Cabinet Office: Simpler said than done? - The Government has launched its progress report on 'Transformational Government: enabled by technology' with the news that at least 551 government websites are to be cut to make access to information easier for citizens and businesses.


In a move that they claim will ‘benefit’ tens of millions of users, only 26 of the websites examined so far are certain to be retained by Government, while information of continuing relevance from ‘to be closed’ sites will evidently transfer to either www.direct.gov.uk or www.businesslink.gov.uk.


The government justifies its plans by claiming that people prefer to use 'supersites', such as the Directgov and www.bbc.co.uk websites (not forgetting our own WiredGov), rather than individual ones.


According to the government:

·         the use of Government IT has now reached a critical mass and ordinary citizens are at the heart of this new way of working’, and

·         Hundreds of millions are being saved by successful IT projects that receive little public attention

Press release ~ Transformational Government Annual Report 2006 ~ Related transformational government documents ~ Government IT Profession ~ NAO: Delivering Successful IT-enabled Business Change ~ Inclusion Through innovation: Tackling Social Exclusion Through New Technologies (Scroll down for related docs) ~ Citizens Online ~ Alliance for Digital Inclusion ~ Shared Services


DCLG:  Delegating real power or just washing their hands of the problem? - Resident groups on council estates in England are to be given new powers to tackle anti-social behaviour and take day-to-day control of council services.  New regulations laid before Parliament will give Tenant Management Organisations (TMOs) powers to apply for Anti-Social Behaviour Orders.


The Local Authorities (contracting out of Anti-Social Behaviour Order Functions) (England) Order 2006 will if approved enable local authorities to ask those bodies managing their housing (under section 27 of the Housing Act 1985) to also carry out some or all of their functions relating to Anti-social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) -


ASBOs - a court order prohibiting a person from specific anti-social acts or from certain areas - can be used to clamp down on anything from noisy neighbours to nuisance, harassment and race hate crime, with a maximum of five years in prison if breached.  All Tenant Management Organisations will have to undergo a ‘rigorous’ procedure before taking on ASB responsibilities.


Over 200 Tenant Management Organisations currently exist, but at the moment it can take up to three years to get these organisations up & running - putting many people off.  New regulations are planned for 1 October2007, which will streamline the current Right to Manage Regulations.

Press release ~ DCLG - Anti-social behaviour and Housing ~ DCLG – Making homes decent ~ DCLG – Tenant participation ~ Tenant Management Organisations (TMOs) guidance ~ The National Federation of Tenant ~ Management Organisations (NFTMO) ~ Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) ~ Tenants managing: evaluation of Tenant Management Organisations in England ~ JRF: Twenty-five years on twenty estates: Turning the tide ~ Respect


DfES:  Will new admissions code stop middle-classes dominating the ‘best’ schools? - The government claims that a new mandatory School Admissions Code will put an end to ‘covert selection’ in schools, by outlawing a range of unfair admission practices in all maintained schools, including selective & comprehensive schools, Academies, faith schools and state boarding schools.


The Code is also meant to ‘make the admission system more straightforward, transparent and easier to understand for parents, by giving clear guidance on parents' new powers to object to a school's
oversubscription criteria if they believe it does not comply with the new Code’.


The new Code, which comes into force in February for admissions from the 2008 school year, gives every local authority, admission authority and governing body in England a statutory responsibility for ensuring that admissions polices and practices do not disadvantage any children, but they can continue to use oversubscription criteria which are widely considered to be good practice, including:

·         those which give priority to children who live nearest to a school or within a particular catchment area

·         those with siblings attending the same school, and

·         banding arrangements which are designed to ensure that a school's intake represents the full range of ability of applicants

Press release ~ Schools Admissions Code ~ Office of the Schools Adjudicator - Admission arrangements ~ CRE - Admissions ~ White Paper Higher Standards, Better Schools for All: More Choice for Parents and Pupils ~ Parents centre


DCMS:  A straight line to learning human emotions through play – The Autism Research Centre (ARC) at Cambridge University has launched a novel animation DVD to help young children with autism.  The Transporters DVD, commissioned by Culture Online, part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, aims to help children with autism to look at the human face and to learn about emotions.


The series of 15 five-minute episodes (narrated by Stephen Fry) features the adventures of eight lovable toys with human faces, each focusing on a different human emotion. 


Children with autism tend to avoid looking at human faces and find it hard to understand why facial features move in the way that they do.  This inability to read emotions on the human face impairs their ability to communicate with other people.


Research at the ARC found that, following a four-week period of watching the DVD for 15 minutes a day, children with high-functioning autism caught up with typically developing children of the same age in their performance on emotion recognition tasks.


The DVD is being distributed FREE to families of children with autism between the ages of two and eight.  Copies can be requested from www.transporters.tv and episode one (‘Happy’) can be watched HERE.

Press release ~ Autism Research Centre (ARC) ~ Culture Online ~ Catalyst Pictures Ltd ~ The National Autistic Society (NAS)


NAO:  “Dispensing treatment rather than care” - The National Audit Office says that almost all primary care trusts (PCTS) have clinical governance structures & processes in place that should assure quality and safety of patient care, but progress in their implementation varies within & between trusts and more needs to be done to provide assurance about GP performance and protect patient safety. 


The key principles of clinical governance include a coherent approach to quality improvement, clear lines of accountability for clinical quality and effective systems for identifying & managing risk and addressing poor performance.


All PCTs have a statutory ‘duty of quality’ which the DH expects them to discharge largely through implementing its clinical governance initiative.


The report also found patient & public involvement as one of the least well developed components of clinical governance, despite the DH’s NHS Reform agenda confirming it as one of the most important, given the drive towards a patient-led NHS.


Among the NAO’s recommendations are that the DH should explicitly address quality as a requirement in developing its guidance for PCT commissioning.

Press release ~ Improving Quality and Safety - Progress in Implementing Clinical Governance in Primary Care: Lessons for the New Primary Care Trusts ~ Executive Summary ~ Community Pharmacy Clinical Governance Questionnaire Results ~ DH – Clinical Governance ~ NHS Clinical Governance Support Team (CGST) ~ RCN Resource guide ~ Information Centre for health and social care – Clinical Governance


BNSC:  Next stop the moon? - A public consultation (closes on 2 April 2007) on the UK's new civil space strategy has been launched by the government and responses will help inform the development of space policy for 2007-10 on issues including:

·         maximising wealth creation from space

·         promoting excellent science and

·         developing space-related education activities for young people


The consultation will be of particular interest to members of the UK space industry, UK space academia, other Government Departments which are current or potential users of space applications and the general public with an interest in UK space policy.

Press release ~ Consultation document ~ British National Space Centre (BNSC) ~ BBC: Science & Nature - Space ~ Free space flight simulator ~ Space Newsfeed ~ Galileo website ~ ESA - Galileo ~ Astrium UK ~ Surrey Satellites Technology Ltd ~ Plan for go-it-alone moon missions - Guardian Unlimited ~ Tate in Space


Industry News:  Cost effective purchasing is the essential foundation of housing maintenanceThe trend over recent years has been towards social housing being managed by smaller & leaner Housing Associations rather than large local council departments, but that in turn has sometimes created the problem of reduced ‘buying power’, as they were often smaller organisations than those they replaced.


In response to the issue, Procurement for Housing (PfH) was created as an essential business tool to generate substantial savings by harnessing the collective purchasing power of housing organisations. 


From the Housing Associations’ point of view, the PfH Responsive Materials service is designed to meet its their day-to-day materials needs for repairs reports by residents with a contract that offers an extensive choice of products, a wide selection of supply outlets plus highly competitive prices and consolidated invoicing through PfH’s unique account card system. 


For Suppliers it offers an opportunity to enter a £300m+ marketplace and provides a system that generates valuable purchasing information & reduced transaction costs, which enables them to track seasonal peaks and popular items, providing the data required for their own ordering & stock control systems.


It means the difference between being ‘proactive’ rather than ‘reactive’ to customer demand, thus helping to ensure that they are neither ‘caught short’ (which irritates their customers) nor left with ‘out of season stock’ (which ties up their capital).


In addition administration costs are kept to a minimum by the account card system and monthly billing which facilitates the prompt & regular payment for goods, rather than the endless (and expensive) paper chase that goes with a more traditional paper invoice system.

Full article ~ Procurement for Housing ~ PfH Account Card ~ Co-operation not Competition ~ Business Support from Jewson ~ Directgov – Housing Associations ~ National Housing Federation ~ Scottish Federation of Housing Associations ~ Welsh Federation of Housing Associations ~ Registered Social Landlords ~ Right First Time: how housing associations are improving their repairs and maintenance services ~ Housing Association Repairs ~ Improving efficiency in procurement of capital works - Social Housing Efficiency Factsheet 5 ~ Systematic Approach to Service Improvement - Evaluating Systems Thinking in Housing ~ Housing Maintenance Contractors Forum


For other Industry News please click HERE


For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar

General News

RA Eng.:  Could your engineering innovation change the world? The Royal Academy of Engineering is looking for contenders for the MacRobert Award 2007, worth £50,000 tax-free to the winner, plus the solid gold MacRobert Award Medal. The closing date for entries is 31 January 2007.


Open to individuals or teams of up to five people from any size of company who have exploited a major engineering breakthrough, entries are welcomed from any field of engineering and technology as long as they are innovative, commercially successful and benefit society.


 A team of engineers from Dunfermline-based Optos Plc (won the 2006 MacRobert Award for developing the first ultra-wide retinal imager, which is now helping opticians across the world to diagnose eye problems much more efficiently.

Press release ~ MacRobert Award ~ The Royal Academy of Engineering


DfT:  The government claims that a new licensing scheme for boatmen on the river Thames and across the UK, which came into force on 1 January 2007, will improve safety.  The Boatmasters License (BML) follows three years of discussion with the industry and navigation authorities and is claimed to bring UK licences more closely in line with their European counterparts.


The new BML is modular and it will take a minimum of two years to obtain the 'generic' licence.  Candidates will have a study & testing programme on boat-handling, seamanship skills and safety management and training.  A further six months local knowledge training must be completed where local circumstances require it, including for the Thames.


Boatmen who want to qualify for more specialised operations, including a sea endorsement, will need to undertake further training - up to five and a half years for the full range of skills.

Press release ~ Boatmasters License (BML) ~ Regulatory Impact Assessment

Policy Statements and Initiatives

HM Treasury:  The government have launched a discussion paper entitled Policy Review of Children and Young People, which sets out evidence gathered during the first stage of the review.


The paper recognises that teenage years are a time of change & increased personal responsibility and shows that regular participation in positive activities helps young people cope with change, develop confidence and build new skills.


It presents evidence on four main areas of challenge, to be revisited in the final report:

·         a more preventative system doing more to build children's resilience and intervening as soon as possible when problems do arise

·         a ten year youth strategy

·         how services can provide greater support to families with disabled children, and

·         how services for families and children at risk of becoming locked in a cycle of low achievement can be reformed to deliver better outcomes

Press release ~ Policy Review of Children and Young People ~ 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review ~ Stowe Youth Centre ~ Support for parents: the best start for children ~ See also DfES consultation ‘positive activities’ below


DfES:  From 8 January 2007 (under Section 6 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006) all local authorities will be expected to secure access for young people to 'positive activities', including youth clubs, sports facilities and art projects and the government has launched a consultation (closes 30 March 2007) of draft statutory guidance.


Local authorities will also be expected to take account of young people's views on activities & facilities currently available to them, as well as any new ones they would like to see in the area.  The local authority will then be required to publicise these to young people and to keep the information up-to-date.


'Positive activities' might include sports clubs, cultural events, volunteering schemes or art projects but the scope is broad and activities can be educational or recreational - so long as they contribute to young people's well-being.

Press release ~ Draft statutory guidance for Local Authorities ~ Green Paper 'Youth Matters' ~ Things to do, places to go - Every Child Matters ~ Parent Checklist for Youth Activities ~ Respect - Youth activities ~ Nacro - Services – Youth activities ~ National Council for Voluntary Youth Services ~ Physically Active Youth programme ~ National Association of Youth Theatres


DfES:  Education and Skills Secretary Alan Johnson has published a consultation document (closes 2 April 2007) - Making Good Progress - which proposes piloting yet another different way to ‘measure, assess, report and stimulate progress in schools’ to ensure that no child is left behind.


The pilots will include:

·         one-to-one tuition in English and/or mathematics, with some children receiving up to 20 hours of tutoring

·         changes to assessment, allowing children to take national tests as soon as they are ready

·         new progress targets to measure the school's success in moving pupils forward

Press release ~ Making Good Progress: How can we help every pupil to make good progress at school? ~ GTC comment ~ BBC News item


OFT:  The OFT is consulting (closes 4 April 2007) on its draft Guidance about new on-site inspection powers which came into force on 8 January 2007. These powers have been introduced as part of the UK implementation of the EU Regulation on Consumer Protection Co-operation (CPC).


The new powers can be used if there is a reasonable suspicion that a business is or has been breaching European consumer protection law, and to investigate whether a business is or has been failing to comply with an enforcement order.  


These powers, which can be used by a number of public bodies including the OFT and Local Authority Trading Standards Service, can be applied without advance warning provided a warrant has been obtained from a Magistrates court.  If an inspection is conducted without a warrant, then the business must be given at least two days' notice.  

Press release ~ Consultation document ~ Regulation on Consumer Protection Cooperation ~ OFT appointed UK liaison office for consumer protection co-operation regulation


DTI:  The Government's proposals to increase workers' holiday entitlement from 20 days per year to 28 have been announced along with the claim that up to six million workers would benefit from an extra eight days holiday, as some employers currently include the eight bank holidays as part of workers' leave entitlement.


The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is launching a second public consultation (closes 13 April 2007) on the implementation of the changes.  Statutory annual leave entitlement would be increased in two stages, rising from 20 to 24 days on 1 October 2007, and from 24 to 28 days on 1 October 2008.


Workers in Ireland are entitled to 29 days and the highest minimum entitlement is in Austria at 38 days.

Press release ~ Consultation documents for: Increasing the holiday entitlement - a further consultation ~ Response to initial consultation ~ Directgov - Holiday entitlements ~ Business Link - Statutory holiday entitlement ~ Acas factsheet ~ Holiday Pay calculator


CEL:  Following publication of the Leitch Review’s final report, Prosperity for all in the global economy – world class skills in December 2006, the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) has initiated a consultation (responses preferred by end of February) with sector leaders and partner organisations to develop a robust analysis of the implications for leadership and leadership development for the learning and skills sector.


To begin the process, CEL’s review of the report looks at key implications for the FE system, summarises the proposals, assesses changes in the roles and responsibilities of employers, Sector Skills Councils and the Learning and Skills Council, and analyses the implications for leaders and leadership development. 

Press release ~ Prosperity for all in the global economy – world class skills ~ CEL’s review of the report ~ Post comments ~ Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) ~ Sector Skills Councils ~ Learning and Skills Council

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DH:  The government claims that NHS clinicians will be better equipped to identify patients with long term conditions who are most at risk of unplanned and unnecessary hospital admissions, thanks to a new model recently launched to the NHS.


The Combined Predictive Model is a newly developed method that the NHS can use to identify the right people to case manage.  It uses accident & emergency, inpatient, outpatient and GP data sources to identify future frequent users of hospital services beforehand, allowing for earlier intervention.


The Combined Model is intended to assist community matrons and other case managers, who are responsible for planning and co-ordinating patient care and ensuring a joined up approach from integrated health and social care teams.

Press release ~ Combined Predictive Model ~ Patients at Risk of Re-hospitalisation (PARR) ~ The King's Fund ~ Health Dialog  ~ KF: Managing Long-term conditions ~ NHS Networks – Long-term conditions ~ Skills for Health framework ~ DH – Community Matrons ~ Case management competencies framework for the care of people with long term conditions ~ Supporting people with long term conditions to self-care ~ DH: Long-term care website ~ Supporting People with Long Term Conditions: An NHS and Social Care Model to support local innovation and integration ~ Self Care - A Real Choice (Self Care Support - A Practical Option) ~ Supporting people with long term conditions: Liberating the talents of nurses who care for people with long term conditions


DfES:  The government is urging families to ‘read more and read together’ with the launch of a toolkit to encourage reading for pleasure in the home.  The Family Engagement Toolkit, funded by the Department for Education & Skills, gives advice to schools on how they can engage parents and encourage them to read with their children.


It was developed by the National Reading Campaign for the schools strand of their Family Reading Campaign.  A study by the Institute of Education showed that children completing the programme increase their reading levels by an average of 21 months - well over four times the expected rate of progress.  At PBR 2006, the Chancellor announced a national rollout of the Every Child a Reader scheme by 2010/11.

Press release ~ Reading Connects ~ Family Engagement Toolkit ~ National Reading Campaign ~ Family Reading Campaign ~ Every Child a Reader ~ Reading Recovery Network ~ Rose Review on the teaching of phonics


FSA:  The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has called on firms giving mortgage advice to improve their processes after new findings showed that only one third of the firms it sampled had robust processes in place to provide customers with suitable advice and that scope for improvement was found in all aspects of the advice process.


Some of the poorer areas identified were the assessment of customer needs, including affordability; training and competence; overall systems and controls; and record keeping.  Whilst larger firms generally have robust processes in place, they could not always demonstrate that they are using them.


The FSA has produced good & poor practice guides as well as providing key actions to the firms that were visited.  However, the failings were significant in a number of firms and it has referred several to enforcement.

Press release ~ Banks and building societies and  Large mortgage networks and advisers ~ Small mortgage networks and advisers ~ FSA: Mortgages made clear


TDA:  An online Skills for Life planner to help school leaders plan & implement training in language, literacy and numeracy skills for the half a million support staff who now work in a range of support roles in schools, has been launched by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA).


It’s four sections are designed to help Get buy-in, Identify learning needs, Plan learning and Evaluate contents and each section contains advice, guidance and support, with downloadable checklists, links to key organisations and case studies.

Press release  ~ Skills for Life planner ~ Training and Development Agency for Schools  - Support Staff ~ Skills for Life Policy Documents ~ DfES, Read Write Plus ~ Move On

Annual Reports

CC:  See Charity Commission item regarding SIRs in Charity and Voluntary Sector’ below.

General Reports and other publications

Scottish Executive:  Ministers have welcomed recognition by education inspectors that Scotland's teachers' agreement has resulted in 'a more constructive national educational environment'.


In a report published on the implementation of A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century inspectors also highlight improvements in teacher recruitment and said that new career structures have given teachers more opportunities to work together and improve the quality of learning.

Press release ~ Teaching Scotland’s Children: A report on progress in implementing ‘A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century’ ~ A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century ~ Audit Scotland’s report on the implementation ~ McCrone report into pay and conditions Part One ~ McCrone Part Two ~ Scottish schools website ~ Scottish Learning Festival


DH:  The Department of Health has published a review of retail pharmaceutical services in England showing the impact of a package of reforms to the system known as 'control of entry' on this sector.  Nationally, the report also found that 99% of people could get to a pharmacy by car, walking or public transport within 20 minutes, including those in deprived areas.


The reforms to the NHS regulatory system were introduced in April 2005 following the Government's response to an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) report in 2003, which had recommended total deregulation of this area.


However, whilst this report shows that the approach taken was the right way to proceed, the question of whether the system remains a suitable vehicle to enable Primary Care Trusts to meet their new roles and responsibilities for commissioning a patient-led NHS is open to further debate.


The government is therefore inviting representatives from patient and consumer groups, the NHS, professional, representative and trade associations to put forward their opinions to a review of these contractual arrangements.


A report will be completed by March 2007 and the Department will then consider formal consultation on proposals for necessary changes.

Press release ~ Review report ~ Office of Fair Trading (OFT) report 2003 ~ DH: NHS Pharmaceutical Regulations 2005 ~ Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee ~ National Pharmacy Association


HC:  More must be done to improve the management of service users medicines in NHS mental health trusts according to a new Healthcare Commission report.  The findings are from a national report on medicines management in mental health trusts.  A national report on medicines management in all 173 acute trusts has also been released.


The review of mental health trusts has found that a person in the care of a mental health trust is more likely to have problems with their medicines than a patient in the care of an acute trust and that the level of medicines management support available within mental health trusts tends to be less than that found in an acute trust


The key findings of the reviews included the topics of:

·         Identifying problems with Inpatient medicines

·         Ensuring inpatients receive safe and effective medicines

·         Appropriate use of medicine by people being cared for by community teams

·         Working with GPs

·         Automation

Press release ~ Two reports and related documents ~ Audit Commission - Medicines Management (2002) ~ Prescribing Observatory for Mental Health (POMH-UK) ~ Pharmacy Briefing ~  Working in a Hospital Pharmacy ~ Pharmacy in practice

Legislation / Legal

Gambling Commission:  A new regime for Britain's gambling operators starts this month (January), as the Gambling Commission opens its doors for licence applications and anyone who wants to run a gambling business from next September must apply for a licence.


There are three categories of licence - operating, personal and premises - and businesses may need all three.  The Commission will issue operating and personal licences, while local authorities will be responsible for issuing premises licences.


To ensure that operators can continue working beyond 1 September 2007, applications must be with the Commission before 27 April 2007, although existing operators will be entitled to continue even if no decision on their operating licence application has been reached by September.

Press release ~ Gambling Commission ~ Applying for licence ~ Premises Licences ~ Statement of principles ~ Conditions and Codes ~ Sector specific briefings and responses to consultations ~ A Literature Review and Survey of Statistical Sources on Remote Gambling ~ Gamblers Anonymous ~ DCMS Gambling Legislation


Planning Portal:  The Treasury has published the Planning Gain Supplement (Preparations) Bill, which will allow for initial expenditure estimated at more than £50m for ICT and administrative systems.  The spend will involve Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) , the Planning Portal (via Communities and Local Government) and the Department of Personnel and Finance in Northern Ireland.


At this juncture the Treasury anticipates some £40m will be needed so the HMRC can set-up new IT systems and ready the Valuation Office Agency to administer the PGS.  In addition, the Planning Portal, as the government's internet gateway to planning information throughout the UK, will have to be adapted to support PGS processes.


Implementing PGS will require primary legislation and Ministers are still considering the final detail of the new measure and will be consulting later this year on key aspects.

Press release ~ Communities and Local Government Committee's Report on the Planning-gain Supplement ~ Government response ~ Planning-gain Supplement (Preparations) Bill 2006-07 ~ Explanatory notes ~ Planning Portal News


EU legislation, initiatives, etc.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

CC: The Charity Commission has published its review of the first year of Summary Information Returns (SIR), which charities with income over £1 million are required to submit. With public interest at an all-time high and donors seeking to make more informed choices about the charities they support, SIRs can provide more meaningful information on the work of individual charities.


In their own words is an analysis report of the SIRs received so far, with examples of the different approaches charities have taken to describe their charitable outcomes, impact and finances.  The income of the 5,000 charities expected to respond by the end of 2006 represent 80% of the total annual income of the sector.

Press release ~ In their own words ~ Summary Information Returns (SIR) ~ Private Action, Public Benefit

Business and other briefings

DTI:  Employers who refuse to pay the minimum wage could face a £200 fine for every worker they had underpaid, Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling has announced.


Where a complaint is made to the appropriate enforcement body and arrears are subsequently identified & remain unpaid, an enforcement notice may be served on an employer specifying the amount owed to workers and the time the employer has to pay or appeal the enforcement notice.


Those employers who do not pay within seven days risk a fine.  Employers who fail to pay the minimum wage can also face prosecution, risking a criminal record and a £5,000 fine.


HMRC enforce NMW legislation on the government's behalf, except for agriculture in England and Wales, which is covered by Defra.

Press release ~ DTI - National Minimum Wage (NMW) ~ Defra - Agricultural wages ~ HMRC – National Minimum wage ~ Penalty notices ~ Directgov - NMW ~ Low Pay Commission ~ 'Success at Work - protecting vulnerable workers, supporting good employers’ ~ Low Pay Report 2006 (1.4Mb)

Industry News

Forthcoming Event

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