Why the Government cannot just simply ‘Do Something’ about UK Steel Plants

EU State Aid rules allow fostering the long-term competitiveness & efficiency of steel manufacturing, but not supporting manufacturers in difficulties.   In particular, EU state aid rules allow support to steelmakers to make them more competitive in the long-term for objectives such as research, development & innovation.  The EC has under EU state aid rules approved national measures in several EU countries to compensate energy-intensive businesses, including steel companies, for their high energy costs, most recently as regards the UK in December last year.

However, in view of the chronic over-capacity of the steel sector, EU Member States and the EC have already since the 1990s agreed to prohibit rescue & restructuring aid to steelmakers in difficulty.  As past experience has shown, this type of aid distorts competition and risks leading to harmful subsidy races between Member States. It also doesn't help in the long run.

Researched Links:

EU News: Statement by Commissioner Vestager on EU state aid rules in the steel sector

EC opens in-depth investigation into Italian support for steel producer Ilva in Taranto, Italy

SEC orders Belgium to recover €211m from several steel companies within the Duferco group

IPPR:  A further 1,700 jobs could be lost in the supply chain of Welsh & English steel-making communities

Statement on the UK steel industry

TUC: UK government needs to save steel

Welsh Secretary comments on Tata Steel job losses

Steel workers retention plan

TUC: Government needs a more active industrial strategy to save UK steel

UK government secures EU compensation for Energy Intensive Industries

UK calls for emergency steel meeting granted

Scottish Steel Task Force

Government & Tata steel to provide support to Scunthorpe steel workers and local economy

One in six British steelworkers face losing their jobs, warns TUC

Summit to tackle impact of global steel challenges

Minister backs calls for greater action at UK level to protect steel industry

£80m support package for SSI workers and local economy

Thursday, 21st April
Prospero House, London Bridge

Funding Transformation

As pressure mounts to justify investment in digital and service redesign, the Socitm Spring Conference returns to provide you with a better understanding of the latest policy developments and best-practice thinking.

This event will give you key tips on the policies and working practices required to deliver ROI.
Key issues to be discussed will include:

  • Delivering digital differently: how should we provide public services in the future?
  • Making the case for investment: enabling innovative, cost-effective business models
  • A new form of supplier partnerships: can we make better use of public-private funding?
  • Health and social care integration: implementing a whole place approach
  • Open systems: establishing common platforms, publishing accessible and reusable data
  • Promoting diversity: empowering women in a digital world

Click here to book or visit the conference website for full details.

Pension Change – Go online for all the answers
State Pension Online is a digital service, hosted on GOV.UK, available to people living in the UK who are eligible to claim their State Pension.  The service is secure, easy to use & available 24/7 at a time that is convenient.  It can also be used by customers claiming new State Pension.  People in need of support using the service can contact the DWP Online Helpdesk, which can provide help & advice in real time in a bid to keep customers online to complete their claim.  Further information about the service has been developed to support Third Party organisations, such as Citizen’s Advice, Age UK and local councils.  This information, including a poster set, is externally hosted on GOV.UK (Welsh versions will be available shortly).
Researched Links:

DWP:  State Pension Online - Changing Channels, Changing Lives

Millions stand to gain from the new State Pension

Worth ‘topping up’ your State Pension?

Good ‘long-term’ investment?

'State Pension top up’ scheme starts today (12 October 2015)

New drive to explain State Pension reform

Eight things you need to know about pensions

Pensions Minister: too many carers missing out on NI credits

Double inflation boost for State Pension with additional help to the poorest

The future of government services is online

The excitement around distributed ledger technologies (DLT) continues as the Government Office for Science recently published a report exploring the potential of the technology to transform government services: Distributed Ledger Technology: beyond the blockchain.  The report touches on some of the ways in which DLT can support the government’s ability to, for example, “collect taxes, deliver benefits, issue passports, record land registries assure the supply chain of goods and generally ensure the integrity of government records and services.”

The report also calls for some decisive action from government to develop a clear view as to how the technology can improve the way government operates & delivers services to citizens; acting as an ‘expert customer’ to implement DLT solutions where they deliver tangible benefit.

A ‘handy’ way to communicate with DWP
A new system to ensure British Sign Language (BSL) users can easily access government services is now in operation at the Department for Work & Pensions.  The video relay service (VRS) allows users to make BSL interpreted video calls via their tablet, smartphone, computer or laptop.  A professional interpreter then relays the call in English to a member of DWP staff.

Crown Commercial Service:  DWP services more accessible thanks to new British Sign Language pilot

January 2016 SME Supplier Locator update...

UK Government and public sector spend with SME’s is continually on the increase and by 2020, it is the stated intent of Cabinet Office that £1 of every £3 spent on government contracts goes to SME’s. The past 5 years have seen government make a priority of getting money through its supply chain into the hands of SMEs, by both setting targets and introducing new procurement mechanisms.

Against this backdrop, the WiredGov Supplier Locator service has been developed specifically to embrace the SME Agenda and provide the ideal platform for SME’s to promote their services, solutions, accreditation and success stories directly to our ever increasing audience across all government and public sector verticals and Tier 1 suppliers.

Click here to find out more and view this week’s new arrivals to the SME Supplier Locator service. 

IDS hands over the baton of welfare reform?
Opening up the next front in welfare reform could see a fundamental switch from the DWP – historically always responsible for welfare reform – to BIS, reflecting the new reform agenda called for last week by the MP Frank Field in a new pamphlet for the cross-party think tank Civitas;    ‘Fixing Broken Britain? An audit of working-age welfare reform since 2010’.
Researched Links:

Civitas:  Open up a totally new welfare reform front to battle benefit dependency

Civitas:  Welfare reform under a ‘One Nation’ government – what of the missing millions?

An alternative option for the Chancellor to ‘think about’?

Helping people to achieve what they are capable of

Getting there, but must learn from its mistakes

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

Would you want your mother/father treated like this?
Too many people with dementia are falling while in hospital, being discharged at night or being marooned in hospital despite their medical treatment having finished, finds an Alzheimer’s Society (AS) investigation.  92% of people affected by dementia found hospital environments frightening.  FOI requests have uncovered unacceptable national variation in the quality of hospital care across England.  In response, AS are launching a new campaign, Fix Dementia Care.
Researched Links:

AS: Shocking variation of hospital care for people with dementia exposed

Fix Dementia Care

‘Frailty’ may be inevitable with age, but its ‘management’ can still allow an ‘active’ lifestyle

‘Reassurance’ is essential part of support

‘Reassurance’ is key to their state of mind

Hospitals must understand that they have a duty of care for Body AND Mind

We wish her ‘Good Luck’
Ahead of publishing the consultation response into the functions of the office of the National Guardian, Dame Eileen Sills has set out the principles & priorities that will guide her first months in post.

CQC:  Dame Eileen Sills sets out her priorities for her first months as National Guardian

We should reward those who speak up and reprimand those that ‘hide’ issues

Conserving UK’s marine future
23 new areas along the UK coast have been announced as the latest Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) to be awarded environmental protection by the government, extending the country’s ‘Blue Belt’ to cover over 20% of English waters and providing vital protection for the diverse array of wildlife in our seas.  The new MCZs will cover areas across the country from as far north as Farnes East off the coast of Northumberland down to Land’s End in the South West, and will protect 45 different types of habitat, geological features and fascinating species - including stalked jellyfish and spiny lobsters.

Defra:  'Blue Belt' extended to protect 8,000 square miles of UK waters

Hidden from sight, but vital part of UK’s ecosystem

What was significant about this fairly routine international meeting of Defence ’Ministers’?
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon met with his counterparts in Paris last week to discuss the counter-Daesh campaign.  The meeting had a surprising significance as, in the same week, around 100 school children visited the MOD to meet inspirational women working in Defence and hear their stories.
Researched Links:

Defence Secretary meets counterparts to discuss defeating Daesh

MOD plays host to Inspiring Women event

How inspired can women get in Defence – check out the photo to see 4 of 7 participants are female

A way to give them the recognition they deserve
Employers & training providers are being called upon to enter their apprentices in the official search for the apprentice team of the year.  The Brathay Apprentice Challenge tests apprentices on their teambuilding, leadership, logistical and communications abilities in a series of work-related challenges.  Teams of 9 apprentices entering the Challenge can be from a single employer, a group of small businesses, an industry sector, supply chain or training provider.  Nominations close on Monday 15 February 2016.

SFA:  Search for the apprentice team of the year begins

Just over a month to apply
The DfE is funding a competition to find innovative ways for schools to get the best value from its funding.  Around £200,000 will be available to fund SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative) contracts up to the value of £100,000 and lasting up to 12 months.  The DfE wants to find innovative & practical new ways to communicate with schools and help them to become more financially efficient.  Deadline for registration is noon on 24 February 2016.

Innovate UK:  Improving schools' financial health - apply for business funding

Nothing about ensuring tenants pay for any damage and all arrears though!
Legislation to improve the lives of the 1m people in Wales, who rent their home, has been granted Royal Assent.  The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 will make renting a home simpler & easier, replacing various & complex pieces of existing legislation with one clear legal framework.

WAG:  Landmark Renting Homes law receives Royal Assent


 Starting this week: More contributions to the EU constitutional debate

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

Researched Links:

Civitas:  No benefit for UK trade from EU ‘collective clout’

Migration & UK EU referendum dominate post-summit debate

FCO:  Voting in the Referendum for UK nationals living in Sweden

Next step in mutual defence – European Defence Union, say MEPs

More from our Archives:

Something for the 2017 EU Referendum perhaps?

Options for the UK in the event of a vote to leave the EU

‘Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodies’, or updated; ‘Who Monitors the media & prevents bias’?

How do you say ‘Settle Down Now’ in 20+ languages?

IEA:  New report debunks the EU jobs myth

IEA:  The key to achieving well-functioning capital markets in Europe

NIESR: UK financial services are key consideration to the ‘British Question’

NIESR launches WhatsApp-style video on the Prime Minister’s EU negotiations

Demos:  Transforming European Democracy through New Technologies

IPPR:  Cameron needs a fair and plausible approach to reforming EU migrants’ access to welfare

IPPR:  UK becoming the ‘self-employment capital’ of Western Europe

EU negotiations: Cameron can tackle EU freedom of movement without Treaty change – IPPR

Cameron should demand EU fund to ease pressures on local services - IPPR

Chatham House:  'No EU country is corruption free', says top Commission official

Civitas:  No benefit for UK trade from EU ‘collective clout’

Civitas:  High unemployment has been a chronic condition of the European Union for decades

Civitas:  European Arrest Warrant destroys 800-year-old legal protections

Civitas:  British trade has much to gain outside the EU

Civitas:  Costs of EU membership should be fully audited prior to UK renegotiation

Civitas:  Reshaping the EU: a manifesto for reform

Civitas:  Economic benefits of large-scale immigration outweighed by strains of population growth


 More contributions to the UK constitutional debate

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

Researched Links:

PC&PE:  More representation needed in Scottish creative industries

ScotGov:  Crown Estate management

ScotGov:  Joint Exchequer Committee

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

When Sir Philip Dilley resigned as Environment Agency chair over the backlash to his decision not to return home from a Barbados holiday during recent flooding, it raised questions about what we expect from public sector chairs. Here, Jacqueline Baxter of the Open University business school explains quite how complex and contradictory these roles have become.
We also spoke to several council chief executives about a particularly unpopular, but increasingly relevant topic: redundancies. Letting staff go is a thankless responsibility for someone to bear; here, senior local government leaders offer their advice on handling it.

Also on the network
Sir Phillip Dilley’s resignation shows how hard it is to be a public sector chair

Sir Phillip Dilley’s resignation shows how hard it is to be a public sector chair
It’s getting more difficult to retain good people, as Environment Agency chair’s departure demonstrates

It will hurt like hell if Newcastle's Citizens Advice bureau shuts down

It will hurt like hell if Newcastle's Citizens Advice bureau shuts down
Mary O'Hara: advice services are crucial in the north east, yet a major city branch faces closure

Public servant: my letter to the public
If the police don't get to you straight away, it's not because we don't care

If the police don't get to you straight away, it's not because we don't care
As a police controller sometimes I have to refuse to send officers – decisions I do not take lightly

This series aims to give a voice to the staff behind public services hit by mounting cuts and rising demand, and so often denigrated by the press, politicians and public. If you would like to write an article for the series, contact tamsin.rutter@theguardian.com.
News in brief
Scottish councils warned again to properly oversee capital spending
• Lord McNally and Tom Brake attack civil service over "rigged" FOI review
• Isle of Wight council warns cuts are pushing it to the brink
Saturday working is major sticking point in junior doctors' dispute
• MI5 comes out top in Stonewall list of gay-friendly employers
• Local councils guilty of 'softly, softly approach' to rogue landlords