CCWater: Money down the drain and into the bank - Thames Water has reported an increase in profits in the face of missing its leakage targets for the fourth successive year and applying for a drought order for London.
The water company’s admission that it has failed to achieve its leakage target for 2005-06 by 34 million litres per day, whilst at the same time announcing pre-tax profits up 31% to £346.5 million has been greeted by uproar from the Consumer Council for Water, which branded the announcement 'totally unacceptable' to consumers and would rub salt in the wounds of consumers facing bill increases and water restrictions over recent months.
Thames Water is losing 894 million litres of water a day – enough to fill 357 Olympic swimming pools.
On the 9th June the water company applied to the Government for a Drought Order, in addition to a current hosepipe and sprinkler ban, to further restrict the use of water to its five million customers in London.
The last time a Drought order was requested for London was in 1976.
CCWater Press release ~ Ofwat Press release ~ Thames Water Press release ~ Thames Water ~ Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) ~ CCWater consumer blog on the current water restrictions ~ Ofwat ~ Beat the Drought ~ Leakage from public water supply – Environment Agency ~ Water resources – Environment Agency ~ Defra facts and figures
Cabinet Office: All for one and one for all - The Government has set out its vision for a partnership approach between public, private and third sectors to deliver public services that are more focused around the needs of individuals and communities.
In what is billed as an important step forward in the Government's public service reform agenda, the Government has announced a range of proposals designed to ensure the work of the third sector is expanded on and properly supported.
The initiatives, to be brought together in the autumn through the publication of the Third Sector Public Service Delivery Action Plan, include:
· A comprehensive review of community equipment with the aim to achieve an improvement in the way in which vital equipment and support are delivered to people coping with difficult circumstances and allow the third sector to play a bigger role, both in delivering services and informing their design.
· Looking towards a new delivery model with the aim of ensuring users are always guaranteed a service tailored to their needs, through effective local partnerships between public, private and third organisations.
· The Office of the Third Sector to ensure that longer-term funding arrangements become the norm rather than the exception.
· A new Public Service Innovation Team will be established within the Office of the Third Sector, providing an intelligence bank for best practice in the third sector and acting as a bridge for sharing and fostering innovation in the public sector.
Press release ~ Future Services Network ~ Care Services Efficiency Delivery (CSED) ~ Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) ~ National Consumer Council (NCC) ~ Confederation of British Industry
DH: Roll up, roll up - The Government has established a new unit which it claims will allow social entrepreneurs to help create new ways to provide choice in health and social care.
The new Social Enterprise Unit will encourage innovation and entrepreneurialism in health and social care and pave the way for new services which better meet patients and service users' needs.
Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis said:
"The voluntary and community sector work very hard in the community and are well placed to understand what people need.
The new unit will encourage social enterprises to involve staff and service users in designing and delivering services tailored to meet people's needs and also achieve greater value for money.”
The announcement comes at the same time as another initiatives launched by Prime Minister Tony Blair to increase involvement of the voluntary sector in delivering public services that are more focused around the needs of individuals and communities.
Press release ~ DTI SBS bulletin (see public procurement chapter) ~ Care Services Efficiency Delivery (CSED) ~ DTI Small Business Service ~ Future Services Network ~ Expert Patients Programme ~ School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) ~ UnLtd
MPA: Together against terror - The Metropolitan Police Authority is to hold a series of public forums, entitled 'Counter-Terrorism: The London Debate', as part of its programme of community engagement to counter-terrorism.
The move continues the work from a previous community conference organised by the MPA in the wake of the July 2005 terror attacks, and will give specifically invited London communities the opportunity to express their views about counter-terrorism policing to a panel of MPA members.
A senior MPS officer will be invited to each session to provide an initial response to the communities' issues and then take questions from the group,
At the first hearing on 29 June 2006, a group of young people will be able to put their questions to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Sir Ian Blair.
Press release ~ Counter-Terrorism: The London Debate ~ Metropolitan Police Authority ~ Counter Terrorism Section - MPS ~ UK Resilience ~ HO Counter-terrorism strategy ~ MI5 Security Service
Patent Office: Can the copy-cats be neutered? - A Government report has been published warning that international intellectual property crime is an increasingly serious problem with seizures at EU external borders rising dramatically.
Issues highlighted in the report include:
· In relation to film piracy, a 20% increase during 2005 of DVDr burners seized - confirming the shift to UK produced items from imported pressed master discs.
· Reports of Chinese organised criminal networks in the UK having increasingly become involved in the illicit manufacture and distribution of counterfeit films which are hugely vulnerable to online digital piracy.
· High quality packaging, making it almost impossible to tell the difference without technical expertise.
· Pharmaceuticals are seen as a boom industry with the incidence of counterfeit medicines increasing more than 45% against 2004.
Music piracy is now seen as endemic and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) estimates that there is now somebody on every street in the UK manufacturing illegally, either privately or commercially.
At the frontline is the IP Crime Group, established as part of the National IP Crime Strategy, which has received more than 500,000 intelligence reports in the last nine months.
In 2005 major tactical operations with a series of weekend raids at Wembley Market - a hotspot for counterfeit and pirated goods, which netted more than £1.5 million of counterfeit and pirated goods.
Press release ~ National Intellectual Property Enforcement Report ~ IP Crime Group ~ National IP Crime Strategy (LF 926K) ~ Intellectual property crime – Patent Office ~ Intellectual property crime – Organised Crime Task Force ~ IP Crime Congress 2006 ~ European Communities Trade Make Association
CCWater: The Consumer Council for Water in the Wessex region has called for the water industry to maintain consumer confidence and deliver value for money to customers as three water companies in its region have announced profit increases for 2005-06.
The call comes as Wessex Water reported an operating profit of £152.5million (up 24% from 2004-05) and Bournemouth and West Hampshire Water reported an operating profit of £14.2million (up 27% from 2004-05).
Press release ~ Press release from Consumer Council for Water Northumbria ~ Consumer Council for Water ~ Ofwat future water and sewerage charges 2005-10 ~ Information sheets for each company ~ Thinking of metering? - Ofwat ~ Water metering on benefits - Defra
HO: A total of 17,715 weapons were handed in during the first week of the national knives amnesty. As well as knives, the weapons surrendered include machetes, meat cleavers and axes.
Police in Devon & Cornwall also took receipt of an anti-tank rocket launcher.
The national knives amnesty began on 24 May 2006 and will continue until Friday 30 June.
It is an offence to carry a knife in public without good reason or lawful authority, with the exception of a folding pocket-knife with a blade not exceeding three inches. Those found guilty face a penalty of up to two years' imprisonment.
Press release ~ crimereduction.gov.uk ~ Violent Crime Reduction Bill ~ Home Office
DTI: The newly enabled Work and Families Bill is set to offer new rights to working parents and carers and new benefits to business.
Working parents stand to benefit from new rights to more maternity and paternity leave and pay, whilst for the very first time, carers of adults will be given a right to request flexible working in recognition of the difficulties many carers face in juggling work with caring responsibilities.
Businesses will also benefit from a package of measures designed to make life easier for employers, with the view of helping them plan ahead and manage maternity leave with greater certainty.
Press release ~ Work and Families Bill ~ Work and Families - DTI ~ Working Families ~ Carers UK ~ Working time and time off - BusinessLink ~ Equal Opportunities Commission ~ FathersDirect ~ British Chamber of Commerce response to Bill publication
DTI: Royal Assent has been given to the Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Bill, making it easier for householders who produce electricity from microgeneration technologies at their homes to sell unused power back to their supplier.
The Bill aims to reduce carbon emissions and fuel poverty through a series of measures designed to increase installation of micro-wind turbines, solar panels and other localised energy production technologies.
It is hoped that opening up the ability to earn money for the sale of electricity produced by these technologies will help to offset the cost of installation and play a part in the expansion of the sector, bringing both environmental and economic benefits.
Press release ~ Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Bill ~ DTI microgeneration strategy ~ Microgeneration - Green Alliance ~ Micropower ~ Overview of domestic-scale microgeneration - Ofgem ~ Potential of microgeneration for the UK - DTI
MoD: Whilst heavy police surveillance is a matter of course at the World Cup in Germany, football fans may be surprised to know the full extent of the monitoring techniques used, namely the use of state-of-the-art surveillance aircraft flown by the Royal Air Force.
At the request of the German national authorities, E-3D early warning aircraft - based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire - are patrolling the skies over Germany.
The aircraft from part of a NATO force to provide extra security during the matches and ceremonies, supporting German air surveillance by providing additional low-level radar coverage and radio relay.
Press release ~ NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force (NAEW&CF) ~ AWAC – Boeing ~ RAF Waddington ~ German Police World Cup ~ Security measures – German Federal Ministry of the Interior ~ NATO ~ Ministry of Defence
Defra: The Government has opened a new front in its campaign to change public attitudes to tackling climate change.
As part of the Climate Change Communication Initiative, 53 projects from across England are to receive funding totalling £4.6 million from Defra’s Climate Challenge Fund, with the aim of raising awareness at regional and local level of the urgent need to tackle climate change.
A further 32 projects submitted to Defra's Climate Challenge Fund worth in the region of an additional £4m have been provisionally accepted subject to further negotiation.
Press release ~ Climate Challenge ~ Climate Change - Defra ~ Full list of approved projects ~ Energy Saving Trust ~ UK Climate Impacts Programme
Defra: Major water industry players have emphasised that strategic long term thinking is essential to protect the sustainability of the water supply in England.
The Water Saving Group has met for their six month review to analyse progress against its Action Plan, which outlines work in a number of areas to encourage the efficient use of water and so help protect the long term sustainability of supply.
The Group is undertaking a number of initiatives, including an effort to engage with customers and better understand their perceptions and needs, developing incentives to companies for improving the promotion of water efficiency, new regulations to improve water efficiency in buildings and opportunities for greater penetration of metering in areas of water stress.
Press release ~ Water Saving Group Action Plan ~ Water Savings Group (WSG) ~ Water conservation ~ Water Strategy: Directing the Flow - priorities for future water policy ~ Consumer Council for Water ~ Water UK ~ Waterwise
DfES: Education Secretary Alan Johnson has announced new measures to tighten record keeping in schools and colleges in response to a government requested Ofsted investigation into whether schools and colleges were carrying out appropriate recruitment checks and record keeping.
The Chief Inspector made clear that it is highly likely that the appropriate checks have been made but that all schools needed to keep proper records to demonstrate that had been the case.
DfES Press release ~ Ofsted Press release ~ Safeguarding children: an evaluation of procedures for checking staff appointed by schools – Ofsted report ~ Guidance on safer recruitment - teachernet ~ Criminal Records Bureau ~ Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill
Defra: Government ministers have met with eleven of the major UK consumer electronic retailers to discuss how they can help deliver more energy efficient products for their customers.
The initiative, announced in this year's Budget, will look to set up a voluntary partnership for retailers to commit, from next year, to sell energy efficient consumer electronic products, with the aim of significantly reducing carbon emissions from these products by 2010.
Defra Press release ~ HM Treasury Press release ~ Market Transformation Programme ~ International Energy Efficiency in Lighting and Domestic Appliances (EEDAL) conference ~ Energy Savings Trust ~ EU Renewable Energy Unit ~ Intelligent Energy Europe ~ Climate change ~ Consumer Products and the Environment
DH: GP practices will face tougher tests on waits for appointments from July as part of a drive to ensure all NHS patients can see a family doctor within two working days.
Primary care trusts (PCTs) will telephone surgeries on a random day every month to ensure that the two-day access target, which has allowed more patients to book a GP appointment within 48 hours, is a true reflection of patient experiences. Practices will also be asked when their third free appointment slot falls, as well as the first, to better judge the depth of access.
The new tests will address concerns that GPs, who currently know the survey date in advance, are able to prepare their bookings to deliver a success on just one day a month.
Press release ~ PCT patient survey 2005 ~ NHS waiting times ~ NHS what waiting times tell you ~ Royal College of GPs ~ British Medical Association
DH: Drug treatment services across the country will receive an extra £95.2m this year, an increase of over 30%, in a move that will provide Drug Action Teams with £394.6m.
The funding will be used to invest in personnel, day-to-day running of services, and building and refurbishment of premises.
Drug Action Teams will also be able to bid for a portion of a further £54.9million, for the development of inpatient and residential rehabilitation services in 2007/08.
Press release ~ Drug Action Teams ~ HO Drugs ~ DrugScope ~ Drug and Alcohol Action Programme ~ Crime reduction tool kits – Communities against drugs ~ Talk to Frank
APA: The Association of Police Authorities (APA) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) have issued a joint statement calling on the House of Lords to significantly revise the Police and Justice Bill.
The joint APA and ACPO statement recognises that there is much in the Bill to commend it but highlights significant concerns - shared by both bodies - that the Bill will further centralise control over policing and erode local policing accountability.
Press release ~ APA/ACPO statement ~ Police and Justice Bill ~ Association of Police Authorities (APA) ~ Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) ~ UK Police Service ~ Home Office: Police website
DH: A new drive to modernise mental health services has been launched in a document outlining ten key changes that mental health providers should make to improve quality of care for patients and drive better service efficiency.
10 High Impact Changes for Mental Health Services, produced by the Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP), charts high impact changes in 10 areas of service improvement in mental health that have the greatest positive impact on service user and carer experience, service delivery, outcomes, staff and organisations.
The document aims to show mental health professionals that by following this guidance, they can make a real difference to how they provide services for patients.
Press release ~ 10 high impact changes for mental health services publication (executive summary) ~ 10 high impact changes for mental health services publication (full version) ~ 10 High Impact Changes for Mental Health Services Website ~ Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP) ~ National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE)
Pensions Regulator: The Pensions Regulator has issued additional guidance for pension scheme trustees and their professional advisers on summary funding statements.
Under the new scheme specific funding regime, trustees must issue regular summary funding statements to all scheme members and beneficiaries providing them with information about the funding of their scheme.
The regulator's guidance clarifies the need for summary funding statements issued before a scheme has had its first actuarial valuation under the new funding regime to include an explanation of any changes to the scheme's funding position.
Initial summary funding statements must be issued before 22 September 2006, followed by updated statements in each subsequent year prior to a scheme's first valuation under the new regime.
Press release ~ Additional guidance: ‘Summary funding statements’ ~ Code of Practice ~ Scheme Specific Funding website ~ Scheme Funding - DWP ~ The Pensions Regulator
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published draft guidelines which set out recommendations on good quality care during labour.
The guidelines support choice for women in deciding where to have their baby and set out the information they should be given to help them choose.
They aim to make birth as normal as possible, by reducing unnecessary medical interventions, and as safe as possible for mother and baby, by making sure that all the risks are understood and properly managed.
Press release ~ NICE draft guideline on care during labour ~ RCM Press release response ~ Royal College of Midwives ~ National Child Birth Trust (NCT) ~ Every Child Matters ~ BirthChoiceUK ~ Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services ~ Having a baby: Birth Options - BBC.co.uk
DH: New guidance has been launched to better equip NHS staff to identify and support victims of domestic and sexual violence and abuse.
A publication ‘Tackling the Health and Mental Health Effects of Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse’ has been launched setting out what the Government intends to do for staff in primary care, acute services, ante-natal and mental health services.
Press release ~ Tackling the Health and Mental Health Effects of Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse ~ Respect ~ National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) ~ Hidden Hurt abuse information and support site ~ Woman’s Aid ~ Refuge ~ The Hideout (aimed at young people) ~ NSPCC
DTI: Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Alistair Darling has urged countries to stand up to calls for protectionism and to take action to make trade fairer as well as freer.
In the speech to the US Chamber of Commerce, Alistair Darling told American politicians and business leaders that globalisation did not mean that one country's benefits must come at the expense of another's, but that developing countries provided new markets into which to trade a wider range of products and provide a chance for developing countries to trade their way out of poverty.
Press release ~ Department of Trade and Industry ~ UK Trade & Investment ~ U.S Chamber of Commerce ~ World Trade Organisation ~ Protectionism: Tariffs, Subsidies, and Trade Policy - aWorldConnected.org ~ Briefing paper – Oxfam
Dcms: A Lottery 'tick boxes' pilot voting scheme has been announced, which it is claimed will give the public more of a say in where Lottery grants go.
In the 'Your Pound, Your Choice' trial, the public will, for the first time, be able to tick boxes on voting slips at participating lottery retailers to vote for which local projects should get Lottery money.
Camelot and the Big Lottery Fund have identified two regions to pilot the scheme, which is expected to run in August, with up to five projects in the two regions competing for Lottery grants of up to £50,000.
Press release ~ National Lottery Shares consultation results ~ Big Lottery Fund ~ National Lottery Good Causes ~ National Lottery grants search ~ National Lottery ~ Awards For All ~ Camelot
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