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Government opens £368m Youth Investment Fund to improve facilities & services

Youth services in the country’s most underserved areas are being encouraged to apply for a slice of a £368 million fund to improve the health, wellbeing, skills and opportunities for young people.

Earlier this year £12 million from the fund was fast-tracked to local youth services where supply was short of meeting demand.

The aim was to cover small-scale capital improvements such as providing new laptops to youth groups, small redevelopments of buildings and facilities, and improving transport, such as providing a new minibus for a youth club so they can keep young people safe and extend activities beyond their local area.

The Youth Investment Fund, designed to create, improve and expand local youth facilities and services, is now open for bids from 45 local authorities and more than 600 district wards in some of the most deprived areas in England.

It will provide funding to build or refurbish up to 300 youth facilities over the next 3 years, providing safe spaces in which young people can socialise and participate in a wide range of activities, including those designed to help support them into employment.

The funding forms part of the Government’s ‘National Youth Guarantee’ to ensure every young person right across England will have access to regular out of school activities, adventures away from home and opportunities to volunteer backed by a £560 million investment.

The guarantee also includes offering The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award to every state secondary school for the first time, as well as increased access to social action projects or the opportunity to meet new people and learn life and work skills like money management or public speaking skills through the National Citizen Service.

Minister for Civil Society and Youth Nigel Huddleston said: “We are committed to ensuring that no young person is left out of reach or left behind, and have put it at the heart of our drive to level up this country. I encourage eligible youth services to apply for this life-changing funding.”

Nick Temple, CEO, Social Investment Business said: “All young people deserve access to high-quality youth services and great youth facilities to thrive in life, but youth provision across the country is sadly unequal. That’s why we’re proud to be able to apply our 20+ years’ knowledge and experience of grant programmes and capital projects to design, manage and deliver the Youth Investment Fund.

“Working alongside our partners National Youth Agency, Key Fund and Resonance, we’ll enable up to 300 youth facilities to be built or refurbished over the next three years. This is a wonderful opportunity to prioritise the needs of young people in England and create a more equal society for future generations.”

BBC Children In Need was the grant administrator for the first phase of the Youth Investment Fund and distributed funding to some 418 eligible youth projects in the most in-demand areas which included:

  • The Community Court Yard in Northampton, a social enterprise delivering traditional youth work, bespoke alternative education and creative workshops based on the youth work curriculum. It was awarded a grant of more than £44,740 to fund a vehicle for detached youth work, gaming booth equipment, CCTV and the refit of the gym area. It will help build positive behaviours and communication skills for disadvantaged young people.
  • IMO (Inspire, Motivate, Overcome) Charity in Blackburn and Darwen, which aims to help local young people and their families to combat disadvantage and overcome challenges they face. The grant of £32,155, has funded equipment and furnishings for a new Youth Hub which will provide programmes, activities and a safe environment for young people who struggle at school with their mental health and who are in poverty.
  • Brunswick Youth and Community Centre in Bootle, which provides a wide range of activities for young people, received £10,325 of funding to update a community garden space for the youth community centre. It will help promote wellbeing and healthy eating programmes for young people facing mental health challenges and/or at risk of exposure to gang culture.

Leigh Middleton, CEO, National Youth Agency said: “High quality, universal youth provision supports all young people to have somewhere safe to go, to socialise and learn new skills, with a trusted adult who is skilled and trained to support them.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Social Investment Business on the design and delivery of the Youth Investment Fund. This provides much needed investment for youth centres and dedicated spaces for young people to go in their communities, as part of the government’s National Youth Guarantee.

“Working with SIB, youth sector partners and young people directly, our shared aim is to ensure the funding enables high quality youth work which will have the best outcomes for young people, and for communities to thrive.”

Government bill ushers in new era for building safety

The government has published its landmark Bill to deliver the biggest changes to building safety for nearly 40 years and make residents safer in their homes.

The Building Safety Bill will improve regulations as the government seeks to bring forward a clearer system with residents’ safety at the heart of it.

The government is also announcing that full applications for the £1 billion Building Safety Fund, to remove unsafe non-ACM cladding from buildings, can be submitted from 31 July – with 747 registration forms processed since 1 June.

Residents have helped to develop the proposals through engagement groups, and under the new rules, people living in high rise buildings will be empowered to challenge inaction from their building owner and have better access to safety information about their building and will benefit from a swift and effective complaints process.

A Building Safety Regulator, already being set up within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), will be fully established and equipped with the power to hold building owners to account or face the consequences.

It will enforce a new, more stringent set of rules that will apply for buildings of 18 metres or more or taller than 6 storeys from the design phase to occupation.

The government views the draft Bill as legislation that will evolve as further evidence and risks are identified to ensure that residents’ safety is always prioritised and will also provide new powers to better regulate construction materials and products to ensure they are safe to use.

Government expert Michael Wade has been asked to work with leaseholders, and the finance and insurance industries. He will test and recommend funding solutions to protect leaseholders from unaffordable costs of fixing historic defects, ensuring that the burden does not fall on tax payers. He will also develop proposals to address insurance issues around building safety.

The draft Bill includes a new ‘building safety charge’ to give leaseholders greater transparency around costs incurred in maintaining a safe building – with numerous powers deliberately included to limit the costs that can be re-charged to leaseholders.

It comes as the government will also publish a consultation, which sets out proposals to implement the recommendations from Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry that require a change in law.

The consultation will also look at strengthening fire safety in all regulated buildings in England to ensure that people are safe from fire regardless of where they live, stay or work. Taken with the draft Bill, these measures will improve the safety of residents in buildings of all heights.

Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “This is a significant milestone on our journey to fundamentally improving building safety and delivering real change that will keep people safer in their homes.

“I remain committed to making sure we get this right, which is why I will be publishing the draft Bill for scrutiny and improvement before it is introduced in Parliament.

“I am also calling on the industry to actively prepare for these changes now. It is vital that the sector moves in step with us, to provide confidence and reassurance to residents that their safety is firmly at the heart of everything we do.”

Building Safety and Fire Minister Lord Greenhalgh said: “As a government we are determined to learn the lessons from that fateful night at Grenfell Tower and ensure that a tragedy like this does not happen again.

“These are the biggest changes to building safety legislation for nearly 40 years, and they will raise standards across the industry and ensure building owners have nowhere to hide if they break the rules.

“Consulting on key recommendations from the Inquiry and wider changes to fire safety regulation will give those affected the opportunity to make their voices heard and help us implement lasting, significant change.

Independent advisor and author of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, Dame Judith Hackitt said: “I welcome this draft Bill as an important milestone in delivering the fundamental reform this industry needs to make residents and buildings safer.

“It meets the ambitions and recommendations set out in my review. And industry must be in no doubt that it is not enough to wait for the Bill to become law before they implement changes; we expect them to start taking action now.”

Government moves to reassure over Interserve public services

Parliamentary Secretary of the Cabinet Office Oliver Dowden has issued reassurances over public services in relation to the difficulties being experienced by Interserve.

The outsourcing giant, which went into administration on March 15th and has already completed the sale of the Group, other than Plc, to newco Montana 1 Ltd, is a big provider of services to the public sector.

However, it was revealed that the government had handed £660m worth of public contracts to Interserve in the run-up to it going into administration.

It also, like Carillion before it, has significant suppliers of its own who will be naturally extremely concerned.

This prompted Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Christian Matheson to request a statement from government on the situation.

The Dowden statement read: “As I have said repeatedly to the House, the government are not responsible for decisions taken by companies in the private sector.

“What the government are responsible for is the continued delivery of public services, and I assure the house that has happened in this case. Schools continue to be cleaned, roads continue to be repaired and improved, and services in Government buildings continue to run as normal.”

“I reassure hon. members that nothing in Interserve’s refinancing will affect the delivery of public services. No staff have lost jobs and no pensions have been affected.”

Dowden went on to say that the government had learned lessons from the collapse of Carillion, including revision of its procurement processes.

Interserve has appointed Alan Hudson and Hunter Kelly of Ernst & Young LLP as administrators for its PLC business.

Meanwhile, experts have pointed out that the Interserve situation differs from Carillion’s in that the latter fell immediately into liquidation, with no chance of investors recovering assets. Conversely, Interserve’s administration is being viewed as relatively orderly, with creditors in full control.

Government pushes ‘Outsourcing Playbook’ for public services

The UK government has unveiled its ‘Outsourcing Playbook’, which has been designed to improve government procurement and deliver better public services.

The Playbook offers guidance to ensure the government gets more projects right from the start, engages with a diverse and healthy marketplace of companies, including small businesses and charities, and is ready for when things go wrong.

The initiative follows reforms announced in recent months by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, David Lidington, to ensure that government procurement is fit for the future.

New measures include changes to how government allocates risk between itself and its suppliers, to ensure contracts are set-up for success and the public are provided with the best possible service.

The government is also taking steps to improve the design of outsourcing projects from their inception. New complex contracts will be piloted with the private sector before rolling out fully, enabling the government to learn from experience.

Further measures in the Playbook include suppliers drawing up plans in the unlikely event of business failure, and requiring them to publish key performance data – all announced by Lidington in recent months.

Speaking to business leaders at the CBI, Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden said: “Outsourcing can deliver significant benefits, including value for money and more innovative public services. Our new measures will improve how the government works with industry and provide better public services for people across the country.

“I can today provide reassurance that the Playbook makes explicit that, when designing contracts, departments must seek to mitigate, reduce and then allocate risks to the party best able to manage it.

“A more considered approach to risk allocation will make us a smarter, more attractive client to do business with.

Jon Lewis, the CEO of Capita, one of the suppliers which government worked with to develop the new measures, added: “Capita is working closely with government to develop these reforms. This is a sea-change, both recognising the vital contribution the private sector makes in delivering first-rate public services, and then finding ways to do this even better.

“These new ways of working will place a stronger focus on establishing partnerships based on mutual trust and a joint focus on positive outcomes. This is fundamental to the successful procurement and delivery of public-sector contracts.”

Government offers advice to suppliers on Carillion crash

The Government has offered advice to suppliers and creditors affected by Carillion’s liquidation last week.

Troubled UK facilities management and construction giant Carillion owed almost £1.3bn to banks and the end finally came on January 15th as a winding up order was made against the firm, with the court appointing the Official Receiver as the liquidator.

The company held just £29m in cash when it collapsed.

Advice on the Government’s website for customers, suppliers and sub-contractors is to call usual operational points of contact for the Carillion Group, or visit the website www.pwc.co.uk/carillion.

The site also recommends that you register as a creditor in the liquidation if you haven’t been paid for goods or services you’ve supplied to the company, and/or you have paid these companies for goods or services that you haven’t received.

Self-employed contractors and agency workers providing services to Carillion are not entitled to redundancy payments.

The company, based in Wolverhampton, employed around 20,000 people across the UK and over 40,000 globally. It is involved in a number of projects including HS2, the construction of new hospitals in Smethwick and Liverpool, maintaining 50,000 army base homes for the Ministry of Defence and providing school dinners to over 30,000 pupils a day across 218 schools.

Discussing the announcement, Carillion chairman, Philip Green, said: “This is a very sad day for Carillion, for our colleagues, suppliers and customers that we have been proud to serve over many years. Over recent months huge efforts have been made to restructure Carillion to deliver its sustainable future.

“In recent days, however, we have been unable to secure the funding to support our business plan and it is therefore with the deepest regret that we have arrived at this decision.”

Government calls for submissions for building regs review

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the Government has published a call for evidence for the independent review of building regulations and fire safety.

Led by Dame Judith Hackitt, the review will examine buildings and fire safety regulations, plus other related compliance enforcement, focussing on multi-occupancy, high-rise residential buildings.

Recommendations will make sure that “we have a sufficiently robust regulatory system for the future and to provide further assurance to residents that the complete system is working to ensure the buildings they live in are safe and remain so”.

Reporting to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, all responses should be submitted by October 13th 2017 to buildingregulationsandfiresafetyreview@communities.gsi.gov.uk

An interim report will be submitted in autumn 2017 and a final report submitted in spring 2018.

Government announces independent review into fire regulations

Following the fatal fire at Grenfell Tower the Government has announced that an independent review of building regulations and fire safety is to be carried out and published in a report “no later than next spring”.

Concerns have been raised regarding the safety of high-rise residential buildings, along with testing of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding found on similar buildings across the country, with many failing the tests set out in current building regulations guidance.

The review, led by Dame Judith Hackitt, Chair of EEF, the manufacturers organisation, will focus on high-rise residential buildings and examine; regulatory system around the design, construction and continuing management of buildings in relation to fire safety; related compliance and enforcement issues; international regulation and experience in this area. It will report back to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

“This independent review will ensure we can swiftly make any necessary improvements,” commented Jarvis.

“Government is determined to make sure that we learn the lessons from the Grenfell Tower fire, and to ensure nothing like it can happen again.”

Once the terms of reference for the Grenfell Tower public enquiry have been agreed, the terms of reference for the review will be published summer 2017, with an interim report expected before the end of 2017 and final report published spring 2018.