Action on Elder Abuse / DH: Safe care in your own home? - Care Services Minister Liam Byrne is to create a new group of dignity guardians to help him toughen the regulation of social care. The urgent need for this initiative has been brought home by a new report from Action on Elder Abuse, which found that of all the abuse directed at adults, well over half is targeted at vulnerable older people, that almost a third of adult victims are abused in their own home and 20% were abused by a carer, partner or family member.
The findings have caused consternation amongst professionals and the project is being flagged up as one of the most significant pieces of work since No Secrets, a joint DH/Home Office national guidance document published in March 2000.
The charity is now making a number of recommendations to Government including a call to give abuse of vulnerable adults the same status as that of child protection and domestic violence. Currently, all work carried out for the protection of vulnerable adults centres around the No Secrets guidance which, unlike child protection and domestic violence, has no statutory basis.
The other two major recommendations contained in the report are that:
· the Government should introduce national data collection & reporting requirements on Protection of Vulnerable Adult referrals
· clear performance measures across NHS and Social Care, based on the reduction and elimination of risk to vulnerable adults suffering abuse, should be implemented
Action on Elder Abuse press release ~ DH press release ~ Adult Protection Data Monitoring: For copy please email Hannahbodsworth@elderabuse.org.uk ~ No Secrets: National guidance on developing and implementing multi-agency policies and procedures to protect vulnerable adults from abuse ~ Action on Elder Abuse website ~ Help the Aged ~ Which? consumer group ~ Age Concern ~ Alzheimers Society ~ Relatives and Residents Association ~ The Beth Johnson Foundation ~ DH – Vulnerable adults website
DCMS: Taxi companies income safe for another 10 years - Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has published a White Paper on the future of the BBC, which is intended to ‘put the licence fee payer at the heart of everything the BBC does’. No mention though of extending the free ‘get you home from work’ taxi service enjoyed by senior BBC managers to the general public!
The white paper - A public service for all: the BBC in the digital age – confirms that the BBC will be overseen by a new Trust that is ‘separate from its management and will actively work to ensure the interests of the public are paramount at all times’. Central to this will be ensuring that the cycle of Charter reviews can't dictate the BBC's approach to its services.
In addition, the white paper sets out in further detail how the BBC will be expected to ‘reach a more consensual relationship with the media industry, providing transparency, certainty & clarity where its activities could have an impact on the wider market’.
Ms Jowell also urged the BBC to "continue to take fun seriously" in the future, stressing that high quality entertainment remained a vital part of the corporation's mission.
The government says that it is keen to hear any comments or thoughts (by Friday 28 April 2006) you may have on the White Paper or the draft Royal Charter and Framework Agreement and that ‘all comments received will be taken into account during the final phase of the Charter review process’.
Press release ~ White Paper and related documents ~ Current Charter and Agreement ~ Switch to Digital ~ Submit your comments online
PO: Government advice without responsibility - The Parliamentary Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, has reported on her investigation into the actions of government bodies in relation to the security of final salary occupational pensions. MPs referred more than 200 complaints to the Ombudsman, who also received 500 direct representations from members of the public.
The 254-page report says that the investigation uncovered evidence of real suffering, distress and uncertainty about the future among pension scheme members & their families, who had relied on government information when making choices about their future pension provision.
Ms Abraham found that official information about the security of final salary occupational pension schemes provided over many years by the DWP, the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority and other government bodies was inaccurate, incomplete, unclear and inconsistent.
Ms Abraham said: “Government has a unique responsibility in these matters. Government set the pensions policy framework and took upon itself the responsibility of providing information for the public.
The maladministration which my investigation has uncovered caused injustice to a large number of people who, as a result, lost the opportunity to make informed choices about their future.”
PO’s press release ~ DWP press release ~ Parliamentary Ombudsman ~Trusting in the pensions promise (260 pages( ~ Guide to the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s report ~ Pension Protection Fund ~ The Pensions Regulator ~ Financial Assistance Scheme
Defra: Latest guidance from King Canute - The government has launched revised guidance on Shoreline Management Plans (SMPs), which set policy at a local level for the strategic management of flood & erosion risk and encompass four principal approaches:
· Holding the existing line, by maintaining or changing the standard of protection.
· Advancing the existing line, by building new defences on the seaward side of original defences.
· Managed realignment, by allowing the shoreline to move backwards or forwards through controlled movement.
· No active intervention, where there is no investment in coastal defences or operations.
The revised guidance takes account of the latest science & information available as well as future challenges and it includes a shift from a look ahead of 50 years to one of 100 years, better linkages with the statutory planning system and more effective stakeholder engagement on preferred policies & their likely consequences.
The 2004 Foresight Future Flooding report, which took a long-term view of national flooding and coastal erosion risks to 2100, estimated that there were £130 billion of assets (homes, businesses, etc.) at risk of coastal flooding and also at least £10 billion of assets at risk of coastal erosion.
The study predicted that future climate change could lead to potentially significant increases in future risk by the end of this century with annual losses due to flooding increasing to between 2 and 20 times current values and coastal erosion annual losses rising by 3-8 times.
Press release ~ Defra - Shoreline Management Plan ~ 'Making Space for Water' ~ Environment Agency - Foresight Future Flooding ~ Foresight – Flood and Coastal Defence project ~ Futurecoast ~ ABI Flooding & Insurance website (includes principles) ~ Defra Flood management website ~ Repair and restoration of buildings following flooding ~ Flooding in Scotland ~ National Flood forum ~ Preparing for Floods ~ National Appraisal of Assets at Risk of Flooding and Coastal Erosion in England and Wales ~ Flood Ranger ~ Wallasea Wetlands
Industry News: Housing Corporation £518m extension -The Housing Corporation has revealed a turnover of £8.3 billion this year for the housing association sector, up £518 million (6.6%) on the previous year, according to its figures in its 2005 Global Accounts and Sector Analysis.
The 2005 Global Accounts is based on the published financial statements of the largest 557 housing associations and this view of the sector’s overall financial strength has been formed by aggregating the results
The Housing Corporation is the Government Agency responsible for the regulation & investing in over 1,500 housing associations in England. Its investment programme of £3.3billion for 2004-06 will fund over 67,000 affordable homes, of which 16,000 will go to key workers and 25% will use some form of modern method of construction.
The housing association sector now provides over two million affordable homes across England, housing over five million people nationwide.
Crucially for the sector, uncertainty over interest rate rises represents a significant risk for associations.
Clare Miller, Director of Regulation at the Housing Corporation, comments: “These accounts reveal the sheer scale of housing association achievements, as the principal provider of new affordable homes in this country, and as landlords managing homes for over 5 million people”.
Full article ~ Housing Corporation website ~ 2005 Accounts ~ Rent restructuring ~ Decent Homes Standard ~ ODPM - Affordable Housing ~ Affordable homes (ODPM response) ~ Modern methods of house building ~ NAO - Using modern methods of construction to build homes more quickly and efficiently ~ Bank of Good Practice ~ An end to end review of the Housing Corporation
Forthcoming Event: Engaging the Public Through Efficient Public Sector Communication - Are you a communicator working in the public sector? Are you expected to deliver more with less, while at the same time improving your organisation's reputation? Attend Melcrum's Public Sector Communication Conference (13th June 2006) and learn what has and hasn't worked for other public sector practitioners facing your same challenges.
Nine case studies will show you how to:
· Enhance your organisation's reputation
· Change public perception
· Measure the effectiveness of your strategies
· Target hard-to-reach audiences through new channels of communication
· Build public sector partnerships to maximise campaign efficiency
· Create cost-effective but high-quality campaigns
· Engage staff by improving internal communication
Two follow-up Practical Workshops (14th June 2006) examine:
· How to Communicate Change and Maximise Employee Engagement in the Public Sector
· Measuring What Your People Think and Feel
Full details ~ Government Communications Network ~ Central Office of Information ~ Office of Public Sector Information ~ Chartered Institute of Public Relations ~ Changes to Government Communications Machinery ~ Phillis report
Defra: British Gas has announced an initiative offering 880,000 householders in 16 local authorities across Britain the opportunity of rebates worth up to £100 on their council tax if they install energy efficiency measures. A staggering £1 in every £3 spent on heating is currently being wasted through the 10.3 million homes in the UK with insufficient insulation.
To qualify for the rebate, owner-occupier households must have subsidised cavity wall insulation installed by British Gas in their home. Upon the installation of the cavity wall insulation, the council will deduct the rebate from the householders' council tax bill. Over a five year period households could save up to £485.
Press release ~ Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 ~ Building Regulations Act of 1990 ~ Energy Saving Trust
Energy Efficient Houses
Home Office: Home Office Minister Fiona Mactaggart has launched an advertising campaign, warning men that they could go to jail for rape if they have sex without consent. The campaign aims to reduce incidents of rape by ensuring that men understand that they need to gain active consent before they have sex.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 set down, for the first time that a defendant in a rape case would need to show that they have reasonable grounds to believe that the other person had given their consent. The Act also introduced a definition of consent - that a person consents if s/he 'agrees by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice'.
Press release ~ Home Office Sexual Offences website ~ Victim Support ~ Rape Crisis ~ Rights of women ~ Victims Walkthrough ~ Project Sapphire - Improving rape investigation and victim care ~ Sexual Offences Act 2003
DH: Health Minister Rosie Winterton is claiming that, following analysis of a 2004 consultation’s responses, salaried dentists will see their careers modernised and pay reviewed.
NHS Employers will now undertake negotiations based upon the proposals set out in Creating the Future - Modernising careers for Salaried Dentists in Primary Care with a view to new terms & conditions of service being introduced from April 2007.
In response to representations from the BDA, the Department of Health will be issuing legal directions to the NHS as to the way in which salaried dentistry should be provided in the future, so as to ensure that all parts of NHS dentistry operate within the same regulatory framework.
Press release ~ Creating the Future - Modernising careers for Salaried Dentists in Primary Care ~ Creating the future: Modernising careers for salaried dentists in primary care - Stakeholder consultation response report ~ Find your local NHS Dentist ~ British Dental Association ~ NHS Employers ~ Choosing Better Oral Health ~ BASCD ~ Personal Dental Services (PDS) pilots ~ DH Dental Services website ~ British Dental Health Foundation ~ Community Dental Health ~ Dental Health services Research Unit
OPDM: The ODPM has published its Sustainable Development Action Plan to highlight claimed progress in implementing its commitment to sustainable development through its policies for creating sustainable communities.
The Action Plan is intended to illustrate how the work of the ODPM in creating sustainable communities which embody the principles of sustainable development through a range of milestones.
Press release ~ ODPM Sustainable Development Action Plan ~ Sustainable Development Commission ~ UK Sustainable Development Strategy, 'Securing the Future' ~ Code for Sustainable Homes ~ PPG25: Flood risk ~ PPS10: Waste management ~ PPG3: Housing ~ Barker Review of Housing Supply ~ Green Belt Direction ~ PPS22: Renewable energy ~ PPS1: Delivering Sustainable Development ~ Neighbourhood Renewal Unit ~ Local Area Agreements ~ Safer, Stronger Communities Fund
DTI: Outlawing discrimination by pubs, hotels & restaurants to gay and lesbian customers is at the heart of a new DTI consultation (closes 5 June 2006) to ban discrimination based on sexuality in the provision of goods, facilities & services.
Views are being sought on the following areas:
· how religious organisations and faith schools should be covered by the regulations
· whether or not exceptions should be provided in a few specific areas such as to allow sexual health clinics for gay men or lesbians to continue to target their services to these groups and
· how charities should be covered by the regulations
Press release ~ Consultation document - Getting Equal: Proposals to Outlaw Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Provision of Goods & Services ~ The pink pound
HSE: The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) has published a consultative document (closes 9 June 2006) seeking comments on proposals for the Biocidal Products (Amendment) Regulations 2006. Biocidal products are used in a variety of industries to control unwanted organisms, such as animals, insects, bacteria, viruses and fungi. They are intended to kill or otherwise exert a controlling effect by chemical or biological means.
The proposed regulations will amend the Biocidal Products Regulations 2001 (BPR), which put into place procedures to allow applications to be made for use of an active substance in a biocidal product and for the authorisation for marketing & use of such biocidal products.
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ HSE Biocides website ~ Biocides factsheet ~ Env. Agency NetRegs
Home Office: A new programme of action and five practical guides aimed at reducing vandalism and other forms of criminal damage in 80 local areas in England and Wales have been launched by the Home Office, in partnership with Government Offices and environmental campaigns charity ENCAMS.
The free scheme will see Crime Disorder and Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs) work together to identify the extent & scale of the problem in the local area and draw-up comprehensive action plans to tackle them. After three months, the CDRPs and partners will come together to assess whether the crack-down has worked and what more needs to be done.
Press release ~ Guides ~ British Crime Survey ~ The economic and social costs of crime against individuals and households 2003/04 ~ Together website ~ Home Office's Crime Reduction website ~ Crime Disorder and Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs) ~ ENCAMS ~ DfT
DH: The NHS should re-negotiate local contracts with GP practices to ensure doctors deliver better services for patients and offer value for money, according to new Department of Health guidance recently published.
The guidance directs primary care trusts (PCTs) to make sure that locally agreed Personal Medical Services (PMS) and Alternative Provider Medical Services (APMS) contracts offer patients similar improvements in access, booking & choice as the new national General Medical Services contract (GMS).
The government says that PCTs will need to review the financial provisions in their existing PMS and APMS contracts to ensure that they offer value for money. Where existing contracts do not reflect the efficiencies negotiated as part of the national GMS deal, PCTs should negotiate savings.
Press release ~ Guidance on non-GMS contracting arrangements for 2006/07 ~ National GP Contract ~ GMS Contract ~ NHS Employers
LSDA: A project, which started in 2003, is believed to be the first UK study to look at the impact of a specific educational course on recidivism among offenders. It found that discharged prisoners who successfully complete oral communication courses have a lower reconviction rate than expected
Press release ~ Developing oral communication and productive thinking skills in HM prisons ~ English Speaking Board ~ Forum on Prison education
LSDA: A report - Modern foreign languages in a vocational context - is the result of a research project that set out to discover to what extent languages are integrated within vocational courses, such as business studies. The aim of the research was not only to find out the scope & take-up of modern foreign languages, but also to identify the barriers to learning a language and the vital success factors that teachers & trainers need to take on board.
A national survey revealed a high level of interest in modern foreign languages, with Spanish being the most popular. This is normally included in travel & tourism or business courses, but some colleges are also recognising the importance of languages such as Spanish within the IT industry, which is rapidly becoming a multi-lingual pan-European operation.
Press release ~ Modern foreign languages in a vocational context ~ Contribution of foreign languages to economic development ~ DfES Languages website ~ National Languages Strategy (2002) ‘Languages for All: Languages for Life’ ~ BBC Languages
NAO: According to a National Audit Office, the DWP’s 60 contact centres have already made a major contribution to the service provided to millions of citizens and have the potential to further improve customer service, whilst realising further efficiency savings.
The DWP is undergoing a major transformation in the way it handles many of its customers and it is increasingly using contact centres to deliver services. It envisages that eventually almost all non face-to-face contact will be done in this way.
Press release ~ Delivering effective services through contact centres (VLF 2.3Mb) ~ Executive Summary
NAO: The National Audit Office says that better management of the office accommodation used by the DCMS and 24 of the organisations it sponsors could lead to 10% savings in its £40 million annual expenditure.
The NAO found that, on average, accommodation per employee costs £8,500 a year to provide (ranging from £10,000 in London to £4,300 in Yorkshire and The Humber). Space for each person is some 16m2, which is within a recognised good practice range of 12 to 17m2, but it varies from 14m2 in London to over 25m2 in the East Midlands. The costs also differ across the country with offices paying an average rent of £400m2 in London compared to averages of between £100 and £200 in other regions.
Press release ~ Full report (VLF 1.5Mb) ~ Executive summary ~ OGC Government relocation portal ~ Lyons review
NAO: The National Audit Office has reported on the support provided by the DTI to the restructuring of British Energy completed in January 2005 and the Department’s management of the risks to the taxpayer arising from the Company’s activities since the completion of restructuring.
Normally, when private companies get into difficulty the Department’s policy is not to intervene, on the argument that UK productivity goes up if relatively inefficient firms are allowed to close. In this instance, the Department justified its decision to intervene in the light of its assessment of the threat to electricity supplies and to safety.
Press release ~ NAO – The restructuring of British Energy (VLF 1.2Mb) ~ Executive summary ~ DTI – Managing the nuclear legacy website ~ Nuclear Liabilities Fund ~ British Energy ~ Nuclear Decommissioning Authority ~ Nuclear Safety Directorate ~ Greenpeace
DWP: New research published by the Department for Work and Pensions examines lone parents' knowledge & understanding of how their benefit might be sanctioned for failing to take part in a mandatory Work Focused Interview (WFI).
In October 2003, the appointments process for lone parent WFIs was altered to minimise abuse of the system, by limiting lone parents' opportunity to rearrange the appointment after failing to attend the WFI.
Press release ~ Working Paper 27: Impact of Sanctions for Lone Parents: Findings from Qualitative Research ~ Work Focused Interviews and lone parent initiatives: further analysis of policies and pilots
DWP: New research published by the Department for Work and Pensions examines customer's understanding and knowledge of the sanctions regime; the processes involved in this; the potential effects of the threat of a sanction; and ultimately the impact of receiving a sanction.
Press release ~ Research Report 313 - A Review of the JSA Sanctions Regime Summary Report ~ Summary version
ECGD: The Government has published its Final Response to the Export Credits Guarantee Department's (ECGD) consultation on the changes made to its anti-bribery and corruption procedures in December 2004.
Following two rounds of public consultation in 2005, conducted under Cabinet Office guidelines, ECGD will now make a number of changes to its procedures (due to come into effect on 1 July 2006), which the Government believes will reduce the risk of ECGD supporting contracts tainted by corruption, while also being workable for exporters and banks.
Press release ~ ECGD bribery & corruption policy ~ Final Response to the Export Credits Guarantee Department ~ SustainAbility ~ Consultation paper ~ 2003 Draft Corruption Bill ~ Transparency International (UK) ~ The OECD Convention On Combating The Bribery Of Foreign Public Officials In International Business Transactions ~ Business Link – Ethical trading
HSE: The Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) HM Railway Inspectorate (HMRI) has published its report into the Central Line train derailment at Chancery Lane tube station on 25 January 2003, which concludes that the companies involved had done what was reasonably practicable with regard to both maintenance procedures and the operational response to the incident.
The immediate cause of the derailment was the detachment of the rearmost traction motor on the fifth car, itself caused by gearbox failure. HSE has decided that formal enforcement action is not appropriate in this instance.
Press release ~ LUL Chancery Lane derailment ~ HSC's Enforcement Policy Statement
ODPM: The fourth (and final) part of a series of reports on the Survey of English Housing (SEH) for 2003-2004 has been released, focussing mainly on households in deprived areas. The survey, first conducted in 1993-94, provides key housing data on tenure, owner occupation & the social rented sector; and is the principal source of information about the private rented sector.
This concludes the release of part reports from the 2003/04 Survey of English Housing. A full report for 2003/04 will be available as a web-only document from late April - comprising the four part reports plus a number of appendices covering detail such as the grossing and weighting procedures, sampling errors and the complete survey questionnaire.
The plan is to publish the 2004/05 Survey of English Housing report in the autumn. In the meantime a number of live web tables will be updated with 2004/05 results during the next month.
Press release ~ SEH website ~ Part 4 report ~ SEH live tables
BLF: People across the UK will be able to vote for their favourite regional projects when the People’s Millions public voting competition hits TV screens in the autumn, awarding 90 grants of up to £50,000 including bonus grants to the most popular runners-up in each ITV region. The entry deadline for applications for funding to be awarded in 2006, the second year of the scheme, is Thursday 18 May 2006.
As part of the People’s Millions this year, GMTV viewers will also be given the chance to award a single grant of £1.5 million in early April. Next year, on top of the regional contests for £50,000, the Big Lottery Fund and ITV will be asking viewers UK-wide to vote on an award of between £25 and £50 million to a single project.
Press release ~ Big Lottery Fund ~ The People’s Millions
CC: The Charity Commission is asking financial specialists to stop requesting certificates proving their clients are registered charities in order to continue to claim Stamp Duty Reserve Tax exemption. Many accountants, brokers & financial advisers believe the need for a certificate is a requirement from HM Revenue & Customs but this isn't the case.
The Commission's Chief Executive, Andrew Hind, said:
"If your clients are registered charities there is a quick, easy and accurate way to check - look them up on our online register of charities and print off their entry. For those who want to continue claiming Stamp Duty Reserve Tax exemption this really is the only proof needed that they are what they say they are."
Press release ~ Charity Commission Online register
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