In the News
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CQC: Can anyone still believe the NHS doesn’t need to change how it delivers its services? - A Care Quality Commission programme of inspections of services for people with learning disabilities found that there was a 1 in 2 chance of people being in a service that did not meet the required standards.
The findings are revealed in a national report that analyses the results of 145 unannounced inspections carried out in the wake of the abuse uncovered by the BBC Panorama programme at Winterbourne View Hospital. Inspections focused on examining the care & welfare of people who use services and whether people were safe from abuse.
CQC: Time for the NHS to be run to DMS standards? - The Care Quality Commission has published a review which praises the exceptional services run by the Defence Medical Services (DMS), the British military's trauma & rehabilitation unit for personnel injured in battle as well as military primary care services for service personnel and their families.
The report praises the care provided to casualties of war, highlighting the truly world class systems in place in the treatment of major injuries, the training of staff, design of field hospitals, clinical audits to feedback important lessons, and rehabilitation for injured personnel.
However, it found that there were still ongoing issues in the primary health care for services personnel & their families that required action. The buildings where care is delivered remain a major problem, causing deficiencies in the quality of patient care. Concerns over safeguarding arrangements were still apparent and documentation & information systems remain in need of improvement, which may have contributed to shortfalls in patient care.
IFS: Whatever we are going to do to raise the care funding, we need to start doing it soon - Raising revenue to pay for the proposals suggested by the Dilnot Commission on Funding of Care and Support offers an opportunity for the government to rationalise the tax & benefit system for those above State Pension Age, Paul Johnson, the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, has said.
In a new report funded by the Nuffield Foundation, IFS researchers look at ‘how pensioner incomes have evolved in recent years, how the tax & benefit system provides additional support for pensioners and how it could be reformed to raise the £1.7bn a year the Dilnot proposals would cost’.
DH: Being flexible could keep the costs down - Thousands of individuals with mental health needs could be offered more flexible working under a new initiative launched by Health Minister Lord Howe. Leading companies, including manufacturing umbrella body EEF & EDF Energy have signed up to a new Responsibility Deal pledge to help manage & support employees with mental health needs in the best way possible.
The approach, which has been developed as part of a new health & work pledge, is set out in a simple guide (see press release). 1 in 4 people experience a mental heath problem at some point in their lives - poor mental health currently costs the economy an estimated £105bn and is the most common reason for incapacity benefit claims.
NAO: Taxing times for HMRC as it struggles to collect all revenues due - Amyas Morse, the Comptroller & Auditor General, has issued a report on the 2011-12 accounts of HM Revenue & Customs. It details progress by HMRC in stabilising the PAYE service since the serious problems that emerged when it introduced the new National Insurance & PAYE service (NPS) in 2009. The report also covers HMRC’s performance in managing tax debt; and its progress in tackling fraud & error and in managing debt in respect of tax credits.
The NAO recommends that the Department identify the full cost and evaluate the cost-effectiveness of each of its debt collection activities. It should also accelerate its work to undertake full risk profiling & customer segmentation of its debt balance, as recommended by the Public Accounts Committee.
DH: Insurance is about ‘risk’, so why should they have the information? - An agreement with the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the Concordat & Moratorium on Genetics and Insurance, continues to guarantee that anyone who has had a predictive test to assess their susceptibility to genetic conditions, such as breast and ovarian cancer, can take out significant insurance cover without disclosing the results. The agreement has been extended to 2017 and sets out that all future reviews of the agreement will take place 3 years before the provisional end date.
NAO: One wonders what a similar report on the NHS inventory would turn up - The National Audit Office has published a report on the Ministry of Defence's management of its inventory - its store of supplies & spares. The indication is that the money spent on unnecessary levels of stock could be made available to be spent elsewhere.
Quoting extracts from the press release:
* The MoD is buying more inventory than it uses
* It has also not consistently disposed of equipment & supplies which it either no longer needs
* The planned return of the armed forces from Afghanistan & Germany will place even more pressure on the little room left in the MoD's central depot space
* Over £4.2bn of non-explosive inventory has not moved at all for at least 2 years
* A further £2.4bn of non-explosive inventory already held is sufficient to last for 5 years or more.
* During 2010 & 2011, the MOD identified inventory worth a total of £1.4bn that could either be sold or destroyed, but it was unable to provide information on the value of the stock that had been destroyed.
* The MOD purchases, holds and uses over 710m items of inventory across 900,000 different types
WAG: Time to volunteer if you want Welsh culture to flourish - People with an interest in Welsh-medium education are being invited to become members of a new group to advise on the Welsh Government’s strategy. Applications are invited from individuals with expertise & experience of matters relating to Welsh-medium education & training. The closing date for receipt of applications is 16 July 2012.
FCO: Your chance to praise or complain - The Government Digital Service is conducting a survey to understand how people use news content on UK central government websites, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website. There are 9 questions and it can take as little as 1 minute to complete the survey. All considered responses are greatly appreciated.
Press release & links
Latest Research Paper: Government Web Sites Under Sustained Attack: Protecting Against Modern DDoS Threats - With the recent high profile attacks on sites including MoJ, SOCA and the ICO, married to the pledge from hacktivist group Anonymous for sustained DDoS attacks on UK government web sites, preventing and mitigating such attacks is a top priority for all public sector organisations. It is clear that DDoS attacks are continuing to increase in both size and complexity. Furthermore, the motivations behind attacks have also broadened to include ideological hacktivism and Internet vandalism, increasing the risk to government. These institutions can rely upon Arbor Networks for DDoS attack research, detection and mitigation.
Arbor Networks was initially founded through government funding and is a frequent network security advisor to governments, international and regional security alliances and CERTS around the world. Arbor Networks security researchers have been invited to testify before the House of Lords on behalf of the European Union on the subject of “Protecting Europe Against Large-scale Cyber-attacks”.
The latest paper from independent research specialists Frost and Sullivan, looks at DDoS attacks in detail and describes why the threat to organizations is greater than ever before. The paper also explains why traditional firewall and IPS solutions fall short in protecting organizations against today’s sophisticated DDoS attacks and goes on to suggest a solution.
Click here to receive the research paper on 'Protecting Against Modern DDoS Threats'.
Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
STFC: A new neutron super-microscope that will help pave the way for new high-tech materials is under construction at ISIS, the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) world-leading neutron & muon source in Oxfordshire.
The new microscope, called Larmor, will be at the forefront of materials science for engineering, food, health & the natural environment. For example, knowledge gained could play an important role in the development of new high-tech materials for electronic equipment, or in speeding up charging speeds of lithium-ion batteries in electronic vehicles.
DCMS: A one-off capital grant scheme worth £1.1m has been made available for listed places of worship until April 2013. The Church of England and the National Churches Trust will distribute the funds.
EH: More than 15,000 images from one of the earliest and most significant collections of aerial photography of the UK have been made freely accessible online to the public for the first time.
Britain from Above, a new website launched by English Heritage and the Royal Commissions on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland & Wales, features some of the oldest & most valuable images of the Aerofilms Collection, a unique & important archive of over 1m aerial photographs taken between 1919 & 2006.
DH: Junior doctors will spend a minimum of 4 working days shadowing the job that they will be taking up from this summer. The first few weeks of employment for medical graduates can not only be stressful, but are also associated with increased risk for patients & NHS employers.
The Department of Health has asked Medical Education England for advice on enabling junior doctors to make the transition from student to doctor & employee in the safest way possible.
According to research supported by Dr Foster Intelligence in 2009, people admitted to English hospitals in an emergency on the first Wednesday in August have, on average, a 6% higher mortality rate than people admitted on the previous Wednesday.
TfL: From last week, London Tramlink passengers will benefit from a 50% increase in services on the busiest part of the network, as the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, launched a new London Tramlink service through Croydon's town centre.
TfL: Transport for London’s Temporary Road Changes planning tool has been updated to include LOCOG's local parking & traffic management plans around Games venues and how roads around race routes will be affected during Road Events.
HL: In a speech last week, PM, David Cameron, questioned whether all young people under the age of 25 should be eligible for Housing Benefit. Matt Harrison, Interim Chief Executive of the umbrella body for 500 homelessness charities, Homeless Link, has responded.
TfL: Transport for London has introduced a brand new night bus route to improve bus services in the Mill Hill, Watford Way and Hendon Way areas. The N113 entered service on 30 June and follows requests from passengers & local residents for improved links to & from central London.
EHRC: The Equality and Human Rights Commission has outlined plans for its future operating model & structure. It has launched a staff consultation on proposals to reduce its workforce to 150 posts.
The proposals aim to meet the challenges posed by reduced resources, including the Government’s decision that the Commission will no longer provide a helpline function and the need to deliver the Commission’s 3 year strategic plan which was laid before parliament in April this year.
TNA: As part of the Archives Awareness campaign, the Cadbury Research Library has launched an exhibition to commemorate Olympic Games throughout the 20th century.
The 'Olympic Memories' exhibition explores the first London Olympic Games in 1908 and the capital's post-war 'austerity Games' in 1948, as well as the 1936 Berlin Olympics in Nazi Germany. It draws on original photographs & collections from extensive Sports & Athletics Collections held at the University of Birmingham.
STFC: The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the UK’s Government Office for Science have agreed to strengthen the countries’ collaborative efforts to protect critical infrastructure from the impacts of space weather.
WAG: The First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, has visited the site of the worst mining disaster in British history to launch a major appeal for the first ever Welsh National Mining Memorial. In total 440 men & boys were killed in 1913 following a huge explosion at the Universal Colliery site in Senghenydd. The disaster affected the lives of almost every household in the Aber Valley and sent shockwaves around the world.
DECC: A joint public inquiry will be held into 2 applications for onshore windfarms in Powys, mid-Wales. These refer to applications made by Vattenfall for the Llanbadarn Fynydd scheme (59.5 MW), and RWE npower renewables for the Carnedd Wen scheme (130-250 MW), for development consent under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989.
DCMS: Young people from across the country came together to explore heritage & identity at the recent UNESCO Youth Summit 2012. The youth delegates, aged 13 to 17, won the chance to represent Britain’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites following a nationwide competition.
NHS Confed: NHS Confederation response to decision to consider placing South London Healthcare Trust in administration
STFC: The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the Met Office and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), have together embarked on a project to design & build a next-generation weather forecasting model for the UK.
By the end of the decade, scientists will be using supercomputers that are thousands of times faster than any of today’s systems. Known as ‘exascale’ supercomputers they will contain millions of processors capable of performing a million trillion calculations per second.
Harnessing the power of these computers for weather & climate prediction could mean much more accurate forecasts that will help us to live more easily with episodes of severe weather and also to adapt to climate change, maintaining UK leadership in environmental prediction.
FSA: Frozen Value is withdrawing various ice cream products as they contain nuts, peanuts or sulphites that aren’t listed on the label. This is in addition to the previous withdrawal of Picard Chocolate & Pistachio Cones. If you’re allergic to nuts, sulphites or peanuts, do not eat these products. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert..
ICO: The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued a statement in response to the publication of the Open Data White Paper.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
WAG: Local Government & Communities Minister, Carl Sargeant, said that a report issued by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) about council tax benefit confirms concerns the Welsh Government has raised with the UK government about the impact of the cuts in Wales.
A new report by IFS researchers says that low-income families in Wales that receive help with their council tax bills will lose an average of £74 per year as cuts in funding from the UK Government are passed onto benefit claimants by the Welsh Government.
Defra: An estimated 2.4m households have difficulties meeting the costs of their water bills. The move to support struggling families is made possible by new government guidance published recently that will pave the way for water companies to introduce the new tariffs, giving them the power to reduce bills for the most vulnerable customers. Further reforms to the water industry will be proposed by the Government later this summer with the publication of a draft Water Bill.
ScotGov: Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, has recently provided extra money to help householders install new green heating systems in their homes, as part of a strategy to encourage more people to generate clean green energy. The extra £5m will be available from August 2012 to householders as loans of up to £10,000 to fund renewable heat technology projects such as biomass boilers and heat pumps in their own homes.
The loans form part of a wider micro-generation Strategy, launched recently Mr Ewing, which aims to encourage people to install microgeneration technologies own homes, businesses and schools.
WWF: WWF-UK has congratulated the Deputy PM, Nick Clegg, and the UK government for announcing that the UK will accede to the UN Watercourses Convention to ‘help ensure that the world’s 263 international boundary crossing rivers are protected and peacefully shared’.
When ratified the UN Watercourses Convention will help to protect rivers such as the Mekong which, with its tributaries, flows through 6 countries including China, Burma, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam, supplying a large proportion of the world's freshwater fish catch.
DfT: A further £15m funding to tackle dangerous junctions for cyclists across the country has been announced. The investment - for use by English local authorities outside London - is in addition to the £15m awarded to Transport for London in March to tackle accident hotspots where cyclists have been killed or seriously injured.
Local authorities will need to submit bids to the DfT for a share of the latest fund which will also be looking to the LAs themselves to contribute further money, in order to maximise the work that can be undertaken. Decisions on how the money will be allocated are likely to be announced in the Autumn.
ScotGov: More Scottish schools are providing pupils with at least 2 hours of physical education (PE) lessons per week in primary school and 2 periods in S1 to S4 according to figures published last week. The Scottish Government’s target is that by 2014, every primary school pupil will receive at least 2 hours per week of PE and S1 to S4 pupils will receive 2 periods of PE.
DECC: In a Written Ministerial Statement (25 June 2012) - Charles Hendry responded to the Dr Weightman Final Report on the events at the Fukushima Nuclear Site.
LGA: A 3 point-action plan for tackling the worst housing shortage in a generation has been launched by councils in England & Wales. At its annual conference last week, the LGA officially launched its 'Housing the Nation' campaign calling on Government to release the potential of local government to provide more housing.
The LGA, which represents more than 350 councils in England & Wales, has identified 3 key steps government needs to take to allow councils to tackle the housing crisis head on.
DWP: The Government is taking steps to promote collaborative parenting in separated families. A fund, worth up to £14m over 2 years, is being established to develop effective & innovative support services for separated & separating families. The new services will help parents to foster collaborative relationships with each other after separation, including agreeing child maintenance.
DWP: The Secretary of State has announced that outdated Jobseeker’s Allowance legislation will ‘not stand in the way of unemployed people who want to serve their country in the reserve forces’. Previously unemployed people who were members of the reserve forces had to stop their claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance to attend their annual 2 week training camp.
As they are paid for this training their benefit payments would be stopped and they would need to make a new claim at the end of their training and wait while it was processed to receive their money. Under the new system reservists will receive a nominal payment of 10p in order to ensure their entitlement remains open.
WAO: Secretary of State for Wales, Cheryl Gillan, has expressed her dismay at the obstructive stance taken by the Official Opposition over the proposed Welsh Grand Committee scheduled for Monday 2 July. The Welsh Grand was due to meet & debate the recently launched Wales Office consultation on the Future Electoral Arrangements for the National Assembly of Wales.
CO: 2 new government IT deals announced recently by Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, will deliver combined savings of approximately £70m.
The agreements, with Microsoft and SAP, are the latest in a series of Government supplier renegotiations to ensure that the public sector gets the best prices for taxpayers – maximising the bulk buying power of government and ending the days where different parts of government pay different prices for the same products. The Government announced similar deals with IT companies, Oracle and Capgemini, earlier this year.
HO: Prospective candidates for the role of Police & Crime Commissioner can find out more about the position thanks to the launch of a new dedicated webpage, including candidate briefings, by the Home Office. Members of the public will also be able to find out about the benefits PCCs will bring to policing in their community.
CLG: The families of those killed in the line of duty will be at the front of the queue for social housing, Housing Minister. Grant Shapps. said recently. The Minister outlined how a change to the law will give top priority for homes not just to members of the Armed Forces with pressing housing needs, but also to their loved ones if anything happens to them.
Former servicemen & women, and those members of the Reserve Forces injured in action, will also be placed first in line if they have an urgent need for social housing.
FCO: The UK Government renews & strengthens Britain’s relationship with the Overseas Territories with the publication of its White Paper, The Overseas Territories: Security, Success and Sustainability, which focuses on 3 goals:
* strengthening engagement between the UK and the Territories
* working with the Territories to strengthen good governance, public financial management & economic planning where this is necessary
* improving the quality & range of support available to the Territories.
DCMS: Measures to support a ‘vibrant & sustainable public library service’ have been announced by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey.
HMT: The Scottish Government could be given the power to issue its own bonds, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, told the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce recently.
A consultation (closes on 14 September 2012) on the proposal was launched recently. It will gather views & evidence on the potential benefits & disadvantages of bond issuance by Scottish ministers for both Scotland and the rest of the UK. It will consider value for money for Scottish & UK taxpayers; potential macroeconomic issues; and alternative sources of borrowing.
The Government included a provision in the Scotland Act 2012 which enables it to amend the way in which Scottish ministers can borrow to include bond issuance from 2015-16. The Government committed to consult on whether these powers should be extended to permit bond issuance, as part of a total £2.2bn borrowing limit.
CC: The Competition Commission (CC) has recently published an issues statement as part of its market investigation into privately-funded healthcare services. The CC is required to report by 3 April 2014 - the inquiry sets out the various stages for the investigation.
Any interested party is invited to respond to the issues statement in writing by 20 July 2012. - the inquiry sets out the various stages for the investigation. .
DfT: Launching the InterCity East Coast franchise consultation (closes on 18 September 2012) last week, Rail Minister Theresa Villiers invited passengers, local councils &anyone with an interest in improved services on the East Coast Main Line to send in their views on what they want from the next franchise.
The DfT will produce a summary of the consultation responses alongside the Invitation to Tender, which will be published in January 2013. The winning bidder will be announced in August 2013 with the new franchise planned to start in December 2013..
LC: In a consultation (closing on 26 September 2012), the Law Commission and Scottish Law Commission are proposing a new law to make clear what businesses must tell insurers when they buy insurance. The current law states that before taking out insurance businesses must ‘disclose every material circumstance they know or ought to know’. ),
But what exactly counts as an organisation’s knowledge? Can a vast & complex international organisation reasonably be expected to know everything that is known to every employee? And how can it work out what an insurer would think was material?
The Law Commissions believe that the law should support the commercial aspirations of the insurer and the policyholder. The policyholder should make a fair presentation of the risk, but they can expect the insurer to be both knowledgeable and competent.
DCMS: Ofcom have launched a consultation (closes on 26 July 2012) on a draft code governing the Digital Economy Act’s mass notification system. Under the system, letters will be sent to account holders whose internet connections are identified as being used to unlawfully share films, music & other copyright material. The letters will explain what copyright is & give advice on protecting internet connections from unauthorised users.
DCMS: DCMS are inviting professionals from the communications & creative industries, TV & radio, publishers and other digital industries to comment on the discussion papers that will inform the 5 upcoming communications review seminars announced earlier this month.
BIS: The Government has published draft regulations (consultation closes on 26 September 2012) determining what companies must disclose in pay reports. These will fully replace existing rules and are designed to create a robust framework within which directors’ pay is set, agreed & implemented.
The Government has also published a summary of the responses received during the consultation launched in March 2012, Executive Pay: Shareholder Voting Rights.
DfT: Passengers & the aviation industry are being given the chance to ‘cut red tape to make life easier for passengers & boost business’. Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers is putting the spotlight on around 90 aviation regulations that have been placed on the Red Tape Challenge website. The exercise gives people the opportunity to say whether they think that a regulation is well designed and provides vital protection or is badly designed, badly implemented or simply a bad idea (by 26 August 2012).
FSA: The Financial Services Authority is consulting (closes on 27 September 2012) on proposals which would ensure that investors can make fully informed choices if they wish to consolidate their investments in one place on a platform and understand exactly what they are paying for this service.)
The FSA is also seeking views on whether the ban on payments from product providers should be read across to the wider retail investment market, such as to life companies & Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) operators
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has launched a consultation (closes on 28 September 2012) on a range of proposals which will include phasing out free carrier bags. The aim is to Safeguard Scotland’s Resources through efficient use of materials including cutting waste and encouraging positive environmental behaviour.
LC: In a new consultation, the Law Commission is seeking views on how the Electronic Communications Code is working for those who use it, and what can be done to make it more transparent and user-friendly.
The EC Code gives electronic communications network providers rights to install & maintain their equipment – such as masts, cables and conduits – on public & private land. It is vital to delivering broadband, mobile internet, cable TV, mobile phones and landlines to the whole of the UK.
FRC: The Financial Reporting Council (FRC), recently published a consultation document setting out the changes it proposes to its disciplinary Schemes (closes on 15 September 2012). The FRC considers that changes to the Schemes are desirable to enhance their independence and to promote their effective and efficient operation.
Press release & links
DH: Proposals to change responsibility for regulating fertility treatment and human tissue have been set out by Health Minister, Lord Howe, as he launched a consultation (closes on 28 September 2012) on the future of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and Human Tissue Authority (HTA).
DfE: Parents & businesses are being asked whether automatic online blocks should be introduced to protect children from adult & harmful websites, in a discussion paper published recently by ministers.
The call for evidence (closes end of August 2012) asks for views on the best way to shield children effectively from internet pornography and other adult & potentially harmful content - including websites promoting suicide, anorexia, gambling, self-harm & violence, as well as those exposing them to online sexual grooming or cyber-bullying.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
LHDG: The Local Housing Delivery Group, chaired by Sir John Harman, recently published its dual review of local plan viability testing and local standards in new housing development at an event hosted by group secretariat, NHBC (National House-Building Council).
With the reduction in central planning guidance and the forthcoming abolition of regional housing targets, the role of local authorities in planning for new homes becomes even more critical. The new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) poses a challenge for them to develop local plans which are both sustainable and viable.
Press release & links
HO: A new guide for parents to help them educate children about how the media alter images & the impact this can have on self esteem has been backed by Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone, recently. The body image parent pack, developed for 6-11-year-olds by not-for-profit organisation Media Smart, marks the latest contribution to the government's Body Confidence campaign.
The pack encourages children to think about how & why images may have been altered and the effect this can have on their own body image. It also explores how ideas about the 'perfect' body have changed through the ages and offers tips for parents on how to talk to their child about the subject.
HPA: A new online training module for public health professionals & healthcare workers dealing with patients who may have been exposed to rabies has been launched by the Health Protection Agency (HPA). The HPA issues PEP to approximately 1,000 individuals per year, nonetheless, there is still a lack of awareness amongst clinicians & public health practitioners about rabies exposure risk assessments, and when and how PEP should be used.
DUK: The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has issued new guidelines aimed at making it easier for drivers with insulin-treated diabetes to understand the new driver licensing rules recently introduced to comply with a new European Directive on driving licences.
NICE: NICE has published new recommendations on the management of acute upper gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding. Bleeding in the oesophagus, stomach or duodenum is the most common emergency managed by gastroenterologists in the UK, with at least 50,000 hospital admissions per year. Despite changes in management, mortality has not improved over the past 50 years.
It is estimated that around 1 in 10 hospital admissions for upper gastrointestinal bleeding results in the patient's death - around 5,000 deaths per year in the UK. This latest guidance makes a number of key recommendations, including offering endoscopy to unstable patients with severe acute upper gastrointestinal bleeding immediately after resuscitation.
NICE: People who present to hospital with blood clots in the legs or lungs should be offered treatment within 4 hours and have their investigative tests including scans within 24 hours, according to latest guidelines. Those aged 40 and over who develop a blood clot should also be tested to see whether they have an underlying cancer.
Currently, some patients encounter delays as tests & scans are unavailable at hospitals over the weekend or out-of-hours. During this time, the risk of developing a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism (PE) increases significantly. The opportunity to check for cancer is also being missed, despite estimates suggesting that one in 10 people with a blood clot have an underlying cancer.
DH: Thousands of individuals with mental health needs could be offered more flexible working under a new initiative launched by Health Minister Lord Howe. Leading companies have signed up to a new Responsibility Deal pledge to help manage & support employees with mental health needs in the best way possible – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
RoSPA: A new video has been produced for divers to give them a solid foundation in the key benefits & safety considerations of using closed circuit rebreathers (CCRs) - a technology often referred to as enabling ‘bubble-free’ diving.
CCR use, which is historically associated with military & cave diving, is expected to rise sharply among recreational divers over the next few years. With CCR technology accepted to be developing fast, the CCR Aware video (available free of charge) is targeted at those new to rebreather diving as well as existing users who might be at risk of becoming complacent.
HMIC: The Police Service’s approach to dealing with Anti-social behaviour has improved since 2010; but there is a significant variation in victim satisfaction levels across England & Wales. More can be done to tackle the problem, and to identify those victims most at risk of harm, HMIC found in their report, ‘A Step in the Right Direction’, published recently.
RoSPA: The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents in Scotland is disappointed that the number of children killed in accidents on Scotland’s roads increased between 2010 & 2011. More detailed road casualty figures for Scotland will be published in October.
NAO: Amyas Morse, the Comptroller & Auditor General, has given a qualified audit opinion on the 2011-12 accounts of the Skills Funding Agency in relation to how the Agency has accounted for further education colleges.
Press release & links
DH: The 2012 Local Health Profiles, produced by the Public Health Observatories of England working in partnership, were released on 26 June 2012, according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.
The profiles draw together information to present a picture of health in each local area in a user-friendly format. They are a valuable tool for local government & health services in helping them to understand their communities’ needs, so that they can work to improve people’s health and reduce health inequalities.
DFID: The Department for International Development's Annual Report 2011-12 has been published. The progress report reveals the Government is on track to deliver the results it set out over a year ago, in a major review of how British aid is targeted.
DfE: Teachers are feeling more positive about the standard of pupils’ behaviour in schools, according to a new survey, which reveals how the Government’s work to back teachers in improving behaviour in schools & classrooms across the country is starting to deliver positive results.
CQC: Barking, Havering & Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust has made improvements, but still has some way to go before it provides local people with the care they deserve – that’s the verdict of a series of reports published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
TfL: Transport for London has published its first Rail & Underground Annual Benchmarking Report under the direction of the Independent Investment Programme Advisory Group (IIPAG), the panel established to oversee TfL's huge investment programme. The report looks at the maintenance costs & reliability of the different parts of the underground network and compares the Tube with other metros around the world.
OFT: The OFT has published its Annual Report, including an estimate of the financial benefits of its activities to consumers. The report shows that last year the OFT achieved an estimated benefit to consumers of at least 8 times its cost to the taxpayer - £402m compared to £49m. This benefit has been achieved with an 8% reduction in budget compared to the previous year.
CCC: Despite greenhouse gas emissions falling by 7% in 2011, only 0.8% of this can be linked directly to implementation of proactive carbon lowering measures, said the Committee on Climate Change in its latest annual progress report to Parliament. This rate of underlying progress is only a quarter of that required to meet future carbon budgets. The report therefore urges the Government to move from planning to delivering change.
NAO: Amyas Morse, the Comptroller & Auditor General, has yesterday issued a report on the 2011-12 accounts of HM Revenue & Customs – See ‘In the News’ section for more information
General Reports and Other Publications
NAO: The National Audit Office has highlighted the benefits flowing from the innovative use of competition to award companies licences to transmit electricity from offshore wind farms - but warns that electricity consumers are being left with some significant risks, including bearing the cost of inflation.
CIPD: A new report (Sustainable organisation performance through HR in SMEs) identifies vital insights for HR practice & strategy for driving long-term performance in SMEs.
Based on research with 4 case study organisations and drawing on the experiences of 4 additional HR directors & business leaders, the study has uncovered 4 key stages of organisation transition in SMEs, each associated with different opportunities & challenges for people management: entrepreneurial edge, emerging enterprise, consolidating organisation and established organisation.
The research identified 6 key insights for HR practitioners in SMEs as well as those who are responsible for HR activities, but may not have HR explicitly in their job title.
Demos: Clinical commissioners should look again both at how ‘reablement’ services are delivered – and who delivers them – as they take responsibility for these schemes from local authorities, says a new report by Demos.
The report comes in response to significant government investment in ‘reablement’ services, support services designed to speed discharge from hospital and reduce the need for ongoing care & support.
Ippr: Local councils should have a duty to provide affordable housing, but the right to decide how to spend the money currently going to landlords through Housing Benefit, according to a new report published by the think tank IPPR. The report shows that current levels of new house building, at around 100,000 a year, are the lowest for a century and set to get even worse.
The new publication is the final report of IPPR’s 18-month-long fundamental review of housing policy. It shows that over the current 4-year period the UK will spend £95bn on Housing Benefit and less than £5bn on building new homes. In stark contrast, the report shows that in the late 1970s, 80% of public spending on housing went on bricks & mortar, and just a fifth on rent allowances.
NAO: In a memorandum to the Public Accounts Committee, the National Audit Office has set out the long-term challenges & uncertainties involved in supplying secure, low carbon & affordable electricity.
The memorandum describes how the Department of Energy and Climate Change is seeking to address these challenges, through existing measures & reforms to the electricity market.
iea: 8 years on from The Orange Book’s release, a new publication looks at ‘the unfinished business of the Liberal Democrats’ policy development and sets out a wide range of new areas on which the party should now concentrate’.
Defra: Computers, televisions and other electrical products plugged in but not in use or left on standby cost the UK up to £1.3bn in electricity bills every year, a new study has revealed. The study, ‘Powering the Nation – household energy using habits uncovered also revealed that the UK is watching 10bn hours more TV than previously thought, adding £205m to electricity bills.
PC&PE: The House of Commons elected in 2010 should have the opportunity to decide its preference about the hours that it sits, the Procedure Committee concludes in its report Sitting hours & the Parliamentary calendar.
NLGN: A bold decentralisation of power and a strengthening of local government could transform the ability of English countries & cities to connect local people with the decisions that shape their communities and transform democracy in the UK – but it must be backed by compulsory voting in local elections in order to succeed.
Ippr: Ed Cox, Director of IPPR North, responds to the announcements (made on Wednesday 27 June) that the government plans to offer a wage subsidy to employers to take on young people who have been unemployed for 6 months rather than 9 in unemployment ‘hotspots’.
PC&PE: The Business Innovation and Skills Committee has published a report - "The Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property: where next?" - as part of its inquiry into the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property & Growth.
NO: Complaints about Leicestershire County Council’s grant of planning permission for a new waste-processing facility have been investigated by the Local Government Ombudsman,
Dr Jane Martin. In this case she did not uphold the complaints but, because of the considerable local interest and concern about the development, she has taken the very unusual step of issuing a public report even though she found no injustice and only one minor point of fault by the Council.
PC&PE: The MoD is sending the wrong signals to Forces families about the value it places on providing good accommodation, says the Defence Committee in its report on Forces Accommodation. Service personnel see the provision of proper housing as fundamental to the Armed Forces Covenant.
Ippr: On the day of the publication of the Local Government Association Green Paper on Local Growth, (Wednesday 27 June) think tank IPPR North called for greater co-ordination of economic development powers at the local level in order for a return to growth to happen in areas where unemployment is rising.
PC&PE: In a report published last week, the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee calls on the Government to abandon its plans to introduce a power of recall for MPs and to use the parliamentary time this would free up to better effect.
Legislation / Legal
EHRC: The Equality and Human Rights Commission intervened in a test case in which the High Court has ruled that the police cannot keep photographs of people without criminal records or those not found guilty. T
he court has ordered the Metropolitan Police to revise its guidelines within months. The police force is then very likely to have to destroy its photographs of anyone who is innocent of any crime.
ScotGov: The Justice Secretary has issued a challenge to the Treasury to ‘ensure Scotland’s police & fire services can continue to recover VAT’. Kenny MacAskill said the policy is in stark contrast to the UK Government’s treatment of Academy schools in England, where the rules were changed to allow VAT to be reclaimed. It would also mean the police and fire services in Scotland would be the only ones in the UK unable to recover VAT.
FRC: Reform of the Financial Reporting Council was last week given parliamentary approval by the House of Commons and House of Lords. The reforms will enable the FRC to operate as a unified regulatory body, with enhanced independence from those it regulates, and more proportionate range of sanctions.
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has accepted legally enforceable undertakings offered by the 3 largest UK electrical retailers to improve the way the extended warranties market works, following consultation with business & consumers.
ScotGov: Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has confirmed a major shake-up of the way in which Scotland’s criminal justice system deals with women offenders is to begin with immediate effect following the findings of an expert report into female offending in Scotland.
DSA: Driving instructors who pose a significant threat to public safety will face immediate suspension under new legislation. Currently, it takes a minimum of 45 days to prevent an instructor from continuing to give paid driving instruction. From 13 July 2012, the registrar of approved driving instructors will have the power to immediately suspend the registration or trainee licence of an instructor who presents a significant danger to the safety of the public.
WAG: Regulations have come into force detailing how local authorities must allow carers of disabled children to take the short breaks they are legally entitled to. The short breaks, made statutory in the Children and Young Persons Act 2008, are not just respite for the parents or carers. They also provide an opportunity for disabled children & young people to spend time with other children their own age.
ScotGov: A new law will ensure Scotland’s water has a sustainable future helping to boost Scotland’s low carbon economy & creating jobs. The Water Resources (Scotland) Bill aims to cement Scotland's global reputation as home to a dynamic, world class water industry with knowledge & expertise in water management. A range of measures to ensure Scotland’s water resource is managed efficiently and to the benefit of Scotland, are also included in the Bill.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: The European Commission has recently decided to request Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Luxemburg, Poland, and the UK to implement EU rules on defence products (Directive 2009/43/EC) into national law. The implementation deadline was 30 June 2011.
EU News: The European Commission recently took an important step to protect foreign investors at the EU level, thereby ‘ensuring that Europe continues to be a safe and attractive place for investment by foreign companies’. The recent proposal establishes a legal & financial framework for ‘investor to state dispute settlement’ as part of a broad investment policy which has become an exclusive EU competence under the Lisbon Treaty.
EU News: The Commission believes there has to be a clear longer term vision on the future of the EU's Economic & Monetary Union to give a sense of direction to the reforms & decisions necessary for the EU and its Member States to tackle current challenges.
Therefore, the Commission has been pushing for deeper economic integration as one of the remedies to the current crisis. This new step in European integration would complement our monetary union. In this context, the Commission is putting forward the concept of a banking union.
EU News: The European Parliament and the Council have agreed on new rules aimed at equipping the EU budget with simpler financial rules while ‘securing sound treatment of European taxpayers' money’. The financial regulation can be considered as a cornerstone of the EU legislation since it contains all the principles & rules for the implementation of the EU budget and is applicable to all areas of expenditure and all revenue.
The agreement on the financial regulation paves the way for the adoption of around 70 proposals for sector specific legislative acts covering areas such as agriculture, cohesion policy, research, environment, transport, energy and external aid.
EU News: Since the Lehmann Brothers bankruptcy, the EESC has been calling for more European integration as the only appropriate response to the crisis. Now, after years of ‘inter-governmentalism’ in Europe and with too many small, half-hearted steps, only a true master plan with a clear roadmap attached can save Europe from disintegration and disorder and pave the way for sustainable growth and employment.
EU News: The European Commission has called for a European effort to boost Key Enabling Technologies (KETs). The EC has tabled its strategy to boost the industrial production of KETs-based products, in order to ‘keep pace with the EU’s main international competitors and restore growth in Europe.
EU News: Minimum sanctions for tax crimes, a cross-border tax identification number, an EU tax-payer's charter and stronger common measures against tax havens. These are just some of the concrete ideas that the Commission has put forward recently to improve the fight against tax fraud & evasion in the EU. Taking a holistic approach, the recent Communication looks at ways to strengthen current measures and sets out possible new initiatives for eliminating fraud & evasion in Europe.
EU News: European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström and László Andor, the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, have welcomed the OECD report International Migration Outlook 2012.
The OECD report analyses recent developments in migration movements & policies in OECD countries. It underlines the central role of employment in the process of migrant integration in the host society and the need for concrete integration policies with particular emphasis on education, including language training, and actions promoting labour market integration.
EU News: The 2-year transition period for the organic food sector to comply with new EU labelling rules is reaching its end. As from 1 July 2012, the EU organic logo will be obligatory on all pre-packaged organic food products produced in EU Member States which meet the necessary standards.
The logo will stay optional for non-packed & imported organic products. Other private, regional or national logos will continue to be allowed to appear alongside the EU label.
EU News: Euro Area Summit Statement
EU News: From 1 July 2012, using mobile internet to access maps, videos, photos, social networks and email will be much cheaper while travelling in other EU member states.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: Over 100 people will be primed for a career in the booming outdoor activity sector in North Wales and nearly 1,000 more volunteering opportunities will be created to teach people new skills in the industry thanks to a £420k award from the Big Lottery Fund.
Outdoor tourism & sport contributes over £300m annually to the North Wales economy. Now, thanks to a £420,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s People & Places programme, the Outdoor Partnership organisation in North Wales aims to take full advantage of the buoyant outdoor activity sector and create more employment opportunities for local people in the area.
BIG: Young people from the north to the south of Scotland are set to benefit from a range of projects that will boost their confidence & encourage creativity as the Big Lottery Fund announced the latest round of grants from the Young Start fund.
UKOC: UK online centres have launched a brand new funding round to support the launch of their new Carer's Network. If your centre works with carers, can demonstrate that you're an expert in their needs and have proven solutions to overcome barriers, then they ‘would love you to apply for it’. Grants of £5,000 are available and you will need to submit your application by Friday 27th July 2012..
BIG: The Big Lottery Fund has launched Talent Match, an ambitious £100m investment aimed at tackling youth unemployment in areas of England hardest hit by the economic downturn. Talent Match will target 21 hotspots across England where those aged 18-24 are finding it hardest to secure jobs or training opportunities.
BIG: With the historic unveiling of the first national memorial to RAF Bomber Command (June 28th) and the Armed Forces Day commemorations (June 30th), people across the UK have come together to remember the many sacrifices made by Britain’s service men & women.
CLG: More communities can now bid to take over local services they think they can run differently & better as the Community Right to Challenge provisions come into effect.
It hands more power back to communities, allowing voluntary & community groups, parish councils and local authority staff to express an interest in ‘taking over the running of local authority services, making services more responsive to local needs and delivering better value for money’.
The Social Investment Business, in partnership with Locality and the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations will deliver a 3-year support programme worth £11.5m, which will include a dedicated advice phone line where support & information will be available. It will also include grants to help groups to use the new right and bid to run local public services, resources, and case studies.
CO: Following the Giving Summit, the Government is setting out how it will continue to broaden the base of people who give their time & money to help others. It has published a document that reviews progress since the Giving White Paper and sets its priorities for the next 12 months.
DWP: Credit unions will receive up to £38m of investment to modernise & expand so they can support 1m more people. The £38m fund, which follows the £13m already invested last year, will help credit unions to buy in new IT systems & infrastructure needed to increase the numbers of people they help to save & borrow.
BIS: The PM has secured a ‘great result’ for UK business at the European Council on single unitary patent valid in up to 25 European countries and secured London to be the host for the unified patent court.
Business and Other Briefings
CO: Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, has unveiled the pilot of the Government’s ‘Solutions Exchange’ tool, which will particularly help SMEs connect with Government and find out about potential ways to sell to the public sector or to pitch an innovative business idea.
Tendering for Government business in the UK has traditionally been lengthy & expensive, with UK procurements costing twice as much as France and often shutting SMEs out.
This new service will allow the Government to engage the market informally before any formal procurement processes have started. It will give suppliers, particularly SMEs, a quick, ‘free of charge’ way to pitch innovative ideas to save money & improve public services.
Cebr: A study by the Centre for Economics & Business Research concludes that, not only has the effective application of quality management (QM) procedures already contributed to past UK business & economic successes and that it will continue to do so in the future, but that it could well provide an important foundation on which future business & institutional success could be built. Such success is vital to the task of returning the UK to positive economic growth.
This Brief explains the changes that will be made to the treatment of fuel additives with effect from 1 January 2013.
OS: National mapping agency, Ordnance Survey and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency are collaborating on a vernacular geography project, collecting local place names used by people to improve emergency responses., collecting local place names used by people to improve emergency responses.
Ordnance Survey’s research department have created a new system, FINTAN, which is being trialled in the MCA Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs) at Clyde, Solent, Holyhead and Stornoway. The system allows staff to add local names for beaches, rocks, waterways and other features with local names onto the existing mapping data, something which is of interest & benefit to both organisations and the public.
ACE: Bookings are now open for the Building digital capacity for the arts - rights and IP seminar, which takes place on 9 July 2012 at the BBC Conference Centre, Wood Lane, London.
This seminar is aimed at arts organisations and artists from across England who want to learn from & share experiences about the use, exploitation & development of rights models around new & archive material on digital platforms.
SFA: On the 10 July 2012 the Skills Funding Agency is hosting the National Provider Funding Conference at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Birmingham. The event is open to all Agency contracted providers, and is the only funding conference held by the Agency this year.
The event will focus on key features of the new streamlined funding system for adult skills and the impact that funding policy change is likely to have on providers and trainers in the FE sector. Please note that registration is currently limited to one delegate per contracted provider.
Socitm: Socitm 2012 (27 - 29 November 2012) promises to be 'one of the best ICT events of its kind' in the UK. Plenaries & round table discussions will focus on key areas of individual & organisational capability emanating from Socitm's publications - Insight's IT Trends 2012 report and Planting the Flag - a strategy for ICT-enabled local public services reform, which Socitm is developing on behalf of the Local CIO Council with the support of the Government CIO and Cabinet Office.
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