships Service has launched its ‘Good for Business’ initiative, a campaign to raise awareness among businesses of the long & short-term benefits for employers in the public & private sector of taking on Apprentices.
DCSF: Education Minister Iain Wright has announced a step towards all young people continuing in education & training until 18. Trials launched in 11 areas, backed by £1m of Government investment, will pave the way for the raising of the participation age (RPA) across England in 2015.
The trials are based on three different models:
* One looks at how local authorities can best get those aged 16 & 17 who have dropped out of learning through the year, back into education or training.
* Another focuses on how local authorities can best provide the right careers advice to young people to ensure they make the most of their options and skills
* The third will see the development of strategies to enable full participation of all young people in education or training
DECC: £6m is available from to fund exploration for natural energy under the ground. Deep geothermal is a renewable energy that uses the natural heat from deep underground to produce non-intermittent electricity and heat at the surface.
The fund, part of the Department of Energy and Climate Change low carbon investment fund will help companies carry out exploratory work needed to find viable sites for this technology. There is currently one geothermal energy station in the UK - the Southampton District Energy Scheme. The station uses hot water pumped from 1,800m below ground as part of the city’s district heating network and has operated successfully for over 20 years, saving an estimated 11,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.
CLG: Local Government Minister, Rosie Winterton, has pledged to introduce new legislative rules before the end of the year that will require councils to publish the pay & perks of their highest earning 2,500 posts - as part of action to show the taxpayer that all Government is acting fairly & responsibly in an era of constrained public expenditure.
In published consultation findings, respondents also agreed the changes would capture the 'right' senior posts including chief executives, consultants and directors. The proposals will create a new legal requirement for up to 475 local authority bodies to include detailed senior pay information covering salary, bonuses, pensions, perks & compensation pay offs in their next annual statement of accounts.
Ms Winterton also committed a further £31.7m to help councils & local service delivery partners find new ways to achieve efficiency savings, improve services, shape markets and encourage greater innovation. The funding will be distributed through the 9 council-led Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships (RIEPS).
GEO: Maria Eagle, Deputy Minister for Women & Equality, has launched a national mentoring programme designed to increase the numbers of black, Asian & minority ethnic women (BAME) becoming local councillors. BAME women account for less than 1% of all local councillors in England, despite making up nearly 5% of the population. To fully reflect society, the number of women BAME councillors would have to rise nearer to 1,000.
The leadership programme and the community leadership course, to be run by Operation Black Vote and Solace Enterprises respectively, are a legacy of the Women Councillors Taskforce, which presented its final report to Harriet Harman recently, containing recommendations to further improve local representation of BAME women.
WAG: The Health Minister Edwina Hart has announced that ‘Designed to Smile’, the Oral Health Improvement Programme aimed at young children in Wales, is to be extended following 2 successful super pilot schemes in north & south Wales.
In the scheme, delivered by the Community Dental Service, dental health support workers deliver a supervised tooth-brushing programme in schools and provide toothbrushes & toothpaste to school children along with oral health advice. Part of this service is delivered via mobile dental health units that provide specialist preventive care and treatment to schools.
DCSF: Ed Balls has signalled an end to intervention in Bradford and Hackney local authorities and has agreed they will now submit succession plans to drive forward improvements to the quality of education & services in their areas.
He has also announced plans for a National Family Intervention Strategy Group to help make the case for Family Intervention Projects (FIPs) around the country. He has asked the President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), Kim Bromley-Derry, to invite a small group of DCS’ to lead this work and Kim Bromley-Derry will take this forward.
DCSF: Parents of summer-born children will get greater flexibility over choosing when they start primary school, under proposals published by Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls. Local authorities already have a legal duty to make sure all children have a place at a school at the compulsory school starting age of five.
But ministers want to ensure that every parent has the option of starting reception class from the September after they turn four, in the proposed changes to the mandatory School Admissions Code. Parents with children not ready to start school will be entitled to free full-time early learning & childcare, in maintained nursery schools & classes or in private, voluntary and independent sector provision.
The changes, published for consultation (closes on Monday 16 November 2009), will come into force in February 2010 and apply to admission arrangements from September 2011 once adopted.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is reviewing its natural mineral water, spring water and bottled drinking water guidance. It is seeking suggested amendments, clarifications & additional topics to be included in the updated guidance.
This is an opportunity to improve the existing guidance, as well as to revise it to reflect the amendment made to the 2007 legislation by the Natural Mineral Water, Spring Water and Bottled Drinking Water (Amendment) Regulations 2009. Suggestions received by the 18 December 2009will be considered for inclusion in the draft revised guidance, which will be consulted on in 2010.
WAG: Heritage Minister, Alun Ffred Jones has been discussing the Welsh Assembly Government’s plans for a new Welsh language strategy. The strategy will guide the action that will be taken by WAG in order to promote & protect the Welsh language. It will incorporate the new opportunities that arise from the Welsh Language LCO, which will allow the National Assembly to legislate on the language for the first time.
The Welsh Language LCO is now progressing to its final stages having been laid in the Assembly on 20 October 2009, ahead of the debate on the 3 November 2009. This call for evidence will remain open until 29 January 2010
LR / PCS / FDA: Land Registry has announced a 5-year programme of reorganisation & transformation for consultation (closes on 29 January 2010) that ‘will cut its costs significantly and put it in the best possible position to deliver the services its customers demand’. The proposals announced relate to the first phase of the programme.
Having looked at a range of possibilities, it is proposing to close 5 local offices and to reduce staff numbers to ‘reflect the move to more online services’ and the impact of internal efficiency measures. It also intends to embark on a programme of outsourcing some of its support functions and to further decrease outgoings by selling surplus property.
These changes will together reduce operating costs by about £92m per year. Land Registry also plans to develop additional services which will bring in extra gross revenue estimated at £30m per year by 2014.
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has condemned the Land Registry plans. Approximately 1,100 jobs are threatened by the office closures with a further 400 people working in HR, facilities & 14 regional file stores across England facing privatisation. Nearly 1 in 5 people working for the Land Registry are affected by the plans out of a total workforce of approximately 5,700 in England & Wales.
A press release from the FDA said: "The FDA believes that the intention to make experienced staff redundant and to take staff numbers below the level that management believe may ultimately be needed, is no way to treat loyal and highly professional employees and may be regarded as immoral. The FDA is not convinced that the assumption on numbers is well thought through".
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has issued a discussion paper (DP) (comments by 1 February 2010) focusing on policy measures to address the problem of systemically important ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks. The paper also examines the trade-offs involved in increasing capital & liquidity requirements and stresses the need to assess the cumulative impact of multiple reforms – See ‘In the News’ section for morte information.
MoD: The Ministry of Defence has launched the next phase of its review into the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS). Members of the public can now post their views on how the AFCS should compensate for injury, illness or death caused by service through an online mailbox or by email. Comments can be left through the MOD website and mailbox, which will remain open until 19 November 2009.
MoJ: Residents have been invited to air their views (by 30 November 2009) on a proposed new prison on the site of the former Runwell hospital, by Justice Minister Maria Eagle. Launching the Ministry of Justice's public pre-application consultation into the planned prison-building scheme, the she claimed it would create 800 new jobs & generate £17m+ in annual revenue for the local economy. The prison will be run by a private sector company.
Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw, announced plans in April 2009 to open two new 1,500 place prisons - one on the site of the former Runwell Secure Psychiatric hospital in Essex and one at Beam Park West, Dagenham. Once the consultation period has finished, it is intended that the outline planning application will be submitted to Chelmsford Borough Council in January 2010. It is the intention that the prison will be fully operational by 2013.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
BIS: Colleges are doing a great job keeping young people safe from guns, gangs and knives, Higher Education Minister David Lammy claimed as he launched ‘Safe Colleges’ guidance. The Safe Colleges website launched last week features guidance drawn up by colleges and the Learning & Skills Improvement Service (LSIS), working with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Home Office.
LRBO: New research shows that the way local councils enforce regulations can have wide ranging effects on your community – anything from boosting the price of your house, to health benefits. A report published from Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO), the public body responsible for simplifying local regulation, looks at 48 potential benefits to communities and to business, including issues that have a direct impact on quality of life, including anti-social behaviour, crime and violence.
Entitled Impacts and Outcomes, the report shows regulators’ actions do have demonstrable results for the quality of life in communities and provides a toolkit for identifying, measuring & managing them.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency’s Chief Executive, Tim Smith, has written to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Sir Liam Donaldson, with updated information on themandatory fortification of bread or flour with folic acid.
MLA: The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) has published guidance to help library services meet wider local priorities and maintain a comprehensive & efficient service. The website guidance highlights case studies from across the country illustrating how libraries have improved their services by redefining strategic priorities, restructuring the workforce, community consultation and co-location with other services. The pages also show how the MLA field teams can assist in this process.
Monitor: NHS foundation trust governors have access to new guidanceto support them in delivering statutory duties on behalf of their local communities. The new guide is the culmination of research initiated by Monitor (the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts) and was produced following a public consultation.
A board of governors has significant power at its disposal through the statutory duties that it is required to discharge. The new guidance addresses each of these statutory duties, describing the processes involved and suggesting points for consideration.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is reviewing its natural mineral water, spring water and bottled drinking water guidance. It is seeking suggested amendments, clarifications & additional topics to be included in the updated guidance – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
ScotGov: The Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland has published its 4th Annual Report, which comments on the work of the independent Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland (IPS) for the year to the end of May 2009. The IPS is the independent Inspectorate for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).
ScotGov: The Account in Bankruptcy (AIB), which is responsible for administering the process of Personal Bankruptcy and recording Corporate Insolvencies in Scotland, cost the public purse 25% less for its services in 2008-09 - despite dealing with more cases.
The agency's Annual Report for 2008-09 demonstrates that it has reduced its reliance on Government funding through more effective methods of recovering operational costs from its service users - one of the key aim's of the agency's Business Plan for the year.
DECC: The latest Annual Report on Fuel Poverty Statistics 2009 has been published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change – headline figures refer to fuel poverty levels in the UK and England in 2007. As well as giving new data for 2007, it also presents data for earlier years, findings from research undertaken over the year and projections.
EH: Evidence that heritage can have an impact on wider social issues such as people's sense of well-being and community cohesion have been claimed by English Heritage. The new research is described in Heritage Counts 2009, the annual report on the state of the historic environment, published by EH on behalf of the whole heritage sector.
The report also reveals that England's heritage has had a bumper year with visitor numbers far higher than expected despite less than perfect weather.
ScotGov: A study, commissioned by Health Facilities Scotland, has found that NHS Scotland's carbon dioxide emissions made up nearly a quarter of the public sector's as a whole. However, the 2.63 megatonnes (Mt) of CO2 represented just 3.6% of Scotland's total.
Greater use of the hi-tech eMART monitoring system means that from now on energy use in all NHS Scotland buildings can be measured, improving the accuracy of future carbon footprint estimates.
ScotGov: 600 of the country's 'worst fine dodgers' are being targeted in a crackdown by the Scottish Court Service on those who attempt to 'avoid the ends of justice'. The range of tactics being used by the court service in their pursuit of those who don't pay up includes seizing wages, freezing bank accounts, deducting money from benefits and clamping vehicles. The announcement comes as the latest fines collection figures are published by the Scottish Court Service.
ScotGov: CBI Scotland's Industrial Trends Survey has reported an increase in output & new orders in the manufacturing sector - the first time growth has been reported since the first quarter of 2008, while the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Business Survey reported signs of an emerging recovery in manufacturing & tourism.
General Reports and Other Publications
ESRC: Performance assessment schemes, aimed at making local authorities into more effective organisations, are having the desired effect according to new research released by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The project ‘Leadership Change and public services: Reinvigorating Performance or Reinforcing Decline?’ found that poor performance was likely both to be punished by voters at local elections and to lead to change among the senior management of authorities.
The researchers measured election results and managerial change in upper-tier councils over a 6-year-period (2001-7) against their ratings under the Audit Commission’s Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA).
Introduced in 2002, the CPA rates councils on a scale of stars from zero (poor) to four (excellent).
MoD: The Public Accounts Committee has published a report into the Service Family Accommodation (SFA) provided to British forces personnel and their families. Quoting extracts from the CAP press release, Edward Leigh MP, Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts, said:
"The standard of accommodation for the families of our servicemen and women is of continuing concern to this Committee. So it is with disquiet that we learn from an NAO survey of service families that almost a third consider their houses to be in poor condition. And nearly a quarter regard their properties as poorly maintained……………
Far too many properties are currently standing empty - almost one in five. ……… Service personnel have to move regularly but they are given very little information in advance about the houses they have been allocated. And, when they arrive, too often the property has not been cleaned properly and repairs have not been done”.
Around 90% of the Department's housing stock is within the top 2 of its 4 condition standards, which meet or exceed the Government's Decent Homes Standard. Emerging findings from the Department's recent condition survey, however, show there are now fewer properties at Condition 1 (35%) and more at Condition 2 (59%) than previously recorded.
CRC: The Government has issued its response to the Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) Select Committee inquiry into the future of post offices. The Commission for Rural Communities contributed its evidence to the inquiry, earlier in 2009.
The CRC are pleased to see a number of points of clarification by the Government, many of which echo the concerns they raised and that the Govt reiterates its acceptance of the important social role played by post offices and the need many individuals have for face to face contact, including those who do not have access to a computer.
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities have submitted the 9th of their regular reports to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the rural impacts of the recession. CRC briefings help inform his contribution to the National Economic Council, which meets to consider impacts of the recession and recovery measures. This latest report examines how rural housing is being affected by the recession.
BIS: Government research claims that the benefits of regulation outweigh the burdens. The ‘Better regulation, better benefits: getting the balance right’ report, undertaken by the Better Regulation Executive, looked at the benefits regulation delivers and examined what factors help shape the public perception of regulation.
Through 6 detailed case studies, it examined how better regulation principles & practices deliver a range of positive outcomes, such as through the National Minimum Wage and the Smoke Free laws in public and working places.
NAO: A survey of businesses by the National Audit Office found that, whilst businesses are reporting that individual aspects of complying with regulation have become less burdensome over the last year, and there has been some improvement in overall business perceptions of regulation since 2007, very few regard complying with regulation as having become easier or less time-consuming. Around a third said that it had become worse.
The Administrative Burdens Reduction Programme aims to reduce by a quarter by 2010 the cost to business of complying with the administrative burdens imposed on them by government regulations. Only 1% of businesses felt that complying with regulations had become less time consuming in the last year. In addition, fewer than a third of businesses said that government understood business well enough to regulate it.
NAO: Central government could improve its day to day cash management and reduce the amount of interest it pays on debt if its departments and their sponsored bodies held less money in commercial bank accounts. Last week’s report to Parliament by the National Audit Office recommends that these organisations use the Exchequer as their main banking provider instead. The interest paid out by commercial bank accounts is typically lower than the rate at which central government borrows money.
The NAO points out that keeping as much money as possible in the Exchequer is one of the most important elements of good cash management in government, since it not only reduces government borrowing but also minimises risks and allows the government to plan & manage its cash flow more cost-effectively.
EHRC: Many British fathers are working long hours, struggling to balance work & family and fear that requesting flexible working will damage their careers, a new report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found. The report’s launch, which coincided with Parents’ Week, finds that British men want to take a more active role in caring for their children, but that 40% of fathers say they spend too little time with their children.
One approach to balancing work & family commitments outlined in the report is to expand paternity and parental leave schemes. The Commission has previously outlined a series of ‘fully costed’ policies that would help to meet the needs of businesses and modern families as part of its Working Better Initiative.
HEFCE: A 'Review of Modern Foreign Languages provision in higher education in England' by Professor Michael Worton has been published. The review was commissioned by the HEFCE in response to concerns about falling student numbers and the reduction in provision.
Drawing on a range of data, it surveys current trends and makes recommendations to university language departments, university senior managers, HEFCE and Government, to ensure the long-term sustainability & vitality of modern foreign languages provision.
DWP: New research published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), shows that racial discrimination in recruitment still exists towards ethnic minority people. The study showed discrimination occurred for those applying for jobs with a name suggesting they were from an ethnic minority, rather than white British.
For every 9 applications sent by a white applicant, an equally good applicant with an ethnic minority name had to send 16 to obtain a positive response. Applications were made to private, public & voluntary sector employers of varying sizes.
The public sector vacancies included in this study – which usually required standard application forms, did not discriminate at this initial stage of recruitment. This suggests that discrimination might be reduced by the use of standard application forms.
ESRC: Britain’s children & young people are potential agents of change for the development of more sustainable communities in the UK, according to new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.
Many children are not only passionate about environmental issues, but more than capable of driving forward sustainability initiatives, argues new research into the role of schools in developing more sustainable communities. Children already play a key role in becoming more sustainable by encouraging changes in behaviour of those around them whether in terms of recycling, saving energy, growing vegetables and healthy eating, etc.
Newswire – AC: A new national report from the Audit Commission - Lofty Ambitions – looks at the role of councils in reducing domestic CO2 emissions and it proposes tackling homes (responsible for one third of England's greenhouse gas emissions) first as carbon emissions from houses could be cut far more quickly & cheaply, than those from industry or transport.
The best councils have been good at greening homes and have championed low carbon & renewable energy generation. They lead, oblige & subsidise social landlords and private sector homeowners to reduce domestic CO2 emissions, coordinate funding streams, and use their local knowledge to target help where it is most needed. Actions based on good quality house-by-house & street-by-street data deliver the best value for money.
However, some councils say that the multiplicity of funding streams has created 'confusion for householders and duplication of effort' when energy suppliers & others approach the same households with competing offers. Lofty Ambitions also brands the government's £2.7bn a year winter fuel payments as a ‘missed opportunity’ as it fails to focus on those in the greatest need and does not provide a long-term solution - spending on heating today, rather than reducing the need to heat in the future.
Ofsted: Independent faith schools give pupils a strong sense of personal worth and help them understand the importance of being a good citizen according to a report published by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.
The report - Independent faith schools - reveals that in all 51 independent faith schools visited this was nurtured through their ethos, the curriculum and in regular individual and communal prayers and thanksgiving.
The schools visited, which included primary & secondary schools for children from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu religions, all taught explicitly that good citizenship was a requirement of a good believer and this meant pupils felt they belonged, as British citizens, to this country.
DECC: A new map illustrating the global consequences of failing to keep climate change to ‘under 2 degrees Celsius’ has been launched by the UK Government, with just 45 days to go before international climate change talks begin in Copenhagen.
The map was developed using the latest peer-reviewed science from the Met Office Hadley Centre and other leading impact scientists. The poster highlights some of the impacts that may occur if the global average temperature rises by 4 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial climate average.
NAO: Older people are a growing group for HM Revenue & Customs and significant numbers pay too much or too little tax, according to a report released by the National Audit Office. Errors occur because many people’s tax affairs become more complicated when they reach pension age and HMRC’s systems do not cope well with their multiple sources of income.
These errors can have a disproportionate effect on older people as their net average annual income of £16,000 was around 25% below the national average in 2006-07. The Department expects a new computer system introduced in June 2009 to reduce the level of errors.
Legislation / Legal
MoJ: Government proposals to end the hereditary principle in the House of Lords were debated as the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill had its second reading. The bill also takes the historic step of placing the Civil Service Code of impartiality & professionalism onto a statutory footing to reinforce the civil service's independence.
MoJ: The Ministry of Justice and the Legal Services Commission has published new fee structures for family legal aid. It comes as a result of a consultation process and will see hourly rates replaced with standard fees. This will ensure that both barristers & solicitor advocates will receive the same rate for the same advocacy work.
It has also been confirmed that the proposal to remove payment for independent social work from legal aid scope in private law cases will not been implemented. The MoJ and the LSC will continue to work with the DCSF & Cafcass to determine the best way to use mutual resources for the benefit of vulnerable children.
The LSC will shortly publish the response & impact assessment on their website and they plan to introduce the new schemes in the new civil contracts in October 2010.
MoJ: Bridget Prentice has made a statement (see Press release) concerning council tax enforcement in magistrates’ courts.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
ScotGov: Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead has claimed that ‘a radical overhaul of the fisheries control regulation that meets Scotland's requirements has been secured’. The control regulation, initially introduced over 25 years ago, is one of the main planks of the Common Fisheries Policy. It places obligations on every member state to inspect landings in its ports and regulate fisheries in its waters.
Speaking from Luxembourg after attending the October Fisheries Council, Mr Lochhead said: "We have successfully removed the threat to both commercial fishermen and recreational sea anglers where it was proposed that the catches by sea anglers should count against national quotas”.
Defra: Defra has announced that the National Measurement Office (NMO) has been appointed as market surveillance authority (MSA) under the European Union Energy Using Products and Energy Labelling Framework Directives.
The MSA will be in place to make sure that product claims under energy labelling (such as ‘A-rated fridges’) and minimum energy standards are adhered to by manufacturers and, where necessary, retailers. This creates a level playing field for manufacturers, by ensuring that standards are complied with by all and avoids consumers being misled into buying products that will cost them more in energy bills than they expect.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
DCSF: Ed Balls and Michael Palin have launched a new programme to support teachers to help children who stammer and announced its roll out to schools across the country. Ed Balls has committed £500k to ‘kickstart’ the appeal to help the Michael Palin Centre expand their services in London & the South and to support a new centre of excellence in the North of the country.
Funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the programme offers information, advice & training materials and follows the Bercow review of speech, language and communication needs, where communication was highlighted as a key skill children need to succeed.
Produced by the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children, the programme aims to reduce the impact that stammering can have on children’s psychological development and their ability to form friendships so they can engage fully in education and achieve their potential.
BIG: As part of the first ever National Family Week in May this year, a competition was launched with the aim of finding a new idea that would improve family life in the UK. NFW partnered with the Big Lottery Fund who pledged to provide £150,000 towards turning the winning idea(s) into a reality.
NFW and BIG have now announced the 3 winning ideas, which panel of judges selected because they felt they would have a significant impact in improving family life across the UK.
Business and Other Briefings
HO: The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has reviewed the following occupations: all healthcare & engineering occupations, chefs, teachers (further/higher, secondary, primary, and special needs education teaching professionals), town planners, managers in construction, quantity surveyors, ship & hovercraft officers, veterinary surgeons, sheep shearers, work riders, ballet dancers, skilled fish filleters, meat boners & trimmers.
All the occupations included in the original recommended shortage occupation lists have now been reviewed at least once since the first recommendations in 2008.
FSCS: Icesave or other UK Landsbanki customers wishing to be compensated need to send their claim to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) by 30 October 2009. After this date customers may not be able to claim compensation.
Out of about 298,000 customer accounts only 1,500 accounts remain for which no application for compensation has been made. There was more than £2.5m in these accounts when Icesave went into default.
Customers concerned about their application forms not reaching the FSCS, due to postal strikes, can submit a scanned version of their application form or email the relevant information to the FSCS. Customers who want to submit a claim in this way should contact the FSCS on 0800 678 1100 or 020 7892 7300, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Draft legislation and guidance on changes to the Sideways Loss Relief rules.
QCDA: DnA Group has become both an awarding organisation and a provider of a new national qualification in Fraud & Claims Investigation via the Qualifications Credit Framework (QCF). Where a lack of industry regulation & standardisation was prevalent, this small enterprise - working within the insurance fraud market - has sought to fill the gap through creating a recognised vocational qualification. The first learners started to take this qualification in September 2009.
DnA Group's training arm, ALM Training, is highly regarded among insurance & legal institutions in providing the 'gold standard' in investigator training. However, up to now, the only organisation setting the standard was the company who trained the investigators; ALM Training. In effect the QCF has provided a way to create independent validation.
LSN: During November 2009, a group of senior Government officials from Afghanistan will be in the UK on an inward mission supported by TVETUK. They are scheduled to visit the Learning & Skills Network (LSN) to gain an understanding of the UK education system, with a particular focus on quality assurance.
LSN will be showcasing its work on the role of mobile learning within teaching & learning and how it could be successfully used in countries like Afghanistan. The visit is part of a UK-wide study tour, organised by the World Bank funded Afghanistan Skills Development Project.
In addition, following on from previous research visits to the area, LSN has lined up 2 important events in Abu Dhabi:
* LSN is exhibiting at the Building Schools Exhibition and Conference for the Middle East and North Africa (BSEC MENA) on 13-14 December 2009. LSN will be exhibiting (& running a workshop) in partnership with architectural consultants Bond Bryan, with whom thye have formed a partnership to create education solutions, from the learning environment through to curriculum design & training (Read more).
On 15 December 2009, LSN are holding the LSN Masterclass 2009 in Abu Dhabi. The day consists of sessions from LSN & partners that help delegates gain insight into a variety of leading edge topics that will give them new skills to help strengthen leadership & management within their organisations. In addition, there will be a practical session for delegates to try out 2 products to improve effectiveness – Micro Tools and Fierce conversations. .
ScotGov: The winners of the Scottish Government's first Energy Efficiency Design Awards (EEDA) will help cut bills for people living in fuel poverty and reduce emissions. Hard to treat homes can be, for example, homes with solid walls, no loft space, homes without a gas or oil connection and homes where, for technical or practical reasons, staple energy efficiency measures cannot be fitted. Because of high heating bills, families who would otherwise cope relatively well in a more energy efficient home could find themselves in fuel poverty.
The EEDA is a £1m fund to bring together designers, construction & manufacturing, housing associations, councils or community groups to create the best energy efficiency solutions for Scotland. The aim is to drive innovation, research & development of new low carbon products & services for the retrofit market, as well as developing skills & capabilities of business and supporting local supply chains.
The second round of the EEDA opened to applications from now until April 2010. This year, applicants may also apply for up to £5,000 for costs of any feasibility studies to undertake for the project.
DECC: New research that could solve the problem of radar interference from wind turbines has started with £5.15m in funding. Aviation radar objections are one of the largest causes of wind planning applications being rejected or withdrawn in the UK. There are currently objections to over 5GW of wind farms that are in the planning system by NATS, (formerly National Air Traffic Services).
The research will conclude in April 2011. It will be conducted by a team of NATS technical experts overseeing Raytheon's investigations. A number of projects have been granted consent by DECC, the Scottish Executive and local planning authorities on the proviso that a solution to their potential radar interference is implemented. If the research is successful then these conditions could be lifted, allowing these projects to start construction.
LSIS: The Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) and Becta have announced a new collaboration on the eCPD programme. The LSIS eCPD Programme provides a national structure that organisations in the learning & skills sector can use to raise standards in the effective use of e-learning. Individuals can use it to generate evidence towards recognised national awards, or as part of their CPD requirement from the Institute for Learning.
Right from the start, there was overwhelming interest from the sector, resulting that the eCPD training was massively oversubscribed with a long waiting list. To prevent any delay to the programme and meet the genuine level of need in the sector, Becta has agreed to match additional funding from LSIS to ensure an extension to the programme. The extension will fund:
* 40 additional training places
* development with the sector of front-line guidance & products to maximise the impact & sustainability of the programme
* an online multimedia version of the programme for supported self study
DCSF: Schools Minister, Vernon Coaker, claims that a new online recruitment website could reduce the national cost of advertising for permanent school teacher & support staff posts by almost two-thirds. 52 local authorities (8,000 schools) and 32 academies have already signed up to the new Schools Recruitment Service – offering schools a faster, more efficient & standardised application system.
At the moment there is no uniform approach to filling vacancies – with different schools & LAs having different application forms & processes which slow down the recruitment process and increase costs. Through a single screen, a LA will be able to view a summary of all recruitment activity of their schools and it may also help identify skill shortages and other recruitment patterns.
Candidates can submit their job preferences for potential vacancies and receive job alerts for relevant roles that match their criteria – building up a ‘talent pool’, where schools & LAs can choose to contact suitable candidates directly and invite them to apply for a position.
Schools or local authorities that do choose to advertise externally will have access to discounted advertising rates. The Service also provides media information to help them evaluate the success of their campaigns to better target future advertising.
Tribal Group Plc was appointed the contractor to administer the Service in May 2009 following a European-wide competitive tendering exercise. The cost of using the Service for individual schools is based on headcount and it is expected that a typical secondary school would expect to pay around £250 per year to use the Service.
OS: GeoVation, an online initiative aiming to promote innovation with geography, has launched an awards programme with a prize fund of £21,000 available to develop the best entries. The initiative – supported by mapping agency Ordnance Survey – aims to help individuals, businesses & communities bring their map‑based ideas to life. There are 3 themes: crime, health and the environment, although good ideas on any subject are welcomed.
Submissions need to be made on the GeoVation site before the closing date of 4 January 2010 and entrants are free to suggest the use of any resources, such as Google Maps or OS OpenSpace. Ordnance Survey is not claiming any ownership of the entries submitted.
The initiative comes as the Home Office releases nationwide crime maps, a powerful demonstration of how geography can be used to empower citizens and improve public service accountability. Among the ideas already submitted to GeoVation are a service that lets pedestrians map safe routes based on the location of CCTV cameras and a text alert service, where 999 callers are sent the location of their nearest defibrillator.
A GeoVation Ideas Forum, to be held on 2 November 2009at the Royal Society of Arts, will enable entrants to hone their submissions before the 10 best are shortlisted and asked to pitch in a Dragons’ Den style arena at the end of January 2010.
BIS: ‘FutureStory Newcastle and the North East’ was launched at the Discovery Museum last week. It forms part of a series of 6 books made up of a collection of local case studies, with accompanying DVDs, tracing how people & businesses in cities and regions across the country are adapting to the global economy.
Produced with the help of innovative enterprises, education providers and other organisations across Newcastle (including Centre for Cities), FutureStory’s ‘Local Heroes’ tell the story of their city. The book explores its past, present & future and how the traditional jobs of coal, shipbuilding and heavy industry in the region have been replaced by innovation, science and research as well as entrepreneurial businesses operating on a global platform.
The project highlights how businesses in regions across the UK can take best advantage of the opportunities offered by the global marketplace. The FutureStory book launched last week aims to puts a human face on globlisation – how it is working in Newcastle & the North East.
DCSF: Leading education institutions and other successful organisations will gain a ‘kitemark’ to set up chains of schools under plans announced for consultation (Friday 22 January 2010) by Ed Balls. This is intended to ‘extend the reach of the best leaders, spreading their excellence and making sure that every school is a good school’.
The new accreditation process will be used to select partners & sponsors for trust schools, federations and Academies. The Government expect that 50 providers will apply for the first wave in 2011 and it will provide £20m to enable the providers to drive improvement across the system. Among those who have said they will apply are the Harris Federation, Outwood Grange Family, The Kemnal Trust and Barnfield College.
Research published by the NationalCollege (formerly NCSL) shows that ‘school federations raise standards, and are particularly strong when strong schools federate with lower attaining schools’.
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