In the News
Newswire – IRM: Something for politicians to read as they decide which policies to risk putting in their manifestos - The Institute of Risk Management has teamed up with AIRMIC and Alarm to produce a practical guide to the successful implementation of the international standard ISO 31000 'Risk Management – Principles and Guidelines', released at the end of 2009.
The new guide provides a helpful commentary on ISO 31000, as well as further guidance on successful implementation. In particular the guide recognises that risk has both an upside & a downside and offers additional advice on various concepts including ‘risk appetite’.
Newswire – CPA: Not how much is spent, but rather a question of how effectively it is spent - The Committee of Public Accounts has published its 30th Report, Session 2009-10, on Tackling Problem Drug Abuse. Edward Leigh MP, Chairman of the Committee said:
"Central and local government spends around £1.2 billion a year on activities to tackle problem drug use. Given the amount of public money being spent, it is unacceptable that the Home Office does not know what overall effect this spending is having. It does not carry out enough evaluation of its work and does not know if its drug strategy is directly reducing the overall cost of drug-related crimes”.
There are 330,000 problem drug users in England. They are estimated, based on research covering the 2003-04 period, to cost society over £15bn a year, £13.9bn of which is due to drug-related crime. Central & local government collectively spend £1.2bn a year to deliver the measures set out in the national drug strategy.
Problem drug users often relapse & re-offend and around a quarter are hard core offenders for whom interventions simply do not work. The Home Office does not know how to most effectively tackle problem drug use. Meeting offenders at the prison gates and escorting them to community services & ongoing treatment may be important steps to prevent a quick relapse into drug use and re-offending. Residential rehabilitation may be effective for those who have failed to 'go clean' in other forms of treatment.
Newswire – E&CCC: As we finally come out of the coldest winter for many years - The Government is going to miss its target to end fuel poverty amongst vulnerable households in England in 2010, according to the Energy & Climate Change Committee, which recently launched its report on Fuel Poverty. The target to end fuel poverty for all households in England by 2016 also looks difficult to hit, despite the efforts made by the Government.
The Committee's report is a stocktake of performance in tackling fuel poverty and sets out areas of concern which the Committee want to see addressed in the new Parliament.
Amongst its recommendations, the Committee calls for:
* A 'road map' to be drawn up, setting out how fuel poverty is to be tackled in greater detail
* An urgent review of the market for fuels bought by people who are not connected to the mains gas grid
* The Government to look to see how people with cancer & other serious medical conditions could benefit from social price support
Newswire – CLGC: Why didn’t they pilot the project with one regional centre first? - The Government's programme to replace 46 local fire & rescue service control rooms with 9 purpose-built regional control centres has been inadequately planned, poorly executed and badly managed, says the Communities and Local Government Select Committee.
Launching a report of an inquiry into the FiReControl project, CLG Committee Chair Dr Phyllis Starkey said; "The original aims and expected benefits of this scheme were, in our view, sound. But the department has clearly not learned from its previous mistakes with the New Dimension project. FiReControl is yet another catalogue of further poor judgement and mismanagement."
On balance, however, given the investment of public funds already committed, and the benefits that will accrue, MPs conclude that DCLG should press ahead with the FireControl project so long as Ministers can agree urgently a viable project plan that will see the project go live by a target date of mid-2011 and in which the main stakeholders can have confidence.
A lack of openness, collaboration & explanation by DCLG means many Fire & Rescue Authorities now have profound reservations about whether the new regional system will deliver a more efficient, safer service.
Newswire – BIS: To cut UK public spending now or later, an independent view from overseas - A paper, from the website of the Bank for International Settlements examines what current fiscal policy and expected future age-related spending imply for the path of debt/GDP ratios over the next several decades.
According to the authors of the paper, projections of public debt ratios lead to the conclusion that the path being pursued by fiscal authorities in a number of industrial countries is unsustainable. Drastic measures are necessary to check the rapid growth of current & future liabilities of governments and reduce their adverse consequences for long-term growth & monetary stability.
Newswire – Age UK: Making sure that they are ‘In sight and in their minds’ - People aged over 55 will cast 4 out of every 10 votes and make up the majority in many marginal seats‚ according to new research for Age UK. Electoral power lies firmly in the hands of older voters, according to exclusive new research, which reveals this group will be more influential in the 2010 General Election than ever before.
Research conducted by De Montfort University reveals the over-55s will account for the majority of votes cast in 319 constituencies across Britain. Politicians cannot afford to ignore these numbers and their election campaign - ‘Our Power is Our Number’ - is urging older people to use their vote and ensure candidates engage with issues which are important to older people.
Older voters across England are being urged to put 5 key questions to their local election candidates to provide answers on the issues that matter most and, in so doing, earn their votes. The campaign is intended to remind MPs that ‘people over 60 matter’.
Forthcoming Event: Enterprise Architecture Conference Europe 2010, 16-18 June,
London - The 11th Annual Enterprise Architecture Conference is
Europe ’s leading independent and longest established conference on Enterprise Architecture. It is neither analyst led nor vendor led. It brings together the EA community’s foremost leading-edge thinkers and experienced practitioners from around the world.
Keynote Speakers include John Zachman, Mike Rosen and world renowned business guru Don Tapscott
Case studies and contributors include ABN Amro, BNP Paribas, The Open Group, Norwegian Tax Administration, Department for Work and Pensions, Ministry of Justice, Office for National Statistics, National Policing Improvement Agency, Sogeti Nederland, Aljazeera Network, NASA and many more….
Delegates can choose from 4 conference tracks and 8 pre-conference tutorials
The event is structured to accommodate delegates at all levels, whether you are just getting started in architecture, re-appraising your approach, or working to fine tune your performance
Please Click Here to view the full conference programme.
For information on other forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
ScotGov: Thousands of people are taking part in a campaign to tidy up Scotland's streets, parks, beaches and open spaces. Around 68,000 volunteers - almost 10,000 more than last year - will participate in this month's National Spring Clean 2010 (April 1 to 30, 2010), which is organised by the Keep Scotland Beautiful charity.
CLG: Anglian Home Improvements has celebrated its 5000th e-planning application submitted through the Planning Portal. The company was presented with an award to celebrate its achievement at the Ideal Home Show in London.
The Planning Portal received its first electronic planning application in April 2003. Today around 40% of all applications pass through the Portal and it is possible to submit an electronic application to every authority in England & Wales using a standard national
DSTL: A team of scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) last week visited a local school, with 8 prepared scientific workshops, as part of a continued commitment to education outreach demonstrating the science behind the work that Dstl undertakes.
There were practical activities and science based demonstrations, including the science of colours, science for soldiers and camouflage. The practical activities taught the children about physics, by building paper rockets, chemistry, by mixing bicarbonate of soda with vinegar and how light works by building periscopes.
Newswire – Ofcom: While many customers enjoy a trouble-free broadband or telephone experience, there may be occasions when you have to get in touch with your communications provider. Maybe you need to report a problem, lodge a complaint or start the process to switch away to another supplier.
Ofcom has put together a series of template letters which you can download and use when you need to contact your provider. For example, if you want to transfer to another mobile phone provider – and you want to take your existing number with you – you need to ask your existing provider for a Porting Authorisation Code or PAC.
Other template letters include if you have experienced a loss of broadband connection or a loss of mobile coverage, plus a refund you haven’t received, or if you have experienced a partial loss of service.
Newswire – Ofcom: Freeview has officially launched its new high definition (HD) service. It will initially feature high definition channels from the BBC, ITV and Channel4, as well as Freeview’s existing standard definition channels. S4C launched its Freeview HD channel ‘Clirlun’ in Wales on 30 April 2010 and the BBC is also set to add an additional HD service by the end of 2010.
4.5m homes currently receive Freeview HD coverage (including Birmingham, Leeds & Cardiff); with around 50% of UK homes being able to receive Freeview HD in time for the World Cup in June and coverage will hit 60% by the end of the year.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
WAG: A nationwide search has begun to find the most enterprising place in Wales, with the ‘Enterprising Wales competition’, which is looking for a location where enterprise is creating jobs and transforming communities.
The award celebrates local success. Whether through social cohesion, start-up business support, enterprise skills or championing enterprise in the community, the EW competition recognises & rewards local organisations that have worked together to drive the social and economic transformation of a place.
The winner of the EW competition will be entered into the UK wide competition – ‘Enterprising Britain’.
Newswire – HAC: In a report published last week, the Home Affairs Committee criticised the Independent Police Complaints Commission for failing to inspire trust & confidence in those it has dealt with and handling cases in a distant and non-empathetic manner.
Despite an ever-increasing workload the IPCC does little to prevent complaints against police behaviour in the first instance by improving forces' complaints procedures, and despite a budget of £35m p.a. the organisation lacks clear measures of success.
While the Commission has achieved some tangible and high-profile successes since its formation, the IPCC fails to inspire confidence in the independence of the process.
Investigations are handled in an unsatisfactory & non-transparent manner and the length of IPCC-managed investigations - up to 269 working days in some cases - does little to increase trust in the system.
WAG: A new law to improve access to mental health services in Wales has been proposed by the Welsh Government. The Mental Health (Wales) Measure 2010 will put a duty on local health boards & councils to provide mental health support services at an earlier stage than is currently the case. It will also mean improved advocacy services (access to advice & information) for those suffering from mental health problems.
The National Assembly for Wales’ Legislation Committee No.3 will scrutinise the proposed Measure and it wants to hear the views of as many people as possible. To have your say send your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Carys Jones, Legislation Committee No.3, National Assembly for Wales, Ty Hywel, Cardiff Bay, CF99 1NA.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has been asked by the Department of Health to develop guidance on Preventing Obesity: whole systems approach at local and community level. This guidance is due to be published in March 2012 and is being developed in line with the final scope.
A series of evidence reviews and an economic analysis are being conducted to address the key questions that are set out in the scope. NICE would like to receive any research or local information that could contribute to these reviews (by 29 April 2010), particularly in relation certain key questions (see press release for details).
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
Newswire – WAO: The Auditor General for Wales has published a new Code of Audit Practice which prescribes the way in which auditors – including the Wales Audit Office - are to carry out their functions. It also embodies what appears to the Auditor General for Wales to be best professional practice.
The Code applies both to the work of appointed auditors of local government bodies and to the audit & inspection work of the Auditor General. This includes audit of accounts, value for money examinations & studies and the certification of claims & returns.
The Code requires that auditors carry out their functions consistently in accordance with 4 principles - being public focused, independent, proportionate and accountable.
ScotGov: The Building Standards Technical Handbook, which was published last week (and which comes into force on 1 October 2010), confirms:
* Enhanced energy standards for new buildings - both homes & non-domestic - which will reduce emissions by 30% on 2007 standards and by 70% compared to 1990
* Improved sound insulation to party walls & floors and the introduction of sound insulation testing to homes
* Better security features for homes including higher design specification for doors, windows & locks to deter opportunity crime
* New build schools must have sprinklers fitted to reduce potential loss or damage
Other new features in the Technical Handbook include guidance on land contamination, flooding, ventilation, condensation, biomass installations and flueless gas appliances. The guidance for means of escape and the guidance for fire & rescue facilities have been re-written to reflect the needs of the fire & rescue service.
The changes will include the introduction of structural Eurocodes, the harmonised design standards for building structures which will help to eliminate technical barriers to trade between EU member states. The moves to increase energy standards flow from the Sullivan Report which looked at ways to make homes & buildings more energy efficient.
ScotGov: A leaflet designed to give advice & information to parents when major changes to their child's school are proposed has been published by the Scottish Government. Designed to explain the updated & strengthened consultation process that came into force on 5 April 2010, the leaflet makes clear that when any changes to schools are being considered, education must be the key priority.
It also explains the role & responsibilities of local authorities - such as consulting for 6 weeks during term time, holding a public meeting and asking HMIE to prepare a report - as well as covering how parents can get involved and have their voices heard.
OGC: The Office of Government Commerce (OGC), in conjunction with Intellect and Partnerships UK, has launched a negotiating guide for the OGC’s ICT Services Model Agreement. The new guide, developed following consultation with industry, aims to address several issues, including cutting negotiating times and providing a deeper understanding of provisions on a number of clauses, including supply chain rights, due diligence, authority termination for convenience, limits of liability and indemnities.
The Negotiating Guide supports a shared desire among Government & industry to shorten procurement timescales & negotiations, with the aim of providing even greater value for money from the procurement process.
Newswire – Ofcom: With millions of phone deals available today, it can be very confusing working out which offers you the best value for money. For example, having a monthly allowance of thousands of free minutes & texts may seem like a good idea at the time, but if you don’t use them you’re effectively wasting money. Similarly, regularly going over your monthly allowance could also hit you hard in the pocket.
A guide published by Ofcom, Consumer Focus and the Communications Consumer Panel is designed to help consumers get the most from their mobile deal and save money.
It provides helpful tips on what you should ask before signing up for a deal - such as whether there are any additional costs, the length of contract, details on upgrades and network coverage. It also explains how the Ofcom-accredited price comparison service ‘BillMonitor’ can help consumers track down the best deals.
ScotGov: The ability of the Scottish red meat industry to rise to the challenge of developing healthier versions of much-loved traditional meat meals was shown at a meeting in Perth last week. The results of an ambitious Quality Meat Scotland project to investigate the potential to create healthier versions of eight Scots favourites were presented to around 60 public sector buyers & suppliers attending the workshop.
The £40,000, year-long project - match-funded by Scottish Enterprise - has been looking at the challenge of lowering the salt & saturated fat content of foods including Scotch pies; black pudding; haggis; burgers (lamb and beef); Lorne sausage (beef); bacon & pork sausages. The project involved QMS working closely with 7 meat producers and the Food Innovation team at Abertay University.
A guide on the reformulations developed in the project for public sector buyers & suppliers has been produced by Quality Meat Scotland (download here).
General Reports and Other Publications
Newswire – CPA: The Committee of Public Accounts has published; HMRC’s Estate Private Finance Deal 8 Years On. Edward Leigh MP, Chairman of the CPA, said: "HM Revenue and Customs has failed to achieve value for money over the first eight years of a private finance contract to manage its estates.
The decision by a tax authority to enter into a commercial arrangement involving tax avoidance through an off-shore company has damaged HMRC's reputation and not delivered any extra benefits to the government, as any reduction in the contract price will be accompanied by a reduction in tax revenue…………..
Getting the best out of this contract will require HMRC to work in partnership with Mapeley, as this Committee pointed out in 2005. It is therefore disappointing to see that this still hasn't happened. It will also require HMRC to have the right skills in place to manage the contract. The Department must identify the skills gaps it currently has and take action to fill them."
Newswire – CMSC: The Culture, Media and Sport Committee has released its report: Future for local and regional media, which examines the current state of local & regional media in the UK and makes a number of recommendations that seek to address some of the concerns the Committee heard from the industry.
Committee Chairman John Whittingdale said:
"Local media performs vital functions in society. It scrutinizes and holds to account local authorities and institutions, it informs people of news and events in their communities, and it forms part of the local identity of an area. It also provides a training ground for staff and a source of news for national media. Yet local media face unprecedented challenges as a result of structural changes and the impact of a global recession.
This has led to the closure of a large number of newspapers, many commercial radio stations becoming loss-making and the possible end of regional news on commercial television. This has serious implications for local democracy."
Newswire – TSC: The Government must act on the findings of its consultation on mobility scooters, says the Transport Select Committee. In the light of anecdotal accounts of accidents involving the vehicles, but little hard evidence, MPs urge the Government's to collect better data on the use of scooters as well as incidents & injuries where they are involved.
The Committee's report notes that the Department for Transport has launched a consultation, but is concerned that after a similar review in 2005, Ministers failed to act on many of its findings. With a growing number of mobility scooter users on the UK's pavements & roads, the MPs call on the Government to take decisive action where necessary.
Legislation / Legal
HO: Irresponsible promotions including ‘all you can drink for £10’ and ‘dentist chairs’ will be banned under new powers introduced from last week. It is estimated that alcohol-related crime & disorder costs the UK taxpayer between £8 & £13bn a year.
The mandatory code introduces 5 conditions for all alcohol retailers, which will hopefully ensure consistent good practice and crack down on problem premises where irresponsible drinking could put individuals at risk and lead to crime & antisocial behaviour.
GEO: The Equality Bill last week completed the final stage of its passage through Parliament and will now become law. The Bill, which was first introduced to the House of Commons almost a year ago, will be sent to the Queen for Royal Assent after MPs approved amendments made by the House of Lords.
Once the Bill receives Royal Assent it will formally become an Act and be introduced to the statute book. The provisions in the Bill will begin to take effect in autumn 2010.
BIS: The Digital Economy Bill has now received Royal Assent. The Act includes provisions relating to the UK’s communications infrastructure, public service broadcasting, copyright licensing & online infringement of copyright, and security & safety online and in video games.
Some of the measures in the Act will come into effect immediately with others coming into effect in two months’ time. Many of the Act’s provisions require further public consultation and in some cases approval by Parliament, before they can be implemented.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
VSO: VSO is hosting a Health Information Day for health professionals interested in volunteering overseas (Saturday, 17 April 2010. The day aims to bring volunteering with VSO as a health professional to life. You'll hear from returned health professionals, giving a personal account of what it’s really like to be a VSO volunteer. You will be able to get your questions answered and chat informally with staff & returned volunteers.
Business and Other Briefings
BIS: Employees now have the right to request time for study or training after legal changes came into effect last week. Time to Train will give workers in businesses which employ more than 250 people the legal right to request time off to take up relevant training. The right will be made available to all employees from April 2011.
This Revenue & Customs Brief announces a change to the dimensions of caravan that will be eligible to be zero-rated.
WAG: Wrexham Mineral Cables, the only company in the UK making specialist electric cables capable of withstanding more than 1000º C has signed a ‘red hot export deal’ to supply the Middle East. It is the company’s first major export to the region and the £250,000 order is the first of 4 run-on contracts they hope to secure over the next 12 months worth £1m in total. The company is being supported by the Welsh Assembly Government in making inroads into these new markets.
Wrexham Mineral Cables is the only company in the UK manufacturing these highly specialised fire survival cables and one of only a handful worldwide. The mineral insulated cables provide circuit integrity for power & control circuits of critical equipment used in public buildings. Their cables are the only mineral cables made in the world to carry accreditation from the British Approvals Service for cables (BASEC).
OS: Ordnance Survey has launched OS OpenData, an online portal providing free & unrestricted access to a large range of mapping & geographic information (GI). It allows users to:
* download the information for free reuse direct to their computers
* view maps & boundary information for the whole country
* develop web-map applications using Ordnance Survey’s OS OpenSpace API (Application Programming Interface)
The launch follows the announcement by the Prime Minister on 17 November 2009 that some Ordnance Survey mapping would be made freely available as part of the ‘Making Public Data Public’ initiative.
OS OpenData, which is being funded by government, is made up of a range of raster & vector mapping datasets. These include the detailed 1:10 000 scale OS Street View, Boundary-Line, which provides the electoral & administrative geography of the country, and Meridian 2 and Strategi, which offer customisable views of Britain’s topography.
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