Scottish Executive: Not outright control, but its still a ‘Double First’ for Alex Salmond - The Scottish Parliament has elected Alex Salmond (MSP for Gordon) as First Minister to lead the Executive for the next four years.

Mr Salmond received the Royal Warrant from the Queen before taking the official oath of allegiance in front of a panel of judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh to confirm him as FM and Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland. He is leader of the Scottish National Party and the first member of that party to become First Minister.

The management structure of the Executive is to be re-aligned as a new government is formed, Permanent Secretary Sir John Elvidge has told civil servants. The Cabinet will comprise the First Minister and five Cabinet Secretaries and there will be two Law Officers.

With immediate effect, the Executive's Strategic Board is to consist of the Permanent Secretary and five Directors-General who will lead on one of the government's strategic objectives.

The First Minister and Cabinet Secretaries for Finance and Sustainable Growth, Health & Wellbeing and Education & Lifelong Learning will each be supported by two Ministers. The Cabinet Secretaries for Rural Affairs and Justice will each be supported by one Minister.

Election of FM press release ~ Structure press release ~ Scottish Parliament ~ Scottish Executive ~ Ministers and Law Officers

DWP: If at first you don’t succeed! - The Department for Work and Pensions has published its response to the consultation on the Child Maintenance White Paper, 'A New System of Child Maintenance'.

The White Paper put forward proposals for a fresh start for child maintenance and would replace the Child Support Agency (CSA) with a ‘tougher’ non-departmental body led by a new Commissioner for Child Maintenance.

The new Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (C-MEC) would provide a new information & support service to ensure parents get additional help to make their own maintenance arrangements where they can, or use the new body to quickly establish & enforce payments where they cannot.

The department has also published its response to the conclusions & recommendations of The Work and Pensions Select Committee report 'Child Support Reform' which was published earlier this year.

Press release ~ DWP: Child Maintenance Redesign – Reports, response and White PaperChild Support Agency (CSA) ~ CSA Changes - Q&As ~ NAO: Child Support Agency – Implementation of the Child Support Reforms ~ BBC NEWS - Child support trouble for 600,000 ~ Children and Family Court Advice and Support Service ~ DFES guide for Separating Parents ~ Family Mediation Helpline

CLG: ‘Nanny’ doesn’t always know best then? - Local people should be given greater control in how key assets in their communities are run - from disused swimming baths to pubs & community centres according to a new report - Making Assets Work.

Barry Quirk, Chief Executive of Lewisham Council has concluded that transferring public assets to communities not only leads to more responsive services that meet local people's priorities, but can also create more confident empowered communities with greater civic spirit.

Powers already exist for this, but the report finds that many are not fully aware of them, or are not using them to full benefit. Therefore a change in culture is required so that every community has the chance for:

  • more active citizenship
  • a greater role in running services & owning assets, and
  • improving wellbeing in their communities

This week the Government is announcing an action plan to promote a new era of civic pride where every local authority is asked to explore whether public assets could be handed over or run by the community.

Press release ~ Making assets work: The Quirk Review ~ Community Call for Action ~ Community Assets fund ~ CLG - Community Management and Ownership of Assets ~ CLG – Civil Renewal ~ Public Request to Order Disposal (PROD)

ESRC: ‘Common Sense’ versus Professional Opinion? - New research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (RSRC), calls into question previous assumptions that youth justice practice is evidence based and that young people’s views are taken into account.

The research, which looks at how practitioners in the field of youth justice make their judgements, finds that magistrates often believe that they know best - disregarding the advice of Youth Offending Teams and other professionals.

The research findings will be presented by Dr Phoenix at the National Association of Youth Justice in Shropshire in September this year and at the American Society of Criminologists in Atlanta, Georgia in November.

Press release ~ 'Doing Justice: Analysing ’risk and need’ assessments in youth justice practice' ~ ESRC Society Today ~ Youth Offending Teams ~ Youth Justice System ~ Annual Youth Justice Convention 2007 ~ National Association for Youth Justice ~ Hom e Office - Youth crime ~ Youth justice - Every Child Matters ~ Scottish Executive - Youth Justice ~ Youth Justice Agency of Northern IrelandNational Standards for Scotland's Youth Justice Services ~ Audit Commission - Youth Justice 2004 ~ All Wales Youth Offending Strategy ~ Other useful links

DH: Yet another call for joined-up service delivery - Health Minister Ivan Lewis promised a new national strategy for children's palliative care and accepted key recommendations of the independent review of services published last week. The independent review of children's and young people's palliative care services by Professor Sir Alan Craft, Head of Child Health at Newcastle University and Sue Killen, a senior civil servant, examined access to services and their long term sustainability.

Recommendations from the review include:

  • a call for a national strategy, including development of a national indicators & standards
  • more funding to be provided for services as a whole
  • incentives to be given to developing pooled budgets covering health, social care and education
  • more resources for community services & improved end of life care with children supported to die at home

There are over 20,000 children and young people in England with conditions likely to require palliative care and around 4,000 deaths a year. About 1,800 a year potentially require end-of-life care at home or in a hospice.
Press release ~ Palliative care services for children and young people in England. An independent review ~ DH – Children’s Services ~ Association of Children’s Hospices ~ Children’s Hospice Association, Scotland ~ JRF:&nb sp;The role of children's hospices in providing respite care ~ Funding for children's hospice and children's hospice at home grant for voluntary organisations in England: Guidance notes for grant application

Defra: Minor Works get minor funding of £1.27 per home at risk - Minister for Climate Change and the Environment Ian Pearson has announced a £500,000 funding package to help make vulnerable homes more resilient to the threat of flooding. The funding supports the first phase of a pilot grant scheme for vulnerable households, which would be under increased threat as climate change increased the risk of flooding to low-lying areas of the UK.

Currently, around 470,000 properties in England and Wales are at risk of flooding, including 393,000 homes - this is likely to rise as the effects of climate change increase. The funding will help to provide effective measures against flooding for vulnerable properties including measures to stop water getting into the home, such as temporary door-guards or waterproof render, or to reduce damage if water does enter the home, such as water-resistant walls & floors or raising electrics.

Defra has also published the results of a scoping study on flood resilience called Flood resistance and Resilience Solutions: an R & D Scoping Study, whichbroadly determines the suitability & cost effectiveness of a variety of flood resistance and resilience measures - such as temporary flood gates, water resistant floors and wall coverings at property level - especially those that could be supported through a potential pilot grant scheme.

The Government has also launched a new guidance document, entitled - "Improving the flood performance of new buildings: Flood resilient construction" (provisional).
Press release ~ Flood resistance and Resilience Solutions: an R & D Scoping Study ~ Planning for flood risk: the facts ~ Making Space for Water ~ Improvi ng the flood performance of new buildings: Flood resilient construction ~ Planning Policy Statement 25: Development and Flood Risk ~ Development and Flood Risk: A Practice Guide Companion to PPS25 'Living Draft' ~ Development and Flood Risk: PPS25 Practice Guide Questionnaire ~ Consultation on Planning Policy Statement 25: Development and Flood Risk ~ Circular 04/06 (Communities and Local Government): The Town and Country Planning (Flooding)(England) Direction 2007 ~ P reparing for Emergencies - Severe weather, flooding, drought ~ Atlantis Initiative ~ F oresight study on Food & Coastal Defence ~ UK Climate Impacts Programme – Scenarios Gateway ~ Defra Flood management website ~ ABI Flooding & Insurance website (includes principles) ~ Flooding in Scotland ~ National Flood forum ~ National Appraisal of Assets at Risk of Flooding and Coastal Erosion in England and Wales ~ Flood Ranger ~ Direct Gov Flooding website ~ Institute of Civil Engineers – Engineering skills for flood risk management

CRC: Cash rich ‘townies’ price out rural locals - The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) has released a report - Cash purchases of housing stock - which shows that in 2005 over 47,000 houses were bought for cash in rural areas, equivalent to nearly one third of all rural house sales for the year. The South West of England had the highest proportion of cash purchases when compared to all other English regions.

The CRCs analysis of the most recent HM Land Registry data shows that in rural settlements a greater proportion of house purchases are wholly paid for in cash than in urban districts and the report also shows that:

  • in villages, hamlets and isolated dwellings in sparse areas nearly 50% of all purchases are made with cash
  • of 11 high-pressure districts that are experiencing the most extreme values of these inter-related factors, 10 of these are rural districts and 7 of these are located in the South West region
  • of the 71 districts with the highest proportion of cash purchases, 53 are rural

As part of their ongoing work on the importance of affordable rural housing, the CRC has made a commitment to monitor & track progress on taking forward the recommendations made by the Affordable Rural Housing Commission in May 2006, at a national, regional and local level.

In order to get a full picture of what has happened since the commission reported they are holding a ‘One Year On’ conference on 14th June 2007, at the QEII Centre, Westminster, at which they will report on progress made to date.

Press release ~ Cash purchases of housing stock ~ CRC - State of the Countryside Updates ~ Affordable Rural Housing Commission: CRC taking forward the recommendations ~ Defra – Rural Affairs ~ Affordable Rural Housing website ~ Affordable Rural Housing Commission ~ Planning for Sustainable Communities in Rural Areas ~ Rural Strategy 2004 ~ Ends and Means: The Future Roles of Social Housing in England ~ CRC research - Calculating housing needs in rural England

DfES: Selected offenders to get selective learning & skills training - A personalised skills assessment is to be made available in prisons and in the community to identify offenders who will benefit from a programme of employment-focused learning & skills training to reduce re-offending. Under a new system selected offenders will receive tailored information, advice & guidance and be offered a range of skills training after completion of their assessment.

Training could include; Literacy, Numeracy, language & key skills, employer-led vocational skills, enterprise & self-employment training, work trials, work experience and voluntary work with skills training

Commenting, the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists said that it welcomed the announcement by the DfES of employment-focused learning & skills training to help young offenders, but said that without speech & language therapy input many will be unable to benefit.

According to the RCSLT, more than 60% of the 11,000-plus young offenders in institutions today lack the communication skills to take part in educational programmes, courses in behaviour & anger management and initiatives designed to improve their thinking skills. 24,000 young offenders in England and Wales have a learning disability or difficulty which impacts upon their ability to cope with the prison regime.

Press release ~ Reducing Re-Offending through Skills and Employment: Next Steps ~ Offender Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) ~ National Offender Management Service ~ EDM - Communication Difficulties and Young Offenders ~ NatCen ~ Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College, London ~ Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists ~ BBC NEWS - Communication skills 'cut re-offending' ~ Former Chief Inspector of Prisons, Lord Ramsbotham’s, statement to the House of Lords on the value of speech and language therapy in prisons (scroll down to column 1447) ~ Corporate Alliance for reducing re-offending ~ Faith and Voluntary Sector Alliance ~ Civic Society Alliance ~ Learning and Skills Council

For Industry News please click HERE

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

Please choose from the links below to view individual sections of interest: