Make a bonfire of wasteful practices

Fire & rescue services across the country could save £18m from a total spend of £127m a year by improving the way they source & purchase firefighting clothing & equipment says research published by the CLG.  The findings highlight examples of fire services buying identical kit at vastly different prices.

Key differences include:

  • prices for the same kit can vary by as much as 200%
  • when the same supplier was used prices varied by a quarter
  • even when the same contract was used there is still a significant price range of 66%

The findings follow last year’s report by former chief firefighter Sir Ken Knight, which highlighted the scope for the services to find £200m in savings whilst safeguarding emergency operations and protecting public safety.  It revealed huge variations exist between how the 46 different fire authorities operate, with the cost per head of providing a service almost double in some areas to that of others.

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Cost-Efficient, Secure Flexible Working
Latest CESG Guidance

Last week, CESG, the National Technical Authority for Information Assurance in the UK, issued guidance that enables public sector organisations to provide flexible working to more staff, but without the high costs of providing company issued laptops.

With the publication of CESG guidance on Excitor G/On, organisations can benefit in a number of key areas:-

  • Enable more staff to work from home on their personal PC, improving employee satisfaction
  • Simplify IT by installing an Excitor G/On server that replaces the need for complex remote access infrastructure on multiple servers
  • Reuse older equipment by reissuing end of life machines with a lightweight G/On OS token, reducing the spend on new laptops.

Click here  to access the latest CESG guidance, Excitor G/On Security White Paper and to learn how you could increase flexible working and save money.

What ‘training’ have they had in coping with running a home (that’s if they even get given accommodation)

The Education Committee seeks a debate in the House of Commons on the Government’s response to its report about care options for looked-after children over 16 years old.  Publishing the Government Response as a special report, Education Committee Chair Graham Stuart MP said:

“The Committee’s inquiry looked at the accommodation and support offered to some of the most vulnerable children in our society. The Government’s response has gone some way to meet the concerns we identified but does not go far enough in some key areas. ………

We also believe that the failure to inspect and regulate all accommodation provided to children in care is unacceptable and wrong. …….. We know that the Government is listening but we want them to move faster and more decisively on these crucial issues.”

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But every year there is a call for more money for the NHS and an A&E Winter Crisis!

Chris Ham, Chief Executive of the King's Fund has responded to the publication of NHS England’s Five Year Forward View

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Think ahead, it will get cold at some point

With winter soon upon us, find out how cold weather could affect you, and those around you.  Public Health England with the LGA and NHS England has published this year's cold weather plan.  The guide details the practical things we can all do to minimise the risk to our health this winter.

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Are you ready to ‘Deliver Digital’?

Designed to inform debate in the run up to the next election, Socitm has launched a FREE policy briefing on how local digital public services can best be delivered.  Digital: Vision to Value is explicitly addressed to politicians & senior policy & decision-makers, and sets out what will be required to deliver locally designed, digital public services.

The briefing sets out the key ICT issues that digital local public service organisations need to get to grips with and explains that local public service organisations looking to embrace digital need to adopt 3 core principles:

  • Innovate to empower citizens & communities
  • Redesign services to simplify, standardise & automate
  • Collaborate to share & re-use resources & assets
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LAs must take care to act as legally required

The Care Act regulations & guidance for local authorities have been strengthened as a result of consultation.  Changes made include clarifying the guidance on adult safeguarding and revising the eligibility criteria to focus on outcomes & better address social isolation.

There will be more materials to help those implementing the Care Act on the Local Government Association’s website.. The Care Act factsheets have also been updated.

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Definitely something we all need advice on

Expert & respected guidance providers Citizens Advice will provide free & impartial face to face pension guidance from April 2015, the Chancellor has announced.  People who wish to access their defined contribution pension flexibly will be able to go to a local CAB across the UK for expert face to face guidance, or receive telephone guidance from the Pensions Advisory Service.  An online service will also be designed by the government as part of the scheme.

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A night to remember & celebrate

The countdown to the 2014 Millies began with public nominations opening for the ‘Support to the Armed Forces’ category recently.  The award ‘recognises an organisation, individual, or a group that has given exceptional support to the forces community’.  It is one of 4 awards celebrating the work carried out by service personnel and the wider service community both in the UK and around the world over the last year.

This year’s ‘Millies’ will mark the ending of operations in Afghanistan with 4 specially created awards reflecting the extraordinary challenges & achievements of the men & women who have served there since the Millies began.  Members of the public have until 31 October to make nominations for the ‘Support to the Armed Forces’ category via the Sun’s website.

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Remember, Remember and Be Safe on the 5th of November

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles recently published a common sense community guide to bonfires & fireworks to ‘mark the longevity of Parliamentary democracy and the British Monarchy’.  The new guide takes on health & safety zealots and municipal killjoys, by encouraging community bonfires and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes – with common sense tips to ensure a safe, enjoyable evening.

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Not all crime-fighters bash down doors and chase cars

The NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU), which leads UK law enforcement efforts to cut serious & organised hi-tech crime, is recruiting new officers for a range of roles, including software development, network engineering, digital forensics and online investigation.  While certain positions are for accredited investigators, many are open to anyone with the required skills & attitude, regardless of professional background.  Applications close at midday on Monday 10 November 2014.

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We can only imagine what the ‘hell’ was like

The National Archives are launching Telling Tommies' tales, a competition open to primary school-aged children across the UK to discover & interpret some of the records in our First World War collection.  Using a box of letters from staff of the Great Western Railway office in Paddington, London (catalogue reference: RAIL 253/516), children are invited to create something inspired by their interpretations of soldiers' personal accounts of the war.  This can be anything from a drawing, poem or cartoon to a TV report, an audio diary or even a short film.  Children can enter as a group or individual.  Entries close on 31 January 2015.

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No pilot in the cockpit doesn’t mean there is no pilot

Drone technology, both civil & military, under proper legal regulation, can continue to deliver ‘significant benefits’ for the UK’s national security policy & economy in the coming decades. That is the conclusion of a new University of Birmingham Policy Commission report (The Security Impact of Drones: Challenges and Opportunities for the UK).  But the Government, and especially the Ministry of Defence, should do more to reach out to the public over what the Commission sees as the globally inevitable use of drones in armed conflict and in domestic surveillance.

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Smile please, you are subject to the DP Act

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has warned operators that surveillance cameras must only be used as a necessary & proportionate response to a real & pressing problem.  The warning came on the day the ICO published its updated CCTV code of practice, which includes a look at the data protection requirements placed on operators of new & emerging surveillance technologies, including drones & body worn video cameras.

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 More contributions to the UK constitutional debate

More news, opinions, documents, claims & counter-claims;

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23rd October 2014

The Department for Work and Pensions management style in Jobcentres is "disastrous" says our Anonymous civil servant this week, who claims management style is too heavy-handed, too harsh and is risking the organisation's specialists.

Find out more here.

Central Government
This heartless DWP management style is a disaster

This heartless DWP management style is a disaster
Pay, pensions and jobs under threat are bad enough, but enforced ‘fun’ is the last straw

The new civil service boss needs a plan to stem the loss of specialist staff

The new civil service boss needs a plan to stem the loss of specialist staff
Chief executive John Manzoni needs to act quickly to ensure government keeps specialist skills

Local Government
Birmingham council boss says English devolution 'could slip away'
Mark Rogers slams narrow focus of internal debate at Westminster, which could block true shift of power to regions

Flash fiction collection offers unique insight into future of local government

Flash fiction collection offers unique insight into future of local government
From assisted death to mobile libraries, Dawn Reeves has curated stories from those who love local government

News this week
• Parental pay to be equal for male and female civil servants
• Durham council asks residents to find £100m savings