PUBLIC SERVICE IN THE NEWS | NZ citizens happy with public services, evidence reveals UK’s public services are breaking down and UK charities are flailing

There’s little charity in the Work ProgrammeCharities are losing out on contracts to get people into jobs through the government’s Work Programme, and vulnerable jobseekers are being sidelined. Two separate surveys published this week by two voluntary sector umbrella groups, the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo) and London Voluntary Services Council (LVSC), reveal that charity confidence in WP is at a pitifully low ebb, just four months into the scheme.  Some of the specialist charities who got involved in WP now regret it. Many fear bankruptcy, having been given no business yet from their partner prime contractors (predominantly private companies), who are supposed to refer jobless clients to them. Some primes have not issued contracts to the charities they were happy to co-opt as partners a few months ago, sparking complaints that charities have been cynically used as “bid candy”. Several charities have pulled out of WP, believing the contract terms to be financially unsustainable.
Managing in a downturn: tell us how the cuts are affecting you > The chief executive of the Charity Finance Directors Group wants to know how the economic crisis is affecting UK charities. ” Our members have reported abrupt ends to valuable projects near completion, the withdrawal of valued, long-established services, poor communication from those holding the purse strings about the future of their funding (negatively impacting on their ability to plan) and also demands – in my opinion some truly absurd ones – aimed at driving down costs. In this MIAD survey, we’re hoping to get some hard figures from the data about just how tough things are – an insight into the prospects for localism in practice.”
‘Infant peer’ plays with the big boys > Commons Speaker John Bercow is quietly launching an investigation into the so-called All Party Groups of MPs and peers, who meet to discuss a whole range of issues that concern members, however, this hasn’t stopped the hapless Lord Wei from launching his own Far Eastern Business Group.
Canadian Finance Minister sings praises of career in (shrinking) public service >  In a break from his usual speeches, Canadian Finance Minister Mr. Flaherty spoke personally about why public service makes him happier than a higher paying private-sector job ever could.
New D-I-Y services may offer lifeline for villagers >Anyone in UK’s rural communities wishing to keep their local library or primary school open, or a local bus route to keep running, could soon find the task falls down to them.  “Oddly, the money exists to invest in new ways of doing things. What is needed is a way to involve the innovative and committed people that care about these places and can find new ways to make things work.” There are also practical issues to address – mainly concerning inconsistencies in the number of people willing to step forward and the long-term legacy of Big Society action.
NEW ZEALAND Public happy with cut-down PS > The Government has welcomed the finding as evidence that cutbacks hadn’t affected core services, but the Public Service Association (PSA) which represents most Public Servants gives credit to the goodwill of PS employees working extra hours and maintaining standards in the face of difficulty. However it warns that cracks will soon start to show.

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