The next newsletter will be published on Tuesday 02 May 2017 

Why News is ‘thin on the ground’

With both the local & mayoral elections approaching, you may have heard about public bodies, like CQC, having to respect a ‘pre-election period’, which places certain short-term restrictions on what we’re allowed to publish & announce in the period before an election.

As a non-departmental public body, the CQC also have a duty to be politically impartial – it is important that their conduct during the pre-election period, and at all times, does not call this into question.  The pre-election period began on Thursday 13 April 2017 and ends on Thursday 4 May 2017 for the local and mayoral elections happening in parts of the country.  While they will not be publishing new national reports during this time, they want to be clear that this will not affect their activities that they class as ‘business as usual’.
Researched Links:

CQC:  What do the forthcoming elections mean for CQC?


67% of senior managers at local authorities believe a significant data breach is inevitable

Over half (52%) of records and information managers at local authorities feel that security breaches are “accidents waiting to happen” as a consequence of time pressure and resource constraints. 

The safety of confidential and highly sensitive information – from employee records and legal files through to school admissions and social care records – could be at risk, with two thirds of senior managers (67%) believing inadequate information management will cause a significant data breach sooner rather than later. For many senior managers (71%), budget cuts present the main threat to the quality of information management and security.

The findings come from a new study of senior managers and records and information professionals at local authorities across the UK.

Click here to find out more and download your copy of the full report.

An example of why the NHS has to continually ‘invest’ in research / pilot schemes

An estimated 8,000 stroke patients a year are set to benefit from an advanced emergency treatment which can significantly decrease the risk of long-term disability and also save £ms in long term health & social care costs.

NHS England has announced that it will commission mechanical thrombectomy so it can become more widely available for patients who have certain types of  acute ischaemic stroke – a severe form of the condition where a blood vessel to the brain becomes blocked, often leading to long-term disability.  If used within the first 6 hours of symptoms beginning to show – alongside other specialist medical treatment & care – the procedure has been shown in clinical trials to significantly improve survival & quality of life by restoring blood flow and therefore limiting brain damage.

Work by NHS England is now underway to assess the readiness of each of the 24 neuroscience centres across the country which are set to introduce the service.  It is expected the treatment will start to be phased in later in this year with an estimated 1,000 patients set to benefit across the first year of introduction. NHS England will work with Health Education England and trusts to build on the expertise that is currently available in these specialised centres, developing the workforce and systems to enable an estimated 8,000 to receive this treatment in coming years.

Stroke is a devastating disease for patients and their families, and is estimated to cost the NHS around £3bn per year, with additional cost to the economy of a further £4bn in lost productivity, disability & informal care.
Researched Links:

NHS England:  Stroke patients in England set to receive revolutionary new treatment

BHF:  Researchers investigate cause of stroke linked to dementia

Reducing Stroke risk

NICE targets stroke with possible new indicators for GPs and clinical commissioners

Joined-up working required for effective stroke rehab services

Wales leading in UK on neurological care measures

Quarter of people would not call 999 at the first signs of stroke

PHE calls for greater high blood pressure awareness

Tackling blood pressure: the size of the prize

LGA:  Health checks could save your life – say councils

IEA:  NHS reforms to emulate healthcare systems of Switzerland & the Netherlands would save thousands of lives a year

More people surviving strokes in Wales, new report shows

BHF:  New figures reveal 350 extra deaths each week from heart disease & strokes during winter months

Opportunities for action around hypertension highlighted with new resource

BHF:  Study says screening could prevent 600 heart attacks in people under 40

Dietary reference values: advice on potassium

Improving care for stroke patients: apply for innovation funding

Heart Age Tool updated with new interventions and advice

BHF:  Increasing number of hospital visits for heart disease & stroke

Thousands to benefit as NICE set to recommend drug to prevent heart attacks and strokes

New work from NICE could prevent thousands of people from suffering a stroke

BHF:  Anabolic steroid abuse may increase risk of abnormal heart rhythm & stroke

NICE draft guidance recommends new drugs for cholesterol disorder

Stroke - Treatment - NHS Choices

Treatment for a stroke - redcross.org.uk‎

Stroke overview - NICE Pathways

Diagnosis & treatment for a stroke | Health conditions | Age UK

Although ‘1984’ is history, deep down most of us still have a ‘fear’ of ‘Big Brother’ and ‘self-willed’ robots

techUK has welcomed the ICO’s release of a discussion paper on “Big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning and data protection”.  This is the latest version of the ICO’s Big Data and Data Protection report first released in July 2014 and brings the ICO’s views up to date as the of big data analytics increases across all sectors.

In the foreword the Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, highlights the unique & relevant role of the ICO in providing “the right framework for the regulation of big data, AI and machine learning”.

The paper considers in detail the implication of big data, AI & machine learning for data protection and explains the ICO’s current views on these technologies.  In addition to defining what is meant by big data, AI & machine learning, the paper includes the ICO’s views on live issues of discussion including data ethics, algorithmic transparency and GDPR implementation.

The ICO’s paper includes a number of key recommendations for organisations to consider when they are using big data, machine learning and AI tools and solutions, including;

  • Embedding a privacy impact assessment framework into big data processing activities
  • Adoption of a privacy by design approach in the development & application of big data analytics
  • Developing ethical principles to help reinforce key data protection principles
  • Implementation of innovative techniques to develop auditable machine learning algorithms
  • Using innovative approaches to provide meaningful privacy notices at appropriate stages throughout a big data project.
Researched Links:

techUK Welcomes ICO Discussion Paper on Big Data and AI

Dstl:  Making sense of big data to improve the nation’s defence, security and prosperity

‘HAL’ graduates from rogue space computer to ‘2017; A Global Trade Odyssey’

Are you ready for the robot revolution?

Cloud is good; SuperCloud is better

Data at the Heart of the UK Digital Strategy

Information:  The King of Modern War!

techUK welcomes Fourth Industrial Revolution report

CIPD:  HR must lead the way in ensuring technology unlocks people’s potential

techUK welcomes Government’s Data Science Ethical Framework publication

London Borough of Camden Gets Tough on Crime with Big Data

10 ways Google is Transforming Public Sector Frontline Services

Opening up a world of information

Skills Management: A Method for Measuring Resource Skills in a Public Sector Organisation

Will this lead to a fine from the ICO?
The NCSC is providing expert technical assistance to Wonga’s investigation into the illegal & unauthorised access to some of their customers’ personal data.  Anyone who is concerned about their personal details should consult the advice on the Wonga website and guidance from Action Fraud by visiting their website or calling 0300 123 2040.

NCSC response to Wonga investigation

Guardian:  Wonga data breach could affect nearly 250,000 UK customers

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. 

If you litter, you could be ‘throwing’ your money away

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom has unveiled the Government’s first Litter Strategy for England intended to reduce the near £800m burden to the taxpayer of clean-up costs.  Under the new measures, the most serious litterers could be hit with the £150 fines, while vehicle owners could receive penalty notices when it can be proved litter was thrown from their car – even if it was discarded by somebody else.

Further new measures drawn up by environment, transport & communities departments include:

  • Issuing new guidance for councils to be able to update the nation’s ‘binfrastructure’ through creative new designs and better distribution of public litter bins, making it easier for people to discard rubbish.
  • Stopping councils from charging householders for disposal of DIY household waste at civic amenity sites (rubbish dumps) – legally, household waste is supposed to be free to dispose of at such sites.
  • Creating a new expert group to look at further ways of cutting the worst kinds of litter, including plastic bottles & drinks containers, cigarette ends and fast food packaging.

The strategy also outlines measures to protect seas, oceans and marine life from pollution.   It builds on the success of the 5p plastic bag charge, which has led to a 40% decrease in bags found on the beach.  Funding will also be made available to support innovative community-led projects to tackle litter that could turn local success stories into national initiatives.

The Government will follow the strategy with a new national anti-littering campaign in 2018, working with industry and the voluntary sector to drive behaviour change.

The consultation on the new enforcement measures has opened (closes on 18 June 2017).  Guidance will then be issued to councils to accompany any new enforcement powers, to make sure they are targeted at cutting litter, while preventing over-zealous enforcement or fines being used to raise revenue.
Researched Links:

DCMS:  Government publishes new anti-littering strategy

LGA responds to the Government's new litter strategy

Better behaviour costs less

Illegal dumping levels reach tipping point

Warning for landowners over dumping illegal waste

LGA:  Fly-Tipping: Pre-Christmas crackdown by councils is underway

LGA:  Judicial review backs councils' call for commercial waste VAT exemption to remain

LGA:  Councils reveal fly-tippers' worst excuses as clear-up costs rise

LGA: High street coffee chains must go 'further & faster' in developing recyclable cups

LGA:  Fly-tipping: on-the-spot fines come into force

Deposit return consideration

Not just Electricity & Gas suppliers one needs to at least threaten to change

A new report from Citizens Advice reveals that 35% of broadband customers don’t realise they could face price hikes by staying on the same contract with their provider after their initial deal ends.  With broadband customers staying on the same contract for 4 years on average, Citizens Advice warns customers are being charged a ‘loyalty penalty’ for remaining on the same deal.

Citizens Advice wants broadband providers to help customers avoid loyalty penalties by being much clearer about how much their services will cost after the initial fixed deal ends.  Analysis of the cheapest basic broadband deals from the 5 largest suppliers finds that prices go up by an average of 43%, or £9.45 extra a month, at the end of the fixed contract period.  This adds an additional £113 a year to a customer’s bill.
Researched Links:

CAB:  Broadband prices rise by an average 43% when fixed term deals end

Chickens free to enjoy the ‘delights of Spring’ outdoors

All poultry in England are to be allowed outside from Thursday 13 April 2017 following updated evidence on the risk posed by wild birds, the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer has announced.

The requirement to keep poultry in Higher Risk Areas of England housed or completely enclosed in netting, introduced to minimise the risk of them catching avian flu from wild birds, will be lifted.  However, all keepers in England will continue to be required to comply with strict biosecurity measures.  A ban on poultry gatherings also remains in force until further notice.

The risk of poultry becoming infected from H5N8 remains heightened and countries across Europe continue to experience outbreaks and observe cases in wild birds.  Defra is stepping up surveillance of wild birds across the UK to inform their risk assessments.  Lifting the housing requirement in Higher Risk Areas means free range birds across every part of England can now be allowed outside again.
Researched Links:

Defra:  Updated measures to protect poultry against Avian Flu

‘Out of this world’ solutions for Developing Countries

The UK Space Agency has opened a call to connect space industry & developing countries to help tackle economic, societal & environmental issues.  Call 2 for funding will close on 5 September 2017.  The assessment is due to take place in October 2017 and successful projects will begin by the end of 2017.

The Agency’s International Partnerships Programme (IPP) is a 5-year, £152m programme, designed to partner UK space expertise with overseas governments & organisations.  It is part of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), which aims to support cutting-edge research and innovation that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries.

More than £70m in funding has already been given to projects in partnership with the UK space industry, applying inventive satellite solutions to a range of areas such as deforestation, illegal fishing, marine pollution, disaster recovery, drought & flooding.  The latest tranche of funding will focus on issues around health & education.
Researched Links:

UK Space Agency:  £50m for satellite solutions to help developing countries

Editorial Comment:  Why should rUK build Scotland’s infrastructure

‘The UK Government must recognise the vital importance of island renewables to the UK energy market’, Paul Wheelhouse said ahead of talks with his UK counterpart in Stornoway. 

Discussions will focus on the UK Government’s recent consultation which back-tracked on support for wind projects on the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland. The development of proposed major projects alone would trigger initial investment of £2.5bn.

“Our position on island wind is both consistent and very clear – we must do all we can to enable our island communities to benefit from this substantial resource, large enough to meet 5% of total UK electricity demand, provide significant boost to decarbonising our electricity supply, and would be worth up to £725m to local economies’.

Why, one wonders, should the rUK pay the majority of a £2.5bn cost to build an infrastructure asset in Scotland, when it is the ScotGov’s announced (one presumes) aim to claim ownership of that asset (and others) within 5 years with IndyRef2?

Perhaps we should put a blanket ban on any such investments unless ScotGov signs a legal agreement that it will not hold an IndyRef2 for at least the next 20 years (a reasonable ‘lifetime’) as per their agreement signed prior to the first referendum.  But then, given the SNP’s record on promises to abide by referendum results, could rUK (or Scottish voters) trust them to honour it?
Researched Links:

ScotGov:  Support for island wind

PC&PE:  EU Referendum: Government actions led to public distrust

FDA:  Civil servants are used to impartiality - but referendum promises need proper resources

Editorial Commentary: Is the SNP threat of another Referendum realistic?

An independent Scotland could require more than the ‘benefits of £24bn’ to both pay for the extension of HS2 and the subsidies of the existing railway(s)


 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:

PC&PE:  UK must still debate EU issues up until Brexit

PC&PE:  Government's Industrial Strategy could do more to reflect Brexit opportunities

NEF:  Inflation bites Brexit Britain: Squeeze on households continues


 More contributions to the UK constitutional debate

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

Researched Links:

PC&PE:  EU Referendum: Government actions led to public distrust

FDA:  Civil servants are used to impartiality - but referendum promises need proper resources


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:

According to Engineering UK, Britain will need at least 182,000 people with engineering skills each year until 2022 to deliver major projects such as HS2.
With the government’s industrial strategy also promising further investment in infrastructure, and a final deal on Brexit still a long way off, questions remain over where this skilled workforce will come from. Those questions were explored at a Guardian seminar at Birmingham’s Council House at the end of March and you can read a summary here.
Meanwhile, an asylum seeker caseworker contributed to our Letter to the Public series last week, writing about how staff are moulded to be sceptical and work to unrealistic targets.
The caseworker, who recently left the Home Office, said that war in Syria and referrals under the Prevent system, has created added pressure on a workforce that is already overstretched, under-resourced and inadequately trained:
"If we don’t start taking this seriously – putting proper resources and support in place, and actively trying to retain staff instead of letting them burn out – the people who suffer most will be those who have turned to us for help in their darkest hour."

Also on the network
Tackling distrust of government over personal data

Tackling distrust of government over personal data
How can the government reassure the public about how it is using personal data? Our online live chat got to the heart of the matter – here’s a roundup

I worry asylum caseworkers are failing people in their darkest hour

I worry asylum caseworkers are failing people in their darkest hour
At the Home Office we’re moulded to be sceptical and work to unrealistic targets. Doing the right thing can mean taking a performance hit

News in brief
• Civil service's reputation damaged by EU referendum
• DExEU second perm sec named
• Slow recruitment is costing the civil service key skills, say outgoing commissioners
• Cuts to legal aid for prisoners ruled unlawful
• Crisis looms for social policy agenda as Brexit preoccupies Whitehall