Archives for February 2005

GOOD LOCAL TRANSPORT DELIVERY RECOGNISED

Headlines, PublicNet: 28 February, 2005

Seventeen authorities have been named as centres of excellence in an initiative that recognises local transport plan areas that have a proven track record in delivering transport improvements on the ground and meeting local targets and the objectives they set for themselves during the first round of Local Transport Plans.The Department for Transport will provide 100,000 pounds a year to the Transport Authorities that have become centres of excellence to support them in providing peer-led activities for transport planning and delivery for local authorities.

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CLEANERS SAY MORE STAFF ARE KEY TO BEATING SUPERBUG

Headlines, PublicNet: 28 February, 2005

NHS trusts across the country are taking part in ‘Think Clean Day’ today to raise the profile of hospital cleaning and to show what can be achieved in a short time.A poll of cleaners, released to coincide with the event, shows that they believe employing more cleaning staff is the most important step that could be taken to improving hospital cleanliness at a time when it is under scrutiny because of the increase in the numbers of patients being infected with MRSA.

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THE FUTURE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Book News, PublicNet: 28 February, 2005

By Jeremy BeechamThe author, who was Chair of the Local Government Association from 1997 to 2004, sets out his views on how localism could best embody the spirit of community. He argues that three decades of centralism have weakened the capacity of local councils to identify and meet the needs of their local communities. Councils are seen increasingly merely as agents of central government policy. The limited success of central command and control is leading the Government to consider a more decentralized approach, but this is not consistent across government departments, nor does it necessarily imply devolution to the town hall. Some proponents of new localism advocate by-passing local government in favour of separately elected single service bodies: a process likely to undermine representative democracy and increase depoliticization.

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BUSINESS SUPPORT GOES LOCAL

Features, PublicNet: 25 February, 2005

By Hannah Brindle In April 2005 the Business Link organisation, the vehicle used to deliver business support throughout England, will go local with responsibility for services transferred to Regional Development Agencies. In preparation for the move a model has been developed for the delivery of business support which brings together a coalition of support providers and local government agencies. The author describes how the model challenges the RDAs to deliver a genuine customer focus.

LAST FEW COUNCILS URGED TO JOIN FRAMEWORK TO BEAT BENEFIT FRAUD

Headlines, PublicNet: 25 February, 2005

The cost of fraud and errors in the Housing Benefit system has fallen by about 60 million pounds according to new figures from the Department for Work and Pensions. It is now pushing for the last few local councils that have not signed up to the Verification Framework for benefits to do so.Latest estimates show roughly 600 million pounds of Housing Benefit was overpaid from April 2003 to March 2004, representing 4.9 per cent of the total expenditure. In the previous year around 700 million pounds was overpaid. The figures are rounded to the nearest 50 million, putting the actual difference between the amounts for the two years at the 60 million level.

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BAN ON EXPENSIVE PHONE NUMBERS FOR LOCAL NHS SERVICES

Headlines, PublicNet: 25 February, 2005

Hospital trusts, family doctors, and other organisations providing local health care are to be banned from using telephone numbers that charge patients excessively for calling NHS services in their area. The ban will mean patients will not have to pay for expensive premium and national rate calls to access local services.From April, NHS organisations will not be able to set up new premium and national rate telephone numbers for patients contacting local services. The Department of Health says the ban will be enforced through changes to the relevant legislation and guidance, including GPs’ contracts and directions to NHS Trusts. It will also apply to NHS opticians and doctors’ out of hours service providers. Dentists will be covered by the ban but in their case the relevant legislation will take longer to change and is not expected to take affect until the summer.

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‘EXTRA CHALLENGE’ FOR PUBLIC SERVICE LEADERS DELIVERING CHANGE

Headlines, PublicNet: 24 February, 2005

The harsh glare of political publicity makes the delivery of change in the public sector even more of a challenge, according to the head of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development.CIPD President Lord Richard Wilson said the management of change was a key part of leadership in the public, private and voluntary sectors but leaders in the public services faced the unique challenge of trying to deliver change against the background of political priorities that were not always the same as management priorities.

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PARTNERS IN HARTLEPOOL SCHEME LEAD WAY IN EXTRA CARE HOUSING

Headlines, PublicNet: 24 February, 2005

Projects chosen as winning bids for the forty million pounds in the Extra Care Housing Fund this year will provide more than nine hundred new homes for older people and adults with learning disabilities across England, the Community Care Minister Stephen Ladyman has announced.A scheme in Hartlepool is the biggest winner under the scheme but in all there were 21 successful bids. For three of them the Housing Corporation has committed an additional 4,623,185 pounds in match funding. Fourteen bids will together provide 979 units of extra care housing in the council areas of Darwen, West Sussex, Wakefield, Cheshire, Bradford, Hartlepool, Darlington, North Yorkshire, Ealing, Derbyshire, Rotherham, Leicester and Plymouth. The other seven successful bids will improve communal facilities in existing sheltered housing and care homes so they can qualify as extra care housing. In all they will provide 259 extra care housing units.

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THE EFFICIENCY REVIEW – OPPORTUNITIES FOR LOCAL AUTHORITIES

Book News, PublicNet: 24 February, 2005

This 90-minute video/CD programme combines a discussion on the Gershon Review and ways in which local authorities can generate efficiencies and savings. The focus is on procurement modernisation and the savings potential that can be achieved through modernising procurement sourcing and operations. It features interviews with hands on professionals, policy leaders, advisors and private sector suppliers. There are also discussion panels and case studies.The programme can be ordered at: http://www.egovtv.tv/site_scripts/procurement/registration_form.php

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MINISTER SAYS WORKING TOGETHER IS WAY TO BEAT ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME

Headlines, PublicNet: 23 February, 2005

The government has stressed the need to stamp out low level environmental crime before those responsible go on to commit more serious offences, and it believes the measures in the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill will help in this.Local environmental quality minister Alun Michael visited the People and Places conference in Birmingham, organised by campaign group Keep Britain Tidy, to set out his vision of cleaner, safer communities.

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