General Reports and Other Publications

DCMS:  The Government has published the results of independent research on digital radio.  This includes research by Intertek into the energy consumption of radios, which shows that products are becoming more energy efficient.  Also published is research into consumer behaviour and the public's willingness to pay for digital radios.

Press release & links

:  The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee has recently published its sixth Report of Session 2010–12, Is Kraft working for Cadbury? (HC 871), which considers undertakings given by Kraft to the Committee in the previous Parliament.

Press release & links ~ Comment from Unite the union

:  The House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on Home Affairs said that the European Commission’s plans for implementing the EU's Internal Security Strategy could raise standards among Member States and enhance the EU's security as a whole.

The committee says that the 5 objectives covered by the Commission's proposals are sensible, practical & achievable.  Of these, improving cyber-security is most urgent.  The committee says more funding will be needed for the Commission’s proposed new Cybercrime Centre, and that Europol should take responsibility for the Centre rather than establishing a separate agency.

Press release & links

:  There is a convincing case for reducing the corporation tax rate in Northern Ireland, not least so it can better compete with the Republic of Ireland, concludes the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in a report published last week.

The committee’s report uses 12.5% as a benchmark for the lower rate of corporation tax, but suggests that on the basis that the decision is devolved to the executive it may, in due course, choose a lower rate.

Press release & links ~ ScotGov comment

PC&PE:  The Public Accounts Committee has released a report on Departmental Business Plans which map out how cuts recommended from the 2010 Spending Review will be made.  The Business Plans also contain key indicators of input & impact which the Government intends should provide high level accountability to Parliament and others for overall departmental performance.

The Plans will also be a source of information for Parliament as they underpin the allocation of resources within departments and the subsequent accountability for the use of those resources.  The management of the full range of departmental activity, however, will require more detailed operational planning & information.

Press release & links

:  HEFCE's support for strategically important & vulnerable subjects (SIVS) has enabled courses in these subjects to be sustained, has built research capacity and provided value for money, according to an evaluation published last week.

The evaluation report indicates that the programme of support contributed strongly to sustaining provision in SIVS, which include chemistry, physics, engineering & maths, as well as modern languages and quantitative social sciences.  Without HEFCE-funded SIVS interventions it is unlikely that provision would have been sustained to the same extent.

Press release & links

:  The Mortgage Rescue Scheme, launched in January 2009 by the Department for Communities and Local Government, in 2 years achieved fewer than half of the rescues expected.  The National Audit Office has reported that the Department directly helped 2,600 households avoid repossession & homelessness at a cost of in excess of £240m - but it originally expected to help 6,000 households for £205m.

The report concludes that the Department did not adequately test the assumptions underpinning the Scheme’s business case, and that it could have acted earlier to improve value for money.

Press release & links

Newswire – TUC
:  Disabled people were ‘urged to continue their resistance to the government spending cuts which are hitting every aspect of their lives’ at the TUC's annual disability conference last week.  A new TUC briefing - Disabled people fighting the cuts - issued to coincide with the conference ‘reveals the true impact of the government's spending cuts on disabled people, and encourages unions and disabled people to fight back’.

Press release & links

:  Frequent reshuffles ‘damage the quality of government’ according to a new report from the Institute for Government.  In The Challenge of Being a Minister, the Institute finds that in the most ministers get just over 2 years to prove themselves in a job before being moved on.  Many ministers & civil servants interviewed for the report said a high turnover rate is damaging to ministerial effectiveness.

Press release & links

:  Leicestershire Police’s error in not identifying Fiona Pilkington and her children as a vulnerable family lay at the core of their failure to provide a cohesive & effective approach to the anti-social behaviour the family suffered, an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation published last week has found.  The 180-page investigation report by the IPCC contains 92 findings on interaction police had with the family and on force procedures & systems.

Press release & links ~ EHRC comment

:  The Commons Science and Technology Committee has published its report on the UK Centre for Medical Research & Innovation and says it ‘agrees with, and commends, the scientific vision for the centre but expresses reservations about the project's location’.
It says the case for the centre's central London location near St Pancras station was not overwhelming and it could have been sited elsewhere.  While the decision over location cannot be reversed, the committee urges the centre to develop plans and put in place measures so that those outside the South-East are part of the project and obtain maximum benefit.

Press release & links

:  The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published a report which, on the basis of evidence from HM Treasury and the Department of Health, examines the cost of public service pensions and the impact of the 2007-08 changes.

The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said:  "Government projections of the future cost of public service pensions suggest that the changes made in 2007-2008 will stabilise costs at around 1% of GDP, thereby bringing substantial savings to the taxpayer”.

The Treasury expects the majority of savings to come from cost sharing & capping, a reform designed to ensure that employees bear a greater share of future costs.  However, implementation has been deferred because of the Treasury’s discount rate review, and remains on hold while the Government consults on the recommendations put forward by the Hutton Commission.  As soon as possible after the consultation, the Treasury needs to publish its timetable for implementing this mechanism or an alternative scheme, as well as the expected savings.

Press release & links ~ TUC comment ~ PCS union comment

:  The challenges faced by the country's 152 council highways authorities are the subject of a new Audit Commission report Going the Distance: Achieving better value for money in road maintenance.  Between them, council highways authorities are responsible for 98% of the country's roads, spending a total of £2.3bn in 2009/10.  Yet, in response to increasing financial pressure on councils, highways budgets are facing significant cuts.

The Commission has found that the cost of maintaining roads is now 5% higher than it was 10 years ago, in part due to inflation in road materials and construction costs.

Press release & Links

:  Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin, has issued a report which is critical of the City of London ’s adult social care team’s failure to pay agreed funding for respite care for over 4.5 years.  ‘Mrs Rose’ has an advanced form of dementia and is completely dependent upon others for all aspects of her personal care & welfare.  ‘Ms White’, her daughter, is in her seventies and has cared for her mother at home for over 13 years.

In 2005, the Council agreed to provide a direct payment for 30 hours per week of personal care for Mrs Rose.  It agreed an additional carer’s respite payment to Ms White of £960 per month, to enable Ms White to have regular breaks from the demands of caring for her mother.  Due to an administrative error, the Council never made any respite care payments to Ms White.

Press release & links

:  Where you live, how old you are & whether you're male or female all affect your chances of giving up smoking.  These are the findings of a study which suggests that while NHS stop smoking services are effective in supporting some smokers to quit there are significant differences in the longer term success rates for specific groups who are trying to give up smoking.

The study, commissioned by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and undertaken by the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies (UKCTCS), reviewed published studies from between 1990 & 2007 to establish success rates for the NHS smoking cessation services.

Press release & links

:  The UK Border Agency has published a report on progress made by the asylum improvement project, which was set up to explore new ways to speed up the processing of asylum applications.  The report outlines the progress we have made so far on 25 elements of the project and explains the next steps for asylum reform.  It is too early to make a robust assessment of the impact of all 25 elements of the project, but the Home Office will do so over the coming months, as part of the next phase of asylum reform.

Press release

:  The further education & skills sector can and should play a greater role in generating jobs and setting up businesses, a major new report suggests.  The report, The Further Education and Skills Sector in 2020: A Social Productivity Approach, is published by the 2020 Public Sector Hub at the RSA and features interviews with over 30 stakeholders.

It was commissioned by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS), the improvement body for the sector, to develop independent thinking on possible futures for further education & skills.

Press release ~ The Further Education and Skills Sector in 2020: A Social Productivity Approach

Newswire – RF
:  The living standards of people on low to middle incomes were already faltering prior to the recession, and it is no longer safe to assume they will rise when steady economic growth returns, according to new analysis by the independent think tank the Resolution Foundation.  The major new report, Growth without gain?, reveals that even during the boom years, people on low to middle incomes were losing out.

Press release & Links ~ TUC comment

:  The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has reported its findings following an investigation into the use of public procurement as a tool to stimulate innovation.  In 2009-10, public procurement was valued at over £236bn, approximately 15% of GDP.

Government is ‘the single largest customer’ in the .  This magnitude of expenditure provides enormous potential to stimulate innovation & encourage economic growth – a potential which, according to the Committee, is not being realised. 

Press release & links

The right response: delivering effective emergency out of hours customer support