In the News
EC: Were the first public sector cuts to the democratic process? - The Electoral Commission issued a statement last week on voting problems at the UK general election, which included the following: ‘It is a cause for serious concern that many people who wanted to vote were unable to do so by 10pm when polls closed. ……… By law, polls must close at 10pm and any voter issued with a ballot paper by 10pm should be allowed time to cast it, but no ballot paper should be issued after 10pm. There should have been sufficient resources allocated to ensure that everyone who wished to vote was able to do so’.
The Electoral Commission, the independent elections watchdog, is calling for voters affected by problems at polling stations on Thursday to contact them to as part of a review of the issue. The information will be used to inform a review on the queues that some voters experienced at polling stations, with reports of hundreds of voters unable to cast their ballots before polls closed at 10pm.
EC: How many voters per dwelling before automatic physical check? - Peter Wardle, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission, has commented on reports in the media about allegations of voting fraud. The changes to improve the safety of postal voting, since the last general election include:
* No one can apply for a postal vote without giving their signature & date of birth. These are then checked before postal votes are counted.
* Electoral Registration Officers have got new powers to check applications for postal votes against other council records to ensure the applicant is genuine
* Every police force has a specialist in election issues who can ensure that concerns with the voting process are properly investigated
The Commission’s joint report with the police on the June 2009 elections in Great Britain showed they were free from major allegations of electoral fraud and no-one challenged the result of any elections on the grounds of malpractice. Over 22m votes were case in those elections; there were a total of 48 cases of alleged malpractice, only half of which (24) required further action.
Newswire – Maplecroft: Time to invest in solar power rather than creating new islands, Harrods and hotels? - The long-term energy security of the oil rich OPEC nations has been brought into question by a new study which classifies the 8 Middle East members of the organisation (UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Libya, Iraq, Algeria and Iran) as ‘high risk’ countries.
9 countries are rated as ‘extreme risk’ for short term vulnerability to energy security risks including: Belarus, Italy, Rwanda, Cambodia, Moldova, Sierra Leone, Lithuania, Sao Tome & Principe and Jordan.
The Energy Security Risk Index, released by Maplecroft (a firm specialising in corporate risk intelligence) has been developed to pinpoint risks to supply chains, operations & investments in 212 countries. The index is split into short-term & long-term assessments of energy security and has been designed to enable businesses & investors to isolate current & future risks.
Due to a lack of hydrocarbon resources & reserves and little, if any, diversification away from fossil fuel dependency, it is the small island nations which are most at risk in the long-term Energy Security Risk Index. Of the 39 countries rated ‘extreme risk’, 33 are small island nations, with Singapore, Nauru, American Samoa, Guam and Netherlands Antilles considered most vulnerable.
Newswire – CA: Perhaps the same could be said about some of UK public sector spending! - Donors such as the World Bank are spending $bns on projects whose effects on poverty & the environment are uncertain at best, warns a recent report. - Bottom Lines, Better Lives? - has been produced by Christian Aid in collaboration with the Bretton Woods Project (BWP), ActionAid, Eurodad, Campagna per la riforma della Banca Mondiale and Third World Network.
It raises serious questions over the ways that multilateral aid donors, including the World Bank Group, try to boost private companies in developing countries. Jesse Griffiths, co-ordinator of the BWP, said: "Multilateral development banks’ funding of private companies has risen ten-fold, from around $4 billion a year in 1990 to more than $40 billion today.
But their seeming inability to assess or prioritise the social, environmental and poverty reduction benefits of their investments means that it is difficult to see how these huge sums can be justified".
The report criticises 3 main aspects of multilateral development banks' (MDBs) operations:
* Their approach is based on existing private finance approaches, emphasizing the importance of attracting foreign investment rather than developing the domestic economy
* Project selection, monitoring & evaluation techniques have tended to prioritise commercial rather than social or environmental returns
* The rapid growth of 'arms-length' investments in the financial sector, through financial intermediaries such as private banks and private equity firms, is a particular cause for concern. The MDBs' failure to clearly define the development objectives of their investments is particularly worrying in this case, where operational decisions are delegated to financial intermediaries
HL: Something a multi-party government can agree on? - The Making Every Adult Matter coalition - formed of Homeless Link, Clinks, DrugScope and Mind - has been working with a range of partners on a new publication. Hardest to Reach? – The politics of multiple needs and exclusions outlines what has been learnt in recent years about how best to support those who face a combination of problems at the same time and suggests that the government should now build on this learning with a multiple needs & exclusions Green Paper early in the new Parliament.
TS – AUK: Everybody should know this - New data released by Asthma UK on World Asthma Day (4 May) suggests that 88% of UK adults would not be completely confident about what to do if a child with asthma in their care had an asthma attack. The lack of public awareness about asthma was highlighted by the recent inquest into the death of 11 year old Samuel Linton, from Stockport, who was left in a corridor at school for several hours after suffering an asthma attack.
What to do:
* Get them to take their reliever inhaler (usually blue), immediately
* Sit them down and ensure that any tight clothing is loosened
* If there is no immediate improvement, continue to get them to take one puff of their reliever inhaler every minute for 5 minutes or until symptoms improve
* If their symptoms do not improve in this time – or you are in doubt – call 999 or a doctor urgently
* Continue to get them to take one puff of their reliever inhaler every minute until help arrives
- Solving the Data Centre Challenge - A public sector perspective for driving efficiency for 2010 and beyond - As a new government is formed, public sector efficiency will remain top of the agenda. Data centres were already identified in the OEP as potential sources of major cost and energy savings. But with public spending under the spotlight and new carbon reduction legislation now in force, public sector IT decision makers are being forced to re-examine the way that data centre services are being delivered.
Register today for the Oracle + Sun Data Centre Roadshow – a Public Sector Perspective. Filled with fresh insight, practical advice and cost-effective solutions, this special technology focused event will to help you meet and manage all your data centre efficiency obligations and challenges.
Held at Old Trafford in Manchester; Emirates Stadium in London and Ibrox Stadium in
Glasgow during June 2010, don’t miss this exclusive opportunity register your place today.
Click here to find out more and register.
For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
Newswire – HFEA: Donor conceived people are now able to get in touch with others who share the same donor (their genetic siblings) through a new service launched by the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA). Around 2,000 people are born each year as a result of the donation of sperm, eggs or embryos.
Anyone conceived through donor conception treatment, and who has turned 18 years old, is now able to join Donor Sibling Link (DSL), to find out if there are other people who share the same donor. If there are, they will be able to choose to exchange their contact details if they wish to.
QCDA: The Teacher assessment section of the NCA tools website is now open. The submission of teacher assessment (including P scale data) is a statutory requirement for key stage 2 & key stage 3 schools. Teacher assessment must be submitted before the Friday 9 July 2010 deadline.
Newswire: The Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was opened at the UN headquarters in New York last week. The Conference will run for 4 weeks, concluding on 28 May. During the first week, the 189 parties to the Treaty were able to set out their positions in relation to nuclear weapons and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
LLUK: General Professional Recognition Learning and Skills (England) Scheme (GPRLS) is still an option for those who are experienced & competent teachers, tutors and trainers. Rather than undertaking a formal teaching qualification, the GPRLS scheme is an application based process that is scrutinised by adjudicators with relevant & appropriate experience drawn from across the sector. All applicants are notified of the outcome of their submission within 12 weeks of Standards Verification UK receiving a completed application.
The scheme is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills until Wednesday 6 October 2010, after this date funding will cease and applicants who submit either a Skills for Life or All Areas of Learning application will be charged a processing fee. To check eligibility please contact the Information & Advice service at email@example.com.
Newswire – BoE: As announced on 8 March 2010, the £20 banknote carrying the portrait of composer Sir Edward Elgar is to be finally withdrawn from circulation from 30 June 2010 – less than 8 weeks away. The note has been gradually replaced by the Adam Smith £20, which was introduced in 2007. After that date the note will no longer have ‘legal tender’ status.
For several months from the end of June most banks, building societies & Post Offices should accept Elgar £20 notes for deposit to customer accounts and for other customer transactions. Agreeing to exchange the notes for non-customers is at the discretion of the individual institution. The Bank of England will always give value for these notes (and all other banknotes the Bank has issued).
Policy Statements and Initiatives
WAG: Deputy Minister for Housing & Regeneration, Jocelyn Davies AM recently joined pupils from AbertysswgPrimary School in planting vegetables at a new community allotment in Abertysswg. The community plot is one of the new developments at the Abertysswg allotment site, which is just one of several allotment sites that are being supported through the Heads of the Valleys Programme.
It is made up of a number of accessible growing plots and some raised beds that can be accessed by wheelchair users. The community plot can be used by the whole of Abertysswg, including school groups, young people, families and older members of the community.
The project is a joint effort between Abertysswg Communities First Partnership, the Abertysswg Allotment Society and Groundwork Caerphilly, who oversaw the improvements to the allotment.
EC: The European Commission has published; ‘EU Citizens' Rights – The way forward’: Consultation on how to strengthen the rights stemming from Union Citizenship.
A substantial legal framework is in place to ‘guarantee’ EU citizens the rights stemming from Union citizenship and the Commission is implementing measures to ensure that citizens are aware of their rights and to secure the full implementation of these rights.
However, there remains a gap between the applicable legal rules & the practical reality citizens are faced with in their daily life, hence the this consultation (closes on 14 June 2010).
The ideas being put forward will inform the policy debate at a conference which will be organised by the Commission on 1 – 2 July 2010 and the preparation of the Communication on Citizenship scheduled for October 2010.
CQC: A new Care Quality Commission consultation (closes on Wednesday, 16 June 2010) looks at the proposed fees scheme for independent healthcare & adult social care providers who will be registered under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 from 1 October 2010.
It is an interim fees scheme, which will last for 6 months from 1 October 2010 - 31 March 2011. The consultation document also sets out the arrangements for continuing charges for registrations, variations and annual fees under the existing schemes from 1 April - 30 September 2010.
There will be no fee for the transitional application providers will need to make to enter the new registration system. The consultation runs until & they will publish their final plans later in 2010.
Later this year they will launch a public consultation on the fees they propose for registration for all providers from 1 April 2011.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
LLUK: Over the 12 months since Career Guidance became part of the Lifelong Learning UK footprint, they have done a lot of work that will help them support the career guidance workforce across the UK.
They have set up a panel of employers & stakeholders across the UK who can advise them on behalf of the sector and created a Sector Skills Agreement and Sector Qualifications Strategy for the career guidance sector.
They have also been mapping this area of lifelong learning in detail, to find out more about the workforce - who they are, what roles they do and any skills needs they may have:
* The Occupational Map for Career Guidance describes the main features & characteristics of the sector, providing an overview of the types of occupations and job roles in this area, trends affecting the workforce, education & qualifications available and opportunities for career progression.
* The Functional Map for Careers Guidance supports their ongoing review of standards & qualifications and lays out all the functions that must come together to deliver effective career guidance services.
Newswire – ROSPA: Traditional life-saving advice for those who accidentally fall into water has been turned on its head by a team of scientists working with RoSPA. Instead of immediately attempting to swim or wave for help, researchers at the University of Portsmouth are urging people to ‘float first’.
The counter-intuitive advice is being advocated after tests showed that staying as still as possible in the first few minutes after tumbling into water increases survival time by enabling air trapped in clothing to keep the head above water, protecting the airways and slowing the rate at which the body is cooled.
The study - ‘Float First: An Assessment of the Buoyancy Provided by Seasonal Clothing Assemblies Before and After Swimming’ - also made clear, however, that this method should not replace the need for people to learn to swim, or, where appropriate, to wear lifejackets. The research team is now calling for the ‘float first’ approach to be taught as a survival skill to as many people as possible.
General Reports and Other Publications
IfG: Recent newspaper stories suggest there is confusion among the parties & the media about the constitutional position if the election produces no overall winner.
The Cabinet Office Manual setting out the procedure to be followed in a hung Parliament is a balanced & accurate statement of the existing constitutional conventions.
There have also been reported criticisms about the 12-day interval before Parliament meets to elect the Speaker and the 19-day gap before the Queen’s Speech on May 25, in both cases a week longer than normal after recent general elections.
The recommendation of these longer intervals, by the independent Institute for Government in its report Transitions: Preparing for Changes of Government and by the all-party Commons Modernisation Committee, was nothing to do with the possibility of a hung parliament.
It was suggested to allow a slightly longer period, both for the induction of the large number of new MPs after the election and for new ministers to get to know their new departments & to prepare legislative proposals for the Queen's Speech.
Newswire – PwC: After declining in number for the last few years, a new wave of security breaches is hitting UK organisations, costing them £bns, despite the fact that security remains high on management's agenda and the recession has not dampened spending on security, according to the 2010 Information Security Breaches Survey (ISBS), survey released recently by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) at Infosecurity Europe.
Technology has continued to evolve rapidly through greater use of cloud computing & social networks and public & private sector organisations appear to have a greater understanding of security risks and the need for assurance over them. However, most are ill-prepared to deal with them.
Newswire – AA: Mums & Dads are clocking up 2,000 miles per year taxi-ing their kids on the school run & to after-school and weekend activities, AA Financial Services has found.
An AA/Populus poll of 2,128 AA members who have schoolchildren showed that the average family is spending over £340 a year on fuel just taking their kids to school & elsewhere. Some parents (11%) travel up to 4,000 miles per year, forking out a whopping £687 on fuel.
With the cost of fuel set to continue rising, the average UK family's school run fuel bill is likely to jump up by around £60 a year – and over double that for some. The poll also showed that 10% of parents with children regularly take their children to school and after-school activities by car.
Newswire – AUK: New figures from Age UK reveal that forcing older workers to retire cost the UK an estimated £3.5bn in lost economic output last year. This includes £2bn in lost earnings for the workers themselves.
The 3 main political parties have all committed to change the Default Retirement Age in their manifestos‚ but neither the Conservatives, nor Labour, have guaranteed a complete end to forced retirement. Age UK is now calling on all parties to pledge to scrap the law outright.
Civitas: England is now in its 16th year of using an unscientific formula for funding NHS primary care trusts (PCTs). In a new report from Civitas, In Formulas at war over two sorts of inequality in health funding, Mervyn Stone, Emeritus Professor of Statistics at University College London, examines the evidence presented by expert witnesses at a hearing of the Rural Services All-Party Parliamentary Group in February 2010.
He argues that the current PCT-funding formula cannot be defended on any rational grounds.
In 2008, a new formula (CARAN) was devised to take account of regional variations in age-profile. The authors of the new formula were commissioned by the Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation (ACRA).
However, the new formula was undermined when ACRA encouraged Health Services Minister Ben Bradshaw to ‘top-slice £10bn out of the PCT budget of £80bn funds to be allocated by the new formula, before it had even been put to work’.
Legislation / Legal
Newswire – AA: The 'stand & deliver' tactics of highwaymen clampers should be outlawed after the election, according to the AA. New legislation was enacted just before Parliament was dissolved and is now on the statute book.
The AA says that wheel clamping firms should start immediately to clean up their act and it will be calling on the new Home Secretary to make regulations for the licensing of wheel clamping businesses.
The AA has a file of cases highlighting the gross excesses of some clampers which range from a female teenage driver left alone in Birmingham at night when her car was clamped then towed, to a female driver who was charged £527 in Enfield. The AA still wants to hear your clamping horror stories - please send them HERE
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
ScotGov: The decision to exclude Scotland from last week's crucial talks on European fisheries policy in favour of an unelected member of the House of Lords acquired added significance, according to Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead. Mr Lochhead had asked to attend the informal talks in Vigo, Spain, but was refused permission by UK Secretary of State, Hilary Benn.
Since then, the situation has escalated after it was confirmed that the agenda has now been expanded to consider some items that had been due to be discussed at the formal Agri-Fish Council in Luxembourg on 19 April, at which Mr Lochhead was due to attend.
That meeting was cancelled due to travel disruption caused by volcanic ash and the presentation of a report on the future of the Common Fisheries Policy which is crucially important to Scotland, was discussed in Vigo instead.
Newswire – CBI: The CBI, the UK’s leading business group, commented on the outcome of last week's vote on the Industrial Emissions Directive in the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety in Brussels.
Following the outcome of the vote, it is proposed that energy generators be given until the 30 June 2019 to upgrade power plants to comply with air pollution targets, or face closure. The CBI argues that energy generators need until 2021 to comply with the Directive to give them enough time to build other low-carbon energy sources to replace lost capacity.
The CBI also rejects the proposal to replace the current flexible risk-based approach to monitoring industrial emissions with a one-size-fits-all European Safety Net.
It argues this will undermine the flexibility of member states to decide how best to meet air pollution targets. Negotiations will now take place between the Council & European Parliament, before the Directive is due to be voted on in a plenary session in Strasbourg in July.
STFC: Facility user public engagement symposium to be held on 19 May 2010 at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. This will be a fully interactive day, an opportunity to take part in some useful training, share experiences and hear from expert practitioners. You can also find out what resources are on offer from funding agencies to support your public engagement work. STFC would like to hear from you, so if you are interested (please register now).
Newswire – FCS: Hot issues & opportunities for the Scottish forestry sector are set to be debated at a major conference organised by Forestry Commission Scotland and ConFor.
Farming & forestry, the new markets for renewable energy and the use of timber in construction are just some of the key issues to be aired in the Forestry in the Low Carbon Economy conference on 2 June 2010 (by invitation only).
The conference’s aim is to inform & raise awareness, across different sectors, of the role that forestry & wood in a low carbon economy. It also aims to bring key stakeholders sectors together to discuss the role of forestry and wood can play and how that role can be optimised. For further information, please contact Stuart Goodall: 0131 240 1410 or 07760 557448 or firstname.lastname@example.org
HSE: RoSPA is running the third in a series of events on Health & Safety in Waste Management (22 June 2010 - Maple House, ETC Venues, Birmingham). This event is supported by both the Chartered Institute of Waste Management and the Waste Management Industry Training & Advisory Board. Fatalities in the waste industry are 10 times the national average, with accident rates at 4 times the national average.
To help to lower these figures RoSPA will be bringing nationally recognised speakers from Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum, HSE and RoSPA to give practical advice & guidance on key issues including work place transport, worker engagement, managing occupational road risk, corporate manslaughter and managing contractors.
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