In the News
Further to our announcement of last week, welcome to the first of our twice weekly updates, the second of which will be broadcast on Wednesday evening. This is therefore the last of our full weekly roundups so all future newsletters will be necessarily shorter and more up-to-date.
HO: It’s everyone’s responsibility - A ‘new approach to community activism that will see people reclaiming their streets, tackling local issues and improving their environment’ was set out in a report published by Baroness Newlove last week.
The report from the government's Champion for Active Safer Communities - 'Our Vision for Safe and Active Communities' - calls for a change of culture so neighbourhoods no longer see crime, antisocial behaviour (ASB) & disorder as 'someone else's problem'; and for services to go beyond simply asking communities what their problems are and see them as equal partners in resolving those issues.
Baroness Newlove's recommendations for local areas to take forward include:
* Community Reward – where information provided by the community leads to a conviction the community is given a reward to spend on crime prevention work
* Bling Back – where money made from selling local drug dealers' assets is handed back to the neighbourhood they blighted
* pooling agencies' budgets, giving communities a choice in how it is spent
* changing the '9 to 5' culture of local agencies so they are there to respond when people need them most
CO: New strategy, old themes - Francis Maude has launched a strategy for 'cutting public spending on Government information & communication technology (ICT) by £ms'. The Government ICT Strategy also aims to encourage more innovation & SME participation in Government contracts. It sets out ‘how Government will adopt the right methods, policies and skills to ensure that its ICT supports efficient public services’.
The Strategy aims to cut duplication & waste in Government ICT and it sets out how Government will adopt the right methods, policies & skills to ensure that its ICT supports efficient public services. Francis Maude also announced the appointment of leading digital expert Tom Loosemore to lead work on a prototype for a single Government web domain, as recommended by Government Digital Champion, Martha Lane-Fox.
Among the things the strategy specifically commits to are:
* publish a toolkit for government procurers on best practice for evaluating the use of open source software
* establish groups to educate, promote & facilitate the technical & cultural change needed to increase the use of open source software across government
* establish the common technology components to enable smaller, more flexible projects that can be replicated from one department to another
* create a programme to utilise & develop talent amongst civil servants in the field of ICT
* require Senior Responsible Officers to stay in post until an appropriate break in the ICT programme or project life to reduce the risk of project failure
PwC: No more payments under the table - The final version of the guidance on anti-bribery policies & procedures was issued by the Government (pursuant to section 9 of the Bribery Act) last week. The Act will come into force on 1 July 2011.
NAO: ‘For want of a nail’ - The chain by which military operations, such as those in Afghanistan, are supplied with essential equipment & supplies would be much more efficient if directed by a modern information system supported by appropriate skills & procedures.
The National Audit Office has reported that the Department faces considerable challenges ensuring front line personnel get the ‘materiel’ they need. The amount of time troops wait for supplies has declined since the spending watchdog’s 2009 report on support to high intensity operations.
However, the Ministry of Defence is still not meeting its own performance targets. Highest priority items sent by air should arrive in theatre within 5 days. However, in 2010, this was achieved in only around a third of cases.
Failure to deliver the right item on time is primarily due to items being unavailable for transport. This means that either the Department is not accurately forecasting usage & repair rates to ensure the right amount of stocks are held; or suppliers are unable to respond to demand.
EH: Can you help remember ‘our darkest hours’? - To celebrate the opening of a major new visitor experience at Dover Castle in the tunnels where the desperate operation was masterminded, English Heritage has begun a search for veterans who played a part in the Dunkirk rescue mission at the castle. Veterans traced will be invited to the castle as guests of honour at the launch event on 9 June 2011, the day before it opens to the public.
Free White Paper: Ensuring Compliance through Data Security free whitepaper for the public sector - In today’s interconnected world it is no surprise that the type of data being shared is diversifying rapidly and the volume of data is rising steeply. Data sharing raises many considerations for any organisation and the balance between enabling collaboration and ensuring compliance with regulatory governance is a difficult one to get right.
Allowing data availability and complying with regulations is only part of the formula. Public sector organisations need to consider whether simply meeting compliance standards also means that their valuable and sensitive data is secure. Security along with compliance and availability needs to be considered in equal measure.
A recent White Paper explores the issue in more detail.
EH: English Heritage is embarking on ‘a project to find out how much of the country's industrial heritage is at risk of neglect, decay or even demolition and to raise the debate about what needs saving & how’. It will reveal the results of its Industrial Heritage at Risk research, including ‘what the public think’, in October 2011 at the launch of the annual EH Heritage at Risk register.
It is inviting members of the public to visit its website for more information and to post photographs & comment on favourite industrial buildings on a Flickr group run in association with the Council for British Archaeology and the Association for Industrial Archaeology.
DFID: The Government recently announced an urgent emergency aid package to help tens of thousands of people affected by the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Liberia and the Ivory Coast. The UN estimates that more than 660,000 people have fled their homes to escape the violence caused by the ongoing political crisis and are in desperate need of food, clean water, shelter & urgent medical care. There are also concerns that the violence could spread & destabilise West Africa, creating an even worse humanitarian catastrophe.
Ofgem: Ofgem has confirmed new rules that mean energy suppliers must give consumers at least 30 days advance notice before putting up their prices. The changes came into effect on 28 April 2011. Currently energy suppliers have up 3 months in which to notify consumers - after putting up their prices.
Defra: Gold medal Olympic rower & London 2012 ambassador, Ben Hunt-Davis joined Environment Minister Richard Benyon last week to launch the Check, Clean, Dry campaign to stop the spread of aquatic invasive non-native species. The campaign aims to counter the threat to Britain’s economy & wildlife posed by the spread of invasive non-native species such as the ‘killer shrimp’.
CWDC: The Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) has announced plans to continue beyond March 2012 despite being told the government will no longer fund their workforce development work from April 2012.
CWDC confirmed it will carry out a substantial programme of work with the Department for Education (DfE) during 2011/12, with £113.4m being invested in workforce development. By March 2012 much of its work will be transferred to either DfE, a new executive agency or be led by employers. But CWDC will retain its sector skills responsibilities and continue to support employers & the children's workforce from April 2012 onwards.
TfL: Transport for London (TfL) has issued travel advice for people intending to visit central London on 29 April to take part in celebrations surrounding the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. Those coming to the event from outside of London are reminded that the easiest & most convenient way to travel on London's public transport network is to use an Oyster card.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has been made aware that counterfeit wines labelled as Jacob’s Creek wines are being offered for sale in the Greater London area. The FSA is sharing intelligence with the brand owner (Pernod Ricard) and local trading standards officers investigating this issue.
The counterfeit wines have been sampled & tested and there are no indications that the contents are harmful to health if consumed. However, this counterfeit product is of very low quality & substandard taste. Consumers are advised that the label on the back of each counterfeit bottle includes a spelling mistake – below the text ‘SOUTH EASTERN AUSTRALIA’ appears some smaller text, ‘WINE OF AUSTRLIA’, where the word ‘Australia’ is missing an ‘a’.
RoSPA: More than 400 people died from accidents or natural causes in water across the UK in 2009, according to the first report from a new incident database. WAID (the WAter Incident Database) was developed by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) to enable greater detail & volume in the collection of data on fatal & non-fatal drowning, other water-related deaths & injuries and near misses.
WAID was developed by NWSF members, including: national partners - British Waterways, British Sub Aqua Club, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Royal National Lifeboat Institution, RoSPA and Royal Life Saving Society; sports governing bodies; and regional & local organisations, including Cornwall Council. It has been developed in partnership with the Department for Transport.
DfE: The government have announced proposals for the appointment of a Principal Regulator for the governing bodies of foundation & voluntary schools, academy proprietors and sixth form college corporations as exempt educational charities. Subject to the Parliamentary process, further information will be made available on implementation arrangements & compliance.
ACE: Art Council England’s new National portfolio of funded organisations has been announced, with decisions made within the twin context of its strategic framework Achieving great art for everyone and a challenging economic backdrop.
FSA: Premier Foods is recalling some of its Frey Bentos canned meat pies because the pies might contain small pieces of glass. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
MoD: The Army is making sure that while soldiers are on operations in Afghanistan they are receiving the education they need to progress & develop, with dedicated education officers taking lessons to the front line.
To some this may seem a strange idea - but the reasoning is clear. Soldiers deployed on an operational tour can be away from barracks for 6 months or more at a time, yet they are still expected to be qualified for promotion or up-to-date with their specific job when they return to the UK. If they don't have the right skills or qualifications then their career progression could grind to a halt.
As well as offering promotional courses, unit education officers also offer courses in numeracy & literacy. These give the soldiers, whether eligible for promotion or not, the chance to improve their core skills. They also help them earn certificates for their achievements which will stand them in good stead both in their future Army careers and, eventually, after they leave the forces and are looking for work in the civilian world.
CQC: The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is seeking expressions of interest to run a CQC-licensed excellence award for adult social care providers. The Commission announced plans for the new award in February 2011 and now wants groups interested in running the scheme to come forward.
The CQC-backed award - due to launch in April 2012 - will be open to all social care providers offering regulated services, including care homes, domiciliary care, supported living & Share Lives services, rehabilitation & residential substance misuse services. Organisations interested in the scheme are invited to submit expressions of interest by 20 April 2011.
IfL: Following the closure of Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK) and its subsidiary company Standards Verification UK (SVUK) on 31 March 2011, certain responsibilities previously held by them will be transferred to the Institute for Learning (IfL), to ensure continuity of the work on standards & qualifications for the learning & skills sector.
HEFCE: Following consultation, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) has announced a new method of institutional review. The new method is described in a handbook & operational description published by QAA last week.
EA: The number of properties signed up to the national flood warning system in England & Wales has broken the 1m mark for the first time, the Environment Agency announced last week.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
SE: Every school in the country will be able to get more information on how they can be part of the new School Games as www.yourschoolgames.com is launched. Sport England is investing up to £35.5m of National Lottery funding in them up to 2015. Designed across 4 levels, for both primary & secondary pupils, they offer an opportunity for all young people to compete in intra-school, inter-school & regional competitions.
Top athletes could go on to compete at a major national multi-sport event, hosted in 2012 at the Olympic Park. As an added incentive, schools can use their participation in the School Games to help qualify for London 2012 Ticketshare tickets.
BIS: The Government has announced that it will support every school to develop & run its own business through the Enterprise Champions Programme. This is part of a package of 4 new announcements to help inspire, support & grow new businesses in the UK.
These announcements come alongside the launch of Start-Up Britain, the response from the private sector to the Government’s call for an ‘enterprise-led’ recovery.
HA: Motorway lighting are being permanently switched off (as from 29 March 2011) at 3 carefully selected sites in the North West to reduce carbon emissions & light pollution, the Highways Agency has announced. The stretches of motorway have a good safety record and following careful assessment, analysis shows that the lights can be switched off without increasing risks to road user safety.
WAG: The One Wales commitment to ensure that every secondary school in Wales has a school nurse is expected to be achieved by the end of this Assembly, the Health Minister, Edwina Hart, has announced. The Welsh Assembly Government had committed to a school nurse for each of Wales’s 223 secondary schools and the final 3 remaining posts are expected to be filled during April 2011.
BIS: The PM has given his backing to a new independent Employee Engagement Task Force during a launch event at 10 Downing Street, which will ensure that a range of practical opportunities are made available for organisations wanting to learn about engagement. It will share good practice, generate debate and offer support via a new website. It will build on the report ‘Engaging for Success’, which David MacLeod and Nita Clarke produced in 2009 for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
HO: Children in all 43 police force areas in England & Wales are better protected thanks to the final rollout of the child sex offender disclosure scheme. Under the scheme anyone can ask the police to check whether people who have contact with children pose a risk. If the individual has convictions for sexual offences against children or poses a risk of causing harm, then the police can chose to disclose this information to the parent, carer or guardian.
DfE: The Government has announced a new £180m bursary scheme to help the most vulnerable 16-19 years olds continue in full-time education. The scheme is made up of 2 parts – a guaranteed payment £1,200 a year to a small group of the most vulnerable - worth more than anybody got under the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) - and a £165m discretionary fund for schools & colleges to distribute.
WAG: A new scheme aimed at reducing the energy bills of fuel poor householders and those people living in hard to heat homes has been launched. The Assembly Government’s new fuel poverty scheme ‘Nest’, which is managed by British Gas and the Energy Saving Trust, opened for business on Friday 1 April 2011.
‘Nest ‘, or ‘Nyth’ in Welsh replaces the previous Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES) and boasts a much more focussed approach to tackling fuel poverty. Under the new scheme, all householders can receive advice on a range of issues, from energy efficiency to maximising income.
Householders in receipt of means tested benefit that live in very energy inefficient homes (EPC rating F or G) will also be eligible for an Assembly Government funded, whole house energy improvement package, which could include the instillation of renewable energy technologies or a new boiler.
WAG: The first step to creating a new all Wales long distance bus network has been announced by the Welsh Assembly Government. The existing TrawsCambria bus network is to be extended with new services and an investment of £2.2m in 12 new vehicles. The service will soon be known as TrawsCymru as it joins together more parts of the country. The announcement also includes the extension of the Bwcabus scheme.
There will be consultation with the local community, operators & local authorities on details of timetable & routes. This is due to take place in the summer. The current arrangements for some services from Aberystwyth to Cardiff will continue.
DH: 20 health visiting sites across the country have been selected to lead the way in fast tracking the delivery of the Government’s ‘vision to improve the health and well being of children, families and communities’, Public Health Minister Anne Milton has announced.
Speaking at a launch event, the Minister also announced the start of a national recruitment drive to increase the numbers of health visitors - attracting more people to train to join the profession, as well as encouraging former health visitors back into practice. The initiatives are part of the Government’s commitment to increase the health visitor workforce by 4,200 by 2015.
DH: NHS staff & patients will get more control of their services thanks to a package of measures announced by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley at the social enterprise conference, VOICE 11 in London last week. The Right to Provide scheme will ‘enable all staff working anywhere in NHS and care services where it is clinically appropriate to set up as independent organisations to run the services they deliver’.
To give staff the financial support necessary to do this at least £10m additional funding is being given to the Social Enterprise Investment Fund. The Fund has already helped support over 400 social enterprises to establish themselves and compete to provide services.
DWP: Jobseekers will be given training to gain new skills, but will face having their benefits stopped if they refuse the offer of help. Benefit claimants whose lack of relevant skills is a significant barrier to work will get the support they need to move into work through compulsory training. If they fail to attend or complete the course without good cause, they could lose some or all of their benefits.
The new rules will apply to people claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and those in the Work-Related Activity Group of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) who need extra support & training before they become job ready.
IUK: A Government report by Infrastructure UK (IUK) has set out a detailed Implementation Plan to reduce infrastructure construction costs by £2 - £3bn each year. The Implementation Plan sets out a detailed programme of activity through 2011 & beyond to realise the savings, which were first identified in the Infrastructure Cost Report of December 2010.
DfE: Dame Clare Tickell has recommended that the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is radically slimmed down to ‘make it easier to understand, less burdensome and more focused on making sure children start school ready to learn’.
Setting out her recommendations, Dame Clare says that while parents & early years professionals agree that the EYFS has had a positive impact on children’s outcomes and helped to raise standards, in its current form there is far too much time spent filling in forms and not enough interacting with children. She says the EYFS needs to be simplified and made even more accessible for parents & practitioners.
DH: A £200m a year Cancer Drugs Fund that will help cancer patients get greater access to cancer drugs their doctors recommend for them, has been launched. The commencement of the fund follows the successful £50m interim fund that has helped over 2,000 cancer patients from across England gain access to life-extending drugs since October 2010. The Fund is just one of a number of commitments made reality from 1 April 2011 (see press release for details).
CLG: Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, has offered developers a Build Now, Pay Later deal to get work started on ‘thousands’ of new homes without facing the expense of buying the land upfront. Under the scheme, housebuilders pay for the land after they have started work on the new homes, offering a lifeline to those struggling with cash flow problems and enabling them to start building straight away.
Over the past decade, housebuilding slumped to its lowest levels for any peacetime year since 1924. Up to 40% of land suitable for housing development - as much as 7,500 hectares - is ‘sitting idle’ in public sector land banks. It is estimated that making this land available owned by central Government alone could help developers build more than 60,000 new homes over 10 years.
DfT: Many towns & cities could benefit from a huge rise in direct trains to London once a new high speed rail network is built, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has claimed. With intercity services transferring to a new high speed line, significant extra space would become available on the existing network, meaning towns such as Milton Keynes, Northampton and Rugby could become much better connected to London.
10DS: The Government has published a pamphlet Let’s Choose Growth setting out ‘why it’s time for growth in Europe’. In the pamphlet there is a ‘stark warning that if current trends continue, by the middle of the century, leading EU nations could fall out of the world’s top-10 most powerful economies’.
The pamphlet comes as a growing number of EU countries are making the case for action on growth, deregulation and completing the single market. The European Council on 25 March 2011 endorsed much of this approach and agreed on the need for action to promote economic growth.
MoJ: The outcome of the competition for the management of 5 prisons has been announcement by the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Kenneth Clarke.
SGC: The Sentencing Council has launched a public consultation (closes on 20 June 2011) on its proposals to introduce a new guideline for judges & magistrates for the sentencing of drugs offenders. The draft guideline covers the most commonly sentenced drugs offences including importation, production, supply, permitting premises to be used for drugs offences and possession.
EU News: The European Commission has launched a public consultation in view of modernising rules on the transparency of Member States’ decisions regarding the pricing & reimbursement of medicines. The consultation invites all interested parties to share their views on the review of Council Directive 89/105/EEC, often referred to as the 'transparency directive'. The deadline for submitting contributions is 25 May 2011.
DfT: Some lorries could be allowed to use longer trailers after independent research showed that this ‘could cut carbon without compromising safety’. The research has been published by Roads Minister Mike Penning alongside a consultation (closes 21 June 2011) which proposes allowing a 2metre increase in the total length of articulated lorries operating within the existing weight limit of 44 tonnes.
This would take the maximum permitted length of an articulated lorry to 18.75 metres, but would not allow any increase in overall weight. The DfT estimates that this move could increase capacity for hauliers transporting lightweight goods by up to 13% and cut carbon emissions by around 100,000 tonnes each year.
DfT: Britain's aviation industry should be able to grow & prosper but not at any price, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said as the Government set out to define the debate for a new sustainable UK aviation policy. Following decisions not to support new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick & Stansted, the Government is seeking views on the shape its future aviation policy should take and the issues it needs to address.
It has published a scoping document ‘setting out the key principles & challenges of a new greener aviation policy’. Comments are being invited until 30 September 2011. A draft aviation policy framework will then be published for consultation in March 2012, with a view to formal adoption by March 2013.
CLG: Decentralisation Minister, Greg Clark, has set out a new simple process for consultation (closes on 20 June 2011) by which councils can directly ask Whitehall to remove barriers that can block local people from improving their communities. The new system enables councils to submit ideas via a dedicated 'barrier busting' website and follow the progress of their suggestions online. People who use the service are given a unique Amazon-style tracking number to monitor requests and a named 'barrier buster' assigned to each case.
Mr Clark has previously set out an 'action plan' for proposals already submitted under the Sustainable Communities Act and set out flexible working arrangements for communities and councils, to make the system less bureaucratic.
Ofsted: Ofsted has launched a consultation (closes on 25 May 2011) on its proposals for inspecting residential provision in boarding & residential special schools. The changes reflect new national minimum standards being introduced by the government in September 2011. Ofsted’s aim is to use this opportunity to revise & strengthen the inspection system.
MoJ: The family justice system needs significant reform to ‘tackle delays and ensure that children & families get the service they deserve’, says an independent panel set up to review how the system works. The panel, who publish their interim report last week, have recommended a package of proposals aimed at improving children's & families' experience of the system.
A consultation on these proposals is now underway (closes on 23 June 2011). A full summary of the panel's recommendations can be found in the interim report (the consultation can be found at the same link).
BIS: The UK Space Agency became an executive agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on 1 April 2011. This will see the Agency taking over responsibility for the majority of the UK’s commitment to space exploration & science. Efforts will be targeted at areas that have the greatest potential for delivering economic benefits, scientific excellence and national security.
The principal driver of the UK Space Agency is economic growth through both export & innovation and through supporting science as an enabler for growth. These themes are being highlighted as part of the organisation’s strategy for 2011-2015, which has been published for consultation (closes 8 July 2011).
WAG: The Welsh Assembly Government is launching a consultation (closes on 1 July 2011) on recommendations from the independent review of charging for household water & sewerage services conducted by senior public services regulator Anna Walker. WaterSure (a scheme to allow capped bills for low-income metered customers or customers with high essential use for medical reasons) already offers support for some households.
CLG: Proposals for establishing a new decentralised, local audit regime that will replace the Audit Commission have been set out for consultation (closes on 30 June 2011). Ministers believe that the current system of local auditing where the Audit Commission is the regulator, commissioner & provider of local audit services are inefficient & unnecessarily centralised. The proposals set out a new approach to audit based on 4 key principles.
Ofcom: Ofcom have proposed new regulatory controls on the prices of wholesale broadband & telephone services provided by Openreach, the access division of BT. Ofcom expects these proposals to lead to real term price reductions for consumers, as communications providers pass on savings to their landline voice and broadband customers. This consultation (closes 9 June 2011) covers charges for local loop unbundling (LLU) and Wholesale Line Rental (WLR).
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
LLUK: Lifelong Learning UK have published a document which supports the Workforce Strategy for the Further Education Sector in England 2011. It was produced in partnership with the Association of Colleges (AoC), the 157 Group, and the Sixth Form Colleges’ Forum (SFCF) for use by further education colleges & sixth form colleges in planning workforce development.
QCDA: The Diploma validator tool has been withdrawn from service and is no longer available for schools & colleges to use to create & validate programmes of study for Diploma students. Schools & colleges should now create, validate & assign planned programmes of study to Diploma students using the PPoS feature in the Diploma aggregation service (DAS).
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has recently published its final guidance on the use of a scanner that can help improve how burns are treated. The medical technology guidance supports the use of the moorLDI2-BI, a laser doppler blood flow imaging system for the non-invasive mapping of blood flow in burnt skin which can help experienced clinicians to assess the severity of burns more accurately.
NICE: NICE recently published a new guideline on colonoscopic surveillance for the prevention of colorectal cancer in people with ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease or adenomas. Colonoscopic surveillance in people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD, which covers ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease) or adenomas can detect problems early and potentially prevent progression to colorectal cancer.
LLUK: Lifelong Learning UK have provided the links for all the information you need to implement the Equality Framework for Career Guidance in your organisation.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is reminding local authorities & dairy businesses about the rules on the sale of raw drinking milk and unpasteurised dairy products. This follows the announcement by Defra that cattle testing positive for bovine tuberculosis, known as TB reactors, are to be tracked using their DNA to further strengthen controls to prevent the spread of TB.
This action is being taken as emerging evidence suggests that some farmers in the South West of England & the Midlands have been illegally swapping ear tags of TB reactors. The process of pasteurisation destroys the bacteria that cause TB and other pathogens that may be harmful to human health. The risk from consuming pasteurised milk or dairy products that may contain milk from TB reactor cattle is therefore very low.
NICE: NICE has launched a training package to support & reinforce the skills & competencies of midwives, health visitors & social workers when ‘raising sensitive issues with pregnant women who face difficult social circumstances’. In addition to commissioning this training resource, NICE has produced a range of other support tools to help implement this guidance, including a costing statement and data collection tools.
Women facing complex social problems, such as those who experience domestic abuse or those who misuse alcohol or drugs, can be deterred from attending antenatal appointments, including booking appointments, because of the perceived negative attitude of healthcare staff.
DH: Local organisations are now able to access new tools that will help improve the health & wellbeing of adults with autism. The new tools have been launched on the eve of World Autism Day. ‘Fulfilling and rewarding lives: Evaluating Progress’ is a new Department of Health self assessment resource which will be available online.
It is to be used locally and clearly sets out what local authorities need to achieve to implement the Adult Autism Strategy. It allows adults with autism, their families, carers & representative groups to see what progress is being made in their local area and how this compares across the country. The DH has also funded a series of on-line training resources & booklets that will increase awareness & understanding of autism across all public services.
WAG: The Health Minister, Edwina Hart, has published a set of National Standards for Children with Cancer, which provide a foundation for NHS Wales to plan & deliver effective high quality services for children with cancer from birth up to & including the age of 15.
The Standards identify which healthcare professionals should be involved in treatment & care at different time points and the types of hospital or cancer centre that are best suited to provide that healthcare reflecting the requirements of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) service guidance. The Standards are expected to be fully implemented by March 2013.
NA: Oliver Morley, the newly appointed Chief Executive and Keeper, The National Archives, has launched the new Business Plan for 2011-2015 entitled For the Record. For Good.
CQC: In the years leading up to the implementation of the Health and Social Care Act 2008, health & social care services have improved, says CQC in its latest State of Care report. The Care Quality Commission has published its second annual report to Parliament on the state of health care & adult social care in England. CQC will publish later this year a further report which looks at health & social care after registration under Health and Social Care Act 2008.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has published its updated Strategy to 2015: Safer food for the nation. The strategy sets out 6 outcomes that the FSA will work towards to ensure that food is safe and that consumers can continue to have trust & confidence in the food they buy and eat.
NAO: The spending cuts made by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2009-10, mainly in response to exchange rate pressures, provided an early experience of the challenges the Department will face in cutting its core expenditure by 10% as a result of the 2010 Spending Review. The Department rose to the challenge of making the 2009-10 cuts. However, they were a short-term response to the immediate problem of a forecast budget shortfall of £72m.
OFT: Making markets work well for consumers and helping to drive economic growth are central OFT priorities for the next 12 months, as set out in its Annual Plan 2011 - 2012. The OFT plans to achieve this through continued high impact consumer & competition enforcement, alongside influencing the behaviour of consumers, businesses and Government - making full use of its combined consumer & competition tools.
Ofsted: Children’s Rights Director, Dr Roger Morgan, has published the third annual Children’s care monitor report, giving children’s assessment of social care in England in 2010. The report is a unique annual report of children’s views who are in care or living away from home.
It looks at issues that children see as important, which they want to be checked every year including: keeping safe, bullying, having a say in what happens, making complaints & suggestions, education, and care planning for people being looked after in care.
General Reports and Other Publications
TKF: A major inquiry commissioned by The King’s Fund has concluded that, while the majority of care provided is good, there are widespread variations in performance & gaps in the quality of care delivered by general practice. The inquiry's report strongly endorses the principle that GPs should be generalists rather than specialists.
However, with GPs set to be handed £80bn of public money and a central role in implementing the government’s health reforms, it calls on general practice to embrace radical change if it is to maintain its international reputation for excellence. The report highlights evidence of variations in the quality of clinical care.
CQC: The Care Quality Commission has told Devon County Council that it ‘must take action to improve services at 3 of its care homes to comply with essential standards of quality and safety’. Inspectors visited 4 homes unannounced, speaking to residents & staff. Full reports have been published on the CQC website.
DFID: The UK must strengthen the way it responds to international emergencies if it is to cope with a predicted rise in the number of disasters caused by earthquakes, floods and conflict, Lord Ashdown has warned, as part of an independent review into the UK’s humanitarian response system.
The review sets out 40 key recommendations aimed at overhauling the way that the UK responds to emergencies. They range from high-level policy reforms, through to practical measures designed to improve operations on the ground.
NICE: NICE has published a report on its pilot diagnostics project. The project, on the assessment of non-invasive diagnostic tests for the detection of liver fibrosis in patients with suspected alcohol related liver disease, was completed in December 2010. The report highlights the important lessons learnt from the pilot and how these have been used to inform the development of the process & methods that NICE will use to assess the use of diagnostic technologies.
DH: The critical role community nurses play in ensuring ill & disabled children get tailored care & support, was set out recently by Public Health Minister Anne Milton as she published a new report aimed at helping commissioners & providers improve services.
SDC: The Coalition Government's plans for feed a growing population sustainably & healthily are 'insubstantial', according to the Sustainable Development Commission’s final report on food matters. It argues that the Coalition Government has failed to layout any defined plans to underpin its commitment to producing more food in the UK. It also argues that Andrew Lansley’s plans for 'responsibility deals' with business to tackle obesity are ‘weak and lack defined goals & adequate monitoring’.
The report warns all 4 UK Governments not to ‘step back from the challenge of making our food systems more sustainable, calling on them to raise their game and speed up the pace & scale of change in the light of uncertain oil prices, climate change and public health challenges.
HMIC: New data published last week identifies the ‘front line’ in each police force and opens their books so the public can see how police resources are deployed in their area in comparison with other forces.
RUSI: Creating harmonised, clearly set & rigorously enforced baseline standards on international aviation security must be a priority for governments around the world, a new report by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) argues.
Newswire – CBI: The CBI last week warned that the Government’s flagship energy efficiency scheme is untenable in its current form, as it reiterated its call for the incentive behind the Carbon Reduction Commitment to be restored.
Launching a new policy brief, Back to the Answer: Making the CRC work, the CBI argues that the Government’s decision to remove the revenue-recycling element at October’s Spending Review has undermined the original purpose of the scheme of encouraging organisations to cut emissions.
DWP: New research published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) presents findings from an evaluation of the sanction of Housing Benefit (HB) piloted in 8 local authority areas in England from 1 November 2007 to 31 October 2009.
IISS: Following the August 2008 war and Russia’s unilateral recognition of Abkhazia & South Ossetia, the security regime along both Administrative Boundary Lines (ABL) remains fractured. International actors need to find ways of responding to emerging vulnerabilities in a sustainable manner.
WWF: New figures released by WWF-UK last week show that at least 1.7m electric vehicles will be needed by 2020 and 6.4m by 2030 if the UK is to achieve its climate change targets. Findings from the report Electric avenues: driving home the case for electric vehicles show that a rapid introduction of EVs is needed if we are to reduce 80% of carbon emissions by 2050.
The study (which examines 3 scenarios) finds that the highest levels of EV uptake would lead to significant reductions in UK fuel demand representing over £5bn a year in avoided oil imports. Also in the highest case scenario, the combination of extensive EV uptake, driving less & improving internal combustion engine vehicles ‘could potentially reduce UK fuel demand by 80% and deliver a 75% reduction in car emissions by 2030’.
NAO: Value for money is not being achieved across all trusts in the planning, procurement & use of ‘high value equipment’, such as CT, MRI scanners and Linear Accelerator Machines (linacs). There are significant variations across England in levels of activity and a lack of comparable information about performance & cost of machine use. Trusts are not collaborating to purchase machines and they are not getting the best prices according to the National Audit Office.
Newswire – NHSConfed: The NHS Confederation has praised the Government for prioritising public health in its recent white paper, but has warned that a ‘number of proposals need to be rethought to avoid unintended consequences for the health of the nation’.
The NHS Confederation's response to Healthy lives, healthy people, the Government's public health White paper, says that funding is a key concern. While public health funding is to be ring fenced, it is not easy to identify & measure the activity it is spent on.
iea: New research shows that the UK is potentially missing out on £bns of investment through its over-regulation of the gambling industry. Strict gambling laws are also leading to pub closures and do nothing to reduce the problem of addiction.
In a study published in its termly journal Economic Affairs, the Institute of Economic Affairs shows how other countries are reaping the reward of liberalising their gambling laws and how relaxing gambling regulation could be the factor which saves many of Britain’s struggling pubs. The study also contends that gambling is over-regulated in the UK because it is seen as purely harmful – the converse is true.
TKF: The King’s Fund has called for a single performance framework to ensure that NHS & social care services work together to improve outcomes for patients & service users in a new paper. Integrating health and social care: Where next? says that the government’s NHS reforms offer an opportunity to integrate health & social care, but cautions that plans for separate outcomes frameworks for the NHS, social care & public health could threaten effective joint working at a local level, reducing benefits for patients & service users.
The Fund is calling for the frameworks to be aligned, with a view to creating a single outcomes framework for all 3 services. The report also highlights the potential for new health & wellbeing boards to improve joint working between health & social care.
In a separate report, the Fund highlights experience from Torbay, where local NHS & social care staff are delivering integrated care by working together in single teams, with a pooled budget. New analysis undertaken for Integrating health and social care in Torbay: Improving care for Mrs Smith shows this has reduced daily hospital bed use by a third since 1998/99: Torbay also performs well in reducing delaying transfers of care from hospital and achieving lower rates of emergency admissions for older people than areas with a similar demographic.
Newswire – NHSConfed: A new NHS Confederation paper analyses concerns raised about the proposed NHS reforms and suggests measures the Government could take to address them. Where next for NHS reform? is designed to ‘start a conversation about practical solutions to the concerns that will help the NHS manage the significant risks involved’. There are 4 broad areas where concerns have been raised during the debate over the health reforms.
BIS: Small businesses need to do more to protect & exploit their innovations, according to research published by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
NAO: A report by the National Audit Office acknowledges that the Office of Rail Regulation has significantly developed the methods it uses to judge efficiency. However, limitations in Network Rail’s information on its own costs are hampering the ability of the Regulatorto judge the genuineness of the efficiency savings reported by Network Rail. The Regulator has also determined that substantial scope remains for Network Rail to improve its efficiency.
Newswire – EAC: A report by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee published recently has called for a competition probe into the Big Four auditors’ oligopoly. Their ‘complacency’ and ‘dereliction of duty’ contributed to financial crisis, the report found.
IfG: Director of the Institute for Government, Andrew Adonis, has called for a new generation of public service entrepreneurs in Ethos magazine. He argues that a shift in mindset is needed to meet the unique set of challenges of the government's reform agenda.
Legislation / Legal
Newswire – ICO: An estate agent recently pleaded guilty to the offence of failing to notify the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that his business processes personal data. John Newbound, of Newbank Estate and Letting Agents, is the second estate agent that the ICO has prosecuted this month for an offence under section 17 of the Data Protection Act.
Newswire – LGA: Car litter louts are blighting the countryside and costing council tax-payers £ms thanks to a legal loophole which lets offenders get off ‘scot free’, council leaders warn. The Local Government Association is calling on the Government to toughen up legislation in the Localism Bill to allow councils to take action against the registered keeper of a vehicle from which rubbish is thrown, if the offender can’t be identified.
The change would bring littering from a vehicle in line with speeding & fly-tipping, where the person who controls the use of a vehicle, usually the registered keeper, is held to be knowingly permitting the offence and is held responsible unless someone else is proven to be responsible.
WAG: A ban on the use of sunbeds by people under the age of 18 will come into force on 8 April 2011, the Health Minister, Edwina Hart has confirmed. The provisions of the Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010 – introduced as a Private Members Bill - will make it an offence for an operator of a sunbed business in England & Wales to allow, or offer, someone under the age of 18 to use or access sunbeds on their premises.
In addition, the Act enables the Welsh Assembly Government to introduce stricter controls on sunbed use, which will be enforced by local authorities. The Minister has also confirmed her intention that, from 31 October 2011, unsupervised sunbed use will also be banned in Wales. These further controls will be introduced by the Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010 (Wales) Regulations 2011 that are currently being debated in the National Assembly for Wales.
Newswire – JSC: A report published by the Justice Select Committee says that the legal aid system in England & Wales – one of the most expensive in the world – ‘needs reform, but that changes proposed by the Government present a severe challenge to those involved with the justice system’. The legal aid budget currently costs taxpayers over £2bn a year.
The Government's proposed reforms are intended to reduce the cost of the system by £350m a year, largely by removing certain areas of law from the scope of legal aid. The Committee argues that some of those scope changes will need further refinement & suggests other areas where the Government might be able to make savings. Concerns remain, however, that there is the potential for vulnerable groups of people to be disproportionately hit by the changes.
OFT: The OFT has received a super-complaint from Which? relating to surcharges that are payable when customers use a debit or credit card. The OFT will shortly invite interested parties to provide any evidence which may be useful to its assessment. For more information please see the super-complaint page.
WAG: The First Minister of Wales has taken the next step to devolving new law-making powers by proposing a motion to Assembly Members to approve a draft Commencement Order as one of the final actions of the current Assembly. This draft Order follows on from the ‘yes’ vote in the referendum result. The effect of the Order is that the new Assembly elected on 5 May 2011 will be able to use its greater powers to consider Welsh Bills without the need first to seek the necessary powers from the UK Parliament.
HO: Police forces will now have greater freedom & flexibility to drug test people on arrest. Until now, police forces have had to apply for authorisation from the Home Office to 'test on arrest' at specific police stations. Once this authorisation was granted the station would test at least 95% of those arrested for certain 'trigger offences' such as burglary. From last week Chief Constables will just need to inform the Home Office that they are using this power.
OFT: The OFT has referred the completed acquisition by Sector Treasury Services Ltd (Sector) of ICAP plc's treasury management consultancy services business (Butlers), to the Competition Commission for further investigation. The parties are the number 1 & 2 suppliers of treasury management consultancy services on a retainer basis to local authorities and has led to combined market shares in excess of 70%.
The OFT believes that the remaining suppliers of these services are unlikely to be able to constrain the merged entity and that barriers to entry in this market are high. It is therefore concerned that the merger may lead to local authorities paying higher prices or experiencing a reduction in quality, range or service. This view is consistent with the significant number of third party concerns received by the OFT.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: On 24 March 2011, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) published a background paper on public access to documents containing personal data, to serve as guidance for EU institutions. The paper explains the updated EDPS position on the matter following the ruling of the European Court of Justice in the Bavarian Lager case on the reconciliation of the fundamental rights to privacy & data protection with the fundamental right to public access to documents and transparency.
The EDPS paper provides further guidance to the EU institutions as to how to ensure that both rights are equally respected in their daily practice. As a matter of good practice, the EDPS recommends the EU institutions to follow a proactive approach by making clear in advance to the persons concerned which personal data may be subject to public disclosure.
EU News: The European Commission has adopted a comprehensive strategy (Transport 2050) for a ‘competitive transport system that will increase mobility, remove major barriers in key areas and fuel growth and employment.
By 2050, key goals will include:
- No more conventionally-fuelled cars in cities
- A 50% shift of medium distance intercity passenger & freight journeys from road to rail & waterborne transport.
- A 60% cut in transport emissions by the middle of the century.
EU News: Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, presented at this year’s Aeronautical Days last week in Madrid a new long-term vision prepared by a high-level group on aviation & aeronautics research. The report is a first follow-up to some of the measures regarding aviation that had been put forward in the White Paper on Transport, adopted on 28 March 2011.
EU News: According to a report in The Sunday Times issued on 20 March 2011, 3 Members of the European Parliament (MEP) agreed to put forward amendments to draft legislation in the European Parliament in return for a fee. OLAF evaluated this report as well as information from other sources and decided to open a formal investigation immediately.
EU News: The European Commission will support a cross-European electromobility initiative, Green eMotion, worth €41.8m, in partnership with 42 partners from the industries, utilities, electric car manufacturers, municipalities, universities and technology and research institutions.
The aim of the initiative is to exchange & develop know-how & experience in selected regions within Europe as well as facilitate the market roll-out of electric vehicles in Europe. The Commission will make €24.2m available to finance part of the initiative's activities.
EU News: The European Commission has launched a public consultation in view of modernising rules on the transparency of Member States’ decisions regarding the pricing & reimbursement of medicines. The deadline for submitting contributions is 25 May 2011 – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
Defra: Plans to create one of Britain’s biggest charities to ‘secure the future of more than 4,000 kilometres of canals and rivers in England & Wales’ were set out last week (consultation closes 30 June 2011). The Government announced last year that the publicly-owned inland waterways, currently managed by British Waterways and the Environment Agency, should in future be managed by a new charity from April 2012.
The Government intends to transfer waterways to the charity subject to a special trust, which will be set out in a Trust Declaration requiring the waterways to be protected for the public’s benefit, in perpetuity. The Government proposes that the Trust Declaration should include ‘free access to the towpaths will be protected’.
SE: Sport England has named 41 sports projects that will benefit from a £10m National Lottery fund to get more university students playing sport. The Active Universities projects will give tens of thousands of students the chance to try out a new sport, or get back into one they’ve tried before, as part of the mass participation legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Boosting student participation will have a lasting impact on grassroots sport because research shows that students who do play sport at university are far more likely to continue participating throughout their lives. It will also help tackle the issue of drop-off in sports participation that sees many young people giving up sport in their late teens & early twenties.
Business and Other Briefings
OFT: The Competition Commission (CC) and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) have jointly published a quick guide to help businesses understand what to expect from the competition authorities when they investigate a merger. The publication complements the detailed joint Merger Assessment Guidelines, which were published by the CC & OFT in September 2010.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has recently confirmed rules to improve the quality & consistency of auditors’ client assets reports. The policy statement sets out 10 new requirements for firms and their external auditors.
KPMG: KPMG reports a ‘surge of enquiries’ on iXBRL, the soon to be compulsory online tax filing language. Whilst currently seen as a compliance headache, the real benefits of online filing are yet to be seen, says KPMG. As of last Friday, 1 April 2011, it will be compulsory for all businesses to file their corporation tax returns online in “iXBRL” format. But despite this having been trailed for the past 2 years, many businesses are still not ready.
This Brief confirms HMRC's view of the VAT treatment of supplies of hot food made in the course of catering.
CLG: Four vanguard areas - Nottingham, Liverpool, Manchester & London - that will deliver new economic growth through the next generation of Enterprise Zones have been hailed by Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles and Business Secretary, Vince Cable for naming where they will locate their sites. The ministers are also announcing the launch of a scheme to identify where the remaining 10 Enterprise Zones will be created.
The first 4 areas are able to confirm the exact location of their new zones as Boots campus in Nottingham, Liverpool Waters, ManchesterAirport and the Mayor has said London's Zone would be in the Royal Docks.
PwC: Over 45,000 litres of cooking oil to be recycled per month from restaurants, bars, offices and hotels around the capital. A new deal signed by professional services firm PwC has secured the largest ever office supply of recycled chip fat from bars, restaurants & businesses across London to generate low carbon energy for the firm’s new headquarters on the Southbank of London.
Two 6,000 litre tankers a week will be filled with used cooking oil collected by Arrow Oil, from offices & restaurants from city centre locations. The oil will be transported to a local refinery, Uptown Biodiesel, and then on to PwC’s new office at More London, for 5,500 employees, to be used to fire 2 large generators creating 25% of the electricity needed for the building, as well as 20% of its heating & cooling. Overall, 25% of the energy needed in the building will be generated on site.
WAG: The Forestry Commission Wales (FCW) has identified 5 sites within the public forest estate with the potential to develop hydro-energy schemes. Between them, they have the potential to generate a combined output of 1.5MW. Due to commercial sensitivities, it is not yet possible to detail the location of potential sites. Formal procurement exercises will be undertaken in due course, once the detailed proposals are finalised.
LDA: Pipes are to be laid to bring low carbon heat, produced on the Olympic site, to homes & businesses in Stratford High Street. The London Development Agency and London Thames Gateway Development Corporation are to provide £480,000 to Cofely, the energy services company of GDF Suez, to install hot water pipeworkconnecting the energy centres on the Olympic Park and Stratford City through to Stratford High Street & beyond.
This will mean that in future developers can tap into the low carbon heat source provided by the two energy centres rather than building their own combined heat and power plants.
WAG: A 1.2MW tidal energy demonstration project that will develop innovative technology to test clean electricity generation from the tides off the West Wales coast has received the necessary consents from the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Welsh Assembly Government. The consents will allow Tidal Energy Ltd’s device, to provide a sustainable source of electricity to the people of St David’s during its 12 month test period and will see the project powering around 1,000 homes. The project has received more than £500,000 from the European Regional Development Fund.
OS: Public sector organisations in England & Wales have access to Ordnance Survey mapping data under a single agreement for the first time from 1 April 2011. Local & central government organisations, as well as NHS organisations, across England and Wales will now benefit from being part of the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA)for OS data. The PSMA includes over 750 existing public sector organisations, with provision for 1,000s more and will result in significant cost savings for the public sector & greater data sharing.
Geographic data provided by Ordnance Survey, including OS MasterMap products, will be free at the point of use for public sector bodies, and will not be subject to limits on re-use when used internally within the public sector for public sector activities.
To help PSMA members maximise efficiency savings & improvements in public service delivery through geographic data, they are able to share ideas and contact each other through a newly created members’ area of Ordnance Survey’s new PSMA website. The updated website also enables members to order & receive their data online for the first time.
LSN: How can we stimulate growth and rebalance our economy at a time when public funding for adult skills will be declining by 25% and employer investment in skills remains significantly lower than our competitors?
As the responsibility for skills shifts to individuals & employers, join Learning and Skills Network’s timely post-Budget debate on creating a new economic model for skills investment. Hear the views from key sector players and receive a copy of LSN’s new policy report ‘Business as Usual? Increasing employer investment in skills’. Business as Usual? Increasing employer investment in skills: Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Editorial Content Statement
Wired-Gov would like to make it clear that the commentary & links provided, in respect of any particular item, are published in its capacity as an independent non-government funded organisation and reflect the editorial team’s need to both précis & re‑format the content of news releases.
Any views expressed are therefore entirely those of the Wired-Gov Plus editorial team and independent of any sponsor, government organisation or political party.
For the official view of a source organisation, readers should click on the ‘press release’ that is the first link attached to each item.
Speed of download - Readers are reminded that some documents linked to can be large (VL) and may take some time to download, even with a broadband link. Readers are encouraged to be patient.
While every care is taken to ensure that all links ’work’ in the newsletter (including checking just before publication), Wired-Gov cannot guarantee that websites will not make changes that will nullify individual links, especially over a period of time.
Wired-Gov is not responsible for the content of external websites.