DCLG:   Plenty of ideas, visions & proposals but no mention of financing yet - Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly has published the government’s White Paper Strong and Prosperous Communities, which is claimed to ‘build a new settlement between central government, local government and citizens’.


Its proposals will ‘significantly strengthen leadership and devolve power to local government as well as providing a major expansion of opportunities for local people to influence local decision-making and improve their lives’.


Just some of the proposals in the White Paper cover:

·         Stronger & more stable local authority leadership

·         Requiring councils to change to one of three leadership models:

·         Effective, Accountable & Responsive Local Government

·         Responsive Services & Empowered Communities

·         Strong Cities; Strategic Regions

·         Bring in a new performance framework for local government

·         Local Government as a Leader and Place-Shaper

Press release ~ White Paper Strong and Prosperous Communities ~ Lyons inquiry into local government ~ Civil renewal ~ Local Government Democracy ~ Your Neighbourhood: Getting involved and having your say - DCLG ~ Getting involved in local government – National Youth Agency ~ JRF: Involving young people in local authority decision-making ~ DCLG Web Discussion Forum ~ DCLG - Local Government Overview ~ ODPM 'local:vision' ~ The Future of Local Government - Developing a 10-year Vision ~ Local Governance & democracy


DH:  You will be able to opt out of new NHS database - Speaking at a Health Service Journal Conference, Health Minister Lord Warner set out key details of what patients & the public could expect from the NHS Care Records Service (electronic patient records).


He talked about the need to properly inform patients about changes to the way their information might be held & shared under the care records service, saying:

"Patients will be informed in advance about new ways in which their information will be held and shared and they will be told they have the right to dissent - or "opt out" - of having information shared.  If patients do not "opt out" they will be deemed to have given implied consent to the sharing of their information, under strict controls between those legitimately treating them”.


The government claims that, as its implemented locally, rigorous safeguards will be put in place to protect patient confidentiality.  Anyone wanting to access a record that identifies a patient will need to have a smartcard and passcode (chip and pin).  


The level of information that is seen will be determined by the role of the staff member and there will also be an audit trail of access to records and alerts will be triggered if there is inappropriate access.

Press release ~ HSJ conference 'Demystifying the National Programme for IT’ ~ NAO:  Report on NPfIT ~ NHS Care Records Service ~ NHS Care Record Guarantee for England (scroll down) ~ NHS Connecting for Health ~ Care Record Development Board ~ DH – Information Security ~ DH – Access to Health Records ~ NHS Confidentiality – Code of Practice ~ Programmes and system delivery ~ Guidance for GP practices in relation to the NHS National Programme for IT (NPflT) ~ ZDNetUK article - Academics demand inquiry into NHS IT


Defra:  Despite years of scientific advances, we still end up with a hole in the ground -  The UK Government and devolved administrations' have announced that higher activity waste, which includes waste from the nuclear & medical industries, military uses and academic research, will be managed in the long term through geological disposal.


Geological disposal is a long-term management option involving placing radioactive waste in an engineered repository at between 200 and 1,000 metres underground where the geology (rock structure) provides a barrier against the escape of radioactivity.  It is the approach being adopted in the majority of other nuclear waste producing nations, including Belgium, France, Finland, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, and the US.


The decision accepts the recommendation of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), which reported in July and identified geological disposal as being the option that would perform best in terms of security & protecting the public and the environment.


Mr Miliband said the UK Government and the devolved administrations would discuss with stakeholders how a partnership arrangement could work in practice and invited any local authority or group of local authorities who wanted to be involved to take part in that discussion.


It is proposed that the NDA will be augmented by the transfer of United Kingdom Nirex Ltd (Nirex) into the NDA, with steps taken to ensure Nirex's skills & intellectual property are preserved.  Nirex will then be wound up.

Press release ~ CoRWM report July 2006 ~ Defra – Response to CoRWM and related documents ~ DTI – Nuclear Decommissioning & waste ~ BNFL ~ Nuclear Decommissioning Authority ~ Public participation in locating sites ~ Nirex ~ UKAEA ~ HSE Nuclear web pages ~ HSE Nuclear Safety Advisory Committee (NuSAC) ~ Office for Civil Nuclear Security ~ Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee (RWMAC) ~ Nirex’s views ~ Nirex – What is radioactive waste? ~ Royal Society ~ Scottish Executive ~ Environment Agency ~ British Energy ~ BBC news item on Sweden’s problems ~ FoE website ~ Greenpeace website


DTI:  Will policy generation be more productive than providing services? - Margaret Hodge, Small Business Minister has announced changes to the Government's Small Business Service (SBS), intended to make it a ‘smaller, more sharply focused policy unit within DTI with close links to HM Treasury’.


The new SBS is intended to reflect the organisation's move from delivering services on the ground to become an expert policy unit on small business issues throughout Government.  The transition means that from April 2007 the SBS will no longer be required to have Executive Agency status and will instead operate as an expert policy unit within the DTI's Enterprise & Business Group.


Key changes include:

·         a core team of 50 people providing a policy focus on simplifying the business environment, stimulating enterprise culture and providing advice across government on how policies can be more business-friendly

·         an additional team of around 50 people to work on key projects such as the Business Support Simplification Programme, which aims to reduce the 3,000 publicly funded business support schemes to 100 by 2010

·         the SBS will retain specialist expertise in key areas, including: business support policy, small business finance, specific enterprise policy issues including women & ethnic minorities and research & statistics, analysis & performance evaluation

Last year’s Enterprise Week, which is designed to get young people interested in entrepreneurship attracted over 400,000 young people and involved 4,000 businesses.  This year's Enterprise Week, starting on 13th November, is promised to be even better.

Press release ~ SBS website ~ Government Action Plan for Small Business ~ www.businesslink.gov.uk ~ Supply2.gov web portal ~ Enterprise Capital Funds (ECF) pathfinder ~ Enterprise Insight ~ 'Make Your Mark Campaign' ~ Enterprise Week


Industry News:  A new golden age of housing - The Housing Corporation runs an annual competition - the Gold Award scheme - to recognise excellence in housing provision and share cutting-edge knowledge within the sector. 


Supported by the DCLG, the National Housing Federation, the Audit Commission and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, it has become respected for its emphasis on sharing best practice and driving up standards, while recognising & rewarding the innovators who benefit residents throughout the country.


However, this new ‘gold standard’ is more than just a competition as it also encompasses several Gold Events during the year, with the next being The Gold Approach - Innovation in Procurement, this Wednesday 1 November 2006 at the National Railway Museum, York.


‘Procurement’ was chosen as one of the two themes for the first annual Gold Award to reflect both the Housing Corporation’s and the Government’s priorities in the procurement & efficiency agendas. 


For anyone who has ‘experienced / suffered’ the project over-runs that are an all too frequent a part of building work, one demonstration at the event could do a great deal to restore their faith in the challenge of building a house.


The car park will be a hive of activity during the morning, as it will be the setting for a house building project, which will see a timber framed two-storey house covering 65m2 erected in just five hours.

Visitors to the event will also be able to discuss with colleagues the Individual Housing Association Performance Indicator (PI) results for March 2006, which became available on the Housing Corporation website last week.

Full details ~ Gold Award scheme  ~ GAS Information leaflet ~ 2006 Winners ~ The Gold Approach - Innovation in Procurement ~ PI website ~ DCLG Housing website ~ DCLG – Decent Homes ~ National Housing Federation ~ Audit Commission ~ JRF- Limits to working households' ability to become home-owners ~ Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) ~ NAO: Using modern methods of construction to build homes more quickly and efficiently (1.6Mb) ~ Executive Summary ~ Supporting Files ~ CABE report on Modern Housing (scroll all the way down to Industry News section) ~ Fusion21 ~ Advantage South West


For other Industry News please click HERE


Forthcoming Event:  Got an idea that could be turned into a money-making business? - A wealth of intellectual property advice and practical help will be on offer to small & medium sized enterprises at a number of events to be held in Oxford, Glasgow, London and Reading over the period October to January


Organised by the Patent Office and supported by Business Link, the events bring together representatives from the professional bodies The Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA) and The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA)  to provide free information on a wide range of intellectual property matters - from patents, trade marks, new designs legislation, commercial and mediation services.


Each event will include a presentation by the Patent Office will focus on the intellectual property system and the benefits of protecting your business’s intellectual assets.  A local entrepreneur will share their experience of working with the Patent Office and highlight the benefits of protecting intellectual property rights.


Entry to the events are free but places are limited and can quickly become oversubscribed.

Full details ~ The Patent Office ~ Business Link ~ Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA) ~ Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) ~ Changes to UK designs registration system ~ Regulatory Reform (Registered Designs) Order 2006 ~ Regulatory Reform Committee report ~ The Registered Designs Rules 2006 ~ The Registered Designs (Fees) (No 2) Rules 2006 ~ British Library Business & IP Centre ~ IP Crime Congress 2006 ~ Patent Office – mediation ~ IP crime group and National Strategy ~ Patents Act 2004


For information on other forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar


General News

Defra:  The number of diagnostic blood tests designed to identify bovine TB in cattle more quickly is being significantly increased in England & Wales.  The gamma interferon test will be used in parallel with the existing skin test, particularly to prevent disease becoming established in areas where there is little infection.


From 23 October 2006 the gamma tests will be carried out in certain specific circumstances - including on cattle which have given a negative skin test but which are in herds with new TB incidents in low-risk areas.   However, the test will also be available as a tool to help control disease in high-risk areas.

Press release ~ Bovine TB: Gamma interferon ~ Bovine TB: Strategic Framework for the sustainable control of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in Great Britain ~ Bovine TB: The tuberculin skin test ~ 'Laboratory Testing and Epidemiology Support for the National Gamma Interferon Field Trial' ~ 'Specificity Trial of the BOVIGAM IFN-Gamma Test in GB cattle' ~ State Veterinary Service


ESRC:  The Economic and Social Research Council has announced continued funding 2007 - 2012, for its three research centres, CESAGen, EGENIS and INNOGEN, that along with the ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum, make up the ESRC Genomics Network:

·         The Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (CESAGen), which will receive around £8 million of funding over five years is a Cardiff-Lancaster collaboration led by Professor Ruth Chadwick

·         EGENIS, the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society, based at Exeter will receive almost £4 million over the five years

·         Innogen, a collaboration between Edinburgh University and the Open University, is the ESRC Centre for Social and Economic Research on Innovation in Genomics and will receive further funding of around £5 million over five years

Press release ~ Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) ~ CESAGen ~ EGENIS ~ INNOGEN ~ ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum ~ ESRC Genomics Network


DCA:  The Department for Constitutional Affairs has signed two new major IT contracts with Atos Origin and LogicaCMG, which are forecast to deliver cost savings of more than £100m over the next seven years on comparable IT services and to ‘ensure more efficient, effective and joined up services to DCA clients and staff’.


The contracts, which together are initially worth in excess of £500m over the 7 year period, will consolidate & replace current infrastructure and application contracts as they expire.

Press release ~ The DISC Programme  ~ Atos Origin ~ LogicaCMG


MCA:  At the National Conference of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on 24 October 2006, it was announced that the Auxiliary Coastguard Service would officially be renamed the 'Coastguard Rescue Service and that the Auxiliary Coastguards of Her Majesty's Coastguard would also now be known as 'Coastguard Rescue Officers'.

Press release ~ Maritime Search and Rescue Assets


Defra:  Farming Minister, Jeff Rooker has welcomed the news that the Fertiliser Industry Assurance Scheme, (FIAS) has fully accredited its first 3 companies and that over 75 fertiliser supply chain companies have applied to join the Scheme, which was launched in January 2006 to address security concerns within the fertiliser supply chain.  


Anyone involved in the manufacture, importation, storage, merchanting or transport of fertiliser is encouraged to register with FIAS now.  Failure to do so could result in alternative measures such as legislation to improve fertiliser safety, security and traceability issues.


The National Counter Terrorism security Office (NaCTSO) has a website dedicated to encouraging fertiliser security on farms.  Fertiliser security will be included in farm assurance inspections from the autumn.

Press release ~ Fertiliser Industry Assurance Scheme ~ Secure your Fertiliser website ~ Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) ~ NaCTSO ~ Secure your Fertiliser ~ Farm assurance inspections


DTI:  There will be £6.2 million more funding available under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme (LCBP) for people who want to install micro-wind turbines, solar panels and other microgeneration technologies on their homes, Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks announced last week.


DTI officials will meet with representatives from the microgeneration industry this week to discuss how the programme will operate going forward.

Press release ~ Low Carbon Buildings Programme (LCBP) ~ Renewable Energy Association ~ DTI Microgeneration Strategy ~ DTI Microgeneration ~ Review of PPS 22 ~ Town & Country Planning Assoc. ~ Renewable Energy Association ~ Energy Efficiency: The Government’s Plan for Action ~ Energy Performance of Buildings Directive ~ Low or Zero Carbon Energy Sources - Strategic Guide (Interim Publication)

Policy Statements and Initiatives

Home Office:  The UK has decided to limit access to its labour market following the European Commission's recommendation to permit Bulgaria and Romania to join the EU on 1 January 2007.  However, from that date Romanians and Bulgarians will have the right to travel throughout the EU, including the UK.


In the UK, low-skilled workers from Romania and Bulgaria will be restricted to existing quota schemes to fill vacancies in the agricultural and food processing sectors.  Skilled workers will be able to work in the UK - as now - if they get a work permit or qualify under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, if they are a student, are self employed or as their dependents.


Other elements of the scheme also announced are:

·         an audit of local areas to monitor the effect of EU enlargement / migration on local services with a review led by the DCLG

·         a consultation process with industry on whether there is a need for similar schemes in other sectors

·         a review of the transitional controls to ensure future access to the labour market is gradual & controlled, and

·         a new helpline for employers

Press release ~ Highly Skilled Migrant Programme ~ Working in the UK – Forms & Guidance ~ Worker Registration Scheme (WRS) ~ National Statistics - Migration


DH:  Improved NHS productivity and better efficiency could unlock resources worth £2.2bn for the NHS and improve patient care at the same time, Health Minister Andy Burnham has claimed.


The 'Better care, better value' indicators show trust-by-trust performance across a number of key efficiency and productivity indicators. They are intended to help the NHS identify & share best practice throughout the health service and improve efficiency & productivity.


The indicators highlight how reducing the amount of time patients stay in hospital, minimising the level of emergency admissions to hospital and better management of staff sickness & turnover could improve patient care & value for money.

Press release ~ NHS Better care, better value indicators ~ NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement ~ NHS Institute – Service Transformation ~ Essence of Care Benchmarking ~ The National Clinical Audit Support Programme (NCASP)


DCLG:  The government has launched a new national strategy intended to make combating anti-social behaviour and reducing the fire risk faced by vulnerable youngsters a mainstream Fire & Rescue Service activity for the first time.


The new Children and Young People strategy puts existing work by the Fire and Rescue Service on a more formal footing and provides a framework for engaging actively with children & young people and their families to prevent & reduce crime and fire-setting.


Children and young people - especially those from poorer backgrounds - are most vulnerable to death & injury by fire, with those on the lowest incomes being 16 times more likely to die in a house fire and  31 times more likely to suffer from an arson attack

Press release ~ Strategy for Children and Young People: 2006-2010 ~ Strategy for Children and Young People: Response to the Consultation Exercise ~ Youth Training and Diversion in the Fire and Rescue Service: A Good Practice Guide ~ Crime reduction Arson Toolkit ~ "XTINGUISH" youth intervention programme ~ Local Intervention Fire Education (LIFE) project in London ~ London's Juvenile Firesetters Intervention Scheme ~ Tyne and Wear, "Project Phoenix" ~ Firebreak in Essex


DCLG:  Housing Minister Yvette Cooper is pushing ahead with plans for 45 towns and cities as New Growth Points, with the claimed potential to deliver up to 100,000 extra new homes and more jobs over the next ten years than previously planned.


The successful bids put forward by over 70 local authorities with high housing demand will see them share in £40m start up funding to support infrastructure, unlock sites for new housing and to assess and mitigate environmental impacts.


Certain conditions will apply to the 29 places becoming New Growth Points, such as:

·         the need to conduct growth-related studies

·         to engage with the local water company to assess water supply and future infrastructure needs and

·         to carry out transport modelling to inform development decisions

Press release ~ New Growth Points ~ New Growth Points by Location ~ Partnership for Growth document ~ Kate Barker's Review of Housing Supply and Government response ~ DCLG – Barker Review related documents ~ Partnership for Growth document ~ Natural England ~ CABE ~ Sustainable Communities Plan 2003


DTI:  The future of BNFL's nuclear clean-up and research arms have been outlined by the Government, as it approved plans to break up and sell off British Nuclear Group.


Accepting the joint recommendation of the Boards of BNFL and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Ministers have agreed that, in order to safeguard the interests of the taxpayer and ensure the best solution for the company, its workers & the market in nuclear clean-up, BNG should be split up before being sold off.


Ministers have also announced the intention to establish a new National Nuclear Laboratory, to be formed out of the British Technology Centre at Sellafield and Nexia Solutions, the research company currently owned by BNFL.

Press release ~ DTI – Nuclear Power ~ British Nuclear Group ~ BNFL ~ Nuclear Decommissioning Authority ~ Nexia Solutions


Scottish Executive:  A major new communications campaign to get people thinking about their legacy for future generations was launched recently by Environment Minister Ross Finnie who said that  the Executive's 'Its Our Future' campaign would encourage more people, especially parents & children, to think now about the steps we can all take to live within our environmental means.


New research carried out for the Executive shows that 81% of Scots agree that if they do not start making changes to their lifestyles today, then future generations will not be able to enjoy the same quality of life.


The It's Our Future campaign will be backed by a dedicated website which provides a range of practical steps that we can all take for a more sustainable Scotland, as well as highlighting projects up and down the country which are helping the environment.

Press release ~ 'Its Our Future’ ~ European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) ~ Scottish renewable energy sector ~ Climate change ~ Waste Strategy ~ Futures Project


Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

HSE:  The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced the withdrawal of paper industry guidance INDG 396 ‘Transporting paper safely: Guidance for hauliers and others who transport paper and paper products’ after discussions with Department for Transport (DfT).


HSE's decision to withdraw the guidance has been discussed at the Health and Safety Commission Paper and Board Advisory Committee and with the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI).  The guidance booklet included advice in relation to securing tall paper reels, bales and palletised products on curtain-sided lorries.


The industry is now advised to refer to section 16 of the DfT code of practice for guidance.  An Expert Group of the European Commission, composed of government, industry, insurance and research institute representatives from Member States, have recently developed Best Practice Guidelines for load securing on vehicles for cross border transportation of goods between member states, which are likely to be published before the end of 2006.

Press release ~ HSE paper on withdrawal ~ HSG 136 ‘Workplace Transport Safety’ ~ The Safety of Loads on Vehicles: Code of Practice 3rd edition ~ Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) ~ Health and Safety Commission Paper and Board Advisory Committee ~ Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI)

Annual Reports

DfES:  The Department for Education and Skills has published its response to the public consultation on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework and the Statistical First Release: 42/2006 setting out the provisional national Foundation Stage Profile results for 2006.


The EYFS is intended to make sure that early education teachers and childcare workers are providing play-based activities in a secure environment that will help every child to develop the essential skills they need to improve their life chances.


Whilst the provisional 2006 results show an apparent decrease in the number of points awarded across each of the 13 scales, the DfES claims that these figures are likely to be the result of improvements in the way assessments & moderation have been applied


From September 2008, the Early Years Foundation Stage will be the phase of learning & development for children in the age range from birth to the end of the academic year in which they turn five.  It will be implemented in all registered early years settings and maintained & independent schools.


Following the publication of the EYFS consultation response document, work will continue on the final EYFS package & framework and it will be published in early 2007.  Training materials are being developed alongside the EYFS and will be rolled out at a national and local level shortly after publication of the final package.

Press release ~ EYFS consultation response document ~ Statistical First Release: 42/2006 ~ Early Years ~ Foundation Stage FAQs ~ Standards Site – Foundation Stage ~ Foundation Stage Profile ~ Information Pack for Parents ~ Foundation Stage Forum ~ Parents Centre

General Reports and other publications

Defra:  Results from a range of climate change adaptation projects have shown that the costs from climate change will hit across a large number of sectors, including water, health, ecosystems, planning and infrastructure.


The projects - announced by Defra and the devolved administrations in 2004 - looked at a range of specific interests, including: tourism, planning, land use & the built environment, business, water resources and the countryside & rural economy.


Two other projects were methodological in nature and looked at quantifying the costs of climate change impacts and at reviewing adaptation options & strategies.

Press release ~ Defra: Adapting to climate change – Cross regional Research ~ Land Use Consultants in Glasgow ~ Adapting to climate change impacts - A good practice guide for sustainable communities  (Caution VLF 7.6Mb) ~ Action in the UK - The UK Climate Change Programme ~ UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) ~ United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ~ Sustainability North West ~ Risk Solutions ~ HR Wallingford Ltd ~ South East Climate Change Partnership ~ Metroeconomica ~ Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research ~ South East Excellence - Documents & Resources - Toolkits


NAO:  Each year the 384 further education colleges in England spend £1.6 billion on a range of goods and services from books and stationery to examination fees and energy bills.  Some colleges recognise the benefits of introducing more efficient & effective processes, but many need to improve their processes substantially and could contribute to plans to save £75m nationally by March 2008 if they do.


A report to Parliament by the National Audit Office has identified practices that would lead to savings without compromising quality.  The report draws on work on procurement by the Office of Government Commerce and on procurement expertise within the National Audit Office gained from its reports on procurement in other sectors.


It identifies key steps to improve the capacity of FE to make savings & manage procurement more efficiently by:

·         recognising the benefits & raising good procurement as a priority

·         taking advantage of more efficient procurement methods (ex. e-procurement & Govt. Procurement Card)

·         reviewing, understanding & improving the management of current contracts & suppliers

·         sharing best practice, and

·         exploring opportunities to collaborate with others, to gain economies of scale

Press release ~ Improving procurement in further education colleges in England ~ Executive Summary ~ Office of Government Commerce ~ NAO: Efficiency Toolkit - Procurement (see also bottom left downloads & links) ~ NHS Supply Chain Excellence Programme (SCEP) ~ BECTA Infrastructure Services Framework ~ OGC Procurement website ~ OGC Buying Solutions eAuctions website ~ OGC: Electronic Reverse Auction Framework Guidance Notes


Ofsted:  In September 2006, Ipsos MORI conducted research on behalf of the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) into parents’ attitudes towards school inspection, which found that 92% of parents are in favour of school inspections and 81% consider shorter notice of school inspections a good idea.


However, only 53% of parents, whose child’s school had been inspected, considered that the letter sent by inspectors to pupils was helpful, with 24% being unaware that such a letter was sent.

Press release ~ Ipsos Mori Report ~ National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) ~ NFER - Impact of Section 5 inspections: maintained schools in England ~ Ofsted - School inspectors’ letters to pupils: lessons learned and ways forward ~ Teachernet - Inspections


DfT:  The Department for Transport has published the results of an Office for National Statistics (ONS) Omnibus Survey from May 2006, which provides information on the frequency of flights taken each year, opinions of the service experienced by passengers at UK airports as well as their views on issues such as airport expansion, security and the impact of aviation on the environment.


The results suggest that whilst people are keen to enjoy the benefits of having more services & destinations to choose from, they are aware of the environmental impacts of aviation and will support efforts to limit the effects.

Press release ~ Public experiences of and attitudes to air travel ~ The Future of Air Transport - White Paper and the Civil Aviation Bill ~ Air traffic forecasts


NAO:  Difficulties encountered by a government agency in making payments under the EU’s Single Payment Scheme have caused distress to a significant minority of farmers, cost them between £18m - £22.5m in additional interest & arrangement fees on loans and undermined the farming industry’s confidence in the agency, according to a report published by the National Audit Office.


The study found that the risks & complexities involved in delivery had not been fully appreciated and, as a consequence, the Rural Payments Agency underestimated the amount of work involved.  It did not adequately pilot land registration and underestimated the amount of work involved in mapping the land.  Instead of the expected 1.7 million parcels of land, it had to deal with 2.1 million, and instead of 200 maps a week it received 1,200.


Each element of the IT system was tested, but the system was never tested as a whole before the scheme was introduced, and problems arose once it went live.


The Single Payment Scheme is worth around £1.5bn to 116,000 farmers in England the intention was to start payments in February 2006 and make 96% of payments by the end of March.  In reality, the Agency encountered difficulties and by 31 March had only paid £225m (15%) to 31,000 farmers (27%).  


The estimated cost of implementing the scheme has almost doubled and, instead of being able to reduce the Agency’s staff by 1,800 and make efficiency savings of £164 million by 2008-09, they have had to recruit additional agency.

Press release ~ Full Report  ~ Executive Summary ~ Rural Payments Agency ~ EU Single Payment Scheme ~ Single Payment scheme ~ Land eligibility  ~ Welsh SPS ~ Scottish SPS ~ Rural Stress Information Network ~ Farm Crisis Network ~ Farming Help


DCLG:  The detailed benefits of the FiReControl Project have been set out by the Government in the interim 'Draft Full Business Case' published by the Department for Communities and Local Government.


The FireControl project is part of the Government's major investment in the Fire and Rescue Service which includes the roll-out of New Dimension assets & training, improved communications through the new FireLink digital radio network and a common procurement service through FireBuy Ltd.

Press release ~ Draft FireControl Full Business Case ~ FiReControl project - Regional control centres ~ New Dimension Programme ~ Select Committee’s report on Fire and Rescue Service - July 2006 ~ Government's response ~ 2003 White Paper 'Our Fire and Rescue Service' ~ CFOA view ~ Fire Brigade Union campaign website ~ Fire and Rescue Service Online website ~ FireBuy Ltd ~ FireLink

Legislation / Legal

EU legislation, initiatives, etc.

Defra:  Environment Minister Ian Pearson has claimed that an agreement reached last week in conciliation between the European Council and Parliament on the new Groundwater Directive will avoid overly-prescriptive EU standards and disproportionate costs without compromising environmental outcomes.


The new Groundwater Directive sets out:

·         practical & risk-based requirements on pollution prevention

·         assessment of the chemical status of groundwater bodies

·         the identification of pollution trends and

·         starting points for their reversal

Press release ~ Environment Agency - Groundwater source protection ~ Water Framework Directive ~ Defra – Water Quality ~ The UK Groundwater Forum ~ Groundwater: Challenging times ~ Soil and Groundwater Technology Association ~ SEPA – Groundwater and Agriculture ~ National Groundwater Level Archive (NGLA) ~ Guide to water protection in England

Charity and Voluntary Sector

Insolvency Service:  Three related companies involved in the business of professional fundraising have been wound up in the High Court following an investigation by the Companies Investigation Branch (CIB) of the Insolvency Service, which allegedly found that:

·         in 2003 alone, Tameside based Rosshoe Ltd took more than £800,000 in donations, of which less than £50,000 found its way to the charities

·         With Salford based UK Fundraisers 2004 Limited only 4.5% of more than £1,000,000 was paid out to good causes between February 2004 and July 2005

·         Manchester based Combined Trading Services Ltd relied on loans received from donations made to UK Fundraisers 2004 Ltd to keep it afloat.  The amount owed increased steadily over time and, by August 2005, amounted to more than £140,000

Press release ~ The Insolvency Service ~ Companies Investigation Branch

Business and other briefings

Industry News

FSA:  The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published a feedback statement FS06/11 Implementation of the Transparency Directive – Feedback on CP06/4 setting out the near-final rules for the implementation of the Transparency Directive, and outlining plans for further work on the disclosure of contracts for difference (CFD) positions.


The feedback statement on the Investment Entities Listing Review will be published in December together with a further short consultation on revisions to the detail of some of the original proposals, and other measures aimed at enhancing the international character of the UK's markets.

Press release ~ Policy Statement 06/11 -  Implementation of the Transparency DirectiveCP06/4 ~ FSA - Transparency Directive Implementation ~ HM Treasury

Forthcoming Event

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