Archives for March 2002

LOCAL STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS FAILING DELIVERY TEST

Headlines, PublicNet: 28 March, 2002

Local Strategic Partnerships were designed to bring joined up government to the sharp end of service delivery, but many are failing to deliver. Abandoned cars can provide a useful barometer of how well a partnership is performing because cross-agency co-operation is required for faster removal.Partnerships are part of the Government’s wider reform agenda to improve the quality and responsiveness of public services. They bring together at a local level the different parts of the public sector including councils, the health service, central departments as well as the private, business, community and voluntary sectors. Up to 40 public bodies may be providing services in any one locality and the partnerships have to find ways to bring it all together so that people receive a seamless service.

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PROTECTION OF WORKER RIGHTS DECISION – EFFECTIVE SAFEGUARD OR SELL OUT?

Headlines, PublicNet: 28 March, 2002

Stephen Byers, Secretary of State for Local Government, has come down in favour of a Code of Conduct to protect the right of workers employed by private companies to deliver public services. UNISON and the CBI have welcomed the decision as the best way forward to both protect workers and give companies flexibility, but the GMB union believes it is a sell out to the private sector. Although the decision is about local government services it will clearly be applied to the health service and all other public services.The package of measures to be introduced to put protection into effect includes a Code of Practice on the treatment of new recruits working on local authority contracts alongside transferred staff. Contractors will have to offer employment to new staff on fair and reasonable terms and conditions which are broadly comparable to those of transferredemployees. Pension rights will also be safeguarded. Unions will have the right of consultation, but not negotiation, on the contracts of new recruits.

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CONTINGENT AND NON-CONTINGENT WORKING IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Abstracts, PublicNet: 28 March, 2002

By Jacqueline A-M. Coyle-Shapiro and Ian Kessler.Given that the contingent worker is likely to be a familiar presence in the public service workplace of the future, this paper explores the consequences of contingent work arrangements on the attitudes and behaviour of employees using the psychological contract as a framework for analysis. Drawing upon survey evidence from a sample of permanent, fixed term and temporary staff employed in a British local authority, our results suggest that contract status plays an important role in how individuals view the exchange relationship with their employer and how they respond to the inducements received from that relationship. Specifically, contingent employees are less committed to the organization and engage in organizational citizenship behaviour (OCB) to a lesser degree than their permanent counterparts. However, contrary to our hypothesis, the relationship between the inducements provided by the employer and OCB is stronger for contingent employees. Such findings have implications for the treatment of contingent and non-contingent employees in the public services.

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PROFESSIONALS AND THE NEW MANAGERIALISM

Book News, PublicNet: 27 March, 2002

By Mark Exworthy and Susan HalfordThe book explores the relationship between professionals (and professionalism) and the new managerialism by using in-depth studies from education, social work and medicine. It presents an overview of the restructuring of British personal public services and its implications for professional employees. It provides a useful reflection on the recent past and looks at possible futures.

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PRIVATE FINANCE FOR MORE SCHOOLS AS POLICY COMES UNDER ATTACK

Headlines, PublicNet: 27 March, 2002

Some 200 schools will benefit in 2003/04 from 900 million pounds of funding from the Private Finance Initiative. The projects include refurbishment as well as building new schools. Since 1997 over 2 billion pounds of PFI funding has been put into schools. Thirty new, rebuilt, or extensively refurbished schools using PFI funding have been opened since 1999.Bidders for PFI finance are encouraged to devise imaginative projects aimed at raising standards, securing wider access and encouraging lifelong learning. The latest projects include proposals for community facilities such as libraries, social services such as creches, nurseries to help the recruitment and retention of teachers, as well as health centres and sports facilities. One project includes an integrated ICT network to establish closer working relations between local primary schools, businesses and residents.

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NEED FOR CIVIL SERVICE ACT SAYS WILSON

Headlines, PublicNet: 27 March, 2002

Civil Service head, Sir Richard Wilson, wants a clear framework to help the Civil Service cope with constitutional change, management change and political change. He sees the Civil Service as a shock-absorber at the heart of the State responding to Globalisation, developments in science and technology, changes in social attitudes and behaviour, and growth in the power of the media. A Civil Service Act would give some stability in this volatile situation and allow departmental heads to get on with their jobs.A key feature of a Civil Service Act would be a new code for special advisers. Although they are frequently described as spin doctors, only about half of the 81 advisers have any dealings with the media. He argues that under a code, Parliament should decide the maximum number of advisers and that there should be a clear statement about what they cannot do. For example they should not have any role in the recruitment and promotion of permanent civil servants, nor should they have any involvement in line management or the assessment of performance and pay.

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E-TENDERING PLANS BACK ON DRAWING BOARD

Headlines, PublicNet: 26 March, 2002

The e-tendering pilot scheme launched by the Office for Government Commerce in July 2001 has been wound up. The pilot, involving ten government departments, was a web-based system for purchasing goods and services and it was designed to allow government departments to realize the benefits of e.commerce and help deliver the e.agenda. The plan envisaged the system being rolled out across all central departments. No reasons have been given for the wind-up but it is thought that the scheme was over complex covering too many departments and over ambitious.The benefits claimed for the electronic tendering scheme included a reduced paper trail on tendering exercises and labour intensive tasks, quick and accurate tender evaluation and reduced costs. It was estimated that over a four-year period there would be savings of 13m pounds for the taxpayer and 37m pounds for suppliers.

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CALL TO BOOST NHS STAFF MORALE

Headlines, PublicNet: 26 March, 2002

Low morale in the NHS is putting modernization plans at risk. This is the conclusion of research into the views of nurses, doctors, managers, therapists, care assistants and ancillary staff published by the King’s Fund. The two biggest causes of low morale are chronic staff shortages, which make working conditions difficult, and the strong perception among staff that their work is not valued. The Fund has called on the Government to act urgently to boost morale among NHS staff.Focus groups of staff and managers revealed that morale is lowest where staff feel their views are not heard by managers, especially where political imperatives prevail over local priorities. Many staff said training and development opportunities were denied them because shortages forced them to take extra shifts instead. The atmosphere created by these conditions made it is hard for staff to provide the best care for patients or to improve the quality of service they deliver.

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GOOD EMPLOYMENT PRACTICE REDUCES NURSE TURNOVER

Headlines, PublicNet: 25 March, 2002

The Royal College of Nursing is making a bid to improve the lot of nurses – who are seen as essential to achieve the NHS Plan and yet are leaving the service in worrying numbers.The nurses’ organisation has launched a new guidance document to help employers improve the working lives of nurses in the UK – based on the findings of a survey which shows that nurses generally place high imporatnce on their ‘working wellbeing’.

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SCOTLAND TO HAND BACK POWER?

Headlines, PublicNet: 25 March, 2002

Scotland looks set to go one step further than Westminster and hand back some real power to local government. The Local Government Committee of the Scottish Parliament has recommended that a greater proportion of local finance be sourced locally, that business rates be returned to local government control, and a reduction in ring-fenced grants.Currently across the UK national government provides up to 80 per cent of council funding, and much of that money is ring-fenced for a specific purpose. Councils on both sides of the border have been calling for a return to the autonomy they enjoyed in the pre-Thatcher era, but it looks like Scotland is to stride ahead.

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