General Reports and Other Publications

ESRC: Shoppers face a complex & time-consuming task to get the best deal, depending on the store they buy food from and the item involved, according to a new booklet ‘Public behaviour in the UK in times of economic decline/rising food prices’.  Published by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) it highlights that the reports of a ‘food price crisis’ fail to notice large cost variations over time & by outlet.

The booklet is based largely on insights from 2 academic experts on food pricing presented at a public policy seminar organised by the ESRC for the Food Standards Agency. Their research included checking the prices of more than 50 standard food items in 250 stores in 1997 and 500 in 2007, ranging from multiples &discounters to greengrocers and delicatessens.

Failing to choose the right store could mean - in an extreme case - a price premium as high as 260% for a tin of baked beans from a delicatessen (72p) compared with a discount store (20p).  
Press release ~ ‘Public behaviour in the UK in times of economic decline/rising food prices’ is available by emailing: knowledgetransfer@esrc.ac.uk ~ ESRC Public Policy Seminar Series ~ Consumer attitudes and behaviour in the UK in times of economic decline / rising food prices - 27 November 2008 ~ Food Standards Agency (FSA) ~ Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
 
CRC: The recent NALC Annual Conference 2009: 'Putting People First' showed local councils now have the opportunity to further develop their role &services to enhance their position as advocates &representatives of their communities. Stuart Burgess, the Commission for Rural Communitites chair (and the Government's Rural Advocate), spoke to the conference about the opportunities for collaboration with NALC to help strengthen the role of local councillors.
Press release ~ NALC ~ Guidance to help councils engage with unitary authorities ~ CRC inquiry into how the role of local councillors can be strengthened ~ Securing effective engagement for parish and town councils with unitary structures and processes ~ Stuart's speech to the conference ~ Presentations & speeches from conference
 
DH: Surveys for NHS Teen LifeCheck reveal social similarities & divides on some of the top teenage concerns.  Of the teenagers surveyed, almost double the number of teens from low income families worried about bullying.  However, teens from higher income families are more likely to worry about peer pressure and fitting in.
 
Further research also shows that 48% of teens don’t feel they can talk to their friends about their worries because they think they’ll be considered silly or different and 31% feel that their friends just wouldn’t understand.
 
The NHS Teen LifeCheck online service (which is specifically targeted at young people aged 12-15) is aimed at teens with the highest risk of future ill health caused by their lifestyle choices.  The website encourages them to complete its quiz & act on the results and signposts people to support for issues like bullying.
Press release ~ NHS Teen LifeCheck ~ Piczo ~ Complete NHS LifeCheck ~ NHS Teen LifeCheck Evaluation Executive Summary
 
Newswire - WAO: The way the States of Guernsey (the States) currently directs itself does not facilitate the delivery of sustainable services that offer value for money for the Islanders.  That is the conclusion of an independent review carried out by the Auditor General for Wales, Jeremy Colman.
 
His review concludes that the States’ arrangements do not fully comply with any of the 6 principles of good governance for public bodies set out by the Independent Commission on Good Governance in Public Services.  Good governance is essential if public bodies are to deliver value for money and quality services in a transparent manner.
Press release ~ Links to report and related documents ~ Independent Commission on Good Governance in Public Services ~ States of Guernsey
 
Defra: New research commissioned by Defra has found that banning some materials from landfill in countries around the world may mean that as little as 1% of waste ends up in landfill. Other research is underway into how such bans could work in this country, what infrastructure & resources would be needed, and what the impact would be.
 
The research on bans in other countries was carried out by Green Alliance and looked at how similar bans have worked in Austria, Flanders, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Massachusetts in the USA.  It showed, for example, that the amount of waste sent to landfill in Germany reduced from 27% to 1% after a landfill ban was introduced for some materials, such as paper & card.  A public consultation will be held in the next few months on banning certain materials from landfill in England.  
Press release ~ Landfill ban research ~ Defra - Landfill~ Green Alliance
 
GSCC: Responses to a General Social Care Council (GSCC) poll indicate that employers are failing to take action when social workers report concerns or barriers to their work. Almost 50% of respondents to the poll in Social Work Connections, the GSCC’s newsletter for social workers & students, said that when they had reported operational difficulties or concerns about a colleague, their employer had not taken action.  Similar numbers said they did not feel confident that their employer would take action if they spoke up.
 
Social workers are bound by the Code of Practice for Social Care Workers, which says they must ‘use established processes and procedures to challenge and report dangerous, abusive, discriminatory or exploitative behaviour and practice (3.2)’.  The most common fears cited by those who said they would not speak up were victimisation and a negative impact on their career.
 
Earlier this year, the government accepted Lord Laming’s recommendation that the employer’s code become mandatory.  The GSCC is in talks about this with Ofsted, CQC and the government and will meet local authority employers in October 2009.
Press release ~ Code of Practice for Social Care Workers ~ Laming report: index of recommendations
 
ESRC: Finding appropriate ways to understand the value of culture, media & sport to society and explain this with evidence that convinces has proved a challenge for many years.  New approaches to this issue are outlined in ‘Not Only .... But Also: Capturing the Value of Culture Media and Sport’.
 
This new booklet highlights these approaches & the views of leading experts, policymakers and academic researchers as presented during a Public Policy Seminar jointly organised by the Economic and Social Council (ESRC), the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), held in June 2009.
Press release ~ ‘Not Only .... But Also: Capturing the Value of Culture Media and Sport’ (scroll down) ~ Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) ~ Culture and Sport Evidence programme - ‘CASE’ ~ Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
 
NE: Three quarters of the public would pay more for fish caught without damaging the environment, according to a new survey published by Natural England.  The survey accompanies its new report - Sea fisheries: steps to sustainability’ - highlighting the ways in which fishing practices should be adapted to secure more sustainable fish stocks in English waters.
 
England’s seas are amongst the most biodiverse in Europe and a long history of over-fishing has contributed to a marked decrease in the populations of many important species such as skate and cod.  The report points to the heavy impact of discarding – the ‘scourge of fishing’ - as a practice that now sees nearly a third of the total catch in the North Sea being thrown back into the sea, partly because of quota restrictions.
 
But Natural England’s report makes clear that current levels of waste and over-exploitation are by no means inevitable.  The fishing industry has already made a number of innovations in fishing gear & fishing methods that can help to minimise damage to sea bed environments, and reduce by-catch & discards.  A wider programme of fisheries certification is needed to ensure that the fishing industry can capture an economic premium for fish caught through these sustainable fishing methods.
Press release ~ The Omnibus survey'Sea fisheries: steps to sustainability' - report ~ ‘Natura 2000’ sites ~ Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) ~ No Take Zones ~ Profitable Futures for Fishing ~ EU press release – phasing out of discards
 
BIS: The Government has published the results of an independent investigation into the collapse of the MG Rover Group (MGRG). The inquiry was set up by the then Secretary of State for Trade & Industry after MGRG, the manufacturer of Rover & MG cars, went into administration on April 8, 2005 owing creditors nearly £1.3bn.
 
When publishing the findings Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, announced that lawyers have already begun work compiling the underlying evidence required to bring proceedings against the relevant directors to prevent them holding company office in future.  He also decided the report should be referred to the Financial Reporting Council, the regulatory body for auditors, accounting and corporate governance.
 
In addition he has written to the Business & Enterprise Select Committee after the Inspectors found inaccurate & misleading explanations were given to MPs & others, including some evidence given by one of the directors to the Select Committee.
Press release ~ Report on the affairs of Phoenix Venture Holdings Limited, MG Rover Group Limited and 33 other companies
 
OS: New research amongst the UK’s leading insurance fraud investigators (IFIs) by Ordnance Survey reveals that insurance fraud is continuing to rise, despite soaring to record levels in 2008.  According to Sarah Adams, Insurance & Banking Sector Manager at Ordnance Survey: “One area that is being used to effectively tackle the problem is the use of geography & mapping, which is being used by around three quarters of insurance fraud investigators to help highlight hot spots or patterns of fraud, and to help validate claimant information.
 
“For example, recent analysis using geographic intelligence highlighted how two seemingly unrelated postcodes with high volumes of fraudulent activity were in fact adjacent to each other.  Our analysis has also uncovered the hidden spatial relationships between suspect addresses used by an organised crime gang, which would never have been identified through traditional data-mining techniques.”
Press release ~ Insurance Fraud Investigators Group (IFIG) ~ OS
Red Hat on automation (pt 2)