CLG: Local Taxpayers get to judge Value for Money - Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles and Local Government Association Chair, Baroness Eaton, joined forces recently to urge all councils to publish details of all spending over £500 in full & online as part of wider action to bring about a revolution in town hall openness & accountability.
The call for greater disclosure on spending is just one of a series of measures detailed in a letter being sent to councils by the Secretary of State last week. He makes clear that transparency & openness should be the default setting for the way councils do business and calls on local government to ‘move at speed to adopt this new approach’.
Some of this information is already in the public domain, but not always in a format that makes it easy to be republished, re-used or mashed up by outside groups, without charge or copyright hindrance. A key part of the change will be getting information in the public domain in a standardised format. The Government is looking to progress this agenda quickly and has set out a timetable for change (see press release).
CLG: First nibbles from LG funding cake - The Government have published details of the £1.166bn Local Government contribution to the £6.2bn cross government savings in 2010/11. Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, has claimed that no local authority will face reductions in their revenue grant of more than 2%.
Communities & Local Government has been asked to find £780m savings in 2010/11. Departmental & Arms Length Body running costs are therefore being reduced by 10%. The £29bn general grant, the main source of funding that local government receives every year, is not being reduced, to ‘ensure that key frontline services can be protected and prevent council tax rises’.
ScotGov: Less re-inventing of ‘Health Knowledge Wheel’ - A new database set to provide NHS staff with online information on areas such as patient care, clinical practice & research was unveiled last week. Cabinet Secretary for Health & Wellbeing, Nicola Sturgeon, launched the Knowledge Network during the opening address at the recent NHS Scotland Event in Edinburgh.
Managed by NHS Education for Scotland the online resource will include a ‘Google-style’ search engine giving instant access to 11m learning & information resources from over 100 providers, as well as personal space for employees to gather information.
It provides communities, teams & partner organizations with a suite of technology tools & shared content, which they can use to create online knowledge services to meet their own needs. Examples of websites built using these tools include; Health Management Online, the Children’s Services Network and, most recently, the national knowledge service for the social care sector – Social Services Knowledge Scotland.
Ofsted: How will they learn about core Christian values, let alone beliefs? - Ofsted’s latest survey on religious education finds that in many of the schools visited RE was no better than satisfactory and, in some cases, inadequate, because teachers are unsure about what they are trying to achieve in the subject.
There were a number of specific concerns about the teaching of religious belief and many schools visited did not pay sufficient attention to teaching the core beliefs of Christianity.
EH: Record it now or risk local historical knowledge loss - Small & medium-sized towns, suburbs, villages & hamlets, historic town centres and other local areas will benefit from undertaking historic area assessments in the face of increasing pace of change, says English Heritage, which has published guidance to help local authorities & others to conduct such assessments.
Understanding Place: Historic Area Assessment - Principles and Practice sets out in detail a systematic method of understanding, within a short space of time, the heritage interest of a fairly small area or neighbourhood.
This type of assessment will identify the features that contribute to the historic character of an area, as well as issues that may threaten to change that character, such as infilling of vacant sites, new developments, ‘garden-grabbing' in residential suburbs, or redundant & derelict buildings.
DfE: School Meals still on the ‘curriculum’ - Regarding stories concerning free school meals, a DfE spokesperson said:
“As the Education Secretary made clear in his letter to Ed Balls dated 7 June 2010, we are not stopping free school meals. All pupils who are already eligible will continue to receive them. We are, however, ending the expansion of eligibility this year.
This decision was made because the cost of extending eligibility was significantly higher than anticipated by the previous Government. Money saved this year will be invested in projects to boost the attainment of children from disadvantaged families”.
Newswire – Which?: Never again - Read; The Future of Banking Commission's report, courtesy of Which?
Recent paper: G-force puts the citizen centre stage - Making government work better - Government’s ambitious strategy for public sector ICT has raised expectations sky high. Greening government ICT set the scene for the next decade with shared and multi-service networks, G-Cloud-based applications and rationalised data-centre management. These technologies will become increasingly important for delivering savings of £3.2bn per year in public spending by 2014, while making its various departments greener in their use of technology and uniting them on a common infrastructure.
The strategy also contributes to the transforming Government agenda which puts the citizen and business at the centre of service delivery.
Cable&Wireless Worldwide has been part of this dynamic programme and their latest paper on Citizen-Centred Networks is now available. Click here to receive your free copy.
For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar