Policy Statements and Initiatives

DH: The Department of Health has confirmed continued financial support for 4 local authority social care PFI projects in England. The projects to receive PFI credits are based in Leeds, Hull, Sandwell and Hammersmith.  They will all provide community social care & health facilities for vulnerable people.
The successful projects include a centre offering general, respite & dementia care for older people and those with learning or mental disabilities, along with a leisure centre giving priority to disabled adults.
Press release & links
NENatural England recently announced the launch of a new approach to responding to planning consultations, which offers ‘a more consistent, quick & efficient service to their customers’. Under the new system, Natural England handles the planning consultations it receives via a central email address, replacing the old postal application system directed to local offices.
In making their initial application to Natural England, customers are also asked to specify which aspect of their proposal they are seeking NE’s advice on – as well as the timetable they are working to and the sites the case relates to.  This information will help ensure that cases are dealt with as efficiently as possible.
Press release & links
CLG: Communities Secretary, Mr Pickles, has published a consultation (closes on 30 June 2011) that proposes to ‘scrap the planning approval requirement for changing use from a commercial property to a residential property’, which can be costly & time consuming, so it is easier for developers to turn vacant offices into new homes. 

If all the long-term office space currently available was converted it could potentially deliver 250,000 new homes and save just under £140m over 10 years in unnecessary red tape costs.
In addition, Ministers have announced a full review of national planning policy by 2012, and a commitment to reduce regulations on housebuilders, including the introduction of a local standards framework.  The Homes and Communities Agency is also examining how the disposal of publicly owned land can be used for housing.
Press release & links
DH: From summer 2011, dentists will be paid for the quality of the treatment they give ‘rather than the number of treatments provided’, Health Minister, Lord Howe announced recently. 62 dental practices have been selected to trial a new dental contract that will help improve outcomes for patients.  The trials are being designed to improve the quality of patient care and increase access to NHS dental services, with the added objective of improving the oral health of children.
The new contract will be based around capitation, registration & quality.  This means that dentists will be rewarded for the quality of care they deliver for patients rather than the number of treatments carried out.
Press release & links
DfE: 162 schools have become Academies this month and a further 473 are in the pipeline.  Until now only schools which Ofsted judged Outstanding or Good with Outstanding features have been allowed to apply to convert in their own right.  Other schools have had to apply as part of wider chains, working with strong schools.
However, many other mainstream & special schools have said they should be allowed to become stand-alone Academies.  The Government will now consider applications from any school, including special schools that can make a compelling case for Academy status.  

You can download a new guide for schools, which includes testimony from heads about the process & benefits of becoming an Academy.
Press release & links
DECC: At a recent meeting in the United Arab Emirates, Ministers at the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) endorsed recommendations (see press release for list) from the Carbon Capture, Use and Storage (CCUS) Action Group chaired by Australia & the UK.
Member nations of the CEM collectively represent 80% of the world's energy consumption and over 90% of the world's clean energy investment.  The CEM has 11 agreed initiatives to progress its work.  The UK will host the third meeting of CEM (in London) in the spring 2012.
Press release & links ~ Carbon Capture, Use and Storage Action Group ~ Accelerating the uptake of CCS: Industrial use of captured carbon dioxide ~ CCS Demonstrations in Developing Countries: Priorities for a Financing Mechanism for Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage
CLG: Fire Minister, Bob Neill, has set out how ‘local decision making & restoring a focus on local communities will be at the heart of Fire and Rescue Service policy’ as the Government published its response to the sector's Fire Futures Reports.
The Fire Futures Review, at the invitation of central Government, gave those working within the F&R sector an opportunity to identify ideas for their future.  This resulted in 4 reports being published in December 2010, looking into the role, efficiency & accountability of the Fire & Rescue Service in England. The Government will shortly begin to develop & consult with the sector on a new National Framework to be in place for 2012.
Press release & links
DH: A response to a series of recommendations made by the PM Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwiferyhas been published by Health Minister Anne Milton. Frontline Care: The report of the Prime Minister’s Commission on the future of Nursing and Midwifery in England was commissioned by the previous administration & published on 2 March 2010.  

The 20 recommendations made by the Commission covered issues such as how nurses & midwives could improve safety, high quality care and more freedom to manage, commission & run their own services.
Press release ~ Full response to the 20 recommendations in Frontline Care ~ Frontline Care: The report of the Prime Minister’s Commission on the future of Nursing and Midwifery in England
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