General Reports and Other Publications
ESRC: Working for the public sector is good for fertility, according to new Economic and Social Research Council funded research at the University of Oxford. The study, which examined patterns of employment & childbearing decisions for couples over a number of years, found that the decision to have one or more children was intricately bound up with the working patterns of parents. Contrary to expectations, the research revealed that temporary employment contracts, which are increasingly common for both men & women, do not put couples off parenthood.
The relative security of employment in the public sector, together with a more ‘family friendly’ ethos in the private sector (in both the UK & Italy), is thought to foster fertility. ‘The public sector tends to offer a guaranteed job to return to, a career progression more linked to seniority and more flexible hours and time off to care for sick children’, Dr Nazio explains.
Press release ~ ‘Are Storks Striking for a Contract Renewal? Employment and childbirth decisions under changing employment, welfare and family circumstances’ ~ Longitudinal study: Understanding Society
HEFCE: The HEFCE Board has considered a review of modern foreign languages in English higher education (HE). The review, commissioned by HEFCE and undertaken by Professor Michael Worton, Vice-Provost of University College London, drew on a range of data to make recommendations that aim to assure the long-term sustainability & vitality of modern foreign languages (MFL) provision in HE.
The majority of the recommendations are addressed to HE institutions and the languages community, but there are specific recommendations for HEFCE & Government. The report argues that now is the moment to develop a clear & compelling identity for MFL in an increasingly competitive HE context. HEFCE will evaluate the success of existing investments in languages - 'Routes into Languages' & 'Language-based Area Studies' - before considering further funding.
Press release ~ Review of Modern Foreign Languages provision in higher education in England ~ Routes into Languages ~ Language-based Area Studies
Gibson Review: The UK’s engineering construction industry has great opportunities if it can improve its productivity & industrial relations according to an independent review report entitled Changing to Compete. Mark Gibson, Chief Executive of the Whitehall and Industry Group (WIG) and his Review team described the opportunities for the engineering construction industry to grow over the next 10-15 years.
These will stem from the anticipated increased investment in nuclear & other power generation, carbon capture & storage, biofuels and other low carbon technologies in the UK. The current stock of plant in these sectors and in oil & gas and chemicals will also continue to need investment for repair, maintenance and upgrading.
Press release ~ Changing to Compete ~ Whitehall and Industry Group (WIG) ~ ECIA ~ ECITB ~ 'Closing the Gap' - Improving Communication Between Business and Government
EH: England's cathedrals are the great heritage success story of our era. They are the country's largest, most historic & most complex buildings, yet they are generally in good repair and continuing to add to their glories, by commissioning new works from fonts to fire doors and from choir schools to cafés, English Heritage has claimed.
Press release ~ EH: Creativity and Care: New Works in English Cathedrals ~ RC: Church's Patrimony Committee ~ CE: Cathedrals Fabric Commission ~ CE: Cathedral and Church Buildings
Defra: New research shows that some of the top selling household appliances may not be performing in accordance with claimed standards printed on the labels. Many domestic appliances are required to be labelled showing their energy use, energy efficiency and other characteristics. Defra tested 24 of the best selling washing machines, 24 ovens and 265 different light bulbs.
Test results included:
* 16 of the 24 washer driers tested did not perform in accordance with all the declarations on their labels
* 4 of the washer driers tested were unable to dry to the required level
* 23 of the 24 ovens tested performed in accordance with their energy efficiency label
* Some light bulbs tested had no labels at all despite this being mandatory
Press release ~ Defra’s compliance strategy, a summary of the reports and the full reports (scroll down) ~ National Measurement Office ~ Directgov: Electrical goods: greener choices
Newswire – IDeA: There is concern about the impact of the recession on councils’ abilities to improve health in their local communities. More than 80% say that the recession has forced local authorities to economise. The greatest challenge in the future is thought to be reduced resources and the majority expect the priority their council gives to health inequalities to increase in the next 5 years. These are the findings of a new survey of chief executives & senior officers of local authorities and Primary Care Trusts (PCTs).
Obesity, smoking and the gap between the wealthiest & poorest still remain the main health issues for both local councils & PCTs, which was also found in last year’s report. The report was commissioned by the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) and Healthy Communities programme from Ipos MORI.
Press release ~ IDeA: Healthy Communities Direction of Travel Survey results 2009 ~ Healthy Communities programme
NE: Natural England has teamed up with celebrity chef & writer, Prue Leith, to produce The Nature of Food, which looks at the links between our favourite dishes and the health of our countryside & wildlife and shows that good food doesn’t have to cost the earth.
The report provides an illustrated food journey ‘from farm to fork’, showcasing the individual stories of farmers & food producers who, with the help of Natural England’s Environmental Stewardship schemes, are producing high quality, distinctive food and helping to look after the natural environment. Prue Leith has donated a series of recipes, aim to help people make informed choices about their Christmas ingredients and celebrate British food produced with nature in mind.
Press release ~ The Nature of Food (includes recipe cards link) ~ Natural England’s Environmental Stewardship schemes
DCMS: The London 2012 Paralympic Games are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to challenge perceptions of disability and transform the lives of 10m disabled people across the UK, delegates at the Office for Disability Issues annual event were told last week.
In spring 2010, the Government will publish the Disability Legacy promise which will focus on three areas: increased sports participation, improved business services for disabled people and changing attitudes particularly through inclusion.
New research published ahead of the event by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and ODI claims that this approach is supported by 90% of disabled people who feel that it is important the Games yielded long-term benefits for disabled people.
Press release ~ Office for Disability Issues ~ London 2012 Legacy Research 2009 ~ London 2012 Paralympic Games ~ Paralympics GB
HO: The first review by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) of the highly skilled migration routes (Tier 1) of the Government’s Points Based System for managed migration recommends that the routes should be maintained. In the best interests of the UK economy & labour market, the MAC has produced a package of recommendations on key areas of Tier 1. These recommendations aim to maintain well designed immigration routes to attract the ‘brightest and best’ to come to the UK to work in the top 10% of graduate jobs.
Press release ~
The Migration Advisory Committee ~ Details on Tier 1 ~ Analysis of the points-based system: Tier 1
Newswire – HCA: A new report has recommended that the design & development of new homes for older people must become a national priority if the UK is to avoid a future housing crisis. Launched by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), in partnership with Communities and Local Government (CLG) and the Department of Health, the HAPPI (Housing our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation) report calls for positive action in response to the UK’s ageing population.
With the number of over 60 year-olds projected to increase by 7m over the next 25 years and much of the UK’s existing housing stock inaccessible (or unsuitable), the lack of good quality homes for older people is a real concern.
Press release ~ Housing our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation) ~ Building better lives - Getting the best from strategic housing ~ CLG - Housing ~ DH: Extra Care Housing ~ DH: Extra Care Housing Fund: bidding guidance 2008-2010 ~ JRF: Promoting social well-being in extra care housing ~ Guide to Extra Care Retirement Housing in England (September 2007) ~ Extra care housing ~ Elderly Accommodation Counsel ~ CLG - Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs) ~ Foundations ~Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods, housing strategy for an ageing society
ScotGov: Minister for Children and Early Years, Adam Ingram, has welcomed recommendations from the Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care (SIRCC), aimed at improving residential care for Scotland's young people and announced plans to create a high-level group to help drive them forward.
Press release ~ Reports from NRCCI on SIRCC website ~ Learning and Teaching Scotland ~ Getting it Right for Every Child ~ NRCCI ~ Securing Our Future Initiative ~ Response to the report of the National Residential Child Care Initiative: 'Higher Aspirations, Brighter
NAO: By transferring ownership or leases of around 60% of its estate (591 properties) to a private contractor, Mapeley, in 2001, the Inland Revenue and HM Customs & Excise planned to reduce their running costs by reducing the size of the estate. However, the National Audit Office has concluded in a recent report, that the merged HMRChas not achieved value for money on the contract, as it had no long-term plan and has not obtained all available savings.
The existence of the contract allowed for a smooth estates merger, following the merger of the two departments in 2005. HMRC has the flexibility to vacate up to 60% of its estate over the 20 year contract, allowing it to save up to £1.2bn. But it has not recognised the contract as a major strategic asset, nor committed appropriate commercial skills to managing it. As a result, the total possible savings available now amount to £900m.
LBRO: A new report highlights the claimed economic benefit to the UK from local regulatory enforcement action to protect business & the public from threats to the nation as a whole. Addressing National Threats Through National Service Delivery, published by the Local Better Regulation Office, considered areas where local enforcement officers carry out work that provides protection for the whole nation: imported consumer goods; mobile rogue trading; food safety and animal health.
The report includes a case study on the Port of Felixstowe in Suffolk that underpinned the Consumer White Paper published by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills. By providing this evidence, LBRO advised Government to fund a pilot project to increase product safety testing of imported goods at major ports.
NAO: The National Audit Office has concluded that the public support provided to UK banks by the Treasury was justified, given the scale of the economic & social costs if one or more major banks had collapsed. In providing that support, moreover, the Treasury met 2 of the government’s principal objectives: protecting depositors’ money in banks and maintaining the stability of the financial system. The final cost to the taxpayer will not, however, be known for a number of years.
The overview of the government’s response to the crisis shows that the purchases of shares by the public sector together with offers of guarantees, insurance and loans made to banks reached £850bn and the scale of the loss to the taxpayer will not be known for years to come. In addition, in 2009-2010, lending to businesses is not likely to meet targets.