Pity we cannot make the actual ‘LIBOR’ bankers pay rather than the banks’ shareholders

Ex-armed forces personnel in need of housing will be able to benefit from £40m funding for life-changing accommodation initiatives across the country.  The new funding, guaranteed through LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) fines imposed on banks, has doubled the total amount the government has given to armed forces’ & veterans’ charities through this scheme, which is part of the nation’s commitment to the armed forces covenant.

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Scotland’s modern-day Ruin?

In Scotland a man can buy a week’s worth of his sensible drinking guidelines amount for less than £5; a figure Health Secretary Alex Neil has branded “too cheap”.  Mr Neil was speaking ahead of the appeal hearing on minimum unit pricing at the Court of Session.  Figures show alcohol is being sold for less than 20 pence a unit in Scotland.

For example, it is possible to buy 3 litres of branded high strength cider, around 22 units – more than the guidelines recommend for a man for a whole week - for £4.50.  Mr Neil insisted that a minimum unit price of 50p would make a significant difference towards tackling misuse and alcohol-related harm.

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Could coal really make a ‘comeback’ as a low carbon energy source?

An ambitious roll-out of carbon capture storage (CCS) technology would generate a large number of jobs, create a market worth £15-35bn by 2030, and reduce household electricity bills by £82 a year, according to a joint report published recently by the TUC and the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA).

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Saves money and pleases patients

A new dedicated discharge hub is helping to reduce delays for patients waiting in hospital to go home.  The unit, which has been put in place through the Scottish Government’s £50m emergency care action plan, is helping the hospital to cope with increased demand over the winter period.

The team, which was set up in August at Victoria Hospital in NHS Fife, is working with wards throughout the hospital to ensure patients have the support they need to return home.  It has seen 80% of patients discharged within one week of being referred.

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All EU Governments are ‘corrupt’, but some are more ‘corrupt’ than others evidently

Corruption continues to be a challenge for Europe and it costs the European economy around €120bn per year according to the first ever EU Anti-Corruption Report published last week by the European Commission.  The report explains the situation in each Member State: what anti-corruption measures are in place, which ones are working well, what could be improved and how.

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It’s so easy to make a careless disclosure relating to the most vulnerable in society

A report published by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has highlighted the challenges independent fostering & adoption agencies are facing when looking after sensitive personal information.  The report summarises the key findings from 10 advisory visits carried out by the ICO with independent fostering & adoption agencies in England.

The ICO found a number of common problems that put the security of sensitive personal information at risk.  These included insecure transfers between & local authorities, and between carers & agencies.  There was also a general lack of appropriate staff training, insufficient guidance for carers, and a failure to encrypt sensitive personal information held on mobile devices, such as laptops and memory sticks.

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The ‘worrying’ thing is that charities are responsible for spending £bns; much of it government funded

The Public Accounts Committee has published its reports on Gift Aid & other tax reliefs on charitable donation, and the Charity Commission.  The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the PAC said:  "We are dismayed by the fact that the Charity Commission is still performing poorly & failing to regulate the charity sector effectively.  It is obvious that it has no coherent strategy and has been simply buffeted by external events.  It is clear that the Charity Commission is not fit for purpose.

The Commission too willingly accepts what charities tell it when it is investigating alleged abuses.  It too often fails to verify or challenge the claims made.  Some of the most serious cases of abuse have not been properly investigated.  It has been too slow in removing or suspending trustees and in pursuing investigations promptly - as demonstrated in its feeble investigation into the Cup Trust.  We have little confidence in the Commission’s ability to put right its problems and failings.

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Care for the elderly in Scotland becoming un-affordable?

An Audit Scotland report published last week, Reshaping care for older people, reviews progress 3 years into the Scottish Government's 10-year project to improve health & social services for people aged 65 or over.  It is one of Scotland's biggest and most complex programmes and involves NHS, local government, voluntary and private bodies.  The Government is supporting it with a 4-year, £300m Change Fund.

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The best of our future skilled workforce

The search is now on to find the country’s top apprentices & Apprenticeship employers.  The Awards, which are run by the National Apprenticeship Service, are now open for entries to compete to be named ‘the best of the best’ on a regional and national level.  Entries for the Awards close on Friday 28 March 2014.

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The STFC needs you!

A number of vacancies have arisen for outstanding individuals to become members of STFC's committees & panels.  This is an annual call and, as a result, membership may commence at different times.  The vacancies have arisen, or will be arising, due to the normal rotation of membership.  The closing date for these posts is Friday 25th April 2014.

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Make your home safer for your young children

Extra families in Scotland have become eligible to receive potentially life-saving equipment such as blind cord cleats & safety gates as part of a national scheme which has been rolled out to new areas.  Scotland’s Home Safety Equipment Scheme, which runs until June 2014, has been expanded to cover Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire and Angus.    Each eligible family also receives a home fire safety visit from the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, which is working alongside the partners.

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 Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive

Want to make an impact on human rights in China?

The British Embassy in Beijing is pleased to announce a call for bids to the FCO’s Human Rights and Democracy Strategic Programme Fund.  This fund aims to make a difference to people’s lives by helping to build the capacity of governments and civil society to promote & protect human rights.  The deadline for submitting concept bids is 17:00 (Beijing time) on Friday 28 February 2014.

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Addressing the key considerations to making the transition....register now image.
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