HO: It could be a very short-term appointment if scheme is scrapped - The first Identity Commissioner, Sir Joseph Pilling, has been confirmed by the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson. He will take up his appointment on 1 October 2009 in time for the issue of the first identity cards to people in Greater Manchester.
He is meant to act independently and on behalf of the public to ensure that information held on the National Identity Register is accurate & secure as well as monitoring the use identity cards are put to by both public & private sectors.
His oversight role does not cover identity cards for foreign nationals, which are subject to oversight arrangements by the Information Commissioner and the Chief Inspector for UK Border Agency.
Newswire - AC: Bad enough in good times but in the current financial situation! - In a new report - Protecting the public purse - local government fighting fraud - the Audit Commission says that councils can do more to tackle fraud.
Council taxpayers could be losing almost £2m a week to fraudsters claiming a 25% single person discount on their council tax. The discount can be claimed by householders where there are no other residents aged 18 or over living at an address.
There is a significant social cost to fraud. The Commission found housing tenancy fraud could be tying up at least 50,000 council & housing association properties worth more than £2bn, while queues for homes have increased by more than 50% over the last 6 years. The number of people in need of social housing is predicted to rise to 2m by 2011.
HO: Help for the Corner shop - The £5m Small Retailers Grants Fund is offering grants of up to £3k to small retailers in 50 priority Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP) and Community Safety Partnership (CSP) areas, to buy security devices including security grills, dye packs to mark goods, alarms & radios.
Groups of small retailers working in partnership in an area can also team up to bid for grants of up to £50k to help improve a neighbourhood by cleaning it up or adding additional lighting to reduce the risk of crime. The deadline for applications to the fund is 30 September 2009 and retailers in the 50 are being urged to get in touch before they miss out.
DCSF: Still necessary after 12 years of Education, Education, Education! - Children's Secretary, Ed Balls, has claimed that thousands of 7-to-16-year olds this year will get intensive bursts of 10 hours 1 - 1 tuition with a qualified tutor to get them back on track in the basics – up to 150,000 in English and 150,000 in maths.
It is the first step to reaching the Government's commitment that, by March 2011, 300,000 pupils overall in English and 300,000 overall in maths will be getting 1 - 1 tuition a year - with GCSE students in schools in the most challenging circumstances also getting support. The Government's Expert Group on Assessment recommended in May 2009 that tuition for 11 & 12-year-olds was ‘vital to smooth pupils' progress when they changed schools at 11’.
Over 25,000 1 - 1 tutors have already registered with the Training & Development Agency since it launched its recruitment campaign in June 2009 - with the overall aim of reaching up to 100,000 by 2010/11. Tutors will get paid an hourly rate of between £25 & £29 out of school hours and schools can take on full-time tutors so that tuition can take place during normal classroom hours, as well as evenings & weekends.
Cabinet Office: Not Just Green but also financially prudent - The Government has saved at least £7m over the past year by making its IT systems greener. Changes including extending the life of PCs, making double-sided printing the default option and making sure computers are turned off at night have helped cut the carbon footprint of central Government computers by 12,000 tonnes – the same as taking 5,000 cars off the road.
ICT is responsible for up to 20% of carbon emissions generated by Government offices. Each year it generates around 460,000 tonnes, the same amount created by 1m households in a month or a jumbo jet flying around the world more than a thousand times.
Last year the Government introduced measures to tackle the huge financial & environmental cost of ICT. Departments were asked to take 18 key steps including turning off all machines at night, extending the lifecycle of computers, reusing as much IT equipment as possible and increasing server efficiency.
DH: Preparing for the coming ‘storm’ - The upcoming swine flu vaccination programme will be administered by GPs following successful negotiations between the Department of Health, General Practitioners Committee (GPC) of the British Medical Association (BMA) and NHS Employers. The vaccination programme, which is expected to begin in the autumn, subject to the vaccine being licensed, will target the 9m people most at risk from complications.
The new deal will mean that GP surgeries will receive £5.25 per dose of vaccine given. The additional money will come from the DH budget and will help surgeries to contact patients, administer the vaccine and, if necessary, take on extra staff. It is currently expected that patients will receive 2 doses of the vaccine. This advice may change following clinical trials.
Wiredgov – CC: Eating is one of the few pleasures left to people in later life - The majority of Scotland’s care homes for older people are ensuring residents eat & drink properly – but the Care Commission (CC) has warned that it remains concerned at the number of complaints it receives about poor nutrition.
A new CC report - Eating Well in Care Homes for Older People - details the quality of nutritional care in Scotland’s care homes based on an analysis of inspections from 303 care homes, complaint investigations and enforcement action.
The recommendations include:
* Raising awareness of the National Care Standards for eating well
* Increasing staff training in the areas of eating, drinking and nutrition
* Ensuring staff numbers are sufficient to encourage and help residents to eat well and drink regularly
* Ensuring menus are properly planned for older people who have diabetes, unplanned weight loss or difficulty swallowing & chewing.
Industry News: Open your systems to a Source of alternative software – The headlines in the media are full of dire predictions of ‘savage’ cuts in public sector budgets or (at best) pressure to do more with less. However, it may not all be ‘doom & gloom’ for those organisations dependent on computerised systems to deliver their services:
* Transport for London achieved an 80% operational saving on its Oyster card web channel redevelopment
* Sheffield City Council has been a trailblazer in improving the sharing & management of information concerning children
* the largest e-learning network of its kind in the world, learndirect, has gained 99.989% uptime & drastically cut project costs by 20-30%
How have these organisations – and many other government departments and agencies – improved performance while reducing their costs? They’ve chosen the Open Source route with its built-in advantages of freedom from software vendor lock-in, no software licensing fees, and improved reliability & security.
Red Hat is offering government departments & agencies the opportunity to hold an on-site workshop for key team members, completely free of charge. The workshops explore what’s involved in going the open source route and cover strategy, business, and/or technical issues.
Find out more about Red Hat's free on-site work shops and receive the following public sector whitepapers:
* Savings, security, interoperability and innovation for government
* How learndirect provides 24-hour availability on its systems to two million users
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