A report by a committee of MPs said that the transition of public health responsibilities to Public Health England had been smooth and that service delivery had not suffered as a result. It raised a number of operational concerns, including concerns about capacity at the local government level, and discussed the political independence of the body.
Source: Public Health England, Eighth Report (Session 201314), HC 840, House of Commons Health Select Committee, TSO
The government responded to the outcome of a consultation on reforms to the system of judicial review. It said that the government had concluded that reform was necessary. Proposed changes (some of which had already been announced in the National Infrastructure strategy and the 2013 autumn statement) included: a specialist planning court within the High Court to deal with judicial reviews and statutory appeals relating to nationally significant infrastructure projects and other planning matters; a lower threshold test for when a defect in procedure would have made no difference to the original outcome; allowing appeals to 'leapfrog' directly to the Supreme Court in a wider range of circumstances; and restrictions in legal aid for judicial review cases, oral permission hearings, Protective Costs Orders, Wasted Costs Orders, interveners' costs and third party funding. Some of the proposals were included in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, and others would be taken forward by means of secondary legislation.
Source: Judicial Review ï¿½ Proposals for Further Reform: The government response, Cm 8811, Ministry of Justice, TSO
A paper examined public sector reform. It said that the debate about whether or not to reform had now became sterile. It outlined a strategy, or roadmap, for reform that would pursue improvement through a 'disciplined pluralism' that recognized the value of diverse institutions, communities, and places. It called on the Labour Party to work towards a clear economic and social rationale for reform, with the resources to make changes, the development of capacity to develop tailored and personalized services, and sustained political support for organizations while the changes progressed.
Source: Patrick Diamond, Joe Goldberg, Hopi Sen, and Jacqui Smith, Reform in an Age of Austerity: A journey, not a destination, Progress
A report called for reform of the way in which public services were organized, to create a 'relational state' that operated at a more devolved but interconnected level. The report argued for: decentralized budgets; more pooling of funding; integration of professionals into multi-disciplinary teams; greater frontline autonomy and accountability; new collaborative infrastructures to share knowledge and learn from innovation; linking service users with lead professionals with whom they could develop a relationship over time; the allocation of professionals to neighbourhood-based patches; and strengthened relationships between citizens.
Source: Rick Muir and Imogen Parker, Many to Many: How the relational state will transform public services, Institute for Public Policy Research
A report by a committee of MPs said that Jobcentre Plus should continue to provide a public employment service for the unemployed, but key performance indicators should be immediately revised to incentivize more clearly the support of jobseekers into work, rather than merely removal from receipt of benefits. The report also said that the department should: formulate performance measures to promote sustained job outcomes; launch an independent review of the consistency, accuracy, and fairness of the application of conditionality and sanctions; and publish a comprehensive Local Support Services Framework by autumn 2014 to enable local authorities to design and commission services in time for the national roll out of universal credit.
Source: The Role of Jobcentre Plus in the Reformed Welfare System, Second Report (Session 201314), HC 479, House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee, TSO
An article examined the effect of withdrawing incentives on recorded quality of care, in the context of the United Kingdom Quality and Outcomes Framework pay for performance scheme. It suggested that, after removal of incentives across a range of activities, performance remained stable, although all of the investigated activities had remained indirectly or partly incentivized in other indicators, such that further work would be needed to establish whether the findings held when incentives were fully withdrawn.
Source: Evangelos Kontopantelis, David Springate, David Reeves, Darren Ashcroft, Jose Valderas, and Tim Doran, 'Withdrawing performance indicators: retrospective analysis of general practice performance under UK Quality and Outcomes Framework', British Medical Journal, 348 January 2014
An audit report said that there were clear gaps in the new policing framework in England and Wales that had the potential to undermine accountability both to the Home Office and to the public. The report said that while some people in the sector believed that elected commissioners had potential to improve accountability and value for money, police and crime panels had limited effectiveness and lacked powers to act on the information they received, and the introduction of both commissioners and police and crime panels had increased the potential for local tensions. The report said that commissioners were not publishing all the data that the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 required, limiting the public's ability to hold commissioners to account. The report concluded that further work was needed to ensure that the system would provide value for money.
Source: Police Accountability: Landscape review, HC 963 (Session 201314), National Audit Office, TSO
A report examined the processes and indicators for measuring the impact of equality bodies in the European Union.
Source: Niall Crowley, Processes and Indicators for Measuring the Impact of Equality Bodies, Equinet (European Network of Equality Bodies)
An audit report said that the National Health Service waiting time standards for elective care in England had mostly been met nationally, although the picture was varied for individual trusts and the published waiting time figures were subject to recording inconsistencies and data coding errors. The report recommended actions for NHS England and commissioners, to improve data quality.
Source: NHS Waiting Times for Elective Care in England, HC 964 (Session 201314), National Audit Office, TSO
An article examined reforms to the governance of local policing in England and Wales over the previous two decades. It said that the 'success' of regime changes was contingent upon the translation of regimes into practice, and thus far they had had limited success.
Source: Daniel Gilling, 'Reforming police governance in England and Wales: managerialisation and the politics of organisational regime change', Policing and Society, Volume 24 Issue 1
A report by a committee of MPs said that it was deeply concerned about the use of confidentiality clauses and special severance payments in terminating employment contracts in the public sector. It welcomed some progress on the issue but said that the Treasury needed to take a more robust approach to the use of compromise agreements by the wider public sector and by private sector providers of public services.
Source: Confidentiality Clauses and Special Severance Payments, Thirty-sixth Report (Session 201314), HC 477, House of Commons Public Accounts Select Committee, TSO
A paper examined productivity levels in the National Health Service in England for 2011-12, over a range of measures. It said that productivity had grown between 2010-11 and 2011-12, despite a potential underreporting in some activities. The paper discussed fluctuations in productivity over time.
Source: Chris Bojke, Adriana Castelli, Katja Grasic, and Andrew Street, Productivity of the English National Health Service from 2004/5: Updated to 2011/12, Centre for Health Economics (University of York)
A report by a committee of MPs said that the performance of the Local Government Ombudsman had improved over the past 12 months, to became more accountable, efficient and transparent. The report said that the government would plan to restructure the organization if it could find parliamentary time, but made four interim recommendations, to: publish the staff survey in full; introduce external review of aspects of its operations; appoint at least one independent board member; and introduce an independent evaluator of complaints to focus on the operation of its systems and services, rather than its decisions.
Source: Further Review of the Work of the Local Government Ombudsman, Fifth Report (Session 201314), HC 866, House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee, TSO
The Williams Commission published its report on the governance and delivery of public services in Wales. The Commission had been asked to examine all aspects of public services in Wales and make recommendations on their future direction. The report made over 60 recommendations, including: to remove duplication and ensure that organizations worked together effectively, with shared services and greater collaboration; to reduce the number of local authorities; to strengthen governance and scrutiny; greater citizen and community involvement in design and delivery of services; and to strengthen leadership.
Source: Full Report, Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery
A special issue of a journal examined the introduction and first year of police and crime commissioners in England and Wales.
Source: Safer Communities, Volume 13, Number 1
Links: Table of contents
Notes: Articles included:
Matthew Davies 'The path to Police and Crime Commissioners'
Liz Turner 'PCCs, neo-liberal hegemony and democratic policing'
Stuart Lister 'Scrutinising the role of the Police and Crime Panel in the new era of police governance in England and Wales'
Sophie Chambers 'Who is policing the Police and Crime Commissioners?'
Timothy Brain 'Police and Crime Commissioners: the first twelve months'