ICO: We know where you have been and what you did! - The Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, launched a public debate on the implications of living in a surveillance society, when he hosted the 28th International Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners’ Conference last week.
The event also marks the publication of ‘A Surveillance Society’ - a detailed report which was specially commissioned for the conference and looks at surveillance in 2006 and projects forward ten years to 2016.
It describes a surveillance society as one where technology is extensively & routinely used to track & record our activities and movements. This includes systematic tracking & recording of travel and use of public services, automated use of CCTV, analysis of buying habits and financial transactions, and the work-place monitoring of telephone calls, email and internet use.
This can often be in ways which are invisible or not obvious to ordinary individuals as they are watched and monitored, and the report shows how pervasive surveillance looks set to accelerate in the years to come.
Press release ~ A report on the Surveillance Society ~ A report on the Surveillance Society - Appendices ~ Surveillance society summary 2006 ~ A report on the Surveillance Society public discussion document ~ Information Commissioner’s Office ~ 28th International Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners’ Conference ~ Surveillance & Society
HC: Make them pay, but also give them treatment they need - A report by the Healthcare Commission and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation has found that too many young offenders have insufficient access to healthcare, particularly the large proportion needing mental health services. It found that one in six Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) did not have a healthcare worker, even though primary care trusts (PCTs) have a statutory duty to provide one.
In addition, one third of YOTS did not have a mental health worker, even though 40% of child & young offenders have emotional or mental health needs having been more likely to have been in care, witnessed violence in the home or have been the victim of crime.
Many young offenders often have difficulties in gaining access to mainstream health services due to a lack of parental support. Healthcare Commission Chief Executive Anna Walker said:
“Children and young people are responsible for 25% of all crimes in the UK and 40% of those who commit crimes have mental health problems. Many others may have substance misuse issues or have been the victims of abuse or crime themselves.
The most important recommendations include that:
· PCTs ensure they fulfil their statutory duty & provide at least one healthcare worker to their local YOT
· every child up to 18 years has access to good quality mental health services
· health representatives attend & participate in the management board of local youth offending teams
Press release ~ Lets talk about it - A review of healthcare in the community for young people who offend ~ Healthcare Commission ~ HM Inspectorate of Probation ~ Young Offenders Mental Health Network ~ Wired for Health ~ Department of Health: Mental Health Surveys ~ Improvement review of adult community mental health services ~ Care Programme Approach ~ From Values to Action: The Chief Nursing Officer’s review of mental health nursing ~ Developing oral communication and productive thinking skills in HM prisons ~ National Audit of Violence in mental health and learning disability services (and scroll down) ~ 'Transitions: a Social Exclusion Unit interim report on young adults' ~ Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health Care ~ David Bennett Inquiry ~ Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity
DWP: More tinkering with the State Pension - The government has welcomed what it claims is ‘the broad consensus around its pension reform proposals’ and announced that further radical simplification to the state pension system is under consideration. The government’s responses to the White Paper consultation and to the Work and Pensions Select Committee's report on pensions reform have also been published.
It believes reforms to the state system should recognise the contributions which people have made to society through working or caring, but that there would be significant problems in introducing a single-tier or 'Citizen's Pension' which would be unaffordable and would undermine this 'something for something' principle.
Under the reforms, everyone who has worked or cared for 30 years will be entitled to a full Basic State Pension and, in addition, the Government is considering introducing a much simpler flat-rate State Second Pension, to replace the current arrangements, when the earnings link is restored for the Basic State Pension.
Under the proposed reforms, the residual earnings-related element of the State Second Pension would be withdrawn gradually, as stated in the White Paper, and would disappear entirely by around 2030.
Press release ~ Security in Retirement: towards a new pensions system ~ White Paper consultation: summary of responses ~ Work and Pensions Select Committee – 4th report (scroll down) ~ DWP Pension Service website ~ A New Pensions Settlement for the 21st Century ~ National Pensions Debate ~ Institute of Actuaries response ~ Trusting in the pensions promise (15/03/06 Report & guide) ~ Pension Protection Fund ~ The Pensions Regulator ~ Financial Assistance Scheme ~ Pension Service
DCMS: Government gambles that it can be kept under control - Online gambling has more than doubled in the last five years according to an independent research review which was commissioned ahead of an UK-hosted online gambling summit, which sought to secure international standards for the regulation of online, interactive TV and mobile phone gambling. The research shows:
· there are nearly one million regular online gamblers in Britain alone
· they make up nearly one-third of Europe's 3.3 million regular online gamblers
· Europe's regular gamblers stake approximately £3.5bn pounds a year - an average of £1,000 each
· During the World Cup about 30% of those visiting key UK-based betting websites were women
It makes three recommendations:
· Greater international co operation including harmonised regulations to curb problem & youth gambling
· Co operation with the gambling industry, and
· More research into the extent of participation in remote gambling
Press release ~ A Literature Review and Survey of Statistical Sources on Remote Gambling ~ DCMS - Gambling Legislation ~ Gambling Commission ~ Draft proposed licence codes and conditions for remote betting & remote gaming ~ NCH ~ GAMCARE ~ Responsibility in Gambling Trust ~ Gamblers Anonymous ~ Society for the Study of Gambling ~ International Gaming Research Unit
HM Treasury: Stern Warning given on future of Global Warming - What is claimed to be the most comprehensive review ever carried out on the economics of climate change – the Stern Review - was published last week. The first half of the Review focuses on the impacts & risks arising from uncontrolled climate change and on the costs & opportunities associated with action to tackle it.
It finds that all countries will be affected by climate change, but it is the poorest countries that will suffer earliest & most. Unabated climate change risks raising average temperatures by over 5°C from pre-industrial levels, which would transform the physical & human geography of our planet – how & where we live our lives.
Adding up the costs of a narrow range of the effects, based on the assessment of the science carried out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2001, the Review calculates that the dangers of unabated climate change would be equivalent to at least 5% of GDP each year.
In contrast, the costs of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change can be limited to around 1% of global GDP each year. People would pay a little more for carbon-intensive goods, but our economies could continue to grow strongly and the benefits over time of actions to shift the world onto a low-carbon path could be in the order of $2.5 trillion p.a.
The shift to a low-carbon economy will also bring huge opportunities. Markets for low-carbon technologies will be worth at least $500bn+ by 2050 if the world acts on the scale required. Tackling climate change is the pro-growth strategy; ignoring it will ultimately undermine economic growth.
The second half of the Review examines the national & international policy challenges of moving to a low-carbon global economy. Key elements of future international frameworks should include: Emissions trading, Technology co-operation, Action to reduce deforestation and Adaptation.
HM Treasury press release ~ Met Office press release ~ Sir Nicholas Stern´s presentation at Royal Society ~ Stern Report ~ Comments on the Stern Review by leading economists ~ Background to the Review ~ Supporting commissioned research ~ Hadley Centre for Climate Change ~ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ~ WWF's Living Planet Report and website ~ Global Footprint Network ~ Climate Change - Defra ~ Christian Aid report: The climate of poverty: facts fears and hope ~ UK Climate Impact Programme ~ European Environment Agency - Climate Change
Comments from the Met Office’s world-leading Hadley Centre included the fact that, with current scientific understanding, climate scientists could usefully use many times the computing capability that is presently in available and that an investment in more computing power now would have a major beneficial impact on improving climate projections. It would also help ensure that the most effective course of action(s) was pursued by the international community.
DTI: DIY takes on new meaning for householders - The Government’s promise of “Power to the People” is to take a new form in the proposed shift away from large centralised power production to community based 'locally grown' energy to help cut carbon emissions and improve efficiency.
Following the Energy Review the Government, together with Ofgem, is examining the incentives & barriers that impact on this way of producing energy, known as 'distributed energy' or 'decentralised energy'.
In an effort to encourage ‘distributed energy’ the Government has published a Distributed Electricity generation document and asks for evidence (by 2 January 2007) of the barriers & incentives from interested parties.
Press release ~ DTI Energy Review website ~ Distributed Energy: A call for Evidence ~ DTI – Microgeneration ~ EON press release about new power station in Kent ~ Greenpeace report: Power: An Energy Revolution For The 21st Century (V VLF 4.6Mb) ~ The World Alliance for Decentralized Energy (WADE) ~ Micropower Council ~ Rooftop Power Revolution ~ Community Renewables Initiative ~ National Energy Foundation ~ Renewable Energy Information sheets ~ Householder Development Consents Review (HDCR) ~ DTI's Low Carbon Buildings Programme ~ The Carbon Trust ~ Sustainable Development Commission
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DCA: Following the merger of the National Archives and The Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) on 31 October 2006, the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information (APPSI) will now advise Ministers at the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) rather than the Cabinet Office. It will also review & consider complaints under the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005.
APPSI, currently a Non-Departmental Public Body of the Cabinet Office, advises Ministers on information policy issues that will encourage & create opportunities for greater re-use of public sector information. One of APPSI's key messages to government is that there needs to be greater coherence on the collection, maintenance & dissemination of public sector information.
Press release ~ The Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) ~ National Archives ~ Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information (APPSI) ~ Guide to Best Practice on the Re-use of Public Sector Information ~ DCA ~ Digital Content Forums ~ EU PSI Access & reuse ~ Information Fair Trader Scheme ~ PSI regulations ~ Click – Use licences
HM Treasury: The government has set out a funding package for the Northern Ireland Executive (NIE) worth £50 billion over the next ten years that could follow a final agreement. As part of the package, and in advance of the conclusion of the Comprehensive Spending Review, the Government would commit to at least £35 billion of funding for the NIE over the next four years (equivalent to over £50,000 per household).
This would provide the incoming Northern Ireland Executive with certainty to plan public service delivery. To meet the long-term challenges faced by Northern Ireland, the Government would further support an updated £18 billion capital investment strategy to 2017.
Press release ~ Northern Ireland Executive ~ Northern Ireland Office
DWP: A new government campaign - No Ifs No Buts - warns benefit customers that no excuse will be tolerated if they deliberately hide changes in their circumstances that might affect their benefits. Failure to do so could constitute fraud.
Similar campaigns in recent years are claimed to have helped reduce the amount that benefit thieves stole from £2bn in 2001 to around £0.9bn last year. The government claims that investigators are using new powers, such as the right to check bank accounts & household bills, to ‘come down hard’ on people who cheat the system.
On a less ‘threatening’ note, new 0800 numbers for people claiming working age benefits is one of a number of improvements to people's first contact with Jobcentre Plus, announced recently. The 0800 numbers will be made available to customers across the country over several months
Press release ~ Benefit Fraud Inspectorate ~ No Ifs No Buts ~ Social Security Fraud Act 2001 ~ Jobcentre Plus ~ CA Benefits website ~ Strategy paper - Reducing fraud in the benefit system ~ NAO - Tackling Benefit Fraud ~ Public Accounts Committee report ~ NAO: International Benchmark of fraud and error in Social Security Systems ~ Audit Commission: National Fraud initiative 2004 / 05 ~ NFI web pages ~ Revised Code of Data Matching Practise
DH: The government has announced a new capital fund of £10m to improve the provision of occupational health services to NHS staff and, in turn, increase the availability of NHS Plus, the network of NHS occupational health departments that provide occupational health services to small & medium sized enterprises.
NHS Plus aims to increase the availability of occupational health (OH) services for small & medium sized employers (SME) in England and the £10m of capital funding will be used support between 10 - 12 pilot sites of good practice in occupational health care which could then be rolled out to other companies to learn from.
Press release ~ NHS Plus ~ HSE: The Health, Work and Well Being (HWWB) strategy ~ Health, Work and Well Being: Caring for our future ~ HSC strategy for workplace health and safety in Great Britain to 2010 and beyond ~ Securing Health Together, the occupational health strategy for Great Britain ~ HSE OH leaflets ~ Institution of Occupational Safety and Health ~ The British Occupational Health Research Foundation (BOHRF) ~ DH – Occupational Health ~ Health and Well-being of Working Age People ~ Health, Work and Well-being - Caring for our Future ~ Workplace Health Connect website ~ Healthy Working Lives
DH: A ‘radical’ overhaul of the system for providing medical expert witnesses for the family courts is proposed by Professor Sir Liam Donaldson, England's Chief Medical Officer (CMO), in a report published for consultation (closes 28th February 2007).
The report, 'Bearing Good Witness: Proposals for reforming the delivery of medical expert evidence in family law case' was commissioned in 2004, following a series of high profile court cases that called into question the quality of medical expert witnesses.
The key proposal is that the NHS establishes a new service - teams of specialist doctors and other professionals in local NHS organisations will group together to improve the quality of the service by introducing mentoring, supervision & peer review, backed up by a new National Knowledge Service to support the medical expert witness programme.
The CMO proposes that the NHS should be fully reimbursed for taking on this additional work. Meanwhile, the report suggests a checklist to be used by the legal professions to establish the credentials of prospective medical expert witnesses.
Press release ~ 'Bearing Good Witness: Proposals for reforming the delivery of medical expert evidence in family law case' ~ National Knowledge Service ~ Medical Expert Witnesses - Guidance from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges ~ Expert Witness Institute ~ Expert Witness Directory 2006 ~ Society of Expert Witnesses ~ RCGP Expert Witness Panel ~ CMO’s website ~ DfES Impact of recent Judgements letter 2004 ~ BBC background news item
Defra: A consultation (closes 16 February 2007) has been launched regarding proposals to change the list of bird species that need to be registered with Defra under section 7 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which requires certain species of birds are registered with the Government if they are kept in captivity.
The report, by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), recommends which species should be listed in the future and makes a number of recommendations relating to additions to & removals from the Schedule, as well as suggesting a number of options aimed at reducing the regulatory burden on bird keepers.
Defra is seeking views on these recommendations from those with a specific interest in the proposals as well as from members of the general public.
Press release ~ Consultation ~ Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 ~ Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) ~ Defra – Bird Registration
Defra: John Bridge, the ‘Chair Designate’ of the new agricultural and horticultural levy board is encouraging all levy payers to make sure they register their views on what they want out of the new organisation using an online questionnaire, which will be available until the end of November, takes about 15 minutes to complete and is totally confidential.
There are two questionnaires to enable both producers and processors to input into the Levy Board Fresh Start exercise, they can be found at:
· Producer: www.kadquest.com/accenture/levyboards/farmers
· Processor: www.kadquest.com/accenture/levyboards/processors
This online survey is part of a wider "Fresh Start" exercise that aims to identify the needs of levy payers and consider how these needs can be best met in the new organisation. The five existing levy bodies (the British Potato Council, the Meat and Livestock Commission, the Milk Development Council, the Horticultural Development Council and the Home Grown Cereals Authority) will be replaced by one statutory levy board and six sector companies on 1 April 2008.
Press release ~ Defra – Levy Boards restructuring
HM Treasury: The government is consulting (closes 26 January 2007) on proposed amendments to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 to ‘provide greater certainty to aspects of the transfers of insurance and banking business’.
The proposals are intended to make clear that a court sanctioning an insurance business transfer scheme can order that outwards reinsurance contracts can also be transferred as part of the scheme. The proposals will also enable all former Lloyd's Names to transfer their outstanding insurance liabilities.
Currently only those Names who resigned from the Lloyd's market on or after 24 December 1996 are able to participate in an insurance business transfer scheme.
Press release ~ Consultation document ~ Financial Services and Markets Act 2000
WAG: The Welsh Assembly Government has begun consulting (closes 12 January 2007) for schools, LEAs and other stakeholders on proposals for future assessment arrangements to replace “SATS” at Key Stage 2 and 3 in Wales.
The consultation is centred on 19 focused proposals to support & strengthen teacher assessment across the two key stages and cover plans for further piloting & implementation of revisions to the assessment arrangements during the school years 2006/07 to 2009/10.
The proposals have been informed by both independent research and by exploratory studies & pilot work including elements from the earlier ACCAC and independent Daugherty Assessment Review Group reviews of assessment arrangements, carried out during 2002 to 2004.
Planned revisions to the school Curriculum will be the subject of a separate consultation in spring 2007.
Press release ~ National consultation on proposals for revised national curriculum assessment arrangements for Key Stages 2 and 3 ~ VTC - KS4 - Welsh Second Language ~ BBC Bitesize - WSL ~ ACCAC ~ Daugherty Assessment Review Group reviews ~ EPPI centre
DTI: Distributed Energy: A call for Evidence – See ‘In the News Section’
DfT: The Department for Transport has published a concise overview of central & local government policy on road freight delivery restrictions. It is hoped that the guide will inform dialogue between industry & local authorities and be an accessible resource for local authorities that are considering alternatives to blanket delivery restrictions on existing businesses and new commercial developments.
A toolkit for piloting a relaxation of delivery curfews has also been published on the Freight Transport Association website (restricted access). Developed by industry, the toolkit includes practical guidance including templates & methodologies to help make conducting a pilot easier and perhaps more successful.
Press release ~ Delivering the goods: Guidance on delivery restrictions ~ FTA press release ~ Draft London Freight Plan ~ DfT Road Freight website
DH: The government has published new guidance to ensure the provision of faster, better and more convenient care for the estimated 10 million people in England who suffer from bone & joint ailments such as arthritis, back pain and fractures.
The Musculoskeletal Services Framework (MSF) is intended to provide the NHS with to help improve services for people who suffer from such conditions, helping patients to be seen sooner & closer to their homes, by setting out how the NHS can use a wider range of health professionals including physiotherapists, nurses & pharmacists in addition to GPs and hospital consultants.
Press release ~ Musculoskeletal Services Framework (MSF) ~ Developing a “Joint” Service
Ordnance Survey: The national mapping agency has concluded discussions with representatives of the library & archive community, to clarify the process of copying & distribution under established copyright law and draw up new guidance
The guidance, published in collaboration with the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA) is designed to help anyone who seeks to copy in-copyright Ordnance Survey mapping held by public libraries & archives and covers photocopying, scanning & tracing of paper maps, plus printing extracts from electronic map data.
Press release ~ Copying of maps held in public libraries and 'fair dealing' ~ Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals ~ Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance
HC: In its annual State of Healthcare Report to Parliament, the Healthcare Commission has called for a drive to improve the safety of patients in both the NHS & the independent sector and pressed for more attention on services for people least able to look after themselves, including those with learning disabilities and mental health conditions.
The report includes, for the first time, a view of performance in meeting the minimum standards required by law of the independent healthcare sector in England and it says that more should be done to “put patients first” by ensuring that people are treated with dignity & respect and get better information about their care.
Sir Ian Kennedy, the Commission’s Chairman, said: We should all be troubled when the National Audit Office states that ‘estimates of death as a result of patient safety incidents range from 840 to 34,000, but in reality the NHS simply does not know’.
The watchdog sets out a four-pronged agenda for the next phase of improvements:
· delivering consistently safe care
· providing services in a more patient-centred way
· reducing inequalities in health, and
· tackling services for people with mental health problems, learning disabilities, older people and children
Press release ~ State of Healthcare 2006 ~ HC – Independent Healthcare ~ Healthcare Standards Unit ~ Standards for Better Health ~ DH – Standards for Better Health ~ Improvement review of adult community mental health services ~ No secrets: guidance on developing and implementing multi-agency policies and procedures to protect vulnerable adults from abuse
Offschl: The Chief Schools Adjudicator has published the seventh annual report on the work of the schools adjudicators, covering the year from 1 September 2005 to 31 August 2006.
There has been a significant increase in the number of cases referred to adjudicators this year. From September 2005 to September 2006, 343 referrals were received. In 2003-2004 there were 270 referrals and in 2004-2005 there were 227 referrals.
There are now only eight adjudicators - a reduction from fourteen over the past four years – but adjudicators were able to issue 90% of their determinations within 6 weeks of receiving the core information for them.
Press release ~ Annual report ~ Role of adjudicator ~ Admission Forums ~ Current guidelines ~ Draft Skeleton Admissions Code April 2006
DfT: The Department for Transport has published statistics on a range of topics relating to transport in its annual compendium volume Transport Statistics Great Britain 2006 - 32nd edition.
Press release ~ Transport Statistics for Great Britain: 2006 edition
HSC: The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) has published the latest statistics on work-related ill health, workplace injury & enforcement in Great Britain. It presents the top-level statistics, including reports on progress against the targets set in the 'Revitalising Health and Safety' strategy.
Press release ~ HSE Statistics web page ~ 'Health and Safety Statistics 2005/06' ~ Government H&S Targets
DWP: The Government has welcomed a report - Delivering on Child Poverty: What would it take? - by Lisa Harker, an independent adviser to the DWP, saying that more family-focused employment services would help more parents into work and boost progress towards the target of eradicating child poverty by 2020.
Lisa Harker said: "I am recommending that help for parents looking for work should be more focused on the needs of the whole family and access to childcare and flexible working arrangements should be improved. Parents need help, not only to find work, but to gain the skills they need to advance in employment. And support must be open to a wider group of families - including the partners of those already in a job".
Press release ~ Report ~ Daycare Trust ~ John Hutton’s speech to Fabian Society 10 May 2006 ~ How can childcare help to end child poverty? ~ JRF links & other resources ~ Every Child Matters ~ ECPC website ~ Green Paper – National Childcare Strategy ~ DRC: Ending child poverty – a future without disability? ~ JRF: The persistence of poverty across generations ~ Surestart: Looking for Childcare? ~ Report: What will it take to end child poverty? Firing on all cylinders ~ Summary of findings ~ A series of background papers on child poverty ~ Five case studies ~ Child Poverty Action Group ~ Save the children ~ Shelter ~ ActionAid
Ofsted: The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) and the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) have published the 2nd round of annual performance assessments (APA) for 102 local authorities and this year:
· 86 authorities were found to provide good or better services for children and young people
· 75 were judged as good or better for the social care they offer and
· 91 were judged good or better on their capacity to improve
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools, Christine Gilbert, said: “More than 5% of looked after children did not have a named social worker in 2005/6. This is an improvement on 2004/5, when it was 6.6%, but a poorer performance than 2003/04 when the average was 2.7%.
It is not acceptable that in 2004/05 less than 10% of young people in care achieved five or more GCSEs at grade A*- C compared with a national figure of 57.1%”.
Press release ~ Childcare APA for LAs (scroll down within each LA’s entry) ~ Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI)
Defra: A new report – ‘Working with the grain of nature - taking it forward’ - details the progress that has been made in conserving England's biodiversity. It celebrates what claimed achievements since 2002 and also details what needs to be done in the immediate future to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010.
The report is published in tandem with an update of the important indicators that are used to measure the progress of the England Biodiversity Strategy. Six of the seven indicators with established data now show a positive trend, whilst the seventh (populations of wild birds) has stabilised.
Press release ~ ‘Working with the grain of nature - taking it forward’ ~ England Biodiversity Group ~ Marine Bill ~ BBC - Breathing Places ~ Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (NERC) ~ Planning Policy Statement 9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation ~ Policy for Ancient and Native Woodlands in England
NAO: There is a shortfall of 5,170 (2.8%) trained Armed Forces personnel against the Ministry of Defence’s estimated requirements. Only the Army is within "manning balance" and there are wider shortages of personnel in specific trade groups.
According to a National Audit Office report to Parliament there are particular challenges to manning levels in 88 specialist ‘pinch points’ – areas where there are insufficient trained personnel, including: doctors, nurses, engineers and bomb disposal experts.
Among those who had recently left the Armed Forces, many had done so because of the impact of service on family life (49%), while others reported the impact of too many deployments (28%), the quality of the equipment (32%), and a feeling of not being valued (33% as being the reason they were leaving.
However, 9% also said they had left because they had not been deployed enough.
Current levels of operational activity puts additional pressures on serving personnel in terms of hours worked, how often they are deployed and time spent away from families. 1% of the Royal Navy, 15% of the Army and 4% of the RAF currently exceed Harmony Guidelines.
NAO press release ~ MoD press release ~ Recruitment and Retention in the Armed Forces (VLF 1.6Mb) ~ Executive Summary ~ Detailed survey results and case studies
DWP: The Government has given its formal response to the report into the its rejection of the findings of maladministration in the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's report on occupational pensions.
The Ombudsman's report ‘Trusting in the Pensions Promise’ concerned Government statements about defined benefit schemes from January 1995 to April 2004.
Minister for Pensions Reform James Purnell said: "Although the Government does not accept liability for these losses, it agrees that there should be a significant package of support, which is why we have committed an additional £2bn to the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS), which will help about 40,000 people”.
The Government accepted the Ombudsman's recommendation that it should conduct a review to see what could be done to speed up the winding up of final salary pension schemes and has published ‘Speeding Up Winding Up Of Occupational Pension Schemes’.
Press release ~ Public Administration Select Committee's report (VLF 2Mb) ~ Government's formal response ~ Government’s formal response to the ombudsman's report ~ Speeding Up Winding Up Of Occupational Pension Schemes ~ Pension Protection Fund (PPF) ~ Pensions Regulator ~ Financial Assistance Scheme
Insolvency Service: The Insolvency Service has published research, which suggests that changes to personal insolvency legislation did not significantly influence people's decision when considering bankruptcy.
The report, 'Discharge from Bankruptcy', questions a sample of people discharged from bankruptcy this year and reveals that only 16% of those questioned were aware of & influenced by the changes to the law which changed the period of discharge from three to one year.
Once relieved of their debts, the research reveals that 40% of those surveyed felt the reduced discharge period had lessened the stigma attached to bankruptcy and 65% believed the reduced discharge had helped to give them a fresh start.
A second research report looks at the numbers of creditors petitioning for bankruptcy. This report shows that Crown departments form the largest group of petitioners for debts such as unpaid VAT, income tax and national insurance contributions, but that local authorities are making increased use of bankruptcy as a collection tool.
Press release ~ The Insolvency Service ~ 'Discharge from Bankruptcy' report ~ 'A study of creditors petitioning for bankruptcy’
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