MoD: MoD gets creative with its ‘savings’ - Defence Minister Lord Drayson has welcomed a report by a committee of MPs into improvements MoD is making to the way it buys new equipment for the Armed Forces - but took issue with some comments in the committee's press notice regarding cost allocation.
Quoting extracts from the Committee of Public Accounts press statement:
'Fourteen projects have been reported as incurring no new delays in the last year. But the truth is that the Department’s track-record in managing these projects is pretty dire and it is too early to say whether its confidence is genuinely justified.
We are pleased to see efforts by the Department to control the costs of projects. But old habits die hard. More than half of the sum which the MOD has claimed to save has simply been loaded on to other budgets. We have no idea what cuts will have to be made to other activities of our Armed Forces as a result of this massaging of the figures.
£448 million of costs were either re-classified as expenditure in other procurement or support budgets or transferred to other budgets for corporate management. These re-allocations have achieved cost reductions for the individual projects but do not represent a saving to the Department as a whole. By transferring the costs elsewhere it may potentially have to forego activities which could otherwise have been provided’.
Lord Drayson, Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, was responding to a report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee on the National Audit Office Major Projects Report 2006. The Ministry of Defence will respond fully to Parliament on the Report's recommendations and conclusions in due course.
MoD press release ~ PAC press release ~ Public Accounts Committee: Ministry of Defence Major Projects Report 2006 ~ National Audit Office: Major Projects Report 2006DCSF: An integral part of the education system - Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faith school backers have unveiled a joint declaration and shared vision of schools with a religious character in 21st century England.
In 'Faith in the System,' the Government and religious groups providing schools "confirm our commitment to continue to work together and with schools with and without a religious character to improve the life chances of children, to build bridges to greater mutual trust and understanding and to contribute to a just and cohesive society."
The document also aims to dispel some of the common myths & misunderstanding around schools with a religious character and seeks to promote greater respect of the differences between different faiths and different types of schools.
Around a third of all maintained schools have a religious character - approximately 6,850 schools from a total of nearly 21,000. Around 600 are secondary schools with the remainder being primary schools. The great majority are Church of England and Roman Catholic.
* a 39% reduction in second hand smoke exposure in 11-year-olds and in adult non-smokers
* an 86% reduction in secondhand smoke in bars
"I welcome the Royal British Legion's campaign to generate debate about the covenant between the Nation and the Armed Forces. I will look in detail at the Royal British Legion's concerns and respond in full as soon as possible…………….. There are areas where we have already made significant progress, but we acknowledge that we must do more. These areas include mental healthcare for veterans, compensation, inquests and accommodation."
* extending the scheme to children under two who, because of their specific medical conditions, need to travel with bulky medical equipment or be close to a vehicle for emergency medical treatment. This will include children who suffer from hip dysplasia
* amending the design of the badge, including the addition of a hologram, to help prevent fraud and aid enforcement
* extending the scheme to include people with severe disabilities in both arms who drive non-adapted vehicles regularly, but are unable to operate parking meters, such as people with Thalidomide-related disabilities
While the biggest single change is the introduction of an anti-fraud hologram to help prevent forgeries, in addition, as a result of the feedback from the consultation, the new badge will also include a gender specific serial number to aid parking enforcement and clearer information about the use & abuse of the scheme directly on the badge.
Press release ~ DfT Blue Badge web page ~ Guidance on enforcement ~ Directgov Blue Badge web page ~ Blue Badge Network ~ Traffic Management Act 2004 ~ Disability Now ~ DfT - Measures to tackle abuse of the Blue Badge SchemeOfsted: Room for improvement - The most successful pupil referral units (PRUs) are offering pupils a ‘second chance’ in mainstream education by setting them high expectations, offering them an interesting & relevant curriculum and focusing on improving their academic and personal development and confidence. But schools and local authorities need to do more to help PRUs reintegrate pupils into mainstream education.
In 2005/06 over half of the PRUs inspected nationally were judged good or outstanding, however in 2005/06 one in eight units was judged to be inadequate.
Inspectors visited 28 good or outstanding PRUs for a new Ofsted report - Pupil referral units: Establishing successful practice in pupil referral units and local authorities - to identify effective practice in the most successful units.
The report found that a clear sense of purpose and a strong working relationship with the local authority were key features of successful PRUs. Partnerships with a wide range of agencies also supported pupils and enriched their experiences.
Many PRUs face common problems that can affect their ability to provide children and young people with a good education. These include inadequate accommodation, pupils of different ages with diverse needs arriving in an unplanned way, limited numbers of specialist staff and difficulties in reintegrating pupils into mainstream schools.
Inspectors found that the success of PRUs depends on their responses to these challenges and the support they receive from their local authority.
Please choose from the links below to view individual sections of interest: