DFID: The route to prosperity for Africa? - The UK Government committed £100m to ‘transform regional infrastructure and increase trade across Africa’ at a recent gathering in Lusaka, Zambia, as part of the launch of the North South Corridor initiative, which will hopefully improve key trade routes across 8 African countries.
At the conference it was also announced that development partners have agreed to over $1bn of funding to upgrade road, rail & port infrastructure and to support trade facilitation in the region.
The scheme will upgrade 8,000kms of road - the equivalent to the road distance between Paris & Bejing - and rehabilitate 600kms of rail track. It will also work with governments to remove red tape to allow trade between countries to increase and products to be transported more quickly.
BS: A simplification of Brand name gets the message across - OGCbuying.solutions, the national procurement partner for UK public services, has announced that it is changing its name to Buying Solutions, with effect from 6 April 2009. It is also withdrawing the Catalist and Managed Services sub-brands in order to focus on developing Buying Solutions as a single, unified brand.
The name change is intended to clarify the difference between the respective roles of Buying Solutions and the Office of Government Commerce (OGC). Buying Solutions remains an Executive Agency of the OGC and will continue to work closely with them. Buying Solutions' aim to achieve savings for the taxpayer of £1bn a year by 2010/11, through EU-compliant, benchmarked framework agreements and other procurement arrangements.
In addition, Buying Solutions and the NHS London Procurement Programme (LPP) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will outline further opportunities for joint working & collaboration, which will provide increased value and significant cost benefits to London's 71 NHS Trusts.
Around 20% of all NHS spend occurs in London, which is an approximate spend of £5bn on goods & services each year. The LPP aims to deliver £80m of savings back to the NHS by April 2009, and this MoU is a vital step towards meeting this challenge.
The LPP has already worked with Buying Solutions procuring IT hardware, software & mobile telephony with planned areas for future collaboration including; Courier Services, Learning & Development, Consultancy, Interim Staffing and Face to Face Interpretation
CLG: You don’t know what you can achieve until you try - Young people will get extra encouragement to unlock their talents as part of a £10m Inspiring Communities initiative. The Government's New Opportunities White Paper argued that social mobility has improved in recent years with (for example) the proportion of young people from lower income families going to university rising.
However, the White Paper also recognised that in some deprived areas, young people are less likely to aim high. They do not always make the link between doing well in education and doing well in life. In addition, what happens in schools is crucial to addressing underachievement, but a child's sense of what they can achieve is influenced by factors beyond the school gate. Lack of inspiration or support from friends, families or peers can all play a part.
Inspiring Communities is about investing in locally conceived, locally delivered projects that will get whole communities standing behind the talented young people in their midst and make sure that communities play a bigger part in fostering and investing in that talent.
Only deprived neighbourhoods within 64 local authorities will be eligible to apply for funding, with the final 15 Inspiring Communities selected from applications which must be on behalf of neighbourhood partnerships. As a minimum, partnerships must feature the local authority, local secondary school(s) and local third sector organisations. The deadline for applications is 3 June 2009.
DWP: Linked up services facilitate easier access – Reports published by the Department of Work and Pensions have demonstrated that the LinkAge Plus pilot programme has brought local authorities together with their partners in health, voluntary and community sectors, to find innovative ways to break down traditional barriers and to join up services.
Avoiding duplication of work and improving provision has meant that older people are able to access several services through a single access point.
The pilots have developed the capacity of individuals & organisations to promote social inclusion and tackle isolation among older people, as well as improving access to services that promote independence & well being. The final evaluation reports, including an assessment of the cost effectiveness of Link Age Plus, will be published in summer 2009.
HO: How good is your home security? - Free burglary prevention advice and a crack down on repeat burglars are part of a new package of support, announced by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, to help the public to protect themselves from burglary and help keep crime down. Burglary prevention advice packs can be requested by phoning: 0800 456 1213.
It follows a burglary summit hosted by the Home Secretary in February which brought together representatives from charities, public and private sector organisations to discuss practical measures to keep crime down, backed up by £20m in funding.
The web pages include a new online personalised home security self assessment, 'How secure is your home?' that allows people to grade the security of their home in a few minutes. It then provides simple advice about how they can improve it and who they can contact for help.
Ofsted: Well trained & resourced staff are the key to happiness - Four new reports produced by the Children’s Rights Director for England (and published by Ofsted) give an insight into children and young people’s views & experiences of life in various residential settings. A key finding in all four reports was the positive difference that good staff make to the quality of life of children and young people in their care.
The 4 reports asked children and young people a wide range of questions covering:
* what they most & least liked about living in their setting
* their advice on the nature of future settings
* their perceptions of safety & dangers
In secure care, the most common negative mention was the loss of freedom and being locked up. Surprisingly, however, most young people said that secure unit was a safe place for them to be as it kept them out of trouble and helped them to sort themselves out.
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