The WGPlus editorial team is now signing off for its holiday period with Seasonal Greetings to all our readers. Our first offering for 2017 will be published w/c January 16th.

It’s difficult to be ‘Merry’ on your own

982,200 of people aged over 60 feel lonelier at Christmas time, according to new figures from Age UK.  And to highlight what a difficult time Christmas is for many older people, BHF have released two short films with actors James Bolam MBE and Miriam Margolyes OBE.

The films show the actors narrating real-life stories of loneliness to support Age UK’s No one should have no one at Christmas campaign.  These poignant films are the real personal stories of Roy and Janet, who are supported by Age UK’s telephone befriending service that provides weekly friendship calls. 

Age UK’s telephone befriending service relies on dedicated volunteers who are matched to lonely and isolated older people based on shared interests, and make regular phone calls to offer friendship, support and practical advice.  Although loneliness is a problem all year round, the Charity is calling on people to remember those facing Christmas alone by pledging their support for the campaign.

In addition a new quality standard NICE urges councils, housing organisations and the voluntary sector to work together to identify vulnerable older people.  Those most at risk should be directed to dancing or swimming clubs; arts groups or singing programmes or helping with reading in schools; as well as volunteering and befriending programmes
Researched Links:

Age UK:  Nearly 1m older people feel lonelier at Christmas

NICE calls on third sector and public bodies to work together to prevent loneliness in older people

Life is what you make of it mostly

People need people

A healthier outcome which could be self-financing

New reading friends for older people supported by £2.1m grant

Fears of loneliness in old age are largely unfounded

Age UK:  Loneliness among older men with poor health a growing problem

There’s something about Mary – Janice Holt

LGA:  Loneliness a major public health concern, say councils

NHS top doctor says ‘don’t let elderly be lonely this Christmas’

Inaction on social isolation will hit frontline NHS – Mervyn Kohler

Breaking the mould of loneliness – Paula Bee

Launch of the first free 24 hour helpline for older people

DEMOS:  Boring, isolated and lonely: Britain’s damaging perceptions of our care homes

Majority of people living alone with dementia feel lonely, Alzheimer’s Society reports

Age UK:  Life without a bus would be worse, say 9 out of 10

£120m to make ageing demographic timebomb an opportunity

Give the January blues a rosy tint by volunteering to help others


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Integrate or never really be accepted by the majority
Dame Louise Casey has published her report into social integration in Great Britain, calling for more to be done to bridge divides between people and bind communities together.  Her review finds that with the country experiencing rapid population change there are still large social and economic gaps between ethnic groups; that ethnic segregation is increasing in some areas; and that women in some communities are suffering from huge inequalities.
Researched Links:

CLG:  Casey calls for integration plan to bind communities together

IPPR responds to the Casey review

Time for a ’Paul on the road to Damascus’ moment for multi-culturalists

Comprehensive reform of migration system is "essential"

'Passive tolerance' of separate communities must end, says PM

Could the ‘foreign electoral practices’ have resulted from a lack of community integration?

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid recently announced plans for a ‘phased return’ of powers to Tower Hamlets council, so they can now make the final decision on grants awarded to not-for-profit organisations in the local community.

But Mr Javid warned that the government-appointed commissioners, who found a ‘breakdown of democratic accountability’ in 2014, would continue to oversee these decisions to ensure taxpayer’s money was put to best use.
Researched Links:

DCLG:  Sajid Javid - grant-making powers return to Tower Hamlets

Local democracy restored

Has it happened elsewhere in the UK and can it happen again?

Children are the ‘heart’ of a family
Families with dying children must be put at the heart of care, new guidance from NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) says.
Researched Links:

NICE:  End of life care must be for the whole family not just the dying child, says NICE in new guidance

NICE guidance on end of life care for children aims to end inconsistences in treatment

A guide for parents of terminally ill children - Child Bereavement UK

Child Trust Fund - GOV.UK

Starlight Children's Foundation

Together for Short lives

Holidays for ill children‎

Support for Parents - It's Not Just the Sick Child That's Affected‎

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. 

It is not so much a case of IF you die, but rather HOW you die

Struggling to keep up to date & informed on changes impacting on Palliative and End of Life care?  Not sure where to find the latest resources and improvement examples?  Then you will be pleased to hear NHS England have launched a tailor made national End of Life Care (EoLC) Knowledge Hub providing you with a ‘one stop shop’ of Palliative and EoLC information.

In order to provide easier access to EoLC resources, they have brought together a comprehensive library of material, previously located across a multitude of sites, into one central library and hosted on the Ambitions website.  The newly launched EoLC Knowledge Hub can be found here: http://endoflifecareambitions.org.uk/

This hub provides anyone involved in the commissioning or provision of palliative and end of life care with a quick & easy way to source information, including helpful tools and resources to drive delivery of the Ambitions for Palliative and End of Life Care – a national framework for local action.
Researched Links:

NHS England:  New hub provides invaluable learning

It is something we generally try to avoid thinking about

After decades of practice the NHS should be getting it right by now!

What is the state of ‘God’s waiting rooms’?

The Competition & Markets Authority has recently launched a market study into care homes for the elderly, to review how well the market works and whether people are treated fairly.  By its very nature, the need to find a care home can come at a distressing time, with decisions taken in challenging circumstances.

The CMA’s study will assess how people find the experience of choosing a care home, explore whether the current regulation & complaints system gives residents adequate protection, and examine how well care homes are complying with their obligations under consumer law.

As part of this, the CMA will look very closely at reports of potentially unfair practices and contract terms being used by some care homes to assess how widespread these concerns are, how they are affecting residents, and whether they are likely to breach consumer law.

There are currently 430,000 older people in care & nursing homes in the UK and the CMA would particularly like to hear from care home residents and their relatives who have encountered issues such as unexplained or ‘hidden’ charges, unexpected fee increases, confusing requests for ‘top-up’ payments, or occasions when they feel that complaints have not been handled fairly.
Researched Links:

CMA launches review of UK care & nursing homes

Citizens Advice responds to launch of CMA investigation into care homes

Kicking them out is not showing a ‘duty of care’

Is the answer to raise taxes on everyone during their working life?

Where will you (or a relative) end up?

Sadly the guidance is necessary

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

We all need a ‘sense of worth' to provide a ‘purpose in life’

Dame Carol Black publishes review on links between work & addiction.  The review shows how employment plays an important role in improving the wellbeing & self-worth of people with drug and alcohol addiction.

The report recommends further exploration into ways people addicted to drugs & alcohol can be helped to find work, and improved joined-up working between work & health services.  It also looks at the role of employers in helping secure good employment opportunities for people who have struggled with addiction.  Dame Carol also explored the effect of obesity on unemployment but found no clear link.
Researched Links:

DWP:  Dame Carol Black publishes review on links between work and addiction

North/South Divide is about much more than property prices

Regeneration underway in the North of England provides a once in a generation opportunity to reshape the prospects for all children in the North and put their prospects on a par with those in the South, according to Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England.

Commenting at the launch of Growing Up North, a major new project that aims to find out why some children in the North fall behind their counterparts in the South, Anne Longfield called for Northern regeneration chiefs to seize the opportunities to dramatically improve choices and outcomes for all children in the region.
Researched Links:

Children’s Commissioner:  Northern regeneration offers once in a generation opportunity to reshape prospects for children

Property Owners keep alert to fraud
Land Registry’s Property Alert service reaches sign-up landmark.  The service helps people to detect fraudulent activity on their property by sending them email alerts when there is certain activity on the property being monitored, such as a mortgage being taken out against it.  The recipient can then decide whether they think the activity is suspicious and act quickly if so.  The alert email tells them who to contact should they be concerned.
Researched Links:

Land Registry:  Over 50,000 sign up for Land Registry’s free Property Alert service

Property fraud line helps thousands in its first three years

New free counter-fraud measure from Land Registry for companies

Safer night flying near airports

Since 2009 over 10,000 aircraft in the UK alone have been targeted by hand held lasers. The reckless targeting of aircraft poses a significant and growing threat to aviation safety.  However it is often difficult to obtain evidence to secure a conviction and existing laser detection equipment is very expensive.

Scientists at the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (Dstl) have developed an innovative app that analyses laser dazzle events, making it quicker & easier for the police to arrest & prosecute offenders, deter the targeting of aircraft and allow pilots to take steps to prevent themselves from being dazzled.

The Laser Event Recorder app (LERapp) has been developed using an iPhone.  It utilises the inbuilt camera, GPS and connectivity to record, analyse & communicate details of the incident.  The app can be modified for use on Android phones and other platforms.
Researched Links:

Dstl:  Putting an end to laser pen attacks on planes

How will this impact on UK Gov plans?
Easier access for all rail operators to domestic rail markets should give rail passengers more choice & better quality services under draft rules backed by Transport and Tourism Committee on Monday.  The new rules combine granting access for rail operators to use rail track and stations in EU domestic rail markets and bidding, as a general rule, for public service contracts.
Researched Links:

EU News:  Transport MEPs back reform of domestic rail services

DfT:  Rail reform - future of the rail network

DfT:  Transport secretary puts passengers at the heart of the railway

IEA:  Rail announcements are a step in the right direction but could go further

Could you re-incarnate a Legend?

The search is on for inspirational ideas which will see artworks, inspired by Wales’ many legendary figures, installed at some of Wales’ most loved & iconic sites - as part of the Year of Legends in 2017.  The competition to design & build the two art Installations has now gone live on Sell2Wales, the website advertising Welsh Government procurement opportunities.

Cadw will be looking for final designs that are innovative & original; that will bring Wales’s heritage to life and catch people’s imaginations and inspire them to visit Wales and explore its incredible historic sites.  The contract notice is available on Sell2Wales. The deadline for the first stage of the bid process is 20 December 2016.
Researched Links:

WAG:  International scale installations to mark “Year of Legends”

Drives a ‘coach & horses’ through laws to protect passengers
A "worrying" loophole that allows people to drive members of the public in minibuses without having a criminal record check must be solved by urgently updating taxi licensing laws, councils warned.  Under current laws, drivers of Public Carriage Vehicles (PCVs) - those seating between 9 and 16 passengers – are licensed by the DVLA but are not subject to a criminal record check.
Researched Links:

LGA:  Minibus taxi safeguarding loophole must be fixed, councils urge

Stay Safe – Book Your Cab

Record number of rogue drivers prosecuted for TPH violations

RoSPA backs campaign to save young lives

Safer Travel at Night campaign - 2014 successes

WAG:  New plans to help keep people safe on nights out

Editorial Comment:  A conundrum for ‘devolved’ Brexit

As the UK Supreme Court decides just who can push the button on Article 50 one of the oddities that has been thrown up is that while ScotGov claims that because a majority of people voted to ‘remain’ in Scotland in the June referendum, they have a mandate to ‘keep’ Scotland in the Single market / EU.

Meanwhile in Wales, where a majority of voters in Wales chose to leave the EU, the WAG also seems to be claiming that they have a mandate to ‘keep’ Wales in the Single market / EU.

One thing both Wales & Scotland should bear in mind is that ‘English’ taxes are what is used to pay for the UK’s EU contribution and neither of them could afford the ‘membership fee’ on their own.  In fact, what that snatched photo of Meeting Minutes outside No.9 Downing the other week was probably referring to was the apparent desire for ScotGov and WAG to continue to ‘have their cake (EU structural funds) and eat it (the Barnett formula)’!

 More contributions following EU Referendum

Still a ‘hot topic’, with widely spread views, for those who put fingers to keyboard in order to ‘share their views’:

Researched Links:

HM Treasury:  Philip Hammond and David Davis host financial services bosses for Brexit discussion

PC&PE:  UK Intergovernmental relations must improve as negotiations to leave EU begin

PC&PE:  Proposals for a common consolidated corporate tax base needs urgent debate

WAG:  £1bn of EU structural funds invested in Wales

WAG:  “If Brexit is about “taking back control” then trying to override the British constitution is a bad start” – Counsel General for Wales

Office of the Secretary of State for Wales:  'Back Britain' as we approach Brexit, Davis tells business leaders

ScotGov:  Fisheries talks conclude

ScotGov:  Concerns remain over lack of clear Article 50 plan

ScotGov:  EU/Faroe fish deal

EU News:  Transport MEPs back reform of domestic rail services

IfG statement in response to "Brexit plan"

NIESR: Sharp fall in migration post Brexit could shrink GDP per capita by more than 3pc

techUK:  Irish Government Launches New Employment Permits Online Application System


 More contributions to the UK constitutional debate

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

Researched Links:

HMT:  Third ministerial meeting on the Welsh Government's new funding arrangements


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Every year, we ask you, the members of our network, to help us in our search for leaders to shape what we do over the next 12 months and nominations have now opened for the 2017 Guardian Public Leaders editorial advisory board.
We are now looking for nine new leaders to join the board from across all public services, including central government, local government and the private and voluntary sectors. You can find out more details here. Nominations will close at midnight on Wednesday 4 January, 2017.

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