General Reports and Other Publications

ESRC: A group of leading UK scientists and social scientists led by the ESRC Genomics Forum, based at the University of Edinburgh, has called for joined-up thinking on the emerging politics of plants, where ‘Green is the new gold’.  
The world is waking up to the potential of plants — from food to fuel, industrial feedstocks to carbon sinks, there is growing talk of plants replacing oil as the cornerstone of the global economy.  But such fame comes at a price.  Recent ‘food versus biofuel’ debates are just one example of a new ‘politics of plants’ that needs urgent attention at both national and international levels.

Food & energy security are major concerns, but so are safeguarding human health, tackling climate change, protecting landscapes and global biodiversity, supporting rural communities, and providing raw materials for industry.  All of these issues are connected to our use and management of plants.
Press release ~ The Politics of plants ~ ESRC Genomics Forum ~ Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh ~ Institute for Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences in Aberystwyth ~ Joint Nature Conservation Committee ~ Natural History Museum (London) ~ Food Security Journal ~ ESRC Society Today
HO: More testing, encouragement to take up combination drug substitution treatments and provision of sterile syringes are among the recommendations to tackle hepatitis C made by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) last week.
In its report the ACMD makes clear that hepatitis C is a significant public health issue.  Estimates in 2003 show that, in England and Wales, there were 190,000 individuals infected with the hepatitis C virus.  The majority of these and new hepatitis C infections are within the intravenous drug injecting community. The ACMD recognises the key importance of a combination of interventions for the primary prevention of hepatitis C and it makes a total of 12 recommendations to help tackle the spread of hepatitis C.
The publication of the ACMD report coincides with guidance published by National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) encouraging Primary Care Trusts to review their local needle & syringe services with an aim to expand availability.
Press release ~ Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) ~ 'The Primary Prevention of Hepatitis C Among Injecting Drug Users' ~ NICE: Needle and syringe programmes: providing people who inject drugs with injecting equipment
MoD: The MoD has ‘welcomed’ the House of Commons Defence Select Committee's report into Defence Equipment 2009.  The report makes a number of recommendations on particular equipment programmes such as FRES, the A400M and the Defence Industrial Strategy, which the department ‘notes and will respond to’.  The report’s summary includes the following:
* The Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) system remains highly effective in enabling vital equipment to be provided quickly to the two theatres to meet rapidly changing threats.  However, we are concerned at the extent to which UORs represent a partial failure to equip our forces for predicted expeditionary operations, and at their effects on the core budget in future years.
* The performance of DE&S in delivering equipment and supplies to the two theatres, often in very challenging environments, has been impressive.  However, given the ageing transport aircraft fleet, there are pressures on the airbridge.  The A400M aircraft programme—to provide new tactical and strategic airlift - is running some two years late.
* DE&S’ performance in procuring longer-term equipment declined significantly in 2007– 08.
* Some commentators have suggested that an extra £1.5 billion a year is needed for the defence equipment element of the budget if the Defence Industrial Strategy Defence Equipment 2009 is to be fully delivered.
*The FRES programme has been a fiasco.
* We condemn the failure to date to publish an updated version of the Defence Industrial Strategy and consider that its continuing absence increases the risk that the UK Defence Industrial Base will not be able to meet the future requirements of our Armed Forces.
Press release ~ Defence Committee: Defence Equipment 2009 ~ Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS)
DH: Individual budgets can greatly improve carers' quality of life when compared with carers of people using conventional social services, new independent research has shown.  They can allow carers more control & flexibility in their daily routines and some carers said individual budgets also improved quality of life for the person they were looking after.
Individual budgets are an alternative way of paying for social care.  Instead of local authorities buying services on behalf of an individual, that person is given control of their own budget and can direct how it is spent, allowing the care package to be tailored to their needs.
Press release ~ The Individual Budgets Pilot Projects: Impacts and Outcomes for Carers ~ Crossroads Caring for Carers ~ Putting People First without putting carers second ~ The Princess Royal Trust for Carers – related reports ~ YCNet
NAO: The majority of carers who receive benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are satisfied with the support they receive (worth up to £2bn a year).  The Department is delivering carers’ benefits effectively and has made improvements in processing claims in the last few years.  But at least a 20% have difficulties in applying for Carer’s Allowance, a National Audit Office report has found.
Some carers are confused by the way Carer’s Allowance interacts with other benefits, including Pension Credit and Income Support.  For example, carers who do not qualify for the full Carer’s Allowance still have to apply for it in order to get additional payments available on other benefits such as Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Press release ~ National Audit Office Report - Supporting Carers to Care ~ National Strategy for Carers
LLUKLifelong learning UK recently published 'The Training Game', a special supplement with The Guardian that looks at aspects of the skills & training world in the light of the current economic climate.  The supplement covers a range of subjects, from the impact of informal learning in libraries to developments in the higher education sector, and from the debate about globalisation to the role of the Institute for Learning in England.
Press release ~ The Training Game ~ Institute for Learning
Ofsted: Social workers should visit children and young people living away from home at least once a month.  That is the strong message children in care are giving to the Government in a unique report that will help shape new regulations under the Children and Young Persons Act 2008.
The report, Future rules, published by the Children’s Rights Director for England, is the outcome of a national conference, where 136 young people in care and care leavers gave their views on a range of subjects relating to regulations that will affect their future. The new government regulations will need to say how often every child in care must be visited by someone from the council to make sure they are being looked after well.
Press release ~ Future rules ~ Office of the Children’s Rights Director ~ Children and Young Persons Act 2008
Ofsted: A new study published by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) shows that over half the institutions offering citizenship courses for teachers are struggling to fill places, with three courses failing to get the numbers to run the course altogether.
The report, Professional development for citizenship teachers and leaders, finds the impact of citizenship courses on schools is good or outstanding, with a positive overall effect on a school’s ethos and pupils’ understanding.
Press release ~ Professional development for citizenship teachers and leaders
Solent NHS the latest Trust to roll out the Energy-Saving Initiative of choice for UK Public Sector