Archives for December 2004

MORE CUTS ANNOUNCED IN NHS RED TAPE

Headlines, PublicNet: 20 December, 2004

More reductions are being made in the amount of information that NHS Trusts have to collect. The decision follows a data streamlining exercise conducted with Monitor, the Foundation Hospitals regulator, and the Healthcare Commission.Health Minister Lord Warner said following the study, 61 central data collections would be stopped or cut in size. The latest changes will mean that since April last year the burden of data collection has been reduced by a quarter for the NHS overall and by half for NHS Foundation Trusts. The changes are expected to mean 7.6 million pounds in savings for the NHS. Most of this money will come from recurrent savings that can be ploughed back into patient care.

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BENEFIT POLICIES NEED FLEXIBLE JOBS SAYS REPORT

Headlines, PublicNet: 20 December, 2004

Encouraging lone parents into work by adding more conditions on the benefits they receive will lead to improvements for children and the economy as a whole only if jobs are flexible and there is high-quality childcare available, according to a report from the Institute for Public Policy Research published today. It warns that unless there is more support for lone parents, conditions on benefits will put children at risk and increase hardship and poverty.”Sanctions and Sweeteners” assesses the Conservative Party’s proposals aimed at increasing employment amongst lone parents and draws on evidence from America. This, the report says, shows that forcing lone parents into work without improving their skills or career prospects can lock them into dead-end jobs and entrenched poverty. The researchers conclude that other European countries are in a better position to ensure that the demands of work do not lead to harmful side effects for children because they have better childcare and higher benefits.

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HOUSING AND SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES

Book News, PublicNet: 20 December, 2004

By Natalie TarryThis report from the independent think-tank, the New Local Government Network, focuses on the key issues of the housing and sustainable communities agenda and examines whether the place where power and accountability currently rest is where they need to be in order to move forward. The new emphasis on localism alongside the emerging regional agenda suggests a fundamental shift in central – local government relations. The report recognises the need to strike a balance between national strategies and local challenges, but it argues for local solutions and not a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

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TACKLING RE-GENERATION IN A SOCIAL ENTERPRISE ZONE

Features, PublicNet: 17 December, 2004

By Matthew Smerdon and David Robinson The UK’s first Social Enterprise Zone (SEZ), based in Newham, east London, was established in 1998. The SEZ is a test bed for new policies and services tackling regeneration in deprived areas. Users of public services and front-line workers generate all the ideas. The authors, who were involved in running the SEZ report on the lessons from its first years.

PFI A SUCCESS SAYS NEW REPORT

Headlines, PublicNet: 17 December, 2004

A report today says the Private Finance Initiative – PFI – has been largely successful since it was introduced twelve years ago, with more than 450 new public facilities completed between 1997 and last year. But the report, published by the Centre for Policy Studies, accuses the government of misusing PFI.”Reforming the Private Finance Initiative”, says 88 per cent of PFI projects have been delivered on time or early and with no cost overruns being borne by the public sector. By contrast, it says, 70 per cent of traditional public-sector schemes were late and 73 per cent went over budget.

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COUNCIL’S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE ON BEGGARS

Headlines, PublicNet: 17 December, 2004

A leading London council is stepping up its campaign for people not to give money to beggars but to donate to charities instead. Westminster City Council has today released figures that show that while Christmas is the time of giving, much of the money handed to beggars in the festive season last year merely boosted profits for drug dealers.The council has calculated that more than 350,000 pounds was spent by drug-addicted beggars last December and January. As part of its Killing with Kindness campaign, which was launched in August, it is publishing figures that show how that money could have been better spent. It might, for example, have paid for 850 resettlement packs for homeless people or more than 14,000 hours of housing support.

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PUTTING GIS ON THE MAP

Abstracts, PublicNet: 16 December, 2004

This programme is now available to view on egovtv.tv, the online television channel for public service modernisation. It examines Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Digital Mapping which present an opportunity to streamline many areas of service delivery; from waste collection to school catchments. “Putting GIS on the Map” looks at the development of the business case for GIS adoption, and the steps required to ensure a successful implementation across a range of services and scenarios as well as an economic return to an Authority. The programme includes discussion panels, interviews and case studies involving leading Government and Public Service figures, local authority executives and end-users and key suppliers of GIS and Digital Mapping solutions.GovTV is a dedicated web-cast television channel for senior executives across all public sector organisations and is available free to an unlimited audience at anytime, at any location via the internet.

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LGA OPENS CONSULTATION ON SHAPE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Headlines, PublicNet: 16 December, 2004

The Local Government Association has set out what it calls four ‘citizens tests’ for evaluating and comparing how well local councils are governing. They were outlined by the association’s chairman, Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, as he stressed the need for change driven by the needs of the communities and citizens that local authorities served.The four tests are transparency so that people can identify who is democratically accountable, subsidiarity, so power is devolved to the most local level of government appropriate, responsiveness to ensure that decision-making is fast, effective and welcomes participation and equality and inclusiveness to give all citizens an equal opportunity to participate.

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NATIONAL ROLL OUT FOR COURT COMPUTER NETWORK

Headlines, PublicNet: 16 December, 2004

A computer network designed to cut the amount of time that victims, witnesses and police officers spend waiting to give evidence in criminal cases is to be rolled out in 101 Crown Courts across the country. It follows a successful pilot in London.XHIBIT will allow people to track the progress of court hearings online via the Internet, through text messaging or via a pager. The system will start to be introduced nationally with immediate effect.

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MORE MONEY FOR LOCAL COUNCILS IN WALES

Headlines, PublicNet: 15 December, 2004

Local councils in Wales are to share a further 27 million pounds on top of the 3.2 billion pound settlement announced for local government there last month. Assembly Local Government Minister, Sue Essex, said that on average local authorities in Wales would receive a funding increase of more than six per cent.She said the increase, more than twice the rate of inflation, would allow them to meet pressure from pay, prices and pensions as well as increasing support in school classrooms and paying for extra social care for people in their own homes.

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