Archives for December 2005

SOCIAL EXCLUSION

Book News, PublicNet: 31 December, 2005

By David ByrneThe second edition of this widely read book explores developments in social theory, social experience and social policy in relation to Social Exclusion. The first part examines the origins of the term and implications of the difference between the ideas of ‘exclusion’, ‘underclass’, ‘residuum’ and related concepts. In the updated second part, the theoretical account is developed through a detailed review of the dynamics of individual lives in a changing social order. Income equality, spatial division, and exclusion in relation to health, education and cultural provision and processes are examined in a range of societies.

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GREATER LONDON AUTHORITY GETS MOBILE

Features, PublicNet: 16 December, 2005

Mobile phones have entered into the fabric of life, but public bodies have not exploited their use as well as many companies. The Greater London Authority is an exception. In the short time since the mobile initiative was launched there is clear evidence that convenience to the public and low cost to the GLA will ensure successful development. The service has proved effective in ticket ordering, giving information about minicabs to improve safety and advising on the nearest recycling facilities.

NHS NOT MATCHING CARE TO NEED SAY SCOTTISH RESEARCHERS

Headlines, PublicNet: 16 December, 2005

The National Health Service should be doing more to provide health care where it is needed, according to a research paper published today in the influential BMJ. The study, carried out in Scotland, found more GPs in more affluent areas than serving the poorer half of the population.A team from Glasgow University analysed the availability of primary care according to deprivation and health need in a study based on a sample population of 5.35 million people served by 1,050 general practices and divided into ten groups of equal size according to deprivation. The study revealed that ill health was two and a half times greater in the most deprived group compared to the most affluent.

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LOCAL COMMITTEES SET FOR BIGGER ROLE IN COUNCIL CONDUCT REGIME

Headlines, PublicNet: 16 December, 2005

The Government has issued a discussion paper on ways to promote good conduct and so build public confidence in local authorities. The paper incorporates responses to a number of recent recommendations for the local government conduct regime.It sets out a number of changes in relation to the conduct of both council staff and elected members. For councillors it proposes that the initial assessment of any allegation of misconduct should be undertaken by standards committees, rather being responsible for investigating and determining most cases.

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EXTERNAL FUNDING SURVEY

Abstracts, PublicNet: 15 December, 2005

This survey by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy reveals that although external funding is a valuable source of alternative income for local authorities, not all are making the most of the opportunities available to them. External Funding is money paid to local authorities not accounted for within the Formula Spending Share and distributed by various UK and EU agencies.The survey indicates that many local authorities do not know how many bids they submit annually and, of those, how many are successful. Feedback from local authorities indicates the need for effective performance management data on external funding. The vast majority of local authorities recognise the importance of this and welcome the benefits of such an approach. However, there is clearly room for improvement , particularly as external pressures are forcing them to take tough spending and funding decisions.

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COMMISSION ISSUES CLEANLINESS CHALLENGE TO HOSPITALS

Headlines, PublicNet: 15 December, 2005

Hospitals are being challenged today to regain patient’s confidence about cleanliness by bringing all services up to the standards of the best. The Healthcare Commission makes the call today as it publishes the findings of the first independent inspections of hospital cleanliness in England, which show only one in three hospitals measuring up to the highest standards.Inspectors visited 99 NHS and private hospitals between July and September. The visits were unannounced to prevent Hospitals carrying out any late clean up work before the inspectors’ arrival. Two thirds of hospitals failed to meet the highest standards in cleanliness across the board with mental health hospitals in the sample performing particularly poorly.

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MOST COUNCILS PERFORMING WELL – BUT CPA MAY GET TOUGHER

Headlines, PublicNet: 15 December, 2005

Most English councils are performing well according to the latest assessment by the Audit Commission but it says some authorities are finding improvement a challenge and ten have gained only one or no stars at all. The report, “CPA – The Harder Test, Scores and Analysis of Performance in Single Tier and County Councils 2005”, published today, is the fourth annual assessment of councils.The Commission says Comprehensive Performance Assessment has helped drive improvement in councils – and it is warning that assessment may be even tougher next year. The Assessment shows two-thirds of councils have achieved the top two categories of 3 or 4 star performance, demonstrating consistent performance in all the assessed elements.

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IT TRENDS – E-GOVERNMENT LIFT OFF

Abstracts, PublicNet: 14 December, 2005

This survey from the Society of IT Management confirms progress on e-government but highlights concerns about councils’ future commitment to ICT-facilitated transformation.The survey sheds light on the cost and the benefit of the e-government initiative. Councils have spent in excess of 13bn pounds on ICT over the past five years, an increase in resources of 2bn pounds. Almost half of the new money has come from Central Government the balance has been found from Council budgets. Spending on ICT systems, services and staff in 2005/6 has risen by 23% to 3.3bn pounds pa, but this spending is well below that of organisations that use ICT aggressively to deliver their business. This leads to a concern about local authorities’ commitment to transformation.

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AGREEMENT ON EXPANDED ROLE FOR LACORS

Headlines, PublicNet: 14 December, 2005

The Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services has been given additional funding to provide support to councils with their environmental protection responsibilities. The boost to LACORS and the extension of its remit follows an agreement with the Local Government Association.The LGA Executive has confirmed that LACORS will now be funded to undertake a range of services relating to environmental protection, prevention and control of air, land, water, and noise. This expansion of its role results from recommendations made its Quinquennial Review in March this year. That report highlighted the need for LACORS to consider expansion into new local authority regulatory services. A strategy will be developed by LACORS and the LGA with key local and central government stakeholders to implement the increased remit.

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COMMISSIONER ORDERS COUNCIL TO RELEASE HOTEL INSPECTION REPORT

Headlines, PublicNet: 14 December, 2005

A Welsh council has been ordered by the Information Commissioner to release the latest hygiene inspection report for a local hotel under the Freedom of Information Act. The decision to make Bridgend comply with the request coincides with agreement from the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham to join the growing number of councils that routinely publish food hygiene inspection reports on their websites after requests under the Act.The Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, said Bridgend Council had argued that releasing the inspection reports would undermine the way it carried out its responsibilities but he had been unable to agree that their refusal was justified. “The public has a right to know what health inspections discover. Well-run restaurants have nothing to fear – and much to gain – from public scrutiny. Publishing inspection reports will put pressure on restaurants to raise their standards, “he added.

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