NAO: The beginning of the end for wasteful governmental ICT systems? – ‘Government initiatives to reduce spending on ICT are starting to work’. According to the National Audit Office, in 2011-12, government spent an estimated £316m less than it would otherwise have done.
The main challenge, however, will be to move from such initiatives to save money, to the delivery of ICT solutions that ‘reform public services and the way that government works’, as set out in the Government’s Digital Strategy and Civil Service Reform Plan.
In addition, on performance to October 2012, government is likely to meet, if not exceed, the targets for savings that it set itself in October 2011. The government announced in October 2012 that, subject to audit, it had already saved £410m from its savings initiatives in 2012-13 and expected to save a further £200m by the end of March 2013.
The appointment by the Cabinet Office of commercial experts has helped departments to claw money back, renegotiate contracts before they expire and, overall, spend less on ICT than they otherwise would have done. However, weaknesses in data held by the Cabinet Office have meant that the NAO was unable to validate the £348m of savings reported by the Cabinet Office for 2011-12, resulting from its initiative to manage ICT suppliers as a single customer.
10 DS: In or Out, PM wants to shake the future format of the EU ‘all about’ - PM David Cameron last week delivered a speech on the future of the EU & the UK’s relationship with it, in central London.
CLG: Co-ordinated services are more cost effective - Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, has published new findings showing the ‘huge savings’ that can be made for the taxpayer from turning around troubled families. He said calculations by some leading local authorities show that councils can save £bns by intervening more effectively in problem households.
A Department for Communities & Local Government report (The cost of troubled families) shows:
* Solihull Council using 18% of its overall budget on just 3% of its families before it started working on the troubled families
* Greater Manchester councils making an overall saving of £224m from spending £138m more effectively on their 8,000 troubled families
* in West Cheshire, the council estimates that the average family costs around £7,795 while the average troubled family costs an estimated £76,190
It is estimated that nationally, the 120,000 troubled families cost the taxpayer £9bn p.a., £8bn of which is spent purely reacting to their problems & the problems they cause, such as truancy, youth crime and anti-social behaviour.
The government has brought together £448m from 6 government departments over 3 years to turn around these troubled families by 2015 and to help LAs work with families in a better & more cost-effective way. LAs will be paid up to £4,000 per family via a payment-by-results scheme if they can tackle these problems and bring down the cost to the public purse.
IoE: If children cannot read, they cannot learn with confidence - The search is on across England to find Reading Recovery practitioners who have made an outstanding contribution to children's literacy through the school-based literacy programme. The European Centre for Reading Recovery, based at the Institute of Education (IOE), London, has opened nominations for its annual Reading Recovery Awards. To enter, a case study or supporting statement needs to be submitted by 18 March 2013.
Alongside the awards, the Centre is also running a writing & picture competition for past & present Reading Recovery children. This aims to give those who have benefited from the literacy programme a chance to express & share how Reading Recovery has made an impact on their lives.
TNA: Help bring our past to life - The National Archives is offering 2 bursaries to support candidates in gaining a qualification to help them enter the archives sector. The bursary will provide financial support and help to address the socio-economic barriers to entry that may exist for some candidates. TNA would therefore particularly welcome applications from black & minority ethnic (BAME) and disabled applicants. The closing date for applications is midnight on Tuesday 30 April 2013.
CH: More good academic news - Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs) has announced the launch of the Asfari Fellowships, which are generously supported by the Asfari Foundation. The institute will offer Fellowship & Senior Fellowship opportunities to 3 candidates per year for 6–12 months.
They are open to individuals who are resident citizens of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine & Syria, and displaced citizens of these countries living elsewhere in the Middle East. The application window for the 2013 Fellowships will be open between 15 February & 31 May 2013. The first Fellowships will begin in September 2013.
MoD: Flying for Freedom - A team of injured Service personnel are to attempt a world-first microlight flight to the South Pole. Recently, in partnership with Help for Heroes, 6 of the 8-strong team of pilots launched the Flying for Freedom mission which seeks to enhance recovery programmes for injured & disabled servicemen and women by getting them to experience the freedom of flying microlight aircraft.
EU News: Common sense or a move to a Federal Identity? - 19 January 2013 saw the introduction of a European driving licence as part of the entry into force of the third EU Driving Licence Directive. Harmonisation of the more than 110 different driving licence models, with different validity periods & medical examination rules, will give more legal certainty for many Europeans who move to another Member State.
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