Government Report Calls on Communities to Make Their High Streets Social Hubs

Retail industry experts, including Sir John Timpson, have called for a community-focused approach to tackling the challenges facing high streets and town centres in a new report for the government.

The Town Centres Expert Panel, made up representatives from the retail, property and design sectors, has published practical recommendations to reinvigorate town centres, creating community hubs which, alongside retail, include leisure and social services and more residential property.


The panel’s recommendations include:

  • The creation of the Town Centre Task Force supporting local leaders to act as a single voice in finding unique solutions for communities.
  • Setting up a Future High Streets Fund to help local authorities with both finance and resource. In October’s Budget, the Chancellor announced a £675 million for this purpose.
  • Immediate measures to help high streets and town centres including a ‘National High Street Perfect Day’ – one day a year where local communities would take ownership, ensuring their town centre looked as good as possible.
  • The panel encourages local communities to think innovatively about empty properties and welcomes the government’s Open Doors scheme which opens empty shops to community groups.
  • Local authorities are also encouraged to review parking provision in favour of local businesses to encourage footfall.

The panel’s chair Sir John Timpson called for an ‘Upside Down Government’ approach which would empower local leaders to implement their plans to reinvent their town centres. They would be supported with expert advice from a Town Centres Task Force.

“By helping our towns create their own individual community hub, I believe we will have vibrant town centres to provide a much-needed place for face to face contact in the digital age. “

“I have learnt, from my own business, that the best way to get things done is to give people on the front line the freedom to get on with the job in the way they know best. We are applying the same Upside Down Government principle to the development of our town centres, with our Town Centre Task Force there to mentor, encourage and clear any obstacles out of the way while giving the clear message to inspirational local leaders that they are free to turn their plans into reality. “

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Poor Communication and Inconsistent Levels of Care – CQC’s Verdict Following Staffordshire System Review

The Care Quality Commission has published its findings following a review of health and social care services in Staffordshire.

The report is one of 23 targeted local system reviews looking specifically at how older people move through the health and social care system, with a focus on how services work together. The reviews look at how hospitals, community health services, GP practices, care homes and homecare agencies work together to provide seamless care for people aged 65 and over living in a local area.

During the review CQC sought feedback from a range of people involved in shaping and leading the system, those responsible for directly delivering care, as well as people who use services, their families and carers.

Overall CQC reviewers found:

  • Older people living in Staffordshire had varied experiences of health and social care services. There were local variations in what was available to people and consequently experiences of care and support were inconsistent.
  • There were instances of people attending A&E because they couldn’t get GP appointments and A&E attendance for people over 65 living in care homes (January to March 2018) were higher than both national and comparator areas.
  • A&E experiences were much improved at Royal Stoke Hospital.
  • Person-centered services for people with Dementia were very positively received.
  • Although there had been recent improvements, people were still more likely to be delayed coming out from hospital. There were examples of people who experienced avoidable harm due to delays in their discharge from hospital.
  • People still had a limited choice in respect of care homes rated good.
  • There were good relationships between senior leaders in the Staffordshire and Stoke Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) and there was good political support from the County Council for the STP.
  • The STP struggled to communicate its vision for care to the front line.

Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care,said: “Our review of health and social care services in the county found that older people had varied experiences of health and social care services. There were variations in what was available to them depending on where they lived, which meant that people’s experiences of care and the support they received were inconsistent.

“While there was a shared vision from leadership in the county’s Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP), this did not transfer to those at an operational level. This was due to a number of significant recent changes within the system, which meant more time was needed to ensure people received high quality services wherever they went in Staffordshire.

“Our review found many examples of good practice but also highlighted a number of areas where improvements are needed to ensure those responsible for providing health and social care services work better together. Some of these areas had already been recognised by the system’s leaders and plans were already being developed, or were in place, to ensure those improvements took place.

“We have presented our findings to the health and social care system leaders in Staffordshire so that they can prioritise and continue to improve and work together in bringing joined up care to people living in the county.”

This review makes a number of suggestions of areas where the local system should focus on to secure improvement including:

  • Though there was a clear vision and strong leadership at a senior level services delivered remained fragmented and dependent on the area of Staffordshire people lived in. A whole county joint commissioning strategy needs to be further developed so there is consistency of provision throughout Staffordshire.
  • The Health and Wellbeing Strategy for 2018- 23 should be completely inclusive and refer to how all people, including those of different faiths, beliefs, gender, sexuality, or with physical and/or learning disabilities, will be included in the development of services.
  • A whole county dementia strategy needs to be developed to ensure the needs of people with dementia are consistently supported across Staffordshire
  • The system needs to develop a strategy to ensure services are developed with input from the people who will use them.
  • Nationally validated models of GP support for care homes need to be rolled out more quickly to ensure they are ready for winter.
  • People living in Staffordshire must have equal access to services; such as the intravenous antibiotics administered in their own home and falls prevention services.
  • A system-wide approach is needed to find better solutions to manage patient discharge; such as the virtual ward, meaning people have a full range of services available to them by clinical professionals form home.
  • eLearning from serious incidents and complaints should be shared across the system.
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Author Representatives, Book Sellers and Publishers Publish Plans to Tackle Sexual Harassment

The Association of Authors’ Agents, The Booksellers Association, The Publishers Association and The Society of Authors have joined together to launch an industry wide commitment to Professional Behaviour.

The industry was galvanised to work together to set out the high professional standards that all those involved should expect from one another after last year’s Bookseller survey on sexual harassment and a subsequent blog by Lizzy Kremer from David Higham Associates (now President of the AAA). The paper signals their unwavering determination and commitment to ensuring and maintaining dignity at work for everyone in bookselling and publishing.

In an initial consultation meeting that brought together a representative group of people who work across the broad reach of the industry, it quickly became apparent that as well as sexual harassment being a key and urgent issue to address, there were other universally shared concerns about behaviour and conduct within the workplace.  The resulting paper addresses freedom of speech, diversity and inclusion as a well as sexual and other harassment, discrimination, bullying and intimidation.

1) We in the books industry support creative expression and freedom of speech. However, our creative realm is also a professional one and we expect high standards of behaviour from everyone we encounter in the course of our work, including colleagues and customers.

2) We will protect the passion, imagination and creativity of everyone in the books industry.  We will celebrate and promote diversity and inclusion so that all voices can be heard.

3) We will recognise our influence and make a commitment to work together to prevent abuse of power, creating a work environment free of discrimination, harassment including sexual harassment, bullying and intimidation.

4) We will ensure that everyone in our industry is treated with dignity and respect so that individuals are supported and able to speak out.

All associations will be encouraging their members – and all others in the book industry – to read and respect what this Commitment stands for. The AAA, BA, The PA and The SOA will be promoting it on social media, and to members via direct newsletters, events and through committees and councils.

Lizzy Kremer, President of The Association of Authors’ Agents, said: “In a business which can often seem to have relatively horizontal hierarchies, and in which we enjoy plenty of informal contact, it is easy to overlook the situations in which we have more power than the colleagues with whom we are working. The Commitment urges us each to take responsibility for preventing any abuse of power, whether that be through careful monitoring of our own actions, or watchful protection of those colleagues with less influence than us. As well as reminding us of our individual and corporate responsibility in every workplace, whether that be office, festival, party or rights fair; those who endorse the Commitment will be pledging their support to any colleague who feels that they have been subject to inappropriate behaviour.”

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Adult Social Care Ombudsman’s Annual Review of Complaints Published

Over the past year, the ombudsman has become increasingly concerned about the way some authorities are handling the need to balance the pressures they are under with the way they assess and charge for care.

The report, which looks at the data behind every adult social care complaint the Ombudsman has received over the 12-month period, shows there has been a nine per cent increase in complaints about charging and that of those complaints, it is upholding 67% – higher than the average uphold rate for adult social care of 62%, and greater still than the 57% uphold rate for all complaints the Ombudsman investigates.

Key Areas of Concern Leading to Complaints

  • Assessment and care planning.
  • How care is paid for.
  • Problems with whole systems and individual organisation’s policies being wrongly applied.

Over the past year, the ombudsman has made 274 recommendations to authorities and providers to improve procedures or undertake staff training – a 19% increase on the previous year.

Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care for the CQC said “These are challenging times for adult social care with pressure on resources, increasing demands and workforce shortages all having an impact on the quality and consistency of care that people receive.

“In these circumstances, it’s more important than ever that those in charge of running and commissioning care services actively listen and learn from people’s experiences, concerns and complaints.

“CQC sees regular evidence of this in the four-fifths of adult social care services currently rated as good or outstanding across the country, but as this report from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman once again highlights, this isn’t the case for everyone.

“Ensuring complaints policies are accessible, that people know how to raise issues, their concerns are responded to and any promised action gets sorted is all part of delivering truly responsive and well-led care. Where we find that isn’t happening, CQC will take action in the interests of people, their families and carers, who deserve better.”

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Shortlist for 2018 Educational Writers’ Award Announced

The Society of Authors and the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society have announced the shortlist for the 2018 Educational Writers’ Award, the UK’s only award for educational writing that stimulates and enhances the learning experience.

Now in its eleventh year, the Educational Writers’ Award was established in 2008 by the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS) and the Society of Authors (SoA), ‘to celebrate educational writing that inspires creativity and encourages students to read widely and build up their understanding of a subject beyond the requirements of exam specifications’. The 2017 winner was The Book of Bees, written by Wojciech Grajkowski, illustrated by Piotr Socha, and translated by Agnes Monod-Gayraud.

The five outstanding books for readers aged 11-18 years on this year’s shortlist explain the importance of sanitation, demystify coding, chart the history of painting, and illuminate the lives and minds of migrants, and LGBTQ+ people.

The 2018 Shortlist

LOOS SAVE LIVES: How Sanitation & Clean Water Help Prevent Poverty, Disease & Death 
Author: Seren Boyd
(Publisher: Wayland)

Packed full of stats and facts about water and waste, this is a book about the importance of the humble loo.  It explains why children who have access to a safe, clean loo at school are more likely to stay in education, get better jobs and escape poverty.

How To Think Like A Coder… Without Even Trying!
Author: Jim Christian
Illustrator: Paul Boston
(Publisher: Batsford)

Computers are all around us, from traffic lights to cash machines – it just takes a little common sense to work out what makes them tick, says this bright illustrated guide, which shows that you don’t need to have computing experience to know how to code.  Full of puzzles and exercises suitable for all ages that will help you think logically, work within constraints and deconstruct problems, it turns everyday situations into opportunities for coding.

From Prejudice to Pride: A History of the LBGTQ+ Movement
Author: Amy Lamé
(Publisher: Wayland)

An illuminating account of the rise and achievements of the LGBTQ+ movement for equal rights: the various communities and pioneers that have emerged, and the stories of heartbreak and courage that have unfolded alongside it, by London’s Night Czar. From the trial of Oscar Wilde and the Stonewall riots, to the AIDS crisis and same-sex marriage, it gives insights into shifting attitudes that have challenged lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, which also help us understand what it is to be LGBTQ+ today.

The Story of Paintings: A History of Art for Children
Author/Illustrator: Mick Manning & Brita Granström
(Publisher: Franklin Watts)

This imaginative introduction to art history for children takes readers on a journey through time from Stone Age cave art to the graffiti-inspired work of Jean-Michel Basquiat. It takes in Rembrandt, Picasso, Turner, Frida Kahlo, Kalan Khan, Laura Knight and many others along the way, telling the stories behind the paintings and their creators.

Far From Home: Refugees and Migrants Fleeing War, Persecution & Poverty
Author: Cath Senker
(Publisher: Franklin Watts)

This richly illustrated book examines the root causes of mass migrations of people due to war, extreme poverty and persecution, explaining some of the specific conflicts, political situations and cultural issues that dominate the headlines surrounding refugees and migrants in the 21st century. It includes first-hand accounts of everything from life in refugee camps to finding a new home in safe countries.

The winner of the 2018 Educational Writers’ Award will be announced at the
All Party Writers Group (APWG) Winter Reception at the House of Commons on Tuesday 4 December. The winning author/illustrator will receive a cheque for £2,000.


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Female Graduates Age 29 Earn an Average of 29% More Than Non-Graduates

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has published the findings of the biggest ever study into young people’s earnings.

Researchers found that the vast majority of graduates with a degree are earning more at the age of 29 than those who do not go to university.  The study shows that there continues to be a graduate premium and that women benefit from this premium the most.

Data shows that female and male graduates are earning 28% and 8% more on average than their counterparts who opted for a different route of study after leaving school. As graduates’ earnings rise more quickly during their early and mid-careers, particularly for men, it is expected that returns will increase further once looked at over a lifetime.

The research, which will help policy makers, regulators and students understand the different outcomes from different courses and universities, also shows that a number of institutions deliver negative financial outcomes for approximately 4% of male and 0.4% of female students. That is to say, graduates from these institutions earn less than the average person with similar A Level grades who did not go to university at all.

There are several possible reasons for this:

  • Students choosing to study courses that have a high social value when in employment, but not necessarily high wages
  • Students opting to study subjects such as creative arts, drama and music with low proportions of people going on to earn high salaries.
  • Students attending a university in a part of the country where wages are below the national average, who then stay in that area, adding to its economy, but not necessarily earning as much as they could elsewhere.

But there are still cases where students aren’t necessarily choosing the institution that will deliver the best returns for their course. The study shows how for some studying the same subject at a different institution – or indeed continuing their education at an alternative to university – could significantly increase their future earnings and career prospects.

Financial outcomes are of course just one of the considerations that students have when choosing a university. The benefits of higher education are not limited to increasing a graduate’s salary. For example, many people will wish to pursue public service, third sector careers or the arts which have a very high social value, but which aren’t necessarily amongst the most highly paid.

The Office for Students is already using its powers to tackle institutions with poor student outcomes data, imposing additional registrations conditions on university including London Metropolitan University and Bolton University in response to specific concerns.

Concerns were raised with Bolton over employment outcomes for PGCE students, while London Metropolitan were criticised over professional employment for undergraduates, and postgraduate progression. Both are now required to construct an improvement plan around their continuation and completion rates.

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CMA Publishes Advice on Obligations for Care Homes

The CMA has published advice for care homes on their responsibilities under consumer law.  The advice forms part of their ongoing consumer protection work focusing on residential care homes and nursing homes for older people (over 65s).

It follows the CMA’s examination of the sector last year, which found that some residents are at risk of being treated unfairly and recommended urgent action to reform the sector.

The CMA has also published an open letter to care homes, reminding them of their responsibilities under consumer law and urging them to review the advice immediately. Care homes may need to make changes to their contract terms and business practices as a result.

New advice sets out what care homes across the UK need to do to ensure they are treating their residents fairly, including:

  • what upfront information they should give to potential residents, their families or other representatives and when (through websites, over the phone and when people visit) to help them make informed choices. This includes giving an indication of the weekly fees charged to self-funders and highlighting any especially important or surprising terms and conditions that will apply (such as any requirement for residents to prove they can pay for their own care for a minimum period of time)
  • how to make sure contract terms and the way residents and their representatives are treated is fair
  • how to handle complaints fairly and ensure their complaints procedure is easy to find and use

Working with its partners, such as Trading Standards, the CMA will be conducting a review in 12 months’ time to assess how well care homes are complying with consumer law. It may take further action before then if it finds care homes are treating residents and their families unfairly and breaking the law.

CMA Chief Executive, Andrea Coscelli said “It’s vital that care homes treat residents and their families fairly, which is why we have issued advice to all homes across the UK to help them understand what they should and should not be doing under consumer law.

We’ve already taken action against some providers who charged compulsory upfront fees or continued to charge for extended periods after a resident’s death.

We’ll continue to monitor how well care homes are complying and won’t hesitate to take action again if we find evidence that providers have broken consumer law.”

The CMA has also published a short guide for care homes to accompany the full advice, as well as a short guide for residents and their families that explains their rights under consumer law.

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A Team of Graduates From York University Wins National Video Game Competition

A team of university graduates from York has won a national competition that could help take their video game into the homes of millions of gamers.Mujo Games took part in Tranzfuser, the Government’s video game development competition where graduates pit their original video games against one another to win up to £25,000 from the UK Games Fund.

The team won with an abstract rhythm game they created called Yellow Rock Road. Players take on the role of a time travelling band, and tap two buttons to keep in time with the music. It impressed the judges with its vibrant art, superb soundtrack and use of players’ own music libraries.

Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said “Over the past three years Tranzfuser has been identifying and nurturing the UK’s next top video game developers to turn their original and innovative ideas into reality. Mujo Games are worthy winners and I would like to congratulate all the teams who took part this year.

Through our modern Industrial strategy we are committed to ensuring the UK games industry continues to translate its energy, skills and talent into even greater economic success.”

The Government’s £5 million UK Games Fund (UKGF) is delivered by UK Games Talent and Finance and has so far supported 250 graduates and more than 90 companies from across the UK to create their own video games.

Over the summer, Tranzfuser gave 17 teams from across the UK £5,000 and gave them just ten weeks to develop their idea for a great game from concept to playable demo.  In September their games were showcased at the UK’s most popular consumer video games show, EGX, at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.  They not only had to impress the 80,000 fans at EGX, but pitch their projects to a panel of industry experts in gruelling publisher-style sessions to be in with a chance of winning the funding.  This process aims to help these early stage teams develop the crucial skills needed to pitch for funding in their future careers.

Joni Levinkind, lead programmer at Mujo Games, said: “Winning Tranzfuser has opened so many opportunities for our team, and we really hope to make the most of them. We are all incredibly excited to find out what the future holds.All of our team members have gained a range of skills from game development to management, marketing, and financial planning. We have learnt so much and feel more confident in our ability to succeed as independent developers within the games industry.”

The Tranzfuser teams developed a wide range of fun and innovative games, from single-player puzzles to multiplayer room-scale Virtual Reality experiences. Teams also received invaluable support and expertise throughout the competition from a nationwide network of Tranzfuser Local Hubs based at some of the best UK universities for video game design and development.

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Poor Risk Management and Safeguarding Issues Lead to CQC Registration Being Cancelled

The CQC has cancelled Viewpark Care Home’s registration following multiple breaches of the regulations, and ongoing and serious concerns in relation to the provision of safe care and treatment.

There were repeated breaches in relation to:

  • The Mental Capacity Act,
  • assessing and mitigating risks to people’s health and wellbeing,
  • the safe management of medicines,
  • safeguarding procedures,
  • supervision of staff,
  • consent,
  • deprivation of liberty safeguards,
  • good governance
  • and acting openly and transparently.

In addition:

  • Staff were not following the advice of a professional and were providing food
    and drinks of an incorrect consistency.
  • There were ongoing issues in relation to the safe management of medicines. Staff did not always monitor the temperatures that medicines were stored. When temperatures had been monitored, there was a lack of evidence to show the appropriate actions had been taken if temperatures had exceeded manufacturers
    recommendations. This meant there was a risk these medicines might not work as effectively.
  • The administration of medicines was not always accurately reflected on the medication administration records (MARs).
  • There were shortfalls in actions taken to ensure the safety of the premises.
  • The provider had not obtained a required safety check of the passenger lift.
  • There were no robust procedures in place to ensure staff employed were of suitable character.
  • Staff were not following the home’s financial procedures and people were at increased risk of financial abuse as a result.
  • There were missed opportunities for staff to engage with people and to set up activities.
  • People were not aware of having been given the opportunity to be involved in developing or reviewing their care plans, and there was no documentary evidence of such involvement.

There had been multiple whistleblowers to CQC, issues raised included:

  • concerns about the registered manager’s treatment of staff.
  • staff within the service had not always acted openly and transparently in relation to issues arising in the service.
  • The systems in place to monitor and improve the quality and safety of the service were not effective.

Debbie Westhead, CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector for Adult Social Care said “The provider was given every chance to improve the service and provide high-quality consistent care. On serval occasions we found the home putting people at risk by not taking the advice from healthcare professionals. We also had serious concerns over the management and leadership of the service.

“Taking enforcement action of this nature is not something we take lightly, nevertheless the safe care and treatment of people using services is our highest priority and they deserve safe, effective high-quality care.”

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Have Your Say Over the CQC’s Proposed Changes to Regulatory Fees

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published its consultation on provider fees for 2019/20.

Proposed changes will affect:

  • community social care (including domiciliary care)
  • dental services
  • residential social care

The Proposals

The CQC’s proposals will see an increase in fees for the community social care sector and the dental sector, and a decrease in fees for the residential social care sector.

  • An average community social care provider will see an increase in fees of £290.
  • Dental services with one location will see an increase of between £69 and £149 (depending on the number of dental chairs on site).
  • Dental services with multiple locations will see an increase of between £183 and £6871 (depending on the number of locations).
  • An average social care provider will see a decrease in fees of £64.

How to give your views

You can view the CQC consultation documents online (click here) and have your say using the online feedback form.

This consultation closes at noon on Thursday 17 January 2019.

What Happens Next

The CQC will analyse the feedback from this consultation to prepare a response and a final fees scheme to recommend to the Secretary of State, whose consent is required to implement the scheme from 1 April 2019.

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