Tripping & falling is no joke as your bones get frailer in later years

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) used the final day of its first-ever Family Safety Week to ‘inspire the nation to take practical action to keep older friends and relatives from falling’.  While the consequences of a slip, trip or fall are minor in many cases, for older people particularly, the consequences can be serious & life-changing.

In 2012, 4,674 people died as a result of a fall in the UK, of whom 85% were over the age of 65.  What’s more, in England in 2012/13, more than 410,000 people were admitted to hospital following a fall.  RoSPA has produced 2 films to provide guidance:

*Facing up to falls (which includes a subtitled version)
*How to get up safely after a fall

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Latest Knowledge Paper - Click here to access and download

Latest White Paper: Future Proofing Local Authorities

We live in a digital age. Government, businesses and citizens are increasingly aware of the importance of digital infrastructure in the UK's towns and cities. Digital connectivity is either a barrier to growth and innovation or a catalyst for economic and social development.

This first of four knowledge update papers examines the rise of the Gigabit City movement. These are an emerging group of communities determined to prepare themselves to make the most of this digital age. By attracting privately funded, rapid, city-wide deployments of pure fibre optic infrastructure they are taking control of their digital future.

"We want to be a top 5 UK economy and to do so, we need the physical infrastructure to support that. Turning York into a Gigabit City is hugely important for businesses, residents and visitors"
James Alexander, Leader of City of York Council

“This Gigabit City deal is the most important development for Peterborough since the railways. It is future proof.”
Marco Cereste, Leader of Peterborough City Council

Click here to access this latest knowledge paper

Let’s face it, the bigger the organisation the more difficult it is to manage & ensure effective delivery of its ‘service products’

The government has launched new professional qualifications for operational delivery staff to ‘help ensure high quality public services’.   The new qualifications focus on the skills gaps identified in April 2013 by the Civil Service Capabilities Plan as part of the government’s civil service reform programme.  Around 280,000 people work in operational delivery – 70% of the civil service.

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Some ‘supposed disadvantages’ can make them well-suited to specific work environments

A series of EC pilot projects have helped around 100 Europeans with autism from 5 EU countries to get into the job market, a report released on World Autism Awareness Day shows.  The projects aimed to boost the employment prospects of people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in Bulgaria, Germany, Denmark, Poland and Italy.

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They have already 'paid a price'

Vulnerable domestic abuse victims will be helped by the scrapping of fees for domestic violence injunctions.  The £75 fee for domestic violence injunctions will cease from 22 April 2014, as part of an overhaul of the fees charged in civil & family courts in England & Wales.

The changes will also mean taxpayers will no longer have to cover so much of the bill for operating the courts.  At present around £100m of running costs have to be found from general taxes each year.  Under the plans, the fees for civil courts (not criminal courts) will be adjusted to address the shortfall.

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Better to act before mistakes are repeated

In a report published last week, the Law Commissions of England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland recommend a new UK-wide single statute for the regulation of health & social care professionals that would provide regulators with new powers & duties, and set them a clear main objective of protecting the public.

 In the UK there are 9 separate regulatory bodies responsible for around 1.4m professionals working in 32 different health & social care roles.  The Commissions’ report makes recommendations in relation to 8 of these bodies, including the General Medical Council, General Dental Council, General Pharmaceutical Council, Health Professions Council and Nursing & Midwifery Council.

Under the Commissions’ recommended reforms, regulators would be empowered to investigate proactively instances of suspected poor conduct & practice whenever such concerns come to their attention.  At the moment, some can investigate only when they receive a formal complaint.

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The bane of many people’s lives

The Nuisance Calls Action Plan sets out the actions being taken by Government, regulators, consumer groups and industry to tackle nuisance calls.   It reveals the Government will consult on lowering the legal threshold for when firms can be fined for making nuisance calls.

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The Foreign Secretary should ‘hold the BBC’s feet to the fire’

In a report published on the last day that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office had funding responsibility for the World Service, the Foreign Affairs Committee says that it has ‘clear differences’ with the BBC on new arrangements for governance of the World Service.

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A ‘level road’ for all hauliers

Foreign hauliers will be charged to use UK roads as from 1 April 2014.  UK truck drivers working in Europe currently pay tolls & levies when delivering goods abroad, but foreign trucks operating in the UK have not been required to make a similar payment.  The HGV road user levy is being brought in nearly a year ahead of schedule.

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If it’s not ‘personal’ it should be put to use for the benefit of the public

The government is helping to unlock data from public bodies by awarding £1.5m to projects as part of the Release of Data fund as part of a government push to increase transparency.  Visit data.gov.uk to see what data is currently available or read case studies of open data in action.

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Helping to overcome the disadvantages that requirements of service mobility brings

The new Forces Help to Buy (FHTB) scheme, offering regular service personnel loans of up to 50% of salary towards the purchase of a home, was launched on 1 April 2014.  Initially covering a 3-year period, the scheme is the first part of the new employment model (NEM), which aims to modernise the terms & conditions of service ‘offer’ for service personnel.

A separate FHTB scheme specifically for those leaving service as part of Tranche 4 redundancies was announced in January and will launch on 12 June 2014.

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FCO completes marathon

After more than 10 years of campaigning and more than 7 years of negotiations, the UK ratified the Arms Trade Treaty last week.

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Good ‘long-term’ investment?

Pensioners and those who reach pension age in the next 2 years will be able to acquire up to £25 of additional State Pension a week under plans set out last week by the Pensions Minister.  The State Pension top up will be available from October 2015 to all those reaching State Pension age before 6 April 2016.

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Annual well-earned recognition

A programme of spectacular events for this year's Armed Forces Day in the historic city of Stirling has been revealed.  This year’s AFD national event, on 28 June 2014, will see Stirling leading the UK’s celebrations in honour of our servicemen and women past & present.

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Potential takeover of Eurovision Song Contest?

The EU should devise a robust media broadcasting strategy aimed at ‘promoting freedom of expression, media pluralism and strengthening democracy and human rights within its foreign policy’, says Parliament in a recommendation adopted last week.

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Equal Opportunity for all ‘bright’ children

A national strategy developed by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) and the HEFCE to ensure that all those with the potential to benefit from higher education have equal opportunity to participate and succeed, has been published by the Government.

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