HO:  Sympathy and Justice - Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, has announced the next steps in ensuring that ‘every person’ in the country has access to a Sexual Assault Referral Centre, which provide victims with immediate medical help, counselling, forensic examinations and the opportunity to give evidence anonymously on one site.  An extra £1.6m will go towards building 10 new SARCs - with preference given to bids from local areas with the greatest need for additional services.  The deadline for funding bids is 7 November 2008.

The Home Secretary also announced an additional £100,000 to create a team of experts to target areas without a SARC and increase victims' access to these facilities.  The expert team will include representatives from the Police, Crown Prosecution Service, the Forensic Science Service and an experienced SARC manager.
Press release ~ You Tube: After a sexual assault ~ Tackling Violence Action Plan ~ Rape Crisis ~ National Service Guidelines on developing SARCs ~ 2008 Funding Round ~ Cross-Government Action Plan on Sexual Violence and Abuse ~ Report on the Joint Inspection into the Investigation and Prosecution of Cases involving Allegations of Rape ~ Home Office Research Study 285, Sexual Assault Referral Centres: developing good practice and maximising potentials ~ A gap or a chasm? Attrition in reported rape cases ~ Rape and sexual assault of women: findings from the British Crime Survey ~ Providing counselling, support and information to survivors of rape: An evaluation of the ‘STAR’ Young Persons’ Project ~ ACPO: Sexual Assault Referral Centres – Getting Started Guide ~ Improving outcomes for victims of sexual violence: A strategic partnership approach ~ Operation Matisse: investigating drug facilitated sexual assault ~ Toxicological findings in cases of alleged drug facilitated sexual assault in the United Kingdom over a three year period ~ Care & Evidence training package ~ Without Consent ~ Project Sapphire - Improving rape investigation and victim care

DHUnfortunately budgets are not expanding as fast as waistbands - New figures show the cost of obesity to every PCT in England.  The figures set out the cost of diseases related to being overweight or obese in 2007 and how much it will cost at a local level in 2015 if we take no action.  As last years Foresight report highlighted, nationally being overweight or obese cost the NHS £4.2bn in 2007, rising to £6.3bn in 2015.

The figures are set out in a new 'Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives toolkit: A Toolkit for Developing Local Strategies', which is available to all PCTs and LAs to help them tackle obesity in their areas.  It also uses research from the up coming Change4Life campaign to give insight into why families & parents find it difficult to live healthy lives.  Change4Life launches this autumn before a major publicity campaign starts in January.
Press release ~ 'Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives toolkit: A Toolkit for Developing Local Strategies' ~ DH - Obesity ~ Foresight Tackling Obesities: Future Choices Project ~ Change4Life ~ Obesity: defusing a health time bomb ~ National Heart Forum ~ Healthy Eating, Active Living: An action plan to improve diet, increase physical activity and tackle obesity (2008-2011) ~ The National Child Measurement Programme: guidance and resources ~ National Child Measurement Programme: 2006/07 school year, headline results ~ National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) Workshops 2008 ~ Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives ~ Tackling Child Obesity - First Steps ~ Information Centre for Health and Social Care - Obesity ~ Rimonabant for the treatment of overweight and obese patients ~ Obesity: guidance on the prevention, identification, assessment and management of overweight and obesity in adults and children ~ Health of Scotland’s population - Obesity ~ Child Health - obesity ~ Useful resources ~ Useful publications

CLGTwo for the price of one - The Government will seek Parliament's approval to move the 2009 local elections in England to the same date as the European elections.  Next year's local elections are currently scheduled for 7 May 2009, with the European elections due to take place 4 weeks later on 4 June 2009.

The draft order laid in Parliament must be approved by both Houses no later than by 7 November 2008 if the change is to be made.  It also seeks to address a number of technical matters, such as ensuring that, as in 2004, the European election is administered on local government boundaries.
Press release ~ Summary of responses to Consultation ~ Electoral Commission ~ Association of Electoral Administrators ~ Local Government Association

WAGA warmer welcome for children in the ‘valleys’ - Eradicating child poverty is a Welsh Assembly Government priority, so that under-achievement as a result of poverty does not get passed on, generation to generation.  First Minister Rhodri Morgan and Minister for Children and Education, Jane Hutt have highlighted, whilst speaking at the International Forum on Child Welfare, the many strategies & initiatives which are in place to tackle poverty in Wales at different levels to break the cycle.
Press release ~ Flying Start initiative ~ WAG - Genesis Wales ~ Genesis Wales website ~ International Forum on Child Welfare ~ Foundation Phase curriculum for 3 to 7-year-olds ~ Basic Skills Strategy for Wales ~ 14-19 Learning pathways in Wales ~ End Child Poverty Network Cymru ~ ‘Child Poverty Solutions Wales’ website ~ Toolkits ~ Save the Children in Wales ~ Welsh Local Government Association ~ WAG – Child Poverty ~ JRF: Combating child poverty in Wales: are effective education strategies in place? ~ Child Poverty Solutions Wales- Briefing (3)

NAOCan one regulate to decrease red tape? - The Administrative Burdens Reduction Programme aims to reduce by 25% (by 2010) the cost to businesses of complying with the administrative burdens imposed on them by government regulations.  A report out by the National Audit Office found that the programme is providing an impetus across departments to reducing burdens & that the targets have created a stronger incentive to deliver.

In 2007 departments implemented over 150 specific measures to reduce administrative burdens and the majority predict that they will meet their reduction target by 2010.  However, the total reported in-year savings of £800m should be treated with caution.   They are only indicative estimates of the actual savings and have been subject to only limited independent validation. Only 1% of businesses believed that complying with regulation had become less time consuming in 2007 and 40% said it has become more time consuming.
Press release ~ The Administrative Burdens Reduction Programme, 2008 ~ Executive Summary ~ BERR – Better Regulation ~ Better Regulation Executive

Newswire-AC:  It’s not easy to make outsourcing & new technology deliver real savings - A new Audit Commission report on the efficiency of English councils' back office activities, finds that they face an uphill struggle to contribute to a further £4.9bn of savings before 2010.  The report - Back to Front - focuses on savings from back office council operations, such as finance, human resources, IT, procurement, legal services, facilities management, marketing and communications.

These areas were originally highlighted in Sir Peter Gershon's 2004 review and the government claims that they have contributed £1.2bn (over a quarter) of the £4.3bn efficiency savings made by English councils in the last 3 years.  Despite this ‘successful’ efficiency drive, the AC warns councils against complacency.

The report also says there is no 'one size fits all' formula for achieving further savings, though examples include reviewing ICT, improving delivery processes and addressing compartmentalised 'silo' working.  Back to Front offers councils a checklist of questions in each chapter to help identify where they are on the road towards sustainable back office efficiencies and there is a toolkit of other practical assistance.  There will also be a special summary version of the report to help elected members challenge their own council's performance.
Press release ~ AC: Back to Front ~ Sir Peter Gershon's 2004 review ~ SR04 Efficiency programme ~ Inclusion of Efficiency Information with Council Tax Demand Notices: Consultation ~ Funding for Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships ~ Operation Efficiency Programme prospectus ~ OGC – Collaborative procurement ~ CPA press release ~ Committee of Public Accounts - The Efficiency Programme: A Second Review of Progress ~ NAO - The Efficiency Programme: A Second Review of Progress ~ PCS press release ~ OGC - The Efficiency Team and What We Do ~ Value For Money in public sector corporate services - A joint project by the UK Public Sector Audit Agencies ~ AC Performance Indicators ~ Audit Scotland ~ National Audit Office ~ Northern Ireland Audit Office ~ Wales Audit Office ~ ESRC – The Management of Second Best ~ Public Sector Performance: Efficiency or Quality? ~ Public service reform in Scotland

DefraLet’s hope these ‘experts’ do better than the ‘financial experts’ - The establishment of a new team of advisers on food policy ‘from the farm to the fork’ has been announced by the government.   The Council of Food Policy Advisers will include expertise from every sector of the food system.  It will advise government on food affordability, security of supply & the environmental impact of food production and contribute to the drawing up of a policy for food security & supply (for publication later this year).
Press release ~ Chatham House - Food Security in the 21st Century ~ Strategy Unit report: ‘Food Matters: Towards a strategy for the 21st Century’ ~ Defra Food Security website ~ Food Security and the UK: An Evidence and Analysis Paper December 2006 ~ Eldis – Food Security ~ Special programme for food security ~ Oxfam: Rethinking Food Security in Humanitarian Response ~ Global Food Trends - Overview ~ FIVIMS - Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping ~ Christian Aid: Fighting food shortages – Hungry for Change ~ Action Aid: Failing the Rural Poor

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