Policy Statements and Initiatives

CLG: The Government has published 8 technical papers, exploring how councils would be allowed to keep locally generated business rates, enabling them to borrow against future rate income.  Legislation will be introduced later this year to allow changes to start as soon as possible.
There will be no change in the level of business rates, nor in the way that they are paid.  Local charities, voluntary groups and small businesses will continue to get the same reliefs from Government.
Press release & links
DH: Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has launched a call for new ideas for health apps that ‘would help patients make informed decisions about their care’.  Everyone, including patients, doctors, nurses and other health professionals and app developers, is invited to submit new ideas of health apps & online maps they think would be useful.
One leading example of an app that benefits patients is Choosing Well, developed by NHS Yorkshire & Humber for their local community, which allows people to search for their nearest NHS health services. For the next few weeks, people can go online and suggest favourite apps, ideas for apps or health maps they would like to see, as well as vote for their favourite ideas submitted by others.
Press release & links
Defra: A plan to create better habitats and join up the homes of some of England’s most iconic wildlife has been published by Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman. ‘Biodiversity 2020: A strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services’ aims to halt the loss of England’s habitats & species and follows up the global agreement reached at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) conference held in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010.
Also launched was a national wildlife gardening competition (closes on Sunday 20 May 2012), set out in the Natural Environment White Paper as a way to encourage more people to make sure their gardens are providing a good home for animals & birds as well as recreation space for people. Prizes include a gardening masterclass at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, along with membership of The Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Horticultural Society.
Press release & links
MoJ: Offenders will be made to do a full 5-day week of ‘hard work and job-seeking’, under new proposals for community sentences confirmed recently by Minister, Crispin Blunt.  The work will include hard manual labour, improving public areas by clearing up litter, cleaning graffiti and maintaining parks & other green spaces.
The new instructions will see unemployed criminals forced to work a minimum of 28 hours over 4 days, with the 5th day spent looking for full time employment.  Currently Community Payback programmes could be spread out over 12 months with some offenders working for a minimum of just 6 hours per week.
Press release & links
CO: A major trial of an innovative new way to fund intensive help for families blighted by anti-social behaviour, crime, addiction & poor education was announced by Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society recently. Social Impact Bonds lets people invest in social projects to address these issues and be paid a return if the projects are successful.  Up to £40m could be raised by 4 Social Impact Bond pilots launched in Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster, Birmingham and Leicestershire.
Press release & links

HO: An advertising campaign to challenge the attitudes of teenagers to violence & abuse in relationships has been launched by the Home Office. With 75% of girls and 50% of boys reporting that they have experienced some form of emotional abuse, the TV, cinema, outdoor & online advertising campaign aims to help teenagers recognise abusive behaviour at an early stage, before it escalates to physical violence. Adverts will run 1 September to 16 October 2011..
Press release & links ~ www.direct.gov.uk/thisisabuse
HO: The final stage in the government's pledge to end the detention of children for immigration purposes was completed recently, with the opening of new pre-departure accommodation for families required to leave the UK.
The new accommodation (‘Cedars’ in Pease Pottage, Sussex) has been designed in partnership with Barnardo's.  Families will stay in a self-contained apartment for a short period immediately before their departure from the UK and will have open access to a library, family & youth lounge & play areas for children.
Press release & links
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