- National Wellbeing
- National Audit Office guidance on de-commissioning
- Panel to assess the state of independence in the voluntary sector
- Charity Commission study of consortia working
- Office of the Public Guardian consultation
- Council Tax Consultation
- Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Update and way forward
- No Health without Mental Health
- Big Society
- The Work Programme
- NHS restructuring
- Government Equality Strategy
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The Office of National Statistics has published the National Statistician's Reflections on the National Debate on Measuring National Well-being. The key areas that matter most to people include health, family and friends, job satisfaction and adequate income and wealth. Visit the new look ONS website.back to top
The National Audit Office has produced guidance on de-commissioning for public bodies. It makes clear that decommissioning is not the same as cuts. Services may be decommissioned as a result of cuts but the point of de-commissioning is to ensure that what remains is of good quality. The impact should not disadvantage any group of users other than the general population. Whilst this guidance is intended for public bodies, it may be useful in dealing with further cuts due next year. See the guidance on the NAO website.back to top
The Baring Foundation has established the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector made up of senior figures from within the voluntary sector. The panel will have a five-year programme and is beginning its work with a brief report and consultation. The consultation asks about:
- How to ensure independence is respected, to avoid the risk of some organisations simply becoming ‘delivery agents’ for public services, and being constrained in independence of voice or action or even diverted from their original purpose if independence is not respected;
- The possible impact of public spending cuts on the capacity of voluntary organisations to act independently and respond to the needs of the most vulnerable;
- The impact of other changes – including the way in which the government funds and commissions services – on the sector’s independence.
See the report on the Panel’s website. The consultation runs until 21st September.
The Panel has also devised a Barometer of Independence, which they will use to measure independence of the sector over the course of the five years.
The charity commission has published a research study into consortia working by charities. It looks at formation, governance arrangements, staying within organisations own objectives, delivery issues and covering costs. You can download the report from the Commission’s website or see it online.back to top
The Office of the Public Guardian (which represents the interests of people who lack capacity under the Mental Capacity Act) has issued a consultation on the role of not for profit organisations in acting as “deputies”. A deputy sorts out the affairs of someone who lacks capacity; this is often a family member but can be someone else who can be approved by the Court of Protection. The consultation asks what not for profit organisations think they could do, what fees they would charge and opinions on general principles. You can read the consultation on the OPG website and the deadline for responses is 27th October.back to top
The Department of Communities & Local Government has issued a consultation on changes to Council Tax, more specifically how council Tax benefit is dealt with. Responsibility is transferring to local councils. Currently local councils administer the benefit on national rules and are reimbursed for all benefit paid. The consultation proposes that councils will:
- set their own criteria locally but these must ensure that pensioners receive the same level of benefit and that there is an “incentive to work rather than claim benefits”,
- have to consult on their proposed criteria,
- have to reduce expenditure by 10% - whether through reducing entitlement or a more efficient system,
- receive a non ring-fenced grant – if they do not make savings they will have to fund this from other services, but if they reduce expenditure by more than 10% they can use the money on other things.
The Government will have a separate consultation on how the grant will be calculated for each area based on estimated numbers of eligible people and also previous expenditure. Under the first criterion areas with high pensioner populations (such as Bromley) and/or low take up rates would benefit more than those with high take up amongst working age people. You can download the consultation from the DCLG website and the consultation closes on 14th October.back to top
NAVCA responded to consultation on a white paper about the future of public health earlier in the year. The Government has now published its response to the consultation. It reaffirms the Government's determination to create a more effective public health system and sets out progress to date.back to top
Following the publication of the Government's mental health strategy, No Health without Mental Health in February 2011, The Centre for Mental Health has launched two briefings in conjunction with the Mental Health Strategic Partnership, aimed at general practice and community organisations.
- No Health Without Mental Health: A guide for General Practice
- No Health without Mental Health: a guide for community organisations
The Department for Communities and Local Government has published One year on: Snapshot of activity in vanguard areas. The report gives information on activity in the Big Society vanguards over the last year. CLG's latest Big Society Newsletter has been produced. Email BigSocietyIdeas@communities.gsi.gov.uk to be added to the mailing list.back to top
The Department of Work & Pensions has published a guide to the new Work Programme, which began in June 2011. Download the document from the DWP website. The Work Programme is designed to get long term unemployed people back into work and is the first of the “payments by results” programmes. There is currently an upfront fee (but this will end in future years) and thereafter payment is received if the client finds a job and keeps it for three or six months (depending on length of unemployment beforehand). The bulk of the payment will be based on “sustainment” – with an additional payment for every four weeks sustained employment after that. Contracts have been given to lead contractors in each of 18 areas in the country, almost all of whom are commercial enterprises. They can then subcontract the work to other organisations, including voluntary organisations, to help deliver to particular client groups locally. Lead providers have to say what their minimum service delivery will be. See these on DWP website. Bromley is covered by London East (area 4 nationally). The main contractors here are Area 4 East London - A4e, Careers Development and Seetecback to top
In preparation for the planned GP consortia in 2013, most Primary care trusts have been joined together in “clusters”. Whilst PCTs continue to be the legal accountable bodies much of their day-to-day work will be taken on either by these clusters or devolved to Clinical Commissioning Groups. How the clusters have been set up and run varies a lot ,so the Department of Health has produced guidance on a “Shared Operating Model for PCT Clusters”. This includes a timetable by which PCTs and clusters should have completed certain work, this includes:
• ensure that a clear percentage of budgets are delegated to CCG pathfinders.
- undertaken patient engagement and have determined services of choice for Any Qualified Provider
- identified staff currently involved in directly commissioning primary care, specialised, prison health, and military services
- contribute to the development of a single approach to primary care contract performance management, for delivery by April 2012
- Clusters, in collaboration with their Specialised Commissioning Groups, to have:
- used a single model to separate specialised and non-specialised elements of activity in every acute/mental health contract
- identified all services that are currently commissioned by regional Specialised Commissioning Groups different from specialised commissioning national definition set, and absorbed into Cluster/CCG commissioning responsibility
- identified all services that are currently commissioned by PCTs but are included in the specialised service national definition set (as defined by the national information algorithm) and transferred to Specialised Commissioning Group responsibility.
- ensure that a clear percentage of budgets are delegated to CCG pathfinders, with a plan for future delegation
- All practices to be within an emerging viable CCG
- Right to Request proposals supported to become successful establishments
- Signed off priority Any Qualified Provider services with SHAs
- Clusters to have agreed with their prospective CCGs their do/share/buy options and their commissioning support requirements
- Clusters to have completed cataloguing existing contracts - GMS/PMS, GDS/PDS/orthodontics, local agreements and enhanced services for medical, dental, optical and pharmaceutical services, according to a national template setting out the broad contents of the contracts and their state of readiness for handover to the NHS CB.
- Clusters to ensure its constituent PCTs, as listed in Schedule 19 of the Equality Act 2010, demonstrate their compliance with the Equality Duty,
- Clusters completed the Commissioning Support business review phased process
- Clusters to be operating direct commissioning functions in line with an agreed shared operating model
- Clusters to have supported CCGs to ensure they are actively engaged in the development of their local health and wellbeing board.
- Clusters to have started delivery of at least three Any Qualified Provider community and mental health services, working in partnership with CCGs
- Locally delivered parts of nationwide communication and engagement services will be fully functioning
- Clusters to begin to move towards a single process for primary care contract
- staff transfer to single specialised commissioning team
- By 6th April, Clusters to ensure their constituent PCTS publish Equality Objectives
The government has published its Equality Strategy. The strategy is based on the Equality Act 2010 despite one of the options in the recent “red tape challenge” being the repeal of the Act. It says:
“This strategy sets out the UK Government’s commitment to tackling the barriers to equal opportunities and social mobility. It sets the framework for how equality will be a fundamental part of the Government’s programmes across the UK.”
The strategy sets out five principles, which indicate the strategy is about fewer direct instructions and sanctions and more aspiration that people will tackle inequality themselves. The aim is also about a collective improvement rather than any specific focus on groups that are currently discriminated against or disadvantaged. This is in contrast to welfare support, which is becoming more focused and targeted. The principles are:
- “Creating equal opportunities for all: moving from looking at solutions geared to special treatment for ‘groups’ to developing frameworks that help create fairness and opportunities for everyone by, for example, extending the right to request flexible working to all, and not simply those with caring responsibilities…
- “Devolving power to people: ….Instead of top-down targets we will devolve power, free up businesses, public services, the voluntary sector, communities and citizens to develop solutions, and promote good practice.
- “Transparency: ….The reshaped public sector Equality Duty will require public bodies to publish more information on equality than before, and demonstrate how they are delivering improvement, replacing bureaucratic accountability with democratic accountability.
- “Supporting social action: giving the voluntary sector and public sector professionals the freedom to work together to innovate and drive effective measures which build a more inclusive and cohesive society based on tolerance and respect for all…. For example, the National Citizen Service will bring together 16-year-olds from different backgrounds and around the country to become community volunteers and join in outdoor pursuits.
- “Embedding equality: leading by example and embedding equality in everything we do in government….”
The strategy document has several sections looking at specific issues:
- Section 1: Early years, education and social mobility – to provide more health visitors and also to change Sure Start so it focuses on most disadvantaged (this seems contrary to the first principle above).
- Section 2: A fair and flexible labour market including a voluntary gender pay gap reporting scheme, consultation on action against discrimination, voluntary positive action in recruitment and promotion processes when faced with two or more candidates of equal merit, welfare reform will get more people into work.
- Section 3: Opening up public services and empowering individuals and communities. (Much of the action is in the government’s existing programme, such as public service reform, National Citizen Service and community organisers, rather than specific equality measures.)
- Section 4: Changing culture and attitudes – this is the section with most specific proposals including: Equality Duty on public bodies to promote good relations, work with governing bodies of different sports to tackle homophobia and transphobia in sport, promote better recording of all hate crimes, but particularly those which at present are often not centrally recorded, for example, against disabled people and LGB&T people and encourage those who experience hate crime to report it.
There are also commitments on foreign affairs and commitment to stop the deportation of asylum seekers whose sexual orientation or gender identity puts them at proven risk of imprisonment, torture or execution;
- Section 5: Making it happen
You can download the strategy here