DfT: The Department for Transport has begun consulting (closing on 22 August 2008) on new construction requirements to be met by manufacturers of vans, trucks, minibuses, buses, coaches, trailers, motor-homes and other special-purpose vehicles.  The consultation reflects the requirements of the EC Whole Vehicle Type Approval Directive (ECWVTA), which already applies to cars.  
ECWVTA is designed to ensure that all new vehicles are safe to use and have the lowest possible environment impacts, without the need to inspect each vehicle individually.  ECWVTA will be phased in between 2009 and 2014, with different types of vehicles becoming subject to its requirements at different times.
Vehicles made in low volumes for sale in the UK only will not be required to comply with ECWVTA, but instead must meet National Small Series Type Approval or Individual Vehicle Approval requirements.  All businesses involved in the manufacture, build, import or sale of new vehicles will need to gain approval certification for their products.  No approval - no sale.
Press release ~ EC Whole vehicle type approval - National approval schemes, technical requirements and fees ~ EC Whole Vehicle Type Approval ~ EC Whole Vehicle Type Approval Directive (ECWVTA)
DH: Health Secretary Alan Johnson has launched a consultation (closes on 30 September 2008) to improve support for volunteers in the NHS, social care & third sector and to encourage more volunteering opportunities.
The consultation -'Towards a strategy to support volunteering in health and social care' - is intended to lead to a national volunteering strategy next year and its aim & subsequent strategy is to:
* raise the esteem & profile of volunteering;
* help improve management & support for volunteers;
* support more robust evaluation of the outcomes & benefits of volunteering and
* allow more coherent investment to support their involvement.
Press release ~ Towards a strategy to support volunteering in health and social care: consultation ~ National Volunteering Week ~ Assessing the Impact of Volunteering at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust ~ Volunteering England ~ Office of the Third Sector ~ Baroness Neuberger’s first review of volunteering in the public services
DfT: Proposals to ensure historically significant artefacts are protected to tell the story of the British railway have been published in a consultation (closes on 5 September 2008) by Rail Minister Tom Harris MP. The consultation asks for views on proposals to extend the scope of the Railway Heritage Committee (RHC), the body responsible for safeguarding Britain's railway legacy.
It would mean that the RHC would, in future, work with all railway organisations to ensure historically significant records & artefacts are secured.  At present British Transport Police, Transport for London and Rail Safety and Standards Board are among those excluded from the activities of the RHC.
Press release ~ Updating the scope and membership of the Railway Heritage Committee ~ Railway Heritage Committee (RHC) ~ National Railway Museum in York
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published a consultation paper (closes on 3 September 2008) which proposes that insurance companies will no longer be permitted to charge compensation for miss-selling to the inherited estates of with-profits funds.  The proposals relate specifically to proprietary firms and not mutuals.
FSA rules currently allow firms to pay the costs of compensation & redress from the inherited estates of their with-profits funds.  The FSA has re-examined these rules and concluded that there is a case to consult again on whether shareholders alone should meet the cost of compensation & redress as the current rules may not lead to the fair treatment of policyholders.
The FSA confirmed its intention to re-consult on compensation & redress costs in a letter to Ms Clare Spottiswoode, Policyholder Advocate and Mr Mark Hodges, Norwich Union Life chief executive sent on 6 December 2007.
Press release ~ Consultation Paper 08/11: 'With-profits funds-compensation and redress' ~ Letter to Ms Clare Spottiswoode
MoJ: A consultation (closes on 28 August 2008) on the development of up to three 2,500-place Titan prisons has been launched by Prisons Minister, David Hanson MP. Plans to build the prisons were announced last year as part of a further 10,500 places recommended in Lord Carter's review of prisons. The current building programme aims to bring overall capacity of the prison estate to over 96,000 by 2014.
Press release ~ Titan consultation document ~ Written Ministerial Statement announcing the launch of the consultation ~ Lord Carter's review of prisons ~ Prisons Policy Update ~ Community Sentencing - Reducing Re-offending, Changing Lives ~ HM Inspectorate of Prisons annual report 2006-2007
DWP: A consultation (closes on 28 August 2008) paper looking at how employers can continue to maintain good occupational pension provision through greater risk sharing has been published. The DWP is asking for views from stakeholders on whether the Government should amend pensions’ law to allow new types of pension schemes which would more evenly share risks between the employer and the individual.
These risks include investment performance and increasing life expectancy which can make pensions more expensive for employers to fund. The department is also seeking views on whether greater risk sharing could be accommodated without major changes to the existing legislative framework.
Mr Purnell also announced that the DWP intends to amend the current Pensions Bill to abolish the protected rights ‘survivor's benefit' rule.  It is intended that changes in the rules applying to survivors' benefits would take place in 2012 at the same time as the other changes to protected rights when contracting out on a defined contribution basis is abolished.
Press release ~ Consultation document ~ 2006 White Paper Security in retirement: towards a new pension system ~ DWP – Pensions and Retirement ~ DWP – Pensions reform 2010 onwards ~ Pensions Regulator ~ Pension Service ~ State Pension age calculator ~ Understanding the basic State Pension ~ BBC - Coping with retirement
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