Policy Statements and Initiatives

CO: A new joint venture between government & the private sector will help deliver civil service back office functions more efficiently. The second of 2 new independent Shared Service Centres will be run as a joint venture between government and a private sector partner, Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude announced recently.
 
The initiative, which is a key part of the Civil Service Reform Plan, will ‘harness industry best practice to deliver government back office functions more efficiently’.  Consolidating back office functions across government could help deliver between £400m - £600m in savings for the taxpayer.
Press release & links
 
DCMS: The lending of E-books by public libraries will enhance library services for users, but the interests of booksellers and publishers must be protected too, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said last week. A Government-commissioned report, An Independent Review of E-Lending in Public Libraries in England by William Sieghart, published last week, sets out some principles.
 
A series of pilot projects between publishers & libraries this year, using established literary events, will test business models and user behaviours to help provide a solid evidence base for going forward.
Press release & links
 
ScotGovScotland is the third nation in the world to set an ambitious target to become tobacco-free – by having less than 5% the population choosing to smoke by 2034. The aim is part of a new tobacco control strategy, launched to reduce the number of people choosing to smoke.  
 
Two other countries have set similar targets.  New Zealand aims to be tobacco-free by 2025.  Finland plans to be tobacco-free by 2040.
Press release & links ~ NHS grounds to be completely smoke-free by 2015 under new Scottish Government plans ~ CRUK - More than 200,000 UK children start smoking every year
 
MoD: The Department for Transport has announced the signing of a £1.6bn contract to provide the UK's search & rescue helicopter services.
Press release & links
 
Defra: A major project to find Chalara-resistant ash trees has been announced by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson.  The £1.5m project is part of the latest Chalara Management Plan published last week, and will see a quarter of a million young ash trees planted in up to 25 sites.  These sites will mainly be in East Anglia as this is the area with the most cases of Chalara and the young trees will be exposed & monitored in the search for resistance.
Press release & links
 
Defra: 13 communities across the country will benefit from a £5m fund to come up with innovative projects that will better protect homes & businesses from the risk of flooding, Environment Minister Richard Benyon announced last week.
Press release & links
 
DCMS: Culture & Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey launched a new independent review of architecture and the built environment last week.
Press release & links
 
CLG: New measures to ensure fair play in taxpayer-funded social housing and stop rogue landlords cashing in from renting homes to illegal migrants were set out by the Prime Minister last week. 

Welcoming the proposals, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said it was right that action was taken to make sure local people are prioritised for social housing, and reduce the number of people who are living in this country illegally.  These measures will help tackle the ‘pull’ factors which have lead to unsustainable immigration.
 
Guidance, to be published for consultation shortly, will ensure councils require people to have lived in the area for at least 2 years.  Only those who passed this test would be accepted onto the waiting list in the local area - and then would be considered for social housing.  It will also encourage them to set other local rules for testing a resident’s connection to the area.
Press release
 
OfstedOfsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have called on the government to make it a mandatory requirement for mental health services to collect data on children whose parents or carers have mental health difficulties and report on such data nationally.
 
The recommendation is contained in a joint survey published by the two regulators.  The report (What about the children?) highlights how the lack of identification of children living with parents with mental ill health has led to them not receiving the help they need, with some being left at risk of harm.
Press release & links
 
ScotGov: Scotland has become the first UK country to unite behind the Armed Forces Covenant, with all 32 local authorities in Scotland having signed a Community Covenant and pledged to provide local support to Service personnel and their families across the country.
Press release & links
 
CO: The Cabinet Office has announced details of a centralised approach to government communications that could save around £3m a year.  The new Creative Solutions Framework will streamline communications, strengthening government dialogue with citizens by delivering more effective, value for money campaigns.
 
Government departments & organisations across the public sector will use the framework, managed by Government Procurement Service to access communications agencies providing creative services, direct marketing (including contact centre services frameworks), digital marketing and PR services.
Press release & links
New Ways to Engage: The Potential of Voice Technology in the Public Sector