CO/FDA/PCS: Surely all the easy savings have already been made? - The PM last week published a ‘radical programme to put the frontline first by streamlining government’ - Putting the Frontline First: smarter government – which was launched in a major speech to the Institute for Government.
He explained how the proposals built on the Government’s already promised savings of ‘£35bn a year by 2011’, which was on top of the £26.5bn a year already ‘delivered’ through the Gershon review. He promised another £12bn+ in efficiency savings over the next 4 years. This includes £3bn of new efficiency savings identified since the budget - of which over £1.3bn will come from ‘streamlining central government’.
The FDA (the senior public servants' union) described as ‘irresponsible’ the Government's proposal for a cut of up to 20% in the size of the Senior Civil Service (SCS), with FDA General Secretary Jonathan Baume saying: "It is irresponsible to propose cuts of up to 20% to the Senior Civil Service (SCS) only 22 weeks before the General Election. The new government in May needs first to explain how it intends to curtail the functions of central government. If it does so then staffing levels are likely to fall as a consequence”.
The FDA is also sceptical about proposals to relocate thousands of civil servants from south east England, with J. Baume saying: "If the Government genuinely intends to devolve power from Ministers and central government to local communities then not only will the civil service contract but more work and employment will be located away from London. However, a mechanistic exercise to move staff but still leave power with London-based Ministers is just sleight of hand”.
The PCS union accused the government of beginning a bidding war on who can cut the most, warning that the delivery of public services could suffer as a result of plans outlined in the report that comes days after unilateral changes to the civil service compensation scheme (CSCS) which are aimed at cutting civil & public service jobs on the cheap.
The plans run contrary to the advice of Sir Peter Gershon’s 2004 report which led to 100,000 civil & public service jobs being cut. Gershon said that going further than the ‘efficiencies’ he outlined in his efficiency review, would damage the delivery of frontline services.
Latest news is that PCS have decided to launch legal action with other unions against the government over unilateral changes to the CSCS and hold a strike ballot amongst 270,000 PCS members working for the civil service and its related bodies.
A 2007 National Audit Office report on the government ‘efficiency savings’ said: ‘As a result of our most recent examination we conclude that of the £13.3 billion now reported:
* £3.5 billion (26%) fairly represent efficiencies made;
* £6.7 billion (51%) represent efficiency but carry some measurement issues and uncertainties; and
* £3.1 billion (23%) may represent efficiency, but the measures used either do not yet demonstrate it or the reported gains may be substantially incorrect
DWP: Unfortunately the next few years will see an increase in stress at work - New specialist coordinators and dedicated advice lines for small businesses are part of an overhaul of support for people with mental health conditions. Increasing job opportunities for people with mental health conditions and improving the wellbeing of workers is part of a new Government vision to enhance mental health services and boost the wellbeing of the whole population.
The government claims that people with mental health conditions can rely on new support to help them manage their conditions, so they can stay in work or get back to work as quickly as possible if they lose their job or have never worked.
New Horizons: A Shared Vision for Mental Health is the Government’s new over-arching vision for mental health in England to improve services and help prevent people developing mental health illness. It will tackle depression for people of all ages; work to reduce suicides, improve outreach to help excluded groups access support; and tackle the stigma around mental illness.
The DWP has also commissioned a review, led by Dr Rachel Perkins, to offer advice on improving support for people who are out of work and have mental health conditions. The human, social and economic cost of mental illness is immense. One in six people have a mental health problem and it is the second most common cause of death in men ages 14-44.
CO: But Public sector organisations are just about to make staffing cuts! - More people with severe mental health conditions should be in work, according to a new Government report published last week. The report - Work, Recovery and Inclusion - outlines that not only can people with the most severe mental health conditions work, but that working positively benefits their mental health and can support their recovery.
The report sets out a vision for a radical increase in the number of people from this group in employment by 2025, with clear steps to making this achievable. It calls for public services to work together, for more targeted support for those who have jobs to keep them and for public services to employ more people with severe mental health conditions.
DH: But they knew about this link years ago! - A cross-government strategy specifically designed to break the link between poor health & youth crime has been launched. The strategy - Healthy Children, Safer Communities - focuses on early intervention to address health problems to ensure the underlying causes of poor behaviour are tackled before problems become serious or entrenched. It will also help ensure that young people already in the system have their health problems dealt with more effectively.
Evidence suggests that health is a key risk factor in youth crime. Of children & young people in contact with the youth justice system, evidence shows that:
* half have difficulties with speech & communication
* a third have diagnosed mental health issues and/or is treated for substance abuse
* a quarter has a long-term physical complaint and/or learning difficulties.
Industry News: Effective integrated search strategies – The government claims that it is educating us so that we can ‘discover’ knowledge & information when and where we need it to live, work and function in the modern world. However, the problem facing IT mangers is that they are being asked to maintain & provide access to an ever increasing number of databases, both within their organisation and those provided by third parties, so that their organisation can work & function effectively.
The big question is; ‘How long does it take users to find information when they don’t know where to start looking?’ The content they require may be in a Document Management System, a specific database, the library system, or within an online subscription, or a free resource. The information may even be available from multiple systems and be presented in multiple formats.
The ideal is to provide a ‘Google-like’ search facility for a one stop search solution configuring a range of connectors to the required content resources, including internal databases, intranets and online information services.
The bottom line for justifying the implementation of such a system is that; ‘Unless you can find the information you need quickly & easily, then you might as well not keep it’. It is not just the amount of frustration that such a situation creates, but also the waste of time and the resources needed to train staff in how to search all the possible locations and even then one cannot be sure they have checked every related resource.
An example of one recent initiative is Wastenet, supported by DEFRA, a free online resource for the research community providing easy and centralised access to relevant and up-to-date information about waste and resources research.
Click here to find out more and receive your free white paper on Effective Integrated Search Strategies.
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