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In the News

NAO:  The beginning of the end for wasteful governmental ICT systems?‘Government initiatives to reduce spending on ICT are starting to work’.  According to the National Audit Office, in 2011-12, government spent an estimated £316m less than it would otherwise have done.  

The main challenge, however, will be to move from such initiatives to save money, to the delivery of ICT solutions that ‘reform public services and the way that government works’, as set out in the Government’s Digital Strategy and Civil Service Reform Plan.

In addition, on performance to October 2012, government is likely to meet, if not exceed, the targets for savings that it set itself in October 2011.  The government announced in October 2012 that, subject to audit, it had already saved £410m from its savings initiatives in 2012-13 and expected to save a further £200m by the end of March 2013.

The appointment by the Cabinet Office of commercial experts has helped departments to claw money back, renegotiate contracts before they expire and, overall, spend less on ICT than they otherwise would have done.  However, weaknesses in data held by the Cabinet Office have meant that the NAO was unable to validate the £348m of savings reported by the Cabinet Office for 2011-12, resulting from its initiative to manage ICT suppliers as a single customer.
Press release & links ~ Full report - The impact of government’s ICT savings initiatives ~ Departmental Digital Strategies ~ Digital Britain One: Shared infrastructure and services for government online ~ AS: Significant weaknesses in management of ICT programmes ~ NAO:  Why do they never apply the Pareto Principle? (7th item) ~ IfG: Too early to claim success on government ICT ~ IfG recommendations on government IT implemented by Cabinet Office ~ The £16 billion question: What's wrong with government IT? ~ Francis Maude promises £10m in funding for Digital by Default delivery programme ~ MPs publish report on Government and IT ~ CBI calls for Public Services IT Revolution ~ GPS: G-Cloud iii ~ Government publishes costs of transactional services for the first time ~ Socitm: The Government Digital Strategy and local public services ~ CO: Government Digital Strategy moves Whitehall closer to being 'Digital by Default' ~ First departmental websites migrate to GOV.UK ~ MPs say Government must do more to keep public safe online ~ CO: A new home for the Online Government (5th item) ~ Hundreds of Government websites closed ~ How much does a government website cost? ~ MPs report on preparations for the roll-out of Smart Meters ~ GPS: Project Management & Full Design Team Services ~ MPs publish report on assurance for major projects ~ Digital public services platform reaches ‘major milestone’ ~ Public Accounts Committee publishes report on the Efficiency and Reform Group ~ Thought Paper: Realising the Value of Ideas - Nine Principles for Successful Public Sector Portfolio Management ~ Thought paper: - Making Government ‘Digital By Default’ – Overcoming the Barriers to Public Sector Channel Shift

10 DS:  In or Out, PM wants to shake the future format of the EU ‘all about’ - PM David Cameron last week delivered a speech on the future of the EU & the UK’s relationship with it, in central London.
Press release & links ~ David Cameron's Europe speech: CBI chief John Cridland responds ~ The Prime Minister is 'tilting at windmills' on working time, says TUC ~ Call for an EU referendum is a distraction, says TUC ~ IEA: UK should ignore US on EU ~ EU News:  The countdown to a UK referendum has begun as EC outlines timetable for proposed Treaty Changes ~ Professional skills card will ease mobility in the EU, say internal market MEPs ~ HMT: Assessing the EU’s impact on the UK: a review of the balance of competences  ~ nef: We should be supporting the method which gives the best net gains (5th item) ~ EU News: Agricultural still (cap)tures virtually half of EU funds (6th item) ~ TUC joins Europe-wide trade union protests against new Treaty ~ Failure to support workers is turning people against EU, TUC & FPC warn ~ EU holds back UK economic recovery ~ Minister for Europe comments on first use of the European Union Act 2011 ~ MEPs back legal status for EU-level political parties ~ Committee reports that EU Bill could pose significant challenge to UK Constitution ~ European Scrutiny Committee publishes report on European Union Bill ~ EU News: Let’s start by capping the CAP & selling off the Strasbourg parliamentary offices (11th item) ~ CIPD: But how do we compare to the rest of Europe – Below the average! (2nd item) ~ EU News: Musical Ghost of Emperor Nero lives on in EU (3rd item)
CLG:  Co-ordinated services are more cost effective - Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, has published new findings showing the ‘huge savings’ that can be made for the taxpayer from turning around troubled families.  He said calculations by some leading local authorities show that councils can save £bns by intervening more effectively in problem households.

A  Department for Communities & Local Government report (The cost of troubled families) shows:
* Solihull Council using 18% of its overall budget on just 3% of its families before it started working on the troubled families
* Greater Manchester councils making an overall saving of £224m from spending £138m more effectively on their 8,000 troubled families
* in West Cheshire, the council estimates that the average family costs around £7,795 while the average troubled family costs an estimated £76,190

It is estimated that nationally, the 120,000 troubled families cost the taxpayer £9bn p.a., £8bn of which is spent purely reacting to their problems & the problems they cause, such as truancy, youth crime and anti-social behaviour.

The government has brought together £448m from 6 government departments over 3 years to turn around these troubled families by 2015 and to help LAs work with families in a better & more cost-effective way.  LAs will be paid up to £4,000 per family via a payment-by-results scheme if they can tackle these problems and bring down the cost to the public purse.
IoEIf children cannot read, they cannot learn with confidence - The search is on across England to find Reading Recovery practitioners who have made an outstanding contribution to children's literacy through the school-based literacy programme.  The European Centre for Reading Recovery, based at the Institute of Education (IOE), London, has opened nominations for its annual Reading Recovery AwardsTo enter, a case study or supporting statement needs to be submitted by 18 March 2013.  

Alongside the awards, the Centre is also running a writing & picture competition for past & present Reading Recovery children.  This aims to give those who have benefited from the literacy programme a chance to express & share how Reading Recovery has made an impact on their lives.
TNAHelp bring our past to life - The National Archives is offering 2 bursaries to support candidates in gaining a qualification to help them enter the archives sector.  The bursary will provide financial support and help to address the socio-economic barriers to entry that may exist for some candidates.   TNA would therefore particularly welcome applications from black & minority ethnic (BAME) and disabled applicants. The closing date for applications is midnight on Tuesday 30 April 2013.  
CHMore good academic news - Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs) has announced the launch of the Asfari Fellowships, which are generously supported by the Asfari Foundation.  The institute will offer Fellowship & Senior Fellowship opportunities to 3 candidates per year for 6–12 months.

They are open to individuals who are resident citizens of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine & Syria, and displaced citizens of these countries living elsewhere in the Middle East.  The application window for the 2013 Fellowships will be open between 15 February & 31 May 2013.  The first Fellowships will begin in September 2013.
MoDFlying for Freedom - A team of injured Service personnel are to attempt a world-first microlight flight to the South Pole.  Recently, in partnership with Help for Heroes, 6 of the 8-strong team of pilots launched the Flying for Freedom mission which seeks to enhance recovery programmes for injured & disabled servicemen and women by getting them to experience the freedom of flying microlight aircraft.
EU NewsCommon sense or a move to a Federal Identity? - 19 January 2013 saw the introduction of a European driving licence as part of the entry into force of the third EU Driving Licence Directive.  Harmonisation of the more than 110 different driving licence models, with different validity periods & medical examination rules, will give more legal certainty for many Europeans who move to another Member State.
Latest download: The Path to Compliance Series: E-Book 1 – How to Benchmark Your Organisation - A series of e-books has been produced to help your organisation meet compliance requirements through better information management. How you store, access and manage your paper documents and digital files is key to navigating the challenge of compliance. Many regulations directly concern data protection and security, and where they do not, proving compliance requires carefully recorded, easily accessible documentation.

In this first ebook of the Path to Compliance series, you will learn how to :
1.   Understand the compliance challenge: Review European trends and how they impact on your organisation.

2.   Rank Your Risk: Use the online risk assessment tool to measure and benchmark your information risk. This robust tool has been developed together with PwC.

3.   Introduce best practice: Generate a personalised report from the Rank Your Risk tool that also includes practical tips to help you reduce your information risk.
Click here to download your free copy of The Path to Compliance: How to Benchmark your organisation.

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

General News

HL: 22 communities will be awarded grants totalling £3.6m to help ensure that no-one spends a second night on the street. Over 2,000 people are estimated to be sleeping rough on any one night in England. The funding follows the launch of StreetLink, a new England-wide hotline & website which enables concerned members of the public to help connect a rough sleeper with local advice and services.
Since the launch on 11 December 2012 StreetLink has been contacted over 4,000 times by the public (far exceeding initial expectations) showing the public’s willingness & desire to help. This new grant will help charities across the country to deliver the StreetLink promise to provide the first step towards connecting rough sleepers with the support available to them.
DCMS: Ed Vaizey has launched a nationwide contest for those interested in submitting bids to be UK City of Culture 2017.  The competition, which comes in the same week that Derry-Londonderry officially kicks off  its year as the first ever UK City of Culture, is designed to use culture & creativity as a catalyst to transform communities, as well as showcasing artistic talent.
Those interested in submitting bids to be UK City of Culture 2017 are invited to register with DCMS by the end of February 2013.  Bids for the 2017 competition must be received by the end of April 2013, after which they will be assessed by an Independent Advisory Panel with the aim of announcing a shortlist in June.  It’s hoped the announcement of who has won will be made in Derry-Londonderry in November 2013.
LSIS: A new scheme to support fee subsidy for English & maths FE trainee teachers for the 2012/13 academic year has been launched. Up to £500 is available for up to 3,000 trainees under the new basic English & maths FE Teacher Training Awards scheme, which is being administered by the Learning & Skills Improvement Service

This scheme runs in parallel with the existing ITT fee awards scheme, and trainees may only apply for one award.  Details of eligibility & guidance on how to apply are available via the Excellence Gateway.
ACEArts Council England has released details of the projects continuing to the second stage of the application process for their large capital grants programme.  They have also announced what has been funded in the first round of their small capital grants programme.
ScotGov: The existing number for NHS 24 will be replaced by 111 in April 2014, meaning people in Scotland will no longer be charged when calling the advice service from a landline or mobile. The current cost to call NHS 24 from a BT landline is the price of a local phone call, with calls from other landline service providers & mobile providers often costing more.
DefraContinued funding has secured the future of the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) Environment Minister Richard Benyon confirmed last week. The NWCU is at the forefront of the UK’s fight against the growing illegal wildlife trade. Through effective intelligence-led enforcement, it targets key criminals engaged in serious and organised crime.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DWPPart-time workers could receive monthly statements telling them how much better off they would be if they increased their hours when the Government simplifies the benefits system

They could also be sent texts telling them how working more hours or getting better paid work would leave them ‘quids in’ when Universal Credit begins to be rolled out later this year.  And an online calculator could allow claimants to find out within seconds how much better off they would be from boosting their hours.
These are some of the ideas being considered as to how the Government can help low paid workers to increase their hours or move into better paid jobs under Universal Credit, Ministers said, as they called for people to contribute other initiatives which can then be piloted.
ScotGov: A new organ donation pilot programme is being launched in NHS Lothian. The pilot will ensure that people who cannot be resuscitated after suffering a cardiac arrest in the community and who have previously expressed a wish to donate their organs in the event of their death, will have that wish respected.
Should the resuscitative measures prove unsuccessful, a decision will be made by 2 doctors that further treatment would no longer be in the best interests of the patient.  End of life options (including organ donation) will then be discussed with the family. Previously organ donation was not possible in these circumstances, even if the patient had made it clear that they wished to be an organ donor. 
HOGPs, midwives, youth workers & social workers are among those professionals who will soon benefit from training to identify & help victims of human trafficking, the Home Office announced recently. Training will be rolled out to frontline professionals in major towns & cities across the UK.
The aim is to improve awareness & understanding of trafficking, aid the identification of potential child & adult victims and give information on practical support available including independent legal advice, counselling and help to return to their community / country of origin.
DfE: A new specialist maths Free School approved by Education Secretary, Michael Gove, will be a regional centre of excellence preparing students for rigorous degrees. Run by Exeter University and Exeter College, it will attract 16- to 19-year-old mathematicians and will be based in Exeter. The ultimate aim is to create a network of schools that operate across England which identify & nurture mathematical & scientific talent.
CLG: A new scheme to ‘raise the aspirations & develop the employability skills of young people by exposing them to career opportunities in local industry’ was launched last week. 

Inspired by the Prince of Wales, the Industrial Cadets scheme offers students aged 12 to 14 in 6 areas across the country a programme of activities including ‘hands-on’ project work, mentoring & company visits to build awareness of their local manufacturing industry and future career opportunities.  
The experiences are designed to help young people develop important skills & abilities such as creativity & innovation, critical thinking & problem solving, digital skills, and personal development.
WAG: The Transport Minister, Carl Sargeant, has announced a new bus funding scheme to support bus operators, community transport & local authority bus services across Wales

The new ‘Regional Transport Services Grant’ (RTSG) is a £25m single funding scheme that will replace the former Bus Services’ Operators Grant (BSOG) and the Local Transport Services Grant (LTSG) and Community Transport Concessionary Fares Initiative (CTCFI).
WAGChanges to the cervical screening programme in Wales have been announced by Health Minister Lesley Griffiths, following recommendations from two clinical expert groups. The Wales Screening Committee has considered & endorsed the UK National Screening Committee (NSC) recommendations (published in December 2012) to change the age that women receive their first invitation for cervical screening from 20 to 25, following a review of the latest evidence surrounding cervical screening.
The expert groups also advised that women over 50, who are routinely called for screening, should be invited every 5 years rather than the current 3 yearly recall system. The cervical screening programme in Wales is delivered by Public Health Wales on behalf of the Welsh Government.  Cervical Screening Wales will start to implement these changes to its service during 2013.
ScotGov: More than 750 early years experts gathered in Glasgow last week to ‘help make Scotland the best place to grow up’.   The Early Years Collaborative - a coalition of Community Planning Partners, including social services, health, education, police & third sector professionals - are starting to work towards 3 aims to improve children’s start in life.
The new approach to better support children & families, has attracted interest from America & Europe and will enable experts to learn, share and work together to the benefit of local communities.
WAG: Wales’ Health Minister, Lesley Griffiths, has announced further support of £7.5m over the next 10 years for thalidomide survivors in Wales. The funding will go to a scheme run by the Thalidomide Trust to improve the care & support for thalidomide survivors living in Wales so that they are able to continue to live independent lives.
DH: An overview of the vision & plans for the delivery of a public health surveillance strategy, as part of Public Health England’s broader information strategy, has been published.
WAG: Carl Sargeant, the Minister for Local Government & the Communities, has announced further funding of £20.5m for 15 clusters as part of the Welsh Government’s new Communities First Programme, which will be fully operational from April 2013.  To date, funding totalling £73.5 million has been awarded to 51 clusters across Wales.  The funding is until March 2015.


CLG: Proposed measures, announced by Planning Minister, Nick Boles, will ‘cut out unnecessary paperwork, bureaucracy and duplication’. Householder & commercial applicants and local authorities frequently complain that they are asked to supply information as part of the planning application process that provides little real benefit, but can be expensive & time consuming to produce.
A consultation has been published proposing improvements to some technical elements of the planning application process.  Proposed measures include reinstating an applicant’s ability to challenge councils about the information necessary for an application to be valid, and removing the need for councils to list their reasons for granting planning permission.  This will remove unnecessary paperwork from the application process.  The consultation closes on 4 March 2013.
WAGBanning applications for fast food outlets near schools might make a real difference in encouraging healthier diets, supporting healthy choices and reducing childhood obesity in Wales, the country’s top doctor said recently.
The Welsh Government is asking whether new legislation should be introduced to address the big health challenges facing Wales, such as obesity, high rates of smoking & alcohol consumption and low levels of physical activity. Two public events are taking place on:
* Thursday 7 February
* Wednesday 13 February
The consultation to collect views about whether a Public Health Bill is needed in Wales closes on 20 February 2013.
FRC: The Financial Reporting Council recently issued its draft plan & budget for 2013/2014.  It is consulting on its strategic priorities & funding to pursue its mission of promoting high quality corporate governance & reporting to foster investment.  The draft plan identifies 6 priority projects to deliver more effective regulation, better corporate reporting, better audit quality & value, effective actuarial oversight and better links to the economic & market context.   The consultation closes on 28 March 2013.
HMT: The Government has launched a consultation on proposals to reform Payroll Giving. In 2011-12, £118m was given to good causes by 735,000 people through Payroll Giving, but the Government believes that there is scope to increase this by simplifying the scheme’s administration and making it easier for donors to give. Consultation closes on 19 April 2013.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

ESRC: A group of social scientists has developed software which enables other researchers to easily create interactive internet-based intervention programmes to support behavioural change.  The software, known as LifeGuide, is being used in intervention programmes, for example to quit smoking or manage weight loss.
LifeGuide is a flexible tool that can be used to give tailored health advice, help users make decisions about life choices, and support them in their efforts to maintain long-term change.  It has been developed by scientists at the University of Southampton with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council.  As a measure of its popularity, in the last 2 years over 1,000 researchers worldwide have registered to use LifeGuide.
UKOC: We know that more & more of our centres are now using tablets to help their learners get to grips with the benefits the internet can bring.  That’s why the technical boffins here at OCF (Online Centres Foundation, the organisation running UK online centres) have been working extra hard to make sure that courses on the Learn my way website are optimised to run on these devices.

Last week saw the launch of the first touchscreen course, Make Money Work.  More courses will be available in this new format (HTML5 for the technically minded out there) in the coming weeks so keep an eye on these news pages and in their weekly newsletters for further details.
WAG: Minister for Local Government & Communities, Carl Sargeant launched a new website last week that helps people find information about how they can make their money go further. The website was created by the Wales Cooperative Centre and gives information about a range of services to help people manage their money. 

As well as giving details of financial help & guidance available across Wales, the website includes information about affordable credit & savings, news about campaigns and topical stories.
DfT: Following a consultation, new guidance has been published recently to help local councils set more appropriate speed limits on local roads. The updated guidance will help local councils implement more consistent speed limits on local roads and incorporates recent changes that create more flexibility for authorities to implement 20mph limits & zones.
DCMS: Culture Minister Ed Vaizey welcomed the publication of a joint Arts Council England and Local Government Association (LGA) report that looks into the different ways in which communities are involved in library service delivery.
NICE: GPs should refer children & young people up to the age of 18 who present with psychotic symptoms or other experiences suggestive of possible psychosis without delay to a specialist mental health services, latest NICE guidance suggests.  
Specialist services include Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for those up to 17 years of age, or an early intervention in psychosis service for those 14 years or over, which includes a consultant psychiatrist with training in child & adolescent mental health.  Children & young people with a first presentation of sustained psychotic symptoms lasting 4 weeks or more should also be referred urgently to a CAMHS or an early intervention in psychosisservice, says NICE.
NICE: Improving the health of local populations through encouraging more walking & cycling and by challenging unhealthy behaviours are among the aims of NICE's latest set of local government public health briefings.
Physical inactivity poses a major public health risk, and is associated with the increased likelihood of a range of chronic conditions including coronary heart disease, diabetes, obesity and certain cancers. Figures show that around 65% of men and 75% of women in England do not achieve at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week, as recommended by official guidelines.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) have jointly published final guidance to help prevent the problems associated with Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) recurring in a new generation of products.
This is a key time in the market. In recent years firms have ceased offering PPI and begun to develop & sell other forms of protection - such as short-term income protection insurance, or debt freeze/debt waivers linked to a credit agreement or mortgage. New payment protection products may offer benefits to customers but, if not designed & sold with consumers’ interests in mind, may pose risks similar to PPI.

Annual Reports

JRF: A new report, published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) shows that, in Scotland, the number of under-25s out of work has doubled in 5 years and that a boy born in a wealthy area will live 14 years longer than a boy born into poverty.

Monitoring poverty and social exclusion in Scotland 2013
, produced by the New Policy Institute, is JRF’s sixth assessment of poverty in .  Built around a set of indicators and constructed using the latest, publicly available, official government data; the report assesses a wide range of indicators including unemployment, education, & health.

Press release & links


NAO: Amyas Morse, Comptroller & Auditor General, has reported to Parliament recently that HM Courts & Tribunals Service has improved its ability to provide information on fines and penalty transactions.  The C&AG, however, cannot form an overall opinion on the financial statements of HMCTS as significant issues remain affecting the truth & fairness of the Trust Statement in respect of receivables, cash & fixed penalties.
PC&PENew global development goals to ‘end extreme poverty, improve health & education, and promote sustainability must be simple & measurable’, according to a new report from MPs on the International Development Committee
The current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will expire in 2015, and the PM is co-chairing a UN High Level Panel to consider what should replace them.  The Panel meets this week in the Liberian capital, Monrovia.
CIPDSenior HR & wider business leaders are both clearly focused on the short-term business priority of cost management. The challenge for HR is to balance the tension between responding to short-term cost imperatives and keeping longer-term people issues firmly on the agenda, as these are what will really make the difference to sustainable performance.
That’s according to a new research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development based on a survey of 369 business leaders and 107 senior HR professionals - HR Outlook: A variety of leader perspectives.
PXUp to 1 in 3 students are dropping out of their A level studies, wasting their time & public money. A new report, Technical Matters, by Policy Exchange welcomes the government’s decision to introduce the Ebacc and the DfE’s focus to drive up academic standards in every school in the country.  
However, it warns that many students are suffering from the lack of an alternative to traditional academic studies and that a distinct technical & vocational route through the education system may help reduce dropout and disengagement.  A recent review into vocational education by Prof Alison Wolf showed that many students post-16 find themselves ‘churning’ for several years between low-grade work and poor quality educational offerings unlikely to help them find a job.
TfL: A range of measures to improve air quality in the capital have proved successfulaccording to a new report by Transport for London (TfL).   A conference held at City Hall on 22 January 2013 heard that the Mayor's Cleaner Air Fund programme had met its objectives and has successfully improved air quality at a number of hotspots across the capital.
SFA: New research collated by the further education (FE) sector has found that SMEs are increasingly valuing recruits who have been to college, and are taking on apprentices and providing vocational training for their employees. The findings counter the popular perception that FE qualifications are less highly valued than more traditionally academic ones.
PC&PECareers guidance services for young people have deteriorated and will continue to do so unless urgent steps are taken by the Government, warns the House of Commons Education Committee.
AS: The NHS in Scotland has improved how it manages prescribing in general practice during a period when it has faced considerable pressures.  Spending on drugs has fallen in real terms over the past 7 years despite the volume of prescriptions rising significantly.

General Reports and Other Publications

TUC: TUC General Secretary, Frances O'Grady, has commented on a report released recently by the charity Oxfam, which says that extreme wealth is just as much a global problem as extreme poverty.
PC&PC: In a new report, the Commons Public Administration Committee (PASC) says the events leading up to the resignation of Andrew Mitchell as Government Chief Whip in October 2012 have demonstrated again that the structures for investigating alleged breaches of the Ministerial Code are not appropriate or working.
The Committee re-iterates its call, which was endorsed by resolution of the House of Commons in July 2012, for the PM's Adviser on Ministers' Interests to be authorised to instigate his own investigations. PASC also describes it as ‘unacceptable’ that the government has not yet responded to this key recommendation of its report on the Prime Minister’s Adviser, 10 months after PASC’s report on the subject and despite it being debated & approved by a resolution of the House.  (The deadline for responses to Select Committee Reports is 3 months)
PC&PE: "The Government has not yet recognised the changed mood in the House and the strength of our resolve to achieve change" says the House of Commons Liaison Committee - which brings together the Chairs of all the select committees which scrutinise the work of Government.
PC&PC: The House of Lords Constitution Committee has recently published its report on the Growth & Infrastructure Bill and says that clause 1 of the Bill, which gives ministers ‘unqualified’ power to make planning decisions on behalf of a designated local planning authority, lacks clarity & risks shifting too much power to the executive.
DemosLocal authorities should use faith groups to deliver public services to achieve value for money, greater ‘social value’ and wider community benefits, argues a new report by Demos. The report, Faithful Providers, finds that a ‘faith-service ethos’ amongst volunteers & staff can mean greater cost efficiencies for commissioning authorities.
Researchers found that religious beliefs motivated volunteers & staff to work long hours for little pay and to persevere over the challenges encountered when working with vulnerable people in their community. Evidence also reveals that faith-based providers are highly effective in areas where a ‘spiritual’ or ‘holistic approach’ is beneficial, such as drug rehabilitation programmes.
PC&PE: The House of Lords Constitution Committee has raised concerns with the fast-tracking of the Succession to the Crown Bill.  The Committee says that given the "undoubted constitutional significance" of the Bill it should be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny.
The Committee heard from the Deputy PM, Nick Clegg that the decision to fast-track the Succession to the Crown Bill was made for "pragmatic business management" reasons.  The Committee says that fast-tracking legislation for this reason is "never appropriate".
ESRCWhat will it take put the UK back on the path of sustained economic growth?  A new report investigates the challenges the UK faces after the economic downturn and explores a range of initiatives across education, business, housing, industry, and innovation that could help kick-start growth.
Re-igniting Growth, published by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), includes a series of interviews with key academics funded by the ESRC.  As well as giving the recession historical context, many of the interviews take unconventional approaches to a range of issues and provide responses to the economic problems the UK is experiencing.
PC&PE: A report published by the Commons Scottish Affairs Committee warns that the outcome for the main shipyards in Scotland on the Clyde & at Rosyth will be completely different depending on whether Scotland is still a part of the UK or not after the referendum.
The Committee says a further great difficulty is caused by the delay in holding the Referendum.  The Committee believes the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will not place an order for the type-26 new Royal Navy frigates until the constitutional position is clear.  However, if the referendum is delayed in the meantime the shipyards will run out of work, and may therefore also lose capacity to fulfil the contracts they will be awarded if Scotland stays in the UK.
CSJ: Social care reforms are a blow to Britain’s vulnerable elderly, according to the Centre for Social Justice. The think-tank has warned against a widely-anticipated Government announcement on social care funding and said plans will do nothing to transform a ‘broken’ care system that is ‘letting down’ some of the poorest older people in the country.
TUC: TUC General Secretary, Frances O'Grady, has commented on the report published recently by the IPPR and Resolution Foundation, which calls on the government to persuade more private sector companies to pay the living wage.
NLGNYoung people face a widening ‘expectation gap’ as their dreams of a stable career, home & family become ever more unattainable, localism think tank NLGN warns in its report Great Expectations: The Next Steps for a New Generation. It claims that the millennial generation have high aspirations that cannot be met by today’s flagging economy, creating the danger of widespread disaffection.
Press release ~ NB: No free download of report available
COPeople want a broader choice in the public services available, and how they are delivered, from hospitals & schools to social care, according to a report published after an independent review. Ministers had asked David Boyle to look specifically at whether there were barriers to choice in public services for those from a disadvantaged background.  After talking to people across the country Mr Boyle’s review produced 3 key findings.
NOKettering Borough Council’s error cost a family a new home opposite the school attended by their son, who has special needs, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin. In her report, she says that, but for the error, the complainant would now be the tenant of the property he needed to meet his family’s needs – and the Council accepts this.
PXDemolishing high rise social housing blocks and replacing them with real streets made up of low rise flats & terraced housing would improve the lives of thousands of people who suffer from living in multi-storey housing.  A report, Create Streets, by the think tank Policy Exchange says that there are 140,000 households - 100,000 of which are social tenants - in England with children who live on the second floor or above.

Children living in high rise accommodation suffer from increased hyperactivity, hostility & juvenile delinquency even when you adjust for social economic status. Despite the fact social tenants make up only 21% of families with children, they make up 79% of those families living on the fifth floor of a building or above. In London, 31% of all families with children living in social housing reside on the second floor or above.

Legislation / Legal

OFT: The OFT is calling for the legal profession's complaint handling procedures to be further simplified after it published research recently showing that only 13% of dissatisfied customers goes on to make a formal complaint.
The low level of complaints was found to be largely due to uncertainty about how or where to complain and scepticism about whether complaining is worth the effort. The research also shows that around 1 in 7 of the 3m people using the UK's legal profession each year are dissatisfied with the service they receive.
ICO: The entertainment company Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited has received a monetary penalty of £250,000 from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) following a serious breach of the Data Protection Act.
The penalty comes after the Sony PlayStation Network Platform was hacked in April 2011, compromising the personal information of millions of customers, including their names, addresses, email addresses, dates of birth & account passwords. Customers’ payment card details were also at risk.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: Recently the European Commission welcomed the successful conclusion of the multilateral negotiations to address the global threat posed to human health & the environment by mercury.  

This follows the decision of the Governing Council of UNEP in February 2009 to develop a global legally binding instrument on mercury and the subsequent creation of an International Negotiating Committee to conclude on the text of a mercury Treaty that held its final meeting recently.
The Treaty covers all aspects of the mercury life cycle, from primary mining to waste disposal, including trade provisions, rules for artisanal & small scale gold mining, products containing mercury and mercury emissions to air.  It also contains provisions allowing for the future development of the Mercury Treaty in order to provide for further targeted action to be taken.
EU News: Recently, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) published his 2013 work programme in the area of legislative consultation, including his strategic planning document, the Inventory.  With this document, the EDPS identifies issues of strategic importance that will form the cornerstone of his consultation work for 2013.
Defra: It will be quicker & easier to apply for Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) schemes under a new integrated online payment system, Farming Minister David Heath announced last week. From scheme year 2015,  Defra will introduce a single computer system for all CAP funding in England, irrespective of the delivery body the funding was claimed through.
As part of the Farming Regulation Task Force drive to cut red tape in farming, recipients will only have to enter their details once online to a single point of contact rather than for each CAP scheme they apply for. It will also reduce running costs, improve targeting of farm inspections and make it easier adapt to future changes.
EU NewsPublic procurement ‘concession’ contracts, which enable public authorities to transfer the economic risk of projects such as building roads bridges or sports arenas to the private sector, will be subject to uniform EU-wide rules voted by the Internal Market Committee on last Thursday.
These concession contracts enable the authorities to transfer the economic risks of building infrastructure or supplying services to the contractors that supply them, without giving up their rights to the goods or services supplied.
Press release & links
EU News: The European Commission is referring Bulgaria, Estonia and the United Kingdom to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to fully transpose the EU internal energy market rules. To date Bulgaria, Estonia and the UK have only partially transposed the Electricity and Gas Directives. The Directives had to be transposed by the Member States by 3 March 2011

For the UK, the Commission requests the Court to impose a daily penalty payment of €148,177.92 for each of the partially transposed Directives.
EU NewsEU farm policy reform must distribute EU funding more fairly, make "greening" measures mandatory but flexible, better equip farmers to cope with market challenges and cut red tape.  So says the Agriculture Committee's opening position for negotiations with EU member states, as set out in texts voted on last Wednesday.

This will be the first Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reformshaped by Parliament as a full co-legislator with member states. Committee chair Paolo De Castro said; “Any further cuts to the CAP budget are simply in-acceptable".

Charity and Voluntary Sector

10 DSCrest Co-operative, a Welsh social enterprise whose sustainable recycling business also helps those struggling to find work, is the latest Big Society Award winner. Crest Co-operative operates a number of recycling initiatives diverting functional, household & electrical goods and food away from landfill, selling restored household items at affordable costs and giving food to homeless & vulnerable people.

The process also creates employment for the long-term unemployed, people with disabilities, and ex-offenders, who work in their warehouses & stores.
BIG: A project to reduce the isolation of older people by holding activities & events in Northern Ireland’s museums has been awarded a major grant from the Big Lottery Fund

Clanmil Housing Association is one of 8 Northern Ireland organisations awarded grants totalling nearly £2.3m from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Out: Connecting Older People programme, which supports older people affected by issues such as bereavement, disability or long-term illness or who live in residential care or sheltered housing.
MoJ: A third sector organisation was awarded £150,000 last week to help voluntary groups play a leading role in cutting crime & reducing re-offending.  This money is part of a £500,000 pot to help Voluntary Community Sector (VCS) groups successfully bid for & deliver Payment by Results (PbR) contracts to manage and reform offenders.

3SC, a social enterprise who manage public service contracts on behalf of the third sector, will use the funding to work with voluntary organisations to draft an action plan.  This will set out the steps which the sector needs to take to overcome any barriers to their participation in PbR contracts.
DWPReports of disability hate crime have trebled in one area of the country after the Government worked with a local charity to encourage disabled people to come forward. The use of 'third party reporting centres' has seen the number of incidents reported in Blackpool treble to 36 since the project began.
Disability First launched the service after feedback showed disabled people often feel more comfortable reporting hate crime incidents to people they know. The key to the centre’s success has been in establishing a strong team of local authority staff from adult social services, education & community safety, Lancashire police, MOJ and CPS.  Volunteer disabled people take the initial reports and give confidence to the victims that they are being listened to.
MoD: A team of injured Service personnel are to attempt a world-first microlight flight to the South Pole – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
HMT: The Government has launched a consultation on proposals to reform Payroll Giving. Consultation closes on 19 April 2013 – See ‘Consultation’ section for more information.

Business and Other Briefings

ScotGov: Local Government Minister Derek Mackay has announced a new business rates relief of up to 100%, which will ‘help developers and encourage the supply of new build business premises’. This new relief will help new empty properties built in Scotland from 1 April 2013.
The scheme aims to encourage speculative development & investment and increase supply of new premises for businesses by providing rates relief to owners/developers of new build empty properties for up to 18 months  . The relief will run for 3 years.  More details on the initiative will be announced shortly.
CLG: A new scheme (the Industrial Cadets scheme) to ‘raise the aspirations & develop the employability skills of young people by exposing them to career opportunities in local industry’ was launched last week – See the ‘Policy Statements & Initiatives’ section for more information.
This Brief confirms HM Revenue & Customs view of the VAT treatment of rooms provided in hotels and similar establishments for the purpose of supplies of catering. It is issued following the review and publication of Notice 709/3 Hotels and holiday accommodation.

Industry News

FSA: The Food Standards Agency is inviting tenders for a Commonwealth Games emergency exercise contractor to develop & deliver, by the end of January 2014, a simulation exercise based around a food incident occurring during the 2014 Commonwealth Games.  The exercise will involve the relevant games-hosting local authorities and other participating organisations.

The closing date for tenders is Tuesday 12 February 2013.  Tenderers will be notified of the outcome of their tender appraisal and the preferred tenderer will be selected in late February 2013.
Ofcom: The UK’s largest ever mobile spectrum auction is now under way, with 7 bidders competing to acquire new airwaves suitable for superfast mobile broadband services. The new spectrum will almost double the amount of airwaves currently available for mobile broadband services on smartphones, tablets & laptops.
OSOrdnance Survey’s OS OpenSpace API has proven to be the number one choice of online mapping for a front-runner in the field of Adventure Racing. With a worthy reputation for providing trusted & accurate mapping for Great Britain, Open Adventure opted to use OS OpenSpace to underpin its online tracking facilities with the extra detail provided, being ideal for the outdoor off road leisure market.
Ordnance Survey recently launched version 4.0 of the service which supports mobile touch devices.  This means websites that use OS OpenSpace can now be viewed & panned on tablets and mobile devices, enhancing user experience and providing even more possibilities for web developers.
GPS: A new Medial Locums framework is due to be launched in February 2013.  Following extensive stakeholder engagement it will expand on the services available under the current framework and provide flexibility at a local level regarding service delivery models & pricing. Further details will be available shortly.

Forthcoming Event

STFC: Businesses looking for new ideas, solutions or opportunities using scientific imaging can find out how to exploit this technology at the 5th Intelligent Imaging Programme on 14 February 2013 at STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.
The Intelligent Imaging Programme is a joint event organised by Science & Technology Facilities Council’s Harwell Imaging Partnership (HIP) and the Electronics, Sensors and Photonics Knowledge Transfer Network (ESP KTN)

It will showcase the UK’s imaging technology capabilities, as well as providing attendees with an opportunity to network with and hear presentations from a collection of leading companies & academics in the industry.
GPSLaundry & Linen Services: customer event - The Government Procurement Service are actively working with customers & suppliers to develop the scope & structure of a new framework and have identified a number of emerging requirements & services.

To ensure these opportunities can be investigated & captured within the new framework scope, they are continuing their period of engagement with a customer event on 26 March 2013.
LSIS: This year the Learning and Skills Improvement Services’ conference theme is ‘Taking a Step Up’, emphasising how using cheap & simple technology can improve performance within the further education (FE) & skills sector, and achieve better Ofsted grades.
The conference is being held at Maple House in Birmingham city centre on Tuesday 5 February 2013.   A major theme of the conference will be demonstrating the effective use of iPads and other tablets with learners, including work being done at Loughborough College on its motor vehicle programmes, the use of iPads for learners with speech difficulties, and a range of other creative uses and resources for tablets. 

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