Two-Year Accelerated Degrees One Step Closer

The government has launched a consultation on accelerated degrees.

Accelerated degrees offer the same qualifications and are quality-assured in the same way as a standard degree, but are delivered over a shorter, usually two-year timespan. This means when most students are completing their third year of study, an accelerated degree student will be starting work and getting a salary.

Proposals include a £5,500 (20 per cent) saving for students in total tuition costs compared to a standard three-year course (although the yearly cost is actually higher than on a three-year degree course). When added to the average salary of £19,000 in the first year after graduating, it means a potential £25,000 benefit overall.

For the taxpayer, it means significantly lower tuition loan outlay, higher rates of repayment and therefore a lower cost to the public purse of higher education. A higher proportion of students on accelerated degrees will also repay their loans in full.

Providers already offering accelerated degrees report on more engaged students, positive employer feedback and the opportunity to attract a wider pool of applicants, including mature students who often want to retrain and enter the workplace more quickly.

New fee arrangements for these degrees are set to be in place by September 2019, subject to parliamentary approval.

Professor Les Ebdon, Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, said “Accelerated degrees are an attractive option for mature students who have missed out on the chance to go to university as a young person. Having often battled disadvantage, these students can thrive in higher education and I hope that now many more will be able to take up the life-changing opportunity to get a degree.”

Providers offering accelerated degrees will need to meet exactly the same quality assurance measures as for the standard three-year equivalent degrees.

The new regulator, the Office for Students, will also support the provision of accelerated degrees when it becomes a legal entity in 2018.

The consultation will run until February 2018.

Posted in Students | Comments Off on Two-Year Accelerated Degrees One Step Closer

World Book Night for 2018 Has a Mental Health Focus

The Reading Agency has announced the list of books to be given away on World Book Night, 23 April 2018.

The varied titles, donated by publishers from Penguin Random House and Hachette to small presses Nine Arches and Cassava Republic, include a diverse selection of commercial and literary fiction, poetry, non-fiction and young adult, each selected to inspire people who don’t regularly read to pick up a book and get reading.

With 1 in 4 people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year, The Reading Agency’s research shows that reading can increase empathy, improve relationships with others and reduce the symptoms of depression. The charity aims to harness this with several titles exploring mental health and wellbeing on the list, including Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman, The Recovery Letters by Olivia Sagan & James Withey (eds.) and Open by Gemma Cairney. Other titles include British Book Awards Book of the Year 2016 The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley, poetry collection Kith by Jo Bell and My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal.

For the second year running, a more targeted approach to World Book Night book distribution will see The Reading Agency working with public libraries, prisons, colleges, care homes, youth centres, mental health groups and other charities to get books into the hands of new readers on 23 April, when events celebrating reading will also take place nationwide. Organisations can apply to take part from today via worldbooknight.org.

The books

The complete list of titles donated by publishers for World Book Night 2018:

Kith by Jo Bell (Nine Arches)
Our Summer Together by Fanny Blake (Orion)
Open by Gemma Cairney (Pan Macmillan)
Dangerous Lady by Martina Cole (Headline)
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey (Penguin)
After the Fire by Will Hill (Usborne)
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (Vintage)
The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley (John Murray)
Gilded Cage by Vic James (Pan Macmillan)
The Beach Wedding by Dorothy Koomson (Cornerstone)
Satellite by Nick Lake (Hachette Children’s)
Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart (Bonnier)
You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood (Michael Joseph)
Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun by Sarah Ladipo Manyika (Cassava Republic)
My Everything by Katie Marsh (Hodder)
One of us is Lying by Karen M McManus (Penguin Random House Children’s)
At My Mother’s Knee by Paul O’Grady (Transworld)
The Recovery Letters, Olivia Sagan & James Withey (Eds.) (Jessica Kingsley)
The Detective’s Daughter by Lesley Thomson (Head of Zeus)
My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal (Penguin)
What the Dog Knows by Cat Warren (Scribe)
Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman (Piatkus)
Carry on Jeeves by PG Wodehouse (Cornerstone)

Sue Wilkinson, Chief Executive, The Reading Agency said “We know from our work on the Reading Well programme that there is a powerful link between reading and positive mental health. We are delighted to be able to include on the 2018 World Book Night list several titles that deal with this directly as well as others that we hope will lift readers’ moods or help them confront life’s difficulties.  

“Our aim with World Book Night has always been to reach and develop new readers and we can’t wait to work again with all of the wonderful public libraries, prisons, colleges and others who do such a terrific job of getting our brilliant books into the hands of people who don’t think reading is for them.”

After World Book Night 2017, results from a follow-up survey showed that The Reading Agency’s renewed, targeted approach to book distribution enabled organisations to help get more people reading. 91% of participating organisations rated their experience of taking part as excellent or good and 89% thought that the books donated by publishers in 2017 helped encourage people to read more often.

Get involved

Apply for your organisation to take part in World Book Night 2018

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing News | Comments Off on World Book Night for 2018 Has a Mental Health Focus

Carefully Matching Carers to Clients Leads to Outstanding Rating by CQC

The Care Quality Commission has found the quality of care provided by Home Instead Senior Care – Eastbourne and Hailsham in Polegate, East Sussex, to be Outstanding following an inspection in October.

Home Instead Senior Care is registered to provide personal care and support to people living in their own homes. At the time of the inspection, 29 people were using the service.

Inspectors found staff were caring and compassionate and people were being provided with safe, responsive, caring, effective and well-led care.

Home Instead Senior Care was rated Outstanding for being caring, responsive and well-led and Good for being effective and safe.

Deborah Ivanova, CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector for Adult Social Care in the south region said “Our inspection team was really impressed by the level of care and support offered to people at Home Instead Senior Care in Eastbourne and Hailsham.”

“People felt safe receiving care in their homes and told inspectors they didn’t have concerns. Care plans were personalised and contained information to provide care in a way people wished.”

“The service matched caregivers with similar interests, hobbies and personalities to those receiving care. People we spoke with said they received support from caregivers they knew well and everyone said staff went above and beyond what was expected. The service went the ‘extra mile’ in considering the needs of people and their caregivers, by holding various events and competitions to further promote and develop positive relationships with people and their families.”

“People and their relatives were actively encouraged to make their views known and were involved in making decisions about care. Staff had a very good understanding about what was important to people, going to considerable lengths to ensure people’s needs and wishes were met. It was clear that people liked and trusted them and were at ease in their presence.”

“Dementia and had two dementia friends’ champions – who are volunteers who encourage others to make a positive difference to people living with dementia – that had been trained by the Alzheimer’s society.”

“All of this meant people received a high standard of care, which is why it has been rated Outstanding.”

 

Posted in Healthcare | Comments Off on Carefully Matching Carers to Clients Leads to Outstanding Rating by CQC

Are You Ready for Small Business Saturday?

Saturday the 2nd December is Small Business Saturday – a celebration of small businesses everywhere!

Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign which has been running for 5 years and is going from strength to strength.  The event highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities.

On Small Business Saturday, customers across the U.K go out and support all types of small businesses, online, in offices and in stores.  Many small businesses take part in the day by hosting events and offering discounts and there is still time to get involved.

  • Download the marketing pack for the event for free from the Small Business Saturday website, full of advice and guidance which will put you in good stead throughout the year!
  • Share news of your events with the hashtag #SmallBizSatUk and start connecting with new customers.
  • Register and advertise your business on the Small Business Finder for free!  Not only will potential customers find you, but media outlets looking for hooks for stories about the event in your area might discover you too!
  • Visit Marketing by Minal and get their top tips for marketing on this crucial pre-Christmas shopping day.
Posted in SME News | Comments Off on Are You Ready for Small Business Saturday?

See Stephen Hawking’s PhD Thesis Online

Step inside the mind of the young Stephen Hawking as his PhD thesis goes online.

Stephen Hawking’s PhD thesis, ‘Properties of expanding universes’, has been made freely available to anyone, anywhere in the world, via the University of Cambridge’s Open Access repository, Apollo.

The Apollo database is home to over 200,000 digital objects including 15,000 research articles, 10,000 images, 2,400 theses and 1,000 datasets.

Talking about the release of the document Professor Hawking said: “Anyone, anywhere in the world should have free, unhindered access to not just my research, but to the research of every great and enquiring mind across the spectrum of human understanding.

“By making my PhD thesis Open Access, I hope to inspire people around the world to look up at the stars and not down at their feet; to wonder about our place in the universe and to try and make sense of the cosmos. Anyone, anywhere in the world should have free, unhindered access to not just my research, but to the research of every great and enquiring mind across the spectrum of human understanding.

“Each generation stands on the shoulders of those who have gone before them, just as I did as a young PhD student in Cambridge, inspired by the work of Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell and Albert Einstein. It’s wonderful to hear how many people have already shown an interest in downloading my thesis – hopefully they won’t be disappointed now that they finally have access to it!”

 Dr Arthur Smith, Deputy Head of Scholarly Communication, said: “From October 2017 onwards, all PhD students graduating from the University of Cambridge will be required to deposit an electronic copy of their doctoral work for future preservation. And like Professor Hawking, we hope that many students will also take the opportunity to freely distribute their work online by making their thesis Open Access. We would also invite former University alumni to consider making their theses Open Access, too.

“While the University is committed to archiving all these it is often a struggle gaining permission to open up historic theses. With the online publication of Professor Hawking’s thesis, Cambridge now hopes to encourage its former academics – which includes 98 Nobel Affiliates – to make their work freely available to all.”

Posted in Students | Comments Off on See Stephen Hawking’s PhD Thesis Online

Rochdale Care Home is a Shinning Example of Excellent Care

The CQC has rated Healey House, in Rochdale, Lancashire as Outstanding following an inspection in September.

Healey House provides accommodation and personal support for people with a learning disability. At the time of the inspection there were nine people living at the home.

Inspectors were particularly impressed with the level of interaction with those in the home’s care and the pride staff take.  In their report they noted:

  • There was an excellent standard of organisation within the service that fully supported continuous improvement and ensured people received a high-quality service that met their needs and expectations.
  • People living in the home told us they felt safe and staff treated them well.
  • People’s independence was actively encouraged. The registered manager and staff displayed clear resolve to make a positive difference to people’s lives. Staff encouraged and supported people to access activities within the community.

Debbie Westhead, Deputy Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care in the North, said “We found the quality of care provided at Healey House in Whitworth, Rochdale to be outstanding.

“It was clear that staff at this service placed people at the heart of the care being provided and really promoted their right to be independent and determine how they live their lives.

“Our inspectors saw lovely relationships between staff and people living at the home with caring, good humoured and friendly interactions.

“All the staff at Healey House should be very proud of the care they are providing and I hope other providers look to their example of what outstanding care should look like.”

Posted in Healthcare | Comments Off on Rochdale Care Home is a Shinning Example of Excellent Care

Government Seeking Authors’ Views on PLR Rates

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is seeking authors’ views on the British Library Board’s proposed PLR rate for 2018.

The British Library Board is responsible for making a recommendation to the Secretary of State of the amount to be paid from the PLR fund to authors, illustrators and other contributors to compensate them for the loan of their books by public libraries.  The amount due to each author is based on a rate per loan, calculated on the basis of the size of the fund and an estimate of the number of loans that will be made during the period.

The board is recommending that the rate is increased to 8.2 pence per loan, an increase of 0.38 pence over last year.  This increase reflects the fact that library cuts mean that the estimated number of PLR-registered loans has decreased.

In response to the consultation the Society of Authors has stated that is accepts the change but with the following recommendations:

  • They urge the government to include volunteer-run libraries in PLR.
  • The government ring-fences and increases the (already meagre) PLR fund in any future spending review.
  • They urge the Government to fulfil its obligation to provide, protect and maintain a comprehensive and efficient library service.

Let the government know your views on the matter by emailing rate_per_loan@culture.gov.uk, or by writing to:

DCMS
4th Floor
Parliament Street
London SW1A 2BQ

But hurry – the deadline is the 24th November!

Posted in Writing News | Comments Off on Government Seeking Authors’ Views on PLR Rates

Chester Care Home Rated Inadequate by CQC Following Serious Concerns

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has told Chester Lodge care home, caring for up to 35 people in Chester, that they must make improvements to protect the safety and welfare of people they care for.

At the last inspection, the CQC asked the provider to take action to make improvements with regard to safe care and treatment, capacity and consent and overall governance. These actions had not been completed.

Key Areas of Concern

  • Referrals to health professionals were made when concerns regarding people’s health were identified, but this was not always done in a timely manner.
  • Inspectors found that advice and guidance provided by health professionals was not always implemented to ensure that risks to people’s health and wellbeing were minimised.
  • The premises were not clean and inspectors detected unpleasant smells in parts of the building.
  • The management of infection control required improvement.
  • Accidents and incidents were not effectively monitored. Review of these did not always identify causation, risk or patterns.
  • Staff do not always respect people’s opinions and choices in regard to how they want their support to be provided.
  • People are not always kept comfortable and are not always treated with dignity and respect.
  • Care plans do not always record people’s needs accurately.
  • People were not protected from the risk of dehydration and malnutrition. Food and fluid charts were not accurately completed, reviewed or analysed.

The full report from the inspection can be found on the CQC’s website.

Posted in Healthcare | Comments Off on Chester Care Home Rated Inadequate by CQC Following Serious Concerns

Less Than a Third of SMEs Understand New Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

With new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) set to be implemented in May 2018, much of the UK’s SME community remains unsure about whether the regulations affect them, and if they do, what they need to do to comply.

In a recent survey by Close Brothers, businesses reported confusion over what ‘personal data’ really means; their customers’ new and extended rights, and whether the permissions they currently have to contact customers will meet the requirements of GDPR.

The government has confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR so now is the time to prepare.

The GDPR requires you to show how you comply with a set of core principles.

Core Principles 

Data will be…

(a) processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to individuals;

(b) collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes; further processing for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes shall not be considered to be incompatible with the initial purposes;

(c) adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed;

(d) accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay;

(e) kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed; personal data may be stored for longer periods insofar as the personal data will be processed solely for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes subject to implementation of the appropriate technical and organisational measures required by the GDPR in order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of individuals;

(f) processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures.

Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly survey that questions over 900 UK and RoI SME owners and senior management across a range of sectors and regions demonstated a worryingly high rate of confusion amongst business owners and managers.

Less than a third (31%) of SMEs answered ‘yes’ to the question ‘are you clear what ‘personal data’ means in a business context?’, with 50% saying ‘sort of’ and the remaining 19% ‘no’.

Neil Davies, CEO, Close Brothers Asset Finance commented “All personal data has to be managed in a safe and secure way; has to be gathered lawfully; is only used for the purposes for which it was collected, and must be accurate and up-to-date.

“The figures from the Barometer tell us that uncertainty persists on a number of key compliance issues and SMEs are concerned about the implications for them and their business.”

“The GDPR’s definition of personal data makes it clear that even online identifiers, for example an IP address, can be personal data,” explained Neil. “The new definitions provide for a wide range of personal identifiers to constitute personal data, reflecting changes in technology and the way organisations collect information about people.

Neil continued  “How it works is that companies must get prior consent from data subjects (opt in) and record that consent. What’s more, the consent must relate specifically to the purposes of why a company needs that data; companies cannot get consent for one purpose and then use the gathered personal data for another.

“On top of this, consumers must be able to revoke their consent as easily as it was originally given because many consumers complain that it is easy to opt in to data gathering, but difficult to unsubscribe or opt out.”

You can find out more about GDPR on the Information Commissioners Office website – click here.

Posted in SME News | Comments Off on Less Than a Third of SMEs Understand New Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

Calls for Changes to Universal Credit for the Self-Employed

new report published by the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) calls for changes to the universal credit system for self-employed claimants. Without such changes, the group warns that there is a very real possibility that people will be discouraged from starting self-employment and existing claimants may be forced to give up their work.

The changes LITRG is arguing for include:

  • Allowing self-employed claimants with fluctuating income to average their income over a period of up to a year
  • Changes to the calculation of the ‘minimum income floor’ and increasing the start-up period during which it does not apply from one to two years
  • Greater consistency in definitions of self-employment
  • More specialist support for self-employed universal credit claimants

The LITRG began to raise concerns about self-employment in universal credit when the universal credit White Paper was first published and the Welfare Reform Bill began its passage through Parliament in 2011. Although some minor changes to the rules have been made since then, many of the major concerns remain. At present, the system does not work well for self-employed claimants who have fluctuating income and/or expenses, or who have a large, one-off business expense in a particular month, nor does it give people long enough to establish and grow their business.

The report summarises the main shortcomings of the current universal credit system in respect of the self-employed and suggests positive reforms that would encourage entrepreneurial activity and relieve administrative burdens. The LITRG model aims to treat all self-employed people fairly and ensure greater parity with employed people earning similar amounts.

The report recommends:

  • In each Jobcentre office, a small number of staff should undergo specialist self-employment training to become ‘subject experts’ with access to a central expert team who are supported by HMRC.
  • Self-employed claimants should see a work coach at least once every 12 months to ensure compliance with the gainful self-employment test.  There should be consistency to ensure that claimants who are classed as self-employed by HMRC are also self-employed for universal credit purposes. All claimants passing the test should have the opportunity to access business support from a trained Jobcentre adviser.
  • The current one year start-up period should be extended to two years.
  • A general anti-abuse provision should ensure people cannot manipulate their income in order to claim universal credit or more universal credit. This would apply to both employed and self-employed claimants and would remove the need for the complex surplus earnings rules that are due to come into force from April 2018.
  • Self-employed claimants with fluctuating income or profits should be given an option of averaging their income over a period up to one year.
  • All definitions should be fully aligned with the HMRC cash accounting rules and thought should be given to how the system can deal with those who are unable to use the HMRC cash basis for tax purposes.
  • In cases where earnings are averaged, we propose that the system of reporting monthly income and expenses should be changed so that it follows the period of which earnings are averaged.
  • The minimum income floor should remain from Year 3 onwards but should be calculated after deduction of pension contributions as well as tax and national insurance. This is to ensure self-employed claimants are treated as favourably as employees who make pension contributions.
  • Two exceptions should be made to the minimum income floor. First, a three month grace period in each 12 month period to allow someone to deal with unexpected events or a one-off large expense without any adverse impact. Secondly, we propose a discretion for DWP staff to dis-apply the minimum income floor in certain situations.

LITRG Chair Anne Fairpo said “We have been raising concerns with both Parliament and Government about the proposed treatment of the self-employed under universal credit since 2010. The universal credit assessment period is one month as against one year for tax, definitions of income and profit from self-employment differ for universal credit and tax, and universal credit operates a cash basis which diverges from the cash basis option for tax.

“Perhaps the most concerning part of the self-employment regime under universal credit is the minimum income floor which fails to account for fluctuating earnings or one-off large business expenses. This can lead to a situation where a self-employed claimant with fluctuating earnings can receive substantially less universal credit than an employed claimant earning a similar annual income above the level of the current minimum income floor.1 We cannot believe that is an intended consequence. From April 2018, the universal credit system will become far more complicated with the introduction of surplus earnings rules for both the self-employed and employed and in some cases this will make the disparity worse.”

“Without further changes, there is a real risk that those thinking about starting out in self-employment will be dissuaded and those already in self-employment may be forced to give-up before they have been given a chance to grow their businesses. We urge the Government to consider our recommendations carefully and make the necessary changes to the existing rules.”

The report can be read at www.litrg.org.uk/SE-UC-report

 

Posted in SME News | Comments Off on Calls for Changes to Universal Credit for the Self-Employed