Published Tuesday, 12th July 2005


ODPM:  Minister sets his cap at Councils - The government is trying to prevent further losses in future local elections by capping the budgets of 8 local authorities in England, who will now have to set lower council taxes. 


Of the eight, only South Cambridgeshire is being allowed a higher cap than the government originally proposed in March 2005, although the authority will still be required to make the largest budget reduction out of the eight authorities in order to meet its cap.


In a Written Statement to Parliament, Local Government Minister Phil Woolas said:

“We will not hesitate to use our capping powers in future years to deal with excessive increases if this proves necessary." (Funny how no LA from the Labour heartlands appears to have a shortfall in its central government funding!)


Many southern LAs have done badly in the ‘award’ of central government funding over the last few years compared to the Labour heartlands.  The problem for them being that every 1% drop in central grant requires a 4 – 5% rise in Council Tax to replace it.


A study earlier this year showed that consumer concern about council tax has dramatically increased and has now become the biggest financial worry in the UK and that people are now more worried about being able to pay their council tax than their mortgage or credit card bills. In the 55+ years age group, an alarming 54% of respondents feared paying their council tax most, despite the Government’s promise of a ’£200 Council Tax Refund’, as outlined in the 2005 Budget.


Concern has been boosted by the publicity given to the proposed revaluation of properties in England, following the findings of the revaluation exercise recently completed in Wales, where rises massively outnumbered falls between price bands.


Since Council Tax was introduced just over a decade ago, it has more than doubled in cost (and an average of over 70% since 1997).   In 2004 the average Council Tax rise was more than 12%. This year Council Taxes have increased by almost 6% (Source: Help the Aged).

Press release ~ ODPM Local Government Finance website ~ Audit Commission Report on Council Tax Rises for 2003/2004 ~ LG Finance – Balance of Funding review



MCA:    Jet Skiers no longer rule the waves - At a recent hearing at Salisbury Crown Court, a 25-year old Weymouth man pleaded guilty to riding his Yamaha Wave Runner in contravention of Section 58 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.


Prior to this the judge had been asked to rule on whether the Personal Watercraft was a ship in terms of the Merchant Shipping Act.  In his ruling Mr Recorder A Davies QC concluded that it was indeed a ship and that the legislation applied.


Sergeant Andy Hack of Dorset Police’s marine section said:

"Following yesterday’s ruling it’s important that all those using personal watercraft recognise that they have the same responsibilities as all other water users in respect of Collision Regulations and The Merchant Shipping Act.


We encourage all users to undertake training under the Royal Yachting Association’s syllabus”.

Press release ~ Maritime and Coastguard Agency ~ Updated version of Sea Smart ~ Royal Yachting Association ~

Section 58 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 (scroll down to index and click on section 58) ~ Jet ski safety



ACAS: Flexible working requires flexible strategies - The authoritative Acas and DTI sponsored workplace employment relations survey (WERS) shows that the number of workplaces offering staff the opportunity to work flexibly has almost doubled in the last six years and the trend is being boosted by government legislation. 


This is not just a question of management deciding to allow people to work from home or agreeing to flexible start / finish times.  With the ever increasing dependence on IT for organisations to deliver their services, employers will have to invest in secure remote computing facilities for their staff plus consider all the personnel, H&S and legislative issues that go with it.

Press release ~ DTI WERS website ~ Inside the workplace: First Findings from the 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey (and scroll down to ‘Other publications’) ~ Acas Flexible working ~ TUC Changing Times website ~ Business Link


General News

DH:  Following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) the current universal BCG vaccination programme delivered through schools will be replaced, from September 2005, with a new programme which will only identify & vaccinate babies and older people who are most likely to catch the disease, especially those living in areas with a high rate of TB or whose parents or grandparents were born in a TB high prevalence country.

Press release ~ NHS BCG website ~ DH TB website ~ WHO TB website ~ Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) ~ Development of Guidelines on Tuberculosis Control in Emergency Settings ~ The burden & impact of TB


Defra:  Movement of fish to and from Nidderdale Trout farm, Low Laith, North Yorkshire has been prohibited following detection of Bacterial Kidney Disease (BKD).  BKD has no implications for human health but can cause large numbers of mortalities in both farmed and wild salmon and trout.

Press release ~ Defra – Fish farming & Health website ~ "Combating Fish Disease" ~ Fish Business website  ~ Bacterial Kidney Disease (BKD)Fish Disease Leaflet


OFT:  The Debt Managers Standards Association (DEMSA), a trade association for the debt management industry, has become the first debt management trade association to successfully complete Stage One of the OFT’s Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS), which aims to promote and safeguard consumer interests.

Press release ~ DEMSA Consumer Code ~ OFT’s Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS)


DWP:  Following the publication of the Independent Case Examiner’s annual report 2004/05 for the Child Support Agency, Work and Pensions Minister Lord Hunt has acknowledged the amount of work the Child Support Agency needs to do to gain the trust of its clients.

Press release ~ Citizens Advice News story ~ Latest Annual Report on the Northern Ireland Child Support Agency and Social Security Agency ~ Child Support Agency ~ Northern Ireland CSA ~ DWP Child Support Maintenance ~ Child Support Analysis website


Highways Agency:  The government has announced that another stretch of what is often only half-jokingly referred to as ‘London’s largest car park – the M25) is to have extra lanes added.  The new lanes will see improvements made to the M25 between Junctions 1b and 3 near Dartford, and the A2 between Bean in Kent and the M25 (M25/A282 Jct 2).  Work is expected to start on site in early 2006. 

Press Release ~ Highways Agency traffic information website


English Nature:  English Nature is launching its Local Nature Reserve celebrations in Sheffield on Sunday July 17.  From July 16th to 31st more than 300 events will be held on reserves around the country to encourage more people to explore and enjoy LNRs and to show them how getting close to wildlife can be good for both your physical and mental wellbeing.

Press release ~ Shire Brook Valley Local Nature Reserve ~ English Nature – Waking up to Wildlife ~ The Rural Development Service ~ The Countryside Agency’s Landscape, Access and Recreation division


ODPM:  The ODPM is claiming that early indications are that local authorities have achieved efficiency gains worth around £700m in 2004/5.  They also claim that the efficiency agenda is not about cuts, but raising productivity and delivering better services for the public.   

Press release ~ Annual Efficiency Statements - 2005/06 Forward Look ~ Backward Look Annual Efficiency Statement for 2004-05 ~ Sir Peter Gershon’s efficiency review ~ Toolkits for measuring efficiency gains


DfID:  The UK is to provide £60m funding to eradicate polio over the next three years and to boost the effort to ensure the world stays polio free after that.  Seventeen years ago, there were 350,000 cases reported.  Last year there were 1,255 cases - a fall of over 99%.

Press release ~ Global Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) ~ DH Polio website


DTI:  China, which is thought to be the second largest source of spam after the United States, with about 20% of all spam, has now committed to UK/US-led international efforts to combat spam and will adopt the London Action Plan on Spam Enforcement Collaboration.

Press release ~ London Action Plan ~ Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) ~ OFT Spam web pages ~ The Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications (2002/58/EC) ~ Paper - Is the content of spam illegal?


DH:  Health Minister Jane Kennedy has launched the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, the role of which is to lead the way in encouraging modernisation, innovation & learning in the NHS, hopefully resulting in an increased uptake of new healthcare products, treatments & procedures, and improve care offered to patients.  With the creation of the NHS Institute, the NHS Modernisation Agency, NHSU and the NHS Leadership Centre have been dissolved.

Press release ~ NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement. ~ NHS Scotland - Centre for Change and Innovation ~ Welsh National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare (NLIAH)



Pensions Regulator:  The Pensions Regulator has published two draft codes of practice for consultation (ends 30 September 2005:

·         ’Member-nominated trustees and directors - putting arrangements in place’ and

·         ’Modification of subsisting rights’ code of practice.

Press release ~ Two consultation documents


HM Treasury:  Professor Martin Cave has invited views on issues that he will address in his Independent Audit of Spectrum Holdings, which focuses primarily on public sector holdings. These issues are set out in a consultation document and interested parties are encouraged to respond to the issues raised, which indicate the proposed direction of the Audit.  Consultation closes 1 September 2005.


Professor Cave will publish his recommendations and Final Report ahead of the Pre-Budget Report 2005.

Press release ~ Consultation on Independent Audit of Spectrum Holdings ~ Independent Review of Spectrum Management (2002) ~ Ofcom Spectrum Framework Review: Implementation  ~ Past Ofcom press release


Welsh Assembly:  The WAG’s National Service Framework (NSF) for Older People sets out what older people can expect from health and social care services by setting national standards for Wales to drive up quality and reduce variations in service delivery.   Consultation closes Friday, 14 October.

Press release ~ Welsh National Service Framework (NSF) for Older People website ~ Consultation documents ~ National Partnership Forum for Older Forum ~ Strategy for Older People

Welsh Assembly:  Welsh Health Minister Dr Brian Gibbons is consulting on a draft five-year Food and Fitness Action Plan for children (closes 31 October 2005).  A Children and Young People’s version of the plan will be sent out to schools and local youth councils in September.

Press release ~ Health Challenge Wales ~ Consultation documents (English version) ~ (Welsh Version) ~ Food and Fitness Plan ~ Welsh Network of Healthy School Schemes (WNHSS).


Welsh Assembly:  The Welsh Assembly Government is developing a vision for the Welsh environment in 2025 and is seeking views on how to achieve an environment which is clean, healthy, biologically diverse and valued by everyone in Wales.   Responses to the public consultation document "Our Environment - Our Future - Your Views" should be made by 3 October 2005 and the final Environment Strategy will be published in early 2006

Press release ~ Consultation on the Environment Strategy for Wales ~ Environment Strategy for Wales web pages ~  WWF Cymru


Met Office:  Don Touhig MP, Under Secretary of State for Defence, has announced a consultation (ends 20th September 2005) over four distinct options for possible changes in the organisation & structure of the Met Office.

Press release ~ Consultation document ~ Prospect - the recognised Trade Union for Met Office staff


 DTI / OFT:  Plans for a new body - the Consumer and Trading Standards Agency (CTSA) have been announced by Consumer Minister Gerry Sutcliffe in a consultation document - Reducing Administrative Burdens: The Consumer and Trading Standards Agency (closes on 12th October 2005).


The government hopes that the new body will, by 2009, reduce red tape and save money by combining the work of the OFT, NWML, BHC and HAC.  Whilst Trading Standards departments will still be run by local authorities, the CTSA will set performance standards, and make sure that good working practices are shared.


The OFT has put out a ‘companion document’ - ’Improving consumer protection - a vision for the future’ proposing that it would be the natural home for the agency.

DTI Press release ~ OFT press release ~ Consultation document ~  Hampton Review ~ OFT Companion document to the DTI Hampton Review consultation, ’Improving consumer protection - a vision for the future’ ~ Office of Fair Trading ~ National Weights and Measures Laboratory (NWML) ~ British Hallmarking Council (BHC) ~ Hearing Aid Council (HAC) ~ DTI’s Consumer Strategy. ~ Consumer Direct


DH:  Health minister Rosie Winterton has announced a new Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA), to support & represent particularly vulnerable people who lack capacity to make their own decisions.  It is aimed specifically at those people who do not have relatives or friends to speak for them.  The consultation closes on 30 September 2005 and implementation is planned for April 2007.

Press release ~ Consultation document ~ About the Mental Capacity Act 2005


Defra:  Defra has launched a consultation (closes 23 September 2005) on European Commission legislative proposals for reform of the sugar regime.  The timing of this item is particularly relevant as it coincided with the G8 summit.

Press release ~ Consultation ~ Defra background information ~ Oxfam critique ~ UK Sugar Traders association

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

Defra: The first farm has been accredited as suitable for school visits under a national scheme to increase schools’ access to farmland and provide safe, educational places for farmland and countryside teaching.  Once accredited, a farm receives a certificate, a logo to use for promotional purposes, and a listing on the ’Teachernet’ website. Accredited farms are inspected bi-annually.

Press release ~ Farming and Countryside Education (FACE) ~ TeacherNet - Countryside Educational Visits Accreditation Scheme (CEVAS) ~ DfES guidance on health and safety on educational visits ~
HSE School trips website


DH:  The Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP) has launched a practical leaflet which aims to improve services for older people with mental health needs, especially those who are in receipt of care or who are inpatients in hospital.  Aimed at mental health staff, service providers and commissioners, Moving on: Key learning from Rowan Ward is a ’hands on’ response to the 2003 review of inpatient services for older people with mental health needs.

Press release ~ Moving on: Key learning from Rowan Ward ~ Health and Social Care Change Agent Team (CAT) ~

National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) ~ NIMHE Knowledge Community ~ CHI Rowan Ward report (scroll down to ‘investigations’)


DH:  Mental Health tsar Louis Appleby and Older People’s tsar Ian Philp have launched a new online publication outlining a vision of how health and social care services should work together to secure better services for older people.    The vision document is a precursor to a service development guide which will be launched by Care Services Minister Liam Byrne in autumn 2005.

Press release ~ Securing better mental health for older adults ~ DH Older People’s Services website


Water Voice:  Water and sewerage customers will benefit from a new guide which helps them to respond to sewer flooding incidents on their property.  The guide, Sewer Flooding - Your Questions Answered, explains what help customers should be able to get from their local sewerage company and other organisations.

Press release ~ Sewer Flooding - Your Questions Answered ~ new Sewer Flooding Best Practice Register ~ Water UK


DfT:  The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) has developed new material (Designing Everyone In pack) for primary school Design & Technology teachers, which shows how they can address the principles of accessible design as part of the National Curriculum schemes of study.

Press release ~ DPTAC ~ Design & Technology Association - Designing Everyone In ~ see also HERE

Annual Reports

Defra:  The Drinking Water Inspectorate, the independent tap water watchdog, has announced figures, in its 15th annual report, showing how tap water quality in England and Wales measures up against the new more rigorous drinking water standards which came into force on 1st January 2004.

Press release ~ Inspectorate’s 15th annual report ~ new - drinking water quality on a regional basis ~ Defra Water website

General Reports & Other Publications

Defra:  The government is claiming that an independent review, by Professor William Hill FRS, of the University of Edinburgh, has found that the controls put in place to eliminate BSE in cattle are soundly based.  However, the report recommended measures should be tightened up wherever possible both in the UK and elsewhere that the UK can influence.

Press release ~ Report and other relevant information ~ Born After Reinforced Ban BARBS  ~ see also FAQs ~ Mad-Cow-Facts.com ~ The Report of the Chief Veterinary Officer - Animal Health 2004


Defra:  The government has published a research report on environmental protection expenditure by UK industry which covers 2003 and records expenditure by extraction, manufacturing and energy supply industries in the UK, providing analyses by type, purpose and by industry sector.

Press release ~ UK Environmental Protection Expenditure by Industry Survey ~ E-Digest of environmental statistics ~ UK Govt. Sustainable Development website ~ NSCA website ~ Environment and Heritage Service ~ Social Science information gateway


Healthcare Commission:  The Healthcare Commission has published its report of the investigation into maternity services at North West London NHS Trust.  The report covers events in the trust’s maternity services at Northwick Park Hospital prior to the introduction of special measures, which were announced on 21st April 2005.

Press release ~ full report and action plan click HERE and scroll down ~ NWLHT website


Healthcare Commission:  The main findings of the first ever review of NHS foundation trusts, carried out by the Healthcare Commission have been published.

Press release ~ Review of NHS Foundation Trusts


 MoD:  Defence Secretary John Reid claims that he ‘welcomes’ the report from the Defence Select Committee on the MoD’s ’Future Capabilities’ plans and its endorsement of the MoD’s proposals for modernising the Armed Forces.

Press release ~ DFC’s report - ’Future Capabilities’ (scroll down to 4th report) ~ MoD’s formal response ~ Royal Navy ’Standing Tasks’ ~ Defence Command Paper "Delivering Security in a Changing World: Future Capabilities" ~ Future Army Structure (FAS) ~  and more HERE ~ Network Enabled Capability


Home Office:  Greater management and oversight is needed into residential short-term holding centres, says a report covering three unannounced inspections at Harwich International Airport, Manchester Airport and the Port of Dover.


A second report says that progress has been made at the Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre, but some fundamental concerns remain, according to the report of an unannounced inspection.

Short term holding centres press release ~ Report ~ Harmondsworth Press release ~ Report ~ Home office response to both reports ~ Harmondsworth 2002 report (and click on ‘H’) ~ BBC articleReport on disturbances at Harmondsworth


DWP:  Report No 225 - A research report published by the DWP provides findings from a feasibility study exploring the difficulties and prospects for the potential scope of extending responsibility for issuing sickness certificates to healthcare professionals other than doctors.

Press release ~ Report No. 225 - Read the report - The potential for certification of incapacity for work by non-medical healthcare professionals (Warning large file - 10.4MB)


DWP:  New research by DWP provides longitudinal data on a group of beneficiaries who received ESF funded training between June and November 2002. The latest data shows what impact the training has had over time. In addition, in-depth interviews were carried out with a small sample of ’inactive’ beneficiaries from the overall sample.

Press release ~ Report No. 258 - Follow-up survey of ESF leavers ~ European Social Fund (ESF) ~ Report No. 254 – ESF: A profile of ‘inactive’ beneficiaries


DWP:  A research report from the DWP provides findings from an evaluation of the communications strategy which formed part of the Engaging Physicians, Benefiting Patients pilot. The study also presents GPs’ views towards their role in the provision of medical evidence for the Department to process a claim for Incapacity Benefit, focusing on the completion of the IB113 form.

Press release ~ Report No. 256 - Engaging physicians benefiting patients: a qualitative study ~ Engaging Physicians, Benefiting Patients pilot


DWP: A DWP Research Report provides findings from research to explore GPs’ approaches to managing sickness absence and assisting patients to return to work.

Press release ~ Report No. 257: Exploring how General Practitioners work with patients on sick leave: A study commissioned as part of the ’Job Retention and Rehabilitation Pilot’ evaluation ~ National Centre for Social Research ~ TUC Briefing ~ NHS Plus – Health at work


Scottish Executive:  The Scottish Parliament has voted in favour of a Bill that means Scotland will, from March 26, 2006, be the first part of the UK to become completely smoke free in all enclosed public places.

Press release ~ Clearing the Air website ~ Monitor the Bill’s progress


DTI:  The General Product Safety Regulations provides new powers to improve consumer safety by giving enforcement agencies the power to recall dangerous products.  Although the majority of British producers act quickly to recall products when necessary, this action is currently voluntary and a small amount of companies still put consumers at risk by not acting responsibly.

Press release ~ Guidance on General Product Safety Regulations ~ EU Directive 2001/95/EC on General Product Safety ~ Consultation on Proposals to implement Directive 2001/95/EC on general product safety (GPSD). (and scroll down)

Policy statements & Initiatives

ODPM:  The ODPM and the Employers’ Organisation for local government (EO) have published the revised Local Government Pay and Workforce Strategy for 2005, with a key message – ‘Local government in England must have the leadership, organisational flexibility and people capacity to deliver improved services’.


The ODPM is also supporting a new document which outlines how Organisational Development (OD) can help authorities transform the way they work and meet the rising aspirations of their communities.

Press release ~ Local Government Pay and Workforce Strategy for 2005 ~ OD Resource document - Transforming Your Authority: Creating Real and Lasting Change ~ Capacity Building Programme ~ Local Government Vision 10-year vision ~ Delivering Efficiency in Local Services ~ SOLACE Enterprises


ODPM: Round Seven of the Beacon Scheme will reward Local authorities providing excellent services with a share of £3 million.  Applications for Beacon status must be submitted by 5 September 2005, with successful authorities announced in March 2006.


The Government has also published its response to the review of the Beacon Scheme which was undertaken in October 2004

Press release ~ Round 7 website ~ Review of the Advisory Panel for Beacon Couincils ~ Response to review of Beacon Scheme


HMR&C:  The government is requesting tenders for a pilot project which will produce greener road fuels.  The closing date for bids to be accepted is 9 September 2005.

Press release ~ Copy of the call to tender and guidance for applicants  ~ Transport Biofuels and how they are produced ~ Factsheet about Biofuels inputs-based production ~ Towards a UK Strategy for Biofuels Consultation and its Responses ~ International resource costs of biodiesel and bioethanol ~ EU Biofuels directive


Patent Office:  Lord Sainsbury, Minister for Science and Innovation, has pledged tougher action on intellectual property crime and outlined the Government’s 4 point plan to tackle IP crime in Britain:

Press release ~ IP Crime Strategy document


DCA:  Yet another shake-up of the legal aid system has been announced by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, as

analysis shows that half of all legal aid spending in the Crown Court goes on just 1% of cases and that criminal legal aid costs have risen overall by 37% in real terms in seven years.

Press release ~ ’A Fairer Deal For Legal Aid’ ~ Legal Services Commission ~ Scottish Legal Aid Board Online ~ Legal Aid calculator

EU legislation, initiatives, etc

Defra:  The Eco-Design for Energy Using Products Framework Directive, which is intended to cut greenhouse gas emissions from inefficient household appliances and other equipment is to be signed by the EU.  According to the European Commission, by 2010 about 180 million tonnes of carbon dioxide - the equivalent output of around 50 power stations - could be prevented with new and energy-efficient appliances in Europe - around half of the EU’s commitment under Kyoto.

Press release ~ Eco-Design for Energy Using Products Framework Directive ~ EU Green Paper on energy efficiency ~ EU Commission Energy Homepage


Patent Office:  The Directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions (CII Directive) has been rejected by the European Parliament during Second Reading. This terminates the legislative procedure.  The aim of the Directive was to clarify the current law, not to alter the status quo. The existing legal framework governing patentability until now remains in place.

Press release ~ CII Directive ~ International Intellectual Property Institute (IIPI)

Business & other briefings

HMRC:  Business Brief 13/05

·         Insurance Premium Tax: Implementation of Tribunal decision regarding the liability of the reinsurance of surety bonds

·         VAT: Belated notification of an option to tax land and buildings - clarification of HM Revenue & Customs policy

·         Denatured Alcohol Regulations 2005

·         VAT and supplied of staff - update on the case of University Court of the University of Glasgow (EDN/03/0109)

·         VAT Notes - Issue of VAT Notes 2 2005

Press Release ~ Business Briefs 2005