In the News
Ofsted: If they cannot read, they cannot learn - The best primary schools teach virtually all their children to read, regardless of ‘their social and economic background, ethnicity, language spoken at home, special needs and disability’ – an Ofsted report reveals. However, nationally, 20% of children leaving primary school do not reach the standard expected for reading & writing.
The report - Reading by six: how the best schools do it - highlights the good practice of 12 outstanding schools across England representing a diverse range of communities that show it is possible for all schools to achieve the highest standards. Success in the 12 schools was based on a determination that every child will learn to read, together with a step by step approach to teaching reading, writing &spelling systematically through phonics.
All schools in the report were highly consistent in their approach to teaching reading, even though there were some differences in the programmes and other resources they had chosen to use. The common thread in all the schools’ approaches to teaching reading & writing are summarised in the report in terms of leadership, rigour, consistency, structure, monitoring, assessment, support and shared commitment.
TfL: The visible signs may have gone (Smog), but some of London’s air is still polluted - The Mayor's plans to improve London's air took a step forward with the launch of a trial to clean up the air in the Capital's most polluted areas. Recently, Transport for London (TfL) began the UK's first trial of the application of dust suppressants at 2 sites identified, as locations with high levels of particulate matter (PM10).
PM10 is produced mainly by engine emissions along with tyre & brake wear and can exacerbate respiratory conditions in the elderly & very young. London is at danger of breaching European Union legal limits for PM10 at a few central London locations that are subject to high level of traffic, so the Mayor has pledged to tackle these areas with a package of clean-up measures. The Mayor's final air quality strategy will be published later this month (consultation on this closed on 13 August 2010).
The dust suppressant is a solution made up of Calcium Magnesium Acetate that literally sticks the particulate matter to the carriageway and prevents it re-circulating in the air. The biodegradable saline solution will be sprayed (in very small amounts) on roads in the 2 trial sites, several times a week (as deemed necessary). The trial will last for 6 months and is hoped to reduce PM10 where it is used by 10-20%.
DH: But is it suitable for everyone? - Everyone eligible will get a personal budget by 2013 so they can be in control of their own care and more carers will get breaks, Care Services Minister Paul Burstow announced last week. This is part of the Government’s plans for adult social care (A vision for adult social care: Capable Communities and Active Citizens) just published by the Department of Health.
Personal budgets allow people & their carers to tailor services to meet their specific needs and carers can use them to take a well earned break. They were introduced in 1996, but currently only 13% of people who might need one have one. The Government expects councils to provide personal budgets to 1m eligible people, preferably as a direct payment, by 2013.
The vision is the first of 3 pieces of work, along with the forthcoming reports of the Law Commission next spring and the independent Commission on the Funding of Care and Support next summer, that will feed into the development of a White Paper on social care in autumn 2011 and future legislation.
Alongside the Social Care Vision, the Department of Health has launched Transparency in Outcomes: a framework for adult social care - a consultation (closes on 11 February 2011) on a new strategic approach to quality & outcomes in adult social care.
NAO: Money wasted on poor practice could be funding cancer drugs - Improvements & efficiencies have been made in key areas of cancer care since the Cancer Reform Strategy was published in 2007, according to a National Audit Office report. However, a lack of high quality information on costs of cancer services and their outcomes inhibits substantial further improvements.
The NAO's report examines how effectively 3 of the Strategy's actions to drive delivery have been utilized to improve services for patients. The actions examined were:
* improving the quality of information
* strengthening commissioning
* making better use of resources
The performances of PCTs still vary significantly and there is scope for greater efficiencies, worth hundreds of £ms each year, in the delivery of care. For example, by reducing the average length of stay in hospital to the level of the best performing PCTs, efficiencies worth some £113m a year could be achieved.
High quality information is essential to be able to commission services successfully and to monitor performance. However, data on chemotherapy activity & outcomes are poor and the introduction of a national chemotherapy dataset is almost 2.5 years behind the original commitment made by the DH.
ScotGov: How much longer will Scotland enjoy free services that England doesn’t? - The Scottish Budget for next year will ‘protect jobs, frontline services and economic recovery’, Finance Secretary John Swinney told MSPs in the Scottish Parliament last week. The budget also provides for a living wage of £7.15 an hour where the Scottish Government has pay responsibility and protects the lowest paid in the public sector.
WAG: Wales spreads the pain - The Minister for Business & Budget, Jane Hutt, last week laid the Welsh Assembly Government’s Draft Budget for 2011-12. It ‘underlines the Assembly Government’s commitment to protecting health, social services, schools and skills – and provides vital help for the most vulnerable people in our society; support for children and older people; and a boost for our fragile economic recovery’.
EP President Jerzy BUZEK said: ….. The intransigence of a few Member States ……….. The European Parliament presented a very moderate position and in the end, we did not ask for one euro more than what the Council was proposing. Parliament's only condition was to have a serious agreement on rules and procedures implementing the Lisbon Treaty to avoid future budgetary crises”.
Industry News: Payroll Outsourcing: The Future? - The next few years are due to see a major reduction in public spending as the coalition government implements cuts of £84bn accompanied by tax increases of around £29bn This new environment will create a much tougher climate for procurement in the public sector with greater emphasis being placed on costs coupled with increased pressure to look at all overheads and capital projects and ensure they offer value for money.
It is these pressures that have led many organisations, including many government departments, to seriously consider outsourcing. The ability to reduce overheads and avoid capital expenditure whilst also improving effectiveness and efficiency, makes outsourcing an interesting proposition.
It is already proving popular amongst councils up and down the country and with HMRC having been instructed to find resource savings of 15% by Chancellor George Osborne – Outsourcing is likely to play a big part in that.
An increasingly popular function to outsource is payroll, with many organisations in both the public and private sector using a provider to deal with a historically time and labour intensive work area.
Click here for further information.
FSA: Vitabiotics has withdrawn 6 food supplements, in a range of pack sizes, because the products contain higher levels of folic acid than mentioned on the product labels. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Withdrawal Information Notice.
FSA: InBev has recalled a batch of Budweiser beer (300ml bottles) because it might contain small pieces of glass. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
FSA: Warburtons has recalled some packs of its own-brand 6 Crumpets with a ‘best before’ date of 22 November 2010 & 23 November 2010, because the product might contain small pieces of aluminium. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Information Recall Notice.
FSA: The Soupery has withdrawn a batch of its minestrone soup because it contains wheat that is not mentioned on the label. This makes the soup a possible health risk for anyone who is allergic to or intolerant of wheat or gluten. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
FSA: The Co-operative Group has recalled some batches of its own-brand Lemon and Lime Flavour Still Spring Water Drink (6 x 500ml) because of an unpleasant smell and the possible risk of mould growing. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
MoJ: The count-down to the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta has been launched, with a special ceremony near to where the Charter was signed in 1215 in Runneymede, Surrey.
Magna Carta, described as 'the greatest constitutional document of all time’, set limitations to royal power - guaranteeing the liberties of the King's free subjects and establishing that the monarch must obey the law.
Newswire – ICO: The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) has agreed to take action after MPs personal details were accidentally placed at risk on the MPs expenses database, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said recently. The data included MPs banking details, vehicle registrations and home telephone numbers.
Newswire – TSA: The Tenant Services Authority (TSA) is calling on social housing landlords to become champions of tenant engagement. Through its Tenant excellence fund, the TSA is offering providers the opportunity to become Co-regulatory champions and bid for up to £3,000 to help share their skills & experience with other providers & tenants.
The champions will promote & encourage other landlords to increase their tenant involvement in the regulation of their homes and communities with an aim of working together to scrutinise, challenge and improve performance. Bidding is now open, with a submission deadline of 10 December 2010. Guidance for potential co-regulatory champions can be found in the prospectus on the TSA website.
MoD: A new memorial dedicated to members of 40 Commando Royal Marines who have given their lives for their country was unveiled last week at their base, Norton Manor Camp near Taunton. The memorial, made of granite by a Taunton stonemason, was paid for after a groundswell of public support for the unit which has recently returned from operations in Afghanistan. A slow-growing memorial tree & dedicated plaque is planned for each of the fatalities in Afghanistan.
TUC: TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, has commented on government plans announced last week to launch a consultation on the discount rate used to calculate the amount public sector employees pay into unfunded pension schemes.
WAG: A new website for young Gypsies & Travellers has been launched by Wales’ Social Justice Minister Carl Sargeant. The website is part of the Save the Children Travelling Ahead project, which is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and BBC Children in Need. The project gives young Gypsies & Travellers in Wales a voice on decisions that affect them.
CCWater: To mark World Toilet Day (Friday 19 November), the Consumer Council for Water called for consumers to use their loos responsibly by not sending inappropriate items down the drain. We visit the toilet an average of 2,500 times a year and spend about 3 years of our life on the loo, yet often the humble WC, and sometimes the items we put down it, aren’t given a second thought.
Three quarters of sewer blockages are caused by people putting items they shouldn’t down the loo or the sink, and half of sewer flooding is caused by these blockages. Any drains or private sewers that carry waste away from the home are the customer’s responsibility, (or landlord's) both inside & outside the property boundary, until the point where they connect with the public sewers.
TUC: Around the world more than 200 transgender people have been murdered since January 2008, simply for being different. Transgender Day of Remembrance - the 12th international global day of tribute - commemorates trans people who have been the victims of violent crimes and aims to bring their stories to public attention.
The TUC has worked with transgender union members and the trans community to campaign for protection from discrimination and welcomes a new service which allows trans people who are victims of crime to report it in confidence at www.tcrime.net
Policy Statements and Initiatives
ScotGov: A plan to create new green jobs & capture the opportunities of the low carbon economy has been published. It is estimated around 60,000 new Scottish green jobs could be created by 2020 and the Low Carbon Economic Strategy crystallises the Scottish Government's approach to utilise Scotland's vast natural resources & competitive advantages to grow the economy and cut emissions.
DfE: Michael Gove has announced the decision to scrap the complex & burdensome Financial Management Standard in Schools (FMSiS)with immediate effect. Following discussions with local authorities & schools, there was an overwhelming consensus to scrap FMSiS and develop a simpler standard.
Last year the Audit Commission said FMSiS focuses on processes rather than achievement of economy & efficiency and that schools have not drawn an explicit link between its introduction and value for money.
BIS: Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable and Skills Minister John Hayes have launched the Government’s strategy for skills (Skills for Sustainable Growth) and its parallel publication, Investing in Skills for Sustainable Growth.
The strategy sets out the Government’s vision for reform of the Further Education & skills system in order to improve the skills of the workforce, the performance of the economy and engagement in learning. Investing in Sustainable Growth sets out how Government seeks to achieve its objectives through investing strategically in FE and skills over this Spending Review period.
Defra: The Government has confirmed the details of spending on Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) until 2014. Further changes to the scheme will focus its role on safeguarding the environment. More money will go to protecting wildlife & reducing water pollution and less spent on farm renovations and access to the countryside.
HO: Inspirational community activists who help keep neighbourhoods safe are being called on to spread their good work by the Government's champion for active, safer communities, Baroness Newlove. Outlining her programme of work with a 'call to action', Baroness Newlove is working with ministers to encourage local people, businesses and frontline workers, like the police, on what more they can do to make their communities safer.
The neighbourhoods chosen by Baroness Newlove as 'test beds' of community activism will be identified in the coming weeks. A study from 2009, Measuring Neighbourhood Watch: Views of Effectiveness, found that Neighbourhood Watch is reported as reducing crime in 79% of cases in the UK.
DH: Thousands of frontline NHS staff are ‘taking control of the services they deliver in a drive to transform patient care and improve health outcomes’, Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley announced last week.
32 projects will form the third wave of NHS organisations that want to set up social enterprises, through the NHS 'Right to Request' scheme that gives public sector workers the opportunity to become their own bosses (The scheme has now closed for applications in line with the requirement that PCTs must separate commissioning & provision of community services by April 2011).
HO: The first steps to scrap the stop & account form used by police – and save an estimated 450,000 hours of time each year – have been taken. New proposals could also reduce the amount of information (7 items recorded rather than 12) officers are required to take as part of the stop & search process, saving around 350,000 hours of time each year.
GEO: Home Secretary and Minister for Women & Equality, Theresa May has announced that the socio-economic duty, which was created as part of the 2010 Equality Act, will be scrapped. The announcement came as the Home Secretary outlined a new approach to equalities that ‘rejects political correctness and social engineering’.
DH: A new drive to raise antibiotics awareness was launched last week to remind the public that antibiotics do not work in treating viral infections such as coughs & colds. The inappropriate use of antibiotics has become a serious problem in Europe which is why there is now an annual European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD).
DfE: Education Secretary Michael Gove last week announced the opening up of the route to academy status so that every school can become an academy, by allowing existing schools that are strong performers to work in partnership with weaker schools. In addition, for the first time, the DfE will be opening up applications to outstanding maintained special schools in January 2011, to allow them to open from September 2011.
Defra: The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced a total of £2m to improve flood rescue capability. Grants totalling approximately £650,000 were awarded from the fund last week. The money will help local flood resilience teams’ efforts to raise money to buy everything from boats & flood barriers to training sessions for flood rescue volunteers.
All the equipment bought with the new money will be added to the National Asset Register of emergency resources that others can call upon in the event of a major flood. Applications for the remaining funding can be made to Defra until 31 January 2011.
DfE: Children's Minister, Sarah Teather, has outlined the first steps in the Government's reform of early education. At the recent Daycare Trust conference, the minister confirmed plans to increase flexibility, improve access to high-quality provision and reduce bureaucracy in early education.
The new approach will improve the life chances of disadvantaged children by freeing up children's centres so they focus their services on families that will benefit the most. The reforms include intending to legislate so that disadvantaged 2-year-olds receive 15 hours of free early education a week starting from 2013.
Michael Gove has confirmed in a letter that the Department's staff will work closely with CWDC on a detailed plan for the transfer of work, to ensure that current business continues to be delivered and essential business maintained. DfE officials will work with CWDC to continue to secure employers' engagement in workforce development.
CLG: New reforms will give more of the benefits of development to communities, while providing more certainty for industry, Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark announced last week. He confirmed the Community Infrastructure Levy would be continued, however it will be reformed to ensure neighbourhoods share the advantages of development, by receiving a proportion of the funds councils raise from developers.
The new system will be more transparent with levy rates set in consultation with local communities & developers, unlike planning obligations that are negotiated behind closed doors. The report, Valuing Planning Obligations in England: Update Study for 2005-06 showed that only 6% of developments made any contribution to the cost of new infrastructure via planning obligations.
CLG: Proposals for a fairer planning fees system have been set out for consultation (closes on 7 January 2011). At the moment local council taxpayers have been left subsidising the costs of dealing with planning applications. Councils have been unable to recover the true costs of applications because of a fixed fee charging system set by central Government.
MoJ: Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, has recently unveiled a programme of wide-ranging reform to legal aid & civil litigation costs. Two consultations (both closing on 14 February 2011), published last week, mark the first step in a wider programme of work to radically reform & rebalance the justice system, to ‘make it quicker, cheaper and less combative wherever possible’:
* The consultation on legal aid reform aims to tackle the spread of expensive & often unnecessary litigation into everyday society at the taxpayer’s expense and bring down the £2bn+ cost of the legal aid system
* The civil litigation costs paper contains proposals to tackle the spiralling costs payable by people who have been sued in ‘no win no fee’ cases, alongside other proposals to make civil costs more reasonable
Defra: A consultation (closes on 22 February 2011) on new guidelines for considering large-scale waste water infrastructure projects has been launched by the Government. The Waste Water National Policy Statement (NPS), announced by Defra, will be used by the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) when deciding whether such applications should get the go-ahead.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has outlined proposals which focus on‘enhancing the mortgage sales process, the role of intermediaries and improving disclosure of information for customers’. Consultation on these proposals will close on 25 February 2011.
MoJ: Making criminal justice statistics more transparent & user friendly is the aim of a consultation launched last week. The launch of the consultation (closes on 18 February 2011) follows recommendations made in several reports, including the UK Statistics Authority Assessment of Criminal Justice Statistics, the Stern Review and Barriers to Trust.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
CAB: Last year (Apr 2009 - Mar 2010) young people under the age of 25 sought help from Citizens Advice with 729,825 problems - an annual increase of 21%. 80% of their problems related to just 4 issues: debt, benefits, housing & employment.
Citizens Advice has launched a microsite www.advice4me.org.uk aimed specifically at young people in order to ensure that they can access advice & information quickly & easily about the problems that concern them the most.
The site pulls together information on debt, benefits, employment and housing from the charity’s existing self-help website* and puts it in one easy to use place. As well as via a computer, the site is compatible to view on mobile phones so you can get advice ‘on the go’.
Directgov: Organised criminal gangs are exploiting security-conscious internet users by tricking them into downloading & paying for anti-virus protection which is actually malicious software. The gangs target victims through direct telephone calls. Victims are left out-of-pocket, their bank details stolen and their computers seriously compromised.
Newswire – HPA: To mark the start of Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, the Health Protection Agency has been advising people to have their fossil fuel & wood burning appliances - such as boilers, heaters and cookers - checked by an appropriately registered engineer before the winter sets in.
DH: The government has launched new guidance to improve the standard of information for people with learning disabilities. There are an estimated 1.5m people with learning disabilities in the UK and this guidance will help central & local government organisations understand how they can communicate with all disabled people, including people with learning disabilities.
The guidance focuses on creating Easy Read, which uses simple words & pictures to communicate complex messages. People with learning disabilities are involved in developing the publications to make sure they are easy to understand.
Newswire – CABE: CABE and the Asset Transfer Unit have published new guidance for local authorities and community groups on the transfer of parks & green spaces.
It contains advice on putting together a business case for transfer, governance, finance & communications, with checklists for both local authorities & community groups throughout. 8 pioneering case studies taken from across England show a variety of approaches.
ScotGov: Detailed analysis of the time & staff costs to the Scottish Government of processing Freedom of Information requests have been published recently. The information has been gathered to provide the Government with an estimate of the amount of time it takes officials to respond to requests, reviews & appeals during a specified period and the financial cost to the organisation.
ScotGov: NHS Scotland Chief Executive Dr Kevin Woods has published his last annual report, highlighting the performance of Scotland's NHS in the last year.
UKBA: The Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency has published 3 reports:
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities’ new State of the countryside update report focuses on the most sparsely populated areas of England in terms of their social, economic & environmental state and how these areas differ from other parts of country.
General Reports and Other Publications
Civitas: Widely trumpeted reductions in exclusions from schools are mostly a statistical illusion, according to a new report (A NewSecretGarden?) by independent think tank Civitas.
Thousands of pupils, many with behavioural difficulties, are shifted to alternative providers & FE colleges. These 'managed moves' & 'referrals' do not show up in official exclusion statistics, even though they often constitute effective exclusion.
Newswire – WWF: The latest dialogues co-ordinated by the Food Ethics Council (FEC) and WWF-UK show there is willingness to break the stalemate between producers & environmental groups over the role changing livestock consumption has in tackling climate change.
Newswire – WWF: Addressing carbon emissions & urban development will be crucial if China is to continue to improve well-being without costing the planet, says a new report launched this week.
The ‘China Ecological Footprint Report 2010’, jointly published by WWF and China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), explores the country’s challenges & opportunities in an increasingly resource-constrained world. Over the past 3 decades China’s per capita income has grown by more than 50 times as a result of economic development.
Demos: Hundreds of thousands of people die in hospital each year when they could die where they want to, at home, according to a new report published by Demos. A growing dependence on hospitals to care for the dying only increases distress for terminally ill people & their families, as well as taking up valuable NHS resources.
An estimated 20% of hospital beds are currently taken up with end of life care and Demos calls for a ‘Big Society’ response in which civic, mutual & self-help solutions play a much greater role.
NLGN: Proposals to make new elected Police Commissioners more accountable to broader local democratic government and their local communities are published in a new NLGN paper. The New Local Government Network has drawn up a list of proposals & safeguards to create better working practices between the Commissioners and Police & Crime Panels (PCPs), the body established to hold the new elected post to account.
ScotGov: Inspectors have called for a number of improvements at Glasgow's Royal Hospital for Sick Children in a report published last week. While the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate's report found that the hospital complied with most of the healthcare associated infection standards, it also calledfor improvements in the quality of cleaning & better monitoring of cleaning.
ScotGov: Housing associations across Scotland have the power to build new homes with much less public funding, a new study reveals. Leading experts at Heriot Watt and York universities examined the capacity of social landlords & councils to finance & build new housing stock against a range of assumptions. They found that the sector as a whole has the capacity to make taxpayers' money go further.
LSN: The Government sees growth in certain key sectors – such as advanced manufacturing, ‘low carbon’ and life sciences – as critical to the UK’s economic recovery. However, new research by LSN’s independent think tank, the Centre for Innovation in Learning, has found that the capacity of the UK education system to provide skills for some of these sectors could threaten this ambition and therefore the recovery.
FCO: Foreign Secretary William Hague spoke at the launch of a UK India Business Leaders Climate Group report, offering support for the Group in ‘realising its vision of UK and Indian businesses collaborating on low carbon opportunities’.
FSA: An independent assessment by the General Advisory Committee on Science (GACS) has concluded that ‘the Agency-commissioned 2009 review of the nutrient content of organic and non-organic foods followed good practice at all stages’. GACS considered concerns put forward by the Soil Association and the Organic Trade Board regarding the validity of the study and the nature of the Agency’s communications.
Nutrition policy is now the responsibility of the Department of Health in England and it will be for Health Ministers to consider whether further research is conducted in this area.
DECC: The Government has published the Redfern Inquiry into the analysis of human tissue taken from individuals who had worked in the nuclear industry. The inquiry was set up in 2007 to look at the processes & practices surrounding the analysis of human tissue that was carried out in UK nuclear facilities from 1955 to 1992.
JRF: New research published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that unemployed people have a ‘strong work ethic, actively look for work, and are prepared to take jobs even when they are poor quality’.
Increasing numbers of people are facing poverty as they move from one short-term job to another, but often choosing not to claim benefits and missing out on the support they need. The report's findings challenge popular ideas about 'cultures of welfare dependency'.
HEFCE: A review of international student mobility says that study abroad can significantly boost the chances of a student's success in later life and bring benefits to the UK's knowledge economy. The report distinguishes between those who study abroad as part of a course at a UK higher education institution and those who study an entire degree course outside the UK.
CH: Cyber warfare is a complex, fast-evolving political and technological phenomenon which can only be understood & managed if placed within a framework of national strategy.
A new Chatham House report, On Cyber Warfare, argues that national strategy must itself be reviewed & adapted if it is to take proper account of cyber warfare.
IfG: Adrian Brown, Fellow at the Institute for Government, leading research on mutuals and the Big Society, has commented on the Cabinet Office announcement on mutuals in public services.
HEFCE: HEFCE has welcomed an evaluation of Lifelong Learning Networks (LLNs) which shows the programme has achieved well against its objectives and has improved progression opportunities for learners on vocational programmes into and through higher education.
KF: The King’s Fund has warned against the idea that more information is always better and suggests the government should be cautious about patients’ ability to make full use of the ‘information revolution’ in a new report.
The research used focus groups and online experiments to find out how the design of information influences which hospitals patients choose. It concluded that simply allowing all information currently available about the quality of care to be put into the public domain would not result in people making more informed choices about their care.
MAC: The required limits on skilled & highly skilled migrant workers admitted to the UK under Tiers 1 and 2 of the Points Based System in 2011/12 were published last week by the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).
ScotGov: Climate Change Minister, Stewart Stevenson last week published a major report showing how Scotlandis ‘implementing climate change strategies and is poised to take advantage of the huge economic opportunities of a low carbon society’. The report also presents additional options to drive emissions down and ensure Scotland's annual targets can be met each year to 2022.
PX: A new report from think tank Policy Exchange warns that the official re-offending rate is unsafe. The report finds a strong correlation between reductions in re-offending rates and increases in police cautions. Although cautions require an acceptance of guilt from the offender, they are excluded from adult re-offending statistics. It recommends a radical shake-up of the criminal justice system in order to truly reduce re-offending and recidivism.
nef: David Cameron’s plan to measure the UK’s well-being is very welcome, says independent think-tank nef (the new economics foundation), creators of the first National Accounts of Well-being, but the Prime Minister must ensure that he acts on the data.
CRC: In July 2010 the CRC completed a short research based project exploring the provision of affordable rural housing through the use of Exception Sites, Section 106 Agreements, and local land trusts. This report draws on the ‘ground level’ experience of delivery practitioners to inform how Section 106 Agreements, rural Exception Sites and Community Land Trusts might be made more effective in the delivery of affordable housing, especially in difficult economic circumstances.
Newswire – PASC: The Public Administration Committee (PASC) has published a report on the Appointment of the dual post of First Civil Service Commissioner and Commissioner for Public Appointments. The Committee is prepared to endorse this appointment, but it has serious concerns about the appointment of a senior civil servant to this post and the lack of consultation surrounding the proposal to combine these 2 roles in one person.
IISS: Towards a NATO–Russia Strategic Concept: Ending Cold War Legacies; Facing New Threats Together examines possible ways for transforming NATO–Russia relations in a way which could help to overcome the legacy of mutual mistrust and enhance the scope & effectiveness of practical cooperation between them.
CRC: To help new, and would-be, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) harness rural growth & potential, the Commission for Rural Communities recently reviewed how previous economic partnerships understood & embraced rural in their work. Its report (Recognising rural interests within Local Enterprise Partnerships) draws out good practice from several areas, on 4 themes, ranging through evidence to representation.
The CRC are also making available the evidence they submitted in August 2010 to the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee for its inquiry into Local Enterprise Partnerships and the Regional Growth Fund.
NAO: A National Audit Office examination of the Highways Agency’s PFI contract to widen the M25 as a way of reducing congestion has concluded that it ‘could have been materially better value for money’.
The slowness with which it was taken forward resulted in higher financing costs in the credit crisis. This increased the net present cost of the deal by £660m (24%) to £3.4bn. Moreover, the Agency was slow to investigate a potentially cheaper alternative to widening.
iea: Responding to the latest borrowing figures from the ONS, Mark Littlewood, Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs, expressed grave concern that these figures disguise the gravity of Britain’s financial situation, saying:
“The latest official national debt figure of £845bn underestimates the true national debt figure by a factor of over five…… It is worrying enough to see official figures show a jump in national debt over the last year from the equivalent of 49% of GDP to over 57%, but the reality is that our real national debt stands at 333% of GDP”.
Legislation / Legal
CLG: Councillors should be freed from restrictions that prevent them from championing local issues, Ministers have asserted. Communities & Local Government, Secretary Eric Pickles has set out plans to clarify the law (with the forthcoming Localism Bill) will so that ‘councillors are able to get on with the job of representing their residents without fear of being challenged or their decisions being overturned because of accusations of inflexibility or unreasonable bias’.
At the same time, Mr Pickles has suggested a strong new deterrent of criminal sanctions to prevent genuine town hall corruption. This would mean that failing to register or disclose a personal interest that impacts on council business could result in a court case, criminal conviction, fine or a ban on serving as a councillor.
Newswire – JCHR: The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has published its Second Report on the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Bill. The JCHR published a Preliminary Report on the Bill on 22 October and following correspondence with the Government, remains concerned about use of secret evidence. It recommends a number of amendments to the legislation currently passing through the House of Commons.
Newswire – LCC: The House of Lords Constitution Committee has criticised the way the Government has introduced the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill without pre-legislative scrutiny or public consultation.
DfT: Changes to fixed penalties and penalty deposits for seatbelt & number plate offences were announced last week by Road Safety Minister, Mike Penning. Draft amendments to legislation have been laid before Parliament which will, subject to Parliamentary approval, increase the on-the-spot penalty deposits for seatbelt and number plate offences that can be taken from drivers from abroad. This brings them into line with the £60 fixed penalties for those offences.
HoL DP&RRC: The House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee has published a report on the powers delegated to Ministers in the Public Bodies Bill.
EHRC: A woman who was dismissed from her job in a care home because she was pregnant has won a discrimination case against her former employer. The Commission funded the case of Geraldine Furbear who claimed she was dismissed from her job during her probationary period, because she was pregnant. She informed the manager at the time she accepted the job that she was pregnant.
EA: The Environment Agency is changing the way it regulates boat registration for its waterways across the country. From January 2011 it will start using new powers to harmonise registration requirements for keeping & using boats on the non-tidal River Thames, the non-tidal River Medway and also its Anglian waterways. Some of these requirements already exist on certain waterways, but for others they are brand new.
The major change across all EA waterways is owners of powered boats (boats with an engine) will be required to hold a valid ‘third party’ insurance policy. This has been a requirement for some time on most other UK inland waterways.
Boat owners will also need to register their boats and pay the annual charge simply to keep them on the waterways, even if they don’t use them. Owners of most powered boats will have to show they comply with essential safety standards by obtaining a Boat Safety Scheme Certificate (BSSC) in order to register.
Newswire – ICO: The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ordered the disclosure of information relating to the ratio of guards to asylum seekers on a deportation flight from Heathrow to Kabul. The Home Office has 35 calendar days from the date of the decision notice, to disclose this information, unless an appeal is served.
WAG: Wales’ Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones, has welcomed last week’s judgement in the Royal Courts of Justice in favour of her decision to ban the use of electronic shock collars for dogs and cats in Wales.
MoJ: Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, has recently unveiled a programme of wide-ranging reform to legal aid & civil litigation costs. Two consultations (both closing on 14 February 2011), published last week, mark the first step in a wider programme of work to radically reform & rebalance the justice system, to ‘make it quicker, cheaper and less combative wherever possible’ – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: Most people take it for granted that they can hop on a bus to go shopping, surf the Internet or enjoy a television series, but for the 80m Europeans with a disability, there may be major obstacles that put these activities out of reach. The European Commission has adopted a new strategy to break down these barriers.
EU News: The European Commission is taking advantage of technological developments to consolidate the suppression of Bluetongue disease in the EU. Last week's proposal to amend Directive 2000/75/EC, expected to enter into force in 2011, updates current rules on vaccination and brings them in line with recent technological developments in vaccine production, thus allowing the use of vaccines in the whole of the EU.
EU News: Since 2006, the EU has trained 23,000 professionals worldwide to improve food safety through its Better Training for Safer Food initiative (BTSF). Now the European Commission is seeking to further improve this initiative.
It has launched a dialogue with all key stakeholders, including the African Union, at a 2-day high-level conference in Brussels. A working document recently adopted by the Commission on the BTSF programme serves as the basis for discussions.
EU News: The European Commission has published a Communication on ‘the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) towards 2020 – Meeting the food, natural resources and territorial challenges of the future’. The paper outlines 3 options for further reform. Following discussion of these ideas, the Commission will present formal legislative proposals in mid-2011.
EU News: Anyone in the world can now access over 14m digitised books, maps, photographs, paintings, film & music clips from cultural institutions across Europe through Europe's digital library Europeana. The potential for using Europeana in schools was demonstrated by entrants in the recent eLearning Awards organised by European Schoolnet. The winning project, from Portmarnock Community School in Ireland, involved pupils creating their own blogs about figures from history using digital resources.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: A partnership of forces charities and mental health organisations, led by the Confederation of British Service and Ex-service Organisations (COBSEO), has been given the green light to push ahead with the formation of the £35m lottery-funded Forces in Mind Trust.
The Big Lottery Fund has announced COBSEO as the ‘preferred candidate’ to set up the independent Forces in Mind trust, supporting former UK military personnel and their families over the next 20 years.
The focus will be on addressing a range of problems that some ex-service personnel and their families can experience back in civilian life, such as poor mental health, family breakdown and alcohol-related problems. COBSEO will now begin work to set up the Trust using a development grant of up to £200,000 from BIG. It is planned that the remainder of the £35m Lottery award will be transferred to the partnership by the end of summer 2011, when the Trust will become operational.
Newswire – CWDC: The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS), with funding from Children's Workforce Development Council, have launched a Share & Learn Grant Scheme to support voluntary & community sector (VCS) front-line organisations delivering services to children, young people & families to share their experience of supporting and developing their staff & volunteers and enable other front-line organisations to learn from their practice.
The scheme will sign-up 13 Workforce Development Champions across England, who will share information about their work and host learning visits. A small number of grants are also available to 26 front-line organisations (known as Learning Partners) to take part in learning visits. Other organisations will be able to learn from the good practice examples the Champions will produce. Application deadline for Champions is the 16 December 2010 and for Learning Partners the deadline is 14 January 2011.
EH: English Heritage's proposals to transform the setting of Stonehenge and the visitor experience received a major boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund last week with a grant of £10m.
Business and Other Briefings
BIS: Vince Cable announced a new 40,000-strong network of business mentors at the launch of Global Entrepreneurship Week and called on more businesses to join up. To make it easier for people to get the mentoring help they need, the Business Secretary outlined the Government’s plans for a new single network of mentoring providers, which will help start-ups, growing companies and businesses seeking financial mentoring.
From summer 2011, with the support of the British Bankers’ Association and UK mentoring providers, there will be a single online gateway to mentoring provision for mentors and for those seeking mentoring.
This Brief announces the Intrastat Exemption and Delivery Terms thresholds that will apply from 1 January 2011.
WAG: The team of Welsh inventors behind a unique powered stretching machine have won the top award at the International Invention show of the Middle East (IIME) in Kuwait.
The Sports Injury Rehabilitation Assistant (SIRA) - the first powered stretching machine of its kind - earned Robert Clarke & John Lockwood of Gorseinon, the gold medal for the best medical device at the show and also the best invention at the show, which carries a US $15,000 prize.
IIME is the second largest such fair in the world after the Geneva Convention where this year SIRA also won The World Intellectual Property Organisation’s Gold Medal for Best Inventors 2010 – the first time in its fifteen years history that this award has been won by the UK.
BIS: The Government has announced a public-private joint venture that firmly establishes the award winning Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus (Daresbury SIC) in Cheshire as one of the world’s principal locations for scientific research, innovative technology development and entrepreneurial collaboration.
The 20-year joint venture creates a 50:50 partnership between the public (STFC, Langtree, Halton Borough Council and North West Development Agency) and private sectors that will bring more than 6,000 jobs to the area during its lifetime, attracting further domestic & international positive inward investment in world class scientific research and innovation.
MPA: Kit Malthouse AM, Chair of the MPA and Deputy Mayor for Policing, will lead a second round of roadshows this November to inform London’s communities on the Mayor’s key strategies:
* Met Forward, Time for Action
Members of the audience will be invited to put their questions on crime & community safety to Kit Malthouse (and either Assistant Commissioner for Territorial Policing, Ian McPherson or Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Lynne Owens, who will join Kit Malthouse at each event).
HL: Unplanned moves from hostel accommodation and other supported housing projects in the form of evictions & abandonment result in people returning to street homelessness. Repeat homelessness for this very vulnerable client group could be prevented, resulting in better outcomes for homeless people and cost savings for the agencies that support them.
Join Homeless Link for a conference that will inform good practice and support organisations to reduce preventable evictions & abandonments on 30 November 2010. Policymakers & commissioners will also benefit from better evidence about what works in sustaining tenancies within hostels and other supported housing projects for rough sleepers.
FSA: The future of food hygiene will come under the spotlight on Friday 3 December 2010 at a conference to be hosted jointly (in London) by the Food Standards Agency and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).
‘Future Food Hygiene’ will examine hygiene delivery across the full length of the food chain and delegates will be asked how systems for managing & enforcing food hygiene might be transformed to improve food safety and consumer protection.
HEFCE: HEFCE is hosting an event on 2 December 2010in Birmingham to draw out emerging lessons from the higher education sector’s recent work to support employer workforce development. The closing date for bookings for the event is Monday 22 November 2010.
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