Government pulls funding for energy efficiency ‘Green Deal’ scheme

Government pulls funding for energy efficiency ‘Green Deal’ scheme

The Government has scrapped its failed flagship energy efficiency programme, the Green Deal, pulling its funding and announcing an investigation into alleged scams that have surrounded the scheme.

Launched in 2013, the Green Deal was touted as a “revolution” in upgrading Britain’s old and draughty housing stock, designed to encourage millions of households to take out loans to install insulation and new boilers. But, with less than 10,000 loans in place, ministers pulled the plug and acknowledged the scheme would be seen as a “total flop”.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said it would provide no further Government funding for the Green Deal Finance Company, which provides the loans, “in light of low take-up and concerns about industry standards”. It had so far provided £59 million to the company.

Decc has also commissioned an independent review to look at standards and “consumer protection”, following widespread reports of scammers hijacking the scheme to rip off households, and one in ten installers being struck off for breaking the scheme’s code of conduct.

There will also be no more funding for the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund cash back scheme, which launched in mid-2014 and gave households money back on home energy efficiency improvements.

Unlike the loans, the cash back scheme proved hugely popular with consumers who cleared out funding within days of it being released. Decc had given away £114 million of funding through the scheme, which had been criticised as poor value for money.

Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, said: “We are on the side of hardworking families and businesses – which is why we cannot continue to fund the Green Deal. It’s now time for the building industry and consumer groups to work with us to make new policy and build a system that works. Together we can achieve this Government’s ambition to make homes warmer and drive down bills for 1 million more homes by 2020 – and to do so at the best value for money for taxpayers.”

Under the original Green Deal scheme, households were encouraged to take out a loan to fund the cost of energy efficiency work, with the loans paid back in instalments on their energy bills. The repayments were supposed to be less than the savings from the energy efficiency work. But the scheme has suffered from low take-up amid concerns about high interest rates and official rulings by the advertising watchdog which pointed out households were not guaranteed to save money.

Greg Barker, then energy minister, said after the scheme’s launch that he would be having sleepless nights if 10,000 homes had not signed up by the end of 2013. Figures released show that by the end of June 2015 there were still just 9,999 Green Deal loan plans ‘live’, with a further 5,597 pending or applied for.

In a blog post explaining the decision, the Decc acknowledged people would ask: “Has the Green Deal been a total flop?” Its response noted there had been “many success stories come out of Green Deal” but that “uptake has been lower than expected”.

The announcement does not affect existing Green Deal plans taken out by householders or existing Green Deal Home Improvement Fund applications and vouchers, Decc said.

Source: Telegraph.co.uk

 

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Lexmark completes Kofax acquisition

Lexmark completes Kofax acquisition

Kofax CEO Reynolds Bish to be president of Lexmark’s Enterprise Software division

Lexmark has acquired Kofax in a cash transaction for $11.00 per share, for a total enterprise value of approximately $1 billion. This acquisition will nearly double the size of Lexmark’s Enterprise Software annualised revenue to approximately $700 million. Lexmark also announced that Scott Coons, president of Lexmark’s Enterprise Software, has decided to retire, effective at the end of July 2015. Coons has successfully led Lexmark’s software division since the company acquired Perceptive Software in 2010. During Coons’ tenure, Lexmark’s Enterprise Software expanded from its enterprise content management software roots into process, capture and search technologies, and significantly strengthened the company’s industry-focused solutions. Coons helped expand the Enterprise Software team’s international footprint through organic sales investment and acquisitions. Coons will assist in the leadership transition until his retirement date.

Effective immediately, Reynolds C. Bish, CEO of Kofax, succeeds Coons as president of Lexmark’s Enterprise Software. Bish will also be a Lexmark vice president and report directly to Paul Rooke, Lexmark chairman and chief executive officer. Bish has been active in enterprise software markets for more than 20 years. He has successfully led Kofax since 2007. Prior to Kofax, Bish co-founded Captiva Software Corporation and served as its president and chief executive officer from 1989 until its acquisition in 2005.

“Scott’s career in enterprise software has been truly extraordinary. He successfully led Perceptive Software from a small startup to one of Kansas City’s hottest companies and one of the industry’s leading enterprise content software providers. Our acquisition of Perceptive Software truly changed Lexmark, helping to grow and position us as a leader in managing unstructured print and digital information,” said Paul Rooke, Lexmark chairman and chief executive officer. “Scott’s thoughtful and insightful leadership has been key throughout Lexmark’s Enterprise Software evolution. His passion for the technology, and for attracting, developing and retaining a deep and diverse group of talented employees, will be the hallmarks of his career. We wish Scott the best of luck in his retirement.”

“We have tremendous confidence in the future of our Enterprise Software business under Reynolds – a testament to his proven leadership abilities and career success. His considerable experience in building and operating global businesses is a harbinger of future growth and expansion for Lexmark’s Enterprise Software,” added Rooke.

Source: Document Manager

 

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Adobe launches Document Cloud with touch-enabled Acrobat DC

Adobe launches Document Cloud with touch-enabled Acrobat DC

Adobe already offers tailored cloud products for creative and marketing professionals, and on Tuesday it launched a like-minded initiative focused squarely on documents. Essentially a set of integrated services that use a consistent online profile and a personal document hub, Adobe Document Cloud is designed to address the waste and inefficiency associated with many of today’s document-based processes, the company said.

At the heart of the new product is Acrobat DC, a major update to Adobe’s longstanding family of PDF tools that features a new tool center and a new, touch-enabled interface. Users of Acrobat DC can easily convert any paper document into an editable digital one, Adobe said. They can also edit, export and reuse any PDF content across devices. Microsoft Office and SharePoint integration is included.

E-sign capabilities, meanwhile, are fully integrated into Document Cloud and included with every Acrobat DC subscription, allowing users to electronically sign and send any document from any device.

Also new from Adobe are two new mobile apps dubbed Acrobat Mobile and Fill and Sign, giving users the ability to create, edit, comment on and sign documents directly on their mobile phones and tablets. The cameras built into those devices, in fact, can be used as portable scanners to convert any paper document into a digital, editable file that can be sent for signature.

Finally, new document management and control services help users manage, track and control their documents. Intelligent tracking, for instance, offers insight as to where critical documents are in the process, including who has opened them and when. Control features help protect sensitive information both inside and outside the firewall.

Source: www.computerworld.com

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The NHS should be paperless by 2018… Are they going to achieve this?

The NHS should be paperless by 2018… Are they going to achieve this?

Just 29% of NHS Managers believe the 2018 target of a paperless office is realistic.

Going paperless is a challenge for any large organisation, but for the cash-strapped NHS; constantly under public scrutiny, the task looks much less attainable.

Many Health and IT professionals remain deeply sceptical that the NHS can be paperless by 2018, two years after health secretary Jeremy Hunt unveiled the ambitious target, exclusive research carried out by Health Service Journal has found.

71% of respondents to the survey, agreed with a statement that the paperless by 2018 goal was “a great ambition, but unrealistic”.

The 573 healthcare leaders, clinicians and IT professionals polled also expressed widespread concern that lack of technological expertise and resources would undermine the NHS’s drive to integrate health and social care.

About 70% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “The integrated care agenda will not be possible because not enough attention and/or resource is being focused on developing technology to underpin integrated records.”

Better use of data and technology has the power to improve health, transforming the quality and reducing the cost of healthcare services. It can give patients more control over their health and wellbeing, empower carers, reduce the administrative burden for care professionals, and support the development of new medicines and treatments. By April 2018, digital information is supposed to be fully available across NHS and social care services.

Established by the Department of Health, the National Information Board (NIB) is a body which brings together national health and care organisations from the NHS, public health, clinical science, social care and local government. It is charged with developing the strategic priorities for data and technology in health and care to deliver the maximum benefit for all citizens and patients and to make appropriate recommendations for investment and action. The urgency of this is increasingly evident: the healthcare system faces unprecedented financial constraint at a time of rising demand for its services.

However, scattered around the country are some success stories:

Pioneer Greater Manchester GP Dr Amir Hannan says that more than 2,400 of his patients – 20 per cent of his practice list – are now equipped and, importantly, trained to view their records online.

At Grove House Practise in Runcorn, GP David Wilson headed up a project to digitise records. Grove House has scanned all its legacy patient records, saving a vast amount of space and time. Receptionists no longer have to search through thousands of folders.

“We’ve not used paper records in consultation since 2000,” Wilson said. “We have 11,000 patients, and the racking space was astronomical, taking up 20 square metres. So we revamped the office space once we went live 18 months ago.”

The first NHS hospital trust to announce it had gone paperless, St Helens and Knowsley, dispensed with its last paper records in 2012.

However, even IT enthusiasts warn that bringing the entire health and social care system up to the levels of these front-runners will be difficult. TechUK, which represents IT suppliers, reported in 2014 that the 2018 paperless target was “achievable”, but that major challenges remain.

Sources: Health Service Journal, Computer Weekly, Local Government Chronicle, Gov.UK, Raconteur

 

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Picasso’s Women of Algiers smashes auction record

Picasso’s Women of Algiers smashes auction record

Picasso’s Women of Algiers has become the most expensive painting to sell at auction, going for $179.3m (£115m) at Christie’s in New York.

Eleven minutes of prolonged bidding from telephone buyers preceded the final sale – for much more than its pre-sale estimate of $140m. The evening sale also featured Alberto Giacometti’s life-size sculpture Pointing Man, which set a record as the most expensive sculpture, at $141.3m. The buyers chose to remain anonymous.

The Picasso oil painting is a vibrant, cubist depiction of nude courtesans, and is part of a 15-work series the Spanish artist created in 1954-55 designated with the letters A to O. The final price of $179,365,000 includes Christie’s commission of just over 12%.

The previous world record for a painting sold at auction was $142.4m, for British painter Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud. That sold at Christie’s in 2013.

Experts believe the investment value of art is behind the high prices. “I don’t really see an end to it, unless interest rates drop sharply, which I don’t see happening in the near future,” said Manhattan dealer Richard Feigen.

Source: BBC

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GE 2015: It’s polling day – But one in four still don’t know who to vote for!

GE 2015: It’s polling day – But one in four still don’t know who to vote for!

After six weeks of hard campaigning it is finally election day – but one in four people still don’t know who to vote for.

However, David Cameron is believed to have widened the gap between the Conservative Party and Ed Miliband last minute. In fact, more than half of all voters who took part in a poll for the Daily Mail say they would prefer Cameron to lead the country. This is compared to 31 per cent who back Miliband.

Millions of us will descend on polling booths today – opening at 7am. However, a quarter of voters are likely to change their minds once they’re in the booth, the poll also found. As the campaign drew to a close, party leaders sought to put their message before voters one final time.

David Cameron dismissed the idea he could have done more to win the election, insisting he had engaged with ‘real people’ and delivered a ‘positive message’. The Prime Minister said the Tories had focused on the ‘things that matter’ – the economy and leadership – and made ‘big bold’ policy offers, adding that in contrast, Ed Miliband’s efforts had been ‘desperately staid’ and ‘antiseptic’.

Just hours before the polls opened, the Labour leader warned voters they risk turning five years of Conservative rule into a decade-long reign that favours the privileged if they fail to turn out for Labour. Issuing a final rallying call, the opposition leader will say there are just ‘hours left to change the direction of our country’.

Nick Clegg delivered his final pitch in John O’Groats at the end of a 1,000-mile, 48-hour battlebus odyssey that began in Lands End, saying the UK public face ‘the biggest political decision of their lives’. The Liberal Democrat leader said his party could provide stability, but warned that Labour and the Conservatives were in danger of ‘sleepwalking’ to a ‘messy’ minority government.

And Ukip leader Nigel Farage said support for his party was ‘rock solid’ and predicted it would outperform the opinion polls. Speaking at a rally in Broadstairs, Kent, Mr Farage – who has said he will quit as Ukip leader if he fails to be elected as MP for South Thanet – said election day was ‘the biggest day in my political career’.

Source: Metro

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