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BUDGET: Comments and reactions sent to GPSJ

NCB statement on Budget 2021

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

“The full effect of the pandemic on families’ finances will only be fully appreciated as the furlough scheme and other measures that protect jobs are wound up at the end of September. Yet this is the moment that the Chancellor will claw back £20 per week from struggling families who rely on Universal Credit to survive. This extra money must be made a permanent increase to benefits, to counter the soaring levels of child poverty seen even before the pandemic struck and should be offered to those living on other legacy benefits too.”

“While measures to improve apprenticeship and trainee schemes will be welcomed by young people facing a deeply uncertain future, the Chancellor failed to acknowledge the full impact of the disruption to children’s lives over the past year. We urgently need a plan that supports children to catch-up for lost school time, which factors in the emotional and psychological stresses of a year growing-up in isolation and chaos.

“Extra money for domestic violence programmes is welcome, however, investment in children’s social care is long overdue. Local authorities need to be able to meet the increasing demands for their help, something they have found increasingly difficult to do given the steady erosion in funding for children’s services over the last decade.”

More information is available at www.ncb.org.uk


JMW Solicitors

On what today’s Budget means for businesses, Mark Heppell, Partner at JMW Solicitors, says: “The freeze on Capital Gains Tax (CGT), and no mention of business disposal relief (Entrepreneurs’ Relief), is good news and business owners will breathe a sigh of relief (for now). The speculation surrounding CGT reforms was quite heavy leading up to the budget, and given the reviews that have been carried out in the last year, I would not be surprised to see changes in the near future so the message to business owners planning their exit will still be to bring forward their plans as it does feel like the days are number for the current regime.

“I’m also not surprised by the increase in Corporation Tax (from 2023) and it makes sense to me that the most profitable businesses will be called upon to contribute in a greater proportion. Hopefully the freezing of the rate below £50k profit and tapering to £250k profit will give some comfort to SMEs, but it will mean that, for most, there is more to pay.”

www.jmw.co.uk/services-for-business/corporate/people/mark-heppell


TSSA – Sunak’s Wasted Opportunity Budget 

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has described the Budget as “a wasted opportunity” to set out a meaningful economic roadmap from the Covid crisis, for the travel sector and beyond.

Cortes attacked Rishi Sunak’s measures as “showbiz and spin” while lacking “solidity”.

Commenting, Cortes said: “Sadly the Chancellor has presided over a wasted opportunity in his Budget, again ignoring the plight of the travel sector and others who have been so badly hit in the pandemic.

“While our union welcomes the extension to the furlough scheme, we know that many workers and businesses, not least in our travel trade, will be no less worried about their prospects after hearing from Rishi Sunak.

“Time and again our union has told the Government they must leave no stone unturned when it comes to securing the future of our high street travel agents. Yet we heard nothing. Time and again we have warned that Eurostar – our green link to Europe – requires intervention, again we heard nothing.

“This is deeply troubling. What we heard from the Despatch Box today was a lot of reheated announcements, coupled with showbiz and spin. Where were the rewards for our key workers who have done so much for our country throughout the pandemic?

“Sunak offered nothing on raising statutory sick pay, nothing on increasing the minimum wage, nothing on climate change and no big plan to help workers across the board, after a decade of Tory cuts.

“This is a Government and a Chancellor lacking in vision and offering no economic solidity. The people of this country will not be fooled.”


Edison Group

Alastair George, Chief Investment Strategist at Edison Group, comments: “A government spooked by the experience of austerity in the previous recession has offered a budget which implies a slow repair of UK government finances, in-line with other nations and also in our view the best way forward. Clearly, leading up to the budget the traditional Conservative virtues of fiscal prudence have been paid only with lip service. However, the reality is that COVID-19 has the stronger influence on policy. Emergency support programs have been extended into the autumn and the payback will come slowly with rises in corporation tax and stealth increases in personal taxation, through the freezing of allowances.”


Womble Bond Dickinson

Kevin Bell, transport partner at law firm Womble Bond Dickinson, comments:

“We welcome the fantastic news that the Government has decided to set up a Freeport on Teesside. This will undoubtedly help deliver transformational improvements and drive forward the levelling up agenda. This Freeport will bring millions of pounds of investment, create significant new jobs as well as support some the UK’s key sectors like clean energy, chemicals, transport and infrastructure to name just a few. The economic potential of the Freeport cannot be underestimated. It is huge and will play an important role in strengthening the North East’s future trading position.

“In order to realise the full benefit of Freeport, further transport and infrastructure investment will be essential (particularly as it is based on a multi-gateway, multi-modal model, with links to rail-enabled sites and Teesside International Airport). Excellent transport links will need to be established to support, for example, just-in-time logistics and operations within the Freeport.

“It is also great to hear that a major part of Her Majesty’s Treasury will be relocating to Darlington, importantly including senior civil service posts that shape policy and decisions. This, alongside the recent changes to the Green Book appraisal process, has the potential to create a more vibrant and beneficial culture of decision-making for new transport and infrastructure schemes here in the North East (not to mention a beneficial increase in traffic on the East Coast Main Line and at Teesside International Airport).

“Yet it is extremely disappointing that the North East Freeport bid has, at this stage, been unsuccessful. And the Chancellor made no further comment or commitment (at least from the dispatch box) to rebuilding public confidence in using public transport, Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2 in the North and plenty of other “shovel ready” transport projects that fall within the quick wins pipeline (such as road and rail schemes and electric vehicle charging points).”


Budget reaction: statement from Institute of Economic Development

“In today’s budget all Ben Houchen’s Christmases came at once. With the relocation of a Government super-campus to Darlington, funds for new port infrastructure on Teesside, and Freeport status the area was undoubtedly the big winner. The country was sprinkled with a few small prizes in the name of levelling up – and the eponymous fund will also be scrutinised carefully – but in truth, if this budget is to create the investment drive that is hoped for it will not be these incremental measures that make the largest impact. It will be whether UK business has the confidence to take advantage of the 130% capital allowances that will be on offer in the near term. How business will react is unclear since it is then business who will pay the biggest price in making contributions to address the deficit. The steep rise in corporation tax was the first bitter pill in the Covid financial recovery plan but there will need to be more to follow.”

Nigel Wilcock, Executive Director, Institute of Economic Development


Irwin Mitchell

Claire Petricca Riding Head of Planning and Environment at Irwin Mitchell commented on the Chancellor’s announcements concerning the Environment today.

“It is good to see the Chancellor has used this Budget to pursue the Government’s commitment to the “green agenda” and its 10 point environmental plan.

“The Green Industrial Revolution continues to occupy the Government’s mind – Green Growth with Green Jobs.

“The new green savings account with a green gilt which will fund renewable energy and clean transportation projects could certainly be a game changer. This could lead to much more support for renewable energy, including onshore wind and  hydrogen generators and lead to cleaner transport, more electrical cars and cycling. Along with the Sovereign Green Bond and the new infrastructure bank based in Leeds as well as the desire to be an economic and scientific super power – it has been a budget set for the COP26 and leading that charge to net zero.

“We’ve also got Freeports, simplified planning zones and green initiatives associated with those areas as well as a new carbon offset market. It remains to be seen what the detail of these schemes are.

“If I’m cynical I could say that some of these ideas are really igniting thoughts the Government had a while back under previous administrations and it’s a shame it’s taken so long to get them off the ground. We could be in a very different place if such initiatives had been followed through several years ago.

“That said, it’s important we look forward and overall the Chancellor’s measures concerning the environment are certainly a large green step in the right direction.”


Yotta

In the comment included below, Steve White, head of digital transformation accounts at Yotta, discusses what this could mean for local governments and the potential opportunities the Bank could bring for their infrastructure investments:

“The Chancellor’s plans for a new Infrastructure Bank are welcome but leave local government unclear about the long-term impact on its own infrastructure plans. The focus for the bank appears to be on supporting private sector infrastructure investment, the approach raises the question of the extent to which local government will have access to the bank’s facilities.

“There is an opportunity here for local authorities to challenge industries and transform the infrastructures underlying them, with innovative technologies fundamental to that. The bank must take a longer-term view that allows it to challenge and catalyse structural change in its approach to infrastructure investment, and use of disruptive technologies, rather than perpetuating the status quo. It mustn’t miss the opportunity to support the momentum towards a low(er) carbon economy and changing expectations around infrastructure and the rise of micromobility.”


Simply Business

Alan Thomas, UK CEO, Simply Business, the UK’s largest provider of SME insurance, comments on the Chancellor’s Budget announcement today:

“At Simply Business, we welcome the lifeline for small businesses in today’s budget. It’s positive news to see small businesses rightfully recognised in the nation’s economic recovery plan, but we should know that many self-employed people will still be left without the support they need to survive, let alone thrive.

“By providing this latest package of SME support measures which total £33 billion, including the extension of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and Business Rates Relief, Mr. Sunak will enable many small businesses to make it beyond the current lockdown restrictions. These measures have primed the UK economy for a positive, if phased, reopening as we move through this year.

“We welcome the decision to extend the furlough scheme through to the end of September. With small businesses accounting for 48% of all UK jobs, this is an essential lifeline for millions up and down the country, and is another show of support to the SMEs who will be key to our collective recovery.

“While today’s announcement will provide millions of SMEs with the needed certainty to confidently plan for the future, it’s essential to recognise that many will still be left without the support that they need. We’d urge the Chancellor to do all he can to support the UK’s diverse range of small businesses as we look to bounce back from the effects of the pandemic.”

“SMEs are facing a marathon, not a sprint and with them being so crucial to our collective, long term recovery, we’d urge the Government to keep trying to create better conditions for existing small businesses to prosper, and for new entrepreneurs to start up.”

90 local authorities and housing organisations turn to PayPoint for accessible financial support for struggling families

South Lanarkshire Council confirms ‘Cash Out’ delivers immediate and wider access to crucial funds vs vouchers

Increasing numbers of local authorities are utilising the instant cash solutions from PayPoint to financially help families quickly, as the effects of lockdown bring further suffering. Government free school meals and Winter Hardship Fund vouchers provided to recipients as an eGift card to be spent in a certain number of large supermarkets, are limiting convenience and choice for thousands of families.

90 local authorities and housing organisations across the UK are easing the financial impact of the pandemic in partnership with PayPoint, including South Lanarkshire Council.  The council had a small scale but longstanding relationship with PayPoint, which traditionally supported the provision of the Scottish Welfare Fund including crisis grant vouchers.  The first Covid-19 Lockdown saw them having to react quickly to facilitate the distribution of school meal vouchers on mass and fast. However, PayPoint’s Cash Out service provided an immediate means of providing them with funds to help them feed their children in the absence of free school meals and remains an essential service for its residents today.

Delivering a fast and efficient payment solution

Stephen Pendrich, Benefits and Revenue Advisor for South Lanarkshire Council explains: “Early in the first Lockdown, we knew we needed to find a fast and efficient solution to deliver school meal payments to all of our eligible residents in need of financial support. eGift vouchers for large supermarkets were not inclusive enough, particularly considering the geographical challenges in South Lanarkshire.

“PayPoint stepped in to deliver an instant answer when we urgently needed it.  At first, we saw a 70%-80% redemption rate, but this grew to an average of 91% following further communication from the council. To this day, PayPoint’s Cash Out remains a vital service for our residents, alongside bank transfer which we later introduced to offer as an alternative way of providing financial support.”

Extending the benefits to the wider community

In addition to delivering immediate financial aid to families, other councils working with PayPoint are using Cash Out to reimburse the travel expenses of the wonderful volunteers who tirelessly delivered medicines and prescriptions to individuals shielding during  lockdown. This is easing the financial strain on the community during these stressful times, as well as supporting local businesses by encouraging more customers into local stores in the PayPoint network.

PayPoint’s Cash Out solution works in real-time to seamlessly enable eligible families to receive vouchers via email, letter or SMS to be presented to obtain a cash payment.  Demonstrating the speed at which people can benefit from the service, a PayPoint Cash Out voucher was recorded as having been presented to obtain cash just over a minute from receipt1.  There are over 27,700 retailers across the UK providing access to Cash Out, offering greater convenience than the eGift card alternative, which is limited to specific supermarkets. Access to the Cash Out facility is via an online portal which removes the need for local authorities to invest in any development and requires minimal setup, easing the burden of the Covid-19 crisis.

Danny Vant, Client Services Director of digital payment expert, PayPoint, commented; “The eGift voucher solution works for many families, but it also excludes, inconveniences or limits many others. Offering flexible payment solutions means families can choose the best option for them, whether that is a bank transfer, supermarket eGift voucher or cash to spend in a smaller, more local and more familiar shop.

“PayPoint is committed to providing consumers and businesses with the best, real-time payment solutions. Helping families to gain access to the financial support they need, helping them to manage their current challenges, is an important part of this commitment. With Cash Out, local authorities can broaden their range of pay out solutions to meet the needs of all of their residents receiving government support.”

Meeting the demand of those most in need

PayPoint surveyed those in social grades C2, D and E, with 1 in 4 confirming they are eligible for at least one of the government’s hardship schemes. 23% of those redeeming vouchers said the benefit would be significantly greater if it was available as cash to spend at their local convenience store, rather than needing them to visit a large supermarket. The government’s voucher scheme requires people to redeem the voucher in person, at a supermarket, adding to the burden of those most vulnerable and most in need of support. 38% of people dependent upon government funding expressed concerns about travelling to supermarkets on public transport and the high-volume o other people shopping there. Furthermore, 19% said they had experienced delays when using the government voucher scheme due to the complicated redemption process.

For further information visit PayPoint Cash Out

GFT: Intelligently exploiting the cloud to power the UK’s public sector, the jewel in our crown

The services supplied by the UK’s public sector, particularly those provided by the world-renowned NHS, are considered by many to be the jewel in our crown. Never before has this commitment to service excellence been more evidenced than by the way our public servants have responded to the challenges presented by the global pandemic and its related issues. The ability to provide an almost BAU service is also due to the public sector leaders’ determination to rapidly embrace the advantages digital transformation can deliver. This is designed to accelerate the adoption of public cloud, data, analytics tools, and seamless software applications that will ease the pain of aged infrastructures and outdated working practices, for the benefit of the entire nation.

A deep pool of digital transformation skills and experience 

Leon Orr, Chief Delivery Officer at GFT, commented: “We applaud the UK government’s drive to implement new technology throughout the public sector, particularly around cloud adoption. GFT brings deep expertise and significant experience in this area and is already supporting a growing number of complex digital transformation programmes across various industries.”

Elegant solutions engineered to deliver 

“Although our expertise and experience spans strategy and architecture through to delivery, it’s not so much about what you have, it’s about what you do with it,” says Leon. “And because the needs of every organisation are subtly different, for me the GFT difference is about exploring ‘the art of the possible’. This means finding new ways to inject innovative, highly cost-effective, secure programmes that will positively transform the overall business operating model. Our evolutionary, not revolutionary approach enables us to intelligently challenge and debate all potential strategies before bringing customer-centric teams with the right blend of attitude, engineering skills and experience to the table. In turn, they will expertly craft elegant technology solutions which help to eliminate the challenges of managing complex legacy infrastructures, particularly within highly regulated organisations.”

GFT is an award-winning firm providing exceptional cloud, IT and software engineering services, delivering expert consulting and development skills across all aspects of pioneering technologies. These include cloud strategy and planning, cloud engineering and cloud migration, data management and data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and legacy technology modernisation programmes. The firm implements robust, scalable IT solutions, which are proven to increase productivity, reduce operating costs, and provide clients with fast, low risk access to new applications and innovative business models. GFT, together with its extensive skills, resources, and experience, is at the public sector’s service, ready and willing to help complete a truly successful digital transformation journey.

Get in touch
Ready to embark on your digital transformation journey? 

Please contact:

Dawn Blenkiron
e: dawn.blenkiron@gft.com
m: +44 7824 310 605 

Website: www.gft.com/uk/en/index/

New ‘home’ created for UK’s social care professionals

An organisation that has represented healthcare managers for more than a century formally becomes the Institute of Health and Social Care Management to give a voice to leaders and managers working throughout both health and social care. 

An institute that has represented healthcare managers for nearly 120 years has today announced its new identity as the Institute of Health and Social Care Management.

Previously known as the Institute of Healthcare Management, the membership body’s new name signifies its commitment to supporting individual leaders working throughout both health and social care, at a time when the integration of services is high on the national agenda and when professionals have been working tirelessly in response to the coronavirus emergency.

Jane Brightman

In line with this move, the IHSCM is actively expanding its membership in social care as it champions policy change and delivers programmes to provide practical support to individual managers responsible for delivering services.

Jane Brightman, who has been appointed to lead the IHSCM’s social care activity, following more than two decades working in the sector, said: “The IHSCM will provide a formal network and a new home for social care leaders and managers as individual professionals. We are committed to supporting our members with a collective voice, and as a place for development and support that they deserve. We will deliver tailored programmes of training and development to help our members respond to challenges in leading their colleagues, and we will listen to professionals and take their message back to policy makers and government.”

Brightman, who liaised with government departments around national care workforce development initiatives in her previous roles, added: “People working in social care move around a very transient sector, with 38,000 establishments in England alone. Support for development is great from many employers, but there is also significant variation in that support. This is an opportunity for care leaders and managers to draw on the IHSCM’s resources so they can take responsibility for their own development as part of a very human and personable professional community.”

The renaming of the institute comes as the IHSCM recently published a new green paper on integrated care – highlighting examples both of best practice, and where a lack of integration across health and social care has caused distress for patients, service users and families. It also comes after the institute held its first integrated care conference in January.

The institute has also been leading a national campaign alongside The Care Workers’ Charity, the National Care Forum and social thanking platform Thank And Praise to recognise inspirational social care workers, managers and leaders for outstanding work during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jon Wilks, chief executive at the Institute of Health and Social Care Management, said: “Professionals in social care are just as deserving of support as colleagues in health, and we believe having a single organisation dedicated to supporting individual leaders throughout health and social care is significant. Covid-19 has shown the real opportunity for integration across health and social care as barriers have been broken down to respond to the needs of patients and service users. Effective leadership in these sectors is vital to ensuring there is no going back and that the barriers don’t come back up. As integrated care systems across the country take shape to advance this agenda, we are committed to giving social care professionals support they need and a strong voice alongside their colleagues in the NHS and other parts of healthcare.”

Roy Lilley, healthcare commentator and director at the Institute of Health and Social Care Management, added: “Patients, residents and carers don’t look for a boundary between health and social care, neither should politicians, managers and front-line colleagues. The institute is dedicated to supporting our members throughout health and social care who are committed to leading the way to demolish silos and deliver seamless care.”

Dedicated app simplifies parking permit renewals for Nottingham drivers

Dedicated app simplifies parking permit renewals for Nottingham drivers

Drivers in Nottingham can now buy and renew their parking permits through Nottingham City Council’s parking app – RHParking – following the ongoing development of the app by APT SKIDATA, one of the UK’s leading parking solutions providers.

The new ‘permits module’ within APT SKIDATA’s bespoke RHParking app will help commuters and other regular users of the city’s car parks to easily renew or cancel their parking permit each month; the app will only allow a permit to be renewed if there are sufficient funds to do so.

Karen Day, Service Manager – Parking Services at Nottingham City Council – says that paper permits were previously renewed via direct debit: “As the process now takes place within the app, it prevents customers from unwittingly falling into debt which was a problem in the past,” she explains.

“We are providing an innovative technological solution to improve the customer experience, but it also means that we’ll no longer need to chase up failed payments which reduces our own workload. This means my team is free to focus on other tasks.”

The RHParking app was launched at the beginning 2020 to allow for contactless payments and improve people and traffic flows. It also allows some Council-owned parking facilities to offer secure parking areas with access managed through the app.

Steve Murphy, APT SKIDATA Managing Director, said: “By working closely in partnership with Nottingham City Council, we have provided the technology to bring the city’s multi-story car parks into a single ecosystem. The app has created a clear audit trail and helped to increase efficiency. We look forward to continue working with the Council to build on these gains and help the team centralise the city’s transport options.”

Address the red flags of cybersecurity before raising the white flag

Tom McVey, Solution Architect, Menlo Security, explains why government and defence organisations must look to build security resilience in 2021 

In a year heavily influenced by the global crisis, the security risks faced by government and defence organisations are greater than ever, with cyber criminals exploiting ‘pandemic fear’ to launch more and more sophisticated attacks.

As critical infrastructure systems migrate online, with increased use of SaaS and cloud services, they become the target for attack. Phishing attacks and data breaches involving sensitive information are all too frequent, while state-sanctioned attacks are creating headlines around the world.

In the US, the full impact of the cyber attacks on a number of government agencies is still being felt. The large-scale hack, which also struck numerous companies, is widely attributed to Russian state actors. President Joe Biden has stated that, “a good defense isn’t enough” and the need to “disrupt and deter our adversaries from undertaking significant cyber attacks in the first place”.

Closer to home, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) last year issued guidance to healthcare organisations about the risk of COVID-related attacks. At the same time, Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, condemned cyber criminals using the global crisis as an opportunity to carry out malicious attacks that target, “those working to overcome the coronavirus pandemic around the world, from experts working on the global health response to hospitals and healthcare systems”.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel, warned of possible attacks – both cyber and physical – on vaccination centres, transportation companies and vaccine producers.

Despite the many challenges that government organisations are facing right now, they must remain defiant in the face of attack and take an uncompromising approach to security resilience. It’s not the time to raise the white flag of surrender.

Today’s cybersecurity threats highlight the limitations of maintaining the status quo and the importance of identifying the ‘red flags’ of risk, including:

  1. An increase in phishing attacks, driven by the trend for working from home. At Menlo, we are predicting a new form of attack, known as ‘zishing’ or Zoom + phishing, due to a rise in the number of Zoom meetings.
  1. Ransomware is not a new form of attack by any means, but we fully expect cyber criminals to move from data ransom to more system ransom attacks.
  1. Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks that use email fraud to target organisations, typically with subject lines like ‘Response’, ‘Request’, ‘Urgent Reply’ and ‘Hello’. In some cases the subject line includes the name of the recipient, clearly a targeted threat, asking them to approve financial transactions or payments. We predict a rise in BEC mobile attacks, while caller-ID spoofing will become part of the BEC attack.
  1. Command and Control attacks can be used to compromise an entire network, providing attackers with access to confidential and highly sensitive data or an entry point for a denial of service attack. We predict an increase in the use of HTTPS to communicate to the Command centre, although such attacks will become less relevant for data theft as data continues to move to the cloud.

This year will be another difficult year as organisations look to maintain business operations in uncertain times. A ‘no white flags’ strategy means taking practical approaches to managing cyber risk, combined with creating a culture of collaboration, innovation and prioritisation.

To find out more about this topic, register here for Menlo Security’s Building Cybersecurity Resilience in 2021 webinar on 23 February 2021 (15:00-16:15 GMT).

RapidSOS partners with Hexagon to power the future of UK emergency response

● UK emergency services will be able to receive fast and accurate access to critical medical and personal details that could save lives
● RapidSOS links life-saving data from 350M+ connected devices to over 4,800 emergency communication centers worldwide
● Hexagon’s solutions help protect nearly 1bn people globally

RapidSOS, the world’s first emergency response data platform, has partnered with Hexagon’s Safety & Infrastructure division, a global leader in computer-aided dispatch (CAD) software and public safety solutions, to give emergency communications centres across the UK access to life-saving data.

The partnership is an extension of the existing RapidSOS and Hexagon collaboration in the United States. It brings together two foremost industry experts and is the first stage in moving public safety agencies towards next-generation (NG999) communications.

By combining Hexagon’s innovation in call centre dispatch with the RapidSOS emergency response data platform, the pair are ensuring emergency services around the world have fast, accurate and up-to-date information when responding to accidents, critical incidents and health emergencies.

The technology created by New York-based RapidSOS protects more than 90% of the U.S. population. Worldwide, it securely links emergency intelligence data – including medical status, vehicle crash data, and more – from 350M+ connected devices directly to emergency services and first responders. A recent partnership with MedicAlert UK was announced late last year, providing life-saving details and medical conditions of the charity’s ID cards users direct to the UK 999 system.

By joining forces with Hexagon, this life-saving data, accessed through the RapidSOS Platform, can be distributed widely to first responders through the HxGN OnCall® Dispatch suite – which provides police, fire, ambulance and transportation agencies with quality incident management and call-taking capabilities, to deliver better service during emergencies and major events.

For example, when a call is made from a user’s registered mobile phone or connected device, call handlers will automatically receive critical details about them to send to those attending emergency call-outs.

Jessica Reed, VP of Strategy and Global Partners at RapidSOS, said: “The RapidSOS Platform is able to bring together crucial and potentially life-saving information from a variety of sources. Partnering with Hexagon in the US and now in the UK, helps ensure this information is delivered to the right place at the right time to make informed decisions, improve responses and save lives.

Reed continued: “The RapidSOS Platform supports all sorts of data, from dynamic AML (Advanced Mobile Location) and alternative location services to additional details generated from security systems, connected mobility, healthcare, connected buildings, apps, and wearables.”

Ian Holmes, Head of Public Safety for Hexagon’s Safety Infrastructure division UK, added: “There are a number of huge challenges ahead for public safety agencies, which require the capability to receive requests for service via not only voice but also through text, video, sensors, social media and instant messaging.

“HxGN OnCall can leverage many of these next-gen information platforms. By partnering with RapidSOS, Hexagon is able to provide quick and efficient access to this information. As well as critical medical details, this also includes location accuracy and a range of supplemental information such as contact or building information.”

To learn more about our technology that’s protecting lives, www.rapidsos.com

‘Building cybersecurity resilience in 2021’ – Menlo Security invites government organisations to register for webinar

The cybersecurity risks and pressures faced by government and defence organisations are greater than ever in a year heavily influenced by the pandemic.

This year is set to be equally challenging. But before organisations raise the white flag of surrender, they should be taking a more uncompromising approach to cybersecurity by identifying and understanding the red flags of infrastructure risk.

This will be the topic of an online event this month aimed at government and defence organisations about how they can build cybersecurity resilience in 2021, hosted by web security company, Menlo Security.

The practical session will include insights from Lt. Gen Philip Jones CB CBE DL, and guests Paul Chichester, Director of Operations at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), John Spicer, CTO & Co-Founder, Nteligen, and Ian McGowan, MD & Founder, Barrier Networks. Attendees will also hear customer testimonials from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Sellafield Ltd.

Menlo’s CTO, Kowsik Guruswamy, will share insights from Menlo Threat Labs and Tom McVey, Solution Architect, will demonstrate how to flag and eliminate risk using Menlo’s unique isolation technology, alongside OPSWAT Critical Infrastructure Protection Solutions.

Designed specifically for government and defence cyber practitioners, industry leaders will share their experience of building and maintaining resilience for critical infrastructure and partner and supplier ecosystems.

Menlo Security’s Building Cybersecurity Resilience in 2021 webinar is on Tuesday, 23 February 2021 (15:00-16:15 GMT). To register, visit here.

Skills Minister and Shadow Minister to headline CSA’s Learning & Development Conference

Two senior politicians are set to headline and inspire an upcoming conference on Learning & Development (L&D) organised by the Credit Services Association (CSA), the voice of the UK debt collection and debt purchase sectors.

Gillian Keegan

Gillian Keegan, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, and Toby Perkins, Shadow Minister for Apprenticeships and Lifelong Learning, will update delegates about the critical importance of employer engagement for lifelong learning.

They will tackle the role of apprenticeships for the financial services sector (especially at a time when people may be looking to ‘retrain’ into new roles following the pandemic) and explore opportunities from the Government’s Kickstart Scheme which provides funding to create job opportunities for 16–24-year-olds.

Both MPs are in a unique position to speak about L&D and not just because of their current roles: Gillian Keegan is the only degree level apprentice in the House of Commons, having begun an apprenticeship at 16, working for Delco Electronics whilst also studying for a Business Degree. Toby Perkins, meanwhile, has championed improvements in the standard of apprenticeships, and has experience working with the Chesterfield College and private apprentice providers during his 10 years as MP for the constituency.

Toby Perkins

Fiona Macaskill, Director of Learning and Development at the CSA is looking forward to welcoming Mrs Keegan and Mr Perkins to the event: “At such a significant point in the country’s employment history, we are lucky to hear from two MPs sitting on opposite sides of the Commons Chamber, who are united in their awareness of the necessity to future-proof employment prospects.

“A key aim of the conference,” she continues, “is to provide insight into developments and changes to apprenticeships, and no one is better placed to do so than two MPs who are influencing the national further education strategy, the National Retraining Scheme, and working with the institutes of technology and national colleges, right in the heart of Westminster.”

The L&D Conference will take place virtually on 9 February.

Register for the conference here

New contractors appointed to roll out full fibre broadband across Devon and Somerset

Truespeed, Airband and Wessex Internet selected to roll out full-fibre networks on behalf of the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme

Ringing out the old, ringing in the new – music to the ears for over 56,000 rural homes and businesses across Devon and Somerset who are set to benefit from around £80million combined public and private sector investment to roll-out full fibre broadband networks.

Complementing the Government’s ambition to build a Gigabit capable network across the UK, the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme has selected three well-established companies with experience of working in the South-West to install full fibre broadband across the region. 

Matt Warman MP

The CDS funding – which runs until the end of 2024 – will enable Truespeed, Airband and Wessex Internet to pass thousands more properties, including even the most remote and rural locations where infrastructure build costs would otherwise be prohibitive.

Minister for Digital Infrastructure, Matt Warman MP, said: “Today’s announcement marks a major step forward in our mission to build back better in the South West, with thousands of homes and businesses set to be linked up to lightning fast gigabit broadband thanks to an £18.4 million investment by the government. With Airband, Truespeed and Wessex Internet now on board I am confident we will deliver on our ambition for an infrastructure revolution in Devon and Somerset.”

CDS divided the area into 6 Lots and began communications in February 2020 with the procurement process running through until December.

Truespeed submitted and won bids for Lots A and B which overlay Truespeed’s current area of operation in B&NES (Bath & North East Somerset), North Somerset, Mendip and part of Sedgemoor. By building a brand new infrastructure, Truespeed is able to deliver 10 gigabit-capable full fibre broadband directly into premises.  Winning the CDS contract comes at the end of a year in which Truespeed has already passed over 40,000 properties bypassed by national broadband providers.

“We are delighted to have won these prestigious contracts with CDS to bring Gigabit-capable full fibre broadband to harder to reach communities in the south west. As a Somerset-based business focused on building out our own full fibre infrastructure to areas left behind by the industry giants, we are the natural partner for CDS,” commented Evan Wienburg, Truespeed CEO.

“The requirement for full fibre broadband is essential as more people study and work from home. Many Truespeed customers are already benefiting from our ultra-reliable, ultra-fast broadband service and we will continue to work as hard and as fast as we can to accelerate our roll out,” he continued.

A community-focused business, Truespeed provides schools passed by its network with free ultrafast broadband connectivity for life. This ensures school-age children have fast, reliable internet access to support their education.

“We’re pleased to confirm the appointment of three well-established, regionally-based suppliers to help with the challenge of delivering the next phase of the CDS programme,” commented Councillor David Hall, CDS Board Member and Somerset County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure. “They have significant experience of delivering broadband connections in rural areas of Devon and Somerset, so they have an understanding of the remote areas where CDS is looking to improve connectivity. This investment will deliver full fibre broadband ahead of many other parts of the country.”

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, CDS Board Member and Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills added “These contracts will deliver vital connectivity to a significant number of rural communities across Devon and Somerset helping our businesses and supporting local jobs. Access to services online, home working and staying connected has never been more important, and these investments will provide a much needed boost to our rural and coastal communities.”

The whole Connecting Devon and Somerset programme is expected to deliver an £800 million boost to the regional economy.

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