DfES:  Education, Education, yet another education Bill - Education and Skills Secretary Ruth Kelly has published the Education and Inspection Bill, which is intended to deliver the ‘radical reforms needed to further drive up standards in our schools, especially in deprived areas with measures to support stronger partnership, new curriculum entitlements, better discipline, a powerful strategic role for local authorities and turning around failing schools.


The government claims that the Bill will provide a guarantee that primary legislation will ensure no return to selection by ability, announcing a series of measures to toughen up school admissions practices, including:

·         a bar on interviewing

·         a more robust status for the School Admissions Code of Practice and

·         greater powers for Admission Forums


The Bill will also pave the way for new minimum food-based standards to be introduced in all schools by this September, with even more stringent nutrient-based standards, stipulating the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals to follow from 2008, backed by £220 million investment.

Press release ~ DfES - Education and Inspections Bill 2006 ~ Published Bill (click on ‘E’) ~ DfES School Admissions ~ School Admissions Code of Practice ~ Admission Forums ~ Local Authorities Factsheet ~ Consultation: - Turning the Tables: Transforming School Food - Recommendations for the Development and Implementation of Revised School Lunch Standards  ~ Guidance for caterers to school lunch standards ~ Food in Schools website


NAO:  Obesity: Are departments putting their full weight behind the issue? - The key finding of a joint report published by the Audit Commission, the Healthcare Commission and the National Audit Office is that without clearer leadership from Departments there is a risk that the Government’s target to halt the rise in obesity in children under 11 will not be met. The incidence of childhood obesity grew from 9.6% in 1995 to 13.7% in 2003.


Tackling Childhood Obesity – First Steps warns that a lack of timely guidance has meant that the various organisations that will need to work together to deliver the target have been unclear about their roles.   Without greater clarity, those further down the delivery chain may be wasting resources on ineffective or inappropriate interventions that fail to target those children most at risk.


Obesity now costs the NHS around £1 billion a year plus the UK economy a further £2.3 billion of indirect costs and, if this trend continues, the annual cost to the economy could be £3.6 billion a year by 2010.

Press release ~ Tackling Childhood Obesity–First Steps: Full Report (VLF1.4Mb) ~ Executive Summary ~ Audit Commission ~ Healthcare Commission ~ NAO – Tackling obesity in England ~ DH – Healthy Living website ~ National Obesity Forum ~ Association for the Study of obesity ~ Avoiding childhood obesity ~ TOAST – The Obesity Awareness & Solutions Trust ~ NICE - Obesity ~ Food Standards Agency ~ Care pathways for the prevention and management of obesity (Choosing Health? briefing) ~ Measuring childhood obesity: Guidance for PCTs ~ Management of Obesity in Children and young people guide ~ The prevalence of obesity in children and young people


DCA: Don’t worry, I’ll fill it in for you - The Government is introducing new laws to prevent postal vote fraud.  The laws are part of a package of 14 new measures to tackle electoral fraud announced by the Elections Minister Harriet Harman. In addition, the Association of Chief Police Officers' have launched new guidance on election fraud prevention and detection, in advance of the forthcoming local elections.

Press release ~ DCA elections website ~ Electoral Commission – Postal voting ~ Electoral Fraud Prevention and Detection for use at local elections in May 2006 ~ Electoral Administration Bill ~ Elections / Local elections 2006 ~ Guidance for candidates and political parties  ~ Electoral administration - Guidance manuals & documentation aimed at electoral administrators ~ BBC news item


DfT:  Child safety in vehicles - Details of proposed new regulations aimed at improving road safety through more appropriate use of child restraints have been announced by Road Safety Minister Stephen Ladyman.  The government will allow until September for the new regulations to come into force so that parents and carers have time to prepare.


In summary the new requirements, set out in EC Directive 2003/20/EC, are that:

·         all children under 3 years old must use an appropriate child restraint when travelling in any car or goods vehicle (except in the rear of a taxi if a child seat is not available)

·         children aged 3 or more years old and up to 135 cms (approx 4 ft 5 inches) in height must use an appropriate child restraint when travelling in cars or goods vehicles fitted with seat belts (few exceptions are permitted)

·         rear-facing baby seats must not be used in seats with active frontal air-bag

·         where seat belts are provided, the number of people carried in the rear of vehicles may not exceed the number of seats available fitted with seat belts or child restraints (to apply from May 2009).

·         UN ECE 44.03 or later standard child restraints must be used from May 2008.

Press release ~ EU seatbelts website ~ DfT - Child car seat use in cars and goods vehicles (including Q&As) ~ Think Road Safety website ~ ROSPA ~ Common Problems ~ Top Tips for car seat safety ~ Britax fit finder database


HSE:  Take an interest – it’s your health at risk - The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched new resources for employers to help them involve workers in health and safety management.  Published as part of a new "worker involvement" website the tools provide a wealth of sound help & advice to businesses.


Included in the package are case studies, which show the range of organisations that have successfully involved workers in managing health & safety.  HSE's Worker Involvement Programme will continue to develop its new web pages to encourage employers and workers to co-operate in managing health & safety risks.

Press release ~ HSE's new worker involvement website ~ Assessment tools ~ Case studies ~ 'A strategy for workplace health and safety in Great Britain to 2010 and beyond' ~ Collective Declaration on Worker Involvement ~ Workers’ Health & safety ~ Institution of Occupational Safety and Health ~ Worksmart


Industry News:  ALARM sounds for application deadline - The turn of a new year is often a period of reflection - a time to look back on the achievements of the past twelve months and contemplate the lessons to be learnt.   The public sector Risk Community is no different and ALARM: the National Forum for Risk Management in the Public Sector is launching its annual awards for risk management excellence.


These awards celebrate the achievements in risk management throughout the public sector in 2005 - and we already know there is much to celebrate.  Risk Managers are no longer just advocating risk management; they are now demonstrating how adopting a risk-based approach can transform how an organisation works.


ALARM’s National Public Sector Risk Management Awards are open to all risk practitioners working in the public sector, not just ALARM members.  The judges look for innovative approaches and evidence of tangible benefits irrespective of the size of the organisation or the resources ploughed into the initiative.


Applications need to be submitted by 31 March 2006 and full details of the ALARM awards are on their website at http://www.alarm-uk.com/awards.asp

Full article ~ ALARM: the National Forum for Risk Management in the Public Sector ~ Compensation Bill ~ Better Routes to Redress ~ Claims Standards Council (CSC) ~ I don’t want to sue anyone … I just want to get a life ~ Integrated Risk Management Planning (IRMP) ~ HM Treasury Risk programme ~  ROSPA ~ HSE – Risk Management ~ NAO – Managing risk to improve public services ~ NAO - Supporting Innovation: Managing Risk in government departments ~ Public Sector Benchmarking Service ~ OGC – Risk management (scroll down) ~ The Orange Book: Management of Risk - Principles and Concepts


Forthcoming EventThey deserve better futures - Children Now's forthcoming one-day conference in Birmingham on 30 March 2006 will bring together local authorities, private and voluntary sectors across children's services to share insights on working together to deliver outcomes for children in residential care.


The conference - Meeting The Needs Of Children In Residential Care: Working Together To Commission Quality Services And Deliver Better Outcomes For Looked-After Children - is centred on overcoming the challenges of meeting the Every Child Matters agenda with the resources which are available to you.


Issues being addressed include:

·         Quality of care

·         Out of county placements

·         Commissioning of residential care

·         Services for children with complex needs

·         Inspections & standards

·         Staff & training

Full details ~ The Who Cares? Trust ~ National Children’s Rights Strategy 2005 – 2007(Draft) ~ ADSS Children and Families Committee ~ Children Now's ~ Every Child Matters agenda ~ Social Care Institute for Excellence ~ Working with challenging and disruptive situations in residential child care in Northern Ireland and England ~ Care Services Development Initiative (CSDI) ~ National Children’s Bureau


General News

Defra: The first water company to apply to the Government for the right to compulsorily meter all its customers has been given the go-ahead.  Folkestone and Dover Water Services' successful application for 'area of water scarcity' status means it will be able to accelerate its programme of switching household customers over to water meters (that programme is at present mainly voluntary).

Serving more than 65,000 households and with a growing population, the company expects to increase the number of households metered in its area from the present 40% to 90% over the next 10 years, with a resultant reduction in water use of 10-15%.  The view of the Environment Agency is that an increase in metering could provide about half the margin of supply over demand that the company needs by 2015.

Press release ~ Defra Water Resources website ~ Application ~ Folkestone and Dover Water Services ~ Ofwat: The present statutory position concerning areas of water scarcity ~ Vulnerable groups scheme ~ Water Saving Group ~ EA Drought web pages ~ Drought orders


Defra:  A new business taskforce has been brought together to identify ways in which companies can move to more sustainable consumption & production practices.  The Steering Group of the UK Business Taskforce on Sustainable Consumption and Production will formally meet for the first time on 14 March.


The Taskforce will look for practical ways in which businesses can minimise the negative impacts of products & services throughout the whole of their life (while remaining profitable) and make recommendations to Government on how policy can support such effort.

Press release ~ Taskforce website ~ Business in the Community ~ Business Council for Sustainable Development-United Kingdom (BCSD-UK) ~ The University of Cambridge Programme for Industry (CPI) ~ CPI Business and the Environment Programme ~  UK Government strategy for sustainable development - Securing the Future (Very V large File 6Mb)


OFT:  Legislation is needed to protect consumers using credit card cheques, says the OFT in its response to the DTI consultation paper on credit card cheques, which allow consumers to draw money from an existing credit card account using a cheque.  But purchases with a credit card cheque can attract a higher interest rate than those made by card and there is often no interest free period as interest is charged as soon as the cheque is processed. Additional fees are also often charged for using a credit card cheque, typically 2% of the value of the transaction.


Research shows that for many consumers these costs are unexpected and may total £57 million a year.  Consumers may also not be aware that items bought with a credit card cheque may have less protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act than a credit card purchase.

Press release ~ OFT response to consultation ~ DTI - Credit card cheques: improving consumer awareness ~ DTI – Tackling over indebtedness


DH:  The Government has given the go ahead to watchdogs to step up spot checks on poor care homes, following a change to legislation announced by Care Services Minister Liam Byrne, who is also to investigate ways of making it easier for relatives of residents to trigger spot checks anonymously.


Care homes with a clear record of delivering excellent services will be freed from red tape to focus their attention on caring for their residents, as the requirement for inspections every year is being removed in favour of inspections at least once every three years.  However, the Commission for Social Care Inspection will increase unannounced spot checks to ensure standards are maintained.

Press release ~ Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) ~ Options for Excellence forum ~ Older People’s Champions ~ National Service framework for older people ~ National Minimum standards for care homes


Policy Statements and Initiatives

ODPM:  Full details of a programme of engagement on the future of local governance, including the issue of local government reorganisation, have been confirmed, with dates & locations now finalised for all events.


Minister for Communities and Local Government David Miliband has invited all council leaders in shire England to face to face discussions on the issue in a series of eight 'Regional Rountables', while the views of other local stakeholders will also be represented at 'County Dialogue' events.


David Miliband said:  "We will make our position on reorganisation clear in the Local Government White Paper in the middle of this year.   This will deliver a clear vision for the long term future of local government, including the crucial issue of structure."  David Miliband recently set out the debate on 'local government reorganisation' in an article for the Local Government Chronicle

Press release ~ The Future of Local Government: Developing a 10-year Vision (Discussion Document July 2004) ~ Local elections in 2007 and local government reorganisation ~ A recent history of UK local government restructuring ~ What happened last time: The impact of local government reorganisation on social services work


DTI:  A new partnership -the Bioscience for Business Knowledge Transfer Network - between business, research & technology organisations and universities has been launched to make science available on the factory floor.


The Network will integrate three key science & business sectors: industrial biotechnology, plant and marine.

Press release ~ Bioscience for Business Knowledge Transfer Network ~ DTI Technology programme ~ National Non-Food Crops Centre ~ Pro-Bio Faraday Partnership ~ Natural Environment Research Council's Blue Microbe marine biotechnology network


DfES:  The Department for Education and Skills has teamed up with World Book Day to encourage more adults to start reading books for enjoyment and to improve their skills by enrolling on free reading & writing courses across the country.  This year, for the first time, World Book Day is targeting new adult readers.


Top authors have been commissioned to write short novels called Quick Reads targeted at emergent readers. The first 12 books were published on World Book Day (2nd March), and a further 10 will be published in May just before Adult Learners Week.


The DfES has also been working with The Vital Link to produce & disseminate free teaching & learning materials for Skills for Life practitioners.  The materials are based on the new Quick Reads books and aim to support tutors to use these resources within their teaching.

Press release ~ Skills for Life Strategy ~ The Get On campaign ~ Quick Reads ~ Quick Reads £1-off vouchers ~ World Book Day ~ Adult Learners Week ~ The Vital Link ~ RAW (Reading and Writing campaign)


Home Office:  Hazel Blears claims that equality, accountability and professionalism are at the heart of a new Code of Professional Standards for the police service. The consultation will close on 27 May 2006.


A Code of Professional Standards reflects the expectations that the police service and the public have of how police officers should behave.  It is not intended to describe every situation but rather to set a framework which everyone can easily understand. It should enable everybody to know what type of conduct by a police officer is right and what is wrong.

Press release ~ New Code of Professional Standards for Police Officers ~ New Code of Professional Standards for Police Officers (Welsh version) ~ Morris Inquiry ~ HM Inspectorate of Constabulary


HMRC:  The Tax Law Rewrite project, which is intended to modernise UK direct tax law so that it is clearer and easier to use, has published a draft of its fourth Bill. Comments on the draft Bill and the Partial Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) should be sent by 31 May 2006


The provisions in the Income Tax Bill include:

·         basic provisions about the charge to income tax, income tax rates, the calculation of income tax liability, and personal reliefs

·         various specific reliefs, including relief for losses, the enterprise investment scheme, venture capital trusts, community investment tax relief, interest paid, gift aid and gifts of assets to charities

·         specific rules about trusts, deduction of tax at source, manufactured payments and repos, tax avoidance, and

·         general income tax definitions

Press release ~ Draft Bill Documents


DfES:  Schools Minister Jacqui Smith is  consulting (with key stakeholders only) on standards for food which can be sold in schools through vending machines, tuck shops and at break times, breakfast clubs & after school.


Headteacher & school workforce associations, dieticians, health charities, and food & drink organisations are invited to submit their views on draft standards proposed by the independent School Food Trust.


Following the consultation, the Government will publish the final version of the non-lunch food standards alongside the agreed standards for school lunches in May. The Government has already consulted on new minimum standards for school lunches to be introduced in all schools by this September.

Press release ~ School Food Trust recommendations~ Food in schools Trust ~ Nutritional standards in schools ~ 'Food in schools - a short guide for parents and carers' ~ National Healthy School Standard ~ Wired for Health ~ Food in Schools Programme ~ Healthy Living Blueprint ~ Teachernet Growing schools ~ School lunchbox survey 2004 ~ A month of lunchboxes ~ More lunchbox suggestions ~ Recipes from the Agency's Cooking Bus ~ Other background documents ~ Food Standards Agency's guide "Healthy Vending Machines"


Defra:  Speaking at the National Farmers' Union Conference 2006, Margaret Beckett outlined a number of measures & announcements which are intended to help farmers & rural communities, working in partnership with government, achieve a thriving & profitable farming industry to produce our food, to deliver the landscapes we value and to help meet our future energy needs.

Press release ~ Consultations on the priorities for the next Rural Development Programme ~ (fact sheet) ~ A consultation on a grant scheme for farmers in priority catchments ~ (fact sheet ) ~ A consultation on how almost £1/2 billion of sugar reform ~ (fact sheet) ~ Sir Don Curry's statement ~ Margaret Beckett's speech ~ EU's Water Framework Directive ~ Big Barn prices onions ~ Code of practice on supermarkets' dealings with suppliers


Defra:  Proposals for dealing with solid low level radioactive waste have been published for consultation (closes 31 May 2006).  Most of these wastes come from the operation of nuclear facilities (mainly paper, plastics & scrap metal), while smaller amounts are also produced by a range of non-nuclear industries such as hospitals, research & educational facilities and the oil & gas industries


However, in future, the clean-up and decommissioning of nuclear sites will create substantial additional amounts, such as soil, building rubble and items such as ducting, piping & reinforcement and, with the current disposal facility - near Drigg in Cumbria - filling up, new options for the long term management of these wastes are needed.

Press release ~ Consultation on UK policy for long term management of solid low level radioactive waste ~ Inventory of UK radioactive wastes ~ Copeland BC - Response to the consultation on the EA's regulatory review of the disposal of radioactive waste (low level waste) at the national low level waste repository (LLWR) at Drigg in Cumbria ~ Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) ~ Defra – Radioactive waste


DTI:  A consultation (closes 22 May 2006) to identify the top UK priorities for EU Structural Funds spending across the UK from 2007 to 2013 has been launched.  Structural Funds are used to promote regional development & employment and the new priorities are expected to include a stronger focus on activities to support enterprise, innovation, sustainable communities and sustainable development, as well as boosting skills & employment.


A new National Strategic Reference Framework is intended to provide an overview of the economic strengths & weaknesses of the UK's nations & regions and will be used to identify & set out the main priorities for future Structural Funds Programmes.

Press release ~ Consultation documents and draft National Framework ~ Community Strategic Guidelines ~ Assisted Areas Map for the UK, ~ Rural Development Programme for England in the 2007-2013 Financial Perspective ~ The Future of the EU Structural and Cohesion Funds post-2006


Comp. Commission:  The Competition Commission (CC) is now consulting (closes Thursday 23 March 2006) on measures to remedy the adverse effect on competition it provisionally found in the markets for the supply of domestic bulk liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


The measures include removing the need to change tanks when changing supplier, improving the terms of customer contracts, and giving customers more information.

Press release ~  Domestic bulk liquefied petroleum gas inquiry ~ OFT LPG market reference

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

Defra:  The Expert Panel on Air Quality Standards (EPAQS) has produced guidelines for halogens and hydrogen halides for protecting human health.  High concentrations of these substances may lead to irritant effects in sensitive individuals and the guidelines are intended to help protect local populations living around the small number of industrial sites where these chemicals are produced.


EPAQS is due to publish a draft addendum to this report in Spring 2006 for a 12-week consultation. The Addendum will recommend provisional guideline values for hydrogen iodide and hydrogen fluoride for protecting human health against chronic systemic effects.   EPAQS is currently also working on a report recommending guideline values for the metals and metaloids, arsenic, beryllium, chromium, and nickel.

Press release ~ Expert Panel on Air Quality Standards ~ Guidelines for halogens and hydrogen halides in ambient air for protecting human health against acute irritancy effects ~ Defra Air quality website ~ Environment Agency – Air quality ~ Scottish Environmental Protection Agency ~ Defra - Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control regime ~ IPPC: a practical guide for health authorities


DH:  A new drive to help people with mental health problems get back on their feet and back into work has been launched by Health Minister Rosie Winterton with the publication of four sets of new guidance for commissioners of services, designed to better re-integrate people that have suffered with mental health problems into society, covering vocational services, day services, direct payments women's only day services

Press release ~ Exclusion Unit (SEU) - Social Exclusion and Mental Health ~ Vocational services for people with severe mental health problems: Commissioning guidance ~ Direct payments for people with mental health problems: A guide to action ~ From segregation to inclusion: Commissioning guidance on day services for people with mental health problems ~ Supporting women into the mainstream: Commissioning women-only community day services ~ National Social Inclusion Programme (NSIP) ~ Green Paper Independence, Well-being and Choice


ODPM:  The introduction of a Code of Best Practice has made a significant improvement in community consultation for planning for mobile network development, a recent study has revealed.  The key conclusions reveal that where telecommunication operators and their agents comply with the Code, it is considered to be working well, but that local planning authority compliance with the Code and involvement in planning for mobile network development can vary considerably.


The researchers also found that some community consultees feel that the Code, as currently drafted, does not offer them sufficient assurance that their comments & concerns will actually be taken on board by the operators.  Researchers are now recommending a revision of the Code to further improve many of the positive aspects. 

Press release ~ Code of Best Practice on Mobile Phone Network Development ~ Review of Code of Best practice on Mobile Phone Network Development ~ Site finder website ~ Vanishing masts ~ Mast Sanity


DfES:  The Department for Education and Skills has been attempting to continue its drive to tackle bullying in schools with the publication of new guidelines - Bullying around racism, religion and culture - for schools on tackling racist bullying. 


Developed in partnership with anti-racist organisations, schools, local authorities, professional associations, community & voluntary sector groups and young people themselves, the guidelines offer suggestions for lessons, staff training and anti-bullying strategies to help schools identify and prevent racist bullying and deal with it robustly should it occur.


The guidelines will be supported by a nationwide series of workshops for schools starting this month, where leading teachers and organisations in tackling racist bullying will promote effective practice in tackling bullying and promoting race equality.

Press release ~ Bullying around racism, religion and culture ~ Improving behaviour in schools ~ Tackling school bullying: Don’t suffer in silence ~ Advice for parents ~ Anne Frank website ~ Football unites, racism divides ~  Minority Ethnic Pupils in Mainly White Schools, DfES research report 365, 2002 ~ White Paper 'Higher Standards, Better Schools for All' ~ Education and Schools Inspections Bill ~ DfES - Don’t suffer in silence ~ Belonging, identity and equality – some classroom activities ~ Listening to the views of children and young people


Annual Reports

Food SA: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published its sixth Consumer Attitudes to Food Survey, which reveals that an increasing number of consumers across the UK say they are taking an active interest in their food and diet, with more people checking food labels and trying to eat more fruit and vegetables.

Press release ~ Sixth Consumer Attitudes to Food Survey ~ www.eatwell.gov.uk ~  www.salt.gov.uk

General Reports and other publications

DH:  A review in to how patients were infected with Hepatitis C and HIV through contaminated blood in the 1970s and early 1980s, has been published. 


The report concludes that:

·         Nobody acted wrongly in the light of the facts that were available to them at the time.

·         Every effort was made by the Government to pursue self sufficiency in blood products during the period

·         The more serious consequences of Hepatitis C, only became apparent in 1989 and the development of reliable tests for its recognition in 1991.

·         Tests to devise a procedure to make the Hepatitis C virus inactive were developed & introduced as soon as practicable

·         Self sufficiency in blood products would not have prevented haemophiliacs from being infected with hepatitis C.

Press release ~ Review ~ Skipton Fund ~ Macfarlane Trust ~ DH Blood safety ~ National Blood Service ~ Welsh Blood service ~ ScotBlood


DTI:  The report "Shaping a Fairer Future" from the Women & Work Commission sets out 40 recommendations to tackle job segregation & the gender pay gap which still exists despite 30 years of Equal Pay legislation.


Proposals include setting up a national World of Work programme to improve vocational training, providing work taster days for primary school pupils and using work experience to encourage girls to think about non-traditional jobs, as well as promote apprenticeships for women especially in sectors with skill shortages.

Press release ~ Shaping a Fairer Future ~ Women and Work Commission ~ Denise Kingsmill's report on Women's Employment and Pay ~ Brighter Boards for a brighter future ~ Female FTSE Index ~ Diversity Best Practice in the corporate world: A guide to business (VLF 5.3Mb v slow to load)


FSA:  The FSA's Fraud Governance report has found that the larger financial firms, driven by mounting fraud losses, have taken steps to strengthen their fraud management capabilities. The report looked at how senior management is tackling fraud risk in 16 mainly larger financial services groups and it found that senior managers recognised that the increasing threat of fraud needs to be managed in a more effective & integrated way.

Press release ~ Firms’ High-Level Management of Fraud Risk ~ Financial Risk Outlook 2006 ~ 'Countering financial crime risks in information security'


DWP:  New research recently published by the Department for Work and Pensions presents the findings of an investigation into the factors that maximize the role of outreach in welfare to work policy.


Outreach has been used as a mechanism to deliver elements of welfare to work services in local community settings and this research sets out to determine what makes for effective outreach provision, and conversely to look at the factors that serve to inhibit successful outreach services. The research had two main strands: a literature review and a series of interviews with policy personnel, local stakeholders & outreach project managers.

Press release ~ Report 326 - Maximising the Role of Outreach in Client EngagementFull report ~ Summary


DWP:   New research published by the Department for Work and Pensions details findings of the research on the costs to Local Authorities in England, Scotland and Wales of administering Housing and Council Tax Benefit.

Press release ~ Research report 332: Costs of Administering Housing and Council Tax Benefits: Summary


NAO:  According to an NAO report greater priority for green space investment and new sources of funds from central government & the lottery have enabled local authorities, public bodies and over 4,000 communities to bring about the refurbishment & renewal of many green spaces.  


However in 16% of places, green space continues to decline and surveys of residents show a wide variation in levels of satisfaction with local green space, from a low of 54% satisfied to a high of 92%.   The report points out that the worst-performing local authorities in respect of green spaces are not necessarily those in the most deprived areas.

Press release ~ Enhancing Urban Green Space: Full report (VLF 3Mb) ~ Executive summary ~Sheffield Botanical Gardens ~ CABE Space ~ Green Spaces, Better places ~ ODPM Parks and open green spaces website ~ Green Space ~ IDEA – Improving Urban green space ~ Green Flag Award


NAO:  Following a number of deaths of UK service personnel during the combat phase of Operation TELIC in Iraq in March 2003, the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee asked the NAO to assess the MoD’s progress in delivering combat identification capability, including lessons identified from recent operations.


This new NAO  report concluds that progress in increasing the tempo of the MoD’s efforts has been mixed, but that it had maintained its policy of minimising all casualties in conflicts, including civilian casualties & further developed its international co-operation, as well as taking steps to improve the collection of data on fratricide.

NAO press release ~ MOD press release ~ Progress in combat identification: Full Report ~ Executive Summary ~ Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on Combat Identification (2002) ~ Operation TELIC in Iraq ~ ASTOR surveillance system ~ Successor Friend or Foe air identification system

Legislation / Legal

HSE:  The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced the revised Construction (Design and Management) (CDM) Regulations implementation will be delayed until Spring 2007.  The Regulations will revise & bring together provisions in the existing CDM Regulations 1994 and the Construction (Health Safety and Welfare) (CHSW) Regulations 1996 into a single regulatory package.


Following a consultation the HSC has agreed to postpone implementation from 1 October 2006.  The new timetable has the support of the Construction Industry Advisory Committee (CONIAC) CDM Review Working group.

Press release ~ Revision of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM) 1994, Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) (CHSW) Regulations 1996, Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) and Guidance ~ Revitalising Health and Safety in Construction ~ HSE Construction website ~ Construction Industry Advisory Committee (CONIAC) CDM Review Working group ~ Construction Confederation


DfES:  Education Secretary Ruth Kelly has announced that sanctions, including penalties of up to five years in prison and fines of up to £5,000 will be extended to a wider group of employers as part of new legislation – the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill - to establish a centralised vetting system for people working with children & vulnerable adults.


Employers, including for the first time those operating internet chat rooms, will be committing an offence and will face penalties if they employ people to work with children & vulnerable adults that they know are barred.  These same penalties - fines & sentences - will also be applied to employees.


The Government aims to roll out the Bill's measures from 2007.  They have made clear that they will also significantly strengthen the current system in the interim.

Press release ~ Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill (click on ‘S’) ~ Factsheet ~ Every Child Matters website – Vetting and Barring scheme (Scroll down for Post - Bichard Inquiry progress reports) ~ Criminal Records Bureau ~ List 99 ~ DfES: The Protection of Children Act 1999 - A Practical Guide to the Act for all Organisations Working with Children (Revised September 2005) ~ Teachernet - Safeguarding Children: Safer Recruitment and Selection in Education Settings

EU legislation, initiatives, etc.

FSA:  The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has set out its proposals for implementing the EU Capital Requirements Directive (CRD).  'Strengthening Capital Standards 2' is the FSA's major consultation (ends on 28 April 2006) on this subject and includes the full set of draft Handbook rules and guidance.


The aim of the CRD is to introduce a modern, risk-sensitive prudential framework for credit institutions and investment firms across the EU. The CRD, which comes into force on 1 January 2007, was developed in line with the revised Basel framework, which will apply from 1 January 2008.


The FSA will hold a major conference on 21 March 2006 to highlight the most important aspects of the CP for firms and to discuss with them issues arising from the practical implementation of the new rules.  The FSA intends to publish a Feedback Statement in July 2006 responding to comments received on CP06/3 and to finalise the Handbook rules and guidance to implement CP06/3 by October 2006.

Press release ~ Consultation paper (CP06/3) - 'Strengthening Capital Standards 2'  ~ EU Capital Requirements Directive (CRD) / Basel framework ~ Conference ~ Trading Book Review


Cabinet Office:  A review set up to look at how the UK puts EU legislation into practice is calling for evidence of over-implementation and asking business and other sectors to come forward (by 25 May 2006) with instances where 'goldplating' - adding unnecessary burdens as EU measures enter UK law - may be creating excessive red tape in the UK.


Supported by the Cabinet Office, the review aims to identify - and consider ways to simplify - any unnecessary burdens created by over-implementation and will report with recommendations to Government by the end of 2006.

Press release ~ Davidson Review ~ Call for evidence ~ Cabinet Office Better Regulation Executive ~ Legislative & Regulatory Reform Bill ~ Admin Burden Measuring Project ~ Simplification plans ~ Better regulation portal ~ Mergers and penalties review

Charity and Voluntary Sector

MoD:  The MoD has donated a piece of land in Aldershot for a new 25 bed hostel that will provide ex-service personnel with temporary accommodation and help them find new jobs by providing access to top of the range computer facilities and trained careers advisors.  Work on the hostel will begin shortly, and it's hoped that the first residents will be able to move in by Summer 2007.


Don Touhig, Under Secretary of State for Defence, also announced the launch of an additional information section on the Veterans Agency website on help available for ex-service personnel if they are homeless.

Press release ~ Galleries project ~ Spaces project ~ English Churches Housing Group (ECHG) ~ Homelessness and Housing Support Directorate ~ Veterans Agency - Homelessness ~ Strategy for Veterans


CC:  Maintained schools seeking to extend their services to local communities by providing pre-school facilities can receive help from guidance issued by the Charity Commission, which responds to questions from the voluntary sector about how schools can maximise the money available from the government's Extended Schools Initiative, which encourages schools to offer their wider communities after school clubs, pre-school childcare and adult learning classes

Press release ~ Guidance on the Extended Schools Initiative and the provision of pre-school childcare ~ Teachernet - Extended Schools Initiative ~ Pre-school Learning Alliance ~ IDEA - ESI ~ Surestart research projects ~ The Extended Schools Support Service ~ 4 Children

Business and other briefings

HSE:  Lord Hunt of Kings Heath has launched Workplace Health Connect, a new free advisory service on workplace health for smaller businesses - the Health Connect service – which is designed to help tackle & reduce the incidence of work related ill-health in England & Wales and principally lead to a 9% reduction in the number of days lost due to injuries and ill-health (currently 28m, at an estimated cost of £10 billion to the UK economy).


It will provide free, impartial and practical advice & support on health, safety and return to work issues.   A key aim of the workplace visits will be to transfer knowledge and skills to employers.  A written report will summarise findings and an action plan for resolving issues identified. Clients will also be offered a follow-up visit offering further support. Where necessary, employers will be signposted to specialist support.

Press release ~ Workplace Health Connect website ~ Healthy Working Lives (for Scotland)


HMRC:  Internet trading is becoming increasingly popular and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) gives its tips in this news item on getting things right so that you can avoid a large, unexpected VAT bill or paying out more than you need to. They also explain in brief the different VAT schemes available so that you can choose what suits you.

Press release ~ FAQ trading on the Internet ~ Internet Selling ~ Microsoft e-commerce startup guides to trading on the Internet ~ Business link


HMRC:  Employers are being reminded that they must stop paying Working Tax Credit via their payroll by the end of this month.  Since its introduction in April 2003, Working Tax Credit has been paid via employers to supplement the wages of people on low incomes. However, as part of the Government's commitment to remove regulatory burdens on business, HM Revenue & Customs will now be paying all claimants directly from April.


Employers should have received a final 'stop notice' for each of their employees in receipt of Working Tax Credit.  If they haven't, they should contact HMRC immediately to arrange a stop date. On no account should employers make Working Tax Credit payments to employees after 31 March 2006.

Press release ~ HMRC


HMRC:  VAT Business Brief 02/06


·         VAT: Judgments of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the cases of University of Huddersfield, BUPA Hospitals Limited and Halifax plc

·         Management Support System (MSS) Data To The Trade Scheme - announcement of changes

·         VAT Avoidance Disclosures Unit - change of address

Press release ~ Business Briefs 2006 (it sometimes takes time to appear here)

Industry News

Forthcoming Event

Editorial Content Statement

WGPlus would like to make it clear that the commentary & links provided, in respect of any particular item, are published in its capacity as an independent non-government funded organisation and reflect the editorial team’s need to both précis & re‑format the content of news releases. 


Any views expressed are therefore entirely those of the WGPlus editorial team and independent of any sponsor, government organisation or political party.


For the official view of a source organisation, readers should click on the ‘press release’ that is the first link attached to each item.


While every care is taken to ensure that all links ’work’ in the newsletter (including checking just before publication), WGPlus cannot guarantee that websites will not make changes that will nullify individual links, especially over a period of time.


WGPlus is not responsible for the content of external websites