That promised ‘cap on care‘ seems further away than ever
Council tax rises to pay for social care in 2016/17 will not bring in enough money to alleviate the growing pressure on the vital services caring for our elderly & disabled, the Local Government Association warns.  The LGA said 9 in 10 councils in England are considering, or have approved plans to raise £372m for underfunded social care services in 2016/17 by using new powers to increase council tax by 2%, without the need for a referendum.
Researched Links:

LGA:  Council tax rises will not fix social care funding crisis

Bigger & more potholes filled with street rubbish

DH:  New guides launched to help improve health at home for older people

No option but to pay!

LGA response to UNISON 15mins care visit report

LGA:  Transitional support needed for councils following funding shake-up

LGA responds to care sector letter on adult social care

LGA responds to PAC report on Care Act reforms increasing cost pressures on councils

LGA responds to RVS report of families supporting older people

LGA:  Councils respond to Spending Review announcements on social care

LGA:  Give unpaid carers council tax reductions to support the care system

All Care should all be at the same (high) standard

Well it makes better sense than just ‘bill the middle-class who have savings’

Of course if the NHS wasn’t so successful in extending our lives there wouldn’t be such a care / funding problem!

‘After Care’ is as important as treatment in hospital

If NHS needs +£8bn, what do LA’s need for social care?

DH:  Remember that the Government has no money, ultimately it has to obtain it from the ‘tax-paying public’ (2nd item)

WiredGov 1-Minute Public Sector Visual Security Survey
7” Android Tablet & 25 ISO27001 Compatible Screen Protectors up for grabs!

Whilst there are obvious and tremendous benefits for productivity with a more mobile workforce, corporate, personal, patient and citizen data can be more easily stolen directly from a screen when being viewed in a public place.

Compliance with the Government’s Security Policy Framework (SPF) requires that any computer screen displaying sensitive information be cited or screened so they cannot be overlooked by unauthorised individuals. Similarly mobile workers must ensure their devices are visually protected when working on the go.

Click here to take part in Wired-Gov’s 1-minute survey for the chance to win a 7” Android Tablet and 25 runners up will also receive Targus ISO27001 compatible, privacy filters and screen protectors

Every little helps
A trial involving over 1,500 GP practices found that writing to GPs about their antibiotics prescribing resulted in 73,000 fewer prescriptions (a 3.3% reduction) over 6 months. This equates to direct savings of over £92,000 in prescription costs.  This is part of the government’s plans to slow the growth of antimicrobial resistance. Increasing resistance to antibiotics and a lack of new drugs means there is a greater risk of infections that cannot be treated.
Researched Links:

DH:  Unnecessary antibiotics prescriptions reduced in new trial

Helping guard against a return to pre-antibiotic medical care

We need to find an answer to this conundrum

Truly a ‘Life & Death’ issue

How does not paying ANY licence fee to ‘BBC UK’ (while demanding it pays for more Scottish channels) protect the BBC, which faces £750m in cuts?
Recently ScotGov published a new policy paper which laid out a ‘comprehensive & detailed vision for the future of publicly-funded, public service broadcasting in Scotland’.  Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said the Scottish Government’s proposals were good for the BBC, good for Scotland, and good for the rest of the UK.  She said the ‘proposals would fortify the BBC against attempts to diminish it’.
Researched Links:

ScotGov:  Protecting the BBC for the next decade

Scotland sets out its stall on Charter renewal

Governments unite to defend independence of the BBC

Federal BBC a ‘win-win’ for viewers

IPPR - Future of the BBC: ‘Auntie’ is valued but needs to improve service amid Charter Review, say leading media figures

Telegraph:  BBC fights back against SNP's 'failing Scotland' claims

Telegraph:  BBC to introduce 'Scottish Six' news programme next year

PC&PE:  No need to change BBC's mission to 'inform, educate and entertain'

Return to in-house development, but have they the skills to deliver?
Recently Kristian Miller, Head of IT Strategy at HMRC, announced their long-term vision of how the department intends to use technology for delivering better services to its customers.  The next 5 years represent a critical time for HMRC as it transitions from its 10-year Aspire contract, which is one of the biggest IT contracts ever signed by the UK government.  The end of the Aspire contract is part of the wider Government strategy to move away from large outsourcing models to develop more in-house capability and open up the public sector tech market.
Researched Links:

techUK:  HMRC publishes its long-term tech strategy

HMRC 'Aspire' to unachievable transformation

Project management is not an ‘optional extra’ for successful delivery

One year on from the 3 Point Plan

HMRC takes next step towards creating a digital future for taxpayers

Managing & replacing the Aspire contract

Government ICT moves from the equivalent of ‘2G to 4G’ by looking up to the clouds

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. 

Will it prevent aid being spent ‘un-wisely’
A historic agreement reached on the 19 February 2016 means that the rules governing how Official Development Assistance (ODA) can be spent will be updated to ‘better tackle the pressing global development issues of the twenty-first century’.  The core principle of the ODA system remains unchanged. To count as ODA, an activity must ‘support the economic development and welfare of a developing country as its main objective’.
Researched Links:

DIFD:  Changes to official aid rules

Investigating how South African cities can lead the way for the African continent

EC welcomes new 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development

Kenya’s Economic Take-Off and How the UK Can Support It

Financing for development: EU countries to stick to foreign aid commitments

Committee concerned by relative decline in bilateral aid spending

Working with parliaments key to long term development

Managing the Official Development Assistance target

Bangladesh: Bilateral Programme Budget (BPB)

The alternative to helping them in their own countries could be even more refugees / asylum seekers coming to Europe / the UK

Another financial pressure on NHS
‘Maternity services in England must become safer, more personalised, kinder, professional and more family-friendly’.  That’s the vision of the National Maternity Review, which published its recommendations for how services should change over the next 5 years.  The NHS England commissioned review – led by independent experts and chaired by Baroness Julia Cumberlege – sets out wide-ranging proposals designed to make care safer and give women greater control and more choices.
Researched Links:

NHS England:  Maternity review sets bold plan for safer, more personal services

Monitor:  NHS Improvement responds to National Maternity Review 2016

CQC:  Our comments on the National Maternity Review

Don’t hold your breath waiting for anyone to be held responsible and being ‘Made to Pay’?

We are shaping services for years to come – Baroness Julia Cumberlege

Most expectant & new mothers are experiencing better maternity care, finds national survey

Having a baby in Scotland 2015: Listening to Mothers

More choice & fewer interventions, NICE sets out priorities for straightforward births

New ambition to halve rate of stillbirths & infant deaths

Changes to maternity and neonatal services in West Wales are safe, Royal College review finds

Breathing may endanger your health!
Cllr Peter Box, LGA Environment spokesman, has responded to the new report on air pollution by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health.
Researched Links:

LGA responds to new report on air pollution

Explaining vehicle emissions – why do laboratory and road measurements differ?

£40m to drive green car revolution across UK cities

PX:  New report: Nearly a quarter of all school children in London are exposed to illegal & harmful levels of air pollution

Many Europeans still exposed to harmful air pollution

ScotGov:  Clean air strategy launched

Cleaner Air for Scotland – The Road to a Healthier Future

EC welcomes Member States' agreement on robust testing of air pollution emissions by cars

Air quality: MEPs approve new national caps on pollutants

Government launches air quality consultation

Emissions from medium combustion plants: Member States confirm agreement with the EP

EC takes the UK to Court over power plant emissions

Government rejects diesel tax increases but will consider emission zones

24 projects to improve air quality to receive £1m fund

Change planning rules to protect children from air pollution

UK supports global plans to help protect people from cancer & respiratory illnesses

Global Alliance For Clean Cookstoves

Poor air quality is not something that you can always ‘see’

Safe, or mainly safe?
The Food Standards Agency has launched a 10-week public consultation on a draft report looking at the safety of raw or lightly cooked eggs.

FSA launches consultation on eggs report

Perhaps it’s the BBC’s management culture that hasn’t been up to a ‘proper & safe standard’
The BBC Trust has published in full the report by Dame Janet Smith DBE of her inquiry into the BBC’s culture & practices during the Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall years.

BBC Trust: Publication of the Dame Janet Smith review

What a SMART way to use new technology
Dulas, designer & manufacturer of renewable energy systems, has been awarded £57,400 of funding from the Welsh Government’s SMARTCymru programme, to support the development of its Solar Direct Drive Refrigerators.  Dulas pioneered solar vaccine refrigerators in 1982, and has been a market leader in the technology ever since.  During the recent Ebola outbreak, it provided solar fridges to Sierra Leone to support vaccination efforts.
WAG:  SMARTCymru funding support for pioneering solar fridges developed by Dulas

 More contributions to the EU Referendum

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

Researched Links:

ScotGov:  FM's response to agreement at the European Council

FCO:  Opportunity for UK citizens in Finland to register to vote in the EU Referendum

ESRC:  Electoral Commission statement on the Government’s proposed date for the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union

IPPR:  Deal closing in for UK and EU

Inspection Council calls for platform for effective enforcement in Europe

10DS: PM Commons statement on EU reform & referendum: 22 February 2016

IPPR:  Statement on EU deal

CBI/CBRE: EU is London's top strength, say capital's firms

CBI President speaks on business vision for reformed EU

10DS:  PM speech at O2 on the EU referendum: 23 February 2016


 More contributions to the UK constitutional debate

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

Researched Links:


ScotGov:  Joint Exchequer Committee Communique

ScotGov:  Protecting the BBC for the next decade

HMT:  Historic new Scotland funding deal agreed

ScotGov:  Fiscal Framework Agreement

IFG:  Statement in response to Scotland fiscal framework announcement

10DS:  PM statement on the fiscal framework for Scotland: 23 February 2016

HM Treasury:  Historic new Scotland funding deal agreed

IPPR:  Budget cuts a 'down payment' on significant spending challenge coming to Scotland by 2020

ScotGov:  Sturgeon – tax powers must be used for a purpose


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

The civil service has released a set of departmental plans which, David Walker argues, are not plans in the sense that any self-respecting council or NHS trust would recognise. Instead, he says, they are "highly political statements of aspiration, hope and manifesto promises, cross-hatched with the spending data set out last year".

Also on the network
Privatised probation staff: stressed, deskilled and facing job cuts

Privatised probation staff: stressed, deskilled and facing job cuts
Last year 8,600 probation staff were outsourced. Now, many are questioning their professional identity

Austerity has hit disabled people hardest – now they're fighting back

Austerity has hit disabled people hardest – now they're fighting back
With Norfolk council accused of breaching the Care Act, alarm bells will ring in other cash-strapped councils

Why not let public servants set their own salaries?

Why not let public servants set their own salaries?
Self-management might appear unworkable in the public sector, but I’m not sure there’s a credible alternative

News in brief
• Jeremy Heywood confirms curbs on civil service support for Brexit campaign
• Civil servants 'under pressure to agree with ministerial spending'
• Nesta project explores how to cut costs and protect UK parks
• Sex offender refuses to resign from Saddleworth parish council
• Councils halved spending on CCTV since 2012, but look to new surveillance
• Stoke council and Bet365 launch £1m scheme to attract maths teachers