NAO: More costly but half the time & 75% less labour - The National Audit Office has released a report showing the potential for modern methods of construction to provide good quality homes quickly & efficiently. The NAO also provides guidance on identifying & managing the risks associated with modern methods of construction.
The NAO found that the use of modern methods of construction, rather than more established techniques, should make it possible to build up to four times as many homes with the same amount of on-site labour.
The NAO also found using modern methods of construction can reduce on-site construction time by up to half and that building performance can be at least as good as with traditional building methods.
This has major implications, as work for the London Olympics, coupled with government policy to build more homes (plus the recently announced Terminal 2 re-build at Heathrow), will place increasing demands on the existing pool of skilled labour, especially in London and the south east.
The report is supported by more detailed background material that includes a set of sample project plans, showing how plans need to be tailored to gain maximum benefit from modern methods of construction.
Press release ~ Using modern methods of construction to build homes more quickly and efficiently: Full Report (1.6Mb) ~ Executive Summary ~ Supporting Files ~ CABE report on Modern Housing (scroll down to Industry News section) ~ Registered Social Landlords ~ ODPM - £60,000 home ~ English Partnerships ~ Building Skills survey
Home Office: A sad irony - Proposals to reduce crime and tackle terrorism through innovative use of science & research have been published in the Home Office’s Science and Innovation Strategy 2005-08, which sets out the way in which the Government claims it will, through science and technology, effectively reduce crime & the fear of crime, tackle terrorism and manage UK borders.
Ironically the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB) announced the launch of a body armour database and forum on 21 October 2005, just a few weeks before the death, from shooting, of a policewoman.
Press release ~ Science and Innovation Strategy 2005-08 ~ Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB) ~ Body armour database
DCMS: Feeling lucky? Then have your say - Tessa Jowell has announced that, for the first time, the Government is to consult (closes end of February 2006) the public on what kind of arts, film, heritage and sporting projects should receive Lottery funding.
The responses will be used to help the Government decide in, June 2006, how Lottery money should be shared after 2009 and whether the Government should change the policies affecting how the money is spent.
Press release ~ Consultation document ~ DCMS Lottery website ~ Consultation website
LSDA: Education in the Workplace - The LSDA has published a report from a research project carried out by the Institute for Employment Studies - funded by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) - to identify the ”drivers” and “facilitators” that motivate both employers and employees to get involved in education & training in the workplace.
There is no single factor that acts as an obstacle to workplace learning, the research concludes, but there are a number of barriers that, when combined, are significant. Negative views of education, lack of confidence, the fear of being stigmatised and lack of awareness of opportunities are all barriers to learning experienced by employees with poor educational attainments.
Researchers found many examples of facilitators - specific actions that make it easier for employers and employees to get involved in learning activities at work.
Press release ~ Learning at work: strategies for widening adult participation in learning below Level 2 via the workplace ~ Learning and Skills Council ~ Institute for Employment Studies (IES) ~ National Employer Training Programme ~ Investors in People ~ Employer Training Pilots ~ National Employer Training Programme, Train to Gain ~ Tesco’s Learning Centre ~ NHSU (National Health Service University) Learning Accounts ~ Skillscentre:mk ~ Read On Write Away (ROWA!) ~ Blackburn with Darwen Taxi Drivers’ Scheme
DH: And the smoke signals say - The results of the consultations around smoking and health care associated infections, which contributed to the Health Bill, have been published on the Department of Health website. Over 57,000 responses were received on the smokefree element of the Health Bill and nearly 90% of these responses welcomed proposals for legislation on smoke-free public places and workplaces.
The government claims that the measures in the Health Bill will mean that 99% of the workforce will be guaranteed a completely smoke free workplace, compared with 51% today. The legislation will now be introduced in the summer of 2007 and there will be a review at the end of three years.
The government says they are currently working with stakeholders on a definition of ’prepare & serve food’ for licensed premises, as well as on what is the best method to prohibit smoking in the bar area in those non-smoking premises where smoking will continue, including discrete smoking rooms or areas to protect staff.
Press release ~ Responses to the consultation on the smokefree elements of the Health Improvement and Protection Bill ~ Health Bill ~ White paper: Choosing Health: making healthier choices easier
Royal Academy of Engineering: Choosing Engineering - The government and The Royal Academy of Engineering have launched a campaign to promote engineering and technology to young people. The campaign is designed to raise awareness of engineering and technology as a stimulating career option and an essential & exciting part of modern Britain.
Shape the Future will start young people on a journey, making connections between the issues they face and the solutions engineering & technology can provide. And, to help them on their way, it will signpost opportunities for them to do one more thing – such as joining a Young Engineers club at their school or another similar initiative, participating in a classroom discussion or even just logging onto a website for more information.
Press release ~ Shape the Future ~ The Royal Academy of Engineering ~ Digest of Statistics ~ Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Mapping Review ~ Public attitudes to science and engineering ~ London’s Science Museum
TfL: Scrooge takes a holiday - Transport for London has confirmed that there will be no charge for driving in the Congestion Charging zone for the 10 days between Saturday 24 December and Monday 2 January. However, it will resume on Tuesday 3 January 2006, so you will have to struggle home on public transport if you want to hit the New Year sales.
Press release ~ Congestion Charge website ~ Traffic Alerts service ~ See the traffic at locations across London
CMI: Frustrated decision-making - Senior managers in the UK are frustrated by an inability to reach decisions, according to a Chartered Management Institute survey, which reveals that ‘managers are confident in their own ability, but face hurdles in the shape of pressure from colleagues, bureaucracy a lack of resources’.
Key findings include:
· Lack of support: 40% of senior managers have taken a decision against their better judgement in the past six months. Reasons cited for this include undue pressure from colleagues (20%) and lack of time (15%).
· Considered confidence: 90% are confident about their own decision-making abilities, but many recognise the need to consult others, with 78% consulting their team and 48% with stakeholders.
· Personality profile: Asked what characteristics make good decision-makers, the top three answers given were experience (50%), logical thinking (47%) and objectivity (45%). Interestingly 39%) also suggested that active listening is vital.
The Chartered Management Institute is issuing guidance about the art of decision-making and Top tips include:
· Remain objective: decisions impact on those around you, so consider the effects on colleagues or team members before making your mind up.
· Take your time: too many people believe that they have to make up their mind quickly.
· Communicate your decision: outline clearly what you expect from people.
Full article ~ Chartered Management Institute ~ The Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory – Decision making ~ The Society for Judgment and Decision Making ~ Decision making styles ~ Decision making tools on the web ~ Devolving decision making: 1- Delivering better public services ~ Scottish Executive – Guide to collective decision making ~ CASP and evidence-based practice ~ Risk taking ~ HSE – Risk management ~ Involving young people in local authority decision-making
Have we learnt any lessons? – The one ‘certainty’ of Children’s services provision over the past few decades seems to have been (unfortunately) a frequent repetition of the mantra ‘We have all learnt lessons from this tragedy’ at the conclusion of every public inquiry into the most recent tragedy.
Yet time & time again over the years, it appears that the same problems of faulty procedures and poor supervision are revealed as being at the heart of each new tragedy.
For those wanting to avoid that situation, on 8 December there is a conference being run - Child Protection In The UK After Bichard And The Children Act 2004 - which can help you discover how the Bichard Report and Children Act 2004 aim to transform children’s services in the UK and what the future is for child protection.
Highlights include learning how to overcome the cultural tensions between different agencies, looking at the challenges to achieving a true information sharing culture between agencies and creating your Local Safeguarding Children Boards (hear the plans of the DfES and the people who are doing it at ground level). Full article ~ Children Now ~ Local Safeguarding Children Boards ~ Area Child protection Committees ~ DfES - Bichard implementation Project ~ Home Office – Bichard ~ Teachernet – Child protection website ~ DfES Information Sharing practice ~ DCA Data Sharing website ~ Safeguarding Children and Supporting Families and Grants ~ Common Assessment Framework ~ Common Core of Knowledge and Skills ~ NSPCC ~ Best Practice models on Internet ~ What works in child protection ~ Child Protection Register ~ Criminal Records Bureau ~ Charity Commission ~ Barnardo’s ~ Change for Children, Care Services Improvement Partnership ~ Children Act 2004 ~ See also ‘DTI - Council for Science and Technology (CST)’ in General Reports section of full version of newsletter on website
Defra: Potato Brown Rot has been found in potatoes of the variety Lady Rosetta being grown in Nottinghamshire after being sampled by the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate as part of the routine monitoring programme for potato ring rot and brown rot.
Press release ~ Defra Brown rot website ~ Central Science Laboratory ~ Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate ~ EPPO datasheet
Defra: Defra has opened a second call for research proposals under its Waste and Resources Research Programme worth approximately £4m. The selection of research topics include managing biowaste, recycling, residual waste in landfill, improving landfill conditions and identifying market opportunities from waste.
The deadline for expression of interests is 12 January 2006, and the Department would be particularly keen to see partnership working between different sectors in the waste community - for example between practitioners, universities and other research organisations.
Press release ~ Competition pack (scroll down) ~ Defra Waste Research Programme
Defra: Egg and poultry producers will get the chance to ask avian flu experts questions about disease prevention and the government’s contingency plans, during a series of free open meetings over the next few days. Organised by ADAS on behalf of Defra, experts in disease prevention & control, health protection and contingency planning will be on hand to answer questions at the series of free events.
It is hoped to run further meetings at different locations in the New Year, depending on demand and the level of disease risk at the time.
Press release ~ ADAS ~ Defra Avian Flu website ~ British Free Range Egg Producers’ Association ~ British Egg Industry Council ~ British Poultry Council ~ National Farmers Union
HSE: New health & safety qualifications aimed at people working in farming have been recognised by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). A Health and Safety Executive initiative, vocational qualifications (VQs) for health & safety in agriculture are the first such qualifications designed specifically for the farming industry and will pave the way for a new generation of training courses to tackle the industry’s poor health & safety record.
Last year 47 people were killed in farm-related accidents, and many more suffered serious injury or ill health. In the last five years 231 people have died, including nine children under the age of sixteen.
Press release ~ HSE Farming Accidents ~ Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) ~ Lantra Awards ~ NPTC
Home Office: Crime Concern, the national crime reduction agency, has taken over the challenge of ‘driving forward’ Positive Futures and will undertake its management from January 2006 until March 2008. Positive Futures is a sport & activity-based early intervention programme that aims to have a positive influence on participants’ substance misuse, physical activity and offending behaviour.
Press release ~ Positive Futures ~ Crime Concern ~ Sport England
British Library: The British Library’s recently-launched online document supply service, British Library Direct, has just signed up its 5,000th registered user, just five months after going live in June.
The service, which provides complete resource-discovery-to-delivery access to millions of research articles in the Library’s collections, now serves customers in some 138 countries ranging from Korea (North and South) to Christmas Island and over half of the users originate from outside the UK.
Press release ~ The British Library ~ British Library Direct
MOD: The Ministry of Defence is to invest £366M into educating its Service and civilian personnel, under a new contract with Cranfield University. Through this contract, the MoD will deliver postgraduate education & training to around 4,000 students per year, from across the Defence Community.
The contract will provide a coherent focus for all management, technology and leadership education and training for the Defence College of Management and Technology (DCMT). It covers around 80 different courses on a range of topics including defence technology, information management, strategic leadership, acquisition management and security studies.
The previous Academic Provider contract runs until July 2006 and formal delivery under the new contract begins in August 2006 with the new academic year starting in September 2006. The contract will run for 22 years.Press release ~ Defence College of Management and Technology (DCMT) ~ Defence Academy ~ Staff College at Shrivenham ~ Cranfield University
Home Office: The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate has just published its annual report. The role of the Inspectorate is to monitor compliance with the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, which regulates the use of animals in experiments and other scientific procedures.
The Government claims it is firmly committed to the 3 Rs - replacing animals from scientific procedures wherever possible, refining procedures involving animals and reducing the number of animals used - and improving animal welfare. In May 2004 the Government set up the National Centre for the Reduction, Refinement and Replacement of Animals in Research (The NC3Rs).
Press release ~ 2004 Annual Report ~ Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate ~ Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 ~ The 3 ‘Rs’ ~ Ethical review process ~ National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research ~ Royal Society – Animals in research ~ Association of Medical Research Charities ~ National Office of Animal Health ~ Fund for the replacement of animals in medical experiments ~ Sense about Science ~ The case against using animals
DH: In the National Social Inclusion Units first annual report, Health Minister Rosie Winterton is claiming that significant progress has been made one year on from the publication of the Social Exclusion Units report - Mental Health and Social Exclusion – which called for action to reduce & remove the barriers to employment, mainstream services and community participation for those with mental health problems.
Press release ~ NSIP’s First Annual report ~ Mental Health and Social Exclusion (VLF 151 pages)~ Learning and Skills Council ~ National Social Exclusion Programme ~ National Institute for Adult Continuing Education ~ National Institute for Mental Health (England) ~ Shift website ~ Health, Work and Wellbeing Strategy ~ From Here to Equality: A Strategic Plan to Tackle Stigma & Discrimination on Mental Health Grounds - 2004-2009
DTI: Using technology to address key challenges, such as traffic congestion and network security are the key aims of the Technology Strategy, set out in the first annual report of the Technology Strategy Board, as it aims to position the UK as a global leader in innovation and a magnet for technology intensive business.
Supporting the annual report is a new business engagement document ‘A Call to Action’, designed to inform and engage business in the process. The document outlines the TSBs vision & strategy for driving UK innovation.
Press release ~ Annual report and Call to Action (scroll down) - 5-Year Programme Creating Wealth from Knowledge
DTI: A new report from the Council for Science and Technology (CST) says that privacy, accountability and trust are the key to making the most of personal data and that the use of personal data by Government offers enormous benefits with the potential to create more efficient and accessible public services, the report advised Government.
The report recommended that this be done on an incremental basis making sure that, as data sharing increases, it is accompanied by parallel changes in policies and processes.
Press release ~ ’Better use of personal data in an information-rich society - opportunities and risks ~ Research into the use of personal datasets held by public sector bodies ~ Council for Science and Technology (CST) ~ DCA Data Sharing website ~ Transformational Government - Enabled by Technology ~ The key issues - a local authority perspective
DWP: The DWP has published a report on carer’s aspirations & decisions around work & retirement that found that there was a complex interplay of factors which influenced carers’ decisions about work, retirement and care-giving.
Press release ~ Full report (229 pages) ~ Summary version ~ Directgov Carer’s website ~ Carer’s Allowance ~ Carersonline Website
DWP: The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC), the independent body which advises the Secretary of State for Social Security on the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) scheme, has published two ‘position papers’:
’Silica-related Renal and Connective Tissue Diseases’ – A review of the body of research which is suggestive of a link between exposure to silica and renal disease, including autoimmune rheumatic conditions.
’Sporting Injuries’ - a review to examine whether there is evidence to support the inclusion of medical conditions that may arise as a consequence of being engaged in professional sporting occupations.
Press release ~ Press release ~ Position Paper on Sporting Injuries ~ Position Paper on Silica-related Renal and Connective Tissue Diseases ~ IIAC website
National Statistics: A new report published by the Office for National Statistics - Focus on Older People - paints a detailed picture of the people aged 50 & over in the UK today. It includes information on their characteristics, lifestyles and experiences, placing particular emphasis on changes with age.
There were 20 million people aged 50 and over in the United Kingdom in 2003. The number is projected to increase by 36% by 2031, when there will be 27.2 million people aged 50 and over.
Press release ~ Focus on Older People
NAO / FCO: The FCO has made significant improvements in the consular service it provides, but further progress is needed to deliver a service which meets the changing needs of Britons overseas, according to a National Audit Office report.
Every year the FCO’s consular staff deal with 3.5 million enquiries and handle 85,000 new cases requiring the most acute support. Over the last 30 months the FCO’s Rapid-Deployment teams set up to deal with emergencies involving British nationals have deployed 15 times - an unprecedented number.
NAO Press release ~ FCO Press release ~ The Foreign and Commonwealth Office - Consular Services to British Nationals: Full Report (1.7Mb) ~ Executive Summary ~ Addendum to National Audit Office Report on Consular Services ~ International Review of Consular Services (1.50Mb) ~ Joint findings on lessons to be learned from the handling of the response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami ~ Zito Trust ~ FCO Risk Management framework ~ FCO Travel advice by Country ~ FCO ‘Know before you go campaign’
NAO: The National Audit Office’s annual report on the top 20 defence equipment projects shows that, in the last year, the forecast cost has actually decreased by £700 million, but on average each project has been delayed by two and a half months.
The decrease in the forecast cost is mainly due to changing requirements or reducing the quantity or capability of the equipment. The most significant decreases of this kind are for Future Joint Combat Aircraft where the MOD has removed provisions for extra capabilities such as for weapons that were due to be added later. It also found a more cost effective Helmet Mounted Display System and the combination of these and other measures led to a reduction of £428 million.
Press release ~ MOD: Major Projects Report 2005 - Full Report (1Mb) ~ Executive Summary ~ Project Summary Sheets (1.2Mb) ~ Directorate for broadening Smart Acquisition ~ Defence Procurement Agency
ODPM: The ODPM claims that its ten-year £2 billion regeneration programme - New Deal for Communities (NDC) - is "proving effective" in engaging residents and changing attitudes towards the local community.
A report, from the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR), provides a national evaluation of the early years of the NDC programme from 2001 to 2005 and it concludes that NDCs have made progress through a wide range of projects, ranging from major housing refurbishment initiatives and youth inclusion schemes to community crime teams.
Press release ~ New Deal for Communities: An Interim Evaluation 2005 ~ Neighbourhood Renewal Unit website ~ NDC evaluation website ~ Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) ~ New Deal for Communities programme
ODPM: For some disadvantaged young adults the move from dependent adolescent to independent adult can be risky. Improving the lives of these people especially those in their early 20s - an often ’invisible’ age group - is the focus of new government action.
A report launched from the Social Exclusion Unit, outlines new cross-government action to help young adults (aged 16-25) with complex needs - such as homelessness, drug misuse and mental health problems. The new action is intended to give disadvantaged young adults the opportunity to break out of a downward cycle of social exclusion and make a successful start to adult life.
Press release ~ Transitions: Young Adults with Complex Lives ~ Connexions – Tackling NEETs ~ Foyer Federation ~ Prince’s Trust ’Team’ Programme ~ Fairbridge ~ Connexions ~ Jobcentre Plus ~ CAMHS ~ DH - Mental Health services ~ Give us a chance website ~ National Treatment Agency ~ National Offender Management Service ~ Homeless Link - ’Move On Plans’
HSE: The Health & Safety Commission (HSC) has published its 10th progress report on recommendations made following Public Inquiries into the Southall & Ladbroke Grove rail incidents and Joint Inquiry into Train Protection Systems. This will be the last progress report published by HSC before the transfer of rail safety regulatory responsibilities to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR).Press release ~ Tenth progress report ~ Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) ~ HSE: Live issues ~ HSE Rail Safety information sources ~ ERTMS ~ White paper – The future of rail ~ Railtrack / Network Rail
Defra: New targets just announced by Defra, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Executive mean that more packaging waste will be recycled in the coming 5 years.
As well as announcing new targets, Defra has confirmed a number of additional changes to the regulations which include a proposal to obligate franchisors, pub operating businesses and other businesses with similar business agreements ("licensors") for the packaging supplied to sub-threshold franchisees, licensees or tenants as part of an agreement between the two parties.
Press release ~ Defra Packaging & Waste website
FSA: The Financial Services Authority is encouraging senior management at regulated firms to begin preparing for the implementation of the EU’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), which is likely to come into force on 1 November 2007, as it will have a significant impact on financial services regulation and how firms operate & interact with customers.
The FSA has published two documents: Planning for MiFID, a factual document which provides a short guide highlighting the key areas and also the International Regulatory Outlook (IRO) which analyses regulatory change that is being driven by European and other international initiatives and its likely effects on UK financial services.
Press release – Planning for MiFID ~ International Regulatory Outlook (IRO) ~ FSA Website
CC: The Charity Commission (CC) is highlighting the fact that ChildLine is set to join with the NSPCC to provide a stronger, more effective service to children in the latest example of collaborative working. The Charity Commission has been supporting this type of development as part of its major new focus on partnerships & collaborative working in the charity sector.
Press release ~ Charity Commission ~ NSPCC ~ ChildLine
HMRC: VAT Business Brief 21/05
1. VAT: Clarification of the treatment of Foreign Exchange Transactions (Forex)
2. VAT: Liability of credit and debit card handling services - High Court decision in the case of Bookit Ltd
3. VAT: Further clarification of the VAT position of share issues following the ECJ decision in Kretztechnik
Press release ~ Business Briefs 2005 (it sometimes takes time to appear here)
Pensions Regulator: The Pensions Regulator has published guidance for multi-employer schemes, outlining actions that need to be taken in the event of an employer withdrawing from such a scheme.
The regulators guidance sets out how, and in what circumstances employers can apply for a withdrawal arrangement, focussing on what will be required from employers and what the regulator will consider in granting approval.
The regulator plans to collect feedback on the guidance and revise it in the New Year.
Press release ~ Guidance and other documentation
Unison: “We would fight any attempts to impose a wage freeze,” UNISON warned in the wake of Gordon Brown’s call for public-sector pay rises to be pegged at 2% – slightly below the current rate of inflation.
Inflation has been running at more than the government’s 2% target for four consecutive months, although the government points out it began to fall in October.
Mr Brown said this showed that the rise in inflation was largely due to the temporary impact of higher oil prices, though he makes no mention of rapidly increasing gas prices.
But he still called on the public-sector pay review bodies to keep pay awards at around 2%, arguing this would help stop the temporary rise in inflation becoming permanent.
UNISON has subitted evidence to the health service pay review body over the last two months to back its claim for a "substantial" pay rise.
Full article ~ UNISONs Pay Zone ~ Find Your payscale ~ HM Treasury - Submission of evidence to public sector Pay Review Bodies
Date: 24 – 26 /01/2006
Venue: Stoneleigh Park, Coventry, Warwickshire CV8 2LZ UK
Organiser: IIPSEC 2006 – International IP in Security Exhibition & Conference (IIPSEC) 2006
Following the recent terror attacks in the UK the need for sophisticated, high performance surveillance & associated technologies is clear. Now in its 4th year, IIPSEC has become THE platform to exchange ideas and explore the latest innovations, as well as giving security practitioners and end users a chance to experience for themselves state-of-art products, services & solutions.
Aimed at both the industry & end-user it features hardware & software solutions for a wide range of security and building management applications, which are intended to reduce infrastructure costs & facilitate data sharing by bringing together management systems onto a common platform, with the added benefits of increased flexibility & scalability and improved return on investment.
The International Association for Biometrics (or iAfB) will also be presenting at IIPSEC. The organisation provides a forum for the European and wider international Biometrics Community to promote the development & implementation of Biometric technologies, standards and applications.
IP-Ready solutions being exhibited include:
· Networked Surveillance (CCTV)
· Digital / Network Video Recording
· Voice & Video over IP
· Biometrics & Recognition
· Wireless / Satellite Transmission
Further details ~ International Association for Biometrics (or iAfB) ~ Home Office CCTV website ~ Watching Them, Watching Us ~ MPS CCTV webpage ~ CCTV and the Data Protection Act ~ Automatic Gait Recognition for Human ID at a Distance ~ Biometric passports ~ Security@Work ~ DTI Information security overview ~ DTI Security Best Practice
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