Getting there, but must learn from its mistakes

The National Audit Office has recently called for the Department for Work & Pensions to use the hard lessons it learned from implementing its recent programme of welfare reforms to improve how it manages change & anticipates risk.  The recent report finds that, despite some important & high-profile failings, the DWP has introduced a large number of other welfare reforms.  It has continued to make progress in major programmes & in overcoming the operational challenges.

The NAO concludes that, although the DWP has learnt to introduce reforms gradually, it has not always used phasing successfully.  It now needs to think about how it can use the phased approach to reduce significant operational risks.

Researched Links:

NAO:  Welfare reform – lessons learned

DWP:  Universal Credit now available at 15 more Jobcentres

CAB:  Government must ‘learn from mistakes’ of welfare reforms

Universal Credit: waiting days implementation date revised

Welfare transformation comes to families in more areas

Welfare revolution rolls out to families: Universal Credit to be in a third of Jobcentres by spring

CAB - Right support key to Universal Credit rollout success

How some future savings can be made

EU migrants to ‘Pay in’ before UK taxpayers ‘Pay out’

But are all tenants capable of ‘financial management’?


Delivering Real Digital Services: Latest Case Study

Bassetlaw District Council in North Nottinghamshire has completely transformed the way it delivers its major services by embracing the Digital by Default concept in its truest form, without diluting key principles.

This shift to real digital services enabled the Council to move from offering no online services to replacing, effectively overnight, 80% of its face-to-face and telephone transactions with fully automated, end-to-end self-service processes.

The facility delivers a fresh and modern way for citizens to interact with the Council and is highly regarded and acclaimed by citizens and peer groups alike. Moreover the underlying digital platform can grow seamlessly to transform any process or system across the Council.

Click here to access the full Bassetlaw case study.

A cost that increases even faster than house prices in London

The average cost of the most severe online security breaches for big business now starts at £1.46m – up from £600,000 in 2014, according to government research.   For SMEs, the most severe breaches cost can now reach as high as £310,800, up from £115,000 in 2014.

However, more firms are taking action to tackle the cyber threat, with a third of organisations now using the government’s “Ten Steps to Cyber Security” guidance, up from 25% in 2014.  And 49% of all organisations have achieved a “Cyber Essentials” badge to protect themselves from common internet threats, or plan to get one in the next year.

Researched Links:

BIS:  Cost of cyber security breaches doubles - The average cost of the most severe online security breaches for big business now starts at £1.46m

CESG launches Certified Cyber Security Consultancy

The ‘problem’ grows every day

‘Terrorism’ comes in many forms

It is an increasingly dangerous Cyber World out there

Cyber advice for business – 10 steps to cyber security - CPNI

Consultation on Proposal for a Cyber Resilience Strategy for Scotland

Financing the promised £8bn by 2020

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has ordered a clampdown as part of tough new financial controls to cut down on waste in the NHS.  Tackling staffing agencies is part of a package of measures that will help to cut costs while improving frontline care.  This action will help the NHS bring down spiralling agency staff bills, which cost the NHS £3.3bn last year.  This was more than the cost of all that year’s 22m A&E admissions combined.  Other controls include limiting the use of expensive management consultants.  The NHS is paying agencies up to £3,500 per shift for doctors and the total bill for management consultants was more than £600m last year.

New rules will:

  • set a maximum hourly rate for agency doctors & nurses
  • ban the use of agencies that are not on approved frameworks
  • put a cap on total agency staff spending for each NHS trust in financial difficult
  • require approval for any consultancy contracts over £50,000
Researched Links:

DH:  Clampdown on staffing agencies charging NHS extortionate rates as part of tough new financial controls to cut down on waste in the NHS

CQC to begin work on assessing use of resources in NHS hospitals

Government trying to stop ‘re-inventing the wheel’

Make a bonfire of wasteful practices

Cinderella needs a Fairy Godmother urgently
Richard Humphries, Assistant Director of Policy at The King’s Fund has responded to this year's ADASS budget survey.  “This survey once again highlights the mounting pressures on social care budgets.  ….  Social care is now at a crossroads.  It is at risk of becoming a residual service, available only to those with the lowest incomes and highest needs, leaving thousands of people and their families struggling to meet the costs of care”.
Researched Links:

King’s Fund:  Social care at a crossroads - response to the ADASS budget survey


LGA Responds to ADASS Budget survey 2015

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

Bigger & more potholes filled with street rubbish

Evolving the NHS & Social Care will require the involvement of both providers & users

National Voices meet the challenge of health and social care

IFS - Public service spending: more cuts to come

CQC inspectors publish reports on 65 adult social care services in the south of England

LGA:  Three-quarters of MPs support the protection of adult social care funding

Social care should be free at the end of life

‘Too much’ inequality across health & social care, finds CQC

Facilitating financial stability & normality

For the past 2 years Homeless Link have been working with a small group of like-minded organisations to set up a new style transactional account that might be of real benefit to people who become homeless, and who might be struggling to access to good quality financial services & products.

The Change Account has many of the benefits of a bank account, with its debit card, dedicated sort code and account number.  But it is very much a new form of account, and the similarities end when you look into the range of innovations designed to simplify personal finances.

Researched Links:

HL:  Introducing the Change Account - a step towards financial inclusion, designed to help people who have been financially excluded to get in control of their finances

The basic issue is that they often find it hard to ‘cope with life’

Gift of Life out of Death
The 6-month countdown until the organ donation law in Wales changes, began last week.  The new system – the first of its kind in the UK – will make it easier for people to make their organ donation wishes clear and could lead to a 25% increase in organ donation.  In 2014-15, 12 people in Wales died while waiting for a transplant.
Researched Links:

WAG:  6-month countdown until the organ donation law in Wales changes has begun

Make talking about organ donation your New Year resolution

Could it be you? Wales reaches its millionth registered organ donor

New survey of organ donation legislation shows awareness & understanding is increasing overall in Wales

Wales supports organ donation and transplantation strategy

A second chance to ‘Remember’

Locations across Wales are being encouraged to bid for the opportunity to host the iconic poppy sculptures which were previously installed at the Tower of London as part of the commemorations to mark the centenary of the beginning of the First World War.

Two parts of the original Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, which attracted millions of visitors during its time at the Tower of London, will be displayed at locations across the UK in 2015 and 2016.  The ‘Wave’ and ‘Weeping Window’ have been saved for the nation by the Backstage Trust and the Clore Duffield Foundation, and gifted to 14-18 NOW and Imperial War Museums.

Researched Links:

WAG:  Tower of London Poppies - Welsh host venues wanted

14-18 NOW

Imperial War Museums

Cheapest price, whatever the name

Ofgem has recently published its final decision on how suppliers who sell energy using white labels in the domestic energy market will be regulated.  From October 2015, suppliers will have to be more transparent and tell customers what the cheapest tariff is for them regardless of the brand they use.   White labels are organisations that do not hold a supply licence, but instead work in partnership with a licensed supplier to offer gas and electricity using their own brands.

Under Ofgem regulations, suppliers already have to tell customers about their cheapest deal, but until now this rule hasn’t extended to white label tariffs. Ofgem wants to ensure that suppliers are clear with their customers about their cheapest tariffs, regardless of the brand they use to offer the tariff. 

Researched Links:

Ofgem:  From October 2015 energy suppliers must tell customers if their cheapest deal is marketed under a different brand

Time to celebrate our ancient freedoms

The Environment Agency is looking forward to playing an active role in this month’s Magna Carta anniversary celebrations taking place on & close to the River Thames.  Over the weekend of 13 & 14 June 2015, the River Thames will be host to a community event which will include a spectacular 2 day river relay & pageant from Hurley to Runnymede.  On Monday 15 June a national celebration will also take place close to the river on Runnymede Meadows.

In their role as navigation authority, the Environment Agency is committed to support the event organisers and community partners in making the celebrations a success.  Some river restrictions will be in place across the 3 days with heavier than normal river traffic expected between Hurley Lock and Bell Weir Lock on 13/14 June.  As the navigation authority EA will be maintaining a clear channel and limiting the disruption to all river users during the event, whether they are taking part or passing through.

Researched Links:

Environment Agency is playing an active role in this month's Magna Carta anniversary celebrations

Events | Magna Carta Trust 800th Anniversary | Celebrating

HMRC Takes AND now Gives away online
HM Revenue and Customs is urging people to renew their tax credits claim online as soon as possible ahead of the deadline in July.  People who don’t renew by the deadline will have their payments stopped so it’s vital they do it as soon as possible.  Previously, large numbers of customers had to call us or renew by post.  But this is no longer the case and HMRC is urging everyone to beat the queue and get online.
Researched Links:
HMRC urges everyone to renew their tax credits early & online ahead of the deadline in July
It’s all ‘mapped out’
A new 3 party agreement between Ordnance Survey (GB), Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) and Land & Property Services (LPS) Northern Ireland is set to improve access & availability of mapping services for customers & government users operating across the UK & Ireland.  The agreement will enable each of the national mapping organisations, for the first time, to act as a single point of access for customers choosing to view digital mapping from any of the 3 organisations via their web service platforms.
Researched Links:

OS:  New Mapping Agreement to benefit UK And Ireland Location Data Users

Will you have ‘dry feet’?
User-friendly information on river levels & flood risk is being put into the hands of everyone thanks to a project funded by Innovate UK.  A company that specialises in unlocking the power of data has developed an alert system that gives a real-time picture of river levels and the potential for flooding at more than 2,400 locations across England & Wales.  Anyone can view the map online for an overall picture of national river levels or search for levels and river flow at individual measuring stations.  Twitter users can also follow individual gauges and receive two alerts a day.
Researched Links:

Shoothill: using Twitter to visualise flood data

Where will you (or a relative) end up?
Inspectors and other staff at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are preparing to join in with the enthusiasm and support for the annual Care Home Open Day event being held on Friday 19 June 2015.  Now in its third year, the event offers the opportunity for care homes across the country to throw open their doors, demonstrate the difference they can make to people’s lives, strengthen links with local communities & help celebrate some of the really great care that CQC sees on a frequent basis.
Researched Links:

CQC gets set for the annual Care Home Open Day event being held on Friday 19th June

Still time to ‘save the world’
The Longitude Prize for a solution to the danger posed by antibiotics resistance has already attracted 75 entries from across the globe.  The entries are the first to be received over the 5-year life of the prize and will be tested & evaluated over the next 18 months.  New competitors still have a chance to register.  There are submission deadlines every 4 months – the next is in September 2015 – although the prize could be awarded at any time.
Researched Links:

Innovate UK:  Enter the £10m Longitude Prize

Women who take the lead
Voting is now open for Computer Weekly's fourth annual 'Most Influential Woman in UK IT' Awards.  The list focuses on role models & female IT leaders who are making a difference to the future of the tech sector.
Researched Links:

techUK : Voting is now open for Computer Weekly's fourth annual 'Most Influential Woman in UK IT' Awards

And an ’Appy’ time will be had by all

Dr Cordelia Schmid to present BCS’ Karen Spärck Jones Lecture

BCS calls on organisations to set a culture for diversity - Research shows that organisations with a diverse workforce are more profitable, innovative & productive

Time to re-register
The Skills Funding Agency has announced that the Simplified Register of Training Organisations is now open for applications.  The register of training organisations closes on Friday 3 July 2015, at 5pm.  This is the annual refresh, so all organisations currently on the register must successfully reapply to maintain their place on it.
Researched Links:

SFA:  Simplified register of training organisations now open for applications


 More contributions to the UK constitutional debate

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

Researched Links:

ScotGov:  First Ministers of Scotland and Wales meet

ScotGov:  Assurance sought over windfarm subsidies

ScotGov:  Calls for clarity over £12bn cuts & urgently outline how they will impact on Scotland’s new devolved social security powers


Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the

Newsletter Archive

Please choose from the links below to view individual sections of interest:

Last week we looked at the challenges that lie ahead in the next five years of public service reform. From the good (devolution) to the bad (cuts), Kim Thomas spoke to experts to get the full picture. We also followed up on the saga at MyCSP and found retired civil servants are still waiting for their pensions, months after MyCSP took control of civil service pensions. And don't miss our interview with the UK's youngest deputy mayor on his motivations for entering politics.

Most popular
Public service reform: the challenges that lie ahead

Public service reform: the challenges that lie ahead
City devolution is a bright spot amid public leaders’ concerns over the impact of cuts

Why are some civil servants waiting months for pensions from MyCSP?

Why are some civil servants waiting months for pensions from MyCSP?
Unions and pensioners demand answers over continued poor performance from the government’s flagship mutual

Britain's youngest deputy mayor: 'All I can do is my best'

Britain's youngest deputy mayor: 'All I can do is my best'
Terence Smith, the 18-year-old councillor for Goole town council, explains what motivates him

News in brief
• A London council plans to be able to fine rough sleepers
• No 10 rejected Iain Duncan Smith's child benefit limit policy
• Lord Kerslake criticised the expansion of the right to buy
• Oliver Letwin will be the PM's 'eyes and ears in Whitehall'
• Councils own fish stalls, nightclubs, pubs, hotels and golf courses
What you’re saying about...
Councils should help rough sleepers, not fine them

Councils should help rough sleepers, not fine them
Rough sleeping has risen by 55% in five years but some councils are taking a controversial approach to tackling it