In the News
SGC: Forcing them to take it seriously - Companies & organisations that cause death through gross breaches of care should face punitive & significant fines, a consultation guideline published by the Sentencing Guidelines Council proposes in a consultation (closes on Tuesday 5 January 2010). Fines for organisations found guilty of the new offence of corporate manslaughter may be measured in £ms and should seldom be below £500,000.
The new sanction of Publicity Orders forcing companies & organisations to make a statement about their conviction & fine introduced under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act should be imposed in virtually all cases.
The consultation guideline proposes that the publicity should be designed to ensure that the conviction becomes known to shareholders & customers in the case of companies and to local people in the case of public bodies, such as local authorities, hospital trusts and police forces. Organisations may be made to put a statement on their websites.
In deciding the level of fine, the Council says that a court should not be influenced by the impact on shareholders & directors, but the effect on the employment of the innocent may be relevant. Also, the effect on provision of services to the public should be considered.
DH: On top of Swine Flu there is also Seasonal Flu - Seasonal flu is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. It occurs every year, usually in the winter and brings on a range of symptoms including unusual tiredness, headaches & aching muscles.
The virus is sometimes mistaken as a slightly more unpleasant cold when in fact, seasonal flu is far more serious and can be potentially life-threatening for people aged 65 or over, or for those under 65 with underlying health problems, such as a heart problem or diabetes:
* Every year, seasonal flu accounts for approximately 8,000 deaths in England & Wales
* In the average year, up to 15% of the population will get seasonal flu
* If you are 65 or over, you are at increased risk of developing serious complications as a result of the virus and are eligible for a free seasonal flu jab from your local GP.
* Adults (including pregnant women) and children who suffer from long term conditions (such as heart disease, diabetes or a chest complaint or breathing difficulties) are eligible for the free jab
CRC: Solutions can be found, but will city-based politicians support them? - For the 9.5m people living in rural England, it is rare to hear a positive story about public transport in their area. The decline in rural bus services, combined with the closure of local services has lead to increased isolation for rural residents. For 1 in 5 living in rural England there is little choice but to own a car - even for those on lower incomes, car ownership becomes a high priority.
The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC), in conjunction with Lincolnshire County Council, has launched a short film demonstrating how transport schemes can be integrated & sustainable in rural areas. This film is the result of a visit to rural Lincolnshire in February 2009, by Dr. Stuart Burgess Chairman of the CRC and the Government’s Rural Advocate.
MoD: What faith can the Armed Forces have in the MoD as they face hostile forces? - The Secretary of State for Defence, Bob Ainsworth, has presented to Parliament the independent review by Mr Charles Haddon-Cave QC into the loss of Nimrod MR2 XV230 on 2 September 2006, in which 14 service personnel lost their lives. The MoD intends to issue a full response to Mr Haddon-Cave’s report before the Christmas recess.
Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said: “Mr Haddon-Cave QC (and his team have) …… has identified key areas where we have failed in our duty, and he has made a number of recommendations which we will consider as a matter of high priority”.
Excerpts from Mr Haddon-Cave’s statement (with emphasis added by editor):
Nimrod XV230 …… suffered a catastrophic mid-air fire, leading to the total loss of the aircraft and the death of all 14 Service personnel on board. Faced with a life-threatening emergency, every member of the crew of XV230 acted with calmness, bravery and professionalism, and in accordance with their training. They had no chance, however, of controlling the fire. Their fate was already sealed before the first fire warning. …….
My Report concludes that the accident to XV230 was avoidable, and that XV230 was lost because of a systemic breach of the Military Covenant brought about by significant failures on the part of the MOD, BAE Systems and QinetiQ. This must not be allowed to happen again. ……………..
The wholesale failure of all three organisations involved in the Nimrod Safety Case to do their job, and the apparently inexorable deterioration in the safety and airworthiness regime in the MOD in the period 1998 to 2006 are particularly troubling aspects of the Nimrod XV230 story. There has been a yawning gap between the appearance and reality of safety. The system has not been not fit for purpose.
Newswire – AC: With individual PS Organisations’ future funding pots getting smaller! - Instead of concentrating on the mechanics of joint financing and the processes of partnership, councils & the NHS should look at how their joint funding can improve people's lives, the Audit Commission says. In Means to an end: Joint financing across health and social care, the AC says outcomes should be the focus of joint working to help older people and those who need mental health & learning disability services.
Central government promotes joint working to achieve better services, but some councils & NHS bodies complain the joint funding arrangements are too complex. However, the AC's report shows where joint financing has worked and makes recommendations to councils, the NHS and the DH to address concerns.
In December 2009, the AC will publish a Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA), called Oneplace, identifying outcomes and showing what services are like for people living all over England. 20 NHS organisations (PCTs, care trusts and mental health trusts) and 15 councils took part in the research.
Industry News: Providing citizen self-service options leads to improved service, efficiency and engagement - It might sound contradictory, but offering more opportunities for citizens and service users to self-serve can lead to their experiencing improved service. Being able to request services, make payments, report problems and submit complaints and feedback on-line is more convenient, while in an increasingly 24-hour world, they feel more engaged when they have round-the-clock access to
info rmation and services.
At the same time, offering a self-serve alternative helps government departments, local authorities, and agencies to improve their efficiency and lower their costs. It frees limited resources to focus on areas which genuinely require the intervention of trained, experienced staff.
In establishing a self-service route, it’s a useful first step to create and maintain a web presence with
information about services, such as office hours, and contact details. However, forward-looking organisations are moving beyond having a passive web presence to creating an interactive relationship with their citizens and service users.
In doing so, they are experiencing wide-ranging benefits, which include greater efficiency, attainment of service level targets and – with several layers of paperwork being removed from the organisation’s processes – a reduction in the organisational carbon footprint.
CLICK HERE to find out more and to read the paper: ‘Savings, security, interoperability and innovation for government’.
For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
MoJ: Families bereaved by murder & manslaughter are to benefit from free legal advice and extra practical support via a new dedicated victims’ helpline, launched by the Ministry of Justice. The free telephone helpline is to be staffed by legal advisers who will provide legal advice to victims on everything from guardianship issues & settling an estate, to accessing benefits.
The launch of the helpline follows the government’s recent announcement of a new National Victims’ Service – which is initially being rolled out to families of murder and manslaughter victims, offering one-to-one tailored support to help them cope with the trauma of losing a loved one to crime.
The new over-the-phone legal advice initiative strengthens & complements the existing range of practical and emotional support offered to families and friends of murder & manslaughter victims offered by Support After Murder and Manslaughter (SAMM) National, a government-sponsored charity.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has reported that Waitrose is recalling some semi-skimmed milk from its essential range, because it might contain small amounts of cleaning solution. Notices have been put in stores, explaining to customers why the products have been recalled. If you have bought the affected milk you are advised not to consume it, but return it to Waitrose for a full refund. No other date codes or Waitrose products are affected.
WAG: Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones was in Conwy on Saturday 24 October to show her support for Gwledd Conwy Feast, an annual food & drink festival that takes place in locations across the town. The festival, which began as a fairly small affair, has grown significantly over recent years and is now widely regarded as one of North Wales’ most prominent food & drink events.
BIS: Space experts & politicians from across Europe gathered in London last week to discuss how space technology can help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. The 10th annual European Inter-parliamentary Space Conference (EISC) examined the benefits & future potential of space technology – from managing climate change to boosting the economy.
Delegates discussed how space can be used to bring tangible benefits to everyone in Europe and help tackle major challenges facing the world. The event aimed to act as a forum for European co-operation on space policy and to foster a continued dialogue between national parliaments.
SE: The Minister for Sport, Gerry Sutcliffe MP, has visited Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre to mark the completion of new £2m elite training & rehabilitation facilities. The investment by Sport England ensures home-grown athletes training for 2012 with the English Institute of Sport (EIS) will have the best possible facilities as they bid for Olympic and Paralympic gold.
The new facilities include:
* A strength & conditioning gym with state-of-the-art weight machines & equipment, indoor rowing & canoeing machines and video analysis equipment in the EIS High Performance Gym
* A training & agility area, including 30-metre indoor track.
Bisham Abbey is also an international high performance centre for tennis and Sport England & the LTA have jointly funded four new ‘French Court’ artificial clay courts at the centre. Growing the number of clay courts in Britain will help performance tennis players develop their clay court game, crucial for success on the international circuit.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has issued an updated Allergy Alert, because a second Hershey’s Chocolate Reeses Cookies product might contain peanuts that are not mentioned on the label. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Dipped Reeses Cookies bought on (or after) 2 August 2009 from Selfridges stores have been withdrawn because the product is a possible health risk. Anyone who has an allergy to peanuts is advised to not eat this product.
The original alert, about Hershey’s Chocolate Reeses Cookies (56g) bought on or after 2 August 2009 from www.ocado.com being withdrawn, was issued on 22 October and can be found at the link below.
FSA: Nutrition Point has recalled certain batches of Trufree Choc Dippers because the chocolate hazelnut dip might contain peanuts that are not mentioned on the label. The Agency has issued an Allergy Alert. If you are allergic to peanuts you are advised not to eat this product.
NA: From the Gunpowder Plot to 1959, from personal bankruptcies to international treaties: November's range of FREE talks from The National Archives takes a refreshingly different view of history. 'I'm All Right Jack! Britain in 1959' analyses the Boulting Brothers film, in which a blundering innocent causes a nationwide strike. Did the film reflect social realities in 1959? NA examine related material in the public records of the late 1950s - some of the findings may surprise you.
'Kindertransport: Britain's rescue plan' looks at accounts of children evacuated from Nazi Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. The talk will give an insight into how Britain dealt with the refugee children and the difficulties they themselves faced.
ScotGov: A wealth of information about Scotland's past is now freely available through an online resource developed for the use of pupils, teachers and the wider public. Scotland's History Online covers a range of subjects, from prehistoric through to 21st Century Scotland. More than 200 topics include links to over 1,000 other online sources and a wide range of interactive supporting materials.
WAG: A £2.5m new Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) National Centre of Excellence, which provides training & back-up facilities, has been officially opened at the Vale Resort near Cardiff. From now on all international rugby players selected to represent Wales at any level will train at the same base with the best available pitches, training facilities, medical equipment, coaches and back-room personnel on hand to help them strive for excellence.
The facility is also home to the newly-formed WRU National Academy, which will select high-calibre players, coaches & match officials from the men’s & women’s game for specialist and personal training at the highest level.
DFID: The Department for International Development (DFID) and Australian Agency for International Development have launched a new £18.3m Research and Advocacy Fund (RAF) aimed at improving the lives of all mothers & children across Pakistan – the first fund of its kind in the country. Every year, 15,000 women in Pakistan die from complications related to pregnancy & childbirth. Over 60% of births are not attended by skilled professionals.
The new RAF initiative will provide grants to organisations & individuals working on research projects that will help ensure improved access to and quality of maternal & newborn health services in Pakistan. Funding will also be made available for research & advocacy projects that will inform health policy reforms in the country.
ScotGov: 8 teams & individuals have been honoured as health heroes at an awards ceremony for their life-saving work caring for the UK's armed forces and veterans.
Winners at the second annual Military & Civilian Health Partnership Awards include a:
* Buckinghamshire team who dealt with a pneumonia outbreak on a military base in Afghanistan
* Glasgow team treating troops blinded by injuries on operations
* nurse who ran the emergency ward in Camp Bastion field hospital
*Birmingham NHS consultant - also a Colonel in the Territorial Army - who has organised life-saving platelet donations from soldiers to injured colleagues in the field in Afghanistan.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DCSF: A newly launched government careers information, advice & guidance (IAG) strategy is intended to modernise careers education to ‘make it accessible for today’s generation of young people and to keep pace with a rapidly changing economy - and make sure every young person, whatever their background, can aim for the top’.
It is vital that parents & schools are setting out the options for children & young people whether they are academic and are looking to go to university, or are more practical and want to do an apprenticeship.
The department is trialing career related learning in 38 primary schools this year to encourage pupils & parents to have the conversations about careers & education choices early - during the final years of primary school. This will help prepare young people to choose the right subject options at 14. Parents will be given help, support & resources to do this.
WAG: Deputy Minister for Regeneration Leighton Andrews has paid a visit to Abergele Youth Action to see how a Welsh Assembly Government Community Facilities and Activities Programme grant has helped the organisation create successful community IT centre.
Abergele Youth Action (AYA) was established by a group of volunteers in 2001 after a rise in incidents of anti-social behaviour amongst young people in the community. The group offers activities & opportunities for young people aged 10-25 to keep them off the streets and encourage more socially acceptable behaviour.
The project provides training, both in IT and catering skills at the internet café, which also provides a meeting point for the community. The group also works with stroke victims and people with dysphasia (using IT to stimulate their co-ordination) and provides counselling and career & healthy living advice to the community.
ScotGov: Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing recently went to see the work going on in Fife to tackle & prevent alcohol & drug related antisocial behaviour. Mr Ewing visited the Fife Equally Well 'Clued Up' project in Kirkcaldy, which is part of a pioneering partnership involving Fife Police, NHS Fife, Fife Council and local voluntary sector organisations.
MoJ: A fresh search for sites on which to build new 1,500 place prisons is set to begin, Justice Minister Maria Eagle has announced. The National Offender Management Service, which runs prisons in England & Wales for the Ministry of Justice, will look across the country for sites to serve areas with greatest demand for prison places. The search will be focused on London, the North West, North Wales and West Yorkshire.
So far, plans for two new 1,500 place prisons have been announced – one on the site of the former Runwell Secure Psychiatric Hospital in Essex and one at Beam Park West, Dagenham.
The outcome of the site search will be a published shortlist of potential sites. Once a site is identified, consultation with local MPs, local authorities and residents will be undertaken ‘in order to achieve the most open & transparent process possible’.
DCSF: The first ever myplace project, which was launched last week (in the new state of the art building in Norwich called OPEN) marks a milestone in the Government’s £270m programme to deliver world-class youth facilities across the country.
At myplace facilities, young people will have the chance to take part in exciting activities, offering a real alternative to hanging around on the street. It will mean young people can socialise with each other in a safe environment, to gain new skills, and to get any support & advice they need on issues that are important to them.
ScotGov: Householders have been urged to consider how they can reduce their winter fuel bills with the help of a new advice service. A £60m Energy Assistance Package has been set up, offering advice on combating rising fuel bills and how to become more energy efficient.
The free service provides energy savings advice, tax & benefit entitlement help & advice on how to get cheaper energy tariffs. It also offers eligible households, a range of energy efficiency measures including free loft or cavity wall insulations and grants for central heating systems.
DWP: From last week, lone parents with children aged 10 & over will move onto Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) if they are able work, rather than Income Support. On JSA they will ‘benefit from a range of support including training opportunities, job application advice, interviews with specialist advisers and other financial grants to help them return to work’.
They will also receive advice on childcare, benefits and part-time or family friendly working from specialist advisers through the New Deal for Lone Parents. Lone parents with a health condition, or disability which limits their capability for work, will be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
ScotGov: Schools are being supported to build stronger links with local employers through a new online resource from Determined to Succeed, the Scottish Government strategy for enterprise in education. Partnership with Employers shares best practice from around the country and includes interactive training modules for teachers.
Meanwhile Skills for Learning, Life and Work - the fourth stage of the 'building the curriculum' documents - will encourage moving away from categorising learning as either academic or vocational. Focusing instead on the knowledge & skills all young people need, teachers will be supported to deliver creative, engaging & work-relevant learning.
BIS: Lord Mandelson has called for a 3-pronged approach to tackle unlawful peer-to-peer file-sharing. He wants ISPs and the creative industries to work with Government to ensure a package is put in place which ‘balances education, enforcement and new business models to discourage unlawful downloading’.
CLG: Communities Secretary John Denham claims that he is ‘putting councils in the driving seat when it comes to dealing with issues that local residents clearly say they want tackled’. Mr Denham is to change the rules that require councils to get Whitehall permission if they want to create local byelaws or revoke ones not needed.
Mr Denham has also announced plans to publish a consultation on proposals to either repeal or dramatically streamline more than half of the 52 so-called 'consent regimes' - relating to, for example, housing & land use, which currently require councils to get Government approval before acting.
BIS: Robust scientific & engineering advice are heralded as the foundation of good government underpinning economic success & social justice, according to a new document - Science and Engineering in Government: An Overview of the Government’s Approach - published by the Government Office for Science, which sets out the Government’s approach to the management of such advice in the face of the great global challenges of the 21st century.
Defra: The government is urging us to rethink our approach to waste, in a new campaign launched by Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). The new campaign, part of the Government’s Act On CO2 campaign, looks at everything from food waste to furniture recycling and encourages consumers to ‘Remember. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.’
A new website offering tips & advice to consumers on making better use of the things we all too often put straight in the bin or take to the dump has also been launched.
DfT: Rail passengers travelling between Watford and St Albans are in line for more regular & more frequent services thanks to plans to create a new tram service, which would replace the existing train service link that currently operates on an irregular schedule with just one train every 45 minutes, providing a better service (2 – 3 times an hour) for around 450,000 passengers a year who currently use it.
Depending on the outcome of the consultation and the completion of legal & contractual issues, the new service could be up & running in 2011. The new service is also dependant on Network Rail agreeing to transfer control of the line and stations to Hertfordshire County Council on a long-term lease.
DfT: More than 70 major public & private sector employers have pledged to implement a new ‘cycle to work’ guarantee in a bid to transform the numbers cycling to work. They committed to provide their staff with safe bike storage, changing facilities and access to the Government’s generous tax break scheme - 'Cycle to Work' - for new bikes & cycling equipment.
Typically, a third or more of staff of large urban employers live within a 30 minute bike ride of their place of work, but only about 3% currently cycle to work.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has announced that the major UK-headquartered banks have agreed to implement a ‘tough new code for financial reporting disclosure’. The code forms part of proposals, designed to enhance investors’ confidence in financial reporting and to aid their ability to compare and contrast banks’ performance.
The FSA is inviting views (by 30 April 2010)on the application of this code to banks and other credit institutions. In the meantime, the major banks, at the FSA’s request, have agreed to implement the code in their 2009 year end annual reports.
If the banks are unable to sufficiently improve the quality & comparability of their disclosures in their 2009 annual reports, the FSA is also seeking views as to whether the code needs to be supplanted by more detailed disclosure templates.
DH: Direct payments for healthcare have moved a step closer with the launch of a new consultation (closes on 8 January 2010). Personal health budgets are being piloted in primary care trusts until 2012 – direct payments will form part of these. Personal health budgets will hopefully help to create a more personalised NHS, by giving people more choice & control over how money is spent on their care.
The three ways that a personal health budget can work are a:
* notional budget held by a commissioner, such as their doctor or primary care trust
* budget managed on the individual’s behalf by a third party, like a charity or User Trust
* cash payment to an individual and managed by them (a healthcare ‘direct payment’)
Trusts are already able to offer the first two options, which do not involve giving money directly to individuals. The consultation seeks views on the rules for making direct payments, as well as proposals for setting up & evaluating direct payment pilots. The power to make direct payments is in the Health Bill currently before parliament and is expected to receive Royal ascent next month. This consultation will inform the regulations & guidance to make direct payments happen.
TfL: Transport for London (TfL) has begun a public consultation (closes on 4 December 2009) on proposed improvements to the road layout around Tottenham Hale. The existing one-way system currently has high volumes of traffic and few pedestrian crossings. The proposed scheme will look to reduce the impact of traffic on the local area, while still allowing for potential future traffic growth from local developments.
If the proposals are approved, they would be jointly funded by TfL, Haringey Council and the London Development Agency. TfL would begin construction work on the scheme in autumn 2012.
BIS: The Government has published a consultation (closes on 19 January 2010) document giving the detail of proposed changes in the law on repayment policies imposed by credit & store card providers.
MoJ: The Ministry of Justice has published a consultation (closes on 21 January 2010) on the regulations which will control the new Legal Services Board’s power to enter & search the premises of legal profession regulators under warrant. This consultation asks a range of questions about how that power will be regulated, including what a judge should take into account in deciding whether a warrant is necessary and whether any material should be exempt from search warrants.
The new regulatory framework being introduced in 2010 will see the Legal Services LSB oversee 8 approved regulators of the legal services industry.
DWP: Ministers are calling for businesses & individuals to submit evidence on the default retirement age to feed into the review taking place in 2010. Submissions are requested by 1 February 2010and should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and/or posted to DRA Evidence, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, V497, 1 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0ET.
SGC: Companies & organisations that cause death through gross breaches of care should face punitive & significant fines, a consultation guideline published by the Sentencing Guidelines Council proposes in a consultation (closes on Tuesday 5 January 2010) – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
DCSF: The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, has issued guidance (see press release) regarding swine flu and children & young people with health conditions.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has joined forces with the Good Food Channel to produce a new cooking show, Family Supercooks, which began airing last week. In each programme two families will compete to produce the best family meal, with the ultimate aim of winning the title of 'Britain's Best Cooking Family'.
As the competition progresses, the winning families will face different cooking challenges based on real-life situations. For example, in the semis families will have to design & cook food that reflects the seasons, while in the final 3 families will have to produce a family feast.
The Agency, which part-funded the series, has provided the show with nutrition advice on the contestants' recipes. During the programmes, presenters Amanda Lamb & Paul Merrett will give tips on making meals healthier.
DH: A new single technical guidance website for providers of healthcare facilities has been announced by the Department of Health and the 3 other UK health organisations – Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety for Northern Ireland, Health Facilities Scotland and Welsh Health Estates.
The new website ‘Space for Health’, linked to the DH’s website, will bring together a whole suite of guidance (including Health Technical Memoranda, Health Building Notes and other information) into one online resource for all those involved in the procurement, management, design & planning of healthcare facilities, including NHS & non NHS providers.
Users will be able to seamlessly shift between different pieces of guidance, and will be able to access nation-specific information, depending on whether their project is in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. ‘Space for Health’ will replace the current system, the Knowledge and Information Portal..
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published final guidance recommending the use of prasugrel in combination with aspirin as an option for preventing blood clots in the arteries of people with acute coronary syndromes.
Acute coronary syndromes refers to a group of heart problems which occur due to narrowed coronary arteries. These heart problems cause chest pain, and specific types of heart attack. Prasugrel is a drug that can reduce or prevent the formation of blood clots in arteries by reducing the clumping together of platelets in the blood.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published final guidance recommending the use of topotecan in combination with cisplatin as a treatment option for women with recurrent or stage IVB cervical cancer who have not previously received cisplatin.
Topotecan prevents DNA replication in cancer cells by inhibiting the enzyme topoisomerase I which helps to separate & repair the DNA in cells when they divide.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published guidance on the treatment & management of depression in adults. This new guideline updates previous NICE guidance on depression (CG23) issued in 2004.
Depression is a common condition. It affects nearly 1 in 6 people in the UK at some point in their lives. Depression may have no obvious cause, or it can be set off for a variety of reasons (such as physical illness, or difficult things that happened in the past or may be happening now, like bereavement, family problems or unemployment).
This guideline, produced for NICE by the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, makes recommendations on the identification, treatment & management of depression in adults in both primary and secondary care.
Directgov: As the UCAS deadline looms on 15 January 2010, the Government offers advice to thousands of students applying for a place at university. To help students make these important decisions, Directgov has set up dedicated support pages to help students with their choices and to take the pain out of the process.
DCSF: Dawn Primarolo, minister for Children, Young People and Families, has announced 3 new pilot projects to help up to 5m mums, dads, carers & grandparents get important parenting information support & guidance:
* beGrand.net - A new web-service to give grandparents a voice
* Parenting On Demand - Development & syndication of online videos designed to support parents/carers of children aged 5-19
*Relate for Parents – A new relationship support service from Relate
These latest additions to the services of the Parent Know How Innovation Fund will launch in January 2010 (& running until March 2011) and will join a range of other telephone helpline & innovative services available to mums, dads, carers & grandparents to ensure that wherever they look for information, they receive coherent advice from respected sources.
CLG: A new Information Toolkit to help employers boost their businesses by releasing staff to be on-call firefighters, has been announced by Fire Minister Shahid Malik, in response to comments from local employers around the country that they would welcome more information about the role of on-call firefighters - also known as retained firefighters.
Benefits to employers include staff trained in & with experience of:
* First aid & trauma care
* Risk assessment and health & safety training
* Leadership skills & team work
* Self-discipline, commitment & motivation
* Specialist skills such as heavy goods vehicle driving
DH: New advice on storing breast milk and the best medicines to take during pregnancy are some of the updates the Department of Health has made to its Pregnancy and Birth to Five books, re-launched last week.
The books have been a vital source of information for mums-to-be and new parents for over 10 years, offering the latest information on issues that matter to them. The books will be given free to all expectant women and new parents by their midwives and health visitors.
DfT: Thousands of workers at UK ports are set to benefit from higher safety standards with the launch of an updated Port Marine Safety Code. The revised Code - and the accompanying Guide to Good Practice - are designed to promote safety amongst the 54,000 people who work in ports around the country through greater transparency of roles, responsibilities and legal obligations for the industry.
The Code applies to all UK ports that have statutory powers & duties. Its purpose is to improve the safety of marine operations and to establish clear national standards of compliance for all harbour authorities. Ministers have agreed that the DfT and MCA should retain ownership of the Code, but that the ports industry (led by the UK Major Ports Group and the British Ports Association) would become directly responsible for owning & maintaining the Guide.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has begun regulating banks’ & building societies’ day-to-day contact with their customers (as from 1 November 2009), covering everything from direct debits, payments, instant access & savings accounts, through to unauthorised transactions and notification of interest rate changes. New guides for consumers on bank accounts & credit cards are available on Moneymadeclear.
Areas of retail banking which fall outside the FSA’s remit (such as overdrafts & credit card lending) will continue to be regulated by the Office of Fair Trading under the Consumer Credit Act.
LLUK: If you work in the further education sector, it's important that you understand how harnessing the potential of technology will help your learners develop the skills they need to work in the 21st century. Lifelong Learning UK has produced a series of guides to help those working in the sector to apply the use of technology in their professional practice.
MoJ: UK multi-agency teams that manage serious offenders in the community under Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangement (MAPPA) are ‘being seen as beacons of best practice in public protection’ by countries around the world according to the 8th MAPPA annual report.
MAPPA teams in England & Wales were put in place 8 years ago to provide more robust management systems for those offenders who live in our communities through the sharing of information & expertise. The teams (comprising police, prison, probation and other relevant agencies) ensure joint working & enhanced communication to effectively manage risk to the public.
ScotGov: Fewer than one in 60 of Scotland's registered sex offenders re-offended in 2008-09, according to figures published recently. This is the second year that each of Scotland's Community Justice Authority (CJA) areas have published detailed reports on how the responsible authorities in their areas are managing sex offenders in the community.
The Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPAs) came into force in April 2007, ensuring the police, the Scottish Prison Service & local authorities (working with other agencies where required) jointly assess, share information about and manage certain offenders in the community.
CQC: The NHS may be at risk of failing to prevent harm to patients from medicines unless it improves sharing of vital information when people move between services, claims the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in the findings from its study of how well patients’ medication is managed after leaving hospital.
There are risks to the safety of patients when they are prescribed medicines, particularly after leaving hospital. Incidents involving medication, such as prescribing errors & failures to review medication after discharge, were the fourth most commonly reported to the National Patient Safety Agency during 2008. One study estimates around 4% of all hospital admissions are due to preventable medicine-related issues.
From April 2010, all trusts will be required by law to register with CQC and must meet a new set of standards. Effective management of medicines will be a requirement of registration and CQC will take action where trusts fall short of meeting this.
ScotGov: Scotland's Chief Statistician has published Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) 2008-09: First Findings, presenting statistics on adults' perceptions & experiences of crime in Scotland. The SCJS provides a complementary measure of crime to police-recorded crime statistics. This is the first report of the survey since 2006 following a major redesign.
The SCJS is the data source for two National Indicators for the Scotland's National Performance Framework - crime victimisation rate and public perception of general crime rate in local area. The report does not include in-depth analysis and it is intended that further research will be undertaken on a number of topics including civil justice and sub-national analysis.
BIS: Students & universities have been invited to get online and be heard by the National Student Forum, which has launched its most interactive report on higher education in England. The second annual report calls for students to be seen as equal partners in their education from start to finish, working flexibly, together with tutors, to find the way of learning that suits them best.
Amongst its recommendations, the group particularly looked at the flexibility of universities in the courses they offer and how students can combine qualifications gained in one institution with those gained in another.
Maeve Sherlock, Chair of the National Student Forum, also specifically urged senior staff & local student unions to use the Forum’s report as a starting point to ‘work together to help tailor the learning opportunities and support services provided to students and learn from the examples of good practice already identified’.
ScotGov: Scotland's Chief Statistician has published the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) 2009, which is one of Scottish Government's key analytical outputs - providing a measure of the extent to which multiple deprivation is concentrated in particular areas. It has been an important policy tool for many years. The Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics system means it is now possible to update the index much more frequently than the decennial Census, the previous source, allowed.
SIMD 2009 divides Scotland up into 6,505 small geographical areas (called 'datazones'), with a median population size of 767. These are ranked from 1 (most deprived) to 6,505 (least deprived) using 38 indicators of deprivation across seven categories or 'domains' - Income, Employment, Health, Education, Geographic Access to Services, Housing and Crime.
General Reports and Other Publications
Defra: The world is failing to protect its natural habitats & species and action internationally is needed as climate change takes hold, Secretary of State for the Environment Hilary Benn warned as he delivered the annual Darwin Lecture.
The threat to polar bears, turtles and pandas is well known, but UK species are also at threat from a combination of climate change causing a loss of habitat and food sources. Common sights such as songthrushes, skylarks, toads, common seals, puffins & wood peckers could become rare as these creatures dwindle in numbers and are found in fewer areas. Even the English bluebell wood could become a scarce sight.
ScotGov: Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has responded to a joint report by the Inspectorate of Prosecution and the Inspectorate of Constabulary into the Proceeds of Crime Act. He signalled his determination to work with the members of the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce to maximise recovery of the proceeds of crime.
ODI: The Office for Disability Issues has published a research report - Evidence review of access to independent advocacy – which presents the findings of an evidence review investigating the costs, benefits & effectiveness of independent advocacy support for disabled people.
The review examined 4 situations where disabled people are particularly at risk of losing choice & control over their lives:
* During transition to adulthood
* When the children of disabled parents are subject to safeguarding procedures
* When entry to residential care is a possibility
* When disabled people are victims or alleged perpetrators of anti-social behaviour
A framework for research on costs & benefits of independent advocacyhas also been published, which describes how evidence can be collected to fill the information gaps identified in this review.
Legislation / Legal
MoJ: The UK will not be a safe haven to those accused of heinous crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity & war crimes, Justice Secretary Jack Straw claimed, as he published amendments to the Coroners and Justice Bill law last week.
Exceptionally, the law will apply to crimes committed since 1991 - meaning that those involved in the genocide in Rwanda and in crimes committed during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, who may be living in the UK, can be brought to justice.
The Ministry of Justice has also published its formal response to the Joint Committee on Human Rights on the UK law on genocide (and related crimes) and redress for torture.
MoD: The MoD has announced that the Armed Forces Act 2006 came into force on 31 October 2009 to replace the current single Service Discipline Acts. The new single, harmonised & modernised system of Service law will apply to the personnel of all 3 Services wherever they are serving. It will also apply to some civilians who are posted overseas.
The main aim of the 2006 Act is to support operational effectiveness, through:
• the establishment of a single system of Service law
• a common range of offences capable of being heard summarily by commanding officers
• a single Court Martial system, including the establishment of a Service Prosecuting Authority
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
LDA: The London JESSICA fund will spend £100m on climate change projects in London after a deal was signed last week. JESSICA is the Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas fund. By matching the funding from the LDA and London Waste and Recycling Board, JESSICA is effectively doubling the amount of money to be invested in projects such as the low carbon Thames Gateway Heat Network and projects that increase the proportion of waste that is reused or recycled.
As well as regeneration benefits, the investment from JESSICA will promote sustainable & carbon neutral economic growth, combat climate change and help the capital towards its target of reducing London's CO2 emissions by 60% by 2025.
ScotGov: Figures presented at the International Euronoise conference last week conference show that 40,000 domestic noise complaints were made in 2008, compared to about 10,000 a year prior to 2004, when new anti social behaviour domestic noise laws were introduced and councils & police set up and publicised 24/7 call centres to handle complaints.
Loud stereos & televisions, shouting, barking dogs, rowdy parties and DIY are the main sources of complaints.
DfT: UK drivers disqualified for an offence in the Republic of Ireland will no longer escape that punishment when they return home. Likewise, disqualifications earned by Irish drivers while in the UK will be recognised & enforced when they return to Ireland.
The agreement was the first to be drawn up under the terms of the 1998 European Convention on driving disqualifications. The United Kingdom has made a formal declaration to the EU Council to enable the mutual recognition of driving disqualifications with Ireland from February 2010. The EU will confirm the exact date of implementation.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
ESRC: Despite the recession, charities, social enterprises & voluntary organisations (the third sector) are still innovating, according to a publication from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
The report - The third sector – discussions around key public policy issues - is the result of presentations & debates at a series of public policy seminars organised by the ESRC in collaboration with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and with support from the Scottish Government.
10 DS: The Prime Minister hosted a reception at Downing Street last week in honour of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) Forces Help charity. The SSAFA has been operating since 1885 and has supported the families of UK servicemen & women on operations in Afghanistan & Iraq in recent years
CO: 32 frontline third sector organisations will receive up to £10,000 under the Government’s Real Help for Communities: Modernisation Fund. The grants are to support their plans to collaborate or merge to better respond to the economic climate and the changing demands on the sector.
The £10,000 can be used for the costs of merger or collaboration, such as legal fees. Organisations that have completed the first phase of the programme still have until 9 November 2009 to apply.
BIG: 8 groups in the ITV Granada region are preparing to lock horns to win a share of £250,000 in Big Lottery Fund good cause money in The People’s Millions TV contest. 5 groups in the region will win awards of up to £50,000 each for their community project from The People’s Millions contest, soon to be showcased on ITV Granada’s evening regional news.
The TV contest will see two projects go head-to-head each night in the week of 23 to 27 November. The 8 schemes will make their case for the public’s vote to win Lottery funding on ITV Granada’s regional news programme with the winners being decided in a phone vote.
At the end of the week four projects will have won a slice of £250,000 of Lottery good cause cash. The best runner-up with the most phone votes will win a grant to be the final winner, announced on Friday 27 November 2009.
CO: Last week, at the Good Deals Social Investment conference, Angela Smith - Minister for the Third Sector - announced that a further 5 community-owned social enterprises have been selected to take part in a Government-funded research project looking at new ways for social enterprises to attract finance.
The research, which started earlier this year, is examining the potential of community shares & bonds as a way to attract extra investment. This includes inviting 10 social enterprises to test the idea, looking at barriers that could restrict their growth and how they can be overcome. The successful social enterprises receive a package of funding & support and their experiences will be used to support future policy development in this area.
Business and Other Briefings
VOA: Over the coming weeks, business owners will be receiving correspondence from the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) advising them to check the details of their property valuation to ensure they’re correct and directing them to a newly-created website.
The website is designed to guide busy business owners all the way through, giving them everything they need to check the details and feel confident that their valuation is fair & accurate. It is essential to check that the property valuation is correct, as business rates bills are calculated, based on these figures. To help businesses get an advance indication of how their new valuation translates into what they will pay, a rates bill ‘indicator’ has been set up at www.businesslink.gov.uk/estimatemyrates.
By logging on to www.voa.gov.uk/2010 ratepayers will be able to compare their details with other similar properties and, where necessary, contact VOA for assistance. The site offers lots of straightforward help and even short videos on key topics, designed to explain the valuation process.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has announced wide-ranging action to help investors who received unsuitable advice or misleading promotional material when they bought a Lehman-backed structured product, as well as measures to address issues in the wider structured products market.
The FSA found significant advice failings on Lehman-backed products in most of the financial advice firms sampled, as well as serious deficiencies in the marketing literature provided by a number of the plan managers selling these products.
As a result, the FSA is taking direct action to address the detriment this has caused for investors with Lehman-backed products and robust steps to ensure all future structured products investors are treated fairly, including:
Lehman-backed structured products.
HMT: Michael Foot has published his independent review of British offshore financial centres. He was asked by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to conduct a review of the long-term opportunities & challenges facing the British Crown Dependencies (CDs) and Overseas Territories (OTs) as financial centres.
The report covers a number of important areas that impact on the future sustainability of these jurisdictions and sets out a series of robust & sensible standards that Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories will be expected to meet.
This Revenue & Customs Brief 67/09 confirms HMRC policy on the treatment of service charges following the European Court of Justice judgment in 'RLRE Tellmer' (C-572/07).
QCDA: Honda, Toyota and BMW have come together with the Institute of Motor Industry’s (IMI) awarding body, IMI Awards, to develop the definitive qualification in maintaining hybrid technology cars under the new Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF).
In collaboration they have developed both skills- & knowledge-based qualifications:
* The skills-based qualification, a Level 3 Award in Automotive Internal Combustion and Electric Hybrid System Repair & Replacement, will be offered to mechanics across the car manufacturing industry, at the Honda Institute
* The knowledge-based qualification, a Level 2 Award in Automotive Internal Combustion and Electric Hybrid Technology Components & Operation, will be offered across the country by colleges & other learning providers
WAG: Rob, an engineer by profession, invented a marine rescue aid prompted by the concerns of his petite wife Carole that she would be physically unable to help him back into the boat should he fall overboard. So with a little help from the Welsh Assembly Government’s Welsh Innovators Network (WIN), Rob developed the Cadarn Talon, a robust rescue & mooring device that can be used in hand or in conjunction with a boat hook for greater reach.
Cadarn Talon ( 'cadarn' is Welsh for 'strong') is essentially a mechanically closing snap hook which can be used in an emergency to attach a rope or line to a person in the sea by clipping onto a strap, harness, ring or belt. On a regular basis it can be used to assist in mooring a boat or recovering objects from the sea.
Cadarn Talon was one of 50 inventions exhibited on WAG’s stand at the recent British Invention Show where judges awarded it a Double Gold for Innovation and the Platinum Award for Invention in the leisure category.
STFC: A contemporary anthology of short stories which uses the research of real scientists to put facts back before fantasy in popular science fiction has been published. ‘When it all Changed’ (edited by novelist Geoff Ryman) brings together scientists from institutions across the UK - including STFC Daresbury Laboratory and The University of Manchester - and science fiction writers.
Ryman, a senior creative writing lecturer at The UoM, paired off literary colleagues with scientists to produce the book of short stories published by Comma Press. 3 scientists working at STFC Daresbury Laboratory, and one from the neighbouring Cockcroft Institute for Accelerator Science and Technology, were among 14 who helped the authors to write the stories and add a fascinating insight into the science.
OS: Finding a good firework display to celebrate Bonfire Night, complete with toffee apples & Catherine wheels, isn’t always the easiest exercise, let alone one that doesn’t cost the earth. But thanks to a website from mapping agency Ordnance Survey, details of displays across the country can now be found & shared.
Fireworksfinder.net has a map interface that allows firework display organisers to plot the location and details of their event, while the public can find their nearest displays via a postcode search. Users can also link to other sites and upload photos & videos.
The site has been developed as part of GeoVation - an OS supported initiative seeking to promote the wider use of geography. The GeoVation Awards programme (closes 4 January 2010) is currently offering a prize fund of £21,000 for the development of new geography-based ventures. Anyone can submit an entry on the GeoVation website for a chance to win.
MoD: RAF Tornado aircrew from II (AC) Squadron based at RAF Marham in Norfolk, Army Air Corps personnel from Wattisham Airfield in Suffolk and soldiers from 97 Battery, 4 th Regiment based at Topcliffe in Yorkshire (who are due to deploy to Afghanistan next year) are using a Distributed Synthetic Air Land Training (DSALT) system to get the best possible preparation they can.
The DSALT facility enables pilots to fly simulated missions in support of soldiers, in contact with computer generated enemy forces on the ground on exercises supported by a technical & operational team of military, ex-military and civilian backgrounds from Inzpire, QinetiQ, Boeing and Meggit.
The Air Battlespace Training Centre (ABTC) recently re-opened following a major refurbishment & software upgrade and now the scenarios are more realistic than ever before thanks to the introduction of a new Afghanistan database.
Among the first military personnel to try out the system, as part of Exercise Mountain Dragon, are troops who act as Fire Support Teams (FSTs) including Forward Air Controllers (FACs) on the front line. The job of the FST is to co-ordinate modern weapons; from the Army’s artillery, mortars & Apache helicopters to the bombs & missiles used by the RAF’s fast jets, to engage the enemy without endangering their own comrades, allied forces or civilians.
CO: Bebo’s Big Think - Take Your Ideas to the Top is looking for young people to put forward innovative & practical suggestions (by 15 November 2009) on how to make a positive difference on crime, careers & climate change. The nationwide online competition is being hosted on social-networking website Bebo.
The people behind the top 6 ideas will be invited to London to pitch their ideas to a celebrity panel, including record-breaking mountaineer Jake Meyer and Minister for the Cabinet Office & the Olympics, Tessa Jowell. The panel will then pick 3 winners who will be invited to present their suggestions to Cabinet Members the next day.
Newswire – CABE: A crisis looms. With less money and too much carbon, we need more people, with the right skills to manage the landscape of our towns and cities. Many green elements are already in place, but (like roads) their value lies in being networked.
What is needed is a well-maintained & well-connected system of parks, gardens, waterways, allotments and tree-lined streets. This green infrastructure is a powerful weapon in the fight for stronger communities, healthier lives and a sustainable future.
CABE will launch Grey to green on 11 November 2009: a public debate to shift funding & skills from grey to green infrastructure.
Newswswire – IDeA: At a high profile seminar for government communication leaders, last week, Campbell Robb - Director General of the Office of the Third Sector (OTS) - chaired a session on the value of working with the third sector and why we should ‘think outcomes, think third sector’.
Reflecting on the increasing significance of the third sector as an economic & social force in the UK, attracting some £12bn of funding from Government sources in 2006-07, the speakers made a strong case for working with the sector.
Campbell Robb explained that the Government’s National Programme for Third Sector Commissioning has been promoting intelligent commissioning since 2007. It is helping improve the practice of around 3,000 public sector commissioners & procurement officers to ensure they get the best out of working with the third sector.
Last week, the second phase of the National programme went live. IDeA – the improvement & development agency for local government - is heading a new partnership of leading public & third sector agencies who will deliver training & support to commissioners, councillors and third sector leaders.
The programme runs until March 2011 and full details & bookings are available online or by contacting Cheryl Flack at IDeA on 020 7296 6199.
OGC: The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) has launched a campaign aimed at improving the way the public sector manages 'grey' fleet - employee-owned vehicles used for work related journeys. The campaign aims to raise the profile of the issues & opportunities presented by managing grey fleet, as well as helping organisations & employees adopt safer, more cost effective and sustainable forms of travel.
The OGC will be showcasing its best practice toolkits and online support at the first ever national conference on managing grey fleet in the public sector on 25 November 2009 and during a series of regional road shows and sector specific workshops.
It has also published 2 new information pamphlets to further raise the awareness of the support available:
The OGC is looking to increase the number of public sector organisations engaging with its Grey Fleet improvement programme and online community. Evidence suggests grey fleet makes up around 57% of total road mileage used by the public sector. It is estimated that reducing grey fleet mileage by 1,000,000 miles could unlock an estimated £250,000 in cash savings and reduce CO2 emissions by over 240 tonnes.
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