General Reports and Other Publications

IfGPrivate offices are the “life support machine” for ministers, but should be strengthened to help ministers become more effective in departments, according to the Institute for Government’s new discussion paper on private offices published recently.
The discussion paper ‘Supporting ministers to lead: Rethinking the ministerial private office’ concludes that private offices in the UK could be strengthened with more expert support for ministers drawn from inside & outside the Civil Service.  Newly expanded private offices would be led by the appointment of a Chief of Staff (with ministerial say over the appointment) to help ministers track policy implementation, speak on their behalf to the department and run the new expanded ministerial office.
Press release & links ~ Supporting ministers to lead: Rethinking the ministerial private office
JRFMore than 2m ‘poor families’ face significant increases in their council tax bills from this week, a report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has claimed. The research shows 2.4m low-income families will pay on average £138 more in council tax in the new financial year (2013/14).
Press release & links
DemosHundreds of thousands of disabled people will be hit simultaneously by up to six different welfare cuts, according to new research published yesterday by think tank Demos.
Press release
PXGovernment can cut welfare bill by increasing conditions for in-work claimants, says new report from think tank Policy Exchange. Changes need to be made to the government’s flagship welfare policy in order to ensure less people in work are reliant on the state to top up their wages.

At the moment there are 1.3 million workers who rely on benefits, in the form of Working Tax Credit, to top up their incomes.  The report shows that while people said they wanted to work more, they did not actually follow their words up with action.  Nearly three quarters of in-work claimants, 970,000, are not currently looking for additional work to increase their earnings.
Press release ~ Slow Progress: Improving progression in the UK labour market
CBI: The CBI has called on the Government to embark on a programme of wholesale culture-change of the employment tribunals system. Its proposals include strengthening the role of judges to shorten hearings by discounting irrelevant evidence, and giving the Department for Business responsibility for administering the system instead of the Ministry of Justice.
Press release & links
NAO: The National Audit Office believes a review of the New Homes Bonus scheme is essential to ensure the Department understands the substantial financial risks to local authorities.
Press release & links
PC&PE: The Communities and Local Government Committee has welcomed the return to local government of the responsibility to improve the health & wellbeing of local people in a report published last week. The Committee urges councils to fully grasp this opportunity by using every lever at their disposal to adopt a holistic approach to public health.
The report also, however, raises concerns over the complex accountability mechanisms of the reformed system.  In particular, it argues it is not clear who will be in charge in the event of a health emergency and urges the Government to set out clearly & unambiguously the lines of responsibility.  Finally, the Report notes a perverse incentive in the funding formula and calls for it to be reviewed.
Press release & links
PC&PE: Regulation of the media has again been at the top of the news agenda recently, but a report published by the House of Lords Communications Committee says that these discussions have tended to miss the bigger picture and vital issues have largely been left out of the debate.
Press release & links
PC&PE: The Public Accounts Committee publishes a report, on the basis of evidence from the Department for Work and Pensions, which examined the Housing Benefit reforms.
Press release & links
NAO: The National Audit Office reports that ‘Police forces in England & Wales could make savings by working together to improve their buying power for essential goods and services’.

Although the 43 police forces in England & Wales and the Home Office are making savings in the procurement of goods & services for the forces and are implementing initiatives to improve value for money, many opportunities remain unexploited.
Press release & links ~ CBI responds to NAO report on police procurement
DUAccess to Russell Group universities is ‘far from fair’, according to a new study. The research shows that applicants from state schools and from black & Asian ethnic backgrounds are less likely to be admitted to Russell Group universities than their peers with the same A-level results from private schools and white ethnic backgrounds.
DU News item ~ Michael Gove responds to report by Durham University on university admissions
RUSIBritish public divided on whether drones make the West more or less safe, but small majority support targeted killing of known terrorists unless civilian casualties involved. 55% of the British public would support the UK Government assisting in a drone missile strike to kill a known terrorist overseas, but support drops substantially if innocent casualties are likely, according to a new joint study from University of Surrey's Centre for International Intervention (cii) and the Royal United Services Institute, in collaboration with YouGov.
Press release & links ~ 'Hitting the Target? How New Capabilities are Shaping International Intervention
IfL: The Institute for Learning has pledged its support for the report published on 25 March 2013 by the Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning (CAVTL), It’s about work … Excellent adult vocational teaching and learning.
Press release & links ~ It’s about work … Excellent adult vocational teaching and learning
ESRCWell designed & planned exercises are essential to ensure that the UK can respond effectively to emergencies of all kinds, according to research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The emergencies may take the form of a terrorist attack, flooding, pandemic flu, rail or air disaster - or any major disruptive event requiring an emergency response.
The aim of the research was to generate new knowledge about how exercises are planned, designed and undertaken, particularly following the 2004 Civil Contingencies Act, and to learn from practitioners about how the planning and design of exercises might be improved.
Press release & links
DemosPolice constabularies should install dedicated heads of social media to tackle crime & ensure responsible collection of online intelligence data, according to Demos’s Centre for the Analysis of Social Media (CASM).
The report, Policing in the Information Age, argues that more effective use of social networks like Twitter & Facebook would improve security & help police respond quickly to dynamic situations, such as the 2011 riots, by ‘crowd-sourcing’ events as they unfold.
It also proposes a clear regulatory framework that would clarify how & when police are able to access social media information for intelligence purposes, ensuring proportionate usage by police and putting it on a legal footing for the first time.
Press release ~ Policing in the Information Age
TUC: With youth unemployment on the increase again, many young people desperate for a job see unpaid internships as their best chance of getting experience of work. But research published by the TUC suggests that 78% of 18-34 year olds could not afford to live in London away from home to become an unpaid intern.
Press release & links
NE: The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games have been hailed as the most sustainable ever – and the natural environment has been a real winner.  Reports just published by Natural England and its partners across 3 venues show how green infrastructure (such as parks & woodland) is an important element of the Olympic legacy.
The case studies detail how the partners worked together to increase the number of services provided by the environment in and around the venues, which will improve biodiversity and people’s well-being.  The documents provide an important resource for public & professionals.
Press release & links
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