ODPM: Minister sets his cap at Councils - The government is trying to prevent further losses in future local elections by capping the budgets of 8 local authorities in
Of the eight, only
In a Written Statement to Parliament, Local Government Minister Phil Woolas said:
“We will not hesitate to use our capping powers in future years to deal with excessive increases if this proves necessary." (Funny how no LA from the Labour heartlands appears to have a shortfall in its central government funding!)
Many southern LAs have done badly in the ‘award’ of central government funding over the last few years compared to the Labour heartlands. The problem for them being that every 1% drop in central grant requires a 4 – 5% rise in Council Tax to replace it.
A study earlier this year showed that consumer concern about council tax has dramatically increased and has now become the biggest financial worry in the
Concern has been boosted by the publicity given to the proposed revaluation of properties in
Since Council Tax was introduced just over a decade ago, it has more than doubled in cost (and an average of over 70% since 1997). In 2004 the average Council Tax rise was more than 12%. This year Council Taxes have increased by almost 6% (Source: Help the Aged).
MCA: Jet Skiers no longer rule the waves - At a recent hearing at Salisbury Crown Court, a 25-year old
Prior to this the judge had been asked to rule on whether the Personal Watercraft was a ship in terms of the Merchant Shipping Act. In his ruling Mr Recorder A Davies QC concluded that it was indeed a ship and that the legislation applied.
Sergeant Andy Hack of Dorset Police’s marine section said:
"Following yesterday’s ruling it’s important that all those using personal watercraft recognise that they have the same responsibilities as all other water users in respect of Collision Regulations and The Merchant Shipping Act.
We encourage all users to undertake training under the Royal Yachting Association’s syllabus”.
ACAS: Flexible working requires flexible strategies - The authoritative Acas and DTI sponsored workplace employment relations survey (WERS) shows that the number of workplaces offering staff the opportunity to work flexibly has almost doubled in the last six years and the trend is being boosted by government legislation.
This is not just a question of management deciding to allow people to work from home or agreeing to flexible start / finish times. With the ever increasing dependence on IT for organisations to deliver their services, employers will have to invest in secure remote computing facilities for their staff plus consider all the personnel, H&S and legislative issues that go with it.
Press release ~ DTI WERS website ~ Inside the workplace: First Findings from the 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey (and scroll down to ‘Other publications’) ~ Acas Flexible working ~ TUC Changing Times website ~ Business Link
DH: Following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) the current universal BCG vaccination programme delivered through schools will be replaced, from September 2005, with a new programme which will only identify & vaccinate babies and older people who are most likely to catch the disease, especially those living in areas with a high rate of TB or whose parents or grandparents were born in a TB high prevalence country.
Press release ~ NHS BCG website ~ DH TB website ~ WHO TB website ~ Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) ~ Development of Guidelines on Tuberculosis Control in Emergency Settings ~ The burden & impact of TB
Defra: Movement of fish to and from Nidderdale
Trout farm, Low Laith,
OFT: The Debt Managers Standards Association (DEMSA), a trade association for the debt management industry, has become the first debt management trade association to successfully complete Stage One of the OFT’s Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS), which aims to promote and safeguard consumer interests.
DWP: Following the publication of the Independent Case Examiner’s annual report 2004/05 for the Child Support Agency, Work and Pensions Minister Lord Hunt has acknowledged the amount of work the Child Support Agency needs to do to gain the trust of its clients.
Press release ~ Citizens Advice News story ~ Latest
Annual Report on the Northern Ireland Child Support Agency and Social Security
Agency ~ Child
Support Agency ~ Northern Ireland CSA ~
The government has announced that another stretch
of what is often only half-jokingly referred to as ‘
English Nature: English Nature is launching
Local Nature Reserve celebrations in
ODPM: The ODPM is claiming that early indications are that local authorities have achieved efficiency gains worth around £700m in 2004/5. They also claim that the efficiency agenda is not about cuts, but raising productivity and delivering better services for the public.
Press release ~ Annual Efficiency Statements - 2005/06 Forward Look ~ Backward Look Annual Efficiency Statement for 2004-05 ~ Sir Peter Gershon’s efficiency review ~ Toolkits for measuring efficiency gains
DTI: China, which is thought to be the second largest source of spam after the United States, with about 20% of all spam, has now committed to UK/US-led international efforts to combat spam and will adopt the London Action Plan on Spam Enforcement Collaboration.
Press release ~ London Action Plan ~ Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) ~ OFT Spam web pages ~ The Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications (2002/58/EC) ~ Paper - Is the content of spam illegal?
DH: Health Minister Jane Kennedy has launched the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, the role of which is to lead the way in encouraging modernisation, innovation & learning in the NHS, hopefully resulting in an increased uptake of new healthcare products, treatments & procedures, and improve care offered to patients. With the creation of the NHS Institute, the NHS Modernisation Agency, NHSU and the NHS Leadership Centre have been dissolved.
Pensions Regulator: The Pensions Regulator has published two draft codes of
practice for consultation (ends
· ’Member- nominated trustees and directors - putting arrangements in place’ and
· ’Modification of subsisting rights’ code of practice.
Welsh Assembly: The WAG’s National Service Framework (NSF) for Older People sets out what older people can expect from health and social care services by setting national standards for Wales to drive up quality and reduce variations in service delivery. Consultation closes Friday, 14 October.
Welsh Assembly: Welsh Health Minister Dr Brian Gibbons is consulting on a draft five-year Food and Fitness Action Plan for children (closes
Welsh Assembly: The Welsh Assembly Government is
developing a vision for the Welsh
environment in 2025 and is seeking views on how to achieve an environment
which is clean, healthy, biologically diverse and valued by everyone in
Met Office: Don Touhig MP, Under Secretary of State
for Defence, has announced a consultation (ends
The government hopes that the new body will, by 2009, reduce red tape and save money by combining the work of the OFT, NWML, BHC and HAC. Whilst Trading Standards departments will still be run by local authorities, the CTSA will set performance standards, and make sure that good working practices are shared.
The OFT has put out a ‘companion document’ - ’Improving consumer protection - a vision for the future’ proposing that it would be the natural home for the agency.
DTI Press release ~ OFT press release ~ Consultation document ~ Hampton Review ~ OFT Companion document to the DTI Hampton Review consultation, ’Improving consumer protection - a vision for the future’ ~ Office of Fair Trading ~ National Weights and Measures Laboratory (NWML) ~ British Hallmarking Council (BHC) ~ Hearing Aid Council (HAC) ~ DTI’s Consumer Strategy. ~ Consumer Direct
DH: Health minister Rosie Winterton has announced a new
Independent Mental Capacity Advocate
(IMCA), to support & represent particularly vulnerable people who lack
capacity to make their own decisions. It is aimed specifically at those people who do not have
relatives or friends to speak for them.
The consultation closes on
Defra: Defra has launched a consultation (closes
Defra: The first farm has been accredited as suitable for school visits under a national scheme to increase schools’ access to farmland and provide safe, educational places for farmland and countryside teaching. Once accredited, a farm receives a certificate, a logo to use for promotional purposes, and a listing on the ’Teachernet’ website. Accredited farms are inspected bi-annually.
Press release ~ Farming and Countryside Education
HSE School trips website
DH: The Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP) has launched a practical leaflet which aims to improve services for older people with mental health needs, especially those who are in receipt of care or who are inpatients in hospital. Aimed at mental health staff, service providers and commissioners, Moving on: Key learning from Rowan Ward is a ’hands on’ response to the 2003 review of inpatient services for older people with mental health needs.
National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) ~ NIMHE Knowledge Community ~ CHI Rowan Ward report (scroll down to ‘investigations’)
DH: Mental Health tsar Louis Appleby and Older People’s tsar Ian Philp have launched a new online publication outlining a vision of how health and social care services should work together to secure better services for older people. The vision document is a precursor to a service development guide which will be launched by Care Services Minister Liam Byrne in autumn 2005.
Water Voice: Water and sewerage customers will benefit from a new guide which helps them to respond to sewer flooding incidents on their property. The guide, Sewer Flooding - Your Questions Answered, explains what help customers should be able to get from their local sewerage company and other organisations.
DfT: The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) has developed new material (Designing Everyone In pack) for primary school Design & Technology teachers, which shows how they can address the principles of accessible design as part of the National Curriculum schemes of study.
Defra: The Drinking Water Inspectorate, the
independent tap water watchdog, has announced figures, in its 15th annual
report, showing how tap water quality in
government is claiming that an independent review, by Professor William Hill
FRS, of the
Defra: The government has published a research
report on environmental protection expenditure by
Press release ~ UK Environmental Protection Expenditure by Industry Survey ~ E-Digest of environmental statistics ~ UK Govt. Sustainable Development website ~ NSCA website ~ Environment and Heritage Service ~ Social Science information gateway
The Healthcare Commission has published its report of the investigation
into maternity services at North West London NHS Trust. The report covers events in the trust’s maternity services at
Healthcare Commission: The main findings of the first ever review of NHS foundation trusts, carried out by the Healthcare Commission have been published.
MoD: Defence Secretary John Reid claims that he ‘welcomes’ the report from the
Defence Select Committee on the MoDs Future Capabilities
plans and its endorsement of the MoDs proposals for modernising the Armed
MoD: Defence Secretary John Reid claims that he ‘welcomes’ the report from the Defence Select Committee on the MoDs Future Capabilities plans and its endorsement of the MoDs proposals for modernising the Armed Forces.
Press release ~ DFC’s report - Future Capabilities (scroll down to 4th report) ~ MoD’s formal response ~ Royal Navy Standing Tasks ~ Defence Command Paper "Delivering Security in a Changing World: Future Capabilities" ~ Future Army Structure (FAS) ~ and more HERE ~ Network Enabled Capability
Home Office: Greater management and oversight is
needed into residential short-term holding centres, says a report covering
three unannounced inspections at
A second report says that progress has been made at the Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre, but some fundamental concerns remain, according to the report of an unannounced inspection.
Short term holding centres press release ~ Report ~ Harmondsworth Press release ~ Report ~ Home office response to both reports ~ Harmondsworth 2002 report (and click on ‘H’) ~ BBC article – Report on disturbances at Harmondsworth
DWP: Report No 225 - A research report published by the DWP provides findings from a feasibility study exploring the difficulties and prospects for the potential scope of extending responsibility for issuing sickness certificates to healthcare professionals other than doctors.
Press release ~ Report No. 225 - Read the report - The potential for certification of incapacity for work by non-medical healthcare professionals (Warning large file - 10.4MB)
DWP: New research by DWP provides longitudinal data on a group of beneficiaries who received ESF funded training between June and November 2002. The latest data shows what impact the training has had over time. In addition, in-depth interviews were carried out with a small sample of ’inactive’ beneficiaries from the overall sample.
DWP: A research report from the DWP provides findings from an evaluation of the communications strategy which formed part of the Engaging Physicians, Benefiting Patients pilot. The study also presents GPs’ views towards their role in the provision of medical evidence for the Department to process a claim for Incapacity Benefit, focusing on the completion of the IB113 form.
DWP: A DWP Research Report provides findings from research to explore GPs’ approaches to managing sickness absence and assisting patients to return to work.
Press release ~ Report No. 257: Exploring how General Practitioners work with patients on sick leave: A study commissioned as part of the ’Job Retention and Rehabilitation Pilot’ evaluation ~ National Centre for Social Research ~ TUC Briefing ~ NHS Plus – Health at work
Scottish Executive: The Scottish Parliament has voted in favour of a Bill that
DTI: The General Product Safety Regulations provides new powers to improve consumer safety by giving enforcement agencies the power to recall dangerous products. Although the majority of British producers act quickly to recall products when necessary, this action is currently voluntary and a small amount of companies still put consumers at risk by not acting responsibly.
Press release ~ Guidance on General Product Safety Regulations ~ EU Directive 2001/95/EC on General Product Safety ~ Consultation on Proposals to implement Directive 2001/95/EC on general product safety (GPSD). (and scroll down)
ODPM: The ODPM and the Employers Organisation for
local government (EO) have published
the revised Local Government Pay and Workforce Strategy
for 2005, with a key message – ‘
SPAN>Local government in
The ODPM is also supporting a new document which outlines how Organisational Development (OD) can help authorities transform the way they work and meet the rising aspirations of their communities.
Press release ~ Local Government Pay and Workforce Strategy for 2005 ~ OD Resource document - Transforming Your Authority: Creating Real and Lasting Change ~ Capacity Building Programme ~ Local Government Vision 10-year vision ~ Delivering Efficiency in Local Services ~ SOLACE Enterprises
ODPM: Round Seven of the Beacon Scheme will reward Local authorities providing
excellent services with a share of £3 million. Applications for Beacon status must be submitted by
The Government has also published its response to the review of the Beacon Scheme which was undertaken in October 2004
HMR&C: The government is requesting tenders
for a pilot project which will produce greener road fuels. The closing date for bids to be accepted
Press release ~ Copy of the call to tender and guidance for applicants ~ Transport Biofuels and how they are produced ~ Factsheet about Biofuels inputs-based production ~ Towards a UK Strategy for Biofuels Consultation and its Responses ~ International resource costs of biodiesel and bioethanol ~ EU Biofuels directive
Patent Office: Lord Sainsbury, Minister for Science
and Innovation, has pledged tougher action on intellectual property crime and
outlined the Government’s 4 point plan to tackle IP crime in
DCA: Yet another shake-up of the legal aid system has been announced by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, as
analysis shows that half of all legal aid spending in the Crown Court goes on just 1% of cases and that criminal legal aid costs have risen overall by 37% in real terms in seven years.
Defra: The Eco-Design for Energy Using Products Framework Directive, which is intended to cut greenhouse gas emissions from inefficient household appliances and other equipment is to be signed by the EU. According to the European Commission, by 2010 about 180 million tonnes of carbon dioxide - the equivalent output of around 50 power stations - could be prevented with new and energy-efficient appliances in Europe - around half of the EUs commitment under Kyoto.
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Patent Office: The Directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions (CII Directive) has been rejected by the European Parliament during Second Reading. This terminates the legislative procedure. The aim of the Directive was to clarify the current law, not to alter the status quo. The existing legal framework governing patentability until now remains in place.
HMRC: Business Brief 13/05
· Insurance Premium Tax: Implementation of Tribunal decision regarding the liability of the reinsurance of surety bonds
· VAT: Belated notification of an option to tax land and buildings - clarification of HM Revenue & Customs policy
· Denatured Alcohol Regulations 2005
VAT and supplied of staff - update on the case of
University Court of the
· VAT Notes - Issue of VAT Notes 2 2005