General Reports and Other Publications
NAO: Sound financial management will be essential at the Department for International Development as its spending increases by a third over the next 4 years, according to the National Audit Office. However, the Department ‘cannot yet assess important aspects of the value for money of the aid it has delivered, at an aggregated level’.
With greater spending in higher risk locations and more fragile states, DFID must do more to assure itself that it minimises fraud & corruption risks. Although the level of reported fraud is low, it is likely to be under-reported. The NAO has found that the investigation of fraud is reactive and the Department does not attempt to quantify its estimated likely fraud losses.
PC&PE: The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published a report which, on the basis of evidence from the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury, addresses an issue at the core of the relationship between Parliament and government - accountability for public spending.
NO: ManchesterCity Council has refused to pay compensation for injustice caused by its approach to recovering council tax debt through bankruptcy proceedings. The original critical report was issued by the previous Local Government Ombudsman (LGO). In her report, the successor LGO, Dr Jane Martin, calls on the Council to reconsider its position and pay the £1,000 compensation recommended.
In September 2009 the Ombudsman’s predecessor issued a report criticising the Council for its deficient warning procedures in notifying bankruptcy for non-payment of council tax. He also criticised the Council for not properly considering other options for recovering the debt and argued that the Council did not need to resort to bankruptcy proceedings.
Defra: 70% of people say that buying sustainable fish is important, but only 30% say that they buy sustainable fish, because a ‘third of people aren’t sure how to choose sustainable fish products and are confused by labelling’, according to research published by Defra.
The figures show the need for retailers & producers to make sure labels are clear & effective, and to understand the difference between what consumers care about and what they actually feel able to buy in their weekly shop.
Newswire – WWF: According to a new study by WWF and German development bank DEG, the shortage of freshwater is not only becoming more & more of an ecological risk, but it also is rapidly becoming a major business growth risk – one that investors need to take into account.
Assessing Water Risk: A Practical Approach for Financial Institutions, states that climate change, population growth and increasing living standards are contributing to the rising pressure on existing and already scarce water resources, particularly in developing countries. In Southeast Asia & Africa, for example, water shortages constitute a threat to entire ecosystems and to the living standards of the population.
Access to a sufficient quantity of water of adequate quality is therefore of considerable economic significance. The newly developed water risk filter system in the report is intended to identify water-related risks at an early point in time so they can be considered in investment decisions.
DWP: New research published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) explores the ‘relationship between work & parenthood, as well as the role of the support available to parents in helping them overcome any constraints to working’.
PC&PE: The House of Lords Procedure Committee has published a report covering procedures for the forthcoming election of the Lord Speaker, tabling of oral questions and individuals criticised in Lords select committee reports. The report needs to be debated & agreed to by the House of Lords. A debate is expected to take place after the Easter recess.
CH: The way that nations design their economic policies is woefully inadequate to prevent financial & economic crises, says a report jointly published by Chatham House and The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). Preventing Crises and Promoting Economic Growth: A Framework for International Policy Cooperation, calls on governments to grasp the international implications of their domestic policies.
National policy makers should publish 'international impact assessments' about the international effects of their domestic policies, recognising that their decisions can cause ripples across the global economy which - in turn - can have a domestic impact. In a connected global economy, this type of public & international accountability could provide a step-change in the way nations decide which policies are in their national interest.
PC&PE: The Commons Committee of Public Accounts has published a report which, on the basis of evidence from the BBC Trust & the BBC, examined the management of the contract with Siemens and the BBC's in-house development of the Digital Media Initiative Programme.
The Programme is, however, no longer expected to deliver the overall net financial benefit of £17.9m originally anticipated. The BBC approved the Programme on the basis that it would cost £81.7m and deliver benefits of £99.6m, but now forecasts costs of £133.6m and benefits of £95.4m – a net cost of £38.2m.
Ofsted: Effective numeracy teaching that is built into practical training makes a real difference to young people & adults in their work & personal lives, according to an Ofsted report. However, weak numeracy provision focused on worksheets & repetitive exercises can leave them both failing to understand mathematical concepts and incapable of applying their learning in their everyday lives.
Numeracy is central to success at work and educational progress. The report, Tackling the challenge of low numeracy skills in young people and adults, highlights the key features of good practice and identifies the most common weaknesses of poor numeracy provision seen by inspectors during visits to colleges and to sessions held in the workplace, community settings and prisons.