EHRCGetting around is hard enough without being harassed as well - The Equality and Human Rights Commission is investigating whether public bodies & public transport providers are fulfilling their legal obligations to prevent disabled people from being harassed.  Councils, police forces, schools and other public bodies (as well as bus, train companies and other public transport providers) found to be failing in their duties could face enforcement action.

Every working day at least one person on average appears in court charged with a crime against a disabled person - nearly half of which involve violence.  Evidence already gathered by the EHRC suggests that many more incidents of targeted violence or hostility go unreported or are not dealt with properly by social housing bodies, social services teams, crime prevention units, public transport and other public bodies in Britain.  

Members of the public are being asked if they sought help from any public body or transport provider and what support they got, either as a result of being harassed because of their disability or because of their connection to someone who is disabled.  The Commission is working with organisations of and for disabled people or crime victims to help gather evidence.  Public bodies & transport providers are being asked to disclose what steps – if any – they are taking to meet their legal duties.

The first wave of evidence will be collected until Friday 10 September 2010.  It can be given directly to the Commission via its website.  Evidence can be taken in disabled people's preferred formats where required. 13 evidence gathering events have already been organised and more are in the pipeline.  These will be held around Britain in the next 3 months and will be publicised locally.  Disabled people, organisations of & for disabled people, or crime victims, will be invited to attend.
Press release ~ CAB press release in response ~ Crown Prosecution Service, Hate Crime Report 2008-2009 ~ CPS legal guidance ~ EHRC: Promoting the Safety and Security of Disabled People ~ EHRC: Guidance to help public authorities understand what their duties ~ EHRC – Transport ~ Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 ~ Directgov – Motoring & Transport ~ Access to Air Travel Code of Practice ~ AA Disabled travellers guide ~ Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee ~ Disability Equality and Awareness Training Framework for Transport Staff ~ Directgov - Disability Discrimination Act (part 3) ~ RADAR: the disability network ~ TfL Accessibility guides ~ Directenquiries – the nationwide access centre ~ Liberty: Right to Equal Treatment: Disability Discrimination in Transport ~ DPTAC: Door to Door: a travel guide for disabled people

OFT:  Debt is often an ever present reality for the less well off - The OFT has published the final report of its review of the £7.5bn high-cost credit sector. The sector comprises the pawnbroking, payday loan, home credit & rent-to-buy credit markets.  Products supplied in these markets are typically used by people on low incomes who cannot access mainstream credit and who borrow small sums for short periods.

The report found that, in a number of respects, these markets work reasonably well in that they serve borrowers not catered for by mainstream suppliers, complaint levels are low, and there is evidence that for some products, lenders do not levy charges on customers who miss payments or make payments late.  

The report also makes some recommendations for improvements to the functioning of aspects of these markets that work less well.  However, more radical approaches which are beyond the OFT's remit would be required if the Government or others wanted to tackle the wider social, economic and financial context in which high-cost credit markets exist.

The OFT has also considered the case for price controls for pawnbroking, payday loans, home credit and rent-to-buy credit and concluded that they will not address the problems identified in the high-cost credit sector, which stem from both limited supply options and consumers' lack of ability to drive competition.  The report makes a number of recommendations for improvements to the way in which these markets operate, while recognising that these will have only a limited impact in the current context.
Press release ~ OFT: High-cost credit review ~ OFT project webpage ~ White Paper: A Better Deal for Consumers – Delivering Real Help Now and Change for the Future ~ Money Advice Trust ~ In Debt - Dealing with Your Creditors ~ Insolvency Service ~ Moneymadeclear ~ OFT – Irresponsible Lending ~ Debt Management Schemes – delivering effective and balanced solutions for debtors and creditors ~ The government response to the consultation Administration and Enforcement Restriction Orders: Setting the Parameters and the consultation ~ OFT - Debt Management practices ~ BIS - Over-Indebtedness ~ CAB: Face-to-face debt advice ~ Advice UK ~ The Consumer Credit Counselling Service ~ Stop Loan Sharks website ~ BIS: Face to Face debt advice project ~ CAB ‘Debt’ publications ~ CAB: Credit and debt fact sheets ~ Dealing with loan sharks : Directgov ~ WAG – Credit unions ~ Association of British Credit Unions ~ National Association of Credit Union Workers ~ The Debt Test on BBC website

CRC:  Beautiful landscapes are often the result of decades of hard farming - The main findings of the inquiry into the future of upland communities, by the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC), are that the English uplands are landscapes that provide a wealth of natural & cultural assets.  They also have the potential to generate many valuable public goods & market products, supporting a low carbon future and green economy.  Vibrant, secure upland communities hold the key to realising this potential.

Unlocking that potential requires government to work with and support local communities and land managers.  In particular this means empowering communities, increasing the supply of affordable housing, particularly for young people, and improving access to next generation broadband and mobile communications.
Current support for hill farming is inadequate to sustain these assets.  New funding mechanisms are required as part of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy from 2013.  These would reward farmers for managing national assets in harmony with developing businesses.  

A new approach is needed which would balance the needs of the environment with maximising the economic potential of the uplands.  But supporting farmers is not sufficient on its own: the communities in which they are embedded must also be enabled to thrive if these assets are to be sustained.

The inquiry also calls for a new integrated approach to maximising the potential of these unique & diverse natural assets.  At present, the inquiry found a lack of joined-up thinking, with too many of the well-intentioned initiatives having unintended negative consequences for communities, farmers and land owners alike.
Press release ~ High ground, high potential – a future for England’s upland communities: Summary report ~ Read expanded CRC press release ~ CRC: Upland Communities project page ~ Developing the English Uplands ~ NE: Update sessions for agents on Uplands ELS ~ Look after your uplands with Environmental Stewardship ~ Changing Land Use in Rural Scotland - Drivers and Decision-Making ~ Realising the Potential Contributions of Scotland's Rural Land to Delivering Sustainable Economic Growth ~ The Role of the Public Sector in Realising the Benefits of Scotland's Rural Land - Research ~ Pack Inquiry on the Future of Agricultural Support for Scotland ~ Vital Uplands - a 2060 Vision for England’s uplands (scroll down) ~ Report on Market Towns ~ State of the Countryside Update: uplands ~ Northumberland Renewable Energy Group ~ Defra – The English Uplands ~ International Centre for Uplands ~ Natural England ~ NE210 - Vital uplands: Natural England’s vision for the upland environment in 2060 ~ Other related publications ~ Defra – CAP reform ~ CAP Reform - Agriculture and Rural Development - EUROPA ~ The International Centre for the Uplands – Cumbria (ICU-C) ~ The Southern Uplands partnership ~ Sustainable Uplands ~ ESEP Ltd : European Structural Fund Programmes for Lowlands and Uplands Scotland 2007-2013 ~ Northumberland Uplands

Newswire – NRThey could start by reducing the excessive soft drinks profit margins in pubs - In the first major review of drink & drug driving law since 1976, Sir Peter North recommends that the drink drive limit is reduced from 80mg/100ml to 50mg/100ml and that there should be a step-by-step assault on drug-driving.

The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence’s (NICE) high-end estimates suggest that as many as 168 lives - approximately 7% of current road deaths in Great Britain - could be saved in the first year of a reduced limit, rising to as many as 303 lives saved by the 6th year following any change in the law.  Sir Peter also recommends maintaining the current 12-month mandatory driving ban at the lower limit.

Tasked to independently review both drink & drug driving law, Sir Peter makes 51 recommendations to the Secretary of State for Transport in a bid to reduce drink & drug driving casualties.  The most recent statistics showed 430 drink drive deaths and 60 reported drug drive deaths in 2008, but the report stresses that many others are dying as a result of crashes involving drivers impaired by alcohol, but below the current limit.
Press release ~ North Review ~ Drug driving ~ Drink driving ~ THINK! Driver Friendly initiative ~ Drinking and Driving 2007: Prevalence, Decision Making and Attitudes ~ BMA - Make Scotland's roads safer - reduce the drink driving limit ~ Road Safety Scotland ~ GMP: Drink and Drunk Driving wrecks lives! ~ Drink Drive Rehabilitation Courses ~ Brake – Not a drop, Not a drag ~ Why Let Drink Decide? Campaign ~ Know Your Limits ~ Road Safety Compliance consultation ~ Related independent research reports ~ Tales of the Road website ~ Sentencing Guidelines Council ‘Causing Death By Driving’ guidance ~ Talent Lives ~ Get in Lane ~ ROSPA: Driving for work - Drink and Drugs

Directgov:  Learn just how much it will ‘hurt’ - On Tuesday 22 June 2010 (at 12:30pm), the Chancellor George Osborne will deliver the Budget and explain how the coalition government intends to reduce the deficit. In advance of the announcement, you can sign-up free of charge to a Directgov widget, which you can embed on your site, allowing your users to read the key lines from the report as they are announced by the Chancellor.  These tweets will be easy-to-understand summaries of the main points.

In addition, on the day, Directgov will provide clear & impartial information to explain exactly what the Budget means to households across the nation at www.direct.gov.uk/budget2010.
Press release ~ HMT: Official Budget report, speech and supporting documents

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