In the News
WAG: Wales will be ‘At One’ with the planet - Wales has the potential to produce nearly twice the amount of electricity it currently uses, through wholly renewable sources by 2025.
This was the message from Environment Minister, Jane Davidson, who was speaking at the launch of the Welsh Assembly Government’s new Energy Policy Statement: A Low Carbon Revolution.
The strategy outlines the WAG’s ambitions to accelerate the transition to a low carbon energy economy in Wales. It sets out a 3-tiered approach which focuses on:
* maximising energy savings & efficiency.
* ensuring that the transition to low carbon energy maximises opportunities for practical green jobs & skills
* moving to resilient low carbon electricity production via secure indigenous renewable forms of energy (such as marine, wind, water & biomass)
DCSF: Will this lead to ‘Never again’? - Children's Secretary, Ed Balls, has confirmed that Local Safeguarding Children Boards will in future be required to:
* produce clear & comprehensive executive summaries of Serious Case Reviews
* set out in their annual reports what actions have been taken following SCRs
These requirements, made explicit in a template setting out a recommended format for SCR executive summaries, will build on the action which Government has already taken to further strengthen SCRs. The revised Working Together guidance also builds on responses from experts in child protection such as the NSPCC and Barnardo's.
Ministers have also announced that funding to support social work improvement in adult & children's services for 2010 - 11 will be more than £200m. A new 'Local Social Work Improvement Fund' of £23m will provide flexible funds to help reduce pressure on front line social workers. There will also be a grant of £15m to continue to improve IT systems in local areas. LAs will be expected to consult with social workers & local partners to decide how to use the additional money.
The Government will also invest up to an additional £10m to enable Cafcass to tackle backlogs through more efficient working practices. It will enable the service to meet the needs of children in care proceedings and ensure that their best interests remain at the heart of court proceedings.
The Government has also published the Chief Advisor for the Safety of Children, Sir Roger Singleton's first report to Parliament, plus the Government's response to Lord Laming - One Year On.
DECC: A possible future replacement for fishing jobs? - Harnessing the full potential of marine energy could provide enough power for up to 15m homes & save up to 70m tonnes of C02 by 2050 according to the Government’s Marine Energy Action Plan, released last week. The document also highlights the potential for the marine energy sector to provide up to 16,000 jobs, with a quarter of these in exports.
BIS: Can we build it? Yes we can - Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, has announced a package of measures to strengthen the UK’s civil nuclear supply chain, at the centre of which is an offer of a £80m loan to propel a successful UK manufacturer - Sheffield Forgemasters - to the forefront of civil nuclear power world markets.
The offer will enable SF to build a 15,000 tonne press & finishing facility, which can produce the ultra-large forgings, such as reactor pressure vessels that are integral to modern civil nuclear reactors. Currently these can only be produced in Japan for the global market and the company concerned has a full order book for some years ahead.
A report published by the Nuclear Industry Association estimates that the UK supply chain currently has the capability to supply around 50% of the plant & equipment for a new nuclear programme in the UK. With some investment in facilities & training, the UK could supply around 70% of the different components needed.
ESRC: Least to blame, but will suffer the most - Those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change in the UK may be those who have contributed least to the problem, according to climate change experts. The social justice implications of climate change for those living in the UK are outlined in ‘How will climate change affect people in the UK and how can we best develop an equitable response?’.
As yet, understanding the likely consequences of climate change for people living in the UK is at an early stage and, in this booklet, academic & policy experts consider the social impacts and the social justice implications of climate change in a UK context and how society needs to respond.
NAO: 'Re-organisation' is too often a tool used by managers to avoid examination of their failure to deliver - Between May 2005 & June 2009, there were over 90 reorganisations to central government. But a report released by the National Audit Office has found that these cannot demonstrate value for money, given that most had vague objectives and that costs & benefits were not tracked.
Forthcoming Event: SPRINT Mid-Year Mini-Conference – ‘You can't streamline 30%’ - Ramada Park Hall Hotel, Wolverhampton (21 April 21 2010). On BBC television's Question Time on Thursday 4 March - an estimate of between 14% & 24% public sector budget cut was unchallenged by the Government representative on stage (Lord Adonis), but levels of savings of up to 24% cannot be squeezed from existing budgets - dramatic & radical re-engineering may well be the only solution.
Many organisations have undertaken streamlining activity in a highly effective way over the last few years - but in doing so have failed to challenge the fundamental issues. In this respect they may well have made the achievement of further substantial savings almost impossible.
Positive change requires the design of innovative forms of work organisation, emphasizing local autonomy and user-centred design enabled by technological innovation. Senior managers in particular, must lead the way in building the capacity for design & innovation at all levels in their organisations.
Gartner PPM & IT Governance Summit, 16 – 17 June 2010, Lancaster London | Finding a path forward that "fits" the new economy and the new realities makes the launch of the Gartner Program & Portfolio Management and IT Governance Summit in London a must attend event for BOTH business and IT Leaders.
Summit will provide a unique mix of Gartner Research presentations, practitioner case studies, peer-to-peer roundtables, and hands-on workshops which closely engage Gartner analysts with the attendees.
TRACK 1: Program and PMO Functions, Roles and Practices
TRACK 2: Portfolios, IT Investments and Initiatives Across the
TRACK 3: IT Governance and Oversight - Challenges & Solutions
Register Now to find the right path to value. You won't win the new battles of the new economy with old practices and strategies.
For information on other forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
FDA: The FDA union has welcomed the Public Administration Select Committee’s (PASC’s) report which recommends cutting the number of junior ministers by a third and halving the number of parliamentary private secretaries.
FDA general secretary Jonathan Baume said: “…. The FDA has for some time advocated cutting the number of junior ministers, which has grown rapidly in the past decade to a level that is wholly unsustainable. …… As PASC’s report makes clear, this proliferation has lead to a clogging up of the decision-making process as lines of responsibility become unclear. In this period of fiscal austerity, it is also clearly inappropriate for civil service resources to be diverted into boosting - through announcements & initiatives - the public profiles of large numbers of junior ministers.”
Also last week, the FDA welcomed the report by the HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, which addresses the operation of the CPS London Area.
Paul Whiteman, FDA national officer responsible for members in the CPS, said: “It is regrettable that the report finds much amiss in the London Area, but the FDA is pleased that it confirms that CPS staff (FDA members) are hard-working and determined to provide a good service to Londoners.
The difficulties appear to be due to ‘initiative overload’ and resourcing problems. ….. Inadequate case preparation time is just one of the symptoms of taking resources away from the front line. Our members have been overburdened - and unjustly criticised as a result - for far too long”.
WAG: Social Justice Minister, Carl Sargeant has responded to the report into the affairs of Plas Madoc Communities First partnership in Wrexham (published last week) by setting out his intentions for the programme in Plas Madoc.
Serious failings have been identified regarding the arrangements for achieving value for money, financial control, and to wider governance issues – in particular behaviours out of line with the Standards of Conduct in Public Life set out by Lord Nolan, the Nolan Principles.
Newswire – EC: British citizens living abroad need to act now if they want to vote in the forthcoming UK general election, the Electoral Commission has warned. They can register as ‘overseas voters’ if they have been registered to vote in the UK at any time within the past 15 years.
Voters can apply for a postal vote when they register, but will need to consider if there will be enough time for postal votes to be sent to where they live, completed & returned in only a few days.
For many people (especially those living further afield) the timescales involved will mean a proxy vote will be more appropriate. A proxy vote means asking someone you know & trust in the UK to vote on your behalf.
ScotGov: An extra Bank Holiday has been announced for the summer of 2012 to mark The Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. First Minister Alex Salmond confirmed that the extra holiday on Tuesday, June 5, 2012 would apply to Scotland and that the traditional late May Bank Holiday would be moved to Monday, June 4, 2012, providing for a 4-day weekend to celebrate Her Majesty's 60 years on the throne.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
WAG: Elderly & disabled passengers will still travel free on Welsh local bus services, Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones, has stressed, when responding to the Department of Transport’s decision to raise the age of entitlement in England in line with State Pension rules from 1 April 2010.
He also reiterated his commitment to extend the scheme to include seriously injured veterans and service personnel from April 2011.
DECC: Industrial growth, energy security & action on climate change are the 3 prizes to be had in backing Carbon Capture and Storage technology, Ed Miliband has claimed. The CCS Industrial Strategy sets out how the UK can make the most from its knowledge & skills in engineering, geology & the subsea sector and become a centre for CCS innovation & business.
As part of the strategy, Yorkshire & Humber has been named as the first low carbon economic area for Carbon Capture and Storage. The region's Ferrybridge power station, owned by SSE, has been awarded £6.3m towards its £21m 5MW carbon capture trial by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
A new Office of CCS started work last week inside DECC with the intention of facilitating the delivery of CCS in the UK and helping promote its rapid take up globally.
DCMS: An Olympic & Paralympic legacy plan to ‘bring about lasting changes to the life experiences of disabled people’ has been published by the Government.
Endorsed by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), London 2012: A Legacy for Disabled People, aims to improve the lives of 10m disabled people in the UK by increasing participation in sport & physical activity; improving business, transport & employment opportunities; and changing attitudes &perceptions of disabled people in society.
Sport England has given sport for disabled people a further boost by announcing that it is investing £1.5m of Exchequer funding in the English Federation of Disability Sport to help them deliver a new strategy to increase participation & opportunities for disabled people.
BIS: The Government has published a cross-departmental strategy to ensure the UK has a safe, sustainable and dynamic nanotechnologies industry.
IRHEF&SF: The Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance has set out its initial findings on the current funding regime and called for views on how the system should be funded in the future.
The Review has also set out the criteria it will use to assess proposals for reform of the higher education funding system. These relate to how proposals would impact on the system as a whole, as well as assessing their impact of participation, quality and sustainability of the system.
The second call for evidence is open until Friday 14 May 2010 and will be followed by further public hearings.
BIS: New rights have been secured in an agreement between the Government and the credit & store card companies, negotiated in the light of feedback from thousands of consumers to a Government consultation on credit cards.
The key changes will be introduced by the industry this year and given statutory force as soon as possible.
New ECCD regulations will come into force in the UK as of 1 February 2011. Lenders will have from April 2010 until 31 January 2011 to comply with the new provisions, but are encouraged to offer consumers the new rights as early as possible.
For those suffering the most serious financial hardship, the Department for Work and Pensions has published proposals to reform the Social Fund, so that it will be more efficient, easier to understand, and families will be given independent money advice to help them manage their debts.
WAG: A major consultation about placing duties on the Welsh Assembly Government in respect of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has been launched by Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, and Deputy Minister for Children, Huw Lewis.
The consultation (closes 7 May 2010) sets out the WAG’s proposals for a ‘Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure’ and, if passed, the Measure will require the WAG to have due regard to the UNCRC in areas of its work. The areas will be set out in a scheme which will need to get the agreement of the National Assembly for Wales.
WAG: The Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones, has told businesses in north Wales that he is focused on leading a new economic approach for the country.
Attending the North Wales Economic Forum in St Asaph last week, the Minister outlined how the Economic Renewal Programme (ERP) will change the way the Assembly Government provides support to businesses and called on businesses to get involved in the process.
The Minister is inviting businesses to contribute to the development of the ERP by taking part in the ‘Tell Us More’ consultation (closes on 11 May 2010). The aim is to provide individuals & organisations with the opportunity to have their say on the direction of the WAG’s future approach to economic development.
HMT: The Treasury has launched a public consultation (closes on18 June 2010) on theTerrorist Asset-Freezing Bill, which was published in draft on 5 February 2010. The consultation document sets out the Government’s approach to terrorist asset freezing and its proposals for more permanent terrorist asset freezing legislation.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
CLG: A new advice leaflet for market traders offers stall owners free business ‘health checks’ to help them beat economic challenges & increased competition.
The leaflet: ‘Growing Markets: Championing the Market Stall’, will be distributed widely across the country to 35,000 market traders & managers to throw a spotlight on all the free Government support available to make sure local markets succeed in the face of 21st century challenges.
Defra: Ministers have issued a new code for the welfare of birds produced as quarry for shooting enthusiasts. The new code sets out how keepers can best meet the welfare needs of gamebirds, including recommendations on providing food & water and the use of certain types of equipment, as well as space allowances for housing breeding pheasants & partridges to ensure the birds are not kept in overcrowded conditions.
Sport shooters will be encouraged to use only birds supplied & raised by game farms & shoots observing the code. The Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes is due to come into effect on 1 October 2010. Evidence of failure to follow the Code could be used in court to support a case of poor welfare.
DCSF: The new Code of practice for local authorities on delivery of free Early Years provision for 3- & 4-year-olds is statutory guidance & general principles for local authorities (LAs) to help them manage & administer the new extended offer. This document replaces all previous guidance about the free entitlement for 3- and 4-year-olds.
Newswire – AC: The Audit Commission has launched new value for money (VfM) profiles for PCTs, fire & rescue authorities, police authorities and councils. These are designed to be ‘more user-friendly, have a clearer focus on VfM, track levels of spend to assess the impact of improvements, and compare spend and performance to other bodies’.
The tools are a ‘can opener’ for highlighting areas where costs & or performance look out of line and can help local services identify where there may be potential for savings. They also contain useful background & context information to help you to understand VfM issues for each service area.
HO: New Home Office guidance published last week sets out advice for key partners such as local authorities, police & businesses on how they can better protect the public. Working Together to Protect Crowded Places follows a public consultation last year and details how partners can work together.
Alongside this, two other documents have also been published, which offer practical advice for planners & designers in incorporating counter terrorism measures to reduce vulnerability in crowded places.
Considering counter-terrorism at the concept & design stages will enable counter-terrorism protective security measures to be incorporated into the overall design, which is easier & cheaper than retro-fitting.
DCSF: Children's Secretary Ed Balls has confirmed that Local Safeguarding Children Boards will in future be required to produce clear & comprehensive executive summaries of Serious Case Reviews andset out in their annual reports what actions have been taken following SCRs
These requirements, made explicit in a template setting out a recommended format for SCR executive summaries, will build on the action which Government has already taken to further strengthen SCRs. The revised Working Together guidance also builds on responses from experts in child protection such as the NSPCC and Barnardo’s – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
HO: Full guidance to assist employers & voluntary groups in implementing the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) has been published by the Home Office. The new scheme, which is delivered by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), aims to prevent unsuitable people who could pose a risk of harm to children or vulnerable adults from being able to work or volunteer with these groups.
The publication comes ahead of the implementation of key changes which mean that, from July 2010, employees starting work in an organisation or role affected by the new rules and volunteers working with vulnerable groups, can apply to become ISA registered.
The guidance document contains detailed information about what actions employers & employees will be required to take under the scheme. It also outlines what they should do in preparation for 25 July 2010, when registration to the scheme begins.
FSA: School children all over Scotland will soon have a fun way of working out in the classroom what makes up a balanced diet, following the launch of the Food Standards Agency eatwell plate floor mats.
The Food Standards Agency in Scotland has begun sending out the first of the new floor mats to schools and, by the end of March 2010, each of the country’s 2,752 schools should have received one.
The FSA eatwell plate floor mats provide a fun & active way for children to learn about the Agency’s messages on diet & nutrition. They also support the new Scottish Curriculum for Excellence and can be used to aid teachers in their classroom activities. Guidance for teachers on how to get the most out of their mats is also being issued to each primary, secondary & special educational needs establishment.
DH: Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, last week published his 2009 Annual Report, in which he states that the harm caused by inactivity has been ignored for too long and it is now time for action. Up to 70% of adults in England do not do the recommended minimum amount of physical activity and child fitness is falling by up to 9% every decade.
In his report, On the State of Public Health, England’s Chief Medical Officer calls for action to help reverse the nation’s trend towards physical inactivity, including recommending that the Government undertakes a pilot of fitness assessments for every secondary school pupil. Sir Liam is calling for a major change to get the population active, whatever their age.
Sir Liam’s Annual Report also addressed 4 other key areas of public health:
* Winter kills
* Rare is common
* Grandparenting for health
* Climate change & health
DH: The Care Quality Commission has published the results of the 2009 annual NHS staff survey. The NHS staff survey changed in 2008 to reflect pledges made to staff in the NHS Constitution to deliver high quality workplaces. NHS organisations are now legally obliged to take account of the rights & pledges set out in the NHS Constitution.
DH: Ipsos-MORI has published the results of the first three quarterly collections of the ‘2009-10 GP Patient Survey’, which they are carrying out on behalf of the Department of Health.
General Reports and Other Publications
CLG: An Audit Commission report - By Mutual Agreement - states that Councils should have the power to claw back taxpayers’ money paid out to cut ties with their town hall chief, if they later get re-hired to another local government job. Communities Secretary John Denham welcomed the report and made clear taxpayers’ money should not be used by councils to resolve personal differences.
It found that pay-offs for 37 chief executives cost £9.5m. The average was £250k+, but a few cases exceeded £500,000. It called for publication of pay-off details; recouping where necessary; ending pay-offs to remove poor performers; formal appraisals for chief executives; and management training for councillors.
Mr Denham said every council needed to set up remuneration committees with some outside representation to set pay levels & structures for senior posts that also decided severance & discretionary payments.
ESRC: Why will a record number of more than 500 music festivals take place in 2010? Some of the reasons for the rapid growth in the music festival & free party scene were showcased at an exciting, interactive multimedia exhibition organised in Bristol as part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Festival of Social Science last week.
Ofsted: While the proportion of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) continues to rise, a report published by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, shows that local authorities can make a big impact on reducing the number of young people in this category.
The report highlights the strategies, partnerships & activities, which 12 local authorities have successfully employed to attract some of the most difficult to reach young people into work or learning.
The voice of young people echoes throughout the report, with inspectors having spoken to over 700 young people and made visits to 28 schools, 18 colleges & 84 voluntary sector, training & other providers from across the country between May and October 2009.
NAO: The service provided to students applying for finance in 2009 did not achieve value for money, according to a report by the National Audit Office. There were major problems in the processing of applications - with fewer than half new applications being fully processed by the start of term - and in communications with applicants.
Substantial risks remain to the successful delivery of the service in 2010, which provides a focus for the NAO recommendations. While the Department and Company still expect to secure savings of around £20m a year from 2011-12, this benefit would be outweighed greatly by continued poor service in administering over £5bn of loans, grants & allowances.
Legislation / Legal
ScotGov: Legislation enabling Scottish councils to use online advertising as an alternative to publishing notices in newspapers will not be progressed.
If implemented the proposal, first presented by government in 2006, would have allowed local authorities to use a new public information notices portal, save £ms to reinvest in frontline services & enhance local information services.
During an 8-week consultation, Ministers listened to the views of councils, the public, MSPs & the newspaper industry and have now decided not to proceed with the legislation as the proposals would have had insufficient parliamentary support.
Ministers are now calling on those who opposed the proposed legislation to engage positively on the issue and recognise that Parliament must take a more constructive stance to assist. The Scottish Government will continue to develop the on-line advertising portal for the public sector.
DCSF: Teachers do have clear legal powers to confiscate mephedrone and all legal-high drugs – and should use those powers, Schools Minister Vernon Coaker confirmed last week.
Writing to all schools in England, Mr Coaker underlined that the law gives schools the power to confiscate all inappropriate items, including any substance they believe to be mephedrone or any other drug – whatever their legal status.
And he confirmed that, under the law, there is absolutely no obligation to return such confiscated substances. In addition, the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) is currently looking at the dangers of mephedrone, and similar compounds, as a priority. The Home Office will receive the ACMD’s report on 29 March 2010 and has said it will take immediate action.
DCSF: Unpaid childcare arrangements between friends will be legally exempt from Ofsted registration & inspection under new legislation the Government announced last week. Children's Minister Dawn Primarolo welcomed the move, which will mean that, from April 2010, friends caring for one another's children without payment are no longer included within the remit of Ofsted.
The amendment to an Order under the Childcare Act 2006 will be supported by revised Ofsted guidance which will highlight where & when childcare arrangements are considered to be formal and within their inspection remit.
Business and Other Briefings
HMRC reminds customers about the cleared funds rules for cheques payments with effect from 1 April 2010
Announces changes a temporary administrative easement for freight transport and related services that takes place wholly outside the EC
This brief aims to clarify our policy on the VAT treatment of supplies of health professionals, nursing auxiliaries, care assistants and support workers by employment businesses
The decision of the VAT Tribunal in respect of Rank (gaming machines) issued December 2009
This Revenue and Customs Brief announces three changes to Schedule 10 of the VAT Act 1994 which deals with the liability of supplies of land and buildings and one change to Group 5 to Schedule 8 of the VAT Act 1994 which deals with the zero-rate for construction services
BIS: Nissan will produce their electric car, the LEAF, in Sunderland and the Government is to commit £20.7m under the Grant for Business Investment scheme for both the production of the car and the new battery plant at Sunderland. This will support total investment of over £420m by Nissan in their UK operations.
Nissan has plans to make up to 50,000 vehicles and 60,000 batteries a year, which will help to safeguard & create over 550 highly skilled jobs at the Sunderland plant.
In addition, the Government also said it is to support Ford's £1.5bn investment in creating a new generation of environmentally friendly engines. The Government will provide £380m in loan guarantees towards 6 Ford projects through its Automotive Assistance Programme (AAP).
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