In the News
dignity or safety in old age for many - Age UK
last week published a damning report, which shows the
depth of the crisis in social care and its consequent human cost. The
report - 'Care in Crisis: Causes and Solutions' - provides the
evidence to prove that care & support for older people in England
has reached breaking point.
800,000 people who currently need care
receive no formal support from either the state or private sector agencies.
That figure may well rise to 1m people within 4
years as a result of estimated cuts to already threadbare social care
The report also shows that by 2014, England will be spending £250m
less on older people’s care than a decade previously (in real
terms). Even before the cuts began spending was only £40m higher than in
Yet at the same time the number of people aged over 85 who most often need care
has risen by 630,000. The number of people receiving local authority funded
care at home has been slashed from 489,000 in 2004/05, to 299,000 in
Socitm: Still striving for a brave new world of
e-government - Socitm has published the full
version of Planting the Flag: the Strategy for ICT-enabled local
public services reform following launch of the summary version at
the Socitm Spring Conference on 11 May 2011.
Planting the Flag is a Local CIO Council initiative led
by Socitm's Futures group. It sets out how technology can enable
public service reform across the whole range of local services and deliver
significant savings & better outcomes for people where they live &
The full version of Planting the Flag is
for CIOs, Heads of ICT, ICT specialists and private sector ICT suppliers to
local public services:
* Section one of the document sets
out 3 core principles for reform of local public services -
collaborate, redesign and innovate
* Section two sets out 6
strategic capabilities (leadership, governance, organisational change,
strategic commissioning, shared services and professionalism)
* Section three, 6 key
I&T issues that will determine success.
Publication of the full document marks the
beginning of Planning the Route, the second phase in the development
of the Strategy that will involve working with partners at the regional &
sub-regional levels to develop more detailed plans to turn the vision into
practical reality on the ground.
– Oxfam: If there
isn’t enough food & water everything else is
irrelevant - Oxfam has launched a global
Grow campaign so everyone has enough to eat, warning that average
prices of staple crops will more than double in 20
years if urgent action is not taken to change the international food
system, which is already failing to feed nearly a billion people a day.
New research published in Oxfam’s
report, ‘Growing a Better Future’, forecasts that
average international prices of key staples, such as maize,
will increase by between 120 - 180% by 2030, with up to half of this increase due to climate
change. The world’s poorest people, who spend up to 80% of their income
on food, will be hit hardest.
Every week in the Philippines, people pay
more than four times the proportion of their income on food than we do in the
UK. In India, people spend more than twice we do in the UK. As a proportion
of their income, Indian people pay the equivalent of £10 for a
litre of milk and £6 for a kilo of rice.
busy speaking to listen - Last week the Children’s
Rights Director, Dr Roger Morgan, published the Messages for Munro
report which finds that children in care feel social workers
must do more to listen and consider their views. It sets out the evidence
collated from consultations with 179 children & young people in care and
care leavers which fed into the Munro Review of Child Protection.
Only 50% of children in care who responded
felt their social worker or caseworker took notice of their wishes &
feelings. And 53% thought their wishes & feelings did not usually or never
made a difference to the care decisions made about them.
Yet the law states that children should be able to voice their views
when major decisions are made about their lives and have them properly taken
into account. As one child explains; ‘I kind
of wonder what happens when we tell them things’.
The Office of the Children’s Rights
Director is also publishing a Young People’s Guide to the Munro
Press release &
links ~ Messages for Munro ~ Young People’s Guide to the Munro Review report ~ Children's Views Report on Family Justice
Forthcoming Event: The Future of Electronic Information and Records Management in
the Public Sector - Workshops, Conference and FREE
Exhibition 6th - 7th July 2011 - New technologies such as
social networking and cloud computing are changing the way electronic content
is created and managed and posing technical challenges for corporate
information and records management. Cut backs in public sector budgets are
causing information and records managers to rethink current practices and
devise innovative solutions.
Cimtech’s 2011 conference run in partnership with the National Archives
explores new approaches to information and records management, new standards
and codes of practice, latest thinking on digital preservation and techniques
for content classification and email management. We offer all-day workshops on
SharePoint and Information Governance. We present several case studies from
organisations implementing solutions and pushing the boundaries of IRM in the
With contributions from the TNA Chief Executive, Information Commissioner's
Office and experts from central and local government, health and education,
this year’s conference is a unique opportunity to update your knowledge
and catch up with colleagues in the IRM field.
Click here for full details, conference
programme and online booking form.
Please note that previously published
newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter
MoD: Some 250 members of the British Armed Forces have recently taken part in an International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes, France. The IMP started in 1958 when the French Armed Forces invited the German military to join them in Lourdes as a gesture of post-war reconciliation. Since then the pilgrimage has opened up and, in 2011, some 37 countries were represented among the 20,000 military pilgrims.
The invitation is sent to the British Chief of the Defence Staff by his French counterpart and it is the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Forces who arranges the British participation. The British participants came from bases in the UK, Germany and Cyprus.
Newswire – LGA: Town hall stars of the future could soon be set for small screen fame as they gear up for the final stages of the Local Government Challenge. The annual competition, which pits ambitious council officers against each other to discover if they have what it takes to be a top chief executive, is nearing its finale. All the action – successes, mistakes, disagreements - has been captured by TV cameras and the first episode has now gone live.
Following a rigorous selection process, 10 council employees were thrown in at the deep end earlier this year to undertake 5 real-life challenges and demonstrate they have the skills & potential to make the grade. Up for grabs is a £10,000 scholarship to spend on an innovative project to promote localism & the work of town halls.
NA: The latest image library showcase from the National Archives focuses on the fateful RMS Titanic, launched in Belfast 100 years ago. Taking 3 years to build, the ship was the largest moving man-made object in the world at the time and entered Belfast Lough on 31 May 1911. Though believed to be 'unsinkable', the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in April 1912 after hitting an iceberg. The National Archives holds much unique & rare material relating to the ship and her last hours.
Ofcom: Mobilife™, a mobile price comparison website that aims to simplify the process of choosing a new contract mobile phone deal, is the latest site to have its price comparison calculator accredited by Ofcom. Mobilife’s price comparison calculator has been awarded the Ofcom price accreditation scheme logo for meeting the terms of a rigorous independent audit. The audit checks whether the information provided to consumers is accessible, accurate, transparent, comprehensive and up to date.
DirectGov: To mark 60 years of the Queen's reign the Diamond Jubilee will take place in 2012. The celebrations will centre around an extended weekend on 2- 5 June 2012. Buckingham Palace will be co-ordinating a programme of events centred around the extended weekend.
FSA: Asiana is recalling all cans of Uni President brand Calamondin Lemon Drink, Sugar Cane Drink and Guava Drink, because the products contain 2 unauthorised ingredients (DINP and DEHP). The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has been notified that Maison Blanc has withdrawn its Apricot & Almond Cake because it contains milk, which is not mentioned in the allergy advice on the product label. Butter is included in the ingredients list. Only 150 units of the affected cake were distributed to Waitrose & Ocado.
LSIS: The Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) has unveiled a futures-planning initiative. Using a unique online survey to gather the wisdom & insights of the entire sector, the Scenario Planning: plan for your future project will enable providers to ‘support cultural change in their organisation and rise to the challenge of change’. The initiative has been designed to help to improve the sector’s scenario planning culture and to strengthen its organisational resilience.
The online tool called The Ideas Bank combines sector-wide ideas & analysis in real-time on a scale that is unachievable by conventional means. As the process develops and more people contribute, the bank of ideas will grow, creating a comprehensive record of the sector’s perspectives on the future.
Participation in the survey from June 9 to August 14 is anonymous and the data gathered will be used in the second part of the initiative - a series of follow-up seminars, workshops and meetings that enable colleagues to explore the results in a professional dialogue with others.
ACE: Work has officially started on building a backstage training centre which will be the new flagship home for the NationalSkillsAcademy for Creative & Cultural (NSA). Based at the Arts Council funded £60m High House Production Park in Purfleet, Essex, the new state-of-the art building will become a national beacon of excellence for skills in the creative & cultural sector.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
CO: In a move expected to save £3bn a year, Francis Maude has announced that the Government is making significant changes to the way it buys in categories of common goods and services such as stationery & office services. Small and medium enterprise (SME) action plans set out how each Government Department will seek to achieve the Government’s overall aspiration to do 25% of its business with SMEs.
The plans include the creation of one central team, Government Procurement, which will contract for widely used goods & services for the whole of Government at a single, better price, ending the signing of expensive deals by individual departments.
The move will end poor value contracts such as those where government departments & agencies paid between £350 & £2,000 for the same laptop and between £85 & £240 for the same printer cartridge from the same supplier. Central procurement of common items is expected to save more than £3bn a year by 2015 – 25% of the Government’s current annual spending on these items.
DCMS: Homes & businesses across Wiltshire, Norfolk, and Devon & Somerset will have access to superfast broadband connections as the Government’s drive to connect rural areas moves into the next phase. Each area will receive a £ms package, part of the Government’s £530m fund earmarked to support the roll-out of superfast broadband to areas that the market alone will not reach.
No local authority need lose out though, as this comes ahead of an announcement later this year on funding for every local authority in the country. The Government is committed to providing the best superfast broadband in Europe by 2015.
ScotGov: Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has commented on news that Germany is to phase out its nuclear power plants.
ScotGov: Scottish local authorities have been asked not to progress or bring forward new proposals to close any rural school for one year. A Commission on the Delivery of Rural Education will be established to consider the provision of education in rural communities and to take a comprehensive look at the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010, which includes a clear legislative presumption against the closure of such schools and the need for educational benefits to be the driving force in any proposed closure.
MoD: A new strategy programme is being developed to ensure value for money is achieved when delivering equipment & support to members of the Armed Forces. Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox has announced the new Materiel Strategy which is being led by Chief of Defence Materiel Bernard Gray.
The strategy is considering how Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) - the organisation that equips & supports the Armed Forces for current & future operations - can operate differently to become more effective & more efficient.
ScotGov: The heads of government of Northern Ireland, Wales & Scotland last week called for the UK Government to join them in a 'progress agenda' embracing social & economic, financial & constitutional and policy reform across the UK.
ScotGov: Scotland must capitalise on its competitive advantages and explore the huge economic opportunities available in global markets, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment & Sustainable Growth, John Swinney said last week. In his first major speech to Parliament since being re-elected, he said a priority area for sustainable economic growth would be the internationalisation of Scottish businesses & the re-industrialisation of Scotland.
CO: The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude published the Government’s new Construction Strategy last week, which ‘will reform the way in which government procures construction across all sectors, and in doing so will reduce costs by up to 20% by the end of this parliament, helping both the government and the construction sector’.
The Government’s Plan for Growth, published alongside Budget 2011, and the Infrastructure Cost Review Implementation Plan, published earlier this year, highlighted the critical importance of an efficient construction industry to the UK economy and the need for reform of public sector construction procurement to improve value for money to taxpayers and enable the construction industry to focus on bringing forward innovative solutions.
CLG: Local councils were last week updated on Government plans to secure a value for money transfer of the Audit Commission's in-house practice into the private sector. In a letter from the Department's Permanent Secretary, councils were told that Ministers' initial view is that the best value for money option is to outsource all the audits currently undertaken by the in-house practice to the private sector.
CLG: Housing Minister, Grant Shapps has called on communities to start laying the foundations for the future developments they would like to see in their area. Mr Shapps said that communities across the country should start looking at the opportunities that the new Community Right to Build proposals, currently before Parliament, could offer them.
To kick off the discussions within communities, Mr Shapps launched a new guide that gives people an idea about what the new powers could mean for their area, and encourages them to think about the sort of community-led development they want to see.
HMRC: A consultation document (closes on 31 August 2011) to counter the continued marketing & use of high risk tax avoidance schemes was published by HM Revenue & Customs) last week.
The document – ‘High Risk Tax Avoidance Schemes’ – proposes to ‘list’ tax avoidance schemes that are unlikely to deliver the tax savings claimed. Taxpayers who use these schemes currently benefit from deferring the disputed tax payment until HMRC has completed an investigation.
The proposals outlined in the document would require users of a listed scheme to disclose the scheme to HMRC. They would also be subject to an additional charge on underpaid tax. Taxpayers would be able to protect themselves from the additional charge by paying tax in dispute up-front.
HMRC: A consultation document (closes on 16 September 2011) proposing the transformation of the relationship between agents and HM Revenue & Customs was published last week.
HMRC will arrange a number of meetings & workshops with agents who are members of the representative bodies and those who are non-affiliated to seek their views first hand. The department will also continue to liaise regularly with the main representative bodies through the Joint Tax Agent Strategy Steering Group.
HMRC: A consultation (closes on 31 August 2011) on a new online system to stop criminals evading VAT on road vehicles they bring into the UK has been launched by HM Revenue & Customs. The document – ‘Tackling VAT evasion on road vehicles brought into the UK’ - asks questions on the development of a new online system to begin in 2013that will ensure that the correct VAT is paid.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has recently confirmed new complaints handling rules as part of a package of measures to drive up standards within the industry (Consultation closes on 31 August 2011).
OFT: The OFT has announced a series of measures relating to marketing & charging practices used by credit brokers & debt management companies in response to concerns about their impact on vulnerable consumers.
In addition to ongoing robust, targeted enforcement action, including the revocation of consumer credit licences where appropriate, the OFT is publishing 2 new pieces of guidance: on the standards it expects of credit brokers, and on debt management (consultation closes 23 August 2011).
The OFT is also asking the Government to consider whether new legislation is needed to address problems in the sub-prime unsecured credit brokerage market, including a possible ban on upfront fees. These measures are detailed in the OFT's response to a super-complaint from Citizens Advice.
WAG: Members of the public have only until 10 June 2011 to offer their thoughts about whether historic Welsh battlefields should be protected for future generations. Cadw, the historic environment service of the Welsh Government, is consulting on whether to establish a Register of Historic Battlefields in Wales and has asked the public to share their suggestions on how this might be achieved.
Ofcom: Ofcom has set out proposals to ensure that digital TV delivered through a roof top aerial can function alongside the next generation of mobile services to be rolled out from 2013. The 800 MHz spectrum for 4G mobile services, which is to be auctioned in 2012, is adjacent to the frequencies used for digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcasting.
Due to its proximity, in a small number of cases this could cause the signals from mobile base stations to interfere with set top boxes and digital televisions in the future. This could potentially affect up to 3% of DTT viewers if no measures were put in place to solve the problem. Ofcom proposes a scheme to give information and help to consumers. Consultation closes 11 August 2011.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
MoD: The Ministry of Defence has launched a campaign aimed at encouraging Service personnel & MOD civilians to carefully consider possible repercussions before posting information on social networking sites.
With the campaign comes new MOD guidance for personnel using social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, which advises them not to put themselves or others at increased risk by releasing too much information about themselves or other operational details. Called 'Think Before You...', the guidance will be incorporated into Phase 1 training when applicants first join the Services and into other mandated training materials for serving personnel.
DCMS: Girls aged 12 & 13 years old will be able to play in mixed teams from next season after the Football Association (FA) changed their rules for youth football. The move means that mixed teams will be able to compete at under-12 and under -3 level from the 2011/2012 season. Previously when girls hit 12 years old they could no longer play in a mixed team.
DCMS: A new voluntary code developed by the sports sector demonstrating a commitment to create, improve & maintain the best possible governance structures was last week backed by the Sport & Olympics Minister, Hugh Robertson.
The code, published by the Sport and Recreation Alliance has been designed to help sporting & recreational bodies aspire to & maintain good governance and assist those in senior management positions to run their organisations more efficiently. The code has identified key principles to achieving good governance.
BIS: An innovative new tool designed to help improve the patent application process was launched last week by the Minister for Intellectual Property, Baroness Wilcox. Peer to Patent is a review website which allows experts from the scientific & technology community to view & comment on patent applications.
During the 6 month pilot up to 200 applications in the computing field will be gradually uploaded for review on the website. These will include a range of inventions from computer mice to complex processor operations.
DH: Is my diet affecting my health? Am I drinking too much? Am I active enough? Getting personalised health information, whether to address specific concerns or just see how you are faring, can be tricky. But now it will be much easier to check how healthy you are using a free, revamped tool on the NHS Choices website.
The LifeCheck tool asks you a small number of questions about your age & lifestyle which generates an individual health profile & health tips tailored to your needs. You are then encouraged to set achievable goals to improve your health & wellbeing.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency last week published a Q&A document in response to feedback on its guidance on the control of cross-contamination with E. coli O157. The document addresses a number of questions raised by stakeholders in the food industry and in food law enforcement authorities.
DH: Frontline NHS staff and other healthcare professionals who come up with innovative ideas to give better patient care are getting their schemes funded thanks to the Department of Health’s Innovation Challenge Prizes – the first winners of which have been announced last week.
The awards support plans to give all NHS staff the power & freedom to innovate to deliver better patient care. All the winners have proven that their innovation can improve patient care and deliver savings for the NHS. They were all developed to tackle the problems staff saw their patients facing in day-to-day treatment.
The winning ideas are:
* Dialysis at home –saves the local NHS £16,430 per patient every year on average
* Cytosponge – a simple new way to test for oesophagal cancer that costs just £25 per test compared to the £400 cost of a traditional endoscopy
* Scriptswitch – a computer programme used to share information on prescribing nutritional supplements leading to projected savings of £156,000 per year
DUK: Diabetes UKis helping involve people in improving their diabetes care, through a recently-completed 2-year project (User Involvement in Local Diabetes Care), which has led to a permanent online resource for healthcare professionals. This resource is the Making Involvement Happen website, which was shaped by what has been learned from the project – See ‘Charities / Voluntary Organisations / Third Sector’ section for more information.
CEOP: CEOP’s Annual Review and Centre Plan outlines the complete range of CEOP services & results and highlights the key areas that CEOP will be looking to tackle over the next 12 months. Primary amongst these is continuing to address the self-generated risk that children place themselves in, understanding & working in partnership to safeguard technological advances and focusing on specialist areas such as the trafficking of children and young people.
It also covers the fact that CEOP will be taking the national lead for providing services & specialist support for instances when children go missing – a function it will pick up from 1 July 2011. The publication also highlights that while safeguarding children will always be its primary focus, CEOP is also about prevention & knowledge sharing whether with the wider child protection community or directly with children, their parents, carers or guardians.
PwC: Market sentiment is recovering slowly after the lows post Copenhagen and traders admit that future carbon credit prices alone are not expected to be high enough to reach the 2 degrees goal or EU’s 80% GHG emission reduction target.
Press release & links
General Reports and Other Publications
PwC: Renewable energy power generation capacity grew by 30% in Europe in 2010, more than in any other year, reaching a total of 23GW. However a noticeable lack of progress on reform to the infrastructure planning & permits regime now poses the single biggest threat to the future large scale expansion of renewable electricity in Europe and North Africa.
The analysis, Moving towards 100% renewable electricity in Europe and North Africa, was undertaken by PwC, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the International Institute for Applied System Analysis.
This complementary analysis to last year’s 2050 Roadmap report examined developments & events globally over the past 12 months to understand whether, for Europe & North Africa, a vision of 100% renewable electricity by 2050 has moved closer or further away.
EA: Environment Agency officers are stepping up river monitoring activities to quickly identify impacts on fish & other wildlife as dry conditions continue across many parts of the country. The change in the normal conditions of rivers & streams can lead to serious consequences for many species, including birds, fish and insects. The EA is readying its specialist pumping equipment to respond to falling oxygen levels in rivers, which can kill fish and other aquatic wildlife.
The EA’s latest drought management briefing shows:
* East Anglia has only had 20% of average rainfall so far this month
* Central, south east and south west England has received between 41 & 55% of average rainfall so far this month
PwC: The greatest risk facing the insurance industry is the raft of new regulations being introduced simultaneously at international & local levels, according to a new survey which ranks insurance sector risk. The CSFI’s latest Insurance Banana Skins survey, conducted in association with PwC, says that new rules governing issues such as solvency & market conduct could swamp the industry with costs & compliance problems. It could also distract management from the more urgent task of running profitable businesses at a time when the industry is already under stress.
Defra: The majority of meat & dairy products now feature information on where their ingredients came from or where they were produced, according to research announced by Food Minister, Jim Paice recently. The survey looked at labels on over 500 meat & dairy products purchased from the major retailers and a number of independent shops.
It is the first evaluation of country of origin labelling since the food industry put in place voluntary standards to provide clearer country of origin information to consumers last November. Clearer origin labelling is a key commitment for the government. The voluntary code agreed in November 2010 will reduce confusion in the origin of products and make the British consumer the best informed in Europe.
IFS: A package of early literacy interventions has been found to improve significantly the reading & writing skills of young children who struggle to learn to read. As currently implemented, the policy is arguably expensive, costing over £3,000 per child in the first year and £2,600 per child thereafter. Even so, it could still offer good value for money, but that judgement will depend on the extent to these improvements are maintained throughout children's school careers.
These are the main findings of new research funded by the Department for Education and carried out by Institute for Fiscal Studies researchers in collaboration with the National Centre for Social Research. This work assessed the impact of the Every Child a Reader (ECaR) programme of initiatives, which targets low-attaining children aged 6 or 7 and attempts to raise their attainment to the expected level.
DG: The telecommunications regulator, Ofcom, has published its first research into the performance of mobile broadband across the UK. 4.2m tests were conducted at the end of last year. The most important factor affecting mobile broadband performance is coverage. Ofcom suggested that consumers should check with their provider how good the coverage is likely to be before buying a service.
They should also consider what they most want to use mobile broadband for. As well as being able to use it in different locations, mobile broadband may also be less expensive for some consumers as it does not require a landline, and pay-as-you-go tariffs are available.
ippr: The number of people unemployed for more than a year has risen to the highest number since 1997, according to analysis of the latest government data by think tank IPPR. There are now 850,000 people who have been unemployed for more than 12 months, up 20,000 since January 2011.
Research evidence shows that being unemployed for 1 year or more can reduce chances of finding work, as well as having a negative impact on one’s health & wellbeing. For young people, the scarring effect of long-term unemployment can have an impact for many years on their wage prospects, future earning potential and health.
Newswire – TUC: Low corporate tax rates reduce revenues but fail to create jobs, according to a new TUC report. Corporate tax reform and competitiveness, written by chartered accountant & tax specialist Richard Murphy, warns that recent tax reforms and ongoing reductions in the headline corporation tax rate will reduce vital tax revenues without any significant benefit to ordinary taxpayers.
The report cites data from OECD countries to show that the UK enjoys an extremely competitive tax rate. More than 90% of UK businesses pay the small business rate of 20% while the effective corporate tax rate for large companies is currently estimated by PriceWaterhouseCoopers to be 23.2%, far lower than the OECD average of 26.5%.
NO: Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council did not take into account its legal duties to people with disabilities when it introduced car parking charges for blue badge holders, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Anne Seex.
In her report, issued last week, she says that the Council’s duties under the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 (DDA) were not brought to the attention of decision makers, who had insufficient information about the likely impact on people with disabilities, and there is no evidence that they were properly considered.
Newswire – WWF: A new report published recently by WWF has highlighted the impact that the growing global demand for soya is having on sensitive environments around the world, such as the little known Brazilian savannah, the Cerrado.
Soya is grown predominantly for animal feed & vegetable oil, with the main use being in soya meal, as a source of protein for poultry, pig & cattle feeds. In the last 15 years, production of the crop has doubled, driven largely by the rising consumption of meat, as well as for use in food, biofuel and other products.
To meet this growth in demand, more & more land is being planted with soya; in Brazil alone, the area planted with soya is already the size of the entire United Kingdom.
However, this expansion is often at the expense of habitats such as the Brazilian Cerrado, a globally important savannah which is on its own responsible for 5% of the world’s biodiversity and which is currently experiencing habitat destruction at a faster rate and on a similar scale to that in the Amazon.
DWP: A new research report published by the Department for Work & Pensions looks at Carer’s Allowance recipients. The research explored Carer’s Allowance recipients’ caring responsibilities, their experiences of combining care with paid employment and support mechanisms used to manage their caring roles.
TKF: A new report from The King’s Fund warns that the coalition government’s reforms risk reducing accountability in the health system, potentially undermining the performance of key NHS organisations as a result.
The report looks at accountability for commissioners & providers of health care in the NHS currently and under the reforms set out in the Health & Social Care Bill. It concludes that the reforms are likely to meet the government’s aim of reducing centralised control, but fail to deliver on its commitment to improve local accountability, a key pledge in the coalition agreement.
The report finds a number of weaknesses in the accountability arrangements set out in the Bill including the following.
Defra: The true value of nature can be shown for the very first time thanks to research by hundreds of UK scientists. The research forms the basis of a major new independent report – the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK NEA) – which reveals that nature is worth £bns to the UK economy. The report strengthens the arguments for protecting & enhancing the environment and will be used by the government to direct policy in future.
The UK NEA has used new approaches to estimate the value of the natural world by taking account of the economic, health and social benefits we get from nature. The assessment provides values for a range of ecosystem services to help us fully understand the value of the natural environment and how the benefits to individuals and society as a whole can be better protected and preserved for future generations.
KPMG: With the introduction of the UK Bribery Act now less than a month away, the majority of U.K. compliance executives say bribery & corruption remains part of doing business in some countries, however most companies continue to operate in such places and have chosen to take precautions that include improved internal controls, enhanced due diligence and employee training to enable them to do so, according to a KPMG International survey.
73% of U.K. senior compliance executives say corruption is endemic in certain areas of the world, of which 32% acknowledge that not doing business in those countries is a way of avoiding bribery and corruption risks.
PC&PE: In a report published last week, the Home Affairs Committee criticises the lack of progress made by the UK Border Agency in effectively controlling immigration to the UK. In the second of what is intended to be a series of reports on the Agency's work, the Committee raises serious concerns about the way the Agency approaches enforcement across the range of its activities:
According to MPs, the net result is that a very large number of people remain in the UK who either have no right to be here or who would have been removed had their cases been dealt with in a timely manner.
HL: Following the publication of our national report charting changes in the homeless sector (Survey of Needs and Provision 2011 (SNAP), a regional breakdown has been released, along with ‘hot topic’ reports on funding, mental health and employment. The briefings aim to provide homelessness agencies, local authorities, commissioners and policy makers with information they can use to improve services for homeless people.
PC&PE: MPs have criticised the Government for its approach to the trade in fishing quota. The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry into domestic fisheries management examined the system for managing & allocating quota to the English fishing fleet and found that urgent changes are needed to preserve fishermen’s livelihoods.
IISS: The latest IISS Strategic Comment looks at how Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh used his recent visit to Kabul to send the message that, unlike the West, New Delhi has no 'exit strategy' from Afghanistan.
Legislation / Legal
OFT: The OFT recently welcomed a ruling from the High Court that minimum contract length terms and a number of other key terms in thousands of gym membership contracts, recommended & enforced by Ashbourne Management Services Limited ('Ashbourne), are unfair & hence unenforceable. The court also ruled that a number of Ashbourne's techniques for collecting arrears were unlawful.
DG: The new vehicle insurance law means that the registered keeper of a vehicle must keep it insured unless they've made a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). If you're not insured and haven't made a SORN, you could face a penalty. Find out what the change in the law means for you.
CLG: Planning authorities & inspectors can take the Coalition Government's intention to abolish Regional Strategies into consideration in deciding planning applications & appeals, the Court of Appeal confirmed recently.
For the second time, the courts have ruled in the Government's favour, following an appeal by CALA Homes arguing that the Government's intention to abolish the strategies could not lawfully be taken into account in any way in relation to planning applications & appeals, at least until such time as the Localism Bill becomes law.
The judgment means that the proposed abolition of the strategies can be regarded as a 'material consideration' by local planning authorities & inspectors when deciding planning applications & appeals. The Court has given helpful guidance to such decision makers on the approach they should take in judging the potential significance of that factor.
ScotGov: The plan to create a new unit to assist Procurators Fiscal and the police in the direction of further enquiries in unsolved murders & other serious crimes in Scotland was announced last week. The specialist unit will assist & support Procurators Fiscal and the police in reviewing unsolved crimes from across Scotland to identify those which merit fresh investigation to break the stalemate in a case.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: Low-cost catfish fillets sold as expensive sole fillets or cod caught in the North Sea but declared as originating from the Baltic Sea are both examples of types of fraud in the fisheries sector.
A European Commission report shows how molecular technologies - based on genetics, genomics, chemistry and forensics - can provide clear answers to questions such as ‘what species does this fish product come from….where was this fish caught….is it wild or farmed?’.
The report by the Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), is called ‘Deterring illegal activities in the fisheries sector’ and shows how these technologies can help in the fight against illegal practices and support traceability - including of processed products such as canned fish – ‘from ocean to fork’.
KPMG: Local government will undergo dramatic change in the next few years, driven by agendas of austerity & localism. The best councils may prove to be very different to the present according to a new report - The Brilliant Local Authority of the Future - by KPMG and the Centre for Public Service Partnerships.
The report asserts that leading local authorities will address new realities through clear & commercial business plans and operating models that focus on politically determined outcomes, accountability, productivity and financial control. They will find roles as strategic commissioners and will wholeheartedly adopt payment by results supply chain management.
EU News: A Scoreboard has been published by the European Commission showing the performance of the EU & Member States in delivering on the agreed targets of the Digital Agenda for Europe after the first year of its existence.
Overall progress over the first year of the Digital Agenda has been good, especially on the use of Internet (65% of EU population). But progress in some areas is disappointing, in particular roll-out of new super fast Broadband networks, which is one of the key Digital Agenda goals, even if there is some progress in upgrading existing cable and copper networks.
EU News: Baby bottles containing the substance Bisphenol A (BPA) have had to be removed from the shelves in stores across the European Union, as a ban on the placing on the market & import into the EU of such products enters into force.
The ban is foreseen in an EU directive (2011/8/EU) adopted in late January. The industry has been withdrawing voluntarily from the market baby bottles containing BPA. On 1 March 20111, the EU had banned the manufacture in the Union of baby bottles containing BPA.
EU News: Last week, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) adopted an opinion on the European Commission's Evaluation Report on the Data Retention Directive.
This much discussed Directive requires all providers of electronic communication services to store traffic & location data of the communications of all citizens, for possible use by the Member States for law enforcement purposes. The Commission Report provides an evaluation of the implementation & application of the Directive and measures its impact on economic operators & consumers.
After careful analysis of the Evaluation Report, the EDPS takes the view that the Directive does not meet the requirements imposed by the fundamental rights to privacy & data protection.
The Evaluation Report will now play a role in possible decisions on amending the Directive. The EDPS calls for the Commission to seriously consider all options in this further process, including the possibility of repealing the Directive, whether or not combined with a proposal for an alternative, more targeted EU measure.
EU News: Viviane Reding, the European Union’s Justice Commissioner, marked the foundation of the European Law Institute as an important contributor to the EU’s wider goal of building a European area of justice. The Institute, an independent non-profit organisation, will ‘help improve legal consistency in Europe by providing practical advice to policymakers & authorities’.
EU News: The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, a 6 month prolongation of guarantees schemes for credit institutions in Ireland & Spain, until 31 December 2011.
During the application of the crisis rules for State aid to banks, the Commission has been authorising guarantee schemes on banks’ liabilities for periods of 6 months in order to be able to monitor developments and adjust conditions accordingly.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: The Big Lottery Fund is enabling Media Trust to create an innovative UK network of local community news hubs that will support & empower local groups to tell their stories for online, broadcast and print media.
A TV & online platform will be supported by professional journalism, UK-wide news distribution and a new online Academy of Citizen Journalism. The new Academy will provide community news hubs with the tools, online training and resources to support & develop the skills of the Active Citizen Journalists who will be at the heart of the hubs.
CRUK: On World No Tobacco Day last week Cancer Research UK renewed its call for the European Union (EU) to adopt standardised, plain packaging with graphic pictures of health warnings on all tobacco products.
A new report being presented in Brussels shows the importance of stopping tobacco being marketed via its packaging. The briefing – titled ‘Spotlight on the FCTC’ – highlights that tobacco packaging can be used by governments to communicate the dangers of tobacco use rather than being used as a marketing tool by the tobacco industry.
CAB: During a time of continued economic uncertainty and cuts to public services, the value placed on volunteering is higher than ever. During National Volunteers Week (1-7 June 2011) national charity Citizens Advice is calling on people from all backgrounds with different skills to get in touch.
Citizens Advice relies heavily on the generous contribution of volunteers who make up 75% of the total workforce, and this year the charity needs even more volunteers than ever. Last year the service saw a huge increase in demand: 2.1m people were helped with 7.1m enquires – an 18% increase from the year before.
BHF: Parents may be shocked to learn that a standard plate of children’s party food could be more calorific and laden with saturated fat than an entire pepperoni pizza. But the British Heart Foundation new party pack shows how parents can still lay on tasty treats without the usual gut-busting nutritional content.
The colourful & interactive pack provides parents & teachers with easy-to-follow recipes to create party favourites such as mini pizzas, chocolate buns and jellies with lower amounts of sugar, salt, fat and saturated fat than standard party foods. The pack costs £6.99, plus postage & packaging.
DUK: Diabetes UKis helping involve people in improving their diabetes care, through a recently-completed 2-year project, which has led to a permanent online resource for healthcare professionals. The scheme, ‘User Involvement in Local Diabetes Care’, worked with 3 NHS organisations to involve people with diabetes in improving their care. Each group was made up of around 25 local people living with diabetes. The project was funded by NHS Diabetes.
DUK has now developed practical advice & tools for healthcare professionals to follow so that they can involve patients in diabetes care. This resource is the Making Involvement Happen website, which was shaped by what has been learned from the project.
LDA: The London Development Agency has launched its promotion of 2 major sites in the Royal Docks to international investors. The campaign will highlight the potential for growth at its Silvertown Quays and Royal Albert Dock sites, covering 85 acres of prime development land. The marketing campaign will reach investors around the world, particularly in the emerging markets of China, elsewhere in Asia and the Middle East.
The global search for development proposals coincides with moves to declare the Royal Docks a new Enterprise Zone. The LDA will listen to any practical proposals for the regeneration of its land and will look to get an appropriate financial return and the best outcomes possible. The LDA aims to reach an agreement with a successful development partner or partners in 2012.
ACE: A series of carnival showcase events will shine a light on the East of England this summer in the run up to London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Funded by Arts Council England & Legacy Trust UK and led by the UK Centre for Carnival Arts (UKCCA) in Luton, Carnival Crossroads is an 18 month project which will culminate in a parade at the Luton International Carnival 2012. Carnival Crossroads is part of the London 2012 Festival, which is the finale of the Cultural Olympiad.
The 5 showcase events in summer 2011 for Carnival Crossroads have been developed with 500 young people from across the region, based in Luton, Cambridge, Ipswich, Norwich and Southend. These young participants have all been trained in performance & dance techniques by a team of choreographers, with a routine and costumes inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet.
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