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In the News

CLGCost effective co-operation could deliver big savings - Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, has set out his plans to ‘shake up local services as part of the Government's efforts to turn around the lives of 120,000 most troubled families’.  These families make up less than 1% of the population, yet they are costing the economy over £8bn.

Up to 20 local agencies can be involved with the same family, overlapping & sometimes pulling in different directions, with families pushed from pillar to post.  The Government wants to see more local areas joining up their local services efforts, as evidence shows this can help turn the lives of families around. 
This Community Budget approach is being rolled out countrywide and will play a vital role alongside other measures to help problem families.  Instead of the traditional single agency silo approach costing local services up to £330,000 per family a year ministers want to see one co-ordinated & integrated intervention at an average of £14,000 per family used.  This creates a better service and yearly costs plummet by £70,000.
A Community Budgets prospectus published last week sets out the details for how pilots will be selected by the end of 2011.  Each area will get dedicated support to ‘break through Whitehall's bureaucracy’ so proposals could be up and running by April 2013.
Press release & links ~ Cost of problem families explained ~ Community Budgets prospectus ~ Related BIG press release ~ BIG Lottery Fund’s Improving Futures programme ~ Socitm:  Still striving for a brave new world of e-government (scroll down to second item) ~ e-Society: how the internet has changed the UK ~ Mutualisation – an alternative model for ALBs ~ New Local Government Software Application Solutions framework ~ The Whitehall Entrepreneur: oxymoron or hidden army? ~ Local Involvement Networks (LINks) ~ Aiming for the best: Using lessons from complaints to improve public services ~ Putting the Frontline First: Smarter Government ~ Clinical and service integration: the route to improved outcomes ~ Independent Review of the Supporting People Programme in Wales: Final Report ~ Supporting People Programme in Wales ~ Integrated Family Support Services (IFSS) ~ Sustainable Social Services: A Framework for Action ~ Capable Communities: Towards Citizen-Powered Public Services
ScotGov:  Not helped by economic depression - The Scottish Drugs Strategy Delivery Commission has published its first report on the Scottish Government's progress in the delivery of the national drugs strategy, the Road to Recovery.  The report contains 23 recommendations to ScotGov, which aim to increase the impact of the many initiatives to address Scotland's drug problem.
Recommendations made focus on 3 key areas:
* Children Affected by Parental Substance Misuse
* Care, Treatment & Recovery
* Governance & Accountability of the Delivery Systems
BIS:  Not just Global Warming , but also competition for food, water & other resources - A new international report, published by Foresight, reveals that the ‘major challenges associated with migration & environmental change have been underestimated’.  By focusing solely on those that might leave vulnerable areas, we risk neglecting those that will be ‘trapped’ and those that will actually move towards danger. 

It also shows that migration can have a transformative role in helping communities adapt to hazardous conditions.  This is a critical finding for policy makers working to avert costly humanitarian disasters in the future.

The ‘Migration and Global Environmental Change’ project examines how profound changes in environmental conditions such as flooding, drought & rising sea levels will influence & interact with patterns of global human migration over the next 50 years.  The findings have implications for a broad range of policy areas well beyond the migration & environmental spheres, including sustainable development, climate change adaptation, urban planning and humanitarian assistance.
DfE:  A more rational alternative to ‘bringing back the birch’ - A simple checklist (‘Getting the simple things right’) of what schools can do to instil good behaviour in the classroom has been developed & published by Charlie Taylor - the headteacher of a special school with some of the toughest behaviour issues and the Government’s Expert Adviser on behaviour.
CLGYou did the clock(s), but you could still be ‘late for your own funeral’ - A new advertising campaign urged people to make a potentially life-saving move when they changed their clocks on the weekend of 29/30 October - by taking a moment to test their smoke alarm too.  While timekeeping is a vital part of our lives and we all keep our clocks working to stay on track, it's shocking to know that many people forget to ensure the safety of themselves & their loved ones by keeping their smoke alarm in the same working order.
You're more than 4 times as likely to die in a fire if your smoke alarm is not working.  So it's clear that the simple act of testing your alarm is a vital part of any household routine. In 2010-11, there were over 36,000 accidental fires in the home, resulting in 246 fatalities and more than 7,000 casualties.
If you want an extra nudge to test your smoke alarm regularly, try setting an automatic reminderSafelincs (in partnership with the Fire Kills), reminds you, by email or text when it's time to test your smoke alarm, change the battery or renew the unit.  The service is completely free and can be cancelled at any time
Ofsted:  Be your own Ofsted Inspector - Ofsted has launched Parent View, a new online questionnaire that will allow parents & carers to give their views on their child’s school at any time of the year.  Covering over 22,000 schools across England, the 12-question survey will help other parents as they make important choices about their child’s education and provide Ofsted with information about schools that will help inform priorities for inspection.
Parent View has been produced with the assistance of a panel of parents who contributed to shaping the questions and the way the site functions.  The questionnaire covers a range of topics, including quality of teaching, bullying, behaviour and levels of homework, allowing parents to give a view about their child’s school on each issue, with a final question as to whether or not they would recommend the school to other parents.  The questionnaire does not allow free text comments but invites responses to a series of closed questions.
DUKResearching a healthier future - Diabetes UK is calling on children & teenagers with Type 1 diabetes to help researchers prevent diabetes-related heart & kidney disease. They are looking for those who live near Birmingham, Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle, Aylesbury, High Wycombe, Bolton, Northampton, Norwich, Stockport and Wigan.
DUK are asking parents of 10 to 16-year-olds with diabetes from these areas to register their children with a local research centre and supply urine samples to be used in research.  Using the collection of samples, new studies will look at ways of improving prevention of heart and kidney problems among people with diabetes.
Press release & links 

White Paper Aligning Your IT Capabilities with Organisational Needs - Today, agility in a public sector organisation's underlying IT infrastructure is imperative to successful and cost-efficient delivery of service. Yet traditional IT infrastructures and processes simply are not agile. It is no surprise, then, that CIOs routinely express frustration with the time and effort required to align IT functions to ever-changing organisational needs.

A recent paper argues that a new approach to infrastructure design must emerge - one that enables the public sector to add, remove, grow, and shrink IT services on demand, regardless of location. This new infrastructure must dynamically optimise the interaction between users and resources in the face of rapidly changing conditions. It must allow the IT enterprise to adapt quickly to changing organisational demands for security, data protection, ease of access, low cost, and high performance.

This paper outlines a vision for such an approach, explores its benefits, defines the architecture for delivery and outlines a roadmap for implementation.

Click here to download the paper.

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

General News

NA: The National Society for the Promotion of the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church was founded on 16 October 1811 to promote elementary education and fund the building of schools across England & Wales. It supported local initiatives to build church schools and over time became involved in other aspects of education - such as setting up teacher training colleges, publishing school books and providing equipment for schools.
You can use records at The National Archives to trace the history of these and other schools - from trust deeds recording a school's foundation, to inspection reports & information on staffing, accommodation & school expansion. 
TfL: Londoners never need to run for a bus again with the introduction of a new up-to-the-minute bus information service that can be accessed online, on a smart phone & via text message and new improved Countdown signs at bus stops. The new service provides live bus information for all 19,500 bus stops in the Capital.
ScotGov: Scots & ‘Scots at heart’, both at home & abroad, are gearing up to celebrate all that is great about the nation during this year's Scotland's Winter Festivals. The season of celebrations to mark Scotland's distinct culture, unique heritage & creativity runs from St Andrew's Day on 30 November through Hogmanay to Burns Season at the end of January and will bring together lovers of all things Scottish from across the globe.
HO:  An advertising campaign has been launched by the Home Office to encourage young people to talk to FRANK for accurate & impartial information about the harms of drugs. Teenagers will be encouraged to reconsider what they know about drugs and where to find reliable information about the risks.
MoD: Britain has a new flagship, with assault ship HMS Bulwark taking over the proud mantle from her sister vessel. For the next 4 years the Devonport-based warship should be at the heart of every major maritime endeavour that the UK carries out.
DCMSUnited Nations member states have backed an agreement to use London 2012 to promote peace & reconciliation in areas of conflict around the world. All 193 member states last week agreed to co-sponsor the Olympic Truce Resolution – the most member states to do so in the history of the UN.
MoD: 6 medical professionals have won the Barclays Women of the Year Award 2011 for their work with injured members of the Armed Forces.
HFEA: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has made a number of decisions on sperm & egg donation in the UK.  This follows an extensive public consultation, 'Donating sperm and eggs: have your say', which ran from January to April 2011.
Addressing concerns about treating donors fairly & valuing their contribution, as well as the need to retain donors & keep paperwork to a minimum, the Authority has also agreed to change the compensation that donors can receive. Moving away from the current system of out of pocket expenses and a loss of earnings allowance capped at £250, clinics will in the future be able to offer donors compensation which better reflects their expenses.
WWF: WWF has released video footage highlighting their support of a new project to track narwhals, a species of Arctic whale best known for their long 'unicorn-like' tusk.  The project fitted 7 of the little-researched whales with satellite tracking devices.
In order to help highlight the programme's findings, WWF has launched a web page to showcase the partnership's fieldwork & research, with maps & information about the latest movements of the narwhals as they move around Baffin Bay in Canada’s Nunavut territory.
DfTAbellio Greater Anglia Limited has been chosen as the new operator for the 'Greater Anglia' franchise which is currently operated by National Express East Anglia and stretches across Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk & Cambridgeshire.
MoD: Five soldiers from 4 Logistic Support Regiment have been commended for saving a stab victim's life in Canada by ingeniously using credit cards to treat his chest wounds. The 5 soldiers from the Abingdon-based unit were serving in Canada over the summer, taking part in training for Afghanistan.
DCMS: Sports clubs & local groups across England have received more than £2m to protect & improve their playing fields. Nearly 50 areas will benefit from the first wave of National Lottery investment through Sport England’s Protecting Playing Fields fund. Communities are now being invited to bid for support when the second round of the scheme opens on 24 October 2011.
DfE: Following a competitive bidding process, the Department for Education has approved grant funding for New Schools Network (NSN) to provide pre-application support to parents, teachers & community groups and others hoping to open Free Schools.   NSN is a registered charity.
MoD: A groundbreaking partnership has been formed at Colchester Garrison between the military, the NHS and the Combat Stress charity to meet the needs of veterans with mental health problems. Colchester Garrison's Department of Community Mental Health (DCMH), North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Combat Stress have come together to form the North Essex Veterans Mental Health Network, the first of its kind in the country.
ScotGov: First Minister, Alex Salmond has commented on the statement last week by the Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, Chris Huhne, that the Longannet Carbon Capture and Storage Project will not go ahead.
HMRC: With the 31 October 2011 deadline for paper tax returns just days away, HM Revenue &Customs (HMRC) is urging anyone who hasn’t yet filed their paper return to act now, to avoid a late-filing penalty. If you send in a paper tax return on or after 1 November 2011, you will now be hit with a £100 penaltyeven if there is no tax to pay or the tax due is paid on time – following the introduction of a new penalty regime this year. The longer you delay, the more you'll have to pay, as there are further late-filing penalties after three, six and twelve months.
If you can’t send your paper return by 31 October, you can still avoid a penalty by sending your tax return online instead.  However, if you do send a paper return after the 31 October deadline, you cannot avoid the initial £100 penalty by subsequently filing online.
FSASandwell Foods is recalling some date codes of its Halal World lamb and beef sausages & burgers. The products contain gluten, soya, sulphites, celery or mustard, which are not listed on the label. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
MoD: Behind the scenes on Operation ELLAMY a small team of 'squippers' or, more correctly termed, Survival Equipment Fitters, works around the clock to ensure all the aircraft survival equipment is fit for purpose.
DfE: Family organisations, including Relate, Netmums and Gingerbread, will receive Government funding to deliver national online & telephone support services, Children’s Minister Sarah Teather announced last week.  The Government is providing up to £11m to eleven voluntary & community organisations to deliver the support.
Families will benefit from a range of support including relationship advice, services tailored specifically for fathers, helping single parents get back to work, advice on education issues such as exclusions and information about benefits.
CQC: November 2011 sees a major step in the setting up of HealthWatch England, with the start of the recruitment of its Chair. HealthWatch England will be the national consumer champion that will give a voice to collective views of the people who use NHS & social care services in England.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DfT: A new THINK! campaign to help children stay safe on the roads has launched recently by Road Safety Minister Mike Penning. The £700,000 campaign, which will run on television and in cinemas, is aimed at children aged six-11 and spells out the dangers of not taking care on the roads.
Television adverts will highlight the importance of finding a safe place to cross the road while the cinema campaign will remind children of the importance of making sure they can be seen when they are out after dark. 
In 2010 more than 19,500 children were injured on the roads and 55 were killed.
ScotGov: More than 3,500 adult carers & young carers from across Scotland are set to benefit from a funding package for short breaks. 58 organisations have been offered a share of almost £954,000 for a variety of short breaks projects. This includes 14 groups who help carers purchase their own breaks.
The funding will support young carers & adult carers who care for disabled children, people with dementia, mental health problems and other long-term conditions, substance misuse problems, adults with learning disabilities and adults with physical disabilities.
ScotGov: Plans to make Scotland one of the highest performing nations for recycling in Europe have been unveiled by the Scottish Government recently. Key measures to be included in the Zero Waste Regulations include:
* A ban on municipal biodegradable waste going to landfill
* A ban on material collected for recycling going to landfill or incineration
* New requirements to remove key recyclables from unsorted waste prior to incineration
* New requirements on businesses to present recyclable material for collection
DfE: Children’s Minister, Sarah Teather, has announced that the Government will trial free parenting classes in three areas of the country, aiming to reach over 50,000 parents.  The trials will run in Middlesbrough, HighPeak in Derbyshire and Camden and they will be available for all parents of children aged 5 years & under.
Mothers & fathers will be offered vouchers to pay for classes in the 3 areas.  Organisations & services with a proven record of delivering parenting support will be asked to bid to run the classes. The classes will start in summer 2012 and the trial will run for 2 years.
DfE: Hundreds of children who are permanently excluded from school are to be part of a new trial to improve their education. One in ten secondary schools – around 300 schools – from across England will be part of the trial in which headteachers will be responsible for ensuring that the pupils they exclude continue to receive a decent education.  It will also help pupils who are at risk of being excluded by encouraging schools to intervene earlier.
DH: Doctors, nurses & other NHS workers who blow the whistle will be protected in the future, under changes to the NHS Constitution announced by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley last week. The changes will also make it clear that it is the duty of all NHS workers to report bad practice or any mistreatment of patients receiving care from the health service.
The changes will be enshrined in the NHS Constitution & associated guidelines as soon as possible to encourage more staff to come forward with concerns.  This follows the poor care exposed by the Care Quality Commission recently after unannounced inspections of 100 NHS hospitals.
BIS: A new strategy to grow the UK's power electronics industry and increase its share of the £135bn global market was published last week by Business Minister, Mark Prisk. Britain is a world leader in many aspects of power electronics.  
The technology is used to do everything from making mobile phone batteries last longer and hybrid cars more practical, to making it possible to generate electricity in everything from a solar cell to a nuclear reactor. The new 5 – 10 year strategy aims to address the main problems in the sector and establish a foundation for ambitious, but sustainable, long-term growth.
Defra: A new recycling charter has been launched to help boost recycling rates and tackle the issues smaller businesses face in getting access to waste services. The Business Waste and Recycling Services Commitment will bring together smaller businesses that need recycling services with local councils offering services, and agencies offering best practice waste reduction advice.
The Commitment emphasises 12 principles of best practice that local authorities can use to tailor services to local businesses such as the need to make recycling easy, provide value for money and continually improve services through feedback.
DefraMillions of trees could be lost to disease in the UK in the next few years unless urgent action is taken, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman warned last week.  She was speaking as she launched a new Government drive to combat the exotic pests & diseases threatening the health of trees in the UK.
The Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Action Plan, a joint initiative with the Forestry Commission, sets out how to tackle serious tree & plant pests and diseases.  It focuses on 4 key areas of activity to combat the threat against our trees – import controls; practical actions; research; and better communications & public engagement.
HMT: Mark Hoban, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, has announced the creation of a new steering group tasked with devising a suite of ‘simple’ financial products that will help consumers navigate the financial services market.  The group will report back by July 2012 setting out how to bring simple products to market, including how simple products are structured & marketed to ensure that consumers get the best deal.
Responses to a Government consultation on simple products, published last week, suggest that the group should initially focus on simple deposit savings & protection insurance products.  Other areas likely to be considered include investment products to help consumers save for the long-term.
DH: PM David Cameron last week announced that the Government is investing up to £15m to support the recommendations to improve prosthetics services for military veterans who have lost a limb due to activities while serving their country.  In January 2011, the Government asked Dr Andrew Murrison MP to lead a review into the prosthetic services currently offered to veterans by the NHS.
In response to Dr Murrison’s key recommendation, the Department of Health will now introduce a number of national specialist prosthetic & rehabilitation centres for amputee veterans across the country. The Government will work with service charities, including Help for Heroes and BLESMA (The British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association) as well as specialists within the NHS to ensure that high quality NHS facilities are available to our military heroes.
TKF: A new project led by The King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust was announced last week at a conference with NHS commissioners addressed by Paul Burstow MP, the Minister of State for Care Services. The 2 think tanks have been asked by the Department of Health to support the development of a national strategy for the promotion of integrated care at scale & pace in local communities.
ScotGov: Households throughout Scotland are being encouraged to call the Home Energy Scotland Hotline and sign up for free home insulation. More than 1m homes in Scotland do not meet the insulation levels recommended by the Energy Saving Trust to keep their homes warm and their fuel bills down.
ScotGov recently announced £12.5m for the Universal Home Insulation Scheme (UHIS), opening it up to a further 200,000 homes who will be offered free help to save on energy bills. Householders can find out more by contacting the Home Energy Scotland Hotline on 0800 512 012 or on 0300 456 2655 from a mobile.
ScotGov: College principals & chairs across Scotland have received an invitation to meet with Education Secretary Michael Russell. The meeting will give college leaders the chance to discuss the Scottish Government's proposed reforms of post-16 education - including greater collaboration between colleges, with mergers where appropriate, whilst protecting local access - directly with the Cabinet Secretary. The Education Secretary is planning to hold this meeting in early November.
WAG: All students on NHS-funded courses in Wales will have access to the same package of financial support under new arrangements from September 2012. Changes to the NHS bursary scheme in England were announced in July 2011.  Since then, the implications of the changes in England on the bursary system in Wales has been considered fully by the Welsh Government, and discussed with Welsh stakeholders.
DECC: Proposals to support renewable electricity and bring forward a surge of investment in our energy infrastructure were published by the Government last week. The consultation (closes on 12 January 2012) proposes new support levels for large scale renewable electricity from 2013-17(2014-17for offshore wind) under the Renewables Obligation (RO).
WAG: Gwenda Thomas, the Deputy Minister for Social Services & Children, has outlined changes to the ‘way that children & adults at risk in Wales will be safeguarded & protected in future’. She has outlined her plans for a new statutory framework to ‘protect adults at risk, which will encompass duties to investigate, cooperate & share information in protecting adults and to establish a National Independent Safeguarding Board’.
The intention is to introduce the Social Services (Wales) Bill in October 2012 and a public consultation on the Deputy Minister’s plans will be held prior to this.


WAG: Health Minister Lesley Griffiths is seeking views (by 31 January 2012) on how cosmetic piercing can be made safer for young people.  The Welsh Government is proposing to introduce an age of consent to ensure a parent or guardian’s permission is granted before a person below the age of 16 can receive a cosmetic piercing.
ScotGov: Councils are to receive new powers to tax empty homes that could help raise millions to build new affordable houses. The Council Tax on Empty Homes and Housing Support Grant Bill proposals (consultation closes on 10 January 2012) could apply to the 25,000 properties that have currently been empty for more than 6 months and are liable to pay council tax.
If all local authorities decide to use the maximum powers, they could raise up to £30m p.a. to spend on much-needed affordable homes in Scotland. The bill will also abolish the Housing Support Grant, which was originally established to subsidise local authorities' housing budgets by helping pay interest on housing debts.
NICE: In preliminary recommendations published recently by NICE, exenatide prolonged release suspension for injection (Bydureon, Eli Lilly) is recommended in triple therapy regimens (in combination with metformin and a sulphonylurea, or metformin and a thiazolidinedionei) as a treatment option for people with type 2 diabetes, when control of blood glucose remains or becomes inadequate. Closing date for comments is Tuesday 8 November at 5.00pm.
FRC: A consultation proposing the refocusing & streamlining of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has been launched by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the FRC recently. The aim of the reforms is to create an FRC that is clearer about its role & purpose, proportionate in the execution of that purpose and in a strong position to promote the highest standards of corporate reporting, governance and auditing. 
Responses to the consultation are invited by 10 January 2012. The intention is to implement the changes, guided by the responses to the consultation, in April 2012.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

NICE: NICE is to support local authorities in developing ways to tackle the rising tide of obesity in England, as the government plans to slash 5bn calories off the nation's daily diet. The government's obesity strategy says that on average adults are exceeding their calorie intake by 10% and that people need to be more honest about what they eat & drink in order to achieve the goal of reducing levels of child & adult obesity by 2020.
NICE will develop new public health guidance on working with local communities to prevent obesity, due in November 2012. A second piece of guidance on the best practice principles for adult & child weight management services will also be developed to help support effective commissioning of local weight management services.
NENatural England has published new guidance for prospective Environmental Stewardship (ES) applicants‘Common Land and Shared Grazing’ is produced as a supplement to Environmental Stewardship handbooks and gives detailed advice on how to apply for Entry Level Stewardship (including Uplands ELS) and Higher Level Stewardship, where common land or shared grazing are a consideration.
NAO: The National Audit Office has underlined the importance of effective financial management in schools.  It is essential that the financial management framework for schools is capable of alerting the Department for Education to any systemic issues that may require action or intervention.
The report to Parliament notes that weak financial management & weak academic performance often go hand in hand.  The Department has a limited role in relation to the financial management of schools.  It sets standards but responsibility for financial management and cost reductions lies with schools themselves, with local authorities responsible for exercising effective oversight.
DCMS: A new programme has been launched to share best practice learnt from the successful construction of the Olympic Park. Under the Learning Legacy scheme, the organisations involved in delivering the park will help businesses raise the bar in 10 areas including design & engineering, planning, procurement & project management.  
The website is a collaborative project between the ODA, contractors, professional institutes, government bodies & academia, and can be contributed to over time, becoming a comprehensive online library for companies of all shapes & sizes to refer to.
OFT: The OFT has  published its updated Debt Collection Guidance which sets out the standards expected of all businesses engaging in the recovery of consumer credit debts, including banks, law firms and tracing agents as well as traditional debt collectors.
It also sets out specific business practices that the OFT considers to be unfair or improper, such as using social networking sites to contact debtors, as well as contacting debtors at unreasonable times, or at inappropriate locations, for example when they are a patient in hospital. The OFT will be updating its Irresponsible Lending Guidance later this year to reflect the position in the Debt Collection Guidance.
DfT: New guidance to help local authorities design high-quality ‘shared space schemes’ has been published by Transport Minister, Norman Baker.   In conventional streets, behaviour is governed by highway infrastructure such as traffic signs, road markings and other street furniture. In streets with shared space much of this infrastructure is removed, so it is important that schemes are well designed and can be easily used.
CWDC: Publication by the Children’s Workforce development Fund of Communicating and engaging with young people follows employer feedback asking for support in this area. The guide builds on key learning outcomes from projects funded through their Participation Fund and includes tips on how best to help staff & volunteers improve their skills in this area. 
DfE: Updated guidance, Safeguarding Children who may have been Trafficked, has been published jointly by the Home Office and the Department for Education. The guidance makes clear that trafficked children who are forced into sexual exploitation, coerced into committing crimes or used by adults to commit offences are treated by the police and CPS as victims of crime
Where children are found to be trafficked their safety & welfare needs must be urgently addressed.  This guidance will help local agencies, including local authorities, NHS bodies and the police, to address this dreadful abuse effectively. 
DfE: A simple checklist (‘Getting the simple things right’) of what schools can do to instil good behaviour in the classroom has been developed & published by Charlie Taylor - the headteacher of a special school with some of the toughest behaviour issues and the Government’s Expert Adviser on behaviour – See ‘In the News’ section for more information

Annual Reports

DfE: New figures released last week show that 450,330 children – 7.2% – were absent from school for 15% or more of the autumn 2010 & spring 2011 terms. This is the equivalent of missing a month’s worth of lessons in a year. The figures also reveal that more than 1m pupils (16.4%) missed half a day or more of school per week, equating to 10% of school time missed.
This is the first time that a new persistent absence measure has been recorded, giving a clearer picture of the problem in our schools.  Schools Minister Nick Gibb said that the new figures revealed the worrying extent of long-term absence from school in England.  The figures have also failed to improve on last year.
DHMixed sex accommodation in the NHS has fallen by over 90% in under a year, according to new data published by the Department of Health. The latest statistics show that unjustified breaches of rules on mixed sex accommodation have fallen from nearly 12,000 to just over 1,000 in just 10 months.

General Reports and Other Publications

NO: A boy with special educational needs lost a year’s full-time education as a result of faults by Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin.   She has issued her report in the public interest to ‘highlight what can happen when councils fail to work together and its serious consequences’.
 In this instance she says the boy ‘missed out on a crucial year of education’ as a result of the two councils’ failures, and he may also have missed the opportunity of a residential placement with 24-hour support.
TUC: A failure to invest now in carbon capture & storage (CCS) is not only placing at risk the jobs of the 10,000 people directly employed in the coal mining and coal power industries, but is also jeopardising the chances of the UK becoming a world leader in the emerging low-carbon technology, the TUC has warned.
This was the strong message being delivered to MPs as the Clean Coal Task Group (CCTG) - of which the TUC and 7 of its affiliated unions are members - presents its Roadmap for Coal report at an afternoon meeting in Westminster.
IISS: The latest Strategic Comment from the International Institute for Strategic Studies considers how ‘One by-product of Australia’s new carbon-pricing scheme has been a lot of heated rhetoric’.  Opposition politicians have been waging a fierce campaign against the scheme, saying it will cause job losses and higher living costs, and calling for a 'people's revolt'.
TUC: TUC research which aims to challenge & dispel popular (but unfounded myths & stereotypes) about people living in poverty was published at a conference in London last week. A new TUC briefing produced to coincide with the conference - Are People on Disability Benefits Swinging the Lead? - challenges the misconception that the majority of people claiming disability benefit are cheats & fraudsters, or are out to get over-generous benefits that they are not entitled to.
The report finds that contrary to popular belief fraud is very rare amongst disability benefit claimants, accounting for 0.5% of the 2010/2011 disability living allowance budget, and just 0.3% of the incapacity benefits bill. The briefing also raises concerns that these unfounded & damaging stereotypes could be partly responsible for the increase in hate crimes disabled people have experienced in recent years.
NHS Confed: A Health Service Ombudsman recent report says the NHS is failing to deal appropriately with the ‘most basic complaints’. Commenting, Jo Webber, NHS Confederation deputy director of policy, said: ….    “It is absolutely essential NHS organisations and individual staff make every effort to learn from when things go wrong and for NHS trusts deal with patients’ concerns promptly, effectively and appropriately. This is an important part of offering high quality, compassionate safe healthcare. ….. "
Of the 15,000 complaints that the Health Ombudsman received, nearly two thirds were sent back to local organisations, because they had not completed the NHS complaints procedure.
IPPR: The recent unemployment figures show that young people & women are being hit hardest by Britain’s jobs crisis, with the highest numbers out of work for a generation.  IPPR’s new report – Jobs for the Future: The path back to full employment in the UK, includes the recommendation that the Government should provide a guaranteed job, paid at the minimum wage or above, to anyone who has been unemployed and claiming JSA for more than 12 consecutive months.
The guarantee should be matched by an obligation to take up the offer or to find an alternative that does not involve claiming JSA.  The job should be for no more than 30 hours a week to allow a reasonable amount of time each week for job search and should last a maximum of 6 months. Jobs could be provided by the third sector or local government.
DHNHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) must continue its work to improve services ensuring that blood supplies are used appropriately, efficiently & safely, a Department of Health report published last week states.
With growing pressures on the NHS and in line with the wider NHS reforms, the recommendations in the Commercial Review are designed to ensure that the DH and NHSBT work together to maximise opportunities for efficiencies, allowing more money to be made available for frontline patient care.
TUC1m+ families could lose over 16% of their council tax allowance under government proposals to replace the universal Council Tax Benefit (CTB) with local authority-run schemes, says the TUC. Under the new plans, from 2013-14 the national CTB allowance would be scrapped and local authorities would decide who should pay less council tax and how much they should pay.
EH: The largest ever research project into the condition of England's industrial heritage was published last week by English Heritage together with its annual Heritage at Risk Register.  Responding to the need to save buildings such as mills, factories & warehouses, EH are offering:
* A new section for developers on the EH website which will offer advice relevant to re-using industrial buildings and each English Heritage local office will, for the first time, publish a list of 10 ‘at risk’ priority sites
* A new guide to keeping buildings safe from decay or in temporary use until better economic times
NHS Confed: The NHS Confederation strongly backs the creation of the new NHS Commissioning Board, saying it has the potential to significantly improve commissioning across the system. The Board, established as part of the Government's NHS reform programme, is due to start work in shadow form on 31 October 2011.
The Confederation has urged the new board to move early to avoid the risk of being perceived as unaccountable, centralising & overbearing.   It has also published a new paper on the creation of the NHS Commissioning Board, which includes an analysis of the main issues facing the Board and makes 20 recommendations for improving chances of success.
BIS: The UK is a world-leader in science & research, according to a new report launched by Universities & Science Minister David Willetts at a Science Council lecture on research impact. The ‘International Comparative Performance of the UK Research Base 2011’ report shows that UK research attracts more citations per pound spent in overall research & development than any other country.  It has also found that the UK research base is highly mobile, internationally competitive and diverse.
Civitas: As Europe's leaders gamble their nations' finances on saving the Euro, a new Civitas report reveals that the ‘EU is damaging Britain's economic recovery and sapping job growth’.  
Time to Say No argues that the British must rejoin the 95% of the global population that remain in countries outside the EU, such as the British Commonwealth nations. These countries have far better prospects for growth in the 21st century than many of the tired economies of mainland Europe. In 2050, viewed from the UK, the rest of the Commonwealth will constitute a market nine times greater than that of Continental EU.
EC:  A report published by the Electoral Commission shows that co-ordination of the management of May’s referendum on the Parliamentary voting system delivered significant benefits for voters and could also improve the delivery of UK General Elections.
BIS: The Government has welcomed a report from Lord Heseltine & Sir Terry Leahy on the opportunities available for growth in Liverpool and surrounding areas.   The document, an independent assessment commissioned by the PM, studies the potential for growth, job creation & investment in theregion.
IPPR: The Gordian knot that has bound oil & road transport together may be loosening according to the think tank IPPR. Not only has car use apparently peaked in the UK and other industrialised countries, with people now making fewer journeys and travelling less distance by car, but recent years have seen the biggest drop in new car CO2 emissions on record

Legislation / Legal

DECC: The Energy Act has become law setting in stone the legal framework for the Green Deal, which will be launched in Autumn 2012. DECC’s new ‘Housing Energy Fact File’, published last week, highlights that more than half of homes in Great Britain don’t have sufficient insulation. It shows around 50% more energy is used to heat & power homes than is used to power UK industry.  
CLG: The process of returning decision-making powers on housing & planning to local communities moved up a gear with the publication last week of environmental assessments of the revocation of each Plan for consultation.  The reports make it clear that ‘revoking Regional Plans will mean there is less top down pressure on communities to review Green Belt’.
8 Environmental Reports have been published on which the CLG are seeking comments from organisations & individuals. The consultation ends on 20 January 2012. Subject to the assessment process they expect the orders revoking the existing Regional Plans to take effect next Spring.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: The European Commission presented recently its Communication on ‘Industrial policy: Reinforcing competitiveness’, which looks specifically at the industrial competitiveness performance of the Member States.
EU News: Last week saw the launch of ‘Generation Awake. Your choices make a world of difference!’ an EU campaign designed to encourage consumers to make resource efficiency habit. Its aim is to raise awareness about the need to use scarce natural resources wisely and to encourage citizens to think about their impact on the planet when making purchasing decisions.
ScotGov: Scottish farmers will be consulted & kept fully informed throughout the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform negotiations, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead pledged last week. The 5-point plan, which will ensure that farmers & key stakeholders are aware of the latest developments and can make their voices heard, was announced ahead of the EU Agrifish Council.
FCO: Minister for Europe, David Lidington, spoke at Belfast’s Queen’s University last week to encourage British students to consider a career in the EU Civil Service. The UK is currently severely under-represented in the EU Institutions. The UK has 12% of the EU’s population but only makes up 4.8% of EU staff. In the 2010 Recruitment Selection, the UK produced only 1.5% of applicants (750 out of 50,000 applications). This was the lowest of all the member states.
EU News: In a monitoring report issued last week, the European Commission finds a lack of progress in the reduction of trade barriers within the group of G20 countries.  It concludes that G20 members have to do more to stick to their initial commitment to refrain from introducing new barriers to trade since the break-out of the crisis.
The report counts no less than 424 restrictive measures to open trade since the start of the Commission's monitoring in October 2008. In the past 12 months alone, 131 new restrictions have been introduced while only 40 have been removed.
FSA: The level of man-made radioactivity to which people are exposed, remained below the EU legal limit during 2010, says a report published last week. Radioactivity in Food and the Environment (RIFE) 2010 combines the Agency’s monitoring results with those of the Environment Agency, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
It is the most comprehensive annual independent report of radioactivity in food covering the whole of the UK. The survey measures radioactivity from different parts of the food chain, including for people who live close to nuclear sites and eat locally produced food.  The report also assesses how much radioactivity people would absorb from authorised radioactive discharges in the environment, such as in the air.
EU News: The European Commission has once again urged the Member States to implement a ban on un-enriched cages for laying hens, which enters into force on 1 January 2012, and warned that it will adopt measures against those that will fail to comply with the relevant EU legislation.
EU News: As part of its work to make financial markets more sound & transparent, the European Commission has adopted a proposal for a Regulation on insider dealing and market manipulation (i.e. market abuse). The proposal aims to update & strengthen the existing framework to ensure market integrity and investor protection provided by the Market Abuse Directive (2003/6/EC).
The new framework will ensure regulation keeps pace with market developments, will strengthen the fight against market abuse across commodity & related derivative markets, reinforce the investigative & sanctioning powers of regulators and reduce administrative burdens on small & medium-sized issuers.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

BIG: Anyone needing evidence on issues concerning the voluntary sector can now search the new Third Sector Knowledge Portal. The Portal was launched recently by the Third Sector Research Centre, at an event held at the British Library to showcase the first 3 years of work by the Centre.
A one-stop knowledge resource, the Portal brings together evidence on a range of subjects  including policy, social & economic impact and funding and will help inform the work of researchers, policymakers, academics, frontline service providers and other VCS stakeholders across the country.

Business and Other Briefings

HMRC: Employers are being urged to get their PAYE paperwork in order, after more than 500 returns incorrectly claimed to employ “A N Other” in 2009/10. Every year, employers send PAYE data to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), which gives details of employees’ tax and national insurance contributions.  
However, it is not always accurate. This can cause problems for the employee, for example, incorrect amounts being deducted from their pay. It can also use up valuable employer and HMRC time & money putting the error right.

Industry News

DECCBystrup’s innovative T-Pylon design has been unanimously agreed by the judging panel as the winner of the Pylon Design Competition run by the Department of Energy & Climate Change, National Grid, and the Royal Institute of British Architects.
As a result of this contest National Grid will now work with Bystrup to develop their T-Pylon design further. National Grid has also said it wants to do further work with Ian Ritchie Associates on their Silhouette design, and New Town Studio’s Totem design.
ScotGov: Aberdeen energy industry firm Phuel Oil Tools Limited is one of the first companies to access the Scottish Loan Fund (SLF), Finance Secretary John Swinney has announced. On a visit to the company, which specialises in developing & manufacturing equipment for the oil & gas sector, Mr Swinney confirmed it has secured a £1m loan from the SLF to support its plans for growth & internationalisation.
Improving access to finance to support growth & investment is a key part of the Government Economic Strategy.  The SLF, which is managed by Maven Capital Partners, offers finance of between £250,000 & £5m to businesses which demonstrate growth or the intention to grow & exporting businesses.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is inviting researchers to tender for the development of guidance on risk-based food sampling for enforcement officers. To demonstrate levels of compliance with EU & UK food law, local authorities are required to carry out risk-based sampling.  In order to improve the consistency of approach across all UK local authorities, there is a need for guidance on the best method for devising a risk-based food and feed sampling programme.
To find out more about the research call, you will need to register as a supplier on the FSA’s electronic tendering system ePPS.  Applications should be submitted by Monday 14 November 2011.
Related links
ScotGov: First Minister, Alex Salmond, has welcomed an announcement by Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) that it intends to test its new tidal energy system in Scottish waters. Japan's KHI will test its new technology at the world-leading European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, using its expertise in engines, marine propulsion and gas turbines systems to develop a tidal power generation system.
ScotGov: Scotland's first National Conservation Centre for training young people in traditional building skills is to be established in Stirling - focusing on reviving scarce technical skills and promoting best practice in conservation.  In addition, a brand new stone masonry training facility will be created at the new Kildean campus of Forth Valley College, opening in August 2012.
WAG: The UAE continues to be the top market for Welsh exports in the Middle East & North Africa region, accounting for £517m in 2010. Welsh lamb exports to the UAE are growing and Welsh providers Welsh Country Foods & Randall Parker have been certified as Halal providers by the Halal Food Authority.
The Welsh Government has an office in Dubai that covers the Middle East & North Africa region. It has helped more than 600 companies from Wales to develop business in region, the majority of which are in the UAE.

Forthcoming Event

ACE: Book now for the Stories of the World Conference which showcases the largest youth participation project ever carried out by museums.  The event takes place on 9 November 2011 at Leeds City MuseumStories of the World involves over 60 museums across the country, working with over 2,000 young curators to explore their collections and develop exciting exhibitions & events for summer 2012.
ESRC: Vampires on the True Blood television series are already enjoying the advantages of synthetic blood. While this may seem to be only the imagination on the big screen, the true benefits of blood manufactured from embryonic stem cells may be less than a decade away.
It is unclear however whether society can develop an acceptance of cultured blood - or an appetite for synthetic meat produced by related technology.   For this reason it is vital the public has every opportunity to get involved with the latest developments in stem cell research, say researchers from the Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) Genomics Network.
So why not attend Vampires and vegetarianism in the 21st century on 1 November 2001Clips from the hugely popular TV show as well as the Twilight book & film series will provide a starting point for debate on recent biotechnological developments, notably stem cell research, at this public event organised as part of the ESRC’s Festival of Social Science 2011.  The discussion will range from Twilight’s ‘vegetarian vampires’ to the possibilities of synthetic in vitro meat.
ACE: Calling all performance artists! Applications have now opened for Escalator East to Edinburgh 2012; an award-winning talent development programme for performers in the East of England. As well as financial support through lottery-funded Grants for the arts, participants get help with PR, marketing, show promotion & building networks.  The application deadline is 21 November 2011 at 12 noon.
NE: A series of Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) workshops for farmers are being held across the South West this autumn as part of the Soils for Profit Project. The FREE sessions are designed to help farmers & land managers comply with Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations (2008), including the requirement to put in place adequate slurry storage provision in place by 1 January 2012.
Each workshop will be delivered by experts to a small group of farmers and will provide practical advice on a variety of topics including calculating nitrogen values; advice on storing organic manures and how, when and where to apply fertilizer and organic manure. Over 30 NVZ workshops are planned across the region between October and December with follow-up support provided after each event via a dedicated helpline.

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