In the News
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Demos: Time to think about the 50% who help pay for university education but don’t get one - Secondary schools across the country are failing to provide appropriate teaching for the 50% of all young people who do not go on to higher education according to a new report from the think tank Demos.
With ‘damning findings’ for the school system, The Forgotten Half calls for greater cooperation between schools & local business communities and for Ofsted to judge schools on work-related learning strategies to make sure that young people who don’t go to university get the same support to enter the labour market.
The Forgotten Half found that careers advice in schools was biased towards attending university and that little or no information was provided about apprenticeships or opportunities to work in the local area. It also found that schools severely undervalue the importance of part-time work, after school clubs and volunteering in building young people’s skills, experience and CVs.
HRFP: Only fair, as the reason they get paid more is for ‘being responsible’ - Will Hutton has published the Final Report & recommendations of the Hutton review of Fair Pay in the public sector, setting out the terms of a new settlement for public service leadership. Senior public servants' pay will be directly linked to their performance and will be subject to greater public scrutiny. In return, public service leaders will be in a better position to explain their roles & responsibilities and defend the ethos of public service that motivates them.
Among the recommendations Will Hutton recommends that senior public servants' pay should be more strongly linked to their performance through a system of 'earn back' pay. Under this system, executives will have an element of their basic pay 'at risk' - to be earned back each year through meeting pre-agreed objectives. This will allow pay to vary down as well as up with performance and ensure that public services do not offer rewards for failure.
The Government should not benchmark senior public servants' pay against that of the PM and should not impose a fixed limit on pay multiples (such as 20 to 1). However, the multiple of chief executive to workforce median pay should be published each year and any changes explained.
DH: But will the guidance wilt before the impact of £20bn efficiency savings? - The Department of Health has launched 4 new sets of guidance to improve the care of vulnerable people in NHS funded care. The documents remind staff & managers across the health service of the importance of personalised care & dignity and offers practical advice on how to deliver this.
Recent reports such as the Health Ombudsman’s Care & Compassion report have highlighted shocking examples of failings in NHS & care services. While the vast majority of patients receive a high standard of care, no failings are acceptable. That is why the Department has been working with stakeholders to develop practical guidance for staff across the NHS. The four documents are:
* Safeguarding adults: The role of health service practitioners
* Safeguarding adults: The role of health service managers and their boards
* Safeguarding adults: The role of NHS Commissioners
* Safeguarding Adults: Self-assessment and assurance framework for health care services
Practical help given in the guides includes:
*A step by step advice for staff on how to investigate suspected neglect
* 6 fundamental safeguarding actions for managers to take
* A list of questions managers should ask themselves to ensure they are meeting their responsibilities
* Advice for commissioners on how they can build safeguarding into commissioning and make this part of their joint Health & Wellbeing Strategy
TKF: Lack of care in hospital to be followed by insufficient services at home? - Local authority social care services face a funding gap in excess of £1bn by 2015, despite the additional funding announced in the Spending Review, according to a new paper from The King's Fund. With social care & the NHS facing an unprecedented funding squeeze, Social care funding and the NHS: an impending crisis? calls for a single national settlement for health & social care and for budgets to be brought together.
Based on analysis of scenarios arising from the 27% real-terms reduction in local government funding, the £1bn spending gap will result in knock-on effects for the NHS: unless local authorities can achieve unprecedented efficiency savings, cuts to frontline social care services will see fewer people getting the help they need, causing more emergency admissions, delayed discharges and longer waiting times.
The paper also points to evidence suggesting that spending on the right kind of social care can counter these adverse effects, is better for service users (who are often NHS patients too) and can result in savings for the NHS.
ScotGov: Hope for the future - £10m is to be invested over 4 years to improve care by growing the Scottish telehealthcare sector. The project - jointly announced by the Scottish Government and the Technology Strategy Board (the Scottish Assisted Living Demonstrator) - will show how new technologies & innovative services can help improve the quality of life of, and support independent living for, older people & people living with long-term conditions.
The demonstration programme will involve at least 10,000 older people & people with disabilities. Further details of the programme will be developed & established by the Scottish Government, its agencies and the Technology Strategy Board over the next year, as preparations are advanced for implementation of the Scottish Assisted Living Demonstrator from April 2012.
Industry News: Benefit from cost and time saving via the Governments Memorandum of Understanding with BT - In February, the Efficiency and Reform Group (Cabinet Office) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with BT Conferencing to give your organisation access to a pricing structure that leverages the buying power of the whole of the Public Sector.
Delivering cost and productivity efficiencies are at the top of everyone's agenda at the moment. Holding meetings via conference calls saves your organisation the cost of the journey and the travel time, whilst significantly reducing your departmental carbon footprint. Work and presentations can be easily shared live over the web, so everyone can join in as if face to face.
Click here for more information on how the MOU could help your organisation drive down costs and meet CRC requrements.
Newswire – LGA: Scores of pop-up libraries are opening in shops, pubs, post offices and community centres across the country. Introducing book borrowing points in popular buildings, offering e-book readers & audio downloads and sharing mobile libraries are among a raft of new ideas & services being implemented by councils to ensure libraries can thrive in the 21st century.
Other local authorities are putting existing libraries at the heart of their communities by opening up council customer service points and using them as a venue for police surgeries, health centres and volunteer groups. Through The Future Libraries Programme, the Local Government Association, along with the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, is supporting 36 councils in transforming the way library services are provided, to make them more efficient and up-to-date.
STFC: A number of vacancies have arisen for outstanding individuals to become members of STFC's Committees & Panels. In particular, the Science and Technology Facilities Councilare looking for nominations from under-represented groups.
NE: Natural England announced recently that it has successfully reduced its carbon emissions by 50%. In a 4-year programme, the government’s wildlife & conservation advisor has delivered a series of carbon-saving projects that have cut carbon emissions in half compared to 2007 levels, saving over £1.75m per year in the process.
Directgov: Britain's biggest sports have signed up to the new Charter for Action, which aims to make sport a welcoming environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. You can also show your support for the Charter by signing up to it on Facebook.
WAG: The First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, has praised Fire & Rescue personnel from the Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MAWWFRS), recently deployed to Japan to assist in the search & rescue efforts following one of the worst earthquakes in the country's history. This latest response follows the return from New Zealand of South Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s team where they undertook similar activities in Christchurch.
HMRC: With less than 500 days until the start of the 2012 Olympic Games, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is reminding anyone thinking of renting out a spare room to visitors to check the Rent a Room Scheme first. Under the scheme, you can receive up to £4,250 a year tax-free if you rent out a furnished room in a residential property.
The scheme does not apply, however, if your home is converted into separate flats that you rent out, if you let unfurnished rooms in your home, or if you let your whole home. In these cases you need to declare the rental income to HMRC and pay tax in the normal way.
CIPD: The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has announced its partnership with think tank Tomorrow’s Company, with the publication of the first in a series of agenda-setting provocations. HR in Tough Times: Adapting to a Changing World, authored by Philip Sadler, CBE, Senior Fellow, Tomorrow’s Company, urges those business leaders focused overwhelmingly on maximising shareholder value, particularly those that sit on the board, to focus on more progressive people policies.
The ‘provocation’ is a call to arms for business leaders to establish sustainable competitive advantage through building employee commitment. It demonstrates that without clear leadership from the top, employees will contribute little to the long-term success of the organisation.
ScotGov: A deal has been struck between the Scottish Government and EdinburghUniversity to protect the services provided by the Scottish Sensory Centre. ScotGov will provide £150,000 to enable the Centre - which supports teachers of deaf, visually impaired and deafblind pupils - to remain open for a further 12 months. Its longer-term funding will be considered as part of the Doran review of learning provision for children & young people with complex additional support needs, which is currently underway.
OFT: The OFT has formally launched a market study into off-grid energy, following a short consultation on its scope. The study will cover both consumer & competition issues and consider the main energy sources available to the 3.6m households off the main gas grid in the UK.
Directgov: Telephone customers may benefit from cheaper calls and greater choice thanks to a cut in mobile termination rates. These are the wholesale charges that mobile operators make to other operators to connect calls to their networks. From 1 April 2011, Ofcom, the UK’s communications watchdog, will place a cap on the rates charged by all 4 national mobile network operators – 3UK, O2, Everything Everywhere and Vodafone. This will lead to around an 80% reduction in termination rates over the next 4 years.
Directgov: Are you observant? Do you have an excellent memory? If so, you could apply to work for MI5 as a mobile surveillance officer. Visit their website & take a test to help decide if you would be suited to the role.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has written to local authorities in the UK to remind them of the ban on a type of sweet called jelly mini-cups that could pose a choking risk to children. This follows recent seizures of the sweets by environmental health officers. The European Commission banned the jelly mini-cups in 2004 due to concerns the sweets pose a choking hazard, particularly for children.
HPA: The Health Protection Agency’s radiation protection experts are keeping the situation in Japan under close review and are advising UK government accordingly.
DECC: Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, Chris Huhne, has set out further detail on the UK Chief Nuclear Inspector’s report into the implications of events at Japanese nuclear reactors on existing and new plants in the UK. The Energy Secretary has asked Dr Mike Weightman for an interim report by mid May 2011 and a final report within six months. Both reports will be made public.
EHRC: Professor Geraldine Van Bueren, Commissioner for human rights at the Equality and Human Rights Commission said last week: “It is really important that any discussion about a potential Bill of Rights goes beyond the usual slanging match which surrounds this most important of subjects. The review … creates an opportunity to show what a positive contribution the Human Rights Act has made to the lives of everyone”.
PCS: Trade unions representing Forestry Commission staff have written to environment secretary Caroline Spelman to express ‘extreme disappointment’ that workers & campaigners are being excluded from discussions about the commission's future.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
WAG: Health care workers in Wales are being encouraged to develop their skills & experience by getting involved in a scheme to foster health links between Wales and countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The Wales for Africa Health Link Grant Scheme supports projects that make links with health care systems and medical education & training in sub-Saharan Africa.
DH: The Public Health Responsibility Deal ‘shows how partnership & challenge can be the most effective way of tackling some public health objectives’, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced last week as he unveiled signatories to the first phase of the deal. ‘Working in partnership with members of the voluntary sector, business, industry and the retail sector, the Deal can deliver faster and better results than a regulatory route, which is not always available’.
Since September 2010, 5 groups working on food, alcohol, behavioural change, physical activity and health at work have developed a series of pledges for action.
DECC: Social policy expert Professor John Hills has been appointed by Energy & Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne to lead an independent Review of the fuel poverty target & definition. A household is currently classed as being in ‘fuel poverty’ if it would need to spend more than 10% of its income on fuel to keep their home warm enough. A call for evidence to help shape the review is has been launched (closes 6 June 2011).
WAG: A campaign to reduce the risk of people developing a stroke has been launched by the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Tony Jewell. ‘Ask First - to prevent a stroke later’ has been developed to raise awareness that high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) are serious risk factors and can lead to a stroke. The campaign will encourage adults to visit their GP to have their blood pressure and pulse checked. This will improve diagnosis and make sure people at greater risk of stroke are referred for treatment.
Defra: England, Scotland & Wales will get their own budgets to prevent & tackle animal diseases and look after animal welfare. Budgets will be devolved from 1 April 2011and have been shared based on historic spending & animal numbers.
ScotGov: Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has launched Scotland's national strategy to tackle child poverty. Scotland's poorest families will ‘benefit from help to increase their household incomes and improve their children's life chances in the largest co-ordinated effort ever to lift more children out of poverty’.
A £6.8m 'Early Years' fund announced just last week will be set up, which national voluntary sector organisations will be able to bid for in May 2011. The fund will back projects that offer parenting support, affordable childcare, play & bonding activities and family health initiatives.
Directgov: The government has launched the world’s first financial incentive to revolutionise the way heat is generated & used in buildings. From July 2011 up to 25,000 household heating installations will be supported by a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Premium Payment. This will help people cover the purchase price of green heating systems, such as solar hot water panels or large wood pellet boilers.
Those taking up the premium will then be eligible to get a RHI tariff when the Green Deal begins (October 2012). The tariff will provide fixed annual payments to people who install renewable heating systems. The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) plans to publish details of the RHI Premium Payment in May 2011. It will consult on the RHI tariffs that will apply from October 2012, later in the year.
CO: Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, has announced that departments are estimating reductions in spending through public bodies of £11bn a year by 2014-15. The reductions are part of a cumulative £30bn reduction over the Spending Review period, through the review of public bodies, departmental reforms and the Spending Review.
Francis Maude announced anticipated cumulative administrative savings alone of £2.6bn from public bodies over the Spending Review period. The minister was responding to a House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee report on public bodies. The Government’s response ‘addresses head-on several misconceptions and inaccuracies in the parliamentary report’.
Mr Maude also announced new rules to restrict the lobbying of Government by public-funded bodies, which will be restricted from carrying out unnecessary or political PR or marketing activity under the new rules.
ScotGov: Vulnerable school leavers are to get one-on-one help to find the right employment, training or education opportunity. Activity Agreements - signed between a young person & an advisor to undertake a programme of learning & support to help them become ready for further study or work - are to be rolled out throughout Scotland.
CLG: A vision of 'self-funded' councils that keep their local business taxes with central grant dependence scaled back except where it is needed to protect the interest of taxpayers was put forward last week by Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles.
The first phase of a review of council resources has been launched to consider ways to establish a new system for Business Rates & Government Grant, which ‘protects the interests of taxpayers, rewards local growth and job creation, and delivers a more self-sufficient income for councils’.
DH: Action to establish a more balanced charging regime for overseas visitors, including tackling health tourism has been promised by Public Health Minister, Anne Milton, following publication of 2 consultations on charging overseas visitors for NHS hospital care.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has published its response to the recommendations of the Scots Language Working Group. A one stop shop for teaching resources about Scotland - including the Scots language - will be developed to give young people the opportunity to learn about our nation's heritage and culture.
DfE: Children’s Minister, Tim Loughton, has published a new Foster Carers’ Charter. Currently, many foster carers & children in care are facing obstacles to everyday activities, like going for haircuts & sleepovers, which can make children’s lives more difficult and put off those wanting to foster. The new Charter sets out clear principles on how foster carers should be treated, recognises their invaluable work and aims to encourage more people to sign up to be foster carers.
The Charter is backed up by new slimmed-down fostering regulations & guidance, published last week, which make clear to local authority fostering services what their statutory duties are and reduces unnecessary burdens placed on them.
Defra: The UK Marine Policy Statement has been jointly published by all UK Administrations as part of a new system of marine planning being introduced across UK seas. It will enable an appropriate & consistent approach to marine planning across UK waters and ensure the sustainable use of marine resources and strategic management of marine activities from renewable energy to nature conservation, fishing, recreation & tourism.
ACE: The Arts Council will be submitting a response to the Office for National Statistics’ consultation on measuring the nation's well-being. ACE support the consultation’s recognition of the positive impact & effect that cultural activities can have on people's lives. If you are interested in responding, you can complete the consultation questionnaire here. Consultation closes 15 April 2010.
EU News: The EU security industry faces a highly fragmented internal market and a weak industrial base. National regulatory frameworks & standards differ widely and the market for security products is highly diversified, ranging from cameras to complex scanner systems.
Therefore, it is essential to develop a fast-track system for approval of priority technologies; to make substantial further progress on harmonisation, standardisation; to consider coordinated public procurement; and to accelerate R&D on security technologies including dual-use.
To promote this industry the Commission has launched a public consultation (closes on the 13 May 2011) to invite all interested parties to share their views on the best policy measures to be taken ‘to make Europe’s security industry a world leader’.
MoJ: New measures to support free speech, enable people to protect their reputation and help stop the use of unreasonable threats of being sued for libel were announced last week. The Government's proposals aim to bring libel law up to date, striking the balance between protecting people's right to free speech – including responsible journalism & scientific debate – from unjustified libel actions, while enabling people who have genuinely been defamed to protect their reputations.
They will also explore ways to speed court cases up and cut the costs associated with defamation proceedings. The consultation closes on 10 June 2011.
BIS: Government announces new proposals to create a single competition body, to boost growth & streamline processes for business. 'A Competition Regime for Growth: a consultation on options for reform' sets out proposals to create a single Competition & Markets Authority by merging the competition functions of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) with the Competition Commission (CC). Consultation closes 13 June 2011.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
NICE: In draft guidance issued last week (11 March) NICE's expert independent advisory committee has NOT recommended trabectedin (Yondelis, PharmaMar) in combination with pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLDH) as a treatment for ovarian cancer because of concerns over how well it works compared with the most commonly-used treatments. This draft guidance is now with consultees who have the opportunity to appeal against the proposed recommendation. NICE has not yet issued final guidance to the NHS.
QCDA: The 2011 Guidance for schools on monitoring visits, Guidance for local authorities on monitoring visits and Monitoring visit form are now available to download from the QCDA website.
DH: A new tool to help the NHS better treat cardiovascular disease in every area of the country was launched by the Department of Health. The tool has been developed so that local health services can assess the impact of cardiovascular diseases on their local populations. It also shows the quality & availability of services and where a stronger focus on prevention could improve outcomes for patients.
The NHS will be able to use the detailed local picture it provides to better understand the burden of cardiovascular disease & compare it to the England average. It shows widespread variation in mortality rates from cardiovascular disease across England, with a higher incidence amongst people who live in deprived areas.
LLUK: This guide is intended to support the lifelong learning sector to make the reasonable adjustments disabled employees require and take anticipatory measures required by recent legislation.
Newswire – ICO: 40% of people who have Wi-Fi at home do not understand how to change the security settings on their wireless (Wi-Fi) networks. To highlight the need for a greater understanding of the security measures available to wireless network owners, the Information Commissioner’s Office has published new guidance which explains how people can check the security settings on their Wi-Fi router and provides information on how to make the network more secure, including setting up a strong password to stop other people accessing the network and making sure the information sent over the device is encrypted.
SGC: The Sentencing Council has published a new guideline for judges & magistrates. It aims to ensure a consistent & proportionate approach to sentencing, with convicted offenders receiving a sentence that reflects both the harm they have caused to their victim and their culpability. The new guideline will come into effect on 13 June 2011.
It covers a wide range of offences of violence, from causing grievous bodily harm with intent to common assault, with the intention that ‘sentences for the whole range of assault offences should be proportionate to each other, so that offenders who cause serious harm are punished with substantial prison sentences, but that courts make more use of community sentences for offenders who cause no or very minor injury’.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued final draft guidance recommending golimumab (Simponi, Merck Sharpe & Dohme) for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis.
ScotGov: Progress has been made in tackling hospital infections in the past 3 years - but there's still more that can (& must) be done. That was the message from Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, as she published the Healthcare Associated Infection Task Force report for 2008-11.
CQC: The Care Quality Commission has published its first monitoring report on the implementation of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, which protect the rights of people in care homes & hospitals who lack the mental capacity to consent to their care or treatment. They include people with dementia or a learning disability.
An application must be made for authorisation to impose restrictions on someone that may amount to a deprivation of their liberty. Authorisation is granted only if the proposed course of action is considered to be in their best interests and there is no other way to care for them or safely provide treatment. A care home or hospital must apply for authorisation if they propose to deprive someone of their liberty.
ScotGov: Finance Secretary John Swinney has welcomed publication of the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) 2011/12 Business Plan. The document sets out key work to be undertaken by SFT over the next year as it pursues a £9bn portfolio of projects.
CQC: The results of the eighth annual survey to collect the views of NHS staff across England have been published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
DWP: New figures published by the Office for National Statistics show that unemployment (ILO measure) has risen by 27,000 on the quarter to 2.5m. However, the overall picture continues to be mixed with the number of people in employment rising by 32,000, driven entirely by the growth of full time jobs in the private sector.
General Reports and Other Publications
Ofsted: History is being taught successfully in schools and most pupils enjoy well-planned lessons that extend their knowledge, challenge their thinking & enhance their understanding, according to an Ofsted report. However, whole-school curriculum changes have affected the quality of teaching for 11 to 14 year olds.
ippr: England faces a shortfall of 750,000 homes by 2025 according to a new report from ippr. New analysis of official government projections show that if the economy bounces back the gap between supply & demand could be equivalent to the entire housing demand of the populations of Birmingham, Liverpool & Newcastle combined.
ippr has just launched a Fundamental Review of Housing Policy, which will run for 12 months and cover 4 key themes: housing & the economy, housing supply, housing allocation & use and housing management.
ippr: Institute for Public Policy Research analysis shows that while UK exports to BRIC countries have increased rapidly in the last decade, they still lag behind Britain’s share of world trade. If Britain increased its share of BRIC countries’ imports from their current levels to 3.7% (our global average), it would be equivalent to £27bn of extra UK exports.
Defra: British businesses can save around £23bn a year by improving the way they use energy & water, and by reducing waste, according to research. The research identifies these huge potential savings to UK businesses from what is known as ‘resource efficiency’ – using materials, energy & water more efficiently in ways that need very little or no investment.
Improving resource efficiency is a key part of the transition to a green economy, providing benefits for businesses and the environment while boosting the UK economy. It also shows that the savings could be even greater when the potential from longer term investment is included.
PwC: UK companies are exposing themselves to significant & unnecessary losses due to serious flaws in the way their corporate insurance policies are arranged. This is according to a new study of commercial risk carried out by the specialist research firm Mactavish, in association with PwC, which reveals serious deficiencies in how corporate insurance is arranged and the role of boards in governing those arrangements. This is leaving companies vulnerable in the event of a large loss and subsequent dispute with their insurer.
The report sets out seven protocols (see press release) intended as a blueprint for change that have now been formally endorsed by a range of leading industry players.
Newswire – LEUHA: The Government should opt-in to proposals from Brussels about the use of passenger name record (PNR) data, says the Lords EU Sub-Committee on Home Affairs, as thedata is ‘crucial for fighting terrorism’. Among the member states of the EU, the UK is the only country to have a fully functioning PNR system and the committee report that the case for EU wide legislation is compelling in order to prevent, detect & investigate terrorist offences.
Civitas: A new Civitas report finds that sudden police cuts could potentially trigger a vicious cycle of crime & disorder. In An Analysis of Crime and Crime Policy, Birmingham University economist Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay finds "a strong and negative relationship between police detection rates and crime". (p. 4)
This means that the more crime police detect, the more crime is prevented. He warns that potential offenders might notice the thinning out of police officers and become more confident that they can avoid sanctions.
MoD: Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) programme & project managers are performing near the top of a wide field of international blue chip companies and other government organisations in the UK & overseas, according to an independent external assessment.
DE&S took part in its third assessment by Human Systems Ltd, an internationally recognised benchmarking organisation dedicated to improving corporate project, programme & portfolio management practices through focused research and, for the second year running, has come out in the top 10 of 56 organisations.
ScotGov: Scotland's place as the leading global location to develop Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology has been ‘confirmed’ by a new report. Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage (SCCS) research highlights the vast storage potential of rocks beneath the Moray Firth, which could store up to a century's worth of carbon from Scotland's power plants.
The report builds on previous SCCS research which highlighted Scotland's North Sea storage potential as ‘being of European scale significance’. Energy Minister Jim Mather welcomed the findings and the vote of confidence in Scotland's R&D expertise through the Scottish Funding Council's £2m funding for the SCCS, also announced last week.
IFS: Those with the lowest reported income are not those with the lowest spending or those living in the most severe forms of deprivation. This is one of the main results from research by Institutes for Fiscal Studies. These findings have important implications for the measurement of poverty because official government poverty measures in the UK are all based on income.
Other measures of poverty can complement the standard income measure and give a better impression of which groups in society have the lowest living standards as well as whether poverty is rising or falling.
TWF: Following George Osborne’s call for a ‘manufacturing revival’, a report by The Work Foundation argues that if the Coalition is to safeguard the future of UK manufacturing, it must go beyond the traditional view that manufacturing is just about ‘making things’.
The emergence of manu-services – combinations of innovative products with value-adding services – now provides a prime opportunity for the UK to become a world leader in manufacturing. The report shows how the government must act now to unlock the huge growth potential of manu-services by placing it at the heart of its growth agenda.
NAO: The Points Based System introduced by the UK Border Agency in 2008 was for the most part designed well and provides an adaptable means of meeting the UK’s work-related immigration policy objectives. However, according to the National Audit Office, the System is not yet delivering its full potential for value for money.
Its processes & systems are not efficient and customer service could be improved. The Agency can also provide little assurance that it is effectively managing the risk of non-compliance with immigration rules by migrants and their sponsors.
ippr: A new study by ippr highlights the risk that new commissioning models will not meet the challenge of the growing need for dementia care. There are currently around 700,000 people in England with dementia – and that number is set to double in the next 30 years.
The study of services in London, commissioned by the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust, reveals that the capital is facing a number of serious problems in the future provision of care for dementia patients. The report, Dementia care in London, warns that proposed health reforms could make things worse unless safeguards are introduced as a matter of urgency. In particular, systems need to be put in place to strengthen the links between health and social care to ensure a more integrated service and a seamless care pathway for people with dementia.
Newswire – TC: The Commons Treasury Committee says that tax policy should be measured by reference to principles in new report. The Government has said it is committed to a new approach to tax policy making, ‘designed to support its ambition for a more predictable, stable and simple system’. The report welcomes this commitment, but expresses concern that the Government has not done enough to set out the principles underlying that policy. In this preliminary report, the Committee has endeavoured to identify these principles and consider how tax policy can best support growth.
Newswire – PAC: The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published a report which, on the basis of evidence from the Department of Health, examines NHS hospital productivity in recent years and delivering improved productivity in future. The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the PAC, said:
"Over the last 10 years, the productivity of NHS hospitals has been in almost continuous decline….. the amount spent on the NHS increased from £60bn to £102bn a year. The quality of the health service has improved as a result of this increase in spending. But the taxpayer has been getting less for each pound spent”.
Civitas: 'Rebalancing the economy' and 'promoting growth' have been flagship phrases for the new Government. On Budget Day its strategy for growth will be announced, but a report by independent think tank Civitas shows that current plans do not go far enough. In Economic Growth - Could the Government do more?, David Green & David Merlin-Jones argue that some of the Government's own policies are major obstacles to recovery.
Civitas Director, David Green, said: … Compared with our rivals, company and personal taxes are too high and we have too many time-wasting regulations. Above all, some climate-change policies are pushing energy costs so high that our most important industries could be forced to relocate overseas.'
OFT: Government commissioners & procurers of public services could do more to leverage competition as a means of achieving long-term value for money, an OFT study has found. 'Commissioning and Competition in the Public Sector' argues that having an open, transparent & competitive tender process is not enough on its own to ensure that public services markets are open & contestable, both over the short-term and long-term.
Achieving effective competition in public services must also involve: reducing barriers to entry & exit, encouraging a diverse supplier base and ensuring suppliers have the right incentives to make efficiency savings, raise quality and innovate.
NIESR: The National Institute of Economic and Social Research has published research (prepared with support from the Office of National Statistics) on generational accounts for the United Kingdom. The purpose of the commission was to aid public understanding of current issues on fiscal sustainability. Generational accounts show the expected net contribution - positive or negative - that people are expected to make to the Exchequer, taking a realistic view of the implications of current policies.
NHSConfed: The NHS has serious concerns about new government proposals for buying drugs, the NHS Confederation has warned. Responding to the Government’s consultation on value-based drugs pricing, the NHS Confederation stresses that its members support the government’s objective to link the price of medicines with the value they provide. But it warns that the proposals could increase the NHS drugs bill without improving the effectiveness of treatments patients receive.
NAO: The buy-back by taxpayer-owned banks - Northern Rock (Asset Management) and Bradford & Bingley - of £2.4bn of their subordinated debt over the course of 2010 saved the taxpayer an estimated £1.5bn at present value, according to the National Audit Office. Subordinated debt is debt that ranks after other loans in terms of pay-out in the event of liquidation. These buy-backs have taken place against the background of the Treasury's approach of ensuring the banks are able to wind down in an orderly way, perhaps over 15 years.
Newswire – PAC: The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published a report which, on the basis of evidence from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), examines its management of enforcement resources; the potential to increase the tax collected through civil investigations; and how it plans to meet future commitments. Some £15bn of tax a year is lost through evasion, fraud and criminal attack.
IfG: Adopting a public bad, mutual okay, private good approach in government is a dangerous path said Andrew Adonis at the Public Sector Expo Conference last week.
ippr: The Chancellor should use next week’s Budget to revise his plans for cutting the structural fiscal deficit, according to a ‘Plan B’ published by ippr, which proposes a new ‘deficit reduction averaging’ approach. The ‘deficit reduction averaging’ approach would require the Chancellor to set a target to eliminate the deficit (cyclically-adjusted public sector net borrowing) by a fixed year and then to plan to achieve this target in equal measures during each year of the deficit-reduction programme. ippr’s ‘Plan B’ would give the Chancellor a formula for flexibility and would still eliminate the deficit by 2017/18.
Newswire – CCLGC: The abolition of regional spatial planning strategies leaves a vacuum at the heart of the English planning system which could have profound social, economic & environmental consequences set to last for many years, says the all party Commons Communities & Local Government Committee.
NIESR: Ray Barrell, who directs NIESR's macroeconomic modelling & forecasting work, discusses NIESR's view of the key macroeconomic & fiscal choices facing the Chancellor at the Budget, both for the short & longer term.
PX: Making it easier to turn currently vacant or under used offices and shops into housing could create tens of thousands of new homes and provide a powerful boost to the economy, according to new research published by leading think tank, Policy Exchange.
Newswire – HAC: In a new report the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee has cautioned the Government against introducing measures which could damage the UK’s thriving educational export sector.
Legislation / Legal
IPCC: A Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officer has been found guilty of common assault after pushing 16-year-old Onyeka Obi through a shop window.
IPCC Commissioner Mike Franklin said:
"As a police officer PC Ballard is entitled to use force where necessary to defend himself and members of the public. However, the CCTV and witness evidence clearly shows he had no need to be aggressive - the teenager posed no threat to him or others. Despite the teenager having his hands in his pockets PC Ballard forcibly grabbed and then pushed him towards a shop window. The officer has made the already difficult task of gaining public confidence in stop and search that much more difficult”.
DWP: Jobseekers that need additional support to get back to work could be referred onto Mandatory Work Activity placements under new welfare rules laid in Parliament last week. Where Jobcentre Plus advisers believe a jobseeker will benefit from experiencing the habits & routines of working life, they will have the power to refer them to a 4 week mandatory placement.
Every work placement will offer the jobseeker the opportunity to gain fundamental work disciplines and will be of benefit to the local community. Participants will be expected to spend up to 30 hours a week, for 4 weeks, on their Work Activity placement and will be required to continue to look for work.
NIA: The Northern Ireland Assembly concluded its consideration of an important new Housing Bill last week. The Bill will require all private landlords to sign-up to a register; introduce a scheme to protect private tenants’ deposits and will introduce fixed penalties for landlords who breach tenancy legislation. The Final Stage of the Housing (Amendment) Bill concluded on 14 March 2011. The Bill is expected to become law later this year.
NIA: The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Finance and Personnel has welcomed a decision by the Minister of Finance & Personnel to amend existing Building Regulations to set a requirement for the installation of carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.
WAG: Deputy Minister for Children Huw Lewis hailed last week as an historic time for children’s rights as Wales became the first country in the UK to make the United Nation Convention on the Rights of a Child (UNCRC) part of its domestic law. The Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure has been approved by Her Majesty in Council and has now become a part of Welsh law.
HO: The Home Secretary has laid a parliamentary order as part of commitment to making counter-terrorism powers fairer & more effective. Police are now only able to stop & search people without reasonable suspicion where it's considered necessary to prevent terrorism. Previously, section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 allowed officers to search individuals even if they didn’t have reasonable suspicion.
DCMS: A bill making a number of technical changes to the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 has been introduced into Parliament by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The changes would ensure that existing advertising & trading, ticket touting and traffic management measures introduced by the 2006 Act are able to be properly implemented.
Newswire – CC: The House of Lords Constitution Committee warns that the EU Bill represents a radical step-change for the in adopting referendum provisions on such a large scale. This is inconsistent with the Government’s statement that referendums are most appropriately used to decide fundamental constitutional issues. The Committee noted that the referendum provisions are unlikely to be used because the Government has said that it does not intend to use them during this parliament.
MoJ: New measures to support free speech, enable people to protect their reputation and help stop the use of unreasonable threats of being sued for libel were announced last week for consultation (closes on 10 June 2011) – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: The European Commission has asked Austria, Estonia, Germany, and the United Kingdom to notify their national implementing measures regarding Common Safety Indicators for railways. These 4 Member States are the only ones not to have notified the Commission on their national legislation complying with a directive on Common Safety Indicators for railway safety and common methods to calculate accident costs.
EU News: Last week saw the opening of the second annual EU Careers 'Administrator' recruitment drive, which aims to attract applications from the best of the best from across Europe to work in fields such as Law, Economics and policy development.
Overall the 2011 selection procedure will be aiming to identify around 300 successful candidates to become new EU officials, serving the interests of over 500m citizens across Europe. Interested applicants can find out more and apply online at www.eu-careers.eu. The registration period closes at midday CET (Brussels time) on 14 April 2011.
EU News: The European Commission has formally requested the UK to amend its rules on local real estate taxes for students, on the basis that they discriminate against students subject to UK council taxes, but studying in another Member State.
Under the UK's community taxes legislation, students who reside in the UK and decide to pursue their education in England or Wales are entitled to a discount in community real estate taxes. However, this discount is not granted to students subject to tax in the UK, but studying in another Member State. The EC considers that these discriminatory provisions are in breach of EU law on the free movement of people and dissuade students from exercising their rights to study in another EU country.
EU News: Plans to allow baby food makers to claim that adding the natural fatty acid DHA to baby food ‘contributes to the normal visual development of infants up to 12 months of age’ have been rejected by the Environment Committee. MEPs believe more research is needed on the effects of DHA supplements. To stop the health claim being permitted, this vote needs to be confirmed by Parliament as a whole. A plenary vote is scheduled for April 2011.
EU News: The European Commission has proposed a common system for calculating the tax base of businesses operating in the EU. The aim of this proposal is to ‘significantly reduce the administrative burden, compliance costs and legal uncertainties that businesses in the EU currently face in having to comply with up to 27 different national systems for determining their taxable profits’.
EU News: In Europe, there are around 16m international couples, and at least 650,000 of them face legal questions about divorce / death of partner every year. Legal divergences between the 27 EU Member States create an incentive for ‘forum shopping’ or a ‘rush to the court’. This happens when one spouse – usually the wealthier one – rushes to a court where he/she thinks the outcome will be the most beneficial.
The European Commission is therefore proposing EU-wide rules to bring legal clarity to the property rights for married international couples and for registered partnerships with an international dimension. The two proposed Regulations would help identify which law applies to a couple's property rights and the responsible court. The Regulations also provide for rules for recognising & enforcing court judgments on a couple's property in all EU Member States, through a single procedure.
EU News: US requests for EU citizens' banking data under an EU-US counter-terrorism data-sharing deal are too general & abstract to allow Europol to check whether they meet EU data protection standards, and Europol seems to be merely rubber-stamping them, said worried Civil Liberties Committee MEPs debating a watchdog report on the deal's first 6 months. This should be borne in mind when Parliament is asked to approve other data transfer agreements, they added.
The JSB had made some recommendations for improvement, stressing that compliance with them is vital if Europol is to properly fulfil its role: for instance, requests must contain more detailed information, specific to each request, and the US authorities may need to provide certain additional information.
Newswire – WWF: A UN Committee on environmental access rights has found that the EU Courts must give citizens, community groups and NGOs the right to challenge the decisions of European institutions, including the European Commission and the European Council, that affect the environment.
Until now, the EU courts have adopted a strict interpretation of the provisions of the Treaty of the European Community (TEC) concerning access, meaning that no individual or civil society group in the environmental field has been able to challenge the legality of a decision made by one of the institutions unless it was addressed to them personally. This has included decisions made in the form of EC Regulations and Decisions, which can have far-reaching environmental consequences.
EU News: The Commission has launched a public consultation (closes on the 13 of May 2011) to invite all interested parties to share their views on the best policy measures to be taken to make Europe’s security industry a world leader – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
AUK: 150 Age Concerns look set to have become local Age UKs by 31 March 2011. The number of local Age Concerns who have already agreed to become local Age UKs has now reached 122, with more still to come. Following the merger of Help the Aged and Age Concern England in 2009, Age UK has spent 2 years working with local Age Concerns to design the best way to combine the national with the local to best help older people, wherever they live.
The vast majority are expected to choose to become local Age UKs or Friends of Age UK depending on the range of activities they undertake in their area.
ScotGov: Charities will be able to own property and enter into contracts without having to rely on charity trustees, or become a company, after regulations to allow charities to be formed as Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisations (SCIO) have been approved by the Scottish Parliament. From 1 April 2011, new charities will be able to be formed as a SCIO, with existing charitable companies and industrial & provident societies able to convert to SCIO status from January 1, 2012.
Business and Other Briefings
HO: The government has announced that the number of potential posts open to skilled migrant workers will be reduced by around 270,000. Eight occupations have been cut from the shortage occupation list meaning that the number of jobs available to migrants will reduce from 500,000 to around 230,000. The shortage list covers occupations which are hard to fill with UK or EU workers. The government has now commissioned the MAC to review shortages across the entire labour market to see if the list can be cut further.
HO: Foreign entrepreneurs & investors are being given extra incentive to come to the UK after the Home Office announced new visa rules that will reward those who will contribute to economic growth. Under the new rules, those who come to the UK and invest large sums of money will be given the right to settle permanently in the UK faster. Entrepreneurs will also be able to settle in the UK more quickly if they create 10 jobs or turn over £5m in a 3 year period.
BIS: The Government is launching a new portfolio of products to help businesses & support growth in the economy. The new Solutions for Business (SfB) package has 13 products designed to help businesses identify & overcome key challenges as they grow & develop. It will target activities where a Government lead is required, such as providing access to strategic advice, helping companies reach international markets and supporting innovation.
BIS: The IP offices of Australia, Canada & the UK and World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) have launched a pilot system to make it easier to access results of search & examination from other offices. The Centralized Access to Search and Examination system (CASE) provides a digital library of search & exam reports which can be shared by participating IP offices.
WO: Secretary of State for Wales, Cheryl Gillan, has welcomed the news that ferry services between Pembroke Port and Rosslare are set to continue for at least another 10 years, safeguarding the future of up to 60 skilled jobs locally and ensuring continuation of vital economic activity in Pembrokeshire, by carrying over 300,000 passengers and 80,000 freight units across the Irish Sea each year.
BIS: An £11m investment will test the safety of electronic systems found in aircraft & cars. ‘Chipir’ will be the first dedicated facility outside of the US to look at how silicon microchips respond to cosmic radiation. It will use an intense beam of high-energy neutrons produced by ISIS, a set of super microscopes that enable scientists to study materials at a level 10,000 times thinner than human hair.
Cosmic radiation has the power to cause the failure of electronic systems, particularly in aircraft & road vehicles. Problems can range from wiping a device’s memory to complete destruction of the electronics. The new neutron beam line will replicate the cosmic radiation affecting microchips from 100 years of flying time in the space of an hour. The findings will help manufacturers build more reliable electronic systems, which will in turn make planes and cars safer.
ScotGov: The East of Scotland Investment Fund (ESIF) has secured £1.8m from the European Regional Development Fund to support the creation of up to 1,000 new jobs and new market opportunities for SMEs over the next 5 years. The Fund can be used towards working capital or the purchase of equipment, plant or business property.
BIS: The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is providing £10m for 3 major projects to address fundamental research questions in developing low carbon vehicles. These projects have been developed by EPSRC with the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) through the Low Carbon Vehicle Innovation Platform Integrated Delivery Programme.
WAG: Two major advances that will help the Welsh Assembly Government meet its renewable energy aspirations by creating renewable energy from the sea have been announced by Environment Minister, Jane Davidson. The Minister spoke at the Marine Energy Pembrokeshire Industry Seminar and announced the completion of a 3 year project that has ‘mapped the marine energy resources contained within Welsh waters’.
The project - entitled the Marine Renewable Energy Strategic Framework (MRESF) – has resulted in 5 groundbreaking & detailed reports on marine development. The reports cover key environmental issues such as the potential risk of fish colliding with wave or tidal devices.
The Minister also announced that the Welsh Assembly Government and The Crown Estates have formalised their intention to work together to support Wales’ capacity for marine energy manufacturing and would jointly sign a letter of intent. This is the first agreement of its kind between The Crown Estate, the body that owns the seabed around the UK, and a Devolved Administration.
STFC: The market for supplying highly specialised technology for the construction of next generation light sources and particle accelerators, which enable breakthroughs in treatments for cancer and sources of cleaner energy, is a dynamic & growing industry. Superconducting Radio Frequency (SRF) has become the preferred technology for the design, development & construction of many of these large international experimental machines, but until now there has been no manufacturing capability for SRF in the UK.
However, a collaboration between Essex-based company Shakespeare Engineering Ltd and ASTeC (STFC's accelerator science & technology division) means that the UK will soon be able to bid for work to supply SRF technology components for light source & particle accelerator projects around the world.
ScotGov: ScottishPower Renewables’ £40m tidal array development will harness the power of the Sound of Islay and generate enough electricity for over 5,000 homes (more than double the number of homes on Islay) following approval by the Scottish Government. The 10 Megawatt facility will further develop emerging tidal energy technology, provide economic & community benefits to Islay & Jura and cement Scotland's position as a global leader in marine energy.
ScotGov: A £2.5m loan fund to support district heating networks and cut emissions is to open for expressions of interest this week. District heating distributes heat through a network of pipes to provide space & water heating in homes or offices.
The Scottish Government's scheme will offer loans on a commercial basis for both renewable and low carbon technologies. It will be delivered by the Energy Saving Trust and expressions of interest are being invited (form will be available on EST website from Monday, March 21).
A new heat mapping tool to help councils plan local heat strategies is also due to be published at the end of the March 2011. The map will be a useful tool to help identify opportunities to maximise the use of heat within all planned new developments (industrial, commercial & domestic) and refurbishment projects, including local skills & services. A report to Ministers by the Wood Fuel Task Force is due to published on Monday 21 March, updating estimates of wood fibre availability. The report will be available on Forestry Commission Scotland's website.
ScotGov: Clydesdale Bank, Lloyds, RBS, Santander and other investors are increasing access to finance for businesses by investing almost £40m in the Scottish Loan Fund (SLF). This announcement means a total of more than £94m is now available through the SLF to eligible SMEs.
Managed by independent fund managers Maven Capital Partners, the SLF is a product introduced by the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB), which is a division of Scottish Enterprise. Maven expects that the fund should issue its first loan offers to Scottish companies in April 2011.
Also published last week was the SME Access to Finance Survey which shows that, while there are signs of improvement, lending remains a major issue for firms trying to access new finance for investment and growth.
HL: Providence Row is urging the government to use the budget on 23 March 2011 to slow down its cuts. This leading London homelessness charity warns that, limited access to local GPs often means that minor illnesses become major ones and result in expensive treatments at A&E. Emergency accommodation is also expensive: it costs over £400 per week to house one person in a hostel and with a lack of affordable private rentals for people to move into this bill looks set to rise.
The lives & stories of homeless people are complex & varied. Hear & see their stories at an exhibition of the innovative 150 Voices project, which will be exhibited at the Londonewcastle Project Space on 28 Redchurch Street, London E2 7DP from 8-13 April and admission is FREE. The project can currently be viewed online at www.150voices.com
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