General Reports and Other Publications

HA: The Highways Agency has published its new procurement strategy, setting out its approach to procurement of goods, services & construction expertise for the next 5-10 years. The strategy – called ‘Delivering Sustainable Value through Supply Chain Management’ – is structured around the three key themes of value for money, delivery & sustainability and sets out a prioritised plan of actions.
 
It builds on the earlier strategy of 2001 and highlights new areas, such as the Agency’s drive to greater commercial awareness & practices.  The current project to map & better understand supply chain patterns, participants and their contributions is also described - part of the continuing search for greater efficiencies and improved value for money.
Press release ~ Delivering Sustainable Value Through Supply Chain Management ~ Summary ~ Framework Document - November 2005 ~ UK and EC Regulations Affecting Public Procurement ~ Original Procurement Strategy 2001 ~ Procurement Strategy Review 2005.
 
NENatural England has welcomed the report by the Public Accounts Committee into Natural England’s role in improving SSSIs. The report highlights the improvement in the fortunes of SSSIs in recent years.  At the end of March 2009, 88% of the land area of SSSIs was in favourable or recovering condition.  This is a very significant achievement given the situation that existed only 6 years ago, when the figure was at 57%.
 
The 4,115 SSSIs in England cover over 1m hectares, designated as special for their habitats, wildlife or geology.  Since 1949, they have formed a vital network for wildlife & geological conservation and it is clear that delivery of the 2010 target is fundamental to maintaining the diversity of wildlife & geology in England.  SSSIs also have an important role to play in maintaining water quality, flood alleviation, carbon storage and air quality.
Press release ~ NE - SSSIs ~ PAC Report on improving Sites of Special Scientific Interest
 
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities has welcomed the Business & Enterprise Committee's new report 'Post offices - securing their future'.  It recognises the need for the Post Office to find new business and suggests a variety of ways in which this might be done.  In the CRC’s contribution to the Committee’s inquiry, they called for the Post Office to expand its range of financial & banking services.
 
The report also suggests the Post Office could provide a wider range of community services and calls on local authorities to use post offices to supply more of its services.  The report notes that in deciding to support the retention of some post offices, Essex County Council took the view that an important part of aim in doing so was to counter isolation in communities.
Press release ~ Business & Enterprise Committee ~ 'Post offices - securing their future' ~ The Essex Post Office Initiative ~ CRC – Post Offices in rural areas
 
MLA: How do museums, libraries and archives help deliver local priorities? A research study commissioned by the MLA provides valuable evidence of the role they can play in meeting Local Area Agreement (LAA) targets.

The study identifies the contribution of the sector to the outcome of the 2008 LAAs.  It provides a useful analysis of how museum, library and archive services best become strategically engaged, and the barriers that get in the way.

 The report highlights how museums, libraries and archives contribute most to the achievement of priorities of building stronger communities; children and young people; and promoting adult health and wellbeing.  It shows 70% of upper tier local authorities are using libraries to deliver their local priorities through LAAs and Sustainable Community Strategies; 57% using museums and 17% are using archives.
Press release ~ The Role of Museums, Libraries and Archives and Local Area Agreements ~ MLA Regional Field Team ~ MLA Research ~ MLA - Local government ~ CLG - Local Area Agreement (LAA) targets
 
NAO: The Department for Children, Schools and Families is achieving its aim of promoting partnering in secondary education in England, according to a report by the National Audit Office.  Some 87% of schools work with other schools & organisations on improving attainment & behaviour - and headteachers are clear that partnering is delivering very substantial benefits that support school improvement.  But partnering has yet to realise its full potential.

 It is difficult to demonstrate a direct, quantifiable impact of partnering, but the NAO does find evidence that partnering has wider benefits.  Headteachers told the NAO that partnerships are a valuable tool for improving standards and that they had positive outcomes beyond the impact on pupils’ test results, such as sharing resources, energizing teachers and broadening the curriculum. 
Press release ~ Partnering for school improvement
 
WiredGov – ACSchools could save £400m a year if they bought desks, equipment & services more sensibly, according to a new report - 'Valuable lessons’ - from the Audit Commission, the public spending watchdog. It also says schools are sitting on cash reserves of nearly £2bn.  While the Commission believes it is reasonable for a school to carry over some money from year to year; almost two out of five schools hold more than the recommended amount.  
 
The report says school inspections focussed on educational standards and what teachers do, which is necessary.  They pay less attention to economy & efficiency.  Councils also pay insufficient attention to value for money in their support of schools.  Many school governors should be tougher in seeking value for the public purse.
Press release ~ Valuable lessons
 
TfL: The Mayor of London’s office and Transport for London (TfL) have responded to the London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee’s report on fares.  They made it clear that fares will remain affordable and that £bns will continue to be invested to improve transport in London.

The Assembly report looks at the potential level of TfL’s fares for 2010 and in subsequent years.  It asserts that TfL is facing a shortfall of £112m this year due to lower than projected fares revenue.  However, this is not a new projection and the £112m was taken in to account when TfL’s budget for 2009/10 was published earlier this year.  TfL therefore do not recognise the Assembly’s range of numbers.
 Press release ~ The impact of the Mayor's fares decision
 
ScotGov: Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil has branded the effects of Right to Buy legislation on numbers of homes for rent as a 'dreadful legacy' for housing in Scotland. He was responding to a Shelter Scotland report which shows that the number of housing association and council homes for rent is at its lowest for 50 years.
 
Between 1980 & 2005 nearly 450,000 homes for social rent were sold at a discount in Scotland as a result of Right to Buy. Reforms proposed in the draft Housing (Scotland) Bill would end the Right to Buy for new social housing tenants and ‘incentivise’ LAs to build council homes for the first time in a generation.
Press release ~ Shelter social housing report ~ Right to Buy Reforms consultation (closes 14 August 2009) ~ ScotGov - Housing
 
Ofsted: Effective integration of services, a positive ethos and a 'can do' approach by professionals at Sure Start children’s centres are providing invaluable support for children, their families & the local community, according to Ofsted’s latest report - The impact of integrated services on children and their families in Sure Start children’s centres.
 
Surveying 20 children’s centres in 6 local authorities – all within the 30% most deprived areas in the country – this small scale survey found over half of the centres are providing effective integration of services in supporting children & their parents making life changing differences.  
Press release ~ The impact of integrated services on children and their families in Sure Start children’s centres ~ DCSF - Surestart
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