DfEThousands of vocational courses which do not on their own lead to jobs, further study or university could be dropped from college & school sixth-form performance tables as part of reforms to raise education standards, Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said recently. Around 90% of nearly 4,000 Level 3 vocational courses may no longer count in the tables.
The move follows Professor Alison Wolf’s ground-breaking report into vocational education, in which she said that “at least 350,000 young people in a given 16-19 cohort are poorly served by current arrangements”.  The reforms are outlined in a consultation launched by the Department for Education. They would be phased in from 2014, and follow similar action to overhaul school league tables for 16-year-olds. Consultation closes 10 May 2013.
The Department for Education also announced that a series of high-quality vocational qualifications are being developed for use by 14- to 16-year-olds.
Press release & links ~ Government proposals to reform vocational qualifications for 16-19 year olds
FSA: The Financial Services Authority has published its consultation on how it plans to introduce a strong & flexible regime to regulate consumer credit.  The regime is tailored to address the risks that face consumers without putting undue burdens on firms.  Please send your online comments by 1 May 2013.
Press release & links
FSA: The Scottish Government has launched a consultation seeking views on the roles, responsibilities & functions of the new food safety body that is to be established in Scotland to replace the Food Standards Agency. Consultation closes on 22 May 2013.
Press release ~ A Healthier Scotland: Consultation on Creating a New Food Body
SC: New proposals for how environmental offenders like fly-tippers should be sentenced have been launched by the Sentencing Council.  The draft sentencing guidelines, which could mean larger fines for serious offenders, aim to provide clear guidance on sentencing these offences so that there is a consistent approach in courts across England & Wales.  Consultation closes on 6 June 2013.
Press release & links
WAG: The Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Alun Davies has launched a public consultation on finding a long term solution to fly grazing & abandonment of horses in Wales. Large numbers of horses have been abandoned in publicly owned spaces, on common land and on private land.

The majority of fly grazing incidents have occurred in Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend where local authorities the police & charitable organisations are taking a robust approach to dealing with the issue. Consultation closes on 29 April 2013.
Press release & links ~ Fly Grazing and Abandonment of horses and ponies: Delivering a long term solution
Ofcom: Ofcom has outlined measures to continue to safeguard the universal postal service, including increased protection for rural post boxes
3 documents are available online: statements on the Review of Postal Users’ Needs and End to End Competition, and a consultation on post box provision, which is open until 1 May 2013.
Press release & links
HMT: The Government has launched a consultation setting out proposals for introducing a new system of competition-focused regulation for payment systems.  This forms part of the Government’s work to create a more competitive, consumer-focussed banking sector.
Strong new powers will be given to an existing regulator to ensure that challenger banks have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field with their larger competitors. This could include setting a fair price for big banks to charge for access to payments infrastructure. The consultation closes on 25 June 2013 .
Press release & links ~ The FSA and the Bank of England relax the barriers to entry for new bank entrants ~ IPPR North: British Business Bank with regional funds could provide the answer on growth
DWP: Proposals to improve the automatic enrolment process have been published by the Department for Work and Pensions in a consultation.   Since the launch of automatic enrolment last October the DWP has listened to feedback from employers, pension & payroll providers on how it has worked so far and what parts of the legislative framework could operate better. This feedback has been key to formulating this consultation which closes on 7 May 2013.
Press release & links
WAG: Housing & Regeneration Minister, Carl Sargeant has launched a consultation on proposals to introduce new regulations making automatic fire sprinklers compulsory in all new & converted residential premises.
The Domestic Fire Safety Measure, originally introduced by Ann Jones AM, allows Ministers to require sprinklers in new & converted houses, flats, residential care homes, halls of residence and certain hostels. The consultation proposes implementation of the Measure together with related changes to Building Regulations. Consultation ends on 17 June 2013.
Press release & links ~ Implementing the Domestic Fire Safety (Wales) Measure 2011
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