In the News
Newswire – JRF: Personal circumstances (health, location, etc.) dictate whether something is ‘truly essential’, but surely for others it may be just 'desirable/convenient’? - It is getting harder for people on low incomes to meet a minimum standard of living according to new research published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Minimum Income Standard (MIS) for the UK in 2010 shows that people on low incomes face a much higher inflation rate than shown in the official Consumer Prices Index, which the Budget announced as the future basis for uprating benefits.
This means that in real terms, people out of work, relying on these benefits, could become worse off. For people in work, the gap between the minimum wage and the wages needed for a minimum household budget has widened.
The MIS shows how much various households need in 2010 to reach a minimum standard of living, according to members of the public. A single person now needs to earn at least £14,400 p.a. to reach this standard and a couple with 2 children £29,200. These have increased from £13,400 & £26,900 in the past 2 years.
Newswire - NT: Could the fact that they get ‘paid’ more for admissions, than out-patient treatments, have anything to do with the increase? - The number one issue facing the NHS in England is reversing the ‘unsustainable’ rise in emergency hospital admissions, the independent health charity the Nuffield Trust warned last week following new analysis it has published, which reveals there has been an almost 12% rise in admissions (around 1.35m) over the last 5 years.
It is estimated that treating these extra patients in emergency hospital care is costing the NHS an additional £330m per year. The report reveals that emergency admissions now make up 35% of all hospital admissions in England – at a cost of around £11bn to the annual NHS budget.
The report found significant variation between NHS hospital trusts – in some, emergency admissions reduced by up to a third over the 5 years, while in others they almost doubled.
A key finding from the Nuffield Trust analysis is that the rise in emergency admissions has been linked with a dramatic increase in the number of short-stay admissions – those patients that are admitted as an emergency for one day or less.
WG Editor’s Note: Hospitals are reimbursed according to a ‘pay per case’ system called Payment by Results. Reimbursement for each individual course of treatment is paid in line with a nationally set fixed price. In-patient fees tend to be higher than out-patient fees, so admitting & then discharging them just hours later ‘pays’ more.
Newswire – CABE: Making the most of existing resources - A practical action plan to help social landlords improve open spaces in social housing areas has been produced. It demonstrates how social landlords can provide more opportunities for residents of all ages to enjoy the space on their doorsteps, whether they want to grow vegetables, compete in sport or simply chat with their neighbours in a safe & pleasant environment.
It has been produced by CABE and the National Housing Federation in partnership with Neighbourhoods Green and over 30 social housing providers. Decent homes need decent spaces identifies 10 priorities to improve the quality of the green spaces on social housing estates. Less than 1% of people living in social housing said they use the green space on their estate, according to CABE’s new research, Community green.
The priorities include committing to high quality spaces and to long term maintenance; ensuring improvements are led by residents’ priorities; and addressing the needs of children (up to half the population on social housing estates). The action plan advises making places safer: fear about personal safety affects use of open space, especially within black & minority ethnic communities.
CLG: The ‘elephant in the room’ is why are LAs still using national newspapers at all, when they expect their clients to e-access services, especially when the NHS uses ‘NHS Jobs’ - Council job adverts should be syndicated across the internet, to save money, increase transparency and help reduce pointless posts Eric Pickles, Local Government Secretary has said.
At a speech to the Local Government Association conference in Bournemouth last week, he ‘called time’ on so-called 'non-jobs' and urged greater vigilance over how every taxpayer pound is spent.
It can cost £5k - £10k to place an advert in some national newspapers. Often classifieds are ‘filled with job titles many people would struggle to understand and many more that appear superfluous to the key services local people look to their council to provide’.
Newswire – PSPC: Mind you, public sector pensions are only gold-plated compared to the solid gold pension pots of many senior managers in the private sector - In a new report, the Public Sector Pensions Commission (PSPC) has found that the true value of the main unfunded public sector pension schemes is over 40% of salary.
The report also finds that a lack of transparency over the true costs of public sector pensions has made it easier to delay reform in the past. Without more transparency, the true costs are unreasonably forced onto future taxpayers.
The PSPC has also set out a menu of reform options to ensure that public sector pensions remain affordable in the long run.
Free Paper: Tackle the Paper Mountain – Reduce Waste and Save Money - The European Environmental Paper Network (EEPN) calculated that European office workers use around 205kg of paper per capita annually, while recent research revealed that office workers feel that 67% of printouts are wasted by printing single-sided rather than duplex, printing multiple copies of documents accidentally, and by forgetting to pick up documents from the printer.
This means that a staggering 167.5kg of paper is wasted per person each year – a major cost in both financial and environmental terms.
In addition to economic and environmental concerns, regulatory pressures also demand a more proactive approach to print policy. Legislation such as Sarbanes-Oxley requires that public sector organisations create an auditable record of financial and contractual documents.
A recent paper from Kyocera examines the effectiveness of both user engagement and externally imposed print policies in ensuring a reliable, cost-effective and environmentally responsible print network.
Click here to find out more and receive the paper.
For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
VSO: After 50 years of failing women, VSO are delighted that the UN has finally agreed to take concrete action by creating a full UN Women's Agency.
STFC: The Planck satellite – ESA’s mission to study the early Universe - has delivered its first image of the entire sky. By looking at microwave radiation, it not only provides new insight into the way stars & galaxies form, but also tells us how the Universe itself came to life after the Big Bang.
From the closest portions of the Milky Way to the furthest reaches of space & time, the new all-sky Planck image is an extraordinary treasure chest of new data for astronomers.
FCO: Lord Patten of Barnes, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for the Papal visit, and the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, Head of the Catholic Church in England & Wales, have announced further details of Pope Benedict XVI's visit.
The Pope's visit to the UK, from 16 - 19 September 2010, is at the invitation of Her Majesty, The Queen and is the first official Papal visit to the UK. Pope John Paul II made a purely pastoral visit in 1982, but this visit will combine pastoral events – where the Pope will engage with the Catholic faithful of the UK – and the official events that are part of a State Visit.
CO: As part of the Government’s deficit reduction plan, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, has announced that he will begin the process of introducing legislation as soon as possible to cap the amount of redundancy payments made to civil servants to ‘bring them in line with the best practice in the private sector’.
The Bill will limit the cost of future redundancy payments by; ‘Capping all compulsory redundancy payments at 12 months’ pay; and Limiting payments for voluntary exits to 15 months salary’. Accrued pension rights will not be affected by the new legislation.
Under the current scheme some longstanding employees are eligible for a package worth over 6 years’ pay, as compared with the 30 week statutory redundancy scheme and comparable arrangements in the wider public & private sectors.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is commissioning a range of research to tackle the food poisoning bug campylobacter, which is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK, causing over 300,000 cases per year and costing the economy more than £583m. The most common source is poultry meat, although it is also found in red meat, unpasteurised milk and untreated water.
To support the Agency’s 5-year campylobacter risk management programme, the Agency is looking to commission a range of research as part of a new campylobacter research programme. Where appropriate, the FSA will work with other funders to help deliver the evidence needed in a coordinated way.
UKOC: Finland has become the first country in the world to make broadband a legal right for every citizen. From 1 July 2010 all telecommunications companies will be obliged to provide all residents with broadband lines that can run at a minimum 1Mbps speed. Finland has vowed to connect everyone to a 100Mbps connection by 2015.
In the UK the government has promised a minimum connection of at least 2Mbps to all homes by 2012, but has stopped short of enshrining this as a right in law.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
Newswire – 10DS: The Prime Minister has announced new plans to hand power to the public with every department publishing a plan that sets clear priorities and measurable milestones. These Structural Reform Plans (SRPs) mean anyone can check that departments meet their commitments.
The plans are published in draft until the results of the Spending Review are known. When finalised, they will become part of each department’s business plan and will be updated annually.
HMT: George Osborne has ‘called on the public to send him their very best ideas on how to get more for less from our public services’. Anyone can go to the new Spending Challenge Public engagement website and submit their ideas.
The Chancellor launched the Spending Challenge website on 24 June 2010. The first phase was aimed at the public sector and had received 61,888 ideas (as of 08 July).
CLG: A ‘radical plan to banish nonsense red tape and repeal unnecessary laws’ has been unveiled by Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles. In a speech to a local government audience, Mr Pickles invited council workers & sector experts to suggest CLG sponsored statutory guidance, secondary legislation or regulations they think should be removed so councils can get on with their job. 240 Councils have coming forward already. All ideas should be sent to: email@example.com.
Examples include; the 1919 law that required the Secretary of State's consent if councils wanted to buy new land for allotments; 3 different sets of regulation governing tree protection; and guidance on the duty to carry out an economic assessment.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has refreshed its plan for engagement with Scotland's single largest overseas market for exports, inward investment and tourism - the USA. On American Independence Day, External Affairs Minister Fiona Hyslop published the Scottish Government's Plan for Engagement in the USA.
ScotGov: Over 5,000 NHS staff in Scotland will now be trained to encourage victims to 'open up' about domestic abuse. Scotland will become the first country in the UK to tackle domestic abuse through the NHS, with a co-ordinated national strategy to identify & help more victims.
Frontline NHS staff in Scotland will become skilled at how to initiate conversations in a sensitive way that will give people the chance to open up about abuse behind closed doors. Midwives, mental health workers, substance misuse & sexual health professionals, A&E staff and health visitors will be trained over the next 18 months.
WAG: The Welsh Assembly Government has announced that it is going to ‘radically transform the way it supports the Welsh economy’. The Deputy First Minister and Minister for the Economy & Transport, Ieuan Wyn Jones, outlined a vision (Economic Renewal: A New Direction) of making Wales ‘one of the best places in the world to live, to work and to thrive’.
In future government resources will be targeted at tackling wide systemic issues within the Welsh Economy - investing in infrastructure, research & development and improving the conditions within which businesses operate. Economic Renewal will see a fundamental shift away from direct & generic support for companies, to a focus on creating the right environment for businesses to succeed.
ScotGov: Buses in Scotland will be helped to go green thanks to a new £3.4m Scottish Green Bus Fund launched last week. Bus Operators, local authorities and regional transport partnerships are being invited to apply for funding to help with the additional up front costs of buying a low carbon bus.
ScotGov: Hundreds of 'hard-to-reach' care leavers & young carers are having their life prospects turned around thanks to a groundbreaking new initiative that takes them out of their comfort zone and into the Scottish wilderness.
Organised by the Edinburgh-based charity Venture Trust, the 'Inspiring Young Futures' (IYF) programme helps 16 - 19-year-olds build confidence by taking them through a series of challenging outdoors activities, such as canoeing, kayaking, hill walking & abseiling. They are inspired to make positive changes and develop the confidence & motivation they need for the difficult transition to adulthood.
NICE: More needs to be done to restrict the advertising of alcohol to children & young people and to regulate the growing problem of online adverts, experts have said. There are now around 1,900 groups dedicated to one alcoholic product alone on the Bebo social networking site, which is popular among school-age children, said Mr Tobias Paul, a commissioner from the Scottish Youth Commission on Alcohol.
Professor Mike Kelly, Director of Public Health at NICE, agreed that the advertising of alcohol to children needs to be looked at and pointed to the recent NICE guidance on preventing hazardous and harmful drinking, which contains a number of recommendations to tackle the problem of alcohol advertising & children.
DWP: Around 250,000 pensioners will start getting £80 off their next electricity bill from this month, thanks to a deal by the Government and the leading energy suppliers announced earlier this year. Up to £20m will be paid out by the largest energy companies in a one-off rebate to some of the pensioners who need the most help with their fuel costs.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is writing to all those who are eligible to let them know either that their rebate will be paid automatically, or asking people to call the Helpline and confirm their entitlement. The DWP shared some of its customer data securely with the energy companies so they could identify the poorest pensioners.
TfL: Plans for the UK's first urban cable car were unveiled last week, which could provide a much needed new river crossing between the Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks, offering spectacular views along the Thames (consultation closes on 2 August 2010).
The proposals being developed by Transport for London (TfL) would provide a privately-funded, fully accessible cable car for pedestrians & cyclists. The cable car would cross the river at a height of over 50 metres, similar to that of the Dome offering spectacular aerial views of the Olympic Park.
It would take around 5 minutes to travel between the O2 and ExCeL cutting current travel times, providing a crossing every 30 seconds carrying up to 2,500 passengers per hour in each direction, equivalent to the capacity of 50 buses per hour.
DCMS: On 19 May 2010 the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, announced legislation that could see arts, heritage & sport each receiving an extra £50m million a year in Lottery funding. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is currently consulting on this proposal (closes on 21 August 2010).
The consultation proposes re-balancing Lottery shares in two stages, returning 18% each to arts, heritage and sports by April 2011, and to 20% by April 2012. This would eventually reduce the share currently held by the Big Lottery Fund to 40%.
NICE: The first draft guidance from the new medical technologies programme at the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has been issued for consultation (closes on 2 August 2010). The responses received will be fully considered by MTAC and final guidance is expected to be published in October 2010.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published its draft clinical guideline on diagnosing latent TB in children & adults for consultation (closes on 5 August 2010). A partial update of its 2006 guideline, the draft focuses on the diagnosis of latent TB using tuberculin skin tests (TST, also known as Mantoux & Heaf tests) and the newer interferon-gamma tests (IGT).
The draft addresses which diagnostic strategy is most accurate in diagnosing latent TB in adults and children who are recent arrivals from countries where TB is highly prevalent; in adults and children who have been in close contact with patients with active TB, and in adults and children who are immunocompromised.
NICE: In draft guidance issued for consultation (closes on 30 July 2010) by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the drug bevacizumab (Avastin, Roche Products) is not recommended for use in combination with a taxane for patients whose breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Defra: A consultation (closes on 16 September 2010) on how to implement the revised EU Waste Framework Directive in England & Wales has been launched. The Directive will ‘bring together new & existing measures to promote waste prevention, recycling and better use of resources, while protecting human health & the environment’.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
WAG: A new DVD providing best practice guidance in meeting the needs of pupils from minority ethnic backgrounds has been launched by Education Minister, Leighton Andrews.
The DVD is a new & innovative means of providing good practice guidance of the highest quality to support those working to increase minority ethnic achievement in education. A copy of the DVD has been sent to every school in Wales.
NICE: An estimated 3m people in the UK suffer breathlessness, a long-term cough or other symptoms caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). But only around 900,000 are ever diagnosed - and most people don’t know they have the condition until they are in their fifties. Yet early diagnosis could help many people enjoy a much better quality of life.
New NICE guidance makes a series of recommendations to ensure this happens - and that adults with COPD get the right treatment. It updates NICE’s previous (2004) recommendations on the condition.
FSA: Craft bakers can use a new online calculator to reduce the amount of salt in their bread which could help to improve their customers' health. A quick guide to reducing salt in bread is also available. Research has shown that bakers can reduce the level of salt in bread by 25% over 6 weeks and customers will not notice the difference.
These tools have been produced following research by the Food Standards Agency, the National Association of Master Bakers and Norfolk County Council that looked at whether the craft bakery sector could reduce salt in bread and meet FSA 2012 salt targets.
WAG: A 40-point action plan to reduce the risk of people developing a stroke has been agreed, Health Minister, Edwina Hart has announced. In 2008, more than 2,000 people died from a stroke and (according to the Welsh Health Survey) and nearly one in 10 people over the age of 65 have received treatment for stroke.
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities has published the State of the countryside 2010 report giving an up to date definitive picture of rural England. The report provides detailed evidence of the circumstances of people living & working in rural areas drawn from extensive analysis using the latest official statistics.
Newswire – AC: Since 1990 a yearly government survey has indicated that between 9% & 10% of 16 - 18 year olds are without wages, schooling or training. Now a new study by the Audit Commission looks at the financial, personal & social cost of teenagers who are so-called ‘NEET’ - Not in Education, Employment or Training.
It has found that the problem may be worse than the annual 'snapshot' survey shows, but that a new approach can make scarce resources work harder for those at greatest risk. Against the Odds - Re-engaging young people in education, employment or training looks deeper into this issue than any previous report.
Analysis of the records of 24,000 young people in 10 areas countrywide suggests that as many as one in four young people may be outside school, work or training, and that the number affected varies widely across the country.
General Reports and Other Publications
Newswire – Demos: Third sector organisations must be able to demonstrate their social value in the face of pending cuts, argues a report released by Demos.
The danger of losing valuable and value-for-money services provided by non-profit organisations can be avoided by supporting the third sector to implement a standardised method of demonstrating the social value of the work organisations do.
Demos urges non-profit-generating organisations to seize the opportunity of the recession to show the social goods they produce offer value for money. The report recommends working towards the Social Return on Investment model (SROI) but highlights that few organisations in the UK are ready to apply this model.
CO: In a further drive to make government as transparent as possible, the Cabinet Office has published details of everyone working in Non-Departmental Public Bodies (also known as ‘Quangos’), who earns more than £150,000 Available in CSV & XLS format. Details were withheld for 24 individuals.
ESRC: New research, presented at a major international conference in London, demonstrates how inequality in education, skills and incomes reduces opportunity & undermines social cohesion. In education, for example, the social & ability mix of the school has a major impact on how well a child performs.
Professor Andy Green, Dr Germ Janmaat and Dr Tarek Mostafa show this 'peer effect' is particularly strong in the UK, where school intakes & performance vary widely. High levels of inequality in skills are, in turn, associated with growing income gaps and declining levels of social & political trust.
BIS: ‘Proposals for simplifying the planning & consents environment, encouraging development & growth and cutting the amount of red tape faced by business & government’, have been published by the Penfold Review.
The Penfold Review was set up to find out what problems business (& especially small businesses) encounter that can make or break investment in development. The investigation into ‘non-planning consents’, such as environment permits, highways orders and heritage consents that are needed alongside (or after) planning permission, found a complex & fragmented landscape that poses real problems for some businesses to navigate effectively.
Defra: Defra has published research on claims about environmental performance on products & packaging. The research examined the number & types of claims being made. This will be used to inform Defra’s work to update the Green Claims Code. Previous projects examined green claims in marketing & consumer understanding of green claims & specific terminology.
WAG: The Welsh Assembly Government has welcomed the final report of the Holtham Commission. Publication of the final report fulfils a key One Wales commitment to undertake an independent review of the funding & finance of the devolved Government.
DH: Re-offending in troubled & aggressive young people can be significantly cut using a pioneering new mental health approach known as Multisystemic Therapy, a UK conference was told last week. Reporting on the initial findings of the first UK evaluation pilot, researchers found in families with multiple problems that the use of Multisystemic Therapy reduced the risk of re-offending, particularly among boys.
They found that lower re-offending behaviour was evident 2 years down the line compared to existing service approaches, and can be cost effective, because young people are kept out of custody or local authority care, and parents are encouraged to use the voluntary sector and local supports instead.
Legislation / Legal
EHRC: The Supreme Court has ruled that homosexual asylum seekers should be granted refugee status if going back to their homeland would result in them being forced to conceal their sexuality or face persecution for living openly as a gay person.
Lord Hope, the Deputy President, said; 'the question is how each applicant, looked at individually, will conduct himself if returned and how others will react to what he does... he cannot and must not be expected to conceal aspects of his sexual orientation which he is unwilling to conceal, even from those whom he knows may disapprove of it'.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: The 'Renewable Energy Snapshots' report, published by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), shows that renewable energy sources accounted for 62% (17GW) of the new electricity generation capacity installed in the EU27 in 2009.
EU News: Boat passengers will have more rights as of 2012, thanks to a regulation approved by the European Parliament last Tuesday. The new rules provide for assistance & compensation in cases of delays, as well as free assistance to disabled passengers.
The EP is pushing for similar rights for bus & coach passengers but this has still to be negotiated with the Member States.
ScotGov: £50m will be invested in regenerating business & transport hubs and greening housing schemes, the Scottish Government announced last week. Whole zones of Scotland's towns & cities will benefit from cash for major regeneration work including new business spaces, wireless technology zones, green energy for social housing, renewing derelict sites and more efficient transport schemes.
The fund will help kick start regeneration schemes stalled by the recession, providing backing for projects struggling to get finance from commercial lenders. Large-scale urban regeneration projects will benefit and the fund will continually recycle cash for new projects, by getting money back when projects start generating returns.
EU: With an overwhelming majority, the European Parliament has sent a strong message to EU Member States that the only option for effective financial supervision is one based on a thorough reform of the current system, with the establishment of European authorities capable of taking effective action to avert crises and avoid taxpayer bailouts.
Parliament voted to give a number of powers to the 3 European supervisory authorities (ESAs) which will be charged with controlling practices in the banking, securities and markets, and insurance sectors respectively.
To ease interaction between the ESAs, Parliament is calling for them to be established in Frankfurt, rather than having them spread around the EU. At the same time, it will be possible to have various representations of the ESAs in the most important financial centres of the EU.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
NE: Thanks to £5.8m of new grants from the Access to Nature programme, thousands of people in towns & cities all over England will have the chance to improve green spaces in their area and get closer to nature on their doorsteps.
The 29 new projects will work at the heart of communities to provide a host of volunteering opportunities, conservation training, events and group activities, as well as the improvement of often under-used and derelict land in our inner cities.
Access to Nature is funded through the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme and is run by Natural England, leading a consortium of 11 other organisations, who have helped shape & develop the programme.
BIG: This summer sees the launch of the fourth ‘Postcards from the Park’ 2010 competition - a national photography competition organised by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) and parks charity GreenSpace.
It encourages everyone to get out & about in their local public park and photograph what they love most about it. Categories include wildlife, heritage and people at play.
The overall winner will receive £1,000 of Jessops vouchers and finalists will be in with a chance of winning an overnight stay in London and seeing their photo exhibited at a London Gallery. The closing date is Sunday 1 August 2010.
Business and Other Briefings
LBRO: Leading UK companies have taken part in a podcast to promote the benefits of a national red tape cutting scheme that is ‘shaving £ms from operating costs’.
A local authority version of the podcast has also been produced. Primary Authority greatly simplifies the complexity of dealing with regulations such as trading standards or health and safety for businesses operating in two or more council areas.
By providing a single point of contact, the Primary Authority ensures consistency in the way these regulations are enforced, consistency of advice and saves business the time & costs of duplicated effort involved with complying. Otherwise, businesses can be prosecuted, even if they follow official advice, if local inspectors disagree about how to interpret regulations.
Socitm: A survey by Socitm Insight for the Department for Business shows implementation of an EU directive to make it easy for businesses to find out about licensing, regulations, etc. is patchy at best.
The EU Services Directive was intended to reduce government red tape for new and existing businesses, whether based in the UK or across the rest of the European Union.
For competent authorities (i.e. local authorities & others involved in regulating businesses) the Directive provided an opportunity to review & improve ways of handling online enquiries from the business sector.
The report & supporting spreadsheets are free to download for all, since this report was funded by BIS. Simply register as a user on this website and you will be able to access the material.
ScotGov: A ‘doughnut’ and an ‘oyster’ are among 5 marine energy projects sharing £13m to harness the power of the sea. The grants from the WATERS fund (Wave and Tidal Energy: Research, Development and Demonstration Support) will help develop emerging energy technologies and improve the operation of marine renewables devices.
WATERS is a collaboration between the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise with support from European Regional Development Funds.
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