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

CLGFraud ‘robs’ the needy of essential services - A new 10-point counter-fraud blueprint for tackling criminals & dishonest people who are costing the country £bns in fraudulent local government claims has been published by Communities and Local Government, Secretary Eric Pickles (see press release for blueprint).

According to the National Fraud Authority Annual Fraud Indicator, Local government could be saving taxpayers £2.1bn a year.  Money currently lost to fraud & error costs every household in England almost £100 a year.  Housing tenancy fraud is now one of the most significant frauds affecting the country's economy - temporary accommodation for homeless families costs councils nearly £1bn a year, an average of £18,000 for each family.

The Government's Counter Fraud Task Force was launched last year to develop a new strategic approach to tackling fraud across the public sector with a focus on prevention.  It will report in May 2011.
Press release & links ~ The Guide to tackling housing tenancy fraud ~ National Fraud Authority ~ National Fraud Authority Annual Fraud Indicator ~ Related PAC PR ~ AC: Protecting the Public Purse ~ Other AC Fraud links ~ SFO – Public Sector Fraud ~ NAO: Fraud Prevention ~ NAO Fraud links ~ MPs publish report on reducing errors in the benefits system ~ Counter Fraud Champions to help crackdown on fraud ~ Report a fraud - Action Fraud ~ OS press release ~ Total frauds in Britain in 2008 and 2009 ~ ID frauds in Britain in 2008 and 2009 ~ Ordnance Survey’s Use OS OpenData  - Seminar papers ~ NAO: Minimising the cost of administrative errors in the benefit system ~ CBI comment ~ National Fraud Initiative ~ NHS Counter Fraud Service ~ Local Authority Investigation Officers Group (LAIOG) ~ Local Government Fraud Manual ~ CLG: Social Housing Fraud Communications Toolkit ~ Tackling unlawful subletting and occupancy: Good practice guidance for social landlords ~ DWP - Benefit Fraud Inspectorate ~ International benchmark of fraud and error in social security systems ~ Department for Work and Pensions DWP : Targeting Benefit Thieves ~ UK Benefit Fraud in Spain ~ Insurance Fraud Investigators Group (IFIG) ~ Future of local public audit: Consultation (closes 30 June 2011) ~ Fraud Advisory Panel ~ Fraudweb ~ National Anti-Fraud Network

Newswire - ICOYou might be able to ‘demand it’ from clients, but you will also now ‘pay for it’ if you are careless with it - A new statutory code of practice designed to 'help businesses & public sector bodies share people’s personal information appropriately' has been published by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).  The data sharing code of practice covers both routine & one-off instances of data sharing.

It includes good practice advice that will be helpful to all organisations that share personal information – for example when local authorities share information with the health service or when building societies provide information to a credit reference agency.  The code gives advice on when & how personal information can be shared as well as how to keep it secure.
Press release & links ~ Parliamentary Ombudsman criticises government agencies for data sharing blame game ~ CESG: HMG IA Maturity Mode portal page ~ Data Handling Review ~ Managing Information Risk – A Guide for Accounting Officers, Board members and SIROs ~ Good Practice Guide: the internal audit role in information assurance (February 2009) ~ JISC Infonet: What is currently driving Shared Service initiatives? ~ HMG Security Policy Framework ~ The right information, in the right place, at the right time: A study of how healthcare organisations manage personal data ~ Making a difference: Safe and secure data sharing between health and adult social care staff ~ Information Governance ~ MoJ: Data sharing protocol ~ 2010 Information Security Breaches Survey (ISBS) ~ Information Security - BIS ~ Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance (OCSIA) ~ Information Security Awareness Forum ~ GetSafeOnline ~ Information Assurance Advisory Council (IAAC) ~ Jericho Forum ~ Security Awareness Special Interest Group (SASIG) ~ Information Security Forum (ISF) ~ Socitm – Information Assurance ~ Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) ~ JRF: Database State - a comprehensive map of UK government databases ~ Advanced Information Assurance Handbook (VLF 10Mb) ~ ICO fines former ACS Law boss for lax IT security Fine could have been £200,000 if firm was still trading ~ A survey has revealed that 80% of people are concerned about protecting their personal information online, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said today ~ ICO - Councillors urged to check their data protection obligations ~ ICO - Council caught out after loss of memory stick ~ ICO - First monetary penalties served for serious data protection breaches

COApart from the technical issues there is the problem of how it will accessed by the ‘digitally excluded’ - The Coalition Government has launched an early prototype of a potential single government web domain, aimed at making public services easier to use.  The prototype single domain, named alphagov, was recommended by Martha Lane Fox in her review of government digital services published last year.

Prototypes are a normal way that large organisations, such as the BBC, test their web services, but this has never before been done in Government.  Alphagov is available on line for comment for 2 months and aims to provide a single place for all central government department information.

In the long run it will include a whole range of government services such as tax return and car tax applications.  The prototype currently just contains answers to the top 100 most frequently asked questions in government such as what to do if you lose your passport.  By moving departmental website information into one place, the Government anticipates that it would save over 50% of the £130m it spends on internet publishing each year.
ESRC:  It is not as hopeless as one may think to help the homeless - Resettlement services over the last few years have helped many homeless people make positive changes in their lives.  The largest study in the UK of the resettlement of single homeless people has found that 81% of a large representative sample were still living independently 18 months after being re-housed. 

The research indicated that most people in the study were glad to have moved, were optimistic about the future, and were rebuilding their lives.  Some had started jobs or training courses, and several had renewed contact with their family or children or built new friendships. 
Newswire – LCBut how will it be funded? - The Law Commission's latest report on Adult Social care makes 'recommendations for a single, clear, modern statute and code of practice that would pave the way for a coherent social care system.' 

Under the reforms proposed in the report, older people, disabled people, those with mental health problems and carers will, for the first time, be clear about their legal rights to care & support services.  Local councils across England and Wales will have clear and concise rules to govern when they must provide services.
Press release & links

Forthcoming event: Gartner Application Architecture, Development & Integration Summit | 16 - 17 June 2011| London - Cloud, SOA, Agile and Applications Overhaul: A Modern Applications Strategy - As an application leader within Government and Public Sector you face many challenges. As cost is a major ongoing consideration, a relentless focus is required to determine what trends to embrace, what technologies to invest in and what deployment models to adopt. Cloud, web, mobile and social trends will have a major impact on governments and public sector institutions and the implications for overall application architectures will be significant.

The upcoming Gartner Application Architecture, Development & Integration Summit, 16 – 17 June 2011 in London, UK, is the must-attend event for application leaders who want to learn about the critical building blocks of a successful applications strategy: Cloud, SOA, Agile development and Applications Overhaul.

Click here View the full agenda and to register.

General News

BIS: The UK has assumed leadership of the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters.  The Charter is an organisation that coordinates space agencies worldwide in gathering vital satellite images of disaster-stricken regions - providing the images to civil protection authorities to inform their response efforts & save lives.
 
Since it was set up in 1999, the Charter has helped in more than 300 disasters for more than 100 countries.  So far this year, the Charter has been activated for the flooding in Australia, Brazil, Mozambique, Namibia and most recently in central Midwest America, as well as hurricane Yasi and earthquakes in Pakistan, New Zealand and Japan.
 
Directgov: Since 11 April 2011, certain categories of severely sight-impaired people have been eligible to claim the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA). The Disability & Carers Service have been contacting sight-impaired people who receive the lower rate mobility component of DLA.  The reason for this is to find out if they qualify for the higher rate mobility component under the new criteria.  The exercise to contact these customers is now complete and the dedicated phone line is closed.
 
If you have been contacted as part of this exercise the DCS will provide you with a decision as quickly as possible.  However please note where more medical information is needed it may take longer before a decision can be made. 
 
FSALidl is recalling St Maarten Classic Belgian Cheese Slices because they may be contaminated with listeria.  The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
 
Newswire – WWFWWF welcomed the decision by the French politicians last week to ban 'fracking' and called on the Government to follow their lead, given current environmental concerns around shale gas extraction. 

'Fracking', or hydraulic fracturing, is a technique used to extract shale gas from rock by injecting chemicals, water and sand into shale rock formations under high pressure.  Environmental concerns around the process include the contamination of water supplies by the fracking fluids and from gas leaking into water supplies, creating risks of explosions.
 
MoD: An ice sledge hockey squad made up of injured Service personnel took to the rink last week following a year's worth of preparation to get them ready to compete in the national ice sledge hockey league. The Battle Back Bisons have received sponsorship from the Worshipful Company of Wheelwrights and Help for Heroes to provide specialist equipment for the squad members.  Players sit in adapted sledges, propelling themselves with adapted sticks in a manner similar to skiing.
 
Sledge hockey is a variant of ice hockey and can be played on & off ice, using sledges to allow participants to move around the rink at high speeds, hitting a puck which travels at speeds of up to 100kph. The team's home will be the Planet Ice Arena in Basingstoke and the squad will be open to all injured Service personnel who express an interest in taking part.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

MoD: UK Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, played host last week to his French counterpart in London to exchange the ratified Defence & Security Co-operation Treaty between the 2 countries. The meeting between Dr Fox and the French Defence Minister, Gérard Longuet, was the final step before the UK-France Defence and Security Co-operation Treaty formally comes into force on 1 July 2011.
 
The treaty was signed at last November's bilateral Summit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy & British Prime Minister David Cameron. As key members of NATO and the leading military nations in Europe, the UK & France recognise the importance of a strong UK-France relationship for the defence & security of both nations.
 
MoD: The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) came into being on 1 April 2011 with a clear goal to deliver better strategic management of the Defence Estate. It pulls together a number of roles, functions, & staff from the former Defence Estates (DE) organisation & infrastructure personnel from organisations across Defence such as the Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force and Defence Equipment & Support.
 
The new organisation must achieve significant running cost reductions, improve estate utilisation and drive further estate rationalisation & commercialisation opportunities.  Through the sale of surplus land & buildings and other efficiency measures, the DIO aims to deliver savings of some £1.2bn over the next 4 years.
 
BIS: The drive to stimulate local economic growth was ‘stepped up’ last week when Business Minister Mark Prisk announced a package with 3 measures to help local enterprise partnerships get up & running:
* Firstly the partnerships are being invited to submit bids for a share of a £5m Start-Up Fund
* Secondly, from now partnerships will also have access to an online Toolbox which provides comprehensive information on economic development activity across government departments and ideas for strong partnership/government working
* Thirdly, they will also be able to access information through the new BIS Local network which will be the first point of contact on any issues
 
CLG: Last November, Mr Clark announced the Government's plans to reform the Community Infrastructure Levy - which has the potential to raise an estimated additional £1bn a year of funding (by 2016) to support growth locally - and invited local authorities to apply to become part of the Front Runners' project to develop the best approach to implementing the Levy in their area.
 
The first phase of the project is now underway and local authorities are now being offered places to take part in a second phase. Each front-runner will have access to a tailored package of support from the Planning Advisory Service to help them set a charge for their area, which is likely to include group workshops, good practice advice, and lessons learned from the first local authorities to implement the Levy.
 
To ensure all those who have an interest in the levy and who might be involved in its operation fully understand its key features, its rationale, purpose & how it will work in practice, 2 new information documents about the levy will shortly be released - one on collection & enforcement and another on reliefs & exemptions - alongside a revised version of the Departments Community Infrastructure Levy overview.
 
DfE: The Government has announced plans to ensure that more young people leave school or college with a good grasp of English and maths. It means that those who have failed to get a C or better in GCSE English or maths ‘will study the subjects until they get good qualifications’

The move will address concerns that standards of literacy & numeracy among young people are not good enough. The recommendation was among those proposed by Professor Alison Wolf when she published her review of vocational education in March 2011.

Consultations

OfcomOfcom is asking consumers to get in touch (by 14 June 2011) if they have received a higher than expected mobile, landline or broadband bill in the past 12 months. Consumers can sometimes find themselves faced with bills for unexpected costs such as using their mobile abroad, making more calls than their monthly allowance, having their phone stolen, calling expensive or premium rate numbers, or downloading data.
 
Ofcom would like to hear from consumers that have received a one-off unusually higher than expected mobile, landline, or broadband bill in the past 12 months, to consider whether there is a need for further action either by Ofcom or by communications providers.  Ofcom is also talking to communications providers about the steps they already take to protect their customers from unexpectedly high bills.
 
SC: The Sentencing Council has launched a public consultation on its proposals to introduce a new guideline for judges & magistrates on the sentences for all offences which involve burglary. The draft guideline reinforces current sentencing practice, which means that offenders committing domestic burglaries can expect a custodial sentence.  It does not propose any reduction in sentences for burglars.
 
It places a renewed emphasis on the impact of burglaries on victims, ensuring that they are of primary concern in the sentencing process.  When sentencing burglars, therefore, the draft guideline asks judges to focus on the harm to the victim, as well as the culpability of the offender.  For example, if a victim is at home when a burglary takes place or if significant trauma is experienced by the victim, the draft guideline directs the judge towards a more severe sentence. 
 
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has launched a consultation (closes on 4 August 2011) to get the public’s views on a framework that will be used when deciding when & how to use external data from industry & non-governmental organisations.  The framework will also be used when considering whether to jointly fund research with industry or non-governmental organisations.
 
Defra: Businesses & investors are being asked for their views on the most effective way to improve the reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by companies. A consultation published by Defra sets out four options to achieve more widespread & consistent reporting.  The consultation closes on 5 July 2011 and a decision on the direction the Government will take is expected to be made in the autumn.
 
Research has shown that reporting emissions has helped companies achieve reductions & cost savings, increase interest at board level of environmental issues and improve their environmental image with clients & investors.
 
DCMSWant to move the May Day Bank Holiday to October?  Fancy celebrating a patron saint day with a Bank Holiday earlier in the year?  Whatever your views, a discussion on proposals to move the May Day Bank Holiday has begun with people being asked to contribute their ideas via the consultation page of the DCMS website or join the debate on Twitter using the hashtag #bankhol.

All the opinions & ideas will be gathered together and whittled down to form the options contained in a formal public consultation to be launched later this year, one of which will be to retain the current arrangements.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

YPLA: In response to the request in the Skills Strategy & Spending Review, the Skills Funding Agency and YPLA have been working together to develop lead arrangements for general further education colleges & sixth form colleges.  Under the new arrangements these colleges will deal with a single agency for funding agreement & performance management, audit and intervention.
 
ICO: A new statutory code of practice designed to help businesses & public sector bodies share people’s personal information appropriately has been published by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).  The data sharing code of practice covers both routine & one-off instances of data sharing – See ‘In the News Section’ for more information.

Annual Reports

Newswire – HPA: Reports of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne infection, have more than doubled in UK travellers from 166 reported cases in 2009 to 406 in 2010, according to new figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA). Dengue fever does not occur in the UK and the highest proportion of cases were associated with travel to India - 84 cases (21%) & Thailand - 61 cases (15%).
 
This increase in dengue reports is coupled with a 34% rise in the number of reported cases of chikungunya, another mosquito borne infection, which rose from 59 cases in 2009 to 79 in 2010.  Nearly 50% of these cases were associated with travel to India. There is no vaccine or drug to prevent or treat either disease and supportive care is based on management of symptoms.
 
Directgov: An interactive map showing how clean bathing waters are at 500 sites across England & Wales has been published.  Profiles have also been created for each site, helping bathers make more informed choices about the best locations to visit & enjoy. Individual profiles have also been created for each site, complete with maps, photos & descriptions of the beach & surrounding area, rivers & streams feeding into the site.
 
CBI: The UK economy lost 190m working days to absence last year, with each employee taking an average of 6.5 days off sick, according to the latest CBI/Pfizer Absence and Workplace Health Survey.  Despite the introduction of the new ‘fit note’ in 2010, the rate of absence last year was marginally higher than in 2009, when employees averaged 6.4 sick days, the lowest rate since the survey began in 1987.
 
The 190m days cost employers £17bn, including over £2.7bn from 30.4m days of non-genuine sickness absence – so-called ‘sickies’.  This does not include the other indirect costs of absence, like lower customer service and lost productivity.
 
HFEA: New figures released show that multiple births from IVF continue to fall.  This follows the HFEA’s initiative to reduce multiple births (the single biggest risk of fertility treatment) and is supported by leading professional bodies in the sector.
 
The policy is part of a wider national strategy to reduce the number of multiple births resulting from fertility treatment, involving representatives from professional bodies, patient groups and NHS-funding bodies.  The ‘One at a Time’ website provides clinics with the tools to change their clinical practice, information to patients and aims to share best practice across the sector.
 
DCMS: The Government has published updated business plans for each government department with full details of changes made to the plans since they were first published in November 2010. The plans reflect an updated assessment of when the Government will implement its commitments set out in the Programme for Government.

General Reports and Other Publications

Newswire – CCC: The Committee on Climate Change said recently, that ‘renewable energy should make a major contribution to decarbonising the UK economy over the next decades’. The conclusions are set out in the Committee’s Renewable Energy Review which was requested under the Coalition Agreement.

The review concludes that a renewable energy share of around 30% by 2030 would be appropriate, with scope for a higher share (e.g. up to 45%) depending on the extent to which renewable technology costs fall and possible constraints on deployment of low-carbon alternatives.
 
DWP: The Department for Work and Pensions has published the findings from the evaluation of a small-scale Jobcentre Plus trial aimed at customers suffering from drug & alcohol addiction.  The Intensive Activity trial took place between May & July 2010 and offered an enhanced service to claimants with dependency issues including the regular presence of a treatment provider in Jobcentres. 
 
The trial was designed to help understand some of the issues that affect claimants’ propensity to disclose their addiction, to improve partnership working between treatment providers & Jobcentres and to increase the level of voluntarily referrals to treatment.
 
TWF: George Osborne’s ‘March of the Makers’ may have been leading the UK revival, however a report published recently by The Work Foundation argues that ‘any strategy for growth must also harness the power of the business services sector, which has now replaced manufacturing as the mainstay of the UK economy’.
 
By itself, manufacturing is no longer big enough to sustain the recovery.  With the business services sector now twice the size of manufacturing, it is integral to the country’s prosperity over the coming decade. The report also outlines the actions that must be prioritised if the UK is to maximise the economic benefits of business services.
 
Newswire – LGA: Responding to the Competition Commission's interim findings on opening up the bus market, Cllr Peter Box, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Economy and Transport Board, said: …   “We need to break up the markets and introduce more competition in the bus industry to stop a small number of multi-national companies dominating our towns, cities and villages.  This report recognises that councils are best placed to commission services, which would increase competition locally and deliver better value for money for passengers and taxpayers. …………….” 
 
Demos: As thousands of disabled people prepared to march on central London to protest the cuts last week, a new Demos report funded by Scope reveals a startling gap between rhetoric & reality when it comes to the Government’s pledge to protect the sick, elderly and vulnerable.
 
Destination Unknown: Spring 2011, claims to show that far from being protected, disabled people and their families as a whole find themselves hundreds of millions worse off in 2011. The tracker study gives ‘concrete evidence’ to the concerns which drove thousands of people to protest at a march to Westminster on Wednesday 11 May to demonstrate against the impact of cuts.
 
It follows the first Destination Unknown report which forecast that disabled people faced a drop in their income of over £9bn during this Parliament. The report follows 5 typical disabled households and ‘lays bare the financial impact of the Coalition’s spending cuts and benefits reforms’.
 
CSJ: The Government’s record on supporting marriage & the family has come under fire from think-tank Centre for Social Justice in a report published to coincide with the first anniversary of the formation of the Coalition. The report gives Ministers just 2/10 for their efforts to reverse high & damaging levels of family breakdown.
 
Pre-election promises by David Cameron to reinstate a tax break for marriage have ‘moved off radar’ as a result of the deals done with Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats, the report says. Although marriage is no magic bullet, the evidence shows that children born outside wedlock are far more likely to grow up in poverty and experience poorer life chances.
 
PwC: The offshore wind power industry has some way to go to prove it can take its place as a sustainable part of the energy mix, according to Offshore Proof, a survey commissioned by PwC of major players in the industry including developers, manufacturers and utilities firms.
 
Cost & technological track record remain major challenges for offshore wind power according to the report.  For example, despite support for major expansion in Europe’s North Sea, government bodies are split between positive & negative sentiment about offshore wind power.
 
PC&PE: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will not be back at the centre of Government and able to lead UK foreign policy, in line with William Hague’s ambitions, unless it can provide deep foreign policy expertise & judgement to underpin & implement Government decision-making, says the Foreign Affairs Committee in a new report.
 
The FCO must have the resources & skills required to fulfil this role, especially specialist geographical expertise and knowledge of foreign languages.  The report states that the FCO has a vital role to play for the Government, namely the timely provision of world-class foreign policy information, analysis, judgement and execution.
 
Socitm: Outgoing Socitm President, Jos Creese, launched the Strategy for local public services reform at the Socitm Spring conference in London on 11 May 2011. The Strategy, prepared by Socitm for the Local CIO Council, envisages a future in which there will be unprecedented levels of collaboration between local authorities, emergency services, health, education & civil society organisations, leading to radical re-design of local public service delivery.
 
The focus of the Strategy is much less about technology than it is about the 'what and how' of organisational change. Where it does focus on technology, this is around how to extract value from ICT and banish unhelpful, technology-led cultures & practices that all too frequently have accompanied ICT procurement, deployment and management in parts of the public sector.

Most crucially, it offers a local dimension to the recently published which should help with its successful implementation.
Press release ~ Planting the Flag - Executive summary (Full version available on Socitm website in week beginning 16 May) ~ National Government ICT Strategy ~ ICO: A new statutory code of practice designed to help businesses & public sector bodies share people’s personal information – See ‘In the News Section’ for more information.
 
IISS: The latest Strategic Comment from the International Institute for Strategic Studies examines how the huge earthquake off the Japanese coast on 11 March 2011continues to send ripples across the globe, especially in the nuclear industry.
 
PC&PE: The Commons Welsh Affairs Committee says in their report that the Government must ensure the operational & financial independence of S4C (the Welsh language broadcaster) under the proposed deepened partnership with the BBC.
 
UKBA: The UK Border Agency needs to ensure that its arrest teams are fully compliant with the Agency’s policy & guidance, said John Vine CBE QPM, the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, publishing his short-notice inspection report of the Croydon arrest team.
 
UKBA: The UK Border Agency needs to focus on the outcome of intelligence and assess how often allegations lead to the prevention or detection of immigration & customs offences, said John Vine CBE QPM, the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, publishing his thematic inspection report on how the UK Border Agency receives and uses intelligence.
 
PC&PE: More can & should be done to ensure UK transport networks continue to operate in severe winter weather, say MPs on the Commons Transport Committee in a report examining how snow chaos last December closed Heathrow, disabled parts of the rail network and disrupted many roads.  The welfare of air & rail passenger must be taken more seriously and better real time information must be provided to road users. 
 
Ofsted: The latest report from the Children’s Rights Director, Dr Roger Morgan, reveals that 43% of the children in care consulted believe they would not have needed to come into the system had they received more support.  However, 36% of those who responded to the survey reported that even with additional support for them & their families, they would still have needed to enter into care.
 
Children on the edge of care gives direct accounts of children’s own experience and their views about coming into care and returning home.  The survey consulted 122 children across the country on what could be done to help them and the support needed to face these circumstances.
 
PC&PE: MPs have expressed concern that only $700m of a $2bn appeal has been delivered on the ground to help those in need.  MPs on the Committee have branded this unacceptable given that there are millions of people still in need of humanitarian assistance and living in camps.
 
The report also calls on the Department for International Development and the wider international community to pay greater attention to disaster preparedness & risk reduction as climate change is likely to increase the frequency & severity of natural disasters.  Densely populated urban areas are at greatest risk in terms of loss of life & livelihoods.
 
CH: The relationships between Yemen and its Gulf neighbours are coming under increased pressures as the Arab Spring sweeps the region.  A new Chatham House briefing paper - Yemen and the Gulf States: Elite Politics, Street Protests and Regional Diplomacy -  examines how these changes will impact on the entrenched elite structures which have defined regional diplomacy for so long and analyses the critical role of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in addressing the security risks posed by the situation in Yemen.
 
Ofsted: An Ofsted report looking at best practice in English teaching in schools, says that ‘teaching held in check by an inappropriate or dull curriculum will not inspire pupils or generate high standards’.  Each one of 12 outstanding schools inspected for the survey was found to provide an innovative or creative curriculum for English explicitly and successfully designed around the particular needs of their pupils.  

Excellent team work, collaboration and sharing of best practice generated a consistency of approach especially in the crucial area of the quality of teaching. All the schools featured in the report, ‘Excellence in English.  What we can learn from 12 outstanding schools’, face challenging conditions, but all have enabled pupils to make very good progress in English.

Legislation / Legal

OfcomOfcom has outlined new consumer protection powers which could soon boost its abilities to tackle scams & mis-selling. Currently if a company is found to have breached Ofcom’s rules it is given a month to address the problem.  If it complies within that time Ofcom does not currently have the power to take further action.
 
However the new rules – which are now before Parliament – would mean Ofcom could fine the company as soon as the breach was discovered.  This fine could be up to 10% of relevant turnover. Ofcom also expects to have strengthened powers to fine a company up to a maximum of £20,000 per day for each day if the breach carries on.
 
These changes to the law are part of a package of new powers & requirements under the revised European Electronic Communications Framework.  If Parliament approves proposed changes to the existing law, these new powers would be available to Ofcom from 26 May 2011.
 
BIS: The Government has announced new areas that it will consider reforming as part of its review of employment red tape – including:
* collective redundancy consultation periods
* the Transfer Undertakings Protection of Employment Regulations (TUPE)
* compensation for discrimination awarded by employment tribunals
 
DfT: Plans to improve road safety education, while taking tough action against the small minority of dangerous drivers, have been set out by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond.  Careless driving will be made a fixed penalty offence to allow the police more effectively to tackle reckless driving that puts other road users in danger, while disqualified drivers face having to take a new test before regaining their licence.
 
There will also be more educational courses that can be offered in place of a fixed penalty & points in appropriate cases as well as a new post-test qualification for novice drivers, under plans set out in the new Strategic Framework for Road Safety.
 
Defra: High welfare standards for travelling performing wild animals in circuses will be ensured through a strict new licensing regime, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said last week. Any circuses in England that wish to have wild animals performing in them will need to demonstrate that they meet high animal welfare standards for each animal before they can be granted a licence to keep those animals.
 
All kept animals in England including in circuses are covered by the Animal Welfare Act 2006.  The new licensing system will be brought in through the Act.
 
Newswire – LC: The Law Commission's latest report on Adult Social Care makes recommendations for a single, clear, modern statute and code of practice that would pave the way for a coherent social care system. Local councils across England & Wales will have clear & concise rules to govern when they must provide services – See ‘In the News Section’ for more information.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: More than 90% of European hospitals are connected to broadband, 80% have electronic patient record systems, but only 4% of hospitals grant patients online access to their electronic records, according to the results of a survey conducted for the European Commission.
 
The survey provides useful data for the work of the EU eHealth Task Force on assessing the role of information & communications technologies (ICT) in health & social care, which is due to suggest ways for ICT to speed up innovation in healthcare to the benefit of patients, carers and the healthcare sector.
 
EU News: Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda, has welcomed the adoption of the European Parliament's position at first reading on the proposal for a Decision establishing a Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP).
 
The Commission's proposal to establish a 5-year policy programme would promote efficient radio spectrum management and, in particular, ensure that sufficient spectrum is made available by 2013 for wireless broadband (which would significantly contribute bringing fast broadband connections to people in remote areas and to make innovative services available across Europe).

Charity and Voluntary Sector

DWP: The Government has announced an extra £3m for disabled people’s grassroots organisations to better deliver services disabled people really need. User-led organisations (ULOs) will be able to bid for the extra money for specific projects that will make a significant difference to their development & sustainability from July 2011. Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller, is also appealing for 'ambassadors' to share best practise across the country.
 
BIG: Every child has the potential to succeed in life and yet each year thousands of young people find themselves entering the criminal justice system.  Last week the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) opened its search for a UK Partner to help deliver a new £25mn programme that will support young people at-risk to avoid the pathways into offending.
 
BIG’s new Realising Ambition programme is to look for outstanding projects across the UK that have already proven their effectiveness in diverting young people from crime and will provide funding so these effective approaches can be replicated elsewhere.  

The programme is focused on young people aged 8-14 years old who have not yet had any formal contact with the justice system.  Organisations interested in applying to become a UK Partner are invited to register their interest in attending a briefing event held on 26 May 2011.

Industry News

OS: This week, metadata about Ordnance Survey’s products has been made available through data.gov.uk, alongside INSPIRE-compliant view services through the OS OnDemand web map service.  The INSPIRE Directive establishes a framework for easier sharing of geographic information among European public bodies and improved accessibility to the public.
 
One of the first steps for organisations producing data which falls under INSPIRE was the creation of metadata.  Ordnance Survey’s metadata is now available for other public bodies and the public to access on their website and on data.gov.uk
 
In addition, customers of the OS OnDemand web map service will be able to view INSPIRE-related products as a raster image via an INSPIRE-compliant view service.  The service, which delivers OS’s most up-to-date mapping over the web to an organisation in seconds, has recently upgraded to ensure compliance and added more raster images of products.  
 
These include Strategi, Meridian 2, OS VectorMap Local, Land-Form PROFILE and OS MasterMap Integrated Transport Network Layer.  A further update later in the year will see OS VectorMap District and the National Address Gazetteer added to OS OnDemand.
 
DH: Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, and leading figures from health charities have launched the UK's first online health tracker that lets patients track their recovery live and provides essential data to help shape clinical decisions in the NHS.
 
HealthUnlocked Tracker is the UK’s first online patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) system lets patients record their progress in real time in-clinic using an iPad.  The patients use the same system at home to track their progress over the internet.
 
HealthUnlocked Tracker is being trialled at the RoyalNationalOrthopaedicHospital (RNOH).  The on-going pilot will measure the effectiveness of spinal surgery over a prolonged period, gathering essential data in an efficient & user-friendly way.
 
BEH-MHTBarnet Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust (BEH-MHT), one of the largest mental health trusts in the country, is making a radical change in the way its computer & communications services are managed.  BEH-MHT has become the first NHS Trust in the UK to outsource its entire IT and communications technologyto HP - the world's largest IT company.
 
Under the agreement HP will modernise all the Trust's technology bringing together data & voice services thereby helping the Trust to deliver improved mental & physical healthcare services - as close as possible to the people who need them.

Forthcoming Event

ESRC: Urban conflict is nothing new in cities like Belfast, Jerusalem and major cities in the Middle East.  An international conference will take place at Queen’s University in Belfast (19-21 May 2011) exploring how cities have been shaped by ethnic, religious and national conflicts.
 
The conference is part of a 5-year project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) entitled 'Conflict in Cities and the Contested State: Everyday Life and the Possibilities for Transformation of Conflict in Belfast, Jerusalem and Other Divided Cities' (CinC).
 
This conference will address questions on how cities and everyday urban life are used & abused in the containment of wider national conflicts.  Sessions and forums will explore the potential cities have for achieving self-control and the positive channelling or resolution of conflict.  It will equally provide opportunities for engagement with policy-makers.

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