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WGPlus Archive Newsletter Section

In the News

DCLG: Will you be ‘able’ to cope? - From December 2006, new legislation, the Disability Discrimination Act 2005, will place a positive duty on local government to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people, including employees and service users.


A new report - 'Able Authorities: the Disability Discrimination Act, Local Authorities and Disabled People' - was commissioned by DCLG to examine how local authorities were implementing the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and preparing to meet requirements of the legislation which came into effect in October 2004 and its key findings include:

·         A great deal of good practice was found across the case study local authorities.

·         The modernisation agenda had provided opportunities for change in service delivery mechanisms which lent themselves to improving access for disabled people.

·         All of the case study authorities had corporate strategies in which disability equality was embedded. But all reported difficulties in mainstreaming disability equality and in achieving a joined up approach across the whole authority.

·         A complaint across all six authorities from disabled service users was the seeming inability of the authorities to use information about their needs in a centralised manner.  Disabled service users were very frustrated at having to continually ask for information to be provided in suitable formats and having to organise accessibility themselves.

·         The researchers concluded that across the six case studies, 'hard adjustments' (physical access, provision of equipment) had been made, but that the 'soft adjustments' (attitudes, which would indicate that authorities were working towards full compliance with the legislation) had not.

Press release ~ 'Able Authorities: the Disability Discrimination Act, Local Authorities and Disabled People' ~ Disability Discrimination Act 2005 ~ RNID: The Disability Discrimination Act - a guide for service providers ~ DRC: Disability Equality Duty ~ PVPI website ~ Institute for Applied Social Studies (IASS) ~ Institute for Local Government (INLOGOV)


DWP:  The problem of what to replace it with still remains - Following the recommendations of an independent report on child support in the UK by Sir David Henshaw, Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton has announced the government will replace the Child Support Agency with a more streamlined and tougher new body.


Sir David has presented his report on the future of the child support system in the UK to Mr Hutton, who has accepted his recommendation to establish a new system for child support which will:

·         be simpler to use & to administer

·         be tougher on parents who do not face up to their responsibilities

·         will maximise the reduction in child poverty and

·         deliver value for money for the taxpayer


Within the government's response are questions for consultation - the DWP wants to hear views from across the board so a way forward can be reached which has the best interests of children at its heart.  A white paper will follow in the autumn.

Press release ~ Sir David Henshaw’s report on the CSA ~ Government’s response ~ Q&As on policy change ~ Work & Pensions Cttee. Report (scroll down 26/01/05)


DH:  Will legislation kill germs? - According to Health Protection Agency (HPA) new statistics show, MRSA bacteraemia fell to the lowest winter total since mandatory recording began in 2001, representing 11.1% decrease on winter 03/04.  However, the figures revealed that more work is necessary to meet the challenge of other infections including Clostridium difficile, reports of which rose by 17.2%.


Health Minister Andy Burnham gave notice that the new powers in the Health Act will be used to deal with organisations that consistently fail to follow the good practice set out in the Code of Practice for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infection (HCAIs).


Trusts will have a period of two months to adjust to the requirements of the Code, but from then on improvement notices may be served on those who fail to implement it effectively.


The Healthcare Commission also published its report on C difficile outbreaks at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital.  The report noted significant failings in infection control on the part of the trust because of undue focus on the reconfiguration of services and its incorrect interpretation of national priorities.


As the conclusions have a wider applicability to the Health Service the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Nursing Officer will also consider the report over the summer to assess the how the recommendations might be implemented both locally and nationally.


The Health Bill received Royal Assent on 18th July 2006 and the Code is expected to be published in the autumn, at which point it will come into force.  However, Trusts will start to make declarations of compliance with the code as part of their annual assessment from April 2007.


The Healthcare Commission will be responsible for monitoring the Code and, where it considers that an NHS body is failing to comply, the inspectorate would have a new power to issue an "improvement notice" stipulating the action that it considers the body should take, against a specified timescale, to meet the code.

Press release ~ HPA:  Mandatory Surveillance of Healthcare Associated Infection Report, 2006 ~ Investigation into outbreaks of Clostridium difficile at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust ~ Cleanyourhands ~ RCN:  Good practice in infection prevention and control Guidance for nursing staff ~ 'Going Further Faster' Guidance and productivity guide ~ Infection Control Nurses Association (ICNA) ~ DH - Saving Lives delivery programme website ~ NHS Core Learning Programmes Unit ~ Simple guide to MRSA ~ Hospital Infection Society ~ NPSA ~ Standards of Cleanliness, Cleaning Audit Score Sheet and Cleaning Frequencies ~ Health Act 2006 ~ NAO report: Improving patient care by reducing the risk of hospital acquired infection: A progress report


Home Office:  Plugging the gaps in border controls - The Home office has published - Fair, Effective, Transparent and Trusted: Rebuilding Confidence in our Immigration System - a paper ‘setting out the Home Secretary's vision on how the Government can work to improve the way IND tackles immigration in the 21st Century’.


The document sets out four key objectives, which are intended to make the Government's five year strategy for asylum and immigration work by:

·         strengthening our borders, use tougher checks abroad so that only those with permission can travel to the UK, and ensure we know who leaves so that we can take action against those who break the rules

·         enabling fast track asylum decisions, remove those whose claims fail and integrate those who need our protection

·         ensuring & enforcing compliance with our immigration laws, removing the most harmful people first and denying the privileges of Britain to those here illegally, and

·         boosting Britain's economy by bringing the right skills here from around the world, and ensuring this country is easy to visit legally


An external audit of progress in delivering the reform will be conducted in December and annually thereafter.

Press release ~ IND reform plan:  Fair, Effective, Transparent and Trust: Rebuilding Confidence in our Immigration System ~ Command Paper 'A points-based system: making migration work for Britain' ~ Employers' use of migrant labour ~ 5 year strategy: Controlling our borders: making migration work for Britain' ~ Electronic immigration network ~ Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner ~ Asylum and Immigration Tribunal ~ UK Visas – Immigration rules ~ Time Together Project ~ and HERE ~ Sunrise (Strategic Upgrade of National Refugee Integration Services) pilots ~ Integration Matters strategy (VL File 2.4Mb) ~ Personal Identity process ~ National Asylum Support Service


NAO:  Innovation leads way to 21st Century government - The first independent report into operational innovation in central government has found that, although a deep rooted culture of risk aversion is being tackled and improvements in quality & efficiency of service are being made, government bodies could still secure greater benefits & efficiencies with more innovative & progressive approaches.


The NAO examined 125 innovative developments, nominated by 85 government bodies, to improve their administrative and organisational practices.  A diverse range of innovations was submitted, with most involving improvements to performance management, new IT or web services or other technological changes.


In recent years, departments and agencies have successfully addressed a previous culture of ‘risk passivity’.  But a lower-scale risk averseness is still common.  The recruitment of people from outside the Civil Service is spreading knowledge & awareness of alternative methods of working but new incentives to encourage staff to develop or promote innovations are needed.


To develop a culture in which innovative projects can flourish, central government bodies should:

·         develop better incentives & rewards for staff to innovate

·         ensure that innovation is directly & publicly incorporated into the assessments of departmental performance, and

·         improve cost & impact data so that it is easier to assess the value of innovations

Press release ~ Achieving innovation in central government organisations (VLF 1.5Mb) ~ Executive Summary ~ Detailed Research Findings ~ Summaries of Innovations Submitted ~ Report on Seven Focus Groups conducted on innovation


Ofsted:  Staying behind after school’ is not what it used to be - Extended Services in schools and children centres, published by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), finds that the major benefits gained by children, young people and adults through attending extended services are enhanced self-confidence, improved relationships, raised aspirations and better attitudes to learning.


The report identifies the factors that contribute to effective provision of extended services and it looks at the impact extended services have on children and young people, families and the wider community, following the government pledge that by 2010 ‘all children should have access to a variety of activities beyond the school day’.


The report found there was no single blueprint for success. However, services were most effective when there was a plan which considered standards, value for money, affordability and long term sustainability.  Strongly committed leaders and managers were key factors in successful provision and management was at least good in over half the settings visited.


The report found that short term funding made it difficult for providers to plan strategically.  Very limited spending periods for some grants constrained the breadth and depth of extended services and affected the sustainability and success of some services significantly.

Press release ~ Extended Services in schools and children’s centres ~ Teachernet – Extended schools ~ Guidance on the Extended Schools Initiative and the provision of pre-school childcare ~ IDEA - ESI ~ Surestart research projects ~ The Extended Schools Support Service


Forthcoming Event:  Dismantle the walls of the departmental silos, collaborate with external service delivery partners and get everyone to work towards the same goals by ensuring communication channels are functioning properly'.


That’s the new ‘mantra’ for 21st century public sector organisations, but the reality can be that it is easier to say it than to do it.


However help is at hand as use of new technology develops beyond the field of data management and unstructured emails, towards the new Social Software phenomenon, which is gaining momentum in the corporate world.


Blogs, wikis, podcasts and Web 2.0 are gaining recognition as innovative & effective ways to encourage communication & knowledge sharing within the enterprise and the Ark Group are providing an opportunity (on 24 August 2006) for you to learn about the key elements of social software and demonstrate their practical application within the enterprise.


Be guided through the challenges of creating a social software project, examine practical examples on how to achieve buy-in from management / end users and discover the impact social software is having on organisations’ external reputations, how to react effectively to criticism and use social media to your advantage.

Full details ~ Social software ~ Blogs ~ Scottish Blogs ~ Wikis ~ What is a Wiki? ~  Public sector catches wikimania ~ Request from Demos ~ Social Bookmarking ~ SB applications ~  Podcasting ~ Podcasting Teaching ideas ~ Mashups ~ Serving Services in Web 2.0 ~ Web 2.0: Building the New Library


For information on more forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar


General News

Home Office:  Fees for the biometric ePassport, claimed as the most ‘secure’ passport ever produced by the UK, have been published, as the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) announced that over a million ePassports have now been issued.


A standard UK ten-year adult ePassport will cost £66 from 5 October 2006, which the government claims compares reasonably to the equivalent fees over ten years for ePassports in other countries.  From October ePassport production will be a requirement for countries wishing to remain within the US Visa Waiver Scheme.


Also published are the final Annual Report and Accounts of the UK Passport Service, which on 1 April 2006 merged with the Home Office Identity Cards Programme to form IPS.

Press release ~ Identity and Passport Service (IPS) ~ Biometric passports ~ UKPS Annual Report and Accounts 2005-2006 (VVLF 3Mb)


MOD:  Armed Forces Minister, Adam Ingram has announced that a review will begin to establish whether it is possible to move Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (HQ ARRC), 1 Signal Brigade and 102 Logistics Brigade, from their bases in Germany, to the UK,


Following the announcement in January 2006 that 4 Armoured Brigade would convert to the mechanised role and move to the UK, it has also been decided that the barracks in Osnabruck should be returned to the German Authorities in early 2009.


The UK's long term objective is to concentrate the presence of UK forces in Germany to bases in Bergen-Hohne and Paderborn.  

Press release ~ Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) ~ 1 Signal Brigade ~ 102 Logistics Brigade


Defra:  Two clear options have been identified by the Government as the front runners to further improve the environmental quality of the River Thames and River Lee by reducing intermittent sewage discharges.


By 31 December 2006 Thames Water will produce a detailed assessment of the two shortlisted options, in partnership with the Environment Agency, Ofwat, Defra, the GLA and other stakeholders.  This will inform a final decision on which gets the go ahead for planning and funding applications, to be announced early in the New Year.

Press release ~ Thames Tideway Strategic Study reports ~ Jacobs Babtie report ~ Steering Group consideration of Ofwat’s Jacobs Babtie report

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DCLG:  The remit of a review of the institutional structures for delivery of the Government's housing and regeneration programmes has been extended.


Ruth Kelly said the Review, which is looking at how the Government can ensure a more coherent approach to delivering new housing and mixed sustainable communities, will also consider the DCLG's own delivery functions and include further work on the modernisation of affordable housing regulation.

Press release ~ Original Press release ~ Housing Corporation ~ English Partnerships ~ The Elton Report – Review of Regulatory and Compliance Requirements For RSLs ~ Review response from BURA ~ Neighbourhood Renewal ~ Sustainable Communities and Housing


DCA:  Announcing the results of a review of the implementation of the Human Rights Act Lord Falconer, Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor, said that the Government remained fully committed to the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) and to the Human Rights Act 1998, but would legislate if necessary to ensure agencies gave proper weight to public protection.


In addition, the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) will:

·         revise & strengthen central guidance for public sector managers, putting the emphasis on public safety, and

·         lead a push across all government departments to provide better guidance.

Press release ~ DCA Human Rights review ~ DCA HR website ~ European Convention on Human Rights ~ European Court of Human Rights


DfES:  The government’s latest attempt to reform secondary education moved a step closer, as the Government set out detailed plans for the delivery of ‘Diplomas - the new qualifications that will add to the choices available to 14-19 year olds’.


Intended to combine the best of both academic and applied learning, specialised Diplomas are meant to offer students a new way to learn and provide employers & higher education with the knowledge, skills & capabilities needed to make the country more competitive.


Diplomas will begin to be available from 2008 in five subjects: construction & the built environment, IT, creative & media, health & social care, and engineering.  By 2013, a total of 14 subjects will be available, and the Education Bill provides an entitlement for all young people aged 14 to 19 to study any of them.

Press release ~ Statements of Content ~ DfES 14 – 19 Gateway ~ BBC news item


The Government is proposing to increasing penalties available to the courts to deter people who are guilty of trying to profit from illegal trade in personal information or who deliberately give out personal data to those who have no right to see it.


These concerns were highlighted in an Information Commissioner's Office special report to Parliament, What Price Privacy, in May this year.  The consultation closes on 30 October 2006.

Press release ~ Consultation paper for increasing penalties for deliberate and wilful misuse of personal data ~ What price privacy? The unlawful trade in confidential personal information ~ DCA – DP Act 1998 ~ Data Sharing ~ Information Commissioner ~ Data Protection – Myths and Realities


AGC:  The  Attorney General has published what he calls ‘a comprehensive review of fraud which makes challenging recommendations for preventing and tackling a multi-billion pound a year crime in the UK’ for consultation.


Among the measures unveiled for consultation (closes 27 October 2006) are:

·         Establishment of a Financial Court jurisdiction

·         Allowing plea bargaining as an alternative to a full criminal trial

·         set up a National Fraud Strategic Authority as a public/private partnership

·         form a national lead police force, based on the City of London Police Fraud Squad.

·         establish a National Fraud Reporting Centre to receive & analyse reports of fraud

Press release ~ Fraud Review website ~ Report for consultation ~ Interim report ~ Fraud Bill (Click on ‘F’ and scroll down)~ Fraud Advisory Panel ~ Financial Services Authority


Cabinet Office:  A public consultation on a proposed new Impact Assessment process has been launched by Hilary Armstrong, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, which is intended to consider how best to improve their effectiveness in minimising the burden of new regulation.


The key objectives of the proposed changes are to ensure that Impact Assessments present all cost & benefit information in an even more transparent way, and are carried out and updated throughout the policy making process in order to make policy makers more accountable, and open to reasonable scrutiny.


RIAs must be completed for all policy changes which could affect the public or private sectors, charities, the voluntary sector or small businesses.

Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ RIA website


DCLG:  Announcing the start of a consultation on revised regulations on outdoor adverts (closes on 18 September 2006) Yvette Cooper has urged councils to take a tough stance against those who try to get around planning rules by putting unauthorised adverts in fields.


A draft Circular has been issued which includes advice to local planning authorities on how to deal with unlawful adverts, as well as providing guidance to councils across England to help ensure that the planning system works effectively.


The new Regulations are also intended to update & improve existing legislation including that which covers flags, as currently it is unlawful to fly a national flag without consent from the council unless it is flown from a vertical flagpole.

Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Planning Advisory Service ~ Planning Portal ~ PPG19 Outdoor Advertisement Control ~ Town and Country (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992 ~ CPRE campaign


DCA:  A draft Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill has been published for consultation (closes 22 September 2006), which includes proposals that are intended to:

·         improve the working of the tribunals system by providing a new statutory framework, offices and bodies that will deliver improvements in services to over 500,000 people who use tribunals each year

·         widen the range of people eligible to apply to become judges, increasing judicial diversity

·         unify and provide a new statutory framework for law on civil debt recovery, a certification process for civil enforcement agents, and relief measures for debtors unable to pay their debts

·         reform the enforcement of compulsory purchase orders

Press release ~ Draft Bill and related documents ~ Professor Jack Beatson’s Independent Review of Bailiff Law ~ Sir Andrew Leggatt's Review of Tribunals ~ Tribunals Service


DTI:  Toasters, laptops, and washing machines will now have the chance to meet their maker in a greener way as Malcolm Wicks, Energy Minister has finally (and yet again) given business a timetable for implementing the EC Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).  The consultation ends on 17 October 2006 with the key proposals being introduced from 1 July 2007.


The Directive introduces producer responsibility for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).  Producers will have to finance treatment and recycling/recovery of separately collected WEEE in the UK to specified treatment standards and recycling/recovery targets.


Retailers have an obligation to offer take-back services to householders, but the Directive does not place any obligations on householders, and they will be not be prohibited from throwing WEEE away with general domestic rubbish.

Press release ~ Consultation Documents ~ DTI WEEE website ~ British Retail Consortium ~ EU Directive ~ WEEE Forum ~ Environment Agency


DCLG:  Minister for Housing and Planning Yvette Cooper has launched a consultation (closes 17th October 2006) on planning and housing incentives, to ‘help’ local authorities to respond to the local housing needs of their community.


The funding would be in addition to local infrastructure investment and is supposed to give local authorities the flexibility to invest in their area.  It builds on the recommendation in the Barker Review to allow local councils to keep additional council tax receipts for new homes.


The Government is also launching a consultation (closes 17th October 2006) on the criteria to allocate £120m of Planning Delivery Grant for the financial year 2007/2008.

Press release ~ Housing and Planning Delivery Grant consultation ~ Planning Delivery Grant 2007/08 ~ Barker Review ~ DCLG - Sustainable Communities and Housing ~ < FONT color=#800080 size=2>Ofwat – water resources ~ Scenarios of climate change for islands within the BIC region ~ JRF: Housing Policies – New times, new foundations


Defra:  The Government has published proposals to stop new fisheries targeting ‘tope’, a species of large coastal shark.  The consultation proposes (closes 20th October) pre-emptive measures, as they received reports last year that a commercial fishing operation to catch the sharks was being considered. 


The fishery never materialised, but the Department remains concerned that any future proposals for targeting tope would be unsustainable because of the shark's life-cycle.


The Department is now asking the public, industry, sea anglers, and conservationists whether they think it should implement precautionary protection measures.  Recreational sea anglers fishing from the shore will not be affected by the proposed measures.

Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Tope details

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DfES:  Schools Minister Jim Knight has published new guidelines to help schools, parents and pupils prevent & tackle cyberbullying, as research revealed that up to one in five pupils have experienced bullying on mobile phones or via the Internet.


Jim Knight also said that, with sections of the industry already taking on the cyberbullies with helplines and information campaigns, the Department for Education and Skills would be speaking in the coming weeks with major Internet Service Providers and mobile telecommunication operators to explore what more could be done together to tackle cyberbullying.

Press release ~ Tackling Cyberbullying (and scroll down) ~ Anti Bullying Alliance ~ An investigation into cyberbullying, its forms, awareness and impact, and the relationship between age and gender in cyberbullying ~ Summary version ~ Teachernet ~ SCRE centre ~ Text Someone


DCA:  The Government has launched an initiative to encourage more people, irrespective of background, to think about a career in law. 


'Routes into the Legal Profession' is a leaflet published by the DCA giving an overview of training required for different legal jobs.  It means people can find information about the major professional bodies in one place and it explains that there are alternatives to the traditional routes to becoming a lawyer.

Press release ~ Routes into the Legal Profession ~ Diversity in the legal profession ~ Judicial Diversity Strategy ~ Judicial Appointments Commission ~ DCA Judicial Diversity website


HSE:  More than 3.5million people in the UK work shifts, across a variety of sectors including public services and heavy industry.  Poorly designed shift-working arrangements and long working hours that do not balance the demands of work with time for rest & recovery can result in fatigue, accidents, injuries and ill health.


A new publication - Managing Shift Work: Health and Safety Guidance - from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) draws together advice & best practice from a range of sources and:

·         explains employers' legal duties & the risks associated with shiftwork and

·         provides advice on risk assessment, design of shift work schedules & the shift-work environment

Press release ~ Managing shift work: Health and Safety Guidance ~ The Development of a Fatigue / Risk Index for Shiftworkers ~ HSE Briefing Note ~ Overview of Scientific Literature ~ HSE: Relationship between shift work and Breast Cancer


DfES:  Children's Minister Parmjit Dhanda has announced that a national minimum allowance for foster carers will be introduced in England.  The national minimum allowance sets a benchmark for the allowance rates for all foster carers - including 'family and friends' carers.


From April 2007, the national minimum allowance for a baby will be £100 - 116 per week, rising to £151-176 per week for an older teenager.  Based on data provided by local authorities on current payment rates, the government anticipates that approximately a quarter of Local Authorities would need to raise their allowances in order to meet the level of the minimum for 2007-08.


The announcement of a national minimum allowance is accompanied by publication of guidance on payment systems to foster carers.  This guidance sets out a good practice framework for payment systems and offers a range of ideas and case studies to support improvement in the way in which payments are made.

Press release ~ Good practice guidance ~ Every Child Matters – Foster Care website ~ Directgov – foster caring

Annual Reports

Cabinet Office:  The eighth report of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments has been published which gives an account of its work from 1 April 2005 until 31 March 2006 in advising former Ministers on the propriety of business appointments they wished to take up after leaving Government, and in making recommendations to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary on applications from Crown servants under their business appointment rules.


The report shows that among the advice given to 11 former Ministers on 23 appointments, of the 22 appointments taken up it saw no difficulty in 6 of these cases, and in the remaining 16 it considered that the former Minister should observe certain restrictions for a period of time.


The Government is currently undertaking a review of the arrangements for approving outside appointments of former Crown servants.

Press release ~ 8th Report ~ ACOBA Govt. Review webpage ~ Business Appointment Rules


FCO:  The Government's 2005 Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls has been published as a Command Paper.  The Report describes UK policy and international developments in export control regimes, as well as including information on licensing decisions made during 2005.


Due to the increasing volume and quality of information on strategic exports published by the Government, the statistical elements of the Annual Report will be available on a more user-friendly CD ROM format; this will also include all Quarterly Reports for 2005, information on licence refusals and enhanced information on trade (brokering) licences issued.

Press release ~ Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls (VLF 1.2Mb) ~ DTI web page ~ Current legislation ~ Quadripartite Committee: Reports and Publications


Home Office:  The UK claims to have the strictest regulations on animal procedures in the world, ensuring high standards of care & accommodation as well as limiting research to where there is a clear benefit to people, animals or the environment.


As required by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, the Home Office publishes annually to Parliament a report of the use of protected animals in science research.

Press release ~ Report and background information ~ Alternatives to animal testing website ~ AMRIC - Animals in Medicines Research Information Centre ~ Animal Procedures Committee ~ National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research


DTI:  The Third Annual Report on the implementation of the 2003 Energy White Paper has been published.  The annual report fulfils the Government commitment to report each year on progress made towards the Government's four goals for energy policy.

Press release ~ Third Annual Report ~ Energy White Paper (VLF 2Mb)


HC:  The Healthcare Commission today has published its 2005/2006 annual report titled ‘Putting patients first: a better experience of health and healthcare.’  The report summarises the work of the Commission for the year to March 31 2006.

Press release ~ Healthcare Commission Annual Report 2006


Acas:  Acas has published its 2005/06 annual report which shows record numbers of people using its helpline and website services to get the latest advice and guidance on employment relations issues.


In 2005/06 the national helpline received over 900,000 calls with the top three topics covered being discipline & grievance, maternity/paternity and redundancy/layoff issues, while the website had 1.7 million visits and the 7 e-learning packages (covering areas such as absence management and bullying & harassment) attracted over 25,000 registered users.

Press release ~ Acas Annual Report and Accounts 2005/06 (VLF 2Mb) ~ Acas Model Workplace ~ eLearning

General Reports and other publications

NAO:  There is a significant risk that local authorities in England will fail to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste sent to landfill by enough for the UK to meet EU targets, according to a report by Parliament’s spending watchdog – the National Audit Office.


The Government intends to penalise local authorities who fail to make their share of the required reductions under Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS) - a scheme introduced by Government to help Local Authorities comply with meeting their obligations under the EU Landfill Directive.


Failure to meet the national targets could also result in the EU issuing fines against the UK Government, which currently sends a higher proportion of municipal waste to landfill (75%) than most other EU countries.  These fines could also be later passed on to the local authorities in addition to the scheme penalties mentioned above.

Press release ~ Reducing the reliance on landfill in England ~ Executive Summary version ~ Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS) ~ Improving Congestion and Capacity Planning in the Municipal Waste Market ~ More competition, less waste ~ Review of England’s Waste Strategy 2006


DCMS:  A group of local councils tasked with monitoring the impact of the Licensing Act has concluded that the laws are starting to have a beneficial impact on residents, police and local councils, according to a new report.


In the report to Government, the councils make a number of recommendations for improvements, including:

·         changing the current advertising arrangements

·         increasing the amount of time during which police can object to a temporary event and

·         that Government should issue further guidance on how to deal with residents' concerns about problem premises


Full revised guidance to police and local authorities will be consulted on before the end of the year.

Press release ~ Scrutiny Council Initiative Report ~ DCMS Monitoring & evaluation website


DWP:  Findings from DWP research that examined parental views on possible future child support policy options have been published and the key findings include:

·         Parents believe that they have a responsibility to support their children financially, but that the levels of financial support depend on a number of factors, including parent-child contact.

·         Parents do not want a universal system of child support that they would be obliged to use

·         Parents would prefer to reach child maintenance agreements between themselves

·         There is strong support for the Government providing some level of 'back-up' service for those parents who find it impossible to come to an amicable agreement

·         There is strong support for robust enforcement measures and very little support for the idea that Government should guarantee maintenance in the event of non-compliance.

Press release ~ Future Policy Options for Child Support: The Views of Parents ~ DWP – current CSM info ~ CSM proposals


NAO:  The National Audit Office has reported on the Ministry of Defence’s £2.4 billion programme to transform battlefield communications, command & control through the joint introduction of Bowman digital radios and the advanced Combat Infrastructure Platform (CIP) to an exacting 30 month timescale.


This programme has been revised and a further £121 million of funding has been approved to deliver the capabilities that the armed forces require by 2007.  Technical challenges still remain, though good progress has been made in making the system more stable and easily useable.


Under Bowman CIP some 48,000 radios and 28,000 computer terminals are to be installed in up to 15,700 vehicles, as well as ships, boats and helicopters.  A particular challenge is that programmes like Bowman CIP are incremental in nature and require continual development, as external technical change, software upgrades, evolving military doctrine, and operational experience, require regular adjustments to be made.


The report contains recommendations to the MoD on how it can further develop its arrangements for the delivery & sustainment of such complex military capabilities.  The recommendations relate to the particular problems encountered by Bowman CIP, but have wider application.

NAO Press release ~ MOD Press release ~ Delivering digital tactical communications through the Bowman CIP programme (VLF 1.5Mb) ~ Executive Summary

Legislation / Legal

DH:  Two sets of regulations regarding the procedural rules of the Care Standards Tribunal have been laid before parliament, following a public consultation on the draft versions of these regulations, which sought views on how to enable the CST to consider applications for review or revocation of a disqualification order.


Disqualification orders were set up by the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 and designed to prevent people with convictions working with children.


An application for review cannot be made to the Tribunal until either five or 10 years (depending on the age of the appellant) have elapsed from the date the disqualification order was made, or in some cases on the day of release from custody, whichever is later.

Press release ~ Response to consultation ~ Regulations (scroll down to Nos. 1929 and 1930) ~ Care Standards Tribunal and relevant legislation ~ Commission for Social Care Inspection ~ Health Care Commission ~ General Social Care Council ~ Care Council for Wales


DCA:  The public is to be better safeguarded and claims management companies more strictly regulated after the Compensation Bill received Royal Assent last week.  The Act paves the way for a new regulatory regime that is expected to be in place by Spring 2007.


The Compensation Act 2006 is also intended to ensure that the recovery of compensation by people who contract mesothelioma, because they were negligently exposed to asbestos, will be quicker and simpler and it will give reassurance to voluntary organisations and other groups who have curtailed activities due to a fear of litigation.


Victims of mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer, will also benefit from the new Act, as it will ensure that those suffering from mesothelioma due to another's negligence will be able to receive full compensation from any responsible person as quickly and easily as possible.

Press release ~ DCA Compensation Act website ~ Compensation Act 2006

EU legislation, initiatives, etc.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

Business and other briefings

Pensions Regulator:  The Pensions Regulator has published its business plan for the year ahead, covering the period April 2006 to March 2007, which outlines how the regulator will deploy its resources during the year while highlighting some of the expected results.


The business plan complements the regulator's medium term strategy that was published in April 2006 and outlined the principal challenges for the next three years which are to:

·         strengthen the funding of defined benefit schemes

·         improve the governance of work-based pension schemes; and

·         reduce the risks to members of work-based defined contribution pension schemes


The regulator's focus for 2006/07 will be to address these themes in addition to delivering effective risk-based regulation relevant to our environment and stakeholders.

Press release ~ Business Plan 2006/07 ~ Medium Term Strategy


FSA:  The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has announced that there has been a positive response from the industry to its proposal to remove audit requirements from regulated small firms and Appointed Representatives (ARs).  The Feedback Statement is available in the Handbook Notice


The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has agreed with the FSA's proposal and will now make regulations under the Companies Act 1985 to implement the proposal as soon as possible.


The aim is that these will apply to financial years ending on or after 31 December 2006, so that affected companies will not be required to have their accounts audited for that or subsequent financial years.

Press release ~ Proposals as set out in chapter 4 of the April 2006 Quarterly Consultation

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


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