General Reports and Other Publications

PC&PEExtensive cuts to rural, evening & weekend bus services are damaging the ability of many people – especially the old, young or disabled – to participate in employment, education or voluntary work and to access vital services such as healthcare and retail facilities, say MPs.
In a review of England’s bus services (outside London) after the Spending Review, the cross-party Transport Committee warns that even deeper cuts in bus services are likely in 2012–13, as local authorities struggle to deal with budgetary reductions, and calls for the concessionary travel scheme to be preserved so that the elderly & disabled continue to enjoy free bus travel.
Press release & links
EHRC: The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a report that ‘shows current privacy law is failing to stop breaches of personal data privacy and is not keeping pace with the rapid growth in personal data collection’.
The report shows that the way government and its agencies collect, use & store personal data is deeply flawed.  They may be unaware that they are breaking the law as the complexity of the legal framework means their obligations are unclear. It also finds that it is difficult for people to know what information is held on them, by which government agency or private sector body, or how it is being used.  
Press release & links
ICOGoogle Inc. has taken reasonable steps to improve its privacy policies, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said recently, following an audit at the company’s London office.  

The ICO’s audit – which took place in London in July 2011 – was agreed as part of the terms of an undertaking that Google signed in November 2010 after the company reported that its Street View cars had collected Wi-Fi payload data alongside the location mapping information that was the stated aim of the project.
The audit found that Google has taken action in all of the agreed improvement areas.  The ICO has now asked the company to go further to enhance privacy, including ensuring that users are given more information about the privacy aspects of Google products.
Press release & links
IISS: In its latest Strategic Comment, the International Institute for Strategic Studies states that the recent launch of China's first aircraft carrier for sea trials may not affect the balance of power in East Asia immediately, but it is a milestone in the modernisation of the Chinese navy.
Press release & links
PC&PE: The Public Accounts Committee has published a report examining the effectiveness & efficiency of the current education system for 16- to 18-year-olds.
Press release & links
ScotGov: A report suggesting ways to improve education & training for the workplace has been published. The review, carried out by Willy Roe, argues that ‘the post-16 education & vocational training arrangements should be strengthened & better integrated with other parts of the education and employment systems’.  

The report provides a number of specific recommendations aimed at improving education & training for the work-place, providing better value for money and improving support for unemployed young people.
Press release & links
MW: The social housing requirements of new immigrants will cost the tax payer £1bn p.a. for the next 25 years.  That is the conclusion of a study published by Migrationwatch.  The study found that 45 additional social homes would have to be built everyday (or nearly 1,400 a month0 over that period to meet the extra demand.
The study also found that non EU migrants were more likely to live in social housing that the UK born.  For some nationalities the difference was striking:  Nigeria (29%), Iran (33%), Jamaica (35%), Ghana (39%), Portugal (40%), Bangladesh (41%), Turkey (49%), Somalia (80%) compared to UK born for whom the proportion was 17%.
Press release & links
CBI: The CBI has warned against government plans for wholesale extension of training levies or license to practice schemes which it said would hinder employer investment in staff training and do nothing to increase productive skills levels.  In a new report on training investment, employers said that a voluntary approach would be the best way to build on the strong business commitment to training and boost skills levels.
Press release & links
EHRC: A new report, published by the Equality & Human Rights Commission, shows a continuing trend of women being passed over for top jobs in Britain.  More than 5,400 women are missing from Britain’s 26,000 most powerful posts.
The report, Sex & Power 2011, measures the number of women in positions of power & influence across 27 occupational categories in the public and private sectors. 

The Commission’s report calculates that at the current rate of change it will take around 70 years to reach an equal number of men & women directors of FTSE 100 companies.  It also found it could be up to 70 years before there are an equal number of women MPs in parliament – another 14 general elections. 
Press release & links
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has published its market study into aggregates, cement & ready-mix concrete.  It proposes to refer the sectors to the Competition Commission for more detailed investigation. These sectors had a combined turnover in 2009 of up to £3.4bn and are vital inputs in the construction sector, which represents 7% of UK GDP.
Some 40% of construction expenditure is in the public sector, for schools, hospitals, roads and other physical and social infrastructure, with central Government being the biggest customer. In its study the OFT identified a number of features of the sectors which could prevent, restrict or distort competition. These relate both to structural features that may dampen competition, and to the conduct of major firms towards smaller operators.
Press release & links
ASI: New research released by the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) shows that the introduction of a Tobin Tax in the UK, as argued for by the ‘Robin Hood Tax Campaign’, would be disastrous for the financial services industry.  The Robin Hood Tax campaign has argued that £20bn can be removed from the UK financial sector without causing significant disruption through a proportional tax on currency conversions.  This is a reckless and ill-informed claim that ignores evidence to the contrary.

The ASI report, ‘The Tobin tax: Reason or treason?’, looks at Sweden, the only country to have previously introduced a ‘pure’ Tobin tax of 0.5%.  It was a disaster, raising only one thirtieth of the proceeds predicted by its proponents and being scrapped within 5 years.  
Press release & links
IfL: The Institute for Learning (IfL) has responded to an inquiry into the role of colleges in the community, led by a commission comprising the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (Niace), the Association of Colleges (AoC) and the 157 Group, and chaired by Baroness Sharp of Guildford.  IfL’s response to the second call for evidence was informed by the views of IfL members, teachers & trainers in further education & skills.
Press release ~ IfL’s response to the call for evidence
PC&PE: The Committee of Public Accounts has published a report on defence logistics supply chain. Speaking on the publication of the report the Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPA said:
"The Ministry of Defence has a duty to make sure that our troops serving on the frontline get the supplies they need, when they need them and in the most cost-effective way. For twenty-five years, the Department has promised this Committee that it would resolve the long-standing problems associated with its supply chain: late deliveries, missed targets and inadequate cost information.  Yet these problems persist. ……..
Last year, over 40% of deliveries from suppliers were a month or more overdue.  ……. A more efficient supply chain could release resources for the frontline.  But the Department does not have the information to develop more cost-effective ways of running its supply operations. …………… In the meantime, IT systems being used to track supplies will remain at critical risk of failure.  If they fail, there could be shortages at the front-line within a month."
Press release & links
PC&PEPrivate Finance Initiative (PFI) funding for new infrastructure, such as schools & hospitals, does not provide taxpayers with good value for money and stricter criteria should be introduced to govern its use, the Treasury Select Committee has concluded in a new report.
Higher borrowing costs since the credit crisis mean that PFI is now an ‘extremely inefficient’ method of financing projects, according to the Committee.  Poor investment decisions may continue to be encouraged across the public sector, however, because PFI allows Government departments and public bodies to make big capital investments without committing large sums up front.
Press release & links ~ CBI comment ~ NLGN comment