Archives for May 2005

MIXED MESSAGES FROM STUDY OF ADULT LEARNERS

Headlines, PublicNet: 24 May, 2005

There has been a sharp fall in the number of adults currently in learning, though new figures show there has been an overall increase in the number participating in education over a three-year period.The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education says the annual Adults Learners’ Week survey offers mixed messages. Initially, it says, the report “Better News This Time?” shows encouraging signs. The fall in the number of adults participating in learning reported in the last two years has been reversed with the overall participation rate up to 42 per cent from 38 in 2004. But the figure for current learners – just 19 per cent – shows a sharp fall and is 4 per cent below the 1996 level.

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HEAD TEACHERS WANT BIG PAY BOOST TO CLOSE SALARIES GAP

Headlines, PublicNet: 24 May, 2005

Head teachers have today submitted a substantial pay claim to the School Teacher Review Body that could see some earning more than 130,000 pounds a year. They say that pay rates for heads have fallen behind those for staff in comparable jobs in the public and private sectors and that differentials between the Leadership Group and other teachers are too narrow.The National Association of Head Teachers says its is concerned about recruitment because of the relative fall in incomes. NAHT uses the Hay Group Job Evaluation Scheme to ‘benchmark’ head’s jobs against those of similar size in 505 organisations and this, it says, shows that head’s salaries have fallen behind by an average of nearly 20 per cent.

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WHO’S WHO? NATIONAL AND REGIONAL IMPROVEMENT BODIES

Abstracts, PublicNet: 23 May, 2005

The Improvement and Development Agency has devised an on-line Guide to who’s who in improving public services. The Guide allows users to cut through the tangled web of organisations and get reasonably close to the help that is being sought. The task of tracking down who to get in touch with is simplified by providing different access routes.It is possible to start the search by looking for the target organisation by the role it plays, such as auditing and inspecting, leadership skills, people management or procurement. Another approach is to search by looking for organisations that specialise in working together and these are subdivided into national bodies and regional and sub-regional improvement partnerships. There is also a section on who’s who in improving services at regional level. Finally there is an A -Z or organisations from Audit Commission to Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (SOLACE).

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CALL TO SPEED UP MOVE TO TELEPHONE VOTING

Headlines, PublicNet: 23 May, 2005

There is a new call for a faster move to telephone voting in order to make voting more easily accessible to the wider electorate. It has come from Damovo UK, a leading communications solutions and services provider for the public sector in its response to Electoral Commission proposals for voting reforms.The Commission looked into reforms following concerns over postal voting fraud. Its report “Securing the vote,” outlines suggestions for improving registration processes and guarding against fraud. It also says multi-channel voting, including the use of the telephone and the Internet may, in time, replace traditional paper-based voting. This, it says, will follow improvements in the security and reliability of the current system.

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PUTTING THE FACTS ON OBSTACLES TO PUBLIC SERVICE

Headlines, PublicNet: 23 May, 2005

The Local Government Information Unit is stepping up its efforts to get rid of the barriers, which it believes prevent many people from being active in local public service. It has launched two new factsheets in its Perilous Democracy campaign.The first – ‘Don’t make allowances. Let’s reward our councillors’ – puts the case for a better and more consistent system of allowances for councillors to encourage more people from different backgrounds to put themselves forward as councillors and to enable those who are elected to devote more time to the role. It calls, too, for fairer treatment of councillors in the tax and benefit system, more support for them in their caring duties and more consistent IT support within local authorities to enable elected members to be most effective in a modern information society.

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WELSH INITIATIVE SAVES ALMOST A MILLION IN IT PROCUREMENT

Headlines, PublicNet: 20 May, 2005

Almost a million pounds of public money has been saved by the new all-Wales contract from the Welsh Procurement Initiative in buying IT equipment. The framework agreement for PC’s, laptop computers and printers was awarded via an e-auction earlier this year.Figures from the Welsh Procurement Initiative show that the agreement is making a significant contribution towards helping the Welsh Assembly meet its target of an annual three per cent efficiency saving in procurement costs. Reports say that in only two months, public sector organisations working in collaboration had made real savings.

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HEALTH TRUSTS WORK TOGETHER TO CUT COSTS OF AGENCY STAFF

Headlines, PublicNet: 20 May, 2005

A scheme has been launched to cut the amount of money that the National Health Service spends on hiring agency staff. The Reducing Agency Costs Project, which brings together 30 NHS Trusts from across England, has been welcomed by Health Minister Lord Warner.The project, which is led by the South West London Strategic Health Authority and NHS Professionals, will drawn on good practice from across the country to reduce spending on agency staff by participating NHS Trusts.

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The Rapidly Changing World of Audit and Inspection

Features, PublicNet: 20 May, 2005

By Clive Grace Reproduced by permission of the Public Management and Policy Association. The audit and inspection of public services over the past few years is a story of rapid growth leading to an increasing burden, which in turn has provoked resistance which led to sweeping retrenchment in the scale and costs of these activities. The author sees audit and inspection becoming the fourth arm of governance following Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary. He sets out a vision of how this might come about.

STRATEGIC REGULATION

Abstracts, PublicNet: 19 May, 2005

This document sets out the Audit Commission’s policy and practice framework for service inspections of local authorities, housing associations and other bodies. The Commission is radically reducing the number of inspections whilst seeking to be a continuing force for the improvement of local services. The new strategic approach aims to maximise the impact of audit activities while minimising the burden on the organisations inspected.The document sets out the principles of inspection and describes the service inspection framework. It details what will be inspected and gives an outline of the newly introduced methodology together with a summary of how judgements will be made. Other issues include an outline of quality assurance, the review and complaint processes, and the legislative basis for inspection. It also describes the responsibilities of the Commission and of inspected organisations in relation to the planning and undertaking of inspections.

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COUNCILS ON COURSE FOR EFFICIENCY GAINS

Headlines, PublicNet: 19 May, 2005

Local councils intend to make efficiency gains exceeding 1.1 billion pounds in the current year according to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. This is equivalent to 20 pounds per head of the population. Over half of the efficiencies are being sought from individual service departments such as Social Services, and the remainder from activities either supporting or cutting across several direct services to the public. The savings are being sought in response to the government’s overall drive to make significant efficiency and effectiveness gains recommended by Sir Peter Gershon last year.All councils have been set targets of annual year-on-year savings, equivalent to 2.5% of their spending last year. Councils’ plans provide for gains equivalent to at least 2.8% per annum for the country as a whole. At least 2.1%, or more than 870 million pounds, would be cashable, that is tangible real monetary savings, as distinct from increased output for the same spending.

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