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In the news

NAO:  Electronic Detention is ‘robust & reliable’ - According to a National Audit Office report, electronic monitoring of adult offenders is a cost effective alternative to custody for low risk offenders, being 5 times cheaper than custodial sentences.   NAO testing of the technology used for electronic monitoring showed that it is robust & reliable, detecting absences during curfew periods plus attempts to cut off the tag or tamper with the equipment.


The report highlights the number of agencies involved and difficulties they sometimes have communicating with each other and the private contractors who provide the equipment and who actually monitor offenders.   


The impact of the curfew is undermined if the equipment is not installed on time, or if breaches are not promptly dealt with. Only 90% of curfewees were fitted with a tag within 24 hours of the start of their curfew.


Long delays between a breach and an offender either being returned to court or to prison may also create the impression that offenders can breach with impunity, reducing public confidence in the criminal justice system.  For electronic monitoring to be most effective, co-ordination across the criminal justice system needs to be improved. This will reduce the risk of delays in fitting tags or reporting breaches of curfew and will also make the assessment of offenders more efficient.

Press release ~ Full Report ~ Executive Summary ~ Electronic Monitoring Team within NOMS ~ Satellite tracking ~ Home Detention Curfew (HDC) ~ Curfew Orders ~ Items from BBC ~ Electronic monitoring of released prisoners: an evaluation of the Home Detention Curfew Scheme ~ Q&A for curfewee


Cabinet Office:  ‘Service delivery’ is a skill not an automatic process – The government has launched ‘Government skills’ (the Sector Skills Council for Central Government), which has been created to focus on the skills needed to improve service delivery from central government.   It is one of 25 Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) which make up the Skills for Business network, whose aim is to boost the productivity & profitability of the UK.


Government Skills will work on behalf of central government in the following areas:

·         Professional Skills for Government - ensuring its successful delivery across the Civil Service

·         Standards and Qualifications - developing the necessary professional & occupational standards and qualifications to improve delivery

·         Workforce data - using workforce intelligence & information to underpin business plans and give junior staff and under-represented groups fair access to training and development

·         Skills Needs - work closely with employers to address skills needs and achieve best value

·         Cross Sector Development - work with Skills for Business Network and other public service Sectors Skills

Press release ~ Government Skills ~ Skills for Business network ~ Sectors Skills Development Agency ~ Cabinet Office - Public sector training ~ Professional skills for government ~ GSRU on PSG ~ OGC Delivery Toolkit ~ ESRC Public Services Delivery Programme ~ EURIM – Integrating Service Delivery


Met Office:  Just another weather forecast! - According to Met Office, England & Wales have had the driest January for almost a decade and some parts of the UK have had less than a quarter of their average rainfall so far this year.   In total England and Wales had 33.2 mm of rain throughout the month - 37% of the long-term average - making it the driest January since 1997 and the 6th driest on record.


In hydrological terms the 'water year' runs from October to September; with September being the time when ground water levels are expected to be at their lowest. The period from October to the end of April is the time when water levels are expected to 'recharge'. A dry winter period is more critical than a dry summer period.


You may be wondering why this item warrants being highlighted, as the subject has been the mentioned in the media elsewhere.  Well joking apart, the Met office often gets criticised for its fluctuating levels of accuracy so, as the temperatures continue to plummet, we thought it appropriate to review what they forecast for the 05/06 winter on 26th September:


The Met Office has given advanced warning to many of its customers and partners to plan for a 'colder than average winter'. Using a traffic light analogy, the organisation has written to contingency planners in the Government - including the NHS and Highways Agency - and in the energy industry, as well as many others to put them on Amber Alert……


The long-range forecast also signals a dry winter across much of the UK.  A cautious approach needs to be taken at the moment but, bearing in mind the lack of rain for the UK over the last 12 months, this factor may be more significant in the long run.

Press release ~ Press release 26 Sept 05 ~ Winter Fuel Payment website ~ Met Office: Prolonged dry spell 2004/5 ~ Related press release ~ EA Drought web pages ~ Weir Wood reservoir ~ Drought orders


Defra:  PAWs for CAWT - Biodiversity Minister Jim Knight has announced at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit and Dialogue that the UK Government is joining the US-led Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT) and he urged India and China to do so in order to save rare species, such as tigers, from extinction.


The aims of CAWT are very similar to the UK's very successful national initiative known as Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW), in which Government & civil society join together to fight wildlife crime.  PAW has brought together people and organisations with an interest in combating wildlife crime and the PAW model has been commended & adopted by other countries.

Press release ~ Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT) ~ Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW) ~ UK National Wildlife Crime Intelligence Unit ~ Delhi Sustainable Development Summit and Dialogue ~ TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) ~ UK-India Sustainable Development Dialogue ~ Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) ~ TRAFFIC International ~ Global Tiger Forum ~ Nowhere to hide: The trade in Sumatran tigers ~ Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) ~  21st Century Tiger project ~ Cat Specialist Group Online Cat Project ~ World Conservation Union ~ Species Survival Commission


Industry news:  E-Government driven by research not political mandate - Brunel University's School of Information Systems, Computing and Mathematics (SISCM) has successfully secured Government funding to identify the emerging research issues in the area of e-Government Information Systems.


Over the next 5 months, together with the CIPFA Improvement Through Technology Network, a series of workshops will take place around the UK to consult key stakeholders about their experiences & future challenges, and thus support research capacity building in this area.


Four consultation meetings are planned, starting in London on February 10th, with others taking place in March, April and May in Cardiff, Manchester and Edinburgh respectively.  If you wish to attend these events - or would like to be kept informed of news from project VIEGO - please send your email and organisational details to Omiros D Sarikas (


Dedicated consultative meetings are also planned with major interest groups, such as the Cabinet Office e-Government Unit and the ODPM. The results of this consultation process will be published as a joint report "Electronic Transformation of Government in the UK: A Research Agenda" by project VIEGO and CIPFA in late June.

Full article ~ Brunel University's SISCM ~ Network for eGovernment Integration and Systems Evaluation (eGISE) ~ CIPFA-SOCITM Improvement Through Technology Network (ITT) ~ project VIEGO


Forthcoming event:  Time to start working towards the 2009 Directive - This FREE one-day conference is intended to provide delegates with a comprehensive, theoretical & practical knowledge of the Working Time Directive 2009, which sees the maximum working hours of junior doctors reduce from 58 to 48, representing a reduction of 17%.


Organised by the NHS National Workforce Projects, on 4 April 2006, at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London, with the theme of Transforming Care Delivery, the event provides an excellent opportunity to network, share ideas and experiences with others delivering improvements to meet WTD compliance.

Full details ~ Online registration form ~ National Workforce Projects WTD website ~ DH WTD website ~ Hospitals at Night ~ Work design and planning ~ Questions and Answers about working time ~ WTD & training of surgeons ~ Modernisation Agency documents

General News

DWP:  The Department for Work and Pensions has published the latest estimates of the take-up of the main income related benefits in Great Britain: Income Support, Minimum Income Guarantee, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, Jobseeker's Allowance (Income-Based) and for the first time, Pension Credit, which was introduced in October 2003.

Press release ~ DWP Services and Benefits ~ DWP research report Encouraging take-up: awareness of and attitudes to Pension Credit


FSCS:  Consumers who want to make an endowment claim against a firm that is no longer trading can now get help from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) which has launched an online service to help people who think they may have been mis-sold an endowment policy decide whether they have a claim that FSCS may be able to help with.


The service is free to consumers as the FSCS is funded by levies on authorised financial services firms. It covers deposits, insurance, mortgages and investments.

Press release ~ Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) ~ Online questionnaire ~ Plan and budget for 2006/07


OFT:  John Fingleton, Chief Executive of the OFT and Gerry Sutcliffe, DTI Minister for Consumer Affairs, have jointly launched the 2006 scams awareness campaign. The campaign will run throughout February and aims to arm consumers with the knowledge and skills they need to recognise, report and stamp out mass-marketed scams.


Scams Awareness Month is part of an international initiative organised by the International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network (ICPEN).  From 1 April 2006, Consumer Direct will provide the public with a single contact point for advice on recognising and avoiding scams.

Press release ~ International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network (ICPEN) ~ ICSTIS ~ Consumer Direct ~ OFT Scams website ~ Charity Support publishing

Policy Statements and Initiatives

Defra:  Defra estimates that there could be 80million set-top boxes in the UK by 2010 and have written to all the major digital TV broadcasters, service providers and retailers urging them to sign up to the EU Code of Conduct, which sets energy efficiency standards for digital TV equipment.  .


Appliances such as TVs, computers and hi-fi's left on standby waste more than £740 million worth of energy a year and cause more than 4m of extra carbon emissions, adding to the problem of climate change.

Press release ~ European Voluntary Code of Conduct on Energy Efficiency of Digital TV Services ~ International Energy Agency ~ IEA’s One Watt initiative ~ International Electrotechnical Commission ~ BNXS03: Framework Directive for the Eco-design of Energy Using Products (EuP Directive) - An  Overview and Way Forward

Home Office:  Identity fraud is costing the UK economy over £1.7bn a year, according to figures published by the Home Office.  This total, calculated by the Home Office Identity Fraud Steering Committee (IFSC) shows a significant increase on the £1.3bn cost of identity fraud identified by the 2002 Cabinet Office report, Identity Fraud: a Study.


The latest estimate of £1.7bn comprises the cost to a wide range of organisations in both the public & private sectors, but with more up-to-date figures where these are available, including for the first time figures for the cost of identity fraud for the telecommunications industry.

Press release ~ Table detailing the latest estimate for the annual cost of identity fraud to the UK economy ~ Home office Identity Theft website ~ Identity Fraud: a Study ~ Criminal Justice Act 2003 ~ Identity Card Bill (and click on ‘I’) ~ Identity Cards Bill – case against ~ Telecommunications UK Fraud Forum ~ CIFAS (the UK's Fraud Prevention Service) ~ Fraudweb ~ Card Watch ~ ACPO fraud prevention


Defra:  The ways in which water companies should prepare & publish their plans for managing water resources are the subject of a Government consultation (closes 25 April 2006).  The proposed regulations outlined are meant to allow for greater transparency & consistency and greater involvement of stakeholders.


The plans are a requirement of the Water Act 2003 and are intended to contribute to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the water supply. Previously water companies have prepared resource management plans on a voluntary basis and this consultation marks a shift towards those plans becoming a statutory requirement.

Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Defra water supply website ~ Drinking water inspectorate ~ Ofwat ~ Rights to water supply ~ Env. Agency – Managing water resources ~ Leakage from public water supply ~ Natural Environment Research Council ~ Managing Water Resources and Flood Risk in the South East ~ AINA - Managing water resources, now and in the future


Ofwat:  Ofwat has published a consultation paper (closes 4 May 2006) on whether the next price limits to be set in 2009 should cover five years.  It currently sets annual price limits every five years for the 22 water companies and monitors their performance against them.  These price limits are intended to allow an efficient company to run its business and meet external demands now & in the future, while keeping the increases to a minimum for customers.

Press release ~ Consultation paper: Setting Water and Sewerage price limits: Is five years right? ~ online consultation form ~ Report into the Conduct of the 2004 Ofwat Periodic Review (the Baker Report) ~ Water Act 2003 Regulatory arrangements ~ How water pricing levels are set ~ Environment a winner in water pricing


DfES:  Children's Minister Maria Eagle has launched a consultation (closes 25 April 2005) on proposals to establish, for the first time, a national minimum allowance for foster carers.    The National Minimum Allowance rate(s) will be issued in July 2006, alongside good practice guidance on payment systems.

Press release ~ < FONT color=#800080>Consultation documents ~ Fostering Network ~ British Association for Adoption and Fostering


DCMS:  The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is consulting (closes 2 May 2006) on its proposals for the implementation of the Gambling Act from 1 September 2007.


The proposals are intended to:

·         give operators a clear understanding of what they have to do & when, in order to convert their existing permissions

·         keep the administrative and cost burdens on industry to a minimum

·         allow sufficient lead time to allow the industry and regulators alike to prepare properly

Press release ~ Transitional arrangements for the implementation of the Gambling Act 2005 - Consultation Paper ~ Gambling Act 2005 ~ The Gambling Act – A Long Way To Go Yet ~ Gambling Commission

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

OGC:  Simplified, clarified & updated Regulations came into force last week, intended to help the public and utilities sectors buy goods, works & services in a more efficient and effective way. 


The updated Regulations implement the new EU Public Sector and Utilities Sector Directives and include new provisions on:

·         eProcurement systems, including electronic auctions

·         Competitive dialogue - a procedure which will help purchasers to award contracts for complex projects

·         Framework Agreements

·         Central Purchasing Bodies - contracting authorities that can buy goods, works and services for the benefit of other contracting authorities.

·         The scope to take account of social and environmental issues, including the ability to "reserve" contracts for supported businesses and factories, where more than 50% of employees have disabilities

·         An "exit" mechanism, for utilities entities, where the market in which they operate is fully open to competition

·         A ban on companies bidding for a public contract if they, or their directors, have been convicted of fraud & corruption offences.

Press release ~ OGC guidance ~ e-Procurement


Defra:  Defra has published four more guidance notes for the local authority-regulated Pollution Prevention and Control system.  Two of the guidance notes expand on existing integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) advice for the metals sector - Ferrous and non-ferrous metals


The other two - on tobacco and mushroom composting processes - nearly complete the second full review of all the process guidance notes for the local air pollution prevention and control system.  The mushroom guidance specifies that some of the techniques should be adopted within 3 months and all by March 2007.


The 2-year review of the other 8 IPPC guidance notes is likely to be completed in the next 12-18 months.

Press release ~ Defra’s main Pollution Prevention & control website ~ Local Authority Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (LA-IPPC) - Ferrous: see IPPC SG3 - Non-ferrous metals:  see IPPC SG4 ~ < FONT color=#800080>Local Air Pollution Prevention and Control - Process Guidance (PG) Notes - Mushrooms: see PG 6/30 - Tobacco:  see PG 6/36


ODPM:  The Government is calling for Local Authorities to provide more authorised sites and better enforcement as the solution to prevent the problem of unauthorised Gypsy & Traveller sites in inappropriate locations.  It has also published new guidance on planning & enforcement to address the shortage of authorised sites and strengthen enforcement against the problem sites that ‘can cause real distress for local communities’.


To support local councillors in showing leadership on this issue the ODPM has published a new quick-guide for councillors, Local Authorities and Gypsies and Travellers: a Guide to Responsibilities and Powers.


The Government claims to be developing new measures to strengthen planning enforcement, including examining ways to strengthen Temporary Stop Notices (where alternative sites are available) and establishing a new Task Group on enforcement (involving the police and local government.

Press release ~ Planning Circular 01/2006: Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites ~ Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessments ~ Guide to Effective Use of Enforcement Powers - Part 1: Unauthorised Encampments ~Local Authorities and Gypsies and Travellers: a Guide to Responsibilities and Powers ~ ODPM G&T website ~Temporary Stop Notices ~ Housing Act 2004 - Factsheet 16. Updated February 2006 ~ CRE: Gypsies & Travellers – The facts

Annual Reports

NAO:  A National Audit Office report states that the Home Office did not maintain proper financial books and records for the financial year ending 31 March 2005.


The implementation of a new accounting system contributed to late delivery of the Home Office’s accounts, as well as inadequate management procedures to ensure the quality of the financial information.

Press release ~ Home Office: 2004-05 Resource Account ~ NAO guidance and good practice: Financial Accounting Update January 2006

General Reports and other publications

Defra:  The 'Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change’ book, which has been launched by Defra, explores questions such as:

·         How much climate change can we take?

·         How can we avoid levels which can be considered dangerous?


The book examines the consequences of different levels of climate change in terms of impacts for different sectors and regions, as well as the world as a whole and it considers technological options that can be deployed to achieve different levels of climate change as the world moves to a lower carbon economy.

Press release - Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change ~ International Symposium on Stabilisation of Greenhouse Gas Concentrations - Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change - February 1-3, 2005 ~ United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change


ODPM:  Findings from the Survey of English Housing (SEH), focusing on the issues of domestic fires and fire safety measures have been published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.


The SEH provides a fuller measure of the number of domestic fires because many of the fires reported in the SEH result in little or no damage and consequently are often not brought to the attention of the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS), thus escaping official recording.

Press release ~ National Statistics: Survey of English Housing ~ ODPM SEH website ~ Fires in the Home: Findings from the 2004/05 Survey of English Housing (scroll down for pdf)

Legislation / Legal

Defra:  Defra has published a statement of forthcoming legislation, which sets out when in 2006 new regulations impacting businesses and the public at large will take effect.

Press release ~ Statement of forthcoming legislation for Defra in 2006

EU legislation, initiatives, etc.

Defra:  English farmers will start receiving full payments in February under the Single Payment Scheme, Farming Minister Lord Bach has confirmed.  A total of £1.6 billion will be paid directly into farmers' and growers' bank accounts or by payable order, starting at the end of February and with the bulk complete in March.


A service to deal with SPS payment and entitlement enquiries at the RPA's Customer Service Centre (CSC) will be available from 6 March. 

Press release ~ Rural Payments Agency ~ Defra - Single Payment Scheme - Policy ~ Welsh SPS ~ Scottish SPS ~ NFU press release ~ University of Reading – SPS ~ Friends of the Earth’s vision for the future of farming in the UK

Charity and Voluntary Sector

CC:  Charities will soon be expected to prepare accounts in line with the Charities SORP 2005. To help charities meet these new requirements, the Charity Commission has published a package of guidance material to help charities of all sizes prepare their accounts and trustee reports.   A new co-ordinated webpage also provides direct links to the accounts of leading charities who adopted SORP 2005 early, providing practical examples and illustration.

Press release ~ Co-ordinated webpage

Business and other briefings

HMRC:  HM Revenue and Customs has launched a new helpline and an interactive online employment status indicator to provide comprehensive assistance to the construction industry in advance of the introduction of the new Construction Industry Scheme (CIS).


The Employment Status Indicator (ESI) is a computer-based interactive tool which helps determine the status of those engaged by customers to find out whether they are employed or self-employed.


The helpline - 0845 366 7899 – is intended to help support businesses in the run-up to the new CIS scheme's introduction in April 2007, and is open 7 days a week from 8.00am to 8.00pm (excluding public holidays).

Press release ~ Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) ~ Employment status website ~ Employment Status Indicator (ESI) ~ Presentations on new scheme


Pensions Regulator: The Pensions Regulator will host a series of free workshops in March 2006 to give practical guidance on dealing with scheme funding issues.  The all-day events, held in Leeds, Edinburgh and London, will explore practical approaches to dealing with issues facing employers, trustees and advisers, in setting & agreeing funding targets & recovery plans and in dealing with the impact of corporate events on pension schemes.


Senior regulatory staff from the scheme specific funding and clearance practices will present a day-long case-study to illustrate the issues parties will have to consider.   Trustees and employers will attend on the first day in each location, while professional advisers will attend on the second day, allowing the sessions to be tailored to their different roles in the process.


In order to benefit form the workshop, participants should be aware of the new scheme funding regime as detailed in Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004; and contribution notices, financial support directions and clearance statements as detailed in regs. 38 - 51 of the Pensions Act 2004.  Participants should also read the scheme specific funding code of practice and clearance guidance before attending.


Due to limited availability, places must be booked in advance.

Press release ~ online application form ~ scheme specific funding code of practice ~ clearance guidance


OFT:  The Office of Fair Trading has launched an investigation into MasterCard's new arrangements for setting the fallback interchange fees that apply to all UK domestic transactions made using UK-issued MasterCard credit and charge cards, introduced by MasterCard on 18 November 2004.

Press release ~ Related previous press release ~ < SPAN style="COLOR: purple">OFT decision ~ Companion Paper ~ Primary Conclusions

Industry News

Sloughing off the old concepts of office design - A new report, Better Places to Work, demonstrates that badly located and poorly designed places of work are not only bad for employees and the wider environment: they are also bad for business. The report has been produced by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) in partnership with the British Council of Offices(BCO) and the British Property Federation.


Through discussions with planners, designers, developers and occupiers, the authors of this new guide identify six principles that contribute to a better place to work:

·         Ease of movement and legibility

·         Character, quality and continuity

·         Diversity

·         Sustainability

·         Adaptability

·         Management


The guide builds on a previous report from CABE and the BCO - The impact of office design on business performance - which found that people who work in well-designed, well-located workplaces feel more valued as employees and, as a result, are less likely to be thinking of moving employers.

Full article ~ Better Places to Work (1.7Mb) ~ CABE ~ British Council of Offices ~ British Property Federation ~ The impact of office design on business performance ~ The Custard Factory, Birmingham ~ Wessex Water's Operation Centre ~ Chiswick Park, London ~  Capital One, Nottingham



For other articles please click HERE

Forthcoming Event

Date: 21 March 2006

Venue: New Connaught Rooms, 61-65 Great Queen St, London WC2B 5DA

Organiser: Charity Commission / Directory of Social Change - Charities and Public Service Delivery


The Charity Commission has announced it will hold a one-day conference for charities to share experiences, solutions and explore the particular needs of charities delivering public services.


It will focus on questions including:

·         reasons for engaging in public service delivery and relevance to charities' mission and values

·         the relationship between public service delivery and independence; and

·         the role of grant giving charities


There will also be the opportunity to discuss the issues in a legal workshop and the conference findings will also be included in new guidance for charities in this field, which will be published in the summer.

Press release ~ Bookings ~ Charity Commission ~ Policy statement ‘Charities and public service delivery'  ~ Full cost recovery website ~ NACVS website

For information other events please click HERE

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