In the News
NAO: Not making the most of the Golden Hour - There is unacceptable variation in major trauma care in England depending upon where & when people are treated, according to a National Audit Office report.
Care for patients who have suffered major trauma (for example following a road accident or a fall) has not significantly improved in the last 20 years despite numerous reports identifying poor practice and services are not being delivered efficiently, or effectively.
Survival rates vary significantly from hospital to hospital, with a range from 5 unexpected survivors to 8 unexpected deaths per 100 trauma patients, reflecting the variable quality of care. The NAO estimates that 450 to 600 lives could be saved each year in England if major trauma care was managed more effectively:
* Only one hospital has 24/7 consultant care
* Major trauma care is not co-ordinated and there are no formal arrangements for taking patients directly for specialist treatment or transferring them between hospitals.
* A significant number of patients that need a CT scan do not receive one
* Not enough patients who need a critical care bed are given one
* Access to rehabilitation services varies across the country
CRC: It’s pretty, but often far, far from the health service - The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) has given cancer patients in rural areas the chance to comment on their experiences. Insights from patients, their families & from service providers suggest that living in the countryside can affect the quality of cancer care.
There are particular challenges associated with running awareness campaigns & screening services in rural areas and difficult or costly journeys to hospital place extra strain on patients. The provision of care for discharged cancer patients remote from health services and with poor public transport is a further concern.
MPA: The ‘wheels of justice’ start to slowly grind - The Metropolitan police Authority (MPA) has issued a statement regarding ‘Action following Commander Dizaei verdict’ (see press release).
The MPA’s Professional Standards Cases Sub-committee (PSCSC) is responsible for both senior officer discipline and police pension forfeiture. Following the verdict in the Commander Dizaei case, the IPCC has sent its report to the MPA. The PSCSC will now set in train the appropriate course of actions.
CLG: Alternative means of funding for the third sector - Communities Secretary John Denham has said that the ‘unique skills & community benefits of the third sector must not be overlooked by councils looking to improve local public services’. Many third sector organisations bid to deliver community based local services, but Ministers are concerned that too many lack the technical skills or are too small scale to win contracts for council run projects.
The Government has launched a new community enterprise strategic framework to help more local groups set up successful local social enterprises. The public sector is facing a period of constrained expenditure and with philanthropic donations slowing it is vital that community enterprises can raise their own finances. The strategic framework reinforces the commitment to explore new innovative ways to independently raise funds.
As part of Putting the Frontline First the Government proposed piloting Social Impact Bonds as a new way of funding the third sector to provide services. This has the potential to radically change how government funds the third sector, by rewarding social investors for work, which reduces future social costs. CLG is actively testing the feasibility of a pilot in Leeds.
MoD: Is it enough when compared to an MP’s resettlement payout or civil compensation? - The MOD has published the results of the comprehensive review of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. The review found several areas where the Scheme could be improved. All the members of the Independent Scrutiny Group unanimously endorsed the Review’s recommendations.
The Secretary of State for Defence has agreed to implement all the recommendations made. Implementation of the Review will involve legislation, which will take time to deliver. Changes however will exceptionally apply to all those who have received compensation under this Scheme, going back to 2005.
MoD: Ensuring that they are not just ‘cast aside’ - Soldiers who are sick or injured will be given enhanced support to help them successfully return to duties or transition into civilian life under new plans announced by the MoD. The Army Recovery Capability (ARC) will take soldiers from the point of injury or illness through to their return to duty or into a successful & supported civilian life.
Under the ARC, educational, occupational & welfare support will be delivered to soldiers in a military environment. The scheme will be delivered in partnership with the Service charities the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes, as well as other Government Departments. See also NAO item in ‘General Reports and Other Publications’ section.
DH: Can we afford to do anything about it now, even if (in the longer term) it could save money? - A major report on tackling health inequalities for the next 10 years & beyond has been ‘welcomed’ by the Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham.
Professor Sir Michael Marmot of University College London was asked by the Government to provide a clear set of short, medium & long term objectives to inform how health inequalities can be dramatically reduced.
Fair Society, Healthy Lives is an analysis of health inequalities in England today and it identifies key areas for future action. It will help set the direction beyond current targets, for the next 10 years & beyond.
DCSF: Stretched to breaking point - All local authorities will be required to provide short breaks for parents & carers who look after a disabled child, under plans announced last week by the government.
Short breaks from their caring responsibilities can & do make a vital difference to parents’ lives and the lives of their children. Short break services include day-time or overnight care in or out of the home.
The public consultation (closes on Monday 26 April 2010) will, if agreed, mean all local authorities are required to provide short break services for parents who care for disabled children.
The short break provision has already proved popular with parents & carers with a significant increase in uptake in both the pathfinder authorities and those authorities that rolled out provision in 2009. Final guidance & regulations should be published in September 2010.
Forthcoming Event: Gartner Business Process Management
Summit, 1-2 March, London
- At the Gartner BPM Summit, you’ll get the pragmatic guidance you need to create and sustain a best-in-class program of your own. Together, we’ll focus on organizational change, IT and business collaboration, pattern recognition and emerging best practices—a unique 360-degree approach that every successful BPM program is built on. Best of all, you’ll be an active participant in a collective learning experience that will yield personal and professional benefits for years to come.
Hot Topics covered at the
People and Change Management
BPM and Cloud Computing
BPM and Applications Strategy
Complex Event Processing
Optimization & Simulation
Going Enterprise-Wide with BPM
Patterns and Pattern-Based Strategy
Click here to find out more and to register.
For information on other forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar.
CLG: Coronation Street star Michelle Keegan is fronting the 'Ordinary People, Extraordinary Careers' campaign to raise awareness among young girls aged 14 - 16 of a career in the Fire & Rescue Service.
MoD: HRH The Duchess of Gloucester and Veterans Minister, Kevan Jones, have launched the Families Activity Breaks (FAB) scheme at the Ministry of Defence, together with sponsors, families and activity break volunteers. The FAB scheme aims to send 100 bereaved Armed Forces families on activity holidays across the UK this summer, in collaboration with the Youth Hostel Association of England and Wales.
FAB provides activity holidays for families with children aged up to 19 years old, who have suffered the loss of a loved one serving in the Armed Forces. They offer an adventure for all the family and a welcome break to meet & socialise with others who have experienced a similar loss.
The cost charged to each family is £50. This includes food, accommodation and all organised activities. Additionally, a bursary is available to help fund travel costs. The cost for families is kept to a minimum in order to avoid preventing any family from attending on financial grounds.
PCS: PCS members working for Fujitsu have voted in favour of an offer to end a dispute over jobs, pay and pensions. PCS members had threatened to take industrial action unless their demands were met which would have caused disruption to large scale government IT services in HMRC, ONS and DVLA.
Under the agreement no PCS member will be made compulsorily redundant. The agreement also gives further assurances on pension provision, together with a new collective bargaining agreement that extends to all PCS members. On pay, the union has managed to secure a pay award for over 80% of its members for 2009, despite Fujitsu’s intention to freeze pay.
IfL: The Institute for Learning (IfL) has welcomed recommendations by the Children, Schools and Families select committee that teachers & trainers with Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status, conferred by IfL, should immediately be able to work as qualified teachers in schools if they are teaching post-16, or even post-14, pupils.
In its ‘Training of Teachers’ report, the select committee acknowledges that the inability of further education teachers to be employed as qualified teachers in the schools sector is ‘an unintended consequence of legislation’.
FSA: Cadbury Chunks Bournville, which can be used for cooking & baking in the home, contains milk, which is not an intended ingredient. This makes the product a possible health risk for anyone who is allergic to or intolerant of milk. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert advising anyone with an allergy to or intolerance of milk to not eat this product.
PCS: The National Gallery could be closed on Tuesday 16 February (lunchtime) with up to 100 warders & security staff set to walk out for 2 hours between 12 noon & 2pm in a row over low pay. The 2 hour strike is the first in a series of walkouts planned by PCS members who are angry over the imposition of a pay award which will leave most warders earning as little as £7 per hour.
82% of those who took part in a recent strike ballot are backing Tuesday’s walkout, which followed gallery boss’s imposition of a pay award just days before Christmas. The award means that staff who protect artworks by Canaletto, Monet, Turner and Van Gogh, will earn a basic salary which is 60p less than Boris Johnson’s recommended London living wage of £7.60 per hour.
HCA: Local authorities, ALMOs and RSLs who wish to provide social rented sites for Gypsies & Travellers, New Age Travellers and Travelling Show People can now bid for a share of £32m funding from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
Details of the programme and bidding timetable, plus instructions for completing bids and next steps in the process are set out in new guidance.
ACE: Theatres across England and stars of stage & screen are backing Arts Council England’s A Night Less Ordinary scheme as it celebrates its first anniversary. The pilot scheme was launched on 10 February 2009 with the aim of giving away just over 600,000 free tickets to under 26 year olds at more than 200 venues across the country by the end of March 2011.
DH: A new group has been set up to oversee the implementation of the Steele Review recommendations to improve dental services for patients. The Review provided recommendations on improving oral health, increasing access and ensuring high quality dental care for patients in its final report, published in June 2009.
The implementation board is now inviting dentists and Primary Care Trusts to trial innovative ways of delivering services to improve treatment for patients by creating a system focussed on outcomes.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
ScotGov: A blueprint for improving the quality of care patients receive from the NHS has been announced. The Quality Strategy recognises that the patient's experience of the NHS is about more than speedy treatment - it is the quality of care they get that matters most to them.
For the first time, the quality of care provided by the NHS will be measured through the experience of patients and the information will be used to drive up standards. Patients will be encouraged to be partners in their own care and can expect to experience improvements in the things patients have said they want from their health service.
The work of the Patient Safety Programme and the Healthcare Associated Infection taskforce will also be integrated into the Quality Strategy. Over the coming months, all NHS boards will be expected to use the draft to identify steps they can take to improve the quality of care they give. The final version will be published in April 2010.
HO: Families of police officers killed in the line of duty are to get financial support through a new government-funded scheme, Policing Minister David Hanson has announced. The Police Survivor Support Scheme will see up to £20,000 given to families left struggling financially after officers have been killed, while keeping the streets of the country safe. It will be run by the Police Dependants’ Trust (PDT).
The cash is aimed at partners of dead officers who have formed a new relationship, which means they are no longer eligible for the survivor pension. Now the one-off payment of up to £20,000 will be handed out to give added financial support after the end of the pension entitlement. Register applications by 30 March 2011.
DCMS: The Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, Ben Bradshaw, has issued a Written Ministerial Statement on Television Product Placement.
WAG: Environment Minister Jane Davidson and Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones have jointly approved a new conservation plan for red squirrels in Wales. The red squirrel is in need of concerted conservation action to save it from extinction. The new conservation plan claims to ‘put this work on a surer footing, bringing renewed hope that future generations can continue to enjoy sightings of this much-loved mammal’.
Work to turn the Conservation Plan into action is being led by the Wales Squirrel Forum - a group chaired by the Countryside Council for Wales.
GEO: More women than ever before are working part-time (42% of working women - 5.8m women), but too many have to downgrade when they leave full-time employment. The Government has published Working Towards Equality: a Framework for Action, which ‘demonstrates’ how it will work to tackle the gender pay gap, and ensure our labour market is one:
* Where being a parent or carer is not a barrier to opportunity or success
* Where a person's aspirations & opportunities are not constrained by their gender
* That is transparent & free from gender discrimination
DCSF: Successful schools & education institutions, business, faith and charity groups have been invited to apply to become Accredited Schools Groups and Accredited School Providers. Under this new system these groups will be able to gain a ‘chartermark’ to support or take over under-performing schools and turn them round. This first round for applications closes in March, but there will be subsequent rounds.
To achieve accreditation, providers will need to demonstrate they have the following key skills:
* sound governance
* highly effective leadership & management
* a strong model for managing & improving schools
* a track record of improving outcomes for children & young people
* the capacity to achieve transformational change in the schools they are supporting
HO: Foreign students from outside Europe wanting to come to the UK to study will be required to meet stricter entry criteria, the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson has claimed, following a review of Tier 4 of the PBS. It is hoped that the new regulations will ensure that students studying below degree level have a limited ability to work in the UK and that their dependants cannot work here at all.
In addition, the Home Secretary has confirmed that the Government will implement plans to introduce a points test by 2011 for those who wish to earn British Citizenship. The decision to introduce it follows the results of a public consultation on the proposals which have just been published. Three quarters of the public polled during the consultation are in favour of the Government's plans to introduce a points scheme for citizenship.
DFID: The UK and Palestinian National Authority (PNA) have agreed to a new approach to tackling poverty in the OccupiedPalestinianTerritories (OPTs) in a drive to improve basic services and raise the standard of living for tens of thousands of people.
The agreement will see the UK work with the PNA over the next 2 years to strengthen state institutions, including government Ministries & the civilian police, thereby building Palestinian leaders’ ability to meet the needs of its own people. This will include the development of key services such as health & education.
ScotGov: The Scottish government have published an action plan & marketing campaign toimprove the safety of children on the internet and prevent problems such as cyber bullying, internet fraud & online grooming.
ScotGov: Crawford Beveridge, Sir Neil McIntosh and Robert Wilson will conduct Scotland's Independent Budget Review, it was announced last week. The panel's remit was agreed as part of this year's Budget process and the work will now be taken forward independently of government, with Mr Beveridge (a former Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise) as the chair.
The purpose of this review will be to inform public & Parliamentary debate in advance of the next Comprehensive Spending Review (expected in Autumn 2010) about the challenges & choices that will exist in a significantly constrained public spending environment and to ensure priorities can be established. The review will report by end July 2010.
WAG: Deputy Minister for Children Huw Lewis has met with young people from across Wales at an event aimed at providing young people with the opportunity to participate in decisions that affect them. More than 250 young people from schools, youth forums, youth settings & Funky Dragon met at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea to have their say on a range of topics such as school uniforms, basic skills and child poverty.
The event, entitled ‘Your Choice Your Voice’, has been organised by the Welsh Assembly Government with funding from the 'Reach the Heights - First Footholds ESF Project.' As well as attending workshops attendees were able to voice their thoughts & opinions through video booths, post boxes & an electronic graffiti wall.
MCA: The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has launched a public consultation (closes on 22 March 2010) on proposals for new legislation to regulate ship-to-ship transfers (STS) and bunkering operations of oil in UK waters. The legislation will regulate transfers of cargo consisting wholly or mainly of oil, between ships in UK territorial water.
Monitor: Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts, is launching a consultation (closes on Tuesday 6 April 2010) which proposes enhancing the assessment of quality governance in Trusts applying for foundation status and sets out a ‘quality governance framework’ for Boards.
The proposed new quality framework will help Boards meet this challenge by enabling them to self-assess their approach on managing quality. Monitor will then test & challenge this evaluation during the assessment process. The framework is set out as a series of 10 key questions, which test applicants’ approach to quality in 4 areas and provides examples of good practice for each area.
NICE: In draft guidance, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has been unable to recommend everolimus (afinitor, Novartis) for the second line treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma.
This draft guidance is now available for public consultation and consultees, healthcare professionals & members of the public are able to comment on the recommendations until 2 March 2010.
NICE: Following the previous public consultation & subsequent independent Appraisal Committee meeting on 13 January 2010, both National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the appraisal committee agreed to split the appraisal of dasatinib and nilotinib for chronic myeloid leukaemia into 2 separate appraisals.
NICE is about to start a review of its current guidance on high dose imatinib for chronic myeloid leukaemia (TA70), so this review will now incorporate an appraisal of dasatinib & nilotinib compared with high dose imatinib for people who are 'resistant' to standard imatinib treatment. The current appraisal will continue for 'imatinib intolerant' people only.
In its latest draft NICE does not recommend dasatinib and nilotinib for chronic myeloid leukaemia in patients who are intolerant to imatinib. These draft recommendations are now open to public consultation (by 2 March 2010)) and the manufacturers have been given the opportunity to provide further evidence for the independent committee to consider at its next meeting, on 9 March 2010. Following this meeting the next draft guidance will be issued.
Defra: A Defra consultation (closes 4 May 2010) is seeking views on how to implement the European Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides, which covers areas including the training of pesticide users, inspection of spraying equipment and minimising the risk of pollution from pesticides.
The consultation also puts forward options on access to information about pesticides used near homes and how people could be given the option to obtain this information.
DWP: Thousands of people with serious industrial diseases, who miss out because they cannot trace their employers’ insurance records, should be able to claim compensation following Government proposals announced last week. A voluntary Code of Practice for tracing Employers’ Liability insurance policies, set up in 1999 has led to some improvements, but many individuals are still left without help.
In a consultation paper (closes 5 May 2010)the DWP sets out plans to create an:
* Employers’ Liability Tracing Office to help people track down their employers’ liability insurance policies
* Employers’ Liability Insurance Bureau to provide a fund of last resort for those who are unable to trace them
DCSF: Parents will be expected to sign up to school behaviour policies. The proposals mean schools’ policies will be brought to the attention of parents before they apply for a place. Under the plans out for consultation (closes on 25 March 2010) parents will also be asked to agree to other policies, such as attendance & uniform, as part of the application process.
If accepted, the changes will be brought into force by the end of May 2010 to coincide with the proposed introduction of the amended school information regulations. This would also allow local authorities sufficient time to make the necessary amendments to their co-ordinated admissions scheme & common application form, prior to applications for school places being made for 2011/12 – the deadline for secondary applications being in autumn 2010.
LLUK: Following on from the successful review of the National Occupational Standards for Learning and Development, draft Units of Assessment for the QCF & CQFW have been produced for new qualifications for Assessors and those with responsibility for Internal & External Quality Assurance. This web based consultation is now open until 4.30pm on 26 February 2010.
DCSF: All local authorities will be required to provide short breaks for parents & carers who look after a disabled child, under plans announced last week by the government. The public consultation (closes on Monday 26 April 2010) will, if agreed, mean all local authorities are required to provide short break services for parents who care for disabled children – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
DCSF: When don’t you have to register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority ISA Personal & family arrangements and other exemptions under the new Vetting & Barring scheme? This information appears in an annex to a ‘letter from Rt Hon Ed Balls MP, Secretary of State for Children, Schools & Families, to MPs in England and Wales’. See press release for details.
DCSF will update this document with further examples each month in response to queries raised with them, from now until the start of ISA registration in November 2010. Updates will be available on the Every Child Matters – V&BS webpage.
SGC: The Sentencing Guidelines Council has published definitive guideline on Corporate Manslaughter and Health & Safety Offences which cause death. The Council sets out principles to guide courts in dealing with companies & organisations that cause death through a gross breach of care or where breach of health & safety requirements are a significant cause of the death.
The advice is clear – punitive & significant fines should be imposed both to deter & to reflect public concern at avoidable loss of life. Fines for companies & organisations found guilty of corporate manslaughter may be millions of pounds and should seldom be below £500,000. For other health & safety offences that cause death, fines from £100,000 up to hundreds of thousands of pounds should be imposed.
CQC: The Care Quality Commission applauded overall improvements over recent years, as it published its first annual report to parliament on the state of health care & adult social care in England.
But it cautioned that some services were lagging behind the pack and that there were areas of common concern across health & social care, notably keeping people safe and staff training.
CQC pointed out that services would be operating in a different environment in future, with pressure on finances adding to continuing increases in demand and rising expectations.
It said that the next big challenge for health & social care is to accelerate efforts to make services more joined up & centred around people’s needs. Its report argues that joining up health & social care can deliver both better care and greater efficiency.
General Reports and Other Publications
NAO: A report released by the National Audit Office has found that the clinical treatment & rehabilitation of service personnel seriously injured on military operations are highly effective. The report notes, however, that the rate of illness & minor injury among personnel on operations has almost doubled in 3 years.
Medical capacity at both Selly Oak and Headley Court has been sufficient to deal with casualties to date, but it is under increasing pressure. In addition, the main field hospital in Afghanistan – CampBastion – is currently coping with casualty levels, but working close to capacity. Contingency plans for providing further capacity back in the UK for care for injured Service personnel have recently improved, but should be developed further.
The MOD has taken steps to provide support on operations to personnel at risk of developing mental health conditions but there are weaknesses in follow-up for those service personnel who deploy individually or move between units following deployment. See also MoD item in ‘In the News’ section.
PO: The Parliamentary Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, has published ‘Fast and fair?’ a report on the UK Border Agency (the Agency). The Agency have consistently generated a large number of complaints to the Ombudsman. In the first 9 months of 2009-10 the Ombudsman received 478 complaints about the Agency and reported on 33 investigations of which 97% were upheld in full or in part.
‘Fast and Fair?’ includes 11 case studies that reflect the large number & wide range of complaints referred to the Ombudsman by Members of Parliament. The cases involve applications for asylum, as well as the Agency’s core immigration & nationality work and applications for residence cards, which confirm rights of residence under European law.
NAO: The Pension Protection Fund, which protects private sector pensions, has delivered value for money in terms of investing efficiently & preparing adequately for the potential impact of future claims, according to a National Audit Office report. The PPF must take steps to ensure that it continues to deliver value for money in the future, particularly as its assets increase as more schemes transfer to the Fund.
The PPF offers protection to some 12.4m pensioners in private sector defined benefit (often known as final salary) pension schemes should their employer become insolvent.
The NAO found that the PPF currently manages its assets well and has not been exposed to severe losses in the recession. In 2008-09, the Fund’s investments, in aggregate, increased in value by 13.4%. The Fund has developed a suitable model to assess future liabilities and this has proved resilient to a range of stress tests.
ESRC: Issues such as redundancies, parenting & poverty often hit the headlines - but the crucial research behind the stories rarely gets the same attention. Without the work of social scientists policymakers would not have the necessary research evidence to back up new policies.
The Academy of Social Sciences (ACSS) has collected a number of stories which demonstrates how evidence-based research can be translated into policies that will improve everyone's wellbeing. The impact of social science research is wide reaching - from crime prevention, education & re-employment to healthy diets and the wellbeing of children.
Ofsted: Pupils in schools that use ‘managed’ online systems have a better knowledge & understanding of how to stay safe when using new technologies, according to a report published by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.
Defra: An independent performance review of the Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG), Kew has praised its impressive achievements and set out recommendations to ensure the major plant science research facility & popular visitor attraction maintains & improves on its success in years to come.
The review, carried out on behalf of Defra, concluded that the RBG has met all of its statutory obligations since the last performance review in 2001, such as preservation & care for a wide variety of plant collections, undertaking research into the science of plants and ensuring the public have access to the collections.
FSA: The findings of a UK dietary survey, published by the Food Standards Agency, suggest that the nation is eating less saturated fat, trans fat & added sugar than it was 10 years ago. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) is the first comprehensive survey of people’s eating patterns since 2001, when the survey was last carried out.
Despite these encouraging indications, people are, according to the NDNS, still eating too much added sugar (currently 12.5% of food energy intake compared to the recommended 11%) and not eating enough fibre, which is essential for healthy digestion.
CLG: Local people are far more satisfied with where they live following major changes brought about by a Government regeneration programme to transform areas of deprivation, according to a new report. The findings show that 74% of residents living in the 39 areas benefiting from the New Deal for Communities programme were satisfied with their areas, following major projects to improve housing & local environment, up by 13% since 2002.
The programme created 39 partnerships in the most deprived neighbourhoods around the country. Established in 1999/2000, each community-led partnership was funded by the Government to tackle multiple deprivation in its area, over a 10-year period.
DCSF: Almost three quarters of primary school children in England are now taking vegetables or salad as part of their average school lunch – following the introduction of mandatory standards for school food.
A national study carried out by the School Food Trust – the first of its kind since the Government’s new standards came into effect in 2006 – has found that the lunches taken by pupils in 2009 were healthier than those of children 4 years earlier.
NAO: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office lacks a clear strategy & comprehensive data to manage its overseas estate effectively, according to a report published by the National Audit Office. The FCO is taking positive steps to adapt its properties to new global challenges, but has not achieved value for money in the management of its estate as a whole.
The FCO’s strategy for managing its estate is high-level and the underpinning detail is scant. It does not lay out the requirements for the estate, whether the estate meets the requirements and how it will address the gaps.
Over half of the posts that responded to the NAO’s survey have unused office space or staff accommodation. Without a clear framework to assess the estate’s performance, it is difficult to evaluate the Department’s progress.
ScotGov: A strong future for Scottish literature has been mapped out in a report published last week. One of the report's key recommendations is the establishment of a Scottish academy for literature designed to acknowledge & celebrate Scotland's best writers, poets and novelists across all genres. The report also recommends the support of writers' retreats and retreat spaces.
Legislation / Legal
WAG: First Minister Carwyn Jones has welcomed the Royal Approval given to the Assembly’s bid for law-making powers in three key areas – the environment, mental health & the Welsh language – and for new legislation to help children in Wales.
Three Legislative Competence Orders (known as LCOs) have been made by the Queen in Privy Council. These Orders confer law-making powers on the National Assembly. The Welsh Assembly Government will now be seeking to make new Welsh laws, called Measures, in each area.
Royal Approval was also given to the Children and Families Measure, which is designed to help protect vulnerable children and combat child poverty.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
NE: A new payment for hill farmers, aimed at rewarding them for combining food production with protecting their distinctive landscape & encouraging wildlife has been launched by Natural England and Defra. Upland Entry Level Stewardship replaces the Hill Farm Allowance – which ends in March 2010 - and offers payments that are more than double the amount for standard ELS in recognition of the harsh conditions in which hill farmers operate.
The first agreements will run from 1 July 2010 and farmers seeking to apply for these are advised to do so before 1 May 2010.
ScotGov: Homeowners faced with repossession will be given greater protection under the Home Owner and Debtor Protection (Scotland) Bill which was last week approved unanimously by MSPs in the Parliament.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
SE: As the 2010 Winter Olympics started, Sport England & Snowsport England have revealed the 10 ski facilities & clubs that will be at the heart of their drive to get more people on the slopes throughout England.
Snowsport England, the national governing body for snow sports, is receiving £985,000 of Government & National Lottery funding to get more people skiing and snowboarding in high quality environments.
Some of the funding will also be used to helped talented athletes move closer to their dreams of competing in the Winter Olympics. In particular, Snowsport England is working with the charity Snow-Camp, to give more disadvantaged youngsters the chance to try snow sports, by helping them expand into new inner city areas and introduce participants to established ski clubs.
VSO: VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) is a leading international development charity that works through volunteers to fight poverty in developing countries and make the world a fairer place for all. For over 50 years, they have sent volunteers to some of the world’s poorest countries to share their professional skills, creativity & learning and to build capabilities that transform poor and & people’s lives and communities.
The UK Government has made funds available to cover pensions for up to 2 years for public sector employees (PSEs) in the UK who volunteer overseas with VSO, so now is a great time for public sector employees to volunteer overseas and pass their skills & experience on to those that need it.
Volunteers & employees also consider international volunteering as part of a structured professional development path. PSEs who volunteer overseas gain valuable skills and return to the UK with those skills, as well as insight & experiences that directly benefit themselves, their organisation and the UK economy.
BIG: At least £100m a year is to be invested across England by the BIG Lottery Fund in a new improved version of its flagship Reaching Communities programme for each of the next 5 years. The new funding (which will be introduced in Spring 2010) comes with 2 distinct improvements:
* First, applicants seeking smaller sums of money will enjoy a simpler application & assessment process
* Second, a 2-stage decision making process for larger bids will ensure that all applicants will learn sooner whether their project is in with a chance of receiving funding. For those invited to the second stage, the likelihood of success will be much higher, making work on completing a full application more worthwhile
Also in the pipeline for later in the year is a third element, a dedicated capital stream offering funding within the familiar Reaching Communities application process to respond to the high, unmet demand for funding for community buildings.
Business and Other Briefings
HMRC: HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has issued an urgent alert to employers – important PAYE changes are coming in Spring 2010, so make sure you’re prepared for them.
HMRC is writing to all employers this month to remind then that, from this year, they must file their Employer Annual Returns online by the 19 May 2010 deadline – there is no longer a paper filing option for small employers with fewer than 50 staff.
ScotGov: A survey by the Scottish Government, show that Scottish firms are continuing to face challenges in accessing cash flow to grow their businesses. The updated Access to Finance Survey for SMEs shows that, while fewer companies are being rejected outright for finance deals, there continue to be issues with the cost of finance. Either increased margins over the base rate or increased fees & charges for arrangement were noted. The survey also shows that fewer firms are likely to secure 100% of the funding sought.
HMRC's view on the application of tax statute on shares and debt held by members of DFB in that company.
WAG: Businesses in some of Wales’ most deprived areas will receive a £7m jobs boost (including support for disabled workers) Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones has announced. Almost 150 businesses will benefit from funding support of between £10k & £90k.
The Enhancement Areas Fund will create up to 600 jobs and help protect up to another 150. It will be delivered through the Welsh Assembly Government’s Single Investment Fund (SIF), and is backed with £6m from the EU’s Convergence European Regional Development Fund.
It is expected to generate a total investment of £23m with additional private sector funding. It could also help with costs, including wages, associated with safeguarding & creating employment for disadvantaged & disabled workers.
Ofgem: A new certification scheme has been launched to label green electricity tariffs, which have been certified as having genuine environmental benefits. The ‘green energy certified’ label is intended to help customers recognise tariffs that have been certified under the scheme and reassure them that, if they choose a certified green energy deal, they will be supporting suppliers who are going the extra mile to reduce carbon emissions.
The certification scheme will implement energy regulator Ofgem’s Green Supply Guidelines, published in 2009. The guidelines set out what green tariffs should comprise, how they should be marketed and the evidence required to back-up claims.
To be eligible for certification, suppliers will have to demonstrate to an independent panel of experts that their tariffs result in a reduction of a minimum threshold of carbon dioxide emissions. Crucially suppliers must show that the activity associated with the green tariff is in addition to what they already have to do to meet existing Government targets for sourcing more renewable electricity and reducing household carbon emissions.
HO: Three new design innovations to tackle mobile phone crime, including a device that locks a phone & alerts the owner if it is taken away from them, have been unveiled. The prototypes were developed by teams of designers & technology experts as part of the Mobile Phone Security Challenge, an initiative from the Home Office Design and Technology Alliance and the Design Council, with support & funding from the Technology Strategy Board.
The aim of the challenge was to protect mobile phone users from crimes such as mobile phone identity fraud, which rose by over 70% in 2009, to make phones more secure and to prevent unauthorised use of mobiles for electronic 'contactless' payments, soon to be become widespread in the UK.
The solutions are:
* i-migo - a small device which the user keeps about their person, which sounds an alert & locks the handset if it is taken out of a set range - either through theft or loss. It also provides automated backup of important data using Bluetooth technology
* The 'tie' solution - this electronically matches a handset to a SIM card & protects data stored on the handset with a password & encryption. If stolen, the handset cannot be used with another SIM and data (such as saved passwords, browsed websites & contacts) cannot be accessed by criminals, who could otherwise use it to defraud victims, by hacking into online bank accounts
* TouchSafe - aimed at making ‘M-Commerce’ transactions more secure by using a small card worn or carried by the user, who discreetly touches the phone to the card to enable the transaction. It uses the same Near Field Communication (NFC) technology currently used by the Oyster travel card.
ScotGov: The new £200m Loch Ryan port will safeguard 500 jobs & deliver significant investment to Dumfries & Galloway, First Minister Alex Salmond has claimed. Relocation of Stena Line's operations from Stranraer to the new Loch Ryan Port will shorten crossing times between Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The creation of the port will also aid the regeneration of the waterfront at Stranraer, providing an opportunity to develop 26 acres of waterfront and strengthen the town's reputation as a marine leisure destination.
LDA: A new website launched by the London Development Agency is set to ‘revolutionise the way information on the capital’s labour market is used by colleges, businesses, government and local authorities’. The London Skills and Employment Observatory website, developed by technology, information & research experts, is a dedicated new resource for all organisations involved in the design & delivery of employment & skills services in London.
MoD: Frontline troops are set to benefit from new ideas which have been supported by MOD research grants.
A range of new technologies has recently been showcased at the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE), Harwell, Oxfordshire, by UK companies that have recently been awarded research funding.
The Centre helps potential suppliers who have never worked with the Ministry of Defence access the right people. It regularly holds seminars to outline the Ministry of Defence’s specific research requirements. Proposals are submitted online through www.science.mod.uk.
The Defence Technology Plan (DTP), launched in 2009, was the first time that the MOD has gone public with its research needs. The DTP is made up of five Capability Visions, which aim to use innovation to:
* lighten the load on the dismounted soldier
* reduce the reliance on fossil fuels
* provide research to develop future protected vehicles
* develop a novel air concept
* provide technology to conduct & defend against cyberwarfare.
LSN: The Learning and Skills Network has reinforced its position as a leading supplier in the learning & skills sector with the acquisition of independent learning & e-solutions provider Learning Resources International (LRI). The acquisition will combine LRI’s expertise with LSN’s 25-year track record of supplying services to the further education sector & beyond.
In recent weeks, LSN has also acquired FE Associates, a leading supplier of interim managers in the further education sector and Connections (Oxford), a major business leadership & development organisation.
WAG: Wales has been designated one of the UK Government’s flagship Low Carbon Economic Areas (LCEA) and will be a lead area, for developing alternative fuels, including hydrogen from renewable sources.
Vehicles driving along the M4 in Wales will be able to refuel with hydrogen fuel (or recharge if electric) as part of the first phase to extend the low carbon refuelling corridor along the motorway. It will create the UK’s longest hydrogen highway with strategically placed multi fuel filling and recharging points.
MoD: The Soteria Consortium has been chosen to provide a harmonised Search & Rescue Helicopter (SAR-H) service for the UK well into the 21st Century. Currently the MOD and Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) together provide a 24-hour military & civil helicopter SAR service for the UK SAR Region from 12 bases around the UK.
This capability will be replaced over the next decade through a single contract placed with Soteria that will retain a proportion of military aircrew working alongside civilian aircrew trained to the same high standards. The new service will be phased in progressively taking over site by site, anticipated to start in 2012. The 4 MCA bases will transition to the new service first and will be followed by the 8 MOD bases.
The UK will benefit from a single fleet of modern helicopters, some 30% faster than the current Sea Kings. Moreover, unlike today, the entire fleet will be able to attend low level overland night-time incidents which require pilots to use Night Vision Goggles. All helicopters will have Forward Looking Infra-Red equipment which enables the crew to search the terrain, over sea or land, in low light conditions.
ScotGov: A Children's Summit designed to further improve services for Scotland's children, including the most vulnerable is to be hosted by the Scottish Government. Staff working in the NHS, social work & child protection, education, police, voluntary sector, will be among those invited to the event, as well as Scotland's Children's Commissioner and a range of other experts on children's issues.
Ministers will also meet groups of young people in the months prior to the June 2010 event, including representatives from the Scottish Youth Parliament, to hear their views & concerns so that these can be reflected in the summit's discussions.
OS: Local charities & community group web developers are invited to a FREE ‘Mash-up evening’ in Southampton on Tuesday 2 March 2010, showing how to make the most of Ordnance Survey mapping online. The session will show how they can put OS mapping on their own websites using OS OpenSpace, a new online mapping application.
One of the groups already using OS OpenSpace is Eastleigh District Scouts. David Patrick who created the website said: “It is really useful to show where the various Scout groups meet as it allows people who are interested to find out how to get involved. Using OS OpenSpace was fairly straightforward and there is lots of online help. I’d recommend it.”
Editorial Content Statement
WGPlus would like to make it clear that the commentary & links provided, in respect of any particular item, are published in its capacity as an independent non-government funded organisation and reflect the editorial team’s need to both précis & re‑format the content of news releases.
Any views expressed are therefore entirely those of the WGPlus editorial team and independent of any sponsor, government organisation or political party.
For the official view of a source organisation, readers should click on the ‘press release’ that is the first link attached to each item.
Speed of download - Readers are reminded that some documents linked to can be large (VL) and may take some time to download, even with a broadband link. Readers are encouraged to be patient.
While every care is taken to ensure that all links ’work’ in the newsletter (including checking just before publication), WGPlus cannot guarantee that websites will not make changes that will nullify individual links, especially over a period of time.
WGPlus is not responsible for the content of external websites