You are viewing our public content
You can sign in or register for additional services

WGPlus provides an in-depth weekly briefing from the UK Government and Public Sector. To save your time, we research & validate the links to websites, documents and further background information. Click here for more about WGPlus

In the News

Been away on holiday? Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive

PX:  No more ‘free rides’, only a safety net for the ‘deserving’ - A new poll from think tank Policy Exchange shows that the public overwhelmingly backs 'redesigning the welfare system to reward good behaviour & sanction bad.'  Voters have a strong sense of the deserving & the undeserving poor and also support a cap on child benefits.  Exactly two-thirds say that there should be no extra child benefit after the third child. 

Roughly the same proportion say that the state should discourage people becoming lone parents.  But for people who have found themselves facing hard times through no fault of their own, there still is strong support for a ‘proper safety net’.

In a sign that coalition policies have strong support, the study – entitled ‘Just Deserts?’ – finds there is much more backing for cutting tax as a way of creating a fairer society – rather than increasing the size of cash hand-outs.  The least popular option to make Britain fairer was to reduce tuition fees and ban private education.  The polling comes at a time when the words ‘fair’ & ‘fairness’ have come to dominate political debate.

Other key findings include:
* 80% agree that anyone who has been out of work for 12 months and is capable of work should have to carry out community work in return for benefits.  
* Voters think different regimes are appropriate for different groups of claimants.
* There is support for stronger work search requirements.
* The public are also strongly sceptical about simply increasing the size of benefit payments as a way of tackling child poverty.
Press release & links ~ Just Deserts? Attitudes to Fairness, Poverty and Welfare Reform ~ Polling figures for the report ~ Related PCS union PR ~ DWP related PR ~ DWP: Work programme ~ DWP: Effective Job search PR ~ RR 726 Job Search Study: Literature review & analysis of the Labour Force Survey (3.3Mb) ~ Errors in benefit system ~ Demos: incapacity benefits protection ~ ScotGov: Regeneration ~ DWP: Work Capability Assessment ~ DWP: Latest ESA: Work Capability Assessment statistics ~ IFS PR ~ The effects of tax and benefit reforms to be introduced in April 2011 ~ Distributional analysis of tax and benefit changes ~ Work Foundation: Bottom 10 Million ~ Welfare to What? Prospects and challenges for employment recovery ~ iea PR ~ A New Understanding of poverty (click on pdf links for free download) ~ JRF: A review of benefit sanctions ~ TUC Frank Field review into poverty PR ~ Unicef’s response ~ ippr’s response ~ WAG: Supporting People programme PR ~ Supporting People Programme in Wales ~ JRF: Working people Strong work ethic PR ~ How and why do people become trapped in a long-term cycle of low-paid jobs and unemployment? ~ DWP White paper PR ~ The White Paper – Universal Credit: Welfare that Works ~ Work Foundation PR ~ TUC PR ~ CBI PR ~ Adam Smith Institute PR ~ CAB PR ~ ippr PR ~ PCS union PR ~ iea PR ~ DWP: Helping lone parents back to work PR ~ ippr: Welfare spending – Time to reassess universal benefits? PR ~ ippr: The new landscape of welfare to work ~ LSIS: A step towards work or just stuck in a warehouse? ~ Demos: Liberation welfare collection ~ DWP: Building Bridges to Work ~ Professor Harrington review ~ Related DWP press release ~ The Jobseeker’s Allowance (Mandatory Work Activity Scheme) Regulations 2011 ~ Child Poverty Strategy for Scotland ~ Severe Child Poverty: Nationally & locally ~ Save the Children: UK child poverty ~ Poorer families forced to pay more for heating & services ~ WAG: Child poverty

DFIDA ‘war’ that we cannot afford to lose - Britain is to intensify its work in Burma amid fears that drug-resistant malaria detected in the country could spread to other parts of the globe, with potentially devastating consequences.  Britain will provide additional funding with other donors which could help over 1m people this year.

This extra UK support will help:
* train more than 2,000 health workers & community volunteers to correctly diagnose & treat 166,000 cases of malaria with Atermisinin Combination Therapies (ACTs)
* supply 350,000 long lasting insecticide-treated bednets & re-treat a further 450,000 bednets
* improve malaria awareness in high risk communities which are most vulnerable to resistance

A 5 year containment programme has also been launched in the country after the presence of artemisinin-resistant malaria parasites was detected.  The rise of drug-resistant malaria is threatening to render treatments that have saved millions of lives in Africa & Asia over the past decade virtually useless
NAO:  Does the Government have the intelligence to be a customer who gets good value? - The National Audit Office has concluded that ‘lessons from the large body of experience of using PFI can be applied to improve other forms of procurement and help Government achieve its aim of securing annual infrastructure delivery cost savings of £2bn - £3bn.  Government should also do more to act as an ‘intelligent customer’ in the procurement & management of projects’.

To secure the best value for money from all types of procurement, the public sector needs to develop the ‘enablers of success’ which the NAO has identified. These are:
* collecting better data to inform decision-making
* ensuring projects have the right skills
* establishing effective arrangements to test, challenge & , if necessary, stop projects
* using commercial awareness to obtain better deals

The case for using private finance in public procurement needs to be challenged more, given the spending watchdog’s previous analysis that the cost of debt finance has increased since the credit crisis by 20% to 33%.  Also, under the national accounting rules, privately financed projects will often still be off balance-sheet which may continue to act as an incentive to use PFI.  The NAO concludes that, in the current climate, the use of private finance may not be as suitable for as many projects as it has been in the past.
Press release ~ Lessons from PFI and other projects ~ CBI comment ~ Related reports ~ HMT: Pilot to achieve saving in PFI contracts ~ Report: PFI in Housing and Hospitals ~ Build and Beyond: The (r)evolution of healthcare PPPs ~ Report: Financing PFI projects in the credit crisis and the Treasury's response ~ HCA: Housing PFI projects in procurement ~ Related press release ~ NAO report on widening M25 ~ Related links ~ NAO: Financing PFI projects in the credit crisis and the Treasury's response ~ Infrastructure Financing Unit ~ The performance and management of hospital PFI contracts ~ Managing high value capital equipment in the NHS in England ~ Who is responsible for Typhoon cost rising? ~ NAO: The Major Projects Report 2010 ~ Full report - Assurance for high risk projects ~ OGC Gateway reviews ~ Major Project Review Group ~ NAO: Commercial skills for complex government projects ~ OGC’s skills strategy ‘Building the procurement profession in government’ ~ Senior Responsible Owners ~ Project management framework agreement ~ Value For Money in public sector corporate services - A joint project by the UK Public Sector Audit Agencies ~ Public Sector Performance: Efficiency or Quality? ~ Public service reform in Scotland ~ Capability review website ~ News of Good Project Management in the MoD ~ Buyers of public services could reap greater benefits from competition - OFT

WAO:  Food for thought as hospital budgets begin to be squeezed - A recent Wales Audit Office report found hospital catering services in Wales have improved and many patients are satisfied with the food they receive, but more needs to be done to ‘make sure patients get the nutritional care they need’.  Many hospitals in Wales provide patients with an appropriate choice of good quality food and nurses are making efforts to clear up wards before food arrives.

Protected mealtimes times - when all non-urgent clinical activity stops on wards allowing patients to eat without interruptions and nurses are able to assist are becoming more common.  Assembly Government policy initiatives have identified the standards of nutritional care that need to be applied and have encouraged ward sisters to take greater ownership of catering arrangements on their wards. The report highlights that where this strong leadership by nurses was in place, nutritional care of patients was invariably better.

However, there is still much room for improvement. Although most patients are screened for nutritional problems, important information about patients’ nutritional status is often missing.  Not all patients get the help they need at mealtimes and the recording of food intake for at risk patients is not always carried out.

The report found that financial information about catering services is typically poor and needs to improve. Where it exists, it shows that catering costs varies significantly in hospitals across Wales. The daily cost of feeding a patient ranges from £1.33 to £5.66 per day, while non patient catering services (provided by hospitals for staff & visitors) are heavily subsidised, often unknowingly.
Press release & links ~ Hospital Catering & Patient Nutrition ~ Channel 4 Dispatches: Various links on Hospital Food ~ All Wales food record chart & nutritional care pathway ~ Council of Europe Alliance (UK) ‘10 Key Characteristics of Good Nutritional Care’ ~ National Patient Safety Agency: Patient care & treatment (including nutrition)Rehabilitation after critical illness guideline ~ A taste for improving patient safety & quality of life ~ What's food got to do with it? - the Dewsbury Link Nurse Project ~ Spending on hospital food ~ Related PR ~ National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death ~ NCEPOD press release ~ CMO(2009)08,CNO(2009)05: All Wales food record chart and nutritional care pathway ~ Free to Lead, Free to care ~ DH – Better Hospital Food programme ~ DH - Sustainable food: a guide for hospitals ~ Improving Nutritional Care: A joint Action Plan ~ Enhancing the taste of hospital food PR ~ Department of Food Biosciences at Reading ~ See team members talking about the project ~ Patient Environment Action Teams (PEAT) ~ Food Standards Agency - Guidance on food served to older people in residential care ~ British Nutrition Foundation ~ Bapen ~ NICE Guidelines - Nutrition Support in Adults
Whitepaper: Beyond Tick-Box Compliance: UK Public Sector Data Security - Demonstrating compliance and adherence to UK government security standards like Security Policy Framework (SPF), Government Secure Extranet (GCSx) Code of Connection, and Good Practice Guide (GPG) 13 are known core requirement to UK public sector department. But the value of compliance as it relates to data protection is often forgotten as department focus on ticking the compliance box to gain accreditation, pass an external penetration test/audit or complete a report. Yet the Security Policy Framework states, "protective an essential enabler to making government work better. Security risks must be managed effectively, collectively and proportionately, to achieve a secure and confident working environment."

Move beyond tick-box compliance auditing to implementing and enforcing security standards to make government work better and mitigate risk. In this white paper, you will learn how a holistic security programme can demonstrate compliance, reduce expenditures and protect confidential and restricted data.

Simply click here to receive your free copy of the white paper, ‘Beyond Tick-Box Compliance: UK Public Sector Data Security’

Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive

General News

TfL: On Sunday 18 September 2011, 96 professional cyclists will race over 2 stages as the battle for the Tour of Britain reaches a climax in central London with an iconic finish on Whitehall. In a change from recent years some of the world's top cyclists will take on the challenge of a 10km individual time trial in the morning before the Tour of Britain finishes with its traditional circuit race over a total of 80km on a 10km circuit.
FSAVictoria Foods has recalled its Jane Asher Creations Milkybar: My First Baking Mix with a ‘best before’ end dates of October 2011 or November 2011. This is because the Nestlé Milkybar Buttons in the carton may contain small pieces of rubber. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
ACE: A new £200,000 awards scheme to reward talent & achievement in 11-18 year olds in the UK has been launched. The Ambition AXA Awards will give talented young people the chance to win personalised mentoring worth up to £40,000 in the categories of arts, enterprise, science, community and sport. 5 winners will be selected for a total prize fund of £200,000.
AXA UK commissioned an international report, Young People's Attitudes to Ambition, to mark the launch of the awards, which found that while young people in the UK are more ambitious than many of their European counterparts, they need a boost to their self-belief & determination to turn that ambition into success.
MonitorMonitor, the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts, has found that Medway NHS Foundation Trust is in significant breach of the terms of its Authorisation. In particular, Monitor’s Board has residual concerns relating to Board level scrutiny & assurance processes concerning financial planning & performance at the Trust, given the historical lack of effectiveness in these areas. 

After carefully considering all the available evidence, Monitor’s Board decided not to use its formal intervention powers at this stage. However, Monitor will continue to review progress against specific milestones and actions to be agreed with the Trust’s Board.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

HMRC: Tough new plans to tackle the illicit tobacco trade have been published by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Under the new strategy, supported by the UK Border Agency, the Government has provided additional investment for more officers to target organised criminals who smuggle tobacco.

There will be increasing numbers of prosecutions, more illicit tobacco will be seized and smugglers will face fresh financial sanctions.  Minimum indicative levels for travellers bringing tobacco into the UK from the EU will also be reduced, aligning the UK with levels elsewhere in Europe.
Defra: A new Animal Health & Welfare Board for England will bring experts including farmers, veterinarians, welfare experts and others from outside Government together with the Chief Veterinary Officer & civil servants to make direct policy recommendations on policy affecting the health & welfare of all kept animals such as farm animals, horses and pets.


EU News: The European Commission has made public a set of draft best practices aimed at fostering & facilitating information sharing between national competition authorities ("NCAs") within the European Union, for mergers that are not subject to EU merger control, but require clearance in several Member States.  
Comments on these draft best practices, drawn up by a recently set up Commission-NCA Working Group can be submitted until 27 May 2011.  In light of the submissions, the Working Group will review the proposals with a view to publishing a final version in the autumn of 2011.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

Newswire – TUC: Recently the TUC launched a new set of learning resources for use in schools & colleges. Designed for teachers to use in classrooms at secondary schools (key stage level 4 & above), the Unions into Schools website brings together a mass of historical & contemporary information, using rich content such as videos & role play activities to make learning about unions an ‘exciting interactive experience’.
The resources include lesson plans, slide presentations featuring videos, activities & quizzes, factsheets and links to other sites providing complementary materials to help extend students' understanding of unions, their history and the role they play in the contemporary workplace & society.
DfE: The Department for Education is looking at the induction arrangements for newly qualified teachers to see how they can be refined, improved & updated to better meet the needs of teachers and schools. Qualified teachers who are employed in maintained schools in England must, by law, have completed an induction period after their initial training.  The induction period usually lasts for three terms.
The current regulations & guidance on statutory induction were last updated in 2008, run to more than 70 pages and are based on the needs of the school system in 1999.  Some schools say that current process is bureaucratic and can be a barrier to recruiting & retaining good teachers. The DfE will informally consult with key stakeholders such as headteachers, induction coordinators and newly qualified teachers.
The Department will formally consult on new regulations for the statutory induction period in the autumn term. The DfE expect that new arrangements will come into force by September 2012, along with the revised Teachers’ Standards.
CC: The Competition Commission (CC) has published guidance for parties involved in telecoms price appeals.  The new guidelines result from a review published by the CC in January 2011, which made a number of recommendations for the CC & other bodies with the aim of making the overall process for such appeals more effective & efficient. At the same time, the CC consulted on draft guidelines and is now publishing the final version of these along with a summary of responses to the original draft.

General Reports and Other Publications

RUSI: Without a dedicated Minister for the Emergency Services, the forthcoming recommendations from the Coroner's Inquests into 7 July 2005 London bombings are unlikely be implemented in full, claims a new report from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).
The RUSI paper, Anatomy of a Terrorist Attack: What the Coroner's Inquests Revealed about the London Bombings, acknowledges the 7/7 Inquests have pushed the boundaries on transparency, offered unprecedented insight - and unfamiliar public scrutiny - into the modus operandi of the Security Service (MI5), but warns of difficulty implementing the expected Coroner's recommendations on the emergency services when they are published.
Citing previous reports such as that which followed the Kings Cross fire in 1987, the RUSI paper warns the absence of Ministerial oversight for emergency services mean any of the recommendations on emergency response are 'likely to go the way of those from previous reviews: noted and filed until the next major incident occurs.'
The paper also argues the Inquests may influence future government policy, coming as they have ahead of a Green Paper on intelligence in judicial proceedings, due to be published later this year.
Cebr: Bonus payouts in the City for 2010/11 fell by 8% to £6.7bn, down from £7.3bn in the previous fiscal year.
Despite falling bonus payments, City workers continue to earn bumper pay packets bolstered by rising regular pay.

Cebr estimate that average regular pay for City workers in the first quarter of 2011 is some 7% higher than a year ago and much higher than growth of just over 2% for the as a whole – lower bonuses have not put an end to the culture of high remuneration in the City. These are the key findings of updated research into the London and City economy by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).
PC&PE: The Committee of Public Accounts has published a report which, on the basis of evidence from the Department of Health, the Chief Executive of the NHS and The King's Fund, examines the value for money risks & implications of the Health and Social Care Bill.
IISS: A Strategic Comment from the International Institute for Strategic Studies highlights how the Israelis are concerned about the series of uprisings in Arab countries.
IISS: A Strategic Comment from the International Institute for Strategic Studies highlights that although European countries have been prominent in the military operation in Libya, the crisis has exposed sharp disagreements between them.
DECC: UK Energy & Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne, has welcomed the publication by the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE) of a study of climate change legislation in the major economies.
Newswire – CBI: The CBI has warned that that the UK is failing to attract the level of investment needed to build low-carbon infrastructure.  With a third of our energy supply due to close in the next decade and ambitious emissions reductions targets to meet, the UK’s power sector alone needs £150bn of private sector investment over the next 20 years, the CBI said.
But in a new report called Risky Business: Investing in the UK’s low-carbon infrastructure, the CBI reveals that senior business leaders are not convinced that the UK can attract low-carbon investment at the scale & pace required.
PwC: UK workers have an average (median) 10 days unscheduled absence from their jobs each year, around twice that of their counterparts in the US (5.5 days) and Asia-Pacific (4.5 days), but on a par with Western Europe (9.7 days). Sickness accounts for around 80% of absence, which also covers jury service and compassionate leave.
With the average UK salary around £25,000, absenteeism is costing British business approximately £32bn per annum, far more than previous studies have suggested.  This figure is also likely to be conservative, as it reflects direct cost of absence and does not take into account potential replacement costs and lost productivity.
The research highlights the impact workplace culture can have on absence. PwC’s data shows the public sector has the highest absence levels, averaging 12.2 days. Absenteeism is also a problem for retail and leisure, at 11.5 days.
Newswire – SA: Hundreds of UK farmers could be driven out of business if planning permission is granted for mega farms in Britain, a joint report from the Soil Association and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) reveals. The possible impact on small & family farms is revealed as Derbyshire County Council starts a public consultation on plans for a giant pig factory at Foston.
BIS: Science Minister David Willetts has underlined his commitment to engage the public with science, after the Public Attitudes to Science 2011 survey (published this week) showed that whilst there is an increasing appreciation for science, people feel less informed about it.

Legislation / Legal

Ofgem: A new rule (introduced by energy regulator Ofgem) takes effect from 28 April 2011, meaning energy suppliers must give consumers at least 30 days advance notice if they put their prices up.
In addition, on 21 March 2011 (following its review of the energy retail market), Ofgem published proposals for widespread reforms to tackle poor supplier behaviour, sweep away confusing tariffs and break the stranglehold of the big six on the energy market.  The industry has until 1 June 2011to respond.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: The European Commission has adopted a Decision on how free emission allowances should be allocated from 2013 to industrial installations covered by the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).

Although auctioning will become the main principle for allocating allowances as of 2013, a proportion of free allowances will still be given to industry until 2020, notably to reduce costs for installations in sectors deemed to be exposed to significant competition from outside the EU.
EU News: The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has criticised the misleading information given to air passengers by the European Commission during the volcanic ash crisis in 2010.  This followed a complaint from the European Regions Airline Association about, among others, inaccurate information concerning compensation for delayed luggage.  The Ombudsman asked the Commission to inform him by 31 May 2011 of the measures taken to prevent such a problem from occurring in the future.
EU News: May 1st 2011 marked the removal of restrictions on the right to work in any Member State for citizens from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia.  All workers from the countries that joined the EU in 2004 will now be able to take up employment freely in those Member States where labour market restrictions have been in place until the very end of the 7 year transitional period ending April 30th 2011.
EU News: The European Commission has made public a set of draft best practices aimed at fostering & facilitating information sharing between national competition authorities ("NCAs") within the European Union, for mergers that are not subject to EU merger control, but require clearance in several Member States.  Comments can be submitted until 27 May 2011 – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

Charities / Voluntary Organisations / Third Sector
BHF: New research claims heart attacks in the morning are likely to cause more damage to your heart than an attack at other times of the day.  The British Heart Foundation say ‘whatever the time, call 999 straight away’.
Scientists in Spain looked at the time of day heart attacks occurred and the level of enzymes raised afterwards as they are an indicator of damage to the heart muscle.  They found that people who had a heart attack between 6am and 12 noon had 20% more damage to their heart muscle than people who had heart attacks later in the day.

Business and Other Briefings

PwC: Companies could add between 5 – 11% to their energy bills if they don’t submit their first Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) report right first time, according to analysis by PwC of the potential costs of business getting their reporting wrong.

Over 3,000 organisations, mostly with energy bills of more than £500,000, are affected by the scheme, and must submit their first reports by the 31 July 2011.  The scheme relies on companies’ ability to gather the raw numbers related to their usage of electricity, gas, diesel & coal across all of their sites in a CRC Footprint Report and a CRC Annual Report. The report must be verified by the company and can be spot audited by the Environment Agency.
HO: The first monthly allocation of restricted Tier 2 (General) certificates of sponsorship took place on 11 April 2011. All valid applications received by 6 April 2011 were successful, if they scored at least 32 points. You can find details of the April allocation on the Allocations of restricted certificates of sponsorship page, which will also contain details of all future monthly allocations as they are announced.

Industry News

BSBuying Solutions are pleased to announce their 2011-12 programme of aggregated eAuctions is now available. 
OfgemOfgem E-Serve has announced a short list of 4 bidders competing to own & run high-voltage transmission links for 3 offshore wind farms. The shortlist of bidders follows strong interest in the first round of tenders which attracted £4bn investment appetite. Preferred bidders for links will be announced from autumn 2011.

Forthcoming Event

LSIS: Following the successful pilot of its redesigned leadership development framework, Learning and Skills Improvement Services has announced that the first 4 modules are now available – heralding a new approach based on greater choice, flexibility and personalisation.
To be held in the midlands, the first 4 events are:
* personal development as leader & manager for first line managers: 22 & 23 June 2011 (residential)
* leading people for first line managers: 14 & 30 June 2011
* leadership, vision and strategy for middle managers:  9 & 30 June 2011
* leading quality improvement for middle managers: dates to be confirmed
All the modules offer participants the option of gaining qualifications accredited by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). Further modules will become available from autumn 2011
BS: Last year BS ran a series of regional seminars for the NHS which provided an introduction to Buying Solutions and its extensive offering.  Following on from this, BS would like to invite you to attend one of the following seminars (during May & June) where they will take a deeper look at their categories.
There are limited places so please register as soon as possible, indicating which categories you are interested in hearing about – ICT, Travel, Fleet, Professional Services, Property & Estates, Energy and/or Office Solutions & Supplies.

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.
Business IT Support by: Trusted IT