Richard Vize Public Policy Media Ltd
LATEST ARTICLES
CV
Dignity report has powerful messages 29 February 2012 The consultation document published today by the Commission on Dignity in Care for Older People has powerful messages about the role of hospital doctors and the training of doctors and medical students. The commission, a joint enterprise by the NHS Confederation, Age UK and Local Government Association, was established in the wake of investigations by Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Ann Abraham into shocking failures in the care of older people. (I should declare an interest – I wrote the commission’s report.) It moves on from the increasingly frequent exposure of such failures by identifying the underlying causes for poor care of older people in hospitals and care homes and recommending reforms. It calls for “fundamental changes to culture, leadership, management, staff development, clinical practice and service delivery.” Read the full article at the British Medical Journal ____________________________________________________________________ Slashing scrutiny is a false economy 24 February 2012 Tony Blair's government essentially struck a deal with councils: hated restrictions, such as compulsory competitive tendering, were abolished but, in return, local government was given a sharper leadership focus – executive cabinets replaced the old committee system and overview and scrutiny committees were introduced. Scrutiny sounds fine in theory. A cross-party selection of backbench councillors investigate policies and performance, hold officers and councillors to account and open up the workings of the authority to the media and the public. But effective scrutiny depends on having sharp minds conducting the scrutiny, and an executive that is open to criticism and willing to learn from its mistakes. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Welfare reforms are starting to unravel 17 February 2012 While councils have been devoting so much attention to coping with budget cuts and job losses, another problem has crept up on them: benefit reform. Of all the battles to be fought over local control, council tax benefit is one issue where the government has been delighted to live the localist dream. There were just two caveats when ministers announced that control of the benefit was being handed to councils; it had to be done quickly – by 2013 – and the bill had to be cut by 10%. The current bill is £4.8bn a year and some 5.8 million people in England on low incomes receive it. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ The bully pulpit of Whitehall comms 10 February 2012 The National Audit Office has embarked on a study of how central and local government communicate. They will not be short of material. Communication from Whitehall and a smattering of other government outposts takes several forms. The most familiar and least endearing is what the Americans call the bully pulpit of ministerial office. The term bully had a less aggressive meaning when the expression was first coined by president Theodore Roosevelt. It now wonderfully suits the style of communication deployed by communities secretary Eric Pickles. Under the Pickles regime of "guided localism" the secretary of state feels able to interfere in every aspect of council decision-making. Earlier this week Pickles attacked councils planning a tax rise below the level that triggers a referendum of "treating the electorate with contempt". Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Shortsighted pay decisions bad for all 3 February 2012 As local government employers and unions move within reach of a deal on pension reform, the potential for long term conflict over pay is growing. The pressure is building right across the council workforce. A national pay freeze and a trickle of agreed or imposed pay cuts could be exacerbated by government plans to move away from national pay bargaining in favour of local pay rates. Meanwhile at the top end, severe cuts to chief executive pay packets are making the risks and pressures of those posts less attractive and pushing down on the salaries of other senior managers. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Plodding reply to police commissioners 27 January 2012 The government announcement this week that "super Thursday" – 15 November – will be the election date for both police commissioners and cities that opt for directly elected mayors comes as interest in the new policing system is growing. Police accountability is a messy issue in Britain. Polling data from organisations such as Ipsos Mori shows public satisfaction with the police force is weak; it generally hovers around the 50% mark or lower (similar to the average for local government). The police are often seen as unresponsive to local concerns about crime, as public anger at the handling of last summer's riots demonstrated. Much of the British public – and many politicians – believe crime and public safety lend themselves to simplistic, heavy-handed solutions and are frustrated that "policing by consent" dominates current police thinking. Elected police commissioners are intended to bridge this divide by making policing more responsive to local concerns. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Why doctors and managers drifted apart 24 January 2012 The need for doctors to be working in concert with managers has never been greater, as the NHS tries to secure productivity gains which no healthcare system in the world has achieved. But why are medics so distant from managers, and are attitudes changing? The so-called Nicholson challenge to find £20bn of extra productivity by 2014-15 – equivalent to about 4% a year – is impossible without the commitment and expertise of doctors. The programme intended to deliver it, known as QIPP – quality, innovation, productivity and prevention – means changes to the way doctors work on an industrial scale. Yet, for many years they have been disengaged from, and often disenchanted with the managers wanting reform. Read the full article on the Guardian health network ____________________________________________________________________ Localist ministers trample democracy 20 January 2012 IThey just don't get it. Week after week the government that claims to be the champion of localism tramples on local government autonomy. In the past month there have been four occasions when Whitehall departments have micromanaged local affairs on major issues – local taxation, broadband, waste and troubled families. Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt announced just before Christmas what even he admitted was a "challenging" timetable for councils to bid for £530m to fund the extension of superfast broadband (or as a South Korean would see it, incredibly slow broadband). They have until the end of February to submit a plan to get broadband to areas currently excluded, known as "notspots". Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ A fractious new year for council finance 13 January 2012 It has been a fractious start to the year for local government finance, with both the pension negotiations and government reforms to the council funding system under attack. Eric Pickles was at the scene of both crimes. The communities secretary's attempt to reform local government finance is winning few friends. In the second reading debate on the Local Government Finance Bill in the Commons on Tuesday, he complained about "grumblers" – and there are many. His plans to reward economic growth by allowing councils to retain part of any new business rates, and to allow borrowing against future business rate revenues through tax increment financing, are not living up to their earlier promise. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ How does DH offload £300m in a hurry? 12 January 2012 The Department of Health is sitting on hundreds of millions of pounds it doesn’t know how to spend. As the Health Service Journal revealed last week (£), the DH has suddenly started scrabbling around for ways to use £300 million of capital budget. Some trusts have been given only seven working days to apply, others don’t even know about it. The DH told the BMJ that “thanks to good management of central capital budgets, we have identified capital funding which could be made available to the NHS. We are now in discussions with the NHS to see how it could best be spent.” Read the full article at the British Medical Journal ____________________________________________________________________ Social care and education are the issues 6 January 2012 As well as trying to exploit the somewhat miserly opportunities presented by the Localism Act and continuing to both cut and innovate their way through the budget crisis, councils will have another big priority in 2012 – to reposition themselves in relation to both social care and education. After a stumbling start as education secretary, Michael Gove is leading an ambitious schools policy to which councils are struggling to provide a coherent response. The first flakes of the free schools movement and the avalanche of new academies are now being joined by concerted moves to allow schools to select pupils on ability. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network
January to February 2012
Richard Vize Public Policy Media Ltd
LATEST ARTICLES
CV
Dignity report has powerful messages 29 February 2012 The consultation document published today by the Commission on Dignity in Care for Older People has powerful messages about the role of hospital doctors and the training of doctors and medical students. The commission, a joint enterprise by the NHS Confederation, Age UK and Local Government Association, was established in the wake of investigations by Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Ann Abraham into shocking failures in the care of older people. (I should declare an interest – I wrote the commission’s report.) It moves on from the increasingly frequent exposure of such failures by identifying the underlying causes for poor care of older people in hospitals and care homes and recommending reforms. It calls for “fundamental changes to culture, leadership, management, staff development, clinical practice and service delivery.” Read the full article at the British Medical Journal ____________________________________________________________________ Slashing scrutiny is a false economy 24 February 2012 Tony Blair's government essentially struck a deal with councils: hated restrictions, such as compulsory competitive tendering, were abolished but, in return, local government was given a sharper leadership focus – executive cabinets replaced the old committee system and overview and scrutiny committees were introduced. Scrutiny sounds fine in theory. A cross-party selection of backbench councillors investigate policies and performance, hold officers and councillors to account and open up the workings of the authority to the media and the public. But effective scrutiny depends on having sharp minds conducting the scrutiny, and an executive that is open to criticism and willing to learn from its mistakes. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Welfare reforms are starting to unravel 17 February 2012 While councils have been devoting so much attention to coping with budget cuts and job losses, another problem has crept up on them: benefit reform. Of all the battles to be fought over local control, council tax benefit is one issue where the government has been delighted to live the localist dream. There were just two caveats when ministers announced that control of the benefit was being handed to councils; it had to be done quickly – by 2013 – and the bill had to be cut by 10%. The current bill is £4.8bn a year and some 5.8 million people in England on low incomes receive it. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ The bully pulpit of Whitehall comms 10 February 2012 The National Audit Office has embarked on a study of how central and local government communicate. They will not be short of material. Communication from Whitehall and a smattering of other government outposts takes several forms. The most familiar and least endearing is what the Americans call the bully pulpit of ministerial office. The term bully had a less aggressive meaning when the expression was first coined by president Theodore Roosevelt. It now wonderfully suits the style of communication deployed by communities secretary Eric Pickles. Under the Pickles regime of "guided localism" the secretary of state feels able to interfere in every aspect of council decision- making. Earlier this week Pickles attacked councils planning a tax rise below the level that triggers a referendum of "treating the electorate with contempt". Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Shortsighted pay decisions bad for all 3 February 2012 As local government employers and unions move within reach of a deal on pension reform, the potential for long term conflict over pay is growing. The pressure is building right across the council workforce. A national pay freeze and a trickle of agreed or imposed pay cuts could be exacerbated by government plans to move away from national pay bargaining in favour of local pay rates. Meanwhile at the top end, severe cuts to chief executive pay packets are making the risks and pressures of those posts less attractive and pushing down on the salaries of other senior managers. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Plodding reply to police commissioners 27 January 2012 The government announcement this week that "super Thursday" – 15 November – will be the election date for both police commissioners and cities that opt for directly elected mayors comes as interest in the new policing system is growing. Police accountability is a messy issue in Britain. Polling data from organisations such as Ipsos Mori shows public satisfaction with the police force is weak; it generally hovers around the 50% mark or lower (similar to the average for local government). The police are often seen as unresponsive to local concerns about crime, as public anger at the handling of last summer's riots demonstrated. Much of the British public – and many politicians – believe crime and public safety lend themselves to simplistic, heavy- handed solutions and are frustrated that "policing by consent" dominates current police thinking. Elected police commissioners are intended to bridge this divide by making policing more responsive to local concerns. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Why doctors and managers drifted apart 24 January 2012 The need for doctors to be working in concert with managers has never been greater, as the NHS tries to secure productivity gains which no healthcare system in the world has achieved. But why are medics so distant from managers, and are attitudes changing? The so-called Nicholson challenge to find £20bn of extra productivity by 2014-15 – equivalent to about 4% a year – is impossible without the commitment and expertise of doctors. The programme intended to deliver it, known as QIPP – quality, innovation, productivity and prevention – means changes to the way doctors work on an industrial scale. Yet, for many years they have been disengaged from, and often disenchanted with the managers wanting reform. Read the full article on the Guardian health network ____________________________________________________________________ Localist ministers trample democracy 20 January 2012 IThey just don't get it. Week after week the government that claims to be the champion of localism tramples on local government autonomy. In the past month there have been four occasions when Whitehall departments have micromanaged local affairs on major issues – local taxation, broadband, waste and troubled families. Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt announced just before Christmas what even he admitted was a "challenging" timetable for councils to bid for £530m to fund the extension of superfast broadband (or as a South Korean would see it, incredibly slow broadband). They have until the end of February to submit a plan to get broadband to areas currently excluded, known as "notspots". Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ A fractious new year for council finance 13 January 2012 It has been a fractious start to the year for local government finance, with both the pension negotiations and government reforms to the council funding system under attack. Eric Pickles was at the scene of both crimes. The communities secretary's attempt to reform local government finance is winning few friends. In the second reading debate on the Local Government Finance Bill in the Commons on Tuesday, he complained about "grumblers" – and there are many. His plans to reward economic growth by allowing councils to retain part of any new business rates, and to allow borrowing against future business rate revenues through tax increment financing, are not living up to their earlier promise. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ How does DH offload £300m in a hurry? 12 January 2012 The Department of Health is sitting on hundreds of millions of pounds it doesn’t know how to spend. As the Health Service Journal revealed last week (£), the DH has suddenly started scrabbling around for ways to use £300 million of capital budget. Some trusts have been given only seven working days to apply, others don’t even know about it. The DH told the BMJ that “thanks to good management of central capital budgets, we have identified capital funding which could be made available to the NHS. We are now in discussions with the NHS to see how it could best be spent.” Read the full article at the British Medical Journal ____________________________________________________________________ Social care and education are the issues 6 January 2012 As well as trying to exploit the somewhat miserly opportunities presented by the Localism Act and continuing to both cut and innovate their way through the budget crisis, councils will have another big priority in 2012 – to reposition themselves in relation to both social care and education. After a stumbling start as education secretary, Michael Gove is leading an ambitious schools policy to which councils are struggling to provide a coherent response. The first flakes of the free schools movement and the avalanche of new academies are now being joined by concerted moves to allow schools to select pupils on ability. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network