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LGiU Policy Briefings

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LGiU briefings can be accessed by elected members and officers in LGiU member authorities – and those on free trials. Check if your authority is a member or on a free trial. Briefings can also be downloaded at a cost to non-members.

Our briefings are written by our network of LGiU Associates. Find out more about our briefing authors here.

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The Right Start – How to support early intervention – Children’s Society

July 31, 2014

The Children’s Society has published The right start: How to support early intervention through initial contact with families, which examines the national picture of sharing live birth data and birth registration with children’s centres. The report, based on a Freedom of Information requests, found that almost half (46.5%) of local authorities are currently not sharing live birth data with children’s centres in their area. It calls on the Department for Education (DfE) to review and strengthen statutory guidance to support local authorities to work more closely with health services to share live birth.
The report finds that of those local authorities not sharing live birth data at all, 58% said this was due to the information not being provided by the local health service, with a further 29% saying they were actively working with the local health service to share this information. One of the sources of confusion at the local level was whether or not parental consent was needed to share live birth data, and the report calls on government to issue comprehensive guidance on parental consent to facilitate data sharing.
This briefing will be of interest to members and senior officers with responsibility for children’s services and early years provision.

Enough is Enough – CSJ report on child protection and mental health services

July 31, 2014

In June 2014, the Centre for Social Justice published a report on the state of child protection and mental health services. The report titled Enough is Enough, endeavours to understand ‘how and why many vulnerable children and young people are slipping through the net, and being denied any or appropriate care, protection and/or support from some statutory services’.
The report concludes by recommending that a Royal Commission be set up to radically ‘rethink and advise on the wholesale re-design of social care and statutory mental health services for children and young people’. To report by the end of 2017, the Commission should ‘decide how society can best re-create the parental experience for [vulnerable children] in a public space’.
This briefing summarises the report’s key findings and recommendations and will be of interest to those working in children’s services, voluntary sector organisations providing services to vulnerable children and those working in children’s policy both at a national and local levels

NAO report – Assurance to Parliament on local government funding

July 31, 2014

On 25 June, the National Audit Office (NAO) published a report “Local government funding: Assurance to Parliament”. The report examines funding granted to local authorities in 2013-14, considering the mechanisms in place to ensure value for money and that it is spent legally and “regularly” (including considering conditions attached to grants). This briefing summarises the report and provides a commentary on it, within the context of the changing local government finance system. It will interest to members and officers with local government finance responsibilities. It may also be of interest to officers and members who provide transparency and value for money data to the public and to scrutiny bodies.

Local Growth Deals and the Local Growth Fund

July 31, 2014

This briefing looks at the details and implications of the growth deals and the LGF allocations for local economic leadership in general, and for local authorities (LAs) in particular.
Local authorities – especially members and officers responsible for LEP relations, economic development, and services (like planning, transport, skills) which make a major contribution to economic growth – should be aware of the details of their local ‘deal’ and their contribution to its effective delivery.
More broadly, members and officers involved in deliberations and negotiations within the LA community, and with central government, about enhanced devolution and central-local relations, will be aware that this area of activity will be a key feature of debate in the run up to the 2015 general election. This debate will influence the priorities of the incoming 2015-20 government.

Well-being : Environmental Audit Committee report

July 30, 2014

* The Environmental Audit Committee’s has published its latest inquiry report on the Government’s progress on measuring Well-being.
* This briefing looks at the international drivers to measuring sustainable development and well-being, and the Committee’s assessment of the UK’s plans to include natural capital within the national accounts, and embed well-being measures in policy making.
* The Committee urges the Cabinet Office to make better, more proactive use of the ‘wealth of data’ now available and to promote its value across Government.

Digital technology, social media: the voluntary and community sector and local government

July 28, 2014

This briefing considers the role of digital technology and social media within Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations and the implications for local government;
VCS organisations are adopting digital technology, and particularly social media rapidly and in a range of ways; national, regional and local bodies and umbrella groups have developed to help the VCS with digital developments; some local authorities also provide support;
VCS organisations need to align social media goals and strategies with their organisational goals and obtain resources to enable this; larger VCS organisations will need to recruit leaders with digital knowledge; for local authorities, the impact of digital technology and social media is more complex and more important, although steps they need to take are comparable;
Digital issues for local authorities include: mobile working; cloud technology, channel shift; open source/open data/big data; the digital divide; digital infrastructure; Smart Cities; etc. – currently resource pressures appear to be the dominant driver in respect of digital issues;
National, regional and local digital support tends to be uncoordinated, piecemeal and resource deficient; sector wide leadership and coordination is required;
Like VCS, local authorities need clear digital technology and social media strategies that relate to their organisational circumstances and goals; local authorities need digital leadership and expertise at the top level and need to address organisational culture and skills issues when tackling digital issues;
Local authorities should use formal digital change management processes like lean and agile to empower users; they need to use communication and organisational development strategies and techniques to manage changes to staff roles and working arrangements; changes stimulated by digital technology may in time change the nature of local government;
This briefing will be of interest to elected members, particularly political leadership, senior local government officers, and those involved with the VCS.

Birmingham Schools – statement by Secretary of State on 22 July 2014

July 25, 2014

The Secretary of State for Education (Nicky Morgan MP) gave a statement to the House of Commons on Birmingham Schools on 22 July 2014. This briefing reports on the specific actions arising out of the statement, which was made in response to the Government commissioned report by Peter Clarke, and also the Birmingham City Council commissioned report by Ian Kershaw. Key points from the statement are:
• The Clarke report finds ‘no evidence of direct radicalisation or violent (sic) extremism’;
• Action has been taken against the governance of schools found to be inadequate following the inspection of 21 Birmingham schools by Ofsted in March/April 2014;
• A new education commissioner will be appointed for Birmingham and a review undertaken on Birmingham’s corporate governance;
• Teacher misconduct advice has been strengthened. Teachers can now be temporarily banned from teaching pending a misconduct hearing while an investigation is undertaken if it is considered ‘their actions or behaviours … undermine the fundamental British values …’;
• The new Secretary of State supported the change to the Independent Schools Standards (currently out for consultation) which requires independent schools (including Academies) ‘to actively promote British values’;
• Further guidance will be provided on how schools can ‘improve the social, moral, spiritual and cultural development of pupils’ and this will be inspected by Ofsted;
• The Secretary of State will take additional powers to bar ‘unsuitable persons’ from running independent schools, including Academies;
• Ofsted will consult in the Autumn on whether no notice inspections should be universal or whether there should be a change to the current practice of no notice inspections;
• Ofsted will seek views on what more Ofsted can do through the inspection process to ensure all state funded schools teach a broad and balance curriculum;
• Ofsted Inspection of Academy Chains: the Secretary of State will considered whether this should be done;
• The internal DfE review on how it reacted to historic warning about Birmingham will report in the Autumn;
• Further ‘reflection’ is promised on improving school governance and how all schools can understand better the role of local authorities on safeguarding and extremism.
The briefing will be of interested to members and officers with responsibility for education.

Weekly Policy Summary – 25 July

July 25, 2014

You can also view this briefing as a pdf: LGiU WPS – 25 July From now on LGiU’s weekly policy summary will be presented in a larger font size in order to make it more accessible.  Commission The Commission on the …

Lessons from London schools – Government research

July 24, 2014

The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has published a research report, Lessons from London schools for attainment and social mobility. The report looks systematically at the factors which might explain the better performance and faster improvement in attainment of disadvantaged pupils inner London than in other regions between 2002 and 2012; it focuses also on outer London, Manchester and Birmingham – where the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and others also reduced, but less markedly. The report observes that ‘The key question for policymakers interested in narrowing the achievement gasp is whether the “London effect” can be replicated… In order to answer this question, we must understand, first, when the performance of disadvantaged pupils in London improved and, second, why this might have happened.’
The report’s key finding is that the improvement can mostly be explained by improvements in prior attainment at Key Stage 2 (the end of primary school) and not, as often suggested, by initiatives such as London Challenge and the academies programme. London secondary schools play an important part in sustaining the improvement into GCSE and post-16 outcomes.
The briefing will be of interest to members, officers and others with an interest in closing the attainment gap, and in the correlation between policy, practice and outcomes.

New LGiU Report: Technology and transformation in town halls

July 24, 2014

Last week, LGiU and HP published a report arguing that to realise the potential of the tech revolution, councils must adopt a people-centred approach. The report sets out a framework as to how we might achieve this.

The report was launched by the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, at the All Party Parliamentary Local Government Group summer reception.

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