Archives for April 2005

GETTING A BETTER CALL CENTRE CULTURE

Features, PublicNet: 29 April, 2005

By Adam Smith Call centres are increasingly becoming key components of public sector customer relationship management strategies. Managing a call centre is a complex task and getting the right culture is vitally important. The author draws on his experience with police control rooms, which are evolving into call centres, to examine staff motivation and other issues that lead to effective and efficient operation.



COUNCILS OFFERED HELP TO BOOST TAKE UP OF ONLINE SERVICES

Headlines, PublicNet: 29 April, 2005

Local authorities are being offered a new service to help increase the take up of information and services that they deliver through their websites. ClickThrough has been developed by public sector communications specialists Boilerhouse Communications.The company says the launch comes at a time when councils and other public service organisations are under pressure to increase website take-up, largely so they can benefit from the efficiency gains available when citizens and businesses are self-servicing’ their needs rather than using the telephone, letters or face to face contact, which are more expensive.

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SPECTRE OF TRANSPORT CRISIS RAISED IN AGENDA FOR ACTION

Headlines, PublicNet: 29 April, 2005

The incoming Government will face a transport crisis looming if it buries its head in the sand and fails to develop and fund a national transport strategy, according to the RAC Foundation today. It says unless transport is given a much higher priority by whoever wins power in next week’s General Election, not just Britain’s economy but also its people will be damaged. .The Foundation believes the need for transport improvement is so fundamental that it is calling for cross-party agreement to be reached on the central issues. It is concerned that in spite of transport’s vital importance to the wealth and vitality of the country and the fact that it affects most voters every day it has barely figured in the election campaign.

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A MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE? REVIEW OF EXPERIENCES FROM PARTNERSHIP OUTSOURCING

Abstracts, PublicNet: 28 April, 2005

This report from the Society of IT Management and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, provides a frank assessment of public/private partnerships which will account for some £4bn of local authority ICT activity over the next few years. The survey of local councils uncovered contracts worth in excess of 122 million pounds per year, and an average value approaching 6 million pounds per year. With an average contract life of nearly seven and a half years, the survey covers nearly a billion pounds of work transferred from the public to the private sector, suggesting a total of nearly £4 billion across the sector as a whole.The report identifies good and bad approaches. Mistakes from real life partnership and outsourcing arrangements, which are presented anonymously, provide valuable learning experiences. Like real life marriage, the divorce rate is rising, and fewer contracts do actually last until ‘death do us part’. There are many arrangements labelled as ‘partnerships’ for purely for political expediency and are not partnerships in the true sense. The report emphasizes that partnerships do work, and many very successfully. But in order to work there must be a trusting relationship which requires care, effort and a good deal of ‘give and take’.

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CAB LOOKS FOR VOLUNTEERS FOR LEGAL SERVICES

Headlines, PublicNet: 28 April, 2005

Citizens Advice has launched a drive to recruit more volunteers. It is looking for people who want to help to ensure that others get justice and fair treatment in the eyes of the law and is highlighting the work its Bureaux do in providing legal services.The appeal for people to give time to their local Citizens Advice Bureaux comes as the Year of the Volunteer, which has a different focus each month, switches to the theme of justice.

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ALLIANCE SETS OUT KEY DEMANDS TO END POVERTY FOR FAMILIES

Headlines, PublicNet: 28 April, 2005

The Maternity Alliance has launched what it is calling a Baby Manifesto, setting out for the next Government key demands it believes would change the lives of thousands of new parents and their babies. The Alliance wants policies for families that would aim to give every child an equal start.The Alliance – a national charity working to improve support for and end inequality amongst, pregnant women, new parents and children under a year old – says that in 21st century Britain, poverty and social exclusion are still blighting the lives of thousands of children and affecting their future life chances before they have even reached their first birthday.

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MAKING A DIFFERENCE – DIRECT PAYMENTS

Abstracts, PublicNet: 27 April, 2005

This report summarises the project by the Department of Health and the Regulatory Impact Unit in the Cabinet Office which was aimed at reducing the bureaucracy associated with direct payments for the delivery of social care. Direct payments are designed to create flexibility in the provision of social services. Giving money in place of social care services so people have a greater choice over their lives and decisions about how care is delivered. Individuals who choose direct payments, include people with physical disabilities, sensory impairments, learning disabilities, HIV/AIDS mental health problems, older people and parents of disabled children.Direct payments for social work services have been developed in order that individuals can have a greater choice and control over their lives. Instead of providing services to individuals directly, payments are made from social work departments to individuals, who can then use them to purchase services and employ staff. Local councils now have a duty, not just a power, to make direct payments.

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COUNCIL’S CALL CENTRE TAKES TOP AWARD

Headlines, PublicNet: 27 April, 2005

Liverpool city council has won a prestigious national accolade at the Planning Innovation awards. Liverpool Direct, set up by the authority in1998 as part of its drive to put customers first, has been named the best call-centre in the country.The council says the centre has changed customer services in the city beyond recognition with people now able to contact the council at any time of the day or night on every day of the year. In the seven years since it was opened it has grown from having just 12 staff to employing more than 300 and it is currently handling 50,000 calls per week. It is estimated that for nine out of every ten callers issues are resolved immediately without the person having to be put through to another department.

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STUDY SAYS DRUG SERVICES FAIL FAMILIES

Headlines, PublicNet: 27 April, 2005

Drug treatment and prevention services are overlooking the devastating impact that problem drug users have on their families, according to a research report published today. ‘Drugs in the family, produced for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, details the damage done to close relatives, including younger brothers and sisters who are at added risk of developing drug problems themselves.The study, by Marina Barnard, a Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Drug Misuse Research, is based on in-depth interviews with drugs users, their parents and younger siblings. It paints a picture of families being drawn into a downward spiral of problems ranging from stress and anxiety related health problems to stealing by drug users from family members to fund their habit.

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BRITISH GOVERNMENT IN CRISIS

Book News, PublicNet: 26 April, 2005

By Christopher FosterWhy are we so badly governed? Why has a system of government -the envy of the world as recently as the 1970s – developed so many defects? Why is there such a gulf between the political classes, who seem to believe the situation satisfactory or inevitable, and the general public, increasingly disaffected by politics and government. The author argues that the defects are not attributable to one political party. Some factors are widely recognised: the decline of the Cabinet and the marginalising of Parliament; the influence of spin on the political culture and the increased role of political and special advisers.

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