WATCHDOG CALLS FOR BETTER MANAGEMENT OF DEAF CHILDREN’S SERVICES

Headlines: October 22nd, 2012

Deaf children’s entitlement to communicate and be communicated with is fundamental to their development and progress. But many agencies need to review their services and improve the quality of communication.

A survey by Ofsted found effective joint working across agencies supporting deaf children but the quality assurance and evaluation of impact of services was not well developed. Overall, the auditing and reporting of the quality of multi-agency services were underdeveloped.

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ABSENCE LEVEL IN PUBLIC SECTOR LOWEST FOR TEN YEARS

Headlines: October 18th, 2012

Absence in the public sector at 7.9 per employee is the lowest for ten years. But this may not be the result of better absence management.

Absence levels in the public and private sectors are falling. But the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development believes that the fall coincides with almost a third of employers reporting an increase in the number of people going into work ill. The threat of redundancies and concerns over job security are shown to contribute to such ‘presenteeism’, with organisations that are expecting to make redundancies in the next six months more likely to report an increase in employees going into work when unwell, than employers that are not expecting to cut jobs.

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VIRTUAL SCHOOLS CAN REDUCE ACHIEVMENT GAP FOR CHILDREN IN CARE

Headlines: October 15th, 2012

The gap between the educational achievement of children in care and their peers continues to widen. An Ofsted report says that virtual schools can help to reduce the gap.

Virtual schools are established by many local authorities and work with looked after children across their catchment as if they were in one school, liaising with the schools they attend, tracking the progress they make and supporting them to achieve as well as possible.

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TROUBLED FAMILIES COMMUNITY BUDGET ON TARGET TO DELIVER

Headlines: October 11th, 2012

The Troubled Families initiative which is piloting the Community Budget approach is on track, with councils committed to start working with more than a third of families in the first year of a three-year programme.

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BOOST FOR COMMUNITY SHARE OWNERSHIP

Headlines: October 10th, 2012

A Community Shares Unit has been set up to grow the community shares market and help local people claim a stake and become part owners of local assets and services.

Community shares let local people to take a more active in role in their communities by giving members – as part-owners – a direct say in their success, encouraging them to play an active part in their future. Shares may offer a stake in a community pub, football club or even in the generation of renewable energy. Since 2009, 15,000 people have invested in over 100 community share issues, raising over £15 million.

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ACCESSING PUBLIC SERVICES ON LINE TO GET EASIER

Headlines: October 8th, 2012

Plans have been announced to allow the use of an existing login, such as one used for Facebook or Tesco, to access all central and local government services.

Login fatigue, which results from the need to remember a range of usernames and passwords, is a growing problem for Internet users. But solutions need to take account of growing identity theft and increasing cybercrime. Whilst an international group including Google and Facebook are looking at ways to tackle the issue, the Cabinet Office has stepped in with an ID approval scheme which involves users accessing a single site, Gov.uk, with the ID they use to access other online services.

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COUNCILS LAUNCH SOCIAL MEDIA FRIENDLY MARK

Headlines: October 4th, 2012

Social media is being promoted across local government with a new social media friendly mark. The mark carries the message that the council has embraced social media and is using it to get in touch and to get feedback.

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CIVIL SERVANTS SUPPORT MUTUALS BUT WORRY ABOUT LOSS OF BENEFITS

Headlines: October 2nd, 2012

A survey of civil servants shows widespread support for going mutual, but concern that moving into the private sector could lead to loss of benefits.

Research by the Equiniti Group and MyCSP, the first Government mutual joint venture for pension administration, shows that 84 per cent of civil servants are in favour of a mutual business model to manage their pensions. But 80 per cent are concerned about changes to employment benefits.

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THINK TANK WARNS AGAINST MERGING FAILING HOPSITALS

Headlines: October 1st, 2012

Merging up to 30 failing hospitals will not bring them back to clinical and financial stability. The impact of a merger is not sufficient to change mindsets or structures.

The warning comes in a report ‘Tackling failing NHS hospitals’ from Reform, the independent think tank.

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COMMUNITY HALLS SQUEEZED BETWEEN BUDGET CUTS AND INCREASED DEMAND

Headlines: September 27th, 2012

Rural communities could lose a vital part of their livelihood unless a better and more sustainable way is found to support 10,000 village and community halls.

Some 80,000 volunteers who run the halls, which provide an essential hub for community activity, social support and crucial services, are struggling with loss of funding and the increasing needs of people who use them.

This warning comes from the Rural Community Action Network which provides a support service for volunteers who own and manage rural community buildings on behalf of their community. RCAN has launched a national campaign to highlight its support for those volunteers and to demonstrate the valuable role community halls play in people’s lives. However, cuts to its own budgets and increasing demands for its services mean its own work is under threat. It is calling for Government, local authorities and other policy-makers to work together nationally and locally to decide how best to invest their reduced resources to help maintain the valuable support service RCAN provides.

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