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What next for social care?

Highland Marketing’s advisory board welcomed Jane Brightman, social care lead at Institute of Health and Social Care Management, to discuss the sector and its technology needs. A lot of hope is being pinned on integrated care systems, but when it comes to joining up health and care systems and putting the underpinning IT in place, cultural, structural and funding challenges remain. 

Jane Brightman

The Covid-19 pandemic has shone an unaccustomed light on social care. This has illuminated the commitment of many of those working in the sector and its importance to adults with disabilities, older people, and their families.

More harshly, it has highlighted some of its problems, including the difficulty that many people face in getting the care they need, shortages of funding, staff and technology, and the precarious position of too many care homes.

Ahead of his most recent Budget, think-tanks urged chancellor Rishi Sunak to use the limelight to announce a long-term funding plan for social care. But, in the event, he announced more stop-gap funding, while promising, again, that the sector would see its much-delayed green paper by the end of the year (analysis).

Jane Brightman, who has just been appointed to lead the Institute of Health and Social Care Management’s social care activity (interview), told Highland Marketing’s advisory board that this needed to happen. “I want the social care to have a long-term funding settlement and a ten-year plan like the NHS Plan,” she said.

How integrated will integrated care systems be?

For the moment, social care must carry on; and hope that the arrival of integrated care systems will make a difference. The recent white paper, Integration and Innovation, says they need to join-up both health services and health and social care which is run by councils, rationed by need, and means-tested.

However, while Integration and Innovation spends a lot of time discussing one aspect of ICSs – the NHS body that will be responsible for the shift to population health management and commissioning from provider collaboratives – it spends much less on the other – the health and social care partnership that will draw up an ‘overarching plan’ for public health, health, and social care.

NHS organisations and local authorities will be expected to ‘take note’ of the plan in carrying out their activities; but this isn’t a particularly strong requirement. So, as board member and former ICS chief information officer Cindy Fedell pointed out: “ICSs are an opportunity, but they are very NHS heavy.”

Funding flows (and blockages)

Then, there’s the money. Integration and Innovation makes some provision for strengthening the Better Care Fund and enabling the NHS and local government to pool budgets for joined-up care initiatives.

But, as advisory board chair and Salisbury’s previous mayor Jeremy Nettle pointed out, on the local government side there isn’t much cash around; and councillors may be reluctant to see any money that is available vanish into a system with no democratic accountability that is not at the forefront of voters’ minds.

“In Wiltshire, social care is our biggest expenditure, but we have 3,000 miles of roads and it is roads that people complain about,” he said. “Local authorities have been promised some extra funding for social care this year, but it hasn’t materialised. So, people are talking about pooling funds but there may not be funds to pool.”

When it comes to care homes, Brightman said the Care Quality Commission had determined that just 70 of the 18,000 providers were big enough to be a problem if they failed, while most of the rest are so small they will find it hard to contribute much to the integrated care agenda and the IT required to make it work.

Sitting behind all this, there is also that fundamental challenge that while the NHS component of care will be tax-funded, any social care component should be charged back to the individual. Which just adds a whole new layer of complexity to integrated care discussions.

One NHS and social care system?

Imaging expert Rizwan Malik said it was a shame that, for historical and political reasons, health and social care had ended up on separate tracks. “It just causes huge frustration,” he said. Mark Venables, chief executive of Highland Marketing, asked the board whether one solution would be for the NHS to take over social care.

Brightman said the idea has been floated in the past, but it would be “a huge job”. Labour has proposed creating a national social care service to run alongside the NHS, to provide scale and consistency. But recent governments have shown little interest in the idea.

Entrepreneur Ravi Kumar suggested some of the benefits of a national service might be delivered by creating a “social care brand” for the sector. But Brightman pointed out this had been tried.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock backed exactly this initiative when he wore a care lapel pin instead of an NHS pin to a Covid-19 press conference; and was promptly accused of ‘gesture politics’ and ridiculed for having nothing more practical to offer the sector (Independent news story).

Downstream action, upstream savings  

In practice, it is pragmatism that is most likely to drive integrated care. Brightman told the board: “The trick [to getting funding from the NHS] is going to be recognising that social care can do a lot to prevent hospital admissions and to support discharge.”

As an example, she noted that treating a urinary tract infection in the community is much cheaper than treating it in an acute hospital, where patients can deteriorate to the point where they need new care packages and end up as a ‘delayed discharge’.

However, she acknowledged, social care will need status and skills to secure this kind of investment; and deliver on it. This is one of the reasons that the Institute of Healthcare Management rebranded to include social care earlier this year.

The IHSCM is now looking to provide a ‘home’ and a voice for social care leaders and managers and, perhaps, to provide certified training for them (the IHSCM is exploring a partnership with a university that may have a suitable degree programme).

The issue of certification struck a chord with Andy Kinnear who, as an NHS chief information officer, tried to drive forward professionalism in informatics by helping to create FedIP, a membership and registration body. “NHSX is describing 2021 as the year of health and social care professionalism, and it is pushing this agenda hard,” he said.

“So having the IHSCM respond to that will fit with a story that is already playing out in other places. Because we do need to get together, as health and care professionals, to push the agenda forward.”

A sector that needs to be more digitally mature

When it comes to technology, the social care sector has a long way to go. In councils, social care is supported by a handful of small IT suppliers with care records that have been hard to integrate with NHS systems, even in big, national initiatives such as Child Protection – Information Sharing.

The CQC has drawn up a ‘what good looks like’ for digital records in the sector and has similar guidance for care homes. However, last summer, a survey discovered that a fifth of care homes had no wi-fi and that fewer than half of those that did had wi-fi in both communal areas and bedrooms.

During the pandemic, NHSX and NHS Digital worked with leading telecoms companies to address this and make sure care providers could run remote GP consultations, order prescriptions electronically, and enable residents to communicate with family and friends (Care Home Management story).

The digital agencies also gave care homes NHS mail addresses, which Brightman said had made a huge difference. “I have heard people say that, because they are emailing from an NHS address, clinicians take them much more seriously,” she said. “It’s a great example of why the sector needs to be more digitally mature.”

She added that her priority now is to “help providers understand data and security” and to get them through the Data Security and Protection Toolkit, or DSPT, which, before Covid, was required to get an NHSmail account, and is still required for “the holy grail – shared care records.”

Small steps, big challenges

The advisory board discussed how the structural and funding challenges facing ICSs that want to progress integrated care initiatives are likely to make themselves felt when it comes to deploying the technology needed to make them work.

Nicola Haywood-Alexander, who took up a post as chief information officer of NHS Lincolnshire six months ago, said she would like to integrate the IT teams working on different health and social care systems and fund enhancements to their software.

But the local authority and the ICS have made different outsourcing decisions, and it’s hard to secure money unless it can be banked for specific projects. “I’d really like to do more, because there is so much we need to do,” she said. “We need fibre, and satellite broadband, because sometimes on my patch I can’t get 3G or 4G, never mind 5G.

“We need single sign-on so people aren’t having to log-in to so many systems. I want to roll out workflow and productivity tools. I know the argument is that [social care] should help to fund them, but if they can’t that doesn’t help us.”

In the end, it’s down to people

Shared care records illustrate the challenge. ICSs will need shared care records to support teams working on different systems, generate data for population health management, and plug in digital patient services.

They have been told to have a ‘basic’ record in place by September; but it doesn’t follow that social care will be involved in that basic record and there is already evidence that in many areas it won’t be. James Norman, healthcare CIO at Dell Technologies and previous CIO at a large NHS trust, said national IT funds should be directed to ICSs to sort this out.

“I agree about raising the profile of social care and introducing standards, but at the end of the day we need to get money out to the service and into joint working,” he said.

However, Kinnear, who also has considerable experience of driving shared care records from working on Connecting Care in Bristol, argued that it’s mutual respect and goodwill not white papers, structures and funding rounds that will sort things out on the ground.

“In the end, this is about people and people working together to do things for patients and users who are not bothered about whether it is the NHS or social care or someone else entirely who is doing the job,” he said. “It is down to people in the health and care community solving things for the community.” 

Highland Marketing’s advisory board is: Jeremy Nettle, former global advisor for Health Sciences, Oracle Corporation; Cindy Fedell, former chief digital and information officer at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Andy Kinnear, former director of digital transformation at NHS South, Central and West Commissioning Support Unit; James Norman, healthcare CIO, EMEA, at DellEMC; Ravi Kumar, health tech entrepreneur and chair of ZANEC, and Rizwan Malik, divisional medical director of Bolton NHS Foundation Trust and managing director of South Manchester Radiology. 

Highland Marketing is an integrated communications, PR and marketing consultancy with an unrivalled reputation for supporting UK and international health tech companies, built over almost 20 years. Read more analysis and interviews on the Highland Marketing website, follow us on Twitter @Highlandmarketng, or get in touch on: info@highland-marketing.com

Unemployment during COVID: Kingston leads effort to boost local economy as unemployment triples

Kingston Council has outlined its work to boost the local economy as new figures reveal that the pandemic saw local unemployment almost tripled last year.

A report for the council’s Response and Recovery Committee this evening shows the number of local people claiming unemployment benefits shot up from 2,115 to 6,090 in the year to November and that there was less than one job for every three jobseekers.

With Kingston’s jobless numbers expected to rise by a further 3,800 as government COVID-19 support for businesses comes to an end, the council is increasing its efforts to boost employment prospects across the borough.

The committee will look at the progress of the council’s Economic Recovery and Community Recovery Task Forces and agree future plans to help employment and skills for residents.

So far, the Economic Recovery Task Force has paid out almost £49m in COVID-19 support grants to nearly 9,000 Kingston businesses, with an additional £1.6m going to more than 350 local firms.

Teaming up with partners, including Kingston College, the taskforce has already enhanced the skills and employment prospects for young people through the launch of Work Match – a scheme which links people with available jobs – and rolled out the national Kickstart programme.

More than 400 jobs have already been set up via Kickstart, including 10 placements with council services. In addition, 16 roles have been found with Achieving for Children (AfC), the not-for-profit council-owned company that runs the borough’s Children’s Services. The company has also linked up with local schools and charities to develop around 120 more jobs across 30 different organisations in Kingston and Richmond.

The strength of partnership working throughout the pandemic is being galvanised through the Communities Recovery Task Force, with the voluntary sector taking a leading role in using their reach and contacts to help even more people access a range of opportunities.

Councillor Caroline Kerr, Leader of Kingston Council, said: “The majority of jobseekers in Kingston are looking for work in unskilled or semi-skilled roles. That’s why the excellent work the Economic Recovery and Community Recovery Task Forces are doing to link people with skills training as well as available jobs is so important.

“This is very much a team effort. The part played through these task forces by our partners in the business, education and voluntary sectors has been crucial to our early successes and will remain so as we look to rebuild our local economy for the future.”

First acts of new Government must be to establish a Wales-wide Covid inquiry – Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price MS

First acts of new Government must be to establish a Wales-wide Covid inquiry – Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price MS

Responding to Boris Johnson’s announcement that a UK wide Covid inquiry will take place in Spring 2022, Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price MS said,

“One of the first acts of this Labour Welsh Government should be to establish an independent Welsh inquiry into its handling of the pandemic.

“Whilst Westminster is waiting until the spring of next year to even begin the work, the Welsh Government could set its own agenda and lead by example by establishing an inquiry right away whilst memories are still fresh and initial findings could be ready by as early as the start of Autumn.

“An independent Welsh inquiry, running parallel to the UK-wide enquiry, could provide a sharper focus on how well the Welsh Government responded, the efficiency of its PPE procurement and test and trace systems, and crucially how we can better protect our citizens from future pandemics.

“Covid-19 will be with us for some time yet. We cannot wait until the pandemic is over. Lessons need to be learnt now. Such an inquiry should leave no stone unturned in answering, difficult questions fully and frankly. The people of Wales – especially those directly affected by the tragic consequences of the pandemic – will expect nothing less.”

BAE Systems Applied Intelligence: Cyber security concerns drive digital transformation in UK public sector

Digital transformation pushed to the top of the priority list for central Government

An estimated 60% of UK central government departments have an IT modernisation strategy in place and even more want to upgrade legacy systems due to security vulnerabilities, according to a new study from BAE Systems Applied Intelligence.

The recent research polled 250 IT managers in UK central governmental organisations to better understand their approach to cybersecurity. It found 75% were upgrading systems because of concerns about the vulnerability of legacy IT.

Public sector IT leaders are right to be concerned. Nearly two-thirds (63%) said they experienced a security incident in the past six months and over half of these (52%) came as a result of missing patches.

The lack of integration between legacy IT and modern security solutions was the top data protection risk highlighted by respondents (53%), although “managing risk” came top in the NHS (55%) and “securing traffic flows” was the number one issue for public administration officials (61%).

“One of the challenges is that security and IT departments too often work in siloes, with the former seen as the “department of no” which is slowing down the pace of digital transformation”, said Lorna Rea, Consultant for Central Government at BAE Systems. “In order for security not to be seen as a blocker to innovation, a balance must be struck to ensure public sector employees have the tools they need to collaborate and innovate, without driving up cyber risk to unmanageable levels.”

Public sector IT leaders want to start improvements by simplifying security architecture (45%), either by investing in new technologies and/or vendor consolidation. Similar numbers (45%) want to review current cyber risk management strategies to ensure they have the right balance between security and productivity.

View full report here

Stay up to date and get our latest Government Insights by subscribing at www.baesystems.com/governmentinsights

Readers’ reactions to the Queen’s Speech

Irwin Mitchell: An extremely brief Queens Speech – but does it tell us anything new for planning/environment?

Stuart Tym, Senior Associate in the Planning Team points out to GPSJ the inconsistencies in what was announced today

Baroness Jones spoke to the BBC prior to the Speech with particular concern about the relaxation of planning laws showing a potential disregard for the renewed environmental measures. There were few surprises for planning today – but with both the Environment Bill and the Planning Bill remaining a priority there are plenty of conflicts for the government to resolve to in legislating.

The Queen opened by introducing a parliamentary term concentrating on recovery to make the UK stronger, healthier and more prosperous – “levelling up”.  Stuart Tym asks “whether, in this context, do we still see planning as a public service?  Will the modernisation promised include effective funding and resources for the local planning authorities at the forefront of this delivery?”

The Planning Bill remains set to come forward at pace with today’s stated aim being to modernise the system; concentrating on bringing more homes forward, particularly to purchase (but also enhancing the rights of those who rent).  Stuart Tym says This remains at odds with the Environment Bill, with the requirement to reach net zero by 2050 and introduce binding environmental targets repeated, but not necessarily sitting easily with a relaxed planning system.”

There is also a natural tension between:

  1. those environmental pledges and pledges to improve national infrastructure, including bus, rail and broadband (which will need to be delivered through a modernised planning system); as well as
  2. a further conflict (in the Neighbourhood Planning Update (released in the supporting documents last night) between the short term focus on more neighbourhood planning whilst planning in the longer term for a “modern system” which provides more housing faster.

With such a brief speech there was no direct mention of whether the zonal planning system will come forward in 2 or 3 zones, the detail of modernisation which will come forward with the consultation on the White Paper not yet settled, whether virtual committees will be legislated for, or any mention of the “use it or lose it” approach to applying Council Tax to unbuilt planning permissions for housing, all mooted in the last week.

On the latter Stuart Tym has been astonished at the naivety of the suggestion. He added:   “There are too many good reasons outside of a developers control why a permitted housing scheme may stall or slow and a one size fits all tax incentive could prove disastrous for the industry.  It would in any event be more likely to hit land owners and promotors not developers in any event.”


Queen’s Speech: recovery plans biased against children

National Children’s Bureau statement on the Queen’s Speech

Anna Feuchtwang, Chief Executive of the National Children’s Bureau, told GPSJ:

“Too much of the government’s policy programme outlined in the Queen’s Speech ignores children and young people. Measures to improve integration between the NHS and adult social care, boost home ownership and encourage adult education will do little to assure the next generation that they will be able to play their part in society, reach their potential or enjoy good life chances.”

“The Government assures us that the levelling up agenda applies to all those who are disadvantaged, yet the perception remains that it’s skewed towards communities in the Midlands and the North of England. With glaring levels of child poverty within communities across the length and breadth of the country, the Queen’s Speech should have done more to reassure those on low incomes that they won’t be overlooked wherever they live. We urgently need a cross-government strategy for all children, targeting all aspects of their lives, not just those in living in certain places.”

Website link: www.ncb.org.uk/


Lifetime skills guarantee welcome

Comment to GPSJ from Paramjit Uppal, CEO and Founder of AND Digital

“Introducing measures to guarantee long term skills development is critical as the digital skills gap continues to widen. It’s encouraging to see initiatives taking shape that underline the urgent necessity for cultivating tech competency in every business. The discrepancy between the number of tech jobs businesses need and the level of training held by many people can’t be ignored – prioritising skills development will charge post-COVID economic recovery and long term business success, so the introduction of a lifetime skills guarantee by the government is welcome news.”


Social Care measures promised in Queen’s speech must unleash potential of housing-with-care

Responding to today’s Queen’s Speech, Michael Voges, Executive Director of ARCO told GPSJ: 

“Housing-with-care is ready to revolutionise social care if the Government follows through with today’s promised proposals on social care.

“Housing-with-care has proven over the past year that it is an “oven ready” solution to many of the challenges facing social care in the UK – providing good quality housing, care and support to older people,  meeting their clearly expressed wishes for more independence whilst supporting and complementing more established forms of provision.

“Today’s Queen’s Speech promised measures on social care. It is vital that these include a clear recognition of the role that housing-with-care can play in driving a supply-side revolution based on the success of the sector during the pandemic.

“The Government must also ensure that its planning proposals support its ambitions in social care and remove the barriers holding back the growth of a world class housing-with-care sector in the UK.”


Commenting on the Queen’s speech, Richard Murray, CEO of The King’s Fund told GPSJ:

‘Despite the cruel toll of the pandemic on people using social care services and the Prime Minister’s promise to ‘fix the … crisis once and for all’, the Queen’s Speech once again stops short of a meaningful commitment to reform England’s broken social care system.

The focus on supporting the NHS to recover from the last year is welcome, but for that to succeed there must be equal focus on ensuring social care and public health services also recover, along with a long-term workforce plan that addresses staff shortages, tackles staff stress and burnout by improving working cultures and recognises the impact of the last year on staff well-being.

The Health and Care Bill signals a welcome step towards delivering integrated care centred around the needs of patients. However, once the Bill is laid before Parliament, we will be examining the details closely, particularly new powers for ministers to take control of national decisions about the NHS and intervene in decisions about changes to local services.

Conspicuous by its absence from the Queen’s Speech was any reference to a public inquiry to learn the lessons from the pandemic. Work to prepare for a full public inquiry should begin immediately to learn the lessons from the last year and ensure the country is ready to face future threats. Thousands of families mourning the deaths of loved ones will want to know that the government is doing everything it can to avoid others suffering the same fate.’


Action for Children responds to the Queen’s Speech

Director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, Imran Hussain, told GPSJ:

“We won’t be able to ‘Build Back Better’ if the generation that will be the foundation for the future is weakened by poverty and a mental health crisis.  We won’t be able to level up if life chances are pushed down by deepening inequalities exposed by the pandemic.  We won’t recover as a society, unless we put all our efforts into providing greater support and investment in children. This generation of children have had their childhoods and life chances damaged and disrupted by the pandemic. So, it is disappointing to see so little detail of greater support for children in the Government’s plans.  Now is the time for the government to step up and stop sweeping children’s needs under the carpet.”


Comment to GPSJ from Agata Nowakowska, AVP EMEA, Skillsoft

“Over the past year, Coronavirus has shaken the economy from causing redundancies to disrupting careers across many sectors. For many, investment in skills support will be key to addressing both the disruption in the UK labour market, as well as the growing digital skills gap. Research from CBI revealed that businesses, government and individuals need to increase spending on adult education by £130bn by 2030 if they are to narrow the skills gap.

Last year, the government launched a Kickstart Scheme to help organisations employ young people and take on apprentices. This has been key to helping address the skills gap faced in the UK and help young people take advantage of the opportunities in the tech sector.

With digital transformation encroaching on all industries, the announcement today promising a skills “revolution” for England, with loans for adults wanting to retrain and more powers to deal with failing colleges, is very much welcomed. This is a vital step in growing the skills of tomorrow as well as supporting the UK economy to build back up after a year of turmoil.”


Queen’s speech – reaction from Subsidy Control expert to long awaited Bill announcement

Subsidy Control experts are calling on the Government to ensure its Subsidy Control Bill, (announced in today’s Queen’s speech), tackles the burden of red tape and streamlines the funding process, removing the uncertainty that currently exists for providers and recipients of public funding and which in turn will help in the recovery of the UK’s economy.

Parliament formally opened for a new session with the Queen’s speech announcing details on the Bill which will replace the previous EU framework around state aid that was temporarily transferred over to UK law after Brexit. The new framework developed under the Bill will determine how money should be distributed to businesses and projects.

Browne Jacobson government and infrastructure lawyer and Legal Director, Alex Kynoch told GPSJ:

“While the Government’s recent consultation on subsidy control has made it clear that a fuller suite of subsidy control rules is expected, it is useful to see confirmation of the new Subsidy Control Bill. The current approach of simply porting the requirements of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement directly into UK law without the usual legislative detail has resulted in significant uncertainty for providers and recipients of public funding, slowing down funding decisions rather than streamlining them by removing ‘red tape’. More clarity is not just to be welcomed, it will be critical to the distribution of funding and support that the Government is planning to implement as part of its wider agenda. It will also enable private recipients and co-investors to proceed with a greater degree of confidence that their projects are compliant and so not open to legal challenge.

“We are encouraging Government to take this opportunity to provide clear ‘safe harbours’ setting out subsidies which will be acceptable in advance, bypassing the requirement to undertake a fresh assessment of the subsidy control principles for each project. This, combined with a greater degree of flexibility envisaged by the new regime, will give public authorities with the tools to swiftly and efficiently deploy targeted funding to support businesses and promote a stronger economic recovery.”

Government is holding the industrial sector back with ineffective planning policy, says Turley

“Ineffective” national planning policy, which “has no teeth” is holding the industrial sector back from supporting the UK’s economic recovery from COVID-19, according to planning and development consultancy Turley.

Despite the radical reforms promised in the 2020 Planning White Paper, there is scant regard to the role of industry and logistics, in spite of the sector contributing £5.33 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy in 2020.

These claims come from Turley’s newly released report, ‘Playing to our industrial strengths’, which looks at the contribution of the sector and the planning challenges it faces. It includes eight recommendations to help it play a bigger role in boosting economic recovery.

Following the unexpected abandoning of the Industrial Strategy in March this year, the planning and development consultancy argues that stronger policy and guidance is needed.

Turley says the current National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) – a 76-page document that sets out Government’s planning policies for England – includes only five paragraphs on “building a strong, competitive economy”. Meanwhile logistics, which is now recognised as an essential part of our economy following successive lockdowns, features in only one sentence in the entire NPPF publication.

Research by Turley found that the additional industrial floorspace delivered in 2020 alone supported 56,000 direct jobs on site and a further 42,000 jobs indirectly through the supply chain.

Yet despite the risk of continued rising unemployment as a result of the pandemic, the consultancy claims that the Government’s planning focus remains firmly on housing. In addition, it says that minimal consideration is given to the intrinsic link between new housing and warehousing.

Turley found that if the Government met its target of building 300,000 new homes a year, an additional 22 million sq ft of warehouse floorspace could be required each year throughout England; at the start of 2021 the supply pipeline was 32 million sq ft.

However, a lack of focus on delivering industrial space means the sector currently faces a chronic shortage of supply, especially for ‘big-box’ logistics (units larger than 100,000 sq ft), where there has been a surge in take-up following the pandemic.

Turley’s recommendations highlight that a more joined-up approach to planning for economic growth alongside infrastructure and housing is needed.

It also suggests that an ‘Industrial Delivery Test’ which mirrors the Housing Delivery Test should be introduced to ensure local authorities are held accountable for failing to deliver adequate industrial land supply.

Matthew Fox, Director at Turley, said: “The UK is at a pivotal point with the Bank of England forecasting a strong economic recovery in 2021 following the vaccine rollout and loosening of restrictions. The focus should now be on how we sustain growth beyond 2021.

“The industrial sector has the ability to play a key role in a green economic recovery but national planning policy has for too long disregarded its importance, instead focusing on the housing crisis.

“There is no denying that housing delivery is vital for the future of our society and economy, but it must be in balance with economic growth and infrastructure. Our research points towards a crisis in the supply of industrial land which could constrain the recovery.

“We hope the recommendations laid out in our report provide valuable insight for Government, combined and local authorities and economic delivery agencies, as they continue to plan for our economic recovery.”

The eight recommendations set out in the report are:

  • In light of the demise of the Industrial Strategy, urge Government to adopt a joined-up approach to planning for industrial and logistics development.
  • Strengthen national planning policy to support industrial and logistics growth and provide explicit guidance on how the spatial needs (e.g. for clustering) and land requirements for key sectors should be determined and delivered.
  • In replacing the Duty to Co-operate, give equal status to strategic employment land as the distribution of housing needs across local authority boundaries.
  • Encourage greater co-ordination of infrastructure planning with spatial frameworks for delivering local industrial strategies or their successors.
  • Ensure that local plans maintain an adequate future supply of land in the right locations for all key sectors, including consideration of a Delivery Test similar to that for housing.
  • Consider the wider use of the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) regime for large scale industrial and logistics development, particularly a new wave of Gigafactories, and how Local Development Orders (LDOs) might give greater flexibility for industrial development not just in Freeports.
  • The sector must build a stronger narrative around the economic, social and environmental contribution (particularly to net zero) it makes towards Government objectives and global challenges.
  • The sector must also develop its dialogue with strategic economic bodies, combined and local authorities, and local communities to win policy backing and popular support for well-considered proposals.

Top tips to save running costs and reach green goals

This year has already seen an increase in interest and focus on sustainability goals and reducing impacts organisations have on the environment.

As hot water can cost between 2 to 4 times as much as cold water, once energy costs are taken into account, it means even small steps to increase water efficiency and cut waste helps lower your water and energy costs too.

So, here’s some things to keep in mind to help reduce operating costs, reliance on mains water and decreasing water stress – plus tips on what to consider if you need to procure water – so you can progress towards green goals.

Get to know where larger savings opportunities could be
Real opportunities come through water efficiency activities and devices, which help the public sector to meet their environmental targets to reduce carbon emissions and save money.

These can include low-cost urinal controllers, sensor-controlled taps, water efficient showerheads and the savings from these – and larger measures – add up to a bigger saving.

Here’s some water-saving facts and figures:
• Sensors on urinals can reduce the number of flushes, so they aren’t doing this when no-one is at your site. You could even go for waterless urinals as a single urinal system can be as large as 9 litres, flushing at least 4 times per hour. That’s over 800 litres per day.
A London-based university identified £50,000 of savings after taking steps to monitor its water use and reduce leaks.

Look out for water waste as small drips can add to bigger extra costs
Regular servicing and maintenance of taps, toilets and urinals – as well as any water efficiency devices you have – is also important – so you know they’re working properly and no water’s being wasted.

Carrying out site checks regularly is also worth the time. For example, a High School had a leak in a plant room at their site – losing an estimated 12,000 litres (12 cubic metres) an hour, at an estimated cost of £850 a day – caused by a copper pipe that had corroded. The leak, in the last six months, was causing some flooding in the plant room so needed quick action. Water Plus provided a quote for its repair experts to attend and complete work on-site and the leak was fixed the following day.

The installation of more than 1,100 data loggers on water meters to track use through an online portal, has been organised by water retailer Water Plus for councils, universities, businesses and other organisations since January 2019 – helping provide the extra data to drive down waste and costs. Water Plus, which is the largest retailer in the UK, has also been providing additional support and advice helping a diverse range of the public sector and other organisations.

Understand your portfolio of buildings and water use across sites
It’s important to know which buildings your organisation owns, or is responsible for, the addresses of these, how much water they use over the course of a year and whether there are devices measuring water use such as Automatic Meter Reader data loggers (AMR).

It’s worth remembering, savings from introducing water-saving devices can potentially be much more than on a new retail contract for water and wastewater on its own.

Gathering Supply point Ids (SPIDs) numbers and locating where the water meters are, if you’re able to, will also put you in a better place to see what water you use and when and where any issues may be, to protect your organisation from disruption and limit increases in future costs from leaks.

Follow the rules and requirements to make sure your organisation is compliant
Where a public sector organisation has to advertise their water procurement – and if your spend is over £25,000 then they will need to – then they can manage the tender process meeting the compliance requirements themselves, under the Public Contract Regulations 2015, or it’s much easier and less time-consuming to use a framework.

One of the newest for the Public Sector, is Pagabo’s national utilities, water and wastewater framework, which also covers Ancillary Services such as water efficiency, leak detection and repair as well as smart metering – installing Automatic Meter Reader (AMR) data loggers, with data accessible to customers through an AMR online smart portal.

By using an established Public Contract Regulations compliant framework you know the legal requirements will be met for your procurement needs. And frameworks have delivered significant savings for the public sector too.

Want to know more?
Water Plus is the largest water retailer in the UK and manages the water and wastewater services for many public sector organisations, including some of the largest and most diverse in England and Scotland – from councils, schools, colleges and universities, to UK Government-owned sites, prisons, hospitals and the emergency services. Water Plus will support customers to make savings, reduce water usage and increase efficiency.

You can contact the Public Sector team direct here at bids@water-plus.co.uk, if you have any questions or need help with procurement and tenders.

New school designed to meet the needs of young people aged 11-18 with a primary diagnosis of autism opens in Epping, Essex

The Tower School, part of Options Autism – a new provision designed to meet the needs of young people aged 11-18 with a primary diagnosis of autism – has opened in Epping, Essex. Situated in the heart of the community in what was formerly the town’s historic 1920’s Blue Star car showroom and next to its Grade II listed water tower, the building has been redesigned and refurbished to meet the specific needs of young people with autism. It has capacity to take up to 62 students referred by parents and local authorities including Essex, Havering, Redbridge, Waltham Forest and Hertfordshire.

Classes of no more than 7 young people will be staffed by specialist teachers who will deliver bespoke Key Stage 3, 4 and 5 lessons that balance academic learning alongside core life skills and employability tailored to the individual needs of each young person.  Alongside the core subjects it will offer a variety of options resulting in qualifications including Entry Level, Level 1 and Level 2, GCSE and BTEC.

Head Teacher, Kerry Linden, The Tower School, Epping

Support listed in each young person’s Education, Health and Care Plan will be provided by its multi-disciplinary clinical team which will include Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Educational Psychologists.

Head Teacher, Kerry Linden – who has over 20 years’ experience in education and 9 years as a Head Teacher in both alternative provision and special schools – said she was thrilled to be joining the Epping community and has been delighted by the support from residents and businesses. She and the team are looking forward to experiencing all the community has to offer and supporting the development of the young people’s social, emotional and independence skills when incorporating visits within the community into the school’s curriculum.

Commenting on the new school, Kerry said, “When our learners first join the school our teachers undertake academic assessments and discrete Autism Progression Framework Assessments to identify learning priorities and measure progress in areas which fall outside the national curriculum, so they can fully understand each young person’s needs. Equipped with this and the information gathered from parents, carers, professionals and previous education provisions, we are able to create bespoke learning and wellbeing support plans for every learner to meet their needs and to support them on their personal journey.”

“The team employs positive behaviour approaches based on therapeutic parenting aimed at helping young people to understand their own behaviours and find alternative ways of managing their own actions.

“We all know that not all learning takes place in the classroom,” she said, “and at The Tower School we will be taking full advantage of the enrichment opportunities presented by our local area such as work experience, community visits, forest school and the Duke of Edinburgh Award, all of which contribute to developing the self-esteem and confidence of our young people.

“Our aim is simple – to get our young people ready for the next stage of their life long journey be that in further education or employment and to support them with the skills to become as independent as they possibly can.

“We understand just how daunting it can be for a young person, their parents and the wider family, to start a new school. We offer a nurturing environment where we build a community based on communication with all our stakeholders – our young people, our parents and the wider professionals involved in their care.  The tallest towers need the strongest foundations, and young people attending The Tower School will experience a valuable combination of education, support and life skills which will provide them with those strong foundations to achieve great things.”

If you are interested in visiting The Tower School, 33 High Street, Epping, Essex, CM16 4BA, or finding out more about the support we provide, please contact: Kerry Linden, Headteacher Email: Kerry.Linden@ofgl.uk  Tel: 01992 926020.

Laying down the digital tracks for hybrid working

By Evan Wienburg, CEO at Bath-based Truespeed, a full fibre infrastructure provider and ISP

Hybrid Nirvana. It sounds like a chart-topping music album, and it is certainly top of the pops at the moment for organisations of all shapes and sizes. Working from home, aka WFH, has become the norm for huge numbers of employees this past year, so when tech disruptors like Facebook, Google and Twitter go on record to offer remote working to staff who want it, no one skips a beat.  But as established industry stalwarts, from HSBC to Nationwide and Price Waterhouse Coopers, weigh in to embrace flexible working eyebrows rise – along with the growing realisation that the hybrid home/office working model is much more than a one hit wonder.

The hybrid model combines the buzz of office collaboration and team building with the convenience and productivity gains of WFH.  It’s a model that works for both sides with a string of benefits including lower commuting costs and time, as well as cutting down on costly office space. And new research from the Government-backed Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) and jobs website Indeed, sounds out the advantages of offering flexible working to help level-up the UK and reduce geographic inequality by boosting opportunities in areas away from major cities and towns. The research, which analysed nearly 20 million applications, shows offering flexible working explicitly in job ads would increase applications by up to 30% and create at least 174,000 flexible jobs to the UK economy per year.

Coinciding with the Government’s aim to level up the UK and have talent able to live and work closer to home, up to 430,000 civil servants are also set to have greater choice to work more flexibly.  Whitehall’s deal with serviced offices firm IWG will create a national network of hybrid offices and co-working spaces across the UK for staff to use when not in London. The creation of these hubs allows civil servants to socially interact in-person once or twice a week and also enjoy the flexibility and cost-cutting benefits of home working whilst simultaneously saving government and local council money, which could be reinvested elsewhere.

Regardless of city, town or rural location, in order to achieve this hybrid nirvana we need to ensure everyone has the digital tools and access to ultra-reliable and ultra-fast connectivity to perform at their best – whether working from home, in the office or the local coffee shop.

Even before lockdown, access to reliable broadband was regarded as a crucial part of modern life. According to a new OnePoll national survey we commissioned of 2,000 parents, 92 per cent of respondents would be ‘lost’ without the internet at home. But only a third 36% have a highly reliable home broadband connection, adding to the frustration for those who don’t.  Of the two-thirds (67%) of respondents saying they need fast broadband connectivity because they work from home, 28 per cent have had to cope with video calls shuddering, freezing or even dropping out entirely, while 17 per cent have even struggled to get their broadband to cooperate when sending an email.

Currently, a fortunate 40% of homes and businesses across the UK can access a reliable, ultrafast Gigabit (1Gbps+) speed capable broadband network, but that is largely thanks to commercial deployments and upgrades in urban areas. The Government’s £5bn Project Gigabit programme wants such speeds to reach at least 85% of UK premises by the end of 2025 – aiming to get “as close to 100% as possible” by that time. The Government have also confirmed £210m for an extension of their rural Gigabit Voucher scheme and £110m to connect up to 7,000 rural GP surgeries, libraries and schools.

Project Gigabit is music to the ears of independent full fibre broadband independent providers like Truespeed – building brand new fibre optic networks to deliver ultrafast, reliable connectivity to rural and harder to reach areas as well as historic cities. But we need to increase the tempo and ramp up our efforts to bring thousands of customers into the digital fast lane. Full fibre infrastructure is an investment in the UK’s future.  It’s future-proof as speeds can be increased remotely for decades to come – even up to 10Gbps. It’s the gold standard of connectivity – exactly what is required to get back on track as we recover from Covid-19.

Whether fast tracking contract tendering or signing off on rollout plans, local government has a key part to play to ensure government funding is invested where it is most needed. By working in harmony with their communities and local broadband providers to greenlight gigabit-capable infrastructure builds, local authorities will lay down the digital tracks to help boost local economies and open up employment opportunities so people are productive, happy and singing out loud – wherever their place of work.

Leading Coventry businesswoman urges other businesses to ‘think outside the box’ and provide remote work experience for school pupils during lockdown

Fleur Sexton

“Giving the next generation of our workforce an insider view of how our world works is absolute gold”

 With the pandemic sabotaging so many key experiences that should be shaping young people’s lives and aspirations, work experience is one area where businesses can step up their game and provide invaluable support and inspiration to the next generation of our workforce. Coventry-based PET-Xi Training – one of the most hard-hitting and dynamic training providers in the UK with a reputation for success with the hardest to reach – is offering school pupils a whole range of remote work experience placements, from marketing to finance and graphic design, and Managing Director Fleur Sexton is urging other businesses to ‘think outside the box’ and follow suit.

“Life isn’t perfect, but understanding how to deal with imperfect situations and still succeeding is one of the most important lessons young people can learn,” said Fleur Sexton, who is also Deputy Lieutenant, West Midlands and Businesswoman of the Year. “Lockdown has put up so many barriers, and businesses may be shying away from offering work experience in such challenging circumstances. But it’s vital that we give the next generation of our workforce an insider’s view of how the career world works – let them see how businesses are keeping going in the hardest of times, how they are adapting and creating positives from difficult situations. It’s more important now than ever to show young people a ‘warts and all’ view of life.”

Businesses should look at what insight into the working world they can offer work experience students during lockdown instead of what they can’t. While traditional ‘in-person’ placements are currently not feasible, ‘remote’ placements are – and they can even offer new advantages.

For example, young people living in seaside towns with limited job prospects suddenly have a raft of opportunities opened up once work experience moves online – location is taken out of the equation. Similarly, those with physical disabilities, anxiety or who are disadvantaged in other ways may have difficulty accessing work experience via the traditional route – the playing field is levelled in many ways once it becomes virtual.

A range of remote or virtual work experience options are on offer at PET-Xi, with packages of support designed around the interests and potential career path of each pupil taking part – whether they are considering a future job in sales, training, teaching, marketing, graphic design or HR & admin. Reflecting PET-Xi’s commitment to ‘re-wiring’ communities and creating social equity, these options include:

  • ‘Smashing glass ceilings’ – workshop-style sessions where students learn about the issue of certain industries not being accessible to certain kids and how these inequalities can actually be fixed with remote packages For example, a career in law is still less likely to be pursued by young people from the BAME community
  • Inspiring and providing role models – pupils have the chance to ‘shadow’ workers in different jobs by joining zoom meetings and being involved ‘remotely’ in their day-to-day job. This is hugely important as missing out on seeing how other people do things is one of the biggest threats of lockdown. Having someone ‘on hand’ to answer questions and show them the kinds of challenges they may face – such as meeting tight deadlines or resolving conflict – gives young people crucial insight into what working life entails. In finance for example, pupils may ‘meet’ apprentices as well as directors who have worked their way up and have the chance to find out about their job.
  • Providing networks and contacts  – during these tough times it is harder to establish these vital industry links, especially for young people at the bottom of the career ladder. These sessions will give pupils practical advice on how to ‘grow’ networks and make the right contacts to help kickstart their chosen career
  • Initial assessment/career wise assessment with feedback – practical steps to help students decide what careers best suit their skills and aptitudes, and what they need to do to reach their career goal
  • Joining podcasts/interviews of successful business people who have smashed ceilings or who are outstanding role models for pupils to inspire and help them to aim high
  • Developing interview skills – live sessions geared towards specific job roles with clear practical advice on the do’s and don’ts of interviews
  • Employability support based on PET-Xi’s traineeship delivery model
  • Experiential learning – project-based activity such as an evaluation of on-line delivery, what went well/even better if?

Commenting on the importance of providing work experience during the pandemic, Fleur Sexton said, “Businesses should focus on what they do best and then think outside the box to create an experience of working life that will open pupils’ minds to the opportunities available to them, demonstrate the real value of resilience and show them the skills and mindset they need to develop to work in different roles and sectors. Giving the next generation of our workforce an insider view of how our world works is absolute gold – and I am calling on all businesses to play their part in helping to shape young people’s futures.”

How a Business IT Mindset Can Help Smart Cities Maintain Cleaner Air

By Sascha Giese, Head Geek™ at SolarWinds

As our cities continue to grow in population density, the need for positive environmental action on a domestic and global scale grows more urgent. However, the sheer complexity of contemporary urban living means city planners need more actionable insight into the factors affecting issues such as air quality

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Meet the new Assistant Executive Director for Adult Social Care

Knowsley Council has appointed Jenny Rollinson as Assistant Executive Director – Adult Social Care.

Jenny has worked at the Council for almost four years, and is currently the Head of Adult Social Care.

Over the last 15 years Jenny has held a number of senior Health and Social Care roles working for both Stockport and

Continue reading Meet the new Assistant Executive Director for Adult Social Care

New partnership launched to reduce absenteeism and help disabled workers under UK scheme to get a million people into employment

Occupational health & disabled services provider distributes technology to 200 assessors NuroKor bioelectric technology will help support disabled people as they start work Microlink staff with health conditions successfully trial NuroKor therapy

Microlink PC, a global leader in education and assistive technology solutions, is offering cutting-edge technology from NuroKor BioElectronics to 200 disability assessors,

Continue reading New partnership launched to reduce absenteeism and help disabled workers under UK scheme to get a million people into employment

National Care Forum and Institute of Health and Social Care Management announce partnership to provide an exciting member benefit

The National Care Forum (NCF) has created a new partnership with The Institute of Health and Social Care Management (IHSCM) for the benefit of its members.

Members of the NCF will be able to enjoy the full membership offer from the IHSCM which includes:

A full programme of events and support for conferences Accredited short

Continue reading National Care Forum and Institute of Health and Social Care Management announce partnership to provide an exciting member benefit