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In the News

DH:  Newly-appointed health minister Andy Burnham has claimed that tackling hidden waiting lists and ensuring the NHS delivers a maximum wait for patients of 18 weeks, from GP referral to treatment, will be the key priority in his new role, saying:

 “There are hidden waiting lists that need to be tackled.  We are in the process of identifying these bottlenecks and the guidance we are publishing will help the NHS take the next steps in ending them.  There should be no doubt that delivering the 18 week patient pathway is a vital NHS reform and one that will be achieved, as we have set out, by the end of 2008”.


The new DH guidance details the principles & definitions that underpin the 18-week patient pathway and provides a framework for the NHS that sets out plans to deliver the pathway, including:

·         clock start & stop times for the patient journey

·         appropriate exclusions for various clinical cases

·         the most efficient ways to measure & manage the new pathway

·         details of a series of national projects led by the Department to support delivery


The government claims that the new guaranteed patient pathway will ‘give patients more certainty about their treatment and finally end the hidden waiting lists’ and that ‘while 18 weeks will be the maximum wait, most patient’s journey’s will be much shorter than this’.


The DH will introduce the new ‘referral to treatment’ time measurement in January 2007, as part of the drive to meet the December 2008 deadline.

Press release ~ 18 weeks delivery programme website ~ Tackling hospital waiting: the 18 week patient pathway - an implementation framework ~ Delivery Resource pack


NAO:  The National Audit Office has reported on the issues arising on the PFI contract to build and manage new facilities for the National Physical Laboratory.  It considers that the DTI successfully transferred risk in the PFI contract to build & manage new facilities for the National Physical Laboratory and protected the taxpayer from bearing the majority of the costs of the project’s problems.


The NAO report finds that the fundamental reason for the problems was that the original private sector design of the new buildings was deficient and a modified PFI procurement process might have avoided this.


This is the first termination of a major PFI contract in which there were serious deficiencies in contractor performance. 


The project should have been finished in 2001, but it is now not expected to be finished until 2007.  So far progress with the remedial and outstanding works is on schedule and within budget.  The private sector reported that it incurred a loss of at least £100 million during the construction of the new facilities.

Press release ~ The Termination of the PFI contract for the National Physical Laboratory (1.2Mb) ~ Executive Summary ~ NAO PFI & PPP/Privatisation Recommendations website ~ Update on PFI debt refinancing and the PFI equity market (1Mb) ~ HM Treasury – PFI Standard Contracts ~ HM Treasury PFI website ~ Public Private Partnerships Programme (the 4Ps)


King’s Fund:   A new report from the King’s Fund - Assessing the New NHS Consultant Contract - A something for something deal?  - claims that the new contract for senior hospital doctors in England has cost a great deal more than anticipated and as yet there is little evidence to show it is benefiting patients.


It concludes that a combination of rushed implementation, a serious underestimate of existing consultant workloads and a lack of national guidance has made it difficult for hospitals to use the contract to bring about improvements for patients.  The fact that implementation costs were £90m more than those forecast by the DH has put considerable pressure on hospital budgets and has contributed to the size of deficits faced by some trusts.


Key recommendations in the report include the:

·         need for the DH and NHS Employers to provide clear national guidance on how the contract is expected to deliver improvements for health services & patients

·         requirement for NHS trusts to link consultant job plans with their own strategic goals and

·         need to equip health service managers with tools to encourage consultant productivity

Press release ~ Assessing the New NHS Consultant Contract - A something for something deal? ~ DH CC web page ~ BMA CC web page ~ NHS Modernisation Agency web page ~ Implementing the NHS Consultant contract in Scotland


DCLG:  A drive to encourage more people to take up better, more modern and efficient council services has been re-launched by Government.  First announced last November, the £5million local e-service take-up campaign will use a range of services available online to encourage people to use their local council website as the first port of call when doing everyday chores, such as finding information on rubbish collection, or paying bills.


The Take Up Campaign will be previewing its creative toolkit for Local Authorities at an upcoming event on 23rd May at Leeds Town Hall.  The toolkit includes templates for press & radio adverts and information about how to run effective PR events & exhibition stands, all of which can easily be adapted with local branding and URLs, to help Local Authorities promote their online services locally.

The Take-Up Campaign landing page is now 'live' and the government is requesting that people check the availability of services on their local authority website through this route. 
In theory, people going to the landing page will only need to enter a post code, or town or street name, to be taken directly to the relevant service page of the local council website.


To update these, LAs should refer to and click onto Factsheet 4 and for those authorities that require it, a helpdesk service is available to support Local Authorities in dealing with online usability & accessibility issues - or telephone 0845 603 2587.

Press release ~ Take-up campaign website ~ Toolkit launch event: RSVP: ~ Take-Up Campaign landing page ~ Building usage of council websites: summary of findings from the Socitm Insight website take-up service Issue  ~ Information on stakeholder activity, please contact


Defra:  The world's leading economies, including the US, Australia, China and India, must develop a strong international framework so that urgent & ambitious action to combat climate change can take place, the UK's lead international climate change director Henry Derwent has said.


Launching the "Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change" book, Mr Derwent urged developed countries to reach a consensus on the scale of action needed to stabilise the climate and avoid dangerous climate change.  The book will provide input into the UNFCCC's Fourth Assessment Report, which will be launched in 2007.


The UK launched a new initiative last year on near-zero emissions coal with carbon capture & storage to help address the challenge of tackling increasing greenhouse gas emissions from the use of coal in China.

Press release ~ Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change ~ Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change online text  (Be warned - only advisable with Broadband – it’s 17Mb) ~ Defra Climate Change website  ~ Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change conference 2005  ~ United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)


DCA:  Stimulating debate and political engagement is the aim of a series of pamphlets that has been launched by Democracy Minister Bridget Prentice. 


Made up of six pamphlets, the Democracy Series covers a wide range of topical issues, among them democracy, disengagement and the British constitution.  The first in the series - Islam and Democracy by Professor Haleh Afshar - has been published and will be followed by five others, concluding with one on constitutional reform.


The Hansard Society, which is overseeing publication of the series, will have its own online debate forum to allow readers to have their say on the pamphlets.  Responses will be collated by the society.

Press release ~ Democracy Series ~ Department for Constitutional Affairs ~ Hansard Society ~ Hansard’s Headsup forum


Industry News:  CABE – the 'Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment' – is all about improving people's quality of life through good design and their latest campaign - Designed with care – sets out to show how good design can improve local healthcare facilities.


By highlighting examples of excellent existing neighbourhood healthcare buildings – from GP surgeries to intermediate healthcare centres – they are showing how high-quality facilities can better meet the needs of patients, visitors & staff.


By going beyond simply providing a place for the delivery of nursing & medical care, these buildings create a human, inclusive and reassuring environment - just when people need it most.


They highlight key elements which can help to create a good healthcare building and put forward the view that space should be viewed as a resource, not a territory, allowing patterns of use to evolve over time.  


As part of the campaign, CABE is highlighting a selection of case studies with buildings covering a wide range of healthcare facilities.  They demonstrate fresh approaches in both public & private sector, meeting people's rising expectations of the health service.


The case studies demonstrate not only how high quality healthcare facilities impact on the health of their users, but also the benefits that result from a building that contributes to its neighbourhood.  


Starting in June 2006, CABE is also putting on five FREE day-long seminars across England and Scotland, which will explore how some health facilities succeed, with lessons learnt and presentations from experts & clients.


With the additional funding tap due to be turned off in the next year or so and with many Trusts already overspent to the tune of millions, the NHS cannot afford to not have a smooth transition to ‘primarily’ primary health care.


CABE’s campaign could make the difference between a successful implementation and expensive failure and, if nothing else, it could take some of the fear, pain & anger out of ‘waiting’.

Full details ~ Designed with care: design and neighbourhood healthcare buildings (1.7Mb) ~ Creating excellent buildings: a guide for clients ~ Now I feel tall: What a patient-led NHS feels like ~ Health reform in England: Update and next steps ~ DH guidance on Healthcare Design


For other Industry News please click HERE


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


General News

DfT:  Transport Minister Derek Twigg has announced that ‘night- time movements’ limits at Heathrow, to apply from October 2006 to October 2012, will not increase above existing limits.


A stage 2 consultation paper on night flying restrictions to apply from 29 October 2006 to 28 October 2012 at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted was launched on 10 June 2005.  It set out a proposed night noise regime to October 2012.  Decisions on all aspects in the consultation paper will be announced by the end of May.  

Press release ~ DfT Aviation environmental issues ~ White paper - The future of Air Transport ~ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)


HSE:  The Health and Safety Executive is warning landlords to ensure the safe condition of tenants' gas appliances by arranging for CORGI registered installers to carry out annual safety checks and servicing. 


This warning follows the prosecution of Paul Clark, a landlord from Southsea in Portsmouth, on Friday 5 May 2006.  He was fined a total of £42,000, with additional prosecution costs of £18,000, at Winchester Crown Court for breaches of gas safety legislation which led to the fatal carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning of 11-year-old Katie Overton in 2003.


Every year 20-30 people die from CO poisoning associated with domestic gas appliances, due mainly to these appliances not having been properly installed or maintained.  HSE's role is to enforce the legislation aimed at preventing such tragedies.

Press release ~ Guidance on domestic gas safety ~ Directgov Domestic gas installation safety ~ Corgi website


HSE:  For the first time the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) has met the newly established Local Government Panel (LGP) made up of elected members.


The forum is intended to promote a strategic dialogue on local, central & devolved government issues that impact on health & safety regulatory functions.  It will also review the effectiveness and performance of the partnership between the enforcing authorities - Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities (LAs).

Press release ~ HSC's Strategy for Workplace Health and Safety in Great Britain to 2010 ~ Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) ~ Local Government Association (LGA) ~ Welsh LGA ~ Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) ~ Northern Ireland LGA


OFT:  The Office of Fair Trading has announced that it will refer the supply of groceries by retailers in the UK to the Competition Commission (CC) for a market investigation.  The OFT has received over 1,200 comments and its compiled evidence suggests that:

·         the planning regime acts as a costly barrier to entry

·         big supermarkets have significant land holdings which could aggravate barriers to entry

·         in some instances, supermarkets have attached restrictive covenants when selling sites

·         there is also evidence to suggest that the big supermarkets' buyer power has increased


The CC has up to two years to conclude the investigation from the time the OFT makes a reference.

Press release ~ The grocery market - The OFT's reasons for making a reference to the Competition Commission ~ OFT website ~ Supermarkets: The code of practice and other competition issues ~ Competition Commission


Defra:  Recommendations put forward following an independent review of the UK's BSE controls have been largely accepted.  Professor Hill's review, published in July 2005, found controls put in place to eliminate BSE in cattle are soundly based.  It reconfirmed the elimination of food-borne sources to be the key to the eradication of BSE and recommended risk-based controls and monitoring should be maintained on animals and feed.

Press release ~ Defra BSE website ~ Prof. Hill’s report ~ Defra’s response


Defra / FACE:  At the annual meeting of Farming & Countryside Education (FACE), Sir Mike Tomlinson CBE proposed that a Year of Food & Farming be held.  FACE is a charity which helps young people learn more about food, farming and the countryside.  It is supported by the Royal Agricultural Society of England, the National Farmers' Union and over 60 member organisations from across the agricultural sector.


The main aim of the Year would be to improve understanding by children, and adults, of the food chain and the role played by farming.  Activities and events could take many forms such as visits, new materials & resources, debates, competitions and projects.


The idea, following along the lines of the successful Industry Year in the 1980s, was made public at the Annual Meeting of FACE, an educational charity which helps young people to learn more about food, farming and the countryside.


Anyone interested in the concept of the Year of Food & Farming is invited to contact Bill Graham, 02476 853088 /

Press release ~ FACE - Farming and Countryside Education ~ Royal Agricultural Society of England ~ National Farmers' Union ~ Forum for the Future ~ Sustainable Development Commission


Met Office:  The Met Office received calls about a mysterious yellow dust appearing on cars & windows across various parts of the UK (especially along our east coast) and the new generation of satellites produced images that showed a large plume of 'dust' being blown from the east.


This coincides with reports of high levels of pollen in Europe and also a large number of seasonal fires across the fields of western Russia over recent days.


The explosion of birch pollen in Denmark this year has been caused by near-perfect weather conditions.  A late start to the pollen season, a wet April followed by a warm, sunny early May have combined to see birch catkins releasing an enormous amount of pollen grains over just a few days.  The record birch pollen count recorded in Denmark 7 May 2006 was 4.381 per cubic metre, while the previous record was 3.899 per cubic metre.

Press release ~ National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit ~ Met Office ~ Satellite imagery from Eumetsat ~ Enlarged image ~ Pollen across Europe ~ BBC UK pollen index ~ The Pollen calendar ~ Studying Pollen


DH:  A new 'tsar' has been appointed at the Department of Health to help lead government policy on the lives of people with learning disabilities.  Nicola Smith, 43, from West Sussex, will work alongside the current National Director for Learning Disabilities, Rob Greig. 

Press release ~ Office for Disability Issues ~ < FONT color=#800080>White Paper Valuing People: a new strategy for learning disability for the 21st century (2001)  ~ Mencap ~ National Forum of People with learning disabilities ~ Disability Equality Duty for Public sector ~ DRC: Disability Equality Duty codes pf practice ~ Equality Challenge Unit

Policy Statements and Initiatives

Defra:  Defra’s three month public consultation on the priorities for the next Rural Development Programme for England, which will run from 2007 to 2013, closes on Monday 22 May 2006.


It has already been announced that to achieve more simplified & better targeted funding for rural areas, the current Project Based Schemes will not be rolled forward into the next programme.  The following are therefore closing to new applications on Friday 30 June 2006:

·         Rural Enterprise Scheme

·         Processing & Marketing Grant

·         Vocational Training Scheme and

·         Energy Crops (SRC) Producer Group Scheme


All applications need to include full supporting details, as described in the scheme guidance literature.  A substantial amount of grant funding is now fully committed and competition for the remaining funds will be very strong, particularly for any project requesting grant beyond 31 March 2007.

Press release ~ Rural Development Programme in England ~ Consultation documents ~ Rural Development Service ~ Schemes ~ England’s Regional Development Agencies ~ Natural England ~ European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development


Defra:  Over the summer a total of 15 councils will be running educational campaigns designed to reduce gum litter in all corners of the country thanks to funding from the Chewing Gum Action Group (CGAG).


PR initiatives run by the councils will:

·         raise awareness of the problem of chewing gum litter

·         encourage responsible disposal of gum and

·         educate people that dropping gum is littering and that those who drop gum on the floor can be fined up to £80

Press release ~ Chewing Gum Action Group (CGAG) ~ Defra Chewing Gum website ~ Previous campaigns


Home Office:  Disorderly louts and reckless licensees will be targeted as part of continuing police activity through a fourth Alcohol Misuse Enforcement Campaign (AMEC), which has been launched by the Government and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to tackle alcohol related disorder.  It runs from 8 May to 8 June 2006 and Home office funding of £2.5 million is available to help fund specific police activities.


The government claims that the campaign will clearly set out what police and the public see as acceptable drinking behaviour over the summer months, with forces combating drunken disorder.  A poster campaign will raise public awareness of the £80 on the spot fines for drunken violent or anti-social behaviour by showing:

·         a young man urinating against a wall following a night out, leaving a stream of one pound coins pouring down the drain and

·         another spelling out £80 in vomit on the pavement

Press release ~ Alcohol Misuse Enforcement Campaign (AMEC) ~ Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) ~ Violent Crime Reduction Bill ~ Licensing Act 2003 ~ Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 ~ Communications Toolkit from second campaign ~ Together website ~ Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy


Healthcare Commission: Every NHS trust in England is supposed to have issued a public declaration, by last Friday, on how they have performed against the government’s core standards for healthcare as part of the Healthcare Commission’s annual health check, which has replaced star ratings.


The concept is that patients & the public will be able to see how local trusts say they measure up against 24 standards in areas like safety, clinical effectiveness and patient focus.  The government has said the standards aim to ensure that services are safe & of acceptable quality and that they describe a level of service that is acceptable and must be universal (Standards for Better Health, 2004).


The annual performance ratings will be published in October, when Trusts will be scored on two elements: quality of care and use of resources.

Press release ~ HC Annual health check ~ Assessment for improvement The annual health check ~  Standards for Better Health


DCLG:  The Academy for Sustainable Communities (ASC) has announced a series of education & training initiatives for young people, professionals and communities.  The Leeds-based ASC says it is working with partners from all sectors to improve the skills, knowledge & behaviours needed to deliver & maintain sustainable communities across the country.


It intends to focus on a range of projects to:

·         capture the interest of young people and encourage them into sustainable community careers

·         ensure that a co-ordinated programme of integrated learning & skills training is delivered to professionals and

·         increase the ability of communities to shape the future direction of where they live and work


On behalf of Government, the ASC is taking forward the principles of the Bristol Accord and leading a Skills Symposium in Leeds (from 9 – 10 November 2006), where experts from across Europe can promote good practice and share ideas.

Press release ~ Academy for Sustainable Communities ~ Egan Review of Skills for sustainable communities ~ DCLG – Sustainable Communities ~ Bristol Accord ~ URBACT


DfES:  Schools Minister Andrew Adonis has launched a new ‘gold standard for school sport’ that publicly recognises schools' achievement in boosting physical education and activity.  Schools will win the kitemarks for top levels of pupil participation in high quality PE and sport within & after school, as well as their wider sports links with local clubs and the community.


The awards will be based on data gathered from the annual survey of school sport, now in its third year, so schools do not have to go through a separate application process.  The kitemarks replace the previous scheme run by Sport England.


Primary schools are eligible for Activemark, secondary schools for Sportsmark and school sport partnerships (groups of schools working together to increase sports opportunities) for the new Sports Partnership Mark.

Press release ~ National school sport strategy ~ Implementation Review Unit (IRU) ~ Sport England ~ Activemark, Sportsmark and Sports Partnership Mark ~ 2004/05 school sport survey


Defra:  Consultation proposals (closes 31 July 2006) for new national rules & procedures for the welfare of animals during transport have been published.  The new requirements will need to be in place by January 2007 to implement new EU rules and will affect those transporting all vertebrate animals in connection with an economic activity including hauliers & farmers transporting animals to market.


They will not affect:

·         Transport of animals not in connection with an economic activity (e.g. taking a pet on holiday).

·         Journeys to or from a veterinary practice or clinic under veterinary instruction.

·         Farmers transporting their own animals in their vehicles under 50km.

Press release ~ The EU Regulation  ~ The welfare of animals during transport: consultation on the implementation of EU Regulation 1/2005 ~ Farmed animal welfare during transport ~ Farm Animal Welfare Council ~ Guide to the transport of animals (cleansing and disinfection) (England) order 2003 ~ Animal Transportation Association ~ IATA Live animals regulations ~ RSPCA ~ World Organisation for Animal Health


Defra: Two Government consultations (closing on 30 June 2006) will look at amending the transposition of the Habitats Directive in England and Wales, and the transposition of the Wild Birds Directive and Habitats Directive beyond UK territorial waters.


The proposals to amend the Habitats Regulations 1994 address current gaps & inconsistencies and create greater legal certainty in a number of areas.


The proposed Offshore Marine Conservation Regulations aim to address the issue of protecting species that are beyond the UK's territorial waters (12 nautical miles).


The Regulations are expected to come into force by October 2006.  Similar consultations on the regulations covering terrestrial areas and territorial waters will be conducted by the administrations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and equivalent regulations will come into force in these areas following a similar timetable.

Press release ~ Draft Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) (Amendment)  (England and Wales) Regulations 2006 ~

The Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 2006 ~ Darwin Mounds ~ Cold water corals ~ Marine Natural Area profiles


Defra:  Forestry Minister Barry Gardiner has launched a consultation (closes 9 August 2006)  on the review of the England Forestry Strategy.  The consultation identifies national priorities and policies over the next 5 - 10 years to which England's trees, woods and forests can make a particularly significant contribution.


The Government has named four objectives for its forestry policy:

·         To safeguard England's resource of trees, woods & forests for future generations

·         To protect the environmental resources of water, soil & air and to protect & enhance biodiversity and landscapes, both woodland & non-woodland and cultural values

·         To ensure that woodlands and trees enhance the quality of life for those living in, working in, or visiting England

·         To encourage the development of new or improved markets for sustainable woodland products & services where this will deliver identifiable public benefits, nationally or locally

Press release ~ Consultation and Background documents ~ Defra Forestry website ~ Forestry Commission ~ 1998 Forestry Strategy for England: A New Focus for England's Woodlands ~ Regional Forestry Frameworks


HSE:  The Health and Safety Executive has started a consultation exercise (closes 5 July 2006) following an application from The National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT) to set up a new gas safety registration body.


To date CORGI have been the sole successful applicant for this role.  This consultation looks at the pros & cons of two services existing for consumers and the domestic gas industry.

Press release ~ National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT) ~ Consultation documents (Scroll down) ~ Corgi website ~ HSE Gas safety review


DCLG:  The Government is consulting (closes 2 August 2006) on proposed changes to the maximum rate commission park owners can charge on the sale of a home.  The consultation outlines options towards a ‘more transparent payment system for mobile homes used for residential purposes, with less opportunity for the potential harassment of residents, while promoting the future growth of the industry’.


In the 1960s, the ‘going rate’ for commission payment on the resale of a park home was about 20%.  With the introduction of the Mobile Homes Act 1975, the payment was limited to15% and this was then reduced again in the Mobile Homes Act 1983 to 10%.


The Government is already proposing secondary legislation changes to implied terms & measures, to change the size of park homes.  This will be followed later in the year by the publication of revised model standards and new guidance to assist local authorities in ensuring all parks maintain the highest standards for their residents.

Press release ~ Consultation ~ Park Homes Working Party ~ Guide to Residents and Site Owners ~ DCLG Park Homes website

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DH:  The Department of Health has launched new guidance on reducing MRSA infections, containing a productivity calculator showing that millions of pounds could be saved by acute trusts who reduce rates of infection. 


All NHS acute Trusts in England have been set specific targets for reducing their numbers of MRSA bacteraemias by March 2008.


In order to assist Trusts in assessing the likely financial & operational impact of meeting this target, a simple spreadsheet tool has been developed to estimate the current financial cost and operational cost (in terms of additional bed days incurred) of MRSA bacteraemias and, more widely, all healthcare associated infections.

Press release ~ 'Going Further Faster' Guidance & productivity tool ~  DH - Healthcare associated infections ~ Towards Cleaner Hospitals and Lower Rates of Infection ~ National Patient Safety Agency ~ Saving Lives: a delivery programme to reduce healthcare associated infection (HCAI) including MRSA ~ Health Protection Agency (HPA) ~ Hospital Infection Society ~ Standards of Cleanliness, Cleaning Audit Score Sheet and Cleaning Frequencies

Annual Reports

DH:  The Department of Health has published its departmental report 2006 (its 16th annual report) covering Health and Personal Social Services programmes.

DH Information ~ Annual report (VLF 3Mb)

General Reports and other publications

Buncefield Inquiry: 

The Buncefield Major Incident Investigation Board has published a third report from Taf Powell, the Investigation Manager, on progress with the investigation into the explosions and fire at the Buncefield Oil Storage Depot on 11 December 2005.


The third progress report makes clear that most of the main facts of the cause of the Buncefield incident are now known with reasonable confidence.   In particular the report:

·         describes how overfilling of tank 912 led to an escape of fuel (now known to be unleaded petrol) and

·         how this in turn led to the formation of a cloud of flammable vapour that subsequently ignited


The Board's focus now is on producing its own initial report on findings and early recommendations later this year.

Inquiry Press release ~ HSE press release ~ Defra press release ~ Buncefield Investigation ~ Current third and previous reports ~ Defra technical report on the results of air quality monitoring, arising from the smoke plume generated by the fire ~ HPA:  Health Effects from the Buncefield Fire


MoD:  The Ministry of Defence has welcomed the publication of the House of Commons Defence Committee's report on the Defence Industrial Strategy, in which the Committee looked at issues including how the defence industry needs to reshape itself; competition & partnering arrangements; research & technology; and international issues.


One of the key suggestions that the Committee makes is that further work, in order to maintain both our industrial competitiveness and our military effectiveness, is required on the area of research & technology. The Government's formal response to the Defence Committee's report will be submitted before 7 July.

Press release ~ Committee report on Defence Industrial Strategy (scroll down)


Cabinet Office: The Intelligence & Security Committee’s report into the London Terrorist Attacks on 7 July 2005 has been published, together with the government’s response.

Press release ~ Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) ~ Intelligence and Security Committee Report into the London Terrorist Attacks on 7 July 2005 ~ Government Response to the Intelligence and Security Committee Report into the London Terrorist Attacks on 7 July 2005 ~ UK Resilience  ~ National Steering Committee on Warning and Informing the Public (NSCWIP) ~ Central Sponsor for Information Assurance (CSIA) ~ Emergency Planning College (EPC)


DWP:  Two studies published by the Department for Work and Pensions constitute the largest examination of the employment penalties faced by ethnic minorities in the labour market and their geographical variation.


The studies measure the extent to which ethnic minorities are less likely to have a job than whites, after taking account of other factors in particular educational qualifications.

Press release ~ Research report 333: 'Ethnic minority populations and the labour market: an analysis of the1991 and 2001 Census' (Warning 8.5Mb) ~ Summary version ~ Research report 341: 'Ethnic penalties in the labour market: employers and discrimination' (1.4Mb) ~ Summary version


Countryside Agency: The government claims that communities across England are working together to improve their local green spaces, through the Countryside Agency’s ‘Doorstep Greens’ initiative.


‘Opening Green Doors’, an evaluation of five years of Doorstep Greens, shows how new open spaces, play areas, nature reserves, village greens and flower gardens are helping to improve quality of life for communities everywhere.

Press release ~ Countryside Agency ~ Doorstep Greens’ initiative ~ < FONT color=#800080>‘Opening Green Doors’ (2Mb) ~ < FONT color=#800080>Big Lottery Fund’s ‘Green Spaces and Sustainable Communities programme’ ~ Green Space online ~ Directgov ~  Green Flag Award ~ DCLG – Parks and Urban Green Spaces ~ Cleaner Safer Greener Communities

Legislation / Legal

EU legislation, initiatives, etc.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

Save the Children:  Following a study in Liberia, Save the Children UK has found the exploitation of children by humanitarian workers, peacekeepers and local businessmen to be prolific. 


Despite commitments made in 2002 by NGOs, the UN & peacekeepers to improve the worldwide monitoring of recruitment & staff conduct, vulnerable children are still allegedly being forced to exchange sex for basic necessities, such as money to attend school or food to feed their families.


During the study in Liberia the children and members of the community consistently reported that a high proportion of girls in their camps were being sexually exploited by adults in positions of power.  They reported that adults providing humanitarian assistance, peacekeepers and wealthy individuals regularly buy under-age sex.


In March 2006 a collective of international NGOs, of which Save the Children is a key partner, launched a new set of materials (‘Keeping Children Safe’) to enable all NGOs to attain high standards of child protection.  The KCS toolkit seeks to provide an additional tool to enable organisations, wherever they are in the world, to develop practical child protection procedures and give staff vital training and support. 

Press release ~ From Camp to Community: Liberia study on exploitation of children  ~ Save the Children UK ~ ‘Keeping Children Safe’ Toolkit ~ NSPCC ~ Oxfam ~ World Vision ~ Tearfund ~ Everychild ~ Plan ~ Terre des Hommes ~ People In Aid ~ Consortium for Street Children

Business and other briefings

HMRC:  HM Revenue & Customs is reminding employers in Scotland that they must file their Employer's Annual Return by 19 May 2006, and can do so online now.  Employers with 50 or more employees must file their Return online, or face a penalty.


While employers with fewer than 50 employees do not have to file online, they get £250 tax-free from HMRC if they do so and still qualify for the tax-free payment if an agent or bureau files online for them. 


This year HMRC's online Returns service will be applying quality checks to all Returns, and rejecting those with errors.  The sender will receive a message almost immediately after submission if their Return is rejected, explaining why.  If this happens, they must correct and resend the Return without delay, no later than 19 May to avoid a penalty notice.  The most common mistake is not getting the Employer's PAYE Reference right.


Employers required to file their Return online must first register by visiting, clicking on 'PAYE for Employers', and then selecting 'Register'.  An Employer's Annual Return consists of a P35, together with a P14 for each employee.

Press release ~ Online filing errors and how to solve them

Industry News

Forthcoming Event

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