Universal Credit: Charity Food Banks Forced to Compensate for Failing Benefits System

Claire was referred to a charity food bank by her housing advice officer, who realised she wasn’t coping. She was falling behind on her rent and struggling to afford meals for her family. “The food bank was my only other option to get food for my kids and myself,” she says. Jobcentre staff had previously offered Claire a food bank voucher, but that meant catching a bus from her village to their office; without enough for a loaf of bread or a pint of milk, a bus ticket was out of the question.

Turkey to introduce national blockchain currency

The Turkish government plans to launch a central bank “blockchain based” digital currency within the next four years. The idea was included in The Eleventh Development Plan submitted to parliament by Turkish vice president, Fuat Oktay on 8 July. The document, presented to the Planning and Budget Commission, will serve as an economic road map for the government between now and 2023. According to cryptocurrency news publication, Coindesk, the development plan states that “blockchain-based digita

‘They should be chased out of town’: How a South Coast Council Is Failing Homeless People

Right now there are seven people living in the stairwell of a multi-storey car park in Bognor Regis. When you first enter there’s no sign of anyone, but after a couple of flights of stone steps you come to the first sleeping bag, next level up, another sleeping bag, up a few more steps and another pile of belongings, and on and on until you reach the top. From here there are views across the rooftops and chimneys of the small seaside town in West Sussex, to the South Downs beyond. But while peo

Turning protest to participation: civic tech in France

France’s ‘gilet jaunes’ movement prompted the government to launch a massive, tech-enabled consultation – and it’s attracted more people than the ongoing street protests. This week a Paris conference explored the power of civic technology; Natalie Leal reports The ‘gilets jaunes’ protests sweeping across France may be destabilising the country’s government and economy, but the response of French president Emmanuel Macron – a ‘Grand National Debate’ designed to gather public views on four key to

Irish government hosts blockchain hackathon to spark innovation

The Irish government last weekend hosted a blockchain hackathon, as part of its work to bring innovative technology into the public sector. The three-day event, called ‘Blockathon Ireland’, was hosted by The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in association with The Department of Finance. Its aim was to identify and explore solutions to public sector challenges using blockchain technology. Nine teams took part in the hackathon, competing for the top prize of €5000 by identifying innov

UK ‘fake news’ unit wins permanent funding

A UK government unit that works to tackle ‘fake news’ and disinformation has been given the go-ahead to continue on a permanent basis. According to PRWeek, the Cabinet Office confirmed the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) is “continuing operations” with funding now in place. Alex Aiken, executive director of the Government Communications Service, told PRWeek: “Last week I set out three government communication priorities for the year ahead – raising standards, strengthening our democracy and reassuri

People-led innovation project to help tackle policy challenges

A new initiative by two US think tanks aims to help public bodies explore innovative ways of consulting and engaging with communities, finding new answers to public policy challenges. The People-Led Innovation project was launched on Tuesday by GovLab and the Bertelsmann Foundation. Noting that citizens’ knowledge, insights and ideas often hold the key to the problems faced by governments, GovLab co-founder Stefaan Verhulst said the new tools will help officials consider “the most effective way

‘Leadership deficit’ hitting US morale, survey finds

There has been a dramatic fall in US federal employee engagement in 2018, research has found, with senior leadership a major concern amongst workers. The ‘2018 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government’ rankings, produced by the Partnership for Public Service and the Boston Consulting Group, found employee engagement fell at nearly 60% of government agencies over the past year. Nearly 40% registered an increase in employee engagement, but the Partnership for Public Service says this repres

A south downs walk to savour this weekend

1. From the Whiteways car park, standing with the cafe to your left, take the bridleway past the metal gate and head into the woods. You soon enter Houghton Forest, a Forestry Commission woodland of mainly beech trees with the odd patch of conifer. Whitewalls and Houghton Forest is a popular spot for ramblers, families, bikers and dog walkers and the wide, well surfaced paths and bridleways make it accessible even in those wet autumn and winter months. When you reach a fork in the path keep le

Meet the graduates who founded their own startup at university

Being a student is often associated with being poor – three years of eating baked beans on toast, drinking cheap beer at the uni bar, and paying back a huge loan once you graduate. But what if you could use your time at university to make money rather than struggle with it? Research by Santander earlier this year found that more than a quarter of current students are doing just that; setting up or planning their own enterprise alongside their studies. And many are doing pretty well too, with an average turnover of £11,408!

Australian government to launch digital transformation strategy

The Australian government is to launch a new digital transformation strategy at the beginning of 2019, setting out a roadmap designed to make the country a world leader in digital government by 2025. Speaking at the Gartner Symposium on the Gold Coast last week, Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation Michael Keenan said the strategy will include milestones and timescales to keep the country on track to realising its digital ambitions. ”I’m going to make sure that this strategy,

Morale plummets in US labour relations agencies

Satisfaction with senior leadership has declined sharply among the U.S. agencies responsible for governing labour-management relations and federal workforce issues, the government’s workforce survey has found. The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, run by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), measures employee satisfaction and engagement across 82 different government agencies annually. Respondents were asked to give opinions on their jobs, workplaces and leadership between April and June t

Former head of UK civil service, Sir Jeremy Heywood, dies at 56

The death of the former UK Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, Sir Jeremy Heywood, was announced on Sunday. Sir Jeremy was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017 but continued in his role for a further year until June 2018, when he took leave of absence to receive treatment. He officially took retirement and left his post just two weeks ago, on 24 October, saying he was stepping down “with great sadness” on medical advice. In a gesture of respect he was awarded a life peerage, becoming

A weekend walk on the Sussex/Hampshire border

1. Park up in the lay-by next to the Walderton village sign and then walk back out to the main road and turn right. Walk along the narrow pavement until the road curves around to the right and a smaller road peels off to the left. Turn down this quieter road walking past the houses and continue straight ahead following the twists and turns of the lane through the woodland. This road is extremely quiet with only the odd car, cyclist or horse going past. Continue walking for approximately one mil

UK satellite data to improve public service delivery

High-resolution satellite images will help the UK public sector tackle issues such as plastic waste and city planning, the government has announced. The UK Space Agency’s Space for Smarter Government Programme (SSGP) will provide thousands of free images and radar data to government departments, emergency services and local councils. The data will be available for up to three years while the government explores how it could benefit public sector delivery. Announcing the plans in late October,

French civil servants targeted by Chinese cyber spies, leak reveals

A leaked French intelligence services report has revealed that thousands of the country’s civil servants have been targeted by Chinese spies using fake LinkedIn profiles. Following the leak to leading French newspaper Le Figaro, the UK’s Telegraph reported that in recent months Chinese spies have pretended to be headhunters, consultants or think tank employees seeking to connect with nearly 4000 French civil servants and business executives on the professional social networking site. Of those

World Bank report highlights innovation in 15 case studies

A new report shedding light on how low- and middle-income countries can improve their public sectors and civil services was launched yesterday by the World Bank. The report, ‘Improving Public Sector Performance: Through Innovation and Inter-Agency Coordination’, sets out 15 case studies to demonstrate how public sector innovation is working in practice. Examples include Rwanda, which has achieved better district level development outcomes by incentivising local government employees; and Indone

Parham offers a picturesque weekend walk

1. Park on the verge just past the gatehouses to Parham Park. Enter through the white gates and follow the public footpath straight ahead along the wide path. This is the West Sussex Literary trail, a 55 mile walking trail linking Horsham in the north to Chichester in the south. Continue to follow the wide tarmac path through the park and after about a third of a mile you will see the stone walls and then the large house to your right. Parham House has its roots back in Elizabethan times and is
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