In the News
Please note that this is the last Newsletter before our editorial team's summer break. Publication will resume in mid September.
Defra: Swede and Turnips for all? - The UK will need to change the way food is produced & processed so that we continue to enjoy healthy affordable food in the decades ahead, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Hilary Benn claimed as he published the country’s first food security assessment.
The challenges will be to ensure the sustainability of the UK’s food supply. In particular we will need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to a changing climate here & overseas that will affect what food can be grown and where & how it can be grown. The assessment also highlights the availability & effective use of water to produce food – the need to get more ‘crop per drop’ – and the depletion of fish stocks.
The UK Food Security Assessment is part of a package being published, which also includes:
* Food 2030, an online discussion seeking views on the future of our food system
* Food Matters: One Year On
* Draft indicators for the sustainability of the food system
Mr Benn said that there were 3 big challenges that needed to be met – How to:
* meet the economic & environmental challenges of increased productivity in the food chain
* help people eat more healthily and ensure people have access to safe, affordable food
* ensure that the way food is produced doesn’t damage the natural resources on which future production depends
The food strategy for the future will be published later in the year, drawing on responses to online consultation which closes on 16 October 2009.
Newswire – HCA: Housing to suit all budgets - Online guidance to help local authorities & developers establish the economic viability of housing and mixed-use regeneration schemes has been updated & re-issued, by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
The Economic Appraisal Tool (EAT) allows local authorities to establish effective, but realistic, affordable housing targets in order to meet national planning policy requirements, based on a calculation of residual land value. The tool is designed to be site specific, but can also be used to inform viability modelling to test affordable housing targets in Local Development Frameworks.
The HCA encourages bids for grant funding to be accompanied by an EAT submission, which it then uses to help determine grant levels, as well as demonstrate the added value social housing grant can bring to a scheme. Local authorities are able to estimate a saleable value for land as well as negotiate s106 and other planning obligation agreements; and developers can use the EAT to estimate how much they should pay for land as well as to inform their own s106 negotiations.
It should be read in conjunction with the HCA’s recently published good practice note HCA Investment and Planning Obligations: Responding to the Downturn, which seeks to encourage a collaborative & transparent approach to establishing the viability of schemes.
Newswire – Banardo’s: Effective justice to protect society or just ‘out of site, out of mind’ - A Barnardo’s study of children aged 12, 13 & 14 years old who have served a custodial sentence, has found that more than a third of them should not have been put behind bars, when judged against the Government’s own criteria.
The law states children aged 14 and under should not be sent to custody unless they have committed a grave offence or have committed a serious offence and are deemed to be a persistent offender. But Barnardo’s examination of the cases of 214 children – 46% of those in this age group sent to custody in 2007/08 - found that more than a third did not meet this criterion, but were still incarcerated. Child custody is expensive & ineffective, with re-offending rates at 80% and it can cost as much as £185,780 to accommodate one young person for a year.
The study also reveals that:
* just under half the children locked up had been abused
* more than a third were living with a known offender
* 38% had witnessed violence in their family
* 8% had attempted suicide
* the likelihood of being sent to custody varied significantly by postcode.
CLG: Ensuring cheap local housing remains just that - Affordable rural homes in thousands of newly designated 'protected' areas will be safeguarded for future generations of first time buyers under new provisions. In rural areas where replacing affordable housing is difficult, new shared ownership properties will have to remain shared ownership to ensure future buyers also have a chance to own a home.
Under new powers in the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008, more than 13,000 small rural settlements will be designated 'protected' areas across England. These will be areas where land to build new affordable homes is severely limited or where it is not possible to buy existing properties for shared ownership, because of the small size of the housing market.
Shared ownership properties in these 'protected' areas will be retained by either restricting to 80% the share owners can buy or allowing owners to acquire up to 100%, but ensuring the provider, for example a housing association, buys the property back to retain it for future purchasers.
Housing Minister, Ian Austin, is also boosting the Governments support for Community Land Trusts (CLTs) to help ensure more are set up to provide much needed affordable housing. CLTs are private bodies that own or control land & assets for the benefit of the community.
A £500,000 grant is being made to the charity Carnegie UK to further develop the CLT sector by developing a trade body, launching a website with portal & forum to provide information on creating a Trust and providing training courses for professionals working for lenders, local authorities etc.
Newswire – EC: Politicians prepare to woo voters (as if we were not depressed enough) - The Electoral Commission, is reminding potential voters that now’s the time to make sure you are on the electoral register ahead of the forthcoming General Election & English local elections. Local authorities are currently sending out registration forms to households across the country to make sure the registers are up to date so that everyone who is entitled to vote can do so.
Press release ~ About my Vote ~ Electoral CommissionIndustry News: Combining the functionality of office ‘tools’ increases productivity BUT also raises issues – The good news is that ‘slanting office shoulder’ may become a thing of the past as the functionality of the once ‘humble’ mobile phone keeps increasing month by month, thus lessening the need to walk around with a portable PC slung over ones shoulder. The ‘bad’ news isn’t really news, but rather more of a cautionary warning, as a item that was once just a personal device takes on the multi-funtionary abilities of a everyday working tool.
Most of us now take as written that a portable computer (and its various storage devices) need both physical & online protection to keep its contents ‘safe’, as required by the Data Protection Act 1998. However, as the mobile phone increasingly takes on the functionality of a computer, camera, email device, etc. there is a danger that we don’t realise just how much personal ‘work’ data we are now storing on them.
This trend is likely to continue as Fixed-moblie convergence (FMC) technology gains acceptance. After all, why would one want to switch phones (mobile to landline & back) when the same device could function in all situations. This is especially true when one considers the spread of home working and hot-desking in the office environment and with it the need to ‘just have the one number / phone’.
Click here to find out more about some of the security issues and to receive the latest information sheets from Cable & Wireless on Secure Voice and Secure Managed Video Conferencing.
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