The NHS is not the only ‘care service’ with a funding ‘Black Hole’

Services for elderly & disabled residents are in danger of spiralling into crisis after new analysis reveals a £4.3bn funding black hole by the end of this decade, social care experts are warning.  The Local Government Association (LGA) and others, have joined together to highlight that these alarming figures are almost a third of current annual adult social care spending, showing councils as the most stretched part of the health & social care system.

The shortfall is set to be caused by a combination of reduced government funding and rising demand on services, in particular from the country's rapidly ageing population.  Over the last year alone, councils were forced to divert £900m funding from other budgets to simply maintain the current level of service, despite making efficiency savings and receiving additional money from the 2010 spending round.  By 2020, councils will have to find £4.3bn just to manage care services at the current levels.

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How did we (& especially the GMP) let this become the ‘new social norm’!

Child sexual exploitation is a ‘real and ongoing problem’ that has become a new social norm in some neighbourhoods of Greater Manchester, the Coffey Report concludes.   This will not be tackled unless there is a sea change in public attitudes away from a culture of blaming children and young people for bringing about their own sexual exploitation.

Ms Coffey recommends a radical new approach to tackling CSE to be led by young people, which recognises that the police, justice system and children’s services alone cannot succeed in protecting children, especially at a time of deep spending cuts.  She expressed concern that the Crown Prosecution Service highlighted that one victim wore cropped tops and that another had been described as a ‘slag’ by her father in cases that were declared “No Further Action”.

Figures obtained from Greater Manchester Police as part of the inquiry reveal that many children are still being preyed on.  There are 260 ongoing police investigations into child sexual exploitation.  This includes 174 recorded crimes, of which 18 involve multiple perpetrators.

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Unlike Manchester, No TV headlines for this report!

HMIC has published an inspection report into the child protection work carried out by West Midlands Police, following an inspection in June 2014.  This is part of a rolling programme of child protection inspections of all police forces in England & Wales.

Protecting children is one of the most important tasks the police undertake.  Only the police can investigate suspected crimes, arrest perpetrators and monitor sex offenders.  Police officers have the power to take a child who is in danger into a place of safety, or to seek an order to restrict an offender’s contact with children.  The police service also has a significant role working with other agencies to ensure the child’s protection and well-being, longer term.

Inspectors were pleased to find several ‘traits’, but were concerned to find:

  • a weak response to difficult, complex or prolonged child protection cases
  • that heavy workloads meant staff were unable to manage their investigations effectively
  • a general lack of understanding of the extent of child sexual exploitation & inconsistent practice
  • that officers did not always understand when to refer child protection issues to other agencies or how to do it
  • children were being unnecessarily detained in police custody overnight
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Can your design skills help others to help themselves?

The Government is calling for more innovation in gadgets for disabled people and is offering £50,000 in brand-new prize, in a £400,000 competition. 1 in 5 people in the UK have a disability and disabled people & their households have a spending power of over £200bn. Yet the development & manufacture of aids, adaptations and products for disabled people has not kept pace with the use of new technologies, like smartphones, GPS, plasma TVs, Kindles and the internet. 

The government’s Accessible Technology Prize aims to inspire technological innovation to assist disabled people in fields as diverse as education, the home, leisure, transport and work.  Ministers hope it will encourage more budding entrepreneurs to tap into a market predicted to be worth over £500m in Britain – and $3bn internationally.  Deadline for entries; 16 January 2015.

A second competition (open to all school children aged 14 to 18) is aimed at devising new ways to make bus travel easier for people who have visual or hearing impairments.  Passengers can find it difficult to identify the number or destination of their bus, know where and when to get off or hear important on-board announcements. The competition is being run by the government-funded organisation Transport Systems Catapult and was launched by the minister at a school in Milton Keynes, where pupils are taking part.

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Fostering Innovation to improve customer service in Financial Services

The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Innovation Hub, part of Project Innovate, is now open & offering support to innovators.  Project Innovate has been developed by the FCA to foster competition & growth in financial services by supporting both small & large businesses that are developing products that could genuinely improve services for consumers.  The full criteria that will be used to assess requests for support is available on the FCA website.

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As Maths teachers say; ‘No Workings, No Marks’ (or in this case Euros)

Bringing clarity to a tense situation – or not.  Meanwhile, the Commission claims it is not all one way;

There are many of these technical adjustments and sometimes they are in favour of the UK.  For example, in 2014, the UK rebate was revised upwards by EUR 567.3 million, which is financed by all other Member States. This adjustment was included in Amending Budget 4/2014. Similarly in 2013, the UK rebate was revised upwards by EUR 436 million; this was budgeted in Amending Budget 6/2013. No Member State has refused to pay this increase of their contribution in favour of the U.K.

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So that’s alright then

The Department for Energy and Climate Change has published the annual Statutory Security of Supply Report (SSSR) that looks at the UK’s energy security for this winter and up-coming winters.  National Grid has also published their winter outlook report.

National Grid said Britain will have enough energy to keep the country running in a cold winter and that the outlook remains manageable and well within the reliability standard set by government.

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Musical chairs stop for ex top PS managers

The government has published detailed legislative proposals on how individuals earning over £100,000 who take a new job in the same part of the public sector within 12 months of being made redundant will have to repay all or some of their redundancy payment.  The precise amount will be pro-rated depending on the length of time between exit and re-employment.

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Should only the sale of drugs be illegal?

A written ministerial statement was laid on 30 October 2014 in the House of Commons by Norman Baker and in the House of Lords by Lords Bates of Banbaurgh:

In December 2013, I commissioned an expert panel to look at the challenge of NPS.  In my written ministerial statement at that time, I made clear that we are prepared to enhance our UK-wide legislative framework to ensure that our law enforcement agencies have the best available powers, sending out the clearest possible message that the trade in these substances is reckless and that these substances can be dangerous, even fatal.  I also asked the expert panel to consider the education, prevention and treatment response to NPS and make recommendations.

Today I am pleased to publish the expert panel’s report and recommendations on this challenging issue alongside the government’s response to those recommendations.

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