IS: The Insolvency Service has launched an exercise seeking the views of stakeholders and others (by 18 October 2010) who use Official Statistics (such as the ‘Quarterly insolvency statistics’ it produces.
The aim of the Insolvency Service’ user engagement exercise is to ensure the scope, presentation & dissemination of the statistics meets the requirements & needs of users, a key principal within the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.
IS: The Insolvency Service has launched a consultation (closes on 18 October 2010) on proposals for a new restructuring moratorium. The proposals would provide company directors with the option of obtaining a protected breathing space in which to negotiate with their creditors and reorganise their business affairs, through a new statutory moratorium.
At present, a moratorium is only available outside of the administration procedure for small companies with a proposal for a company voluntary arrangement (a statutory mechanism for the company achieving a legally binding compromise with its creditors). It is not available to large companies or to companies using other restructuring procedures.
Defra: A new approach to environment policy was signalled recently as Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, called for everyone, from birdwatchers to big business, to shape the government’s Natural Environment White Paper.
The White Paper will be Defra’s first environmental White Paper in 20 years and comes at a time when honey bees are facing crisis, 97% of our flower-rich meadow has been lost since 1930 and the last 25 years has seen house sparrow numbers decline by 10m.
The discussion document launched will gather ideas, knowledge & expertise which will feed into the White Paper. The deadline for responses is 30 October 2010.
MLA: Museums, libraries & archives offering public internet access could be liable to serious financial, reputational & legal costs if online copyright infringements are found. The recent consultation on the Draft Initial Obligations Code has set out for the sector how the provisions of the Digital Economy Act about online copyright infringement will be interpreted & enforced by Ofcom.
However, there remains uncertainty under which legal category the sector would fit into, leaving the sector vulnerable to risks. To mitigate these risks, The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), the British Library and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) have produced a number of briefing documents & templates to help the sector understand the Act and Ofcom's new code of practice and ways to respond to the consultation.
The MLA urges the sector to respond to the current Ofcom consultation on the implementation of the Digital Economy Act by 31 July 2010, to ensure that the implications for the sector of the legislation and code of practice are clearly understood by decision-makers. Please download the template or send responses to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
MPA: The Metropolitan Police Authority is asking Londoners to have their say and help identify the capital's policing priorities for 2012/13. By completing a short online questionnaire Londoners can tell the MPA what are the most important issues for them and what they believe the police should be focusing on. The closing date for completed questionnaires is 26 November 2010.
DH: Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has set out proposals to ‘free the NHS to focus on improving services and outcomes for patients’. ‘Regulating Healthcare Providers’ makes the case for releasing foundation trusts so ‘we have the most vibrant social enterprise sector anywhere in the world’. Monitor will be given new powers to defend the interests of patients & the public, through regulating prices and protecting choice & competition. The Consultation closes on 11 October 2010
In the White Paper; ‘Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS’, the Government set out that all NHS trusts will become foundation trusts by 2013.
HO: The Home Secretary has announced a ‘radical’ new programme of reform to change the face of policing. Policing in the 21st Century: Reconnecting Police and the People sets out how the police service in England & Wales will become more accountable to the public and responsive to local people, more focused at a national level and more effective at tackling crime, as well as providing better value for money.
This publication marks the start of a public consultation (closes on 20 September 2010) on key features of the Government’s reform programme, including directly elected Police & Crime Commissioners who will hold forces to account, and in turn be directly accountable to the public. This will focus the police on local people’s priorities rather than responding to what national politicians and civil servants think these priorities are.
BIS: Vince Cable & George Osborne have launched a consultation paper to encourage an industry-led recovery by addressing the problems businesses face accessing finance.
The paper, ‘Financing a Private Sector Recovery’, sets out the range of finance options for different sized businesses, explores where the market is failing to provide and if there is a role for government intervention. It launches an intensive discussion on how business and the government can work together to produce a diverse, competitive & sustainable financial environment. The consultation closes on 20 September 2010.
CO: The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, has recently called for the British people to nominate which new government datasets they would like to see released on data.gov.uk.
The most requested datasets already identified by the Board include the Land Registry, Companies House, the Integrated Business Register, transport data, weather information and Environment Agency data. Anyone can make suggestions about which datasets they wish to see be made public by going to www.data.gov.uk/data External website and clicking on the ‘request new data’ button.
As part of this transparency drive the Government has also published procurement spend by English local authorities and the Department of Health. This has been published for the first time along with spend for central government departments and Arms Length Bodies which was published in ‘Collaborative Procurement: Publication of Spend Data’ (on 24 March 2010).
HMT: Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban MP, has launched the Government’s consultation on the implementation of reforms to financial regulation (closes on 18 October 2010). The document sets out detailed proposals for reform of the financial services sector, first announced by the Chancellor in his Mansion House speech on 16th June 2010.
The Chancellor set out plans to overhaul the system of Financial Regulation giving the Bank of England powers over macro prudential regulation through a newly established Financial Policy Committee (FPC), which will be established on an interim basis from Autumn 2010.
HMT: The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke MP has published 9 documents for discussion & consultation relating to tax, following commitments made at the June 2010 Budget. This will provide businesses, tax professionals and other interested parties with a more comprehensive view and the opportunity to comment on the Government's proposed tax reforms.
DfE: A new pupil premium to raise achievement among disadvantaged children will start from 2011, the Government announced last week. Education Secretary Michael Gove and Children’s Minister Sarah Teather have launched a consultation (closes on 18 October 2010) to seek views on how best to operate the premium including what deprivation indicator to use.
The premium will help target money so that more can be done to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds that are still not doing as well at school as they could or should do.
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading is consulting (closes on 20 October 2010) on a proposal to recommend an extension of the public transport ticketing schemes block exemption.
The block exemption, subject to certain conditions, automatically exempts certain types of integrated ticketing arrangements from the UK law prohibiting anticompetitive agreements. The current exemption expires at the end of February 2011.
Multi-operator travelcards, for example, involve 3 or more transport operators agreeing the price at which they will sell the travelcard to passengers and how the revenue from the sale of the tickets will be distributed between them.
ScotGov: The scope of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act is the focus of a new Scottish Government consultation (closes on 2 November 2010), which seeks views on whether the existing legislation should be widened to cover a greater range of bodies who deliver public services in Scotland.
Organisations under consideration are contractors who build and/or maintain schools, hospitals & roads; private prison operators; leisure, sport & cultural trusts set up by local authorities; Glasgow Housing Association and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland.
HO: Proposals for new measures to crack down on problem premises and more powers for local communities to influence licensing decisions have been unveiled for consultation (closes on 8 September 2010) by the Government.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: "The benefits promised by the 24 hour drinking ‘café culture’ have failed to materialise ……… the system needs to be rebalanced in favour of the local communities they serve with tougher action taken to crack down on the small number of premises who cause problems."
Last year there were almost 1m violent crimes that were alcohol related, with 20% of all violent incidents taking place in or around a pub or club, and almost two-thirds of these happen at night. As well as this, the total cost of alcohol-related crime & disorder to the taxpayer is estimated to be between £8bn - £13bn.
ScotGov: Opposition parties have been invited to talks on the findings of the Independent Budget Review which sets out a range of options that could be considered in addressing the Budget challenges facing Scotland. The public has also been invited to give their views - there is no definitive closing date, but comments should be sent in a.s.a.p.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has announced plans to update its Remuneration Code to take on board remuneration rules required by the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD 3) and the Financial Services Act 2010 (FS Act). The FSA also reports on the implementation of the Code so far, lessons learned from last year’s implementation and discusses progress made in achieving international alignment.
The consultation period closes on 8 October 2010. The FSA intends to issue a policy statement in November 2010 with rules effective from 1 January 2011.
DH: A consultation (closes on 22 October 2010) to help improve care services & healthcare outcomes for adults with autism in England has been launched by Care Services Minister, Paul Burstow.
This is the next step to help adults with autism live full & independent lives as equal & included citizens and follows the publication of the strategy for adults with autism: Fulfilling and rewarding lives.
CC: The Competition Commission (CC) is consulting (closes on 3 September 2010) on changes to the way retail payment protection insurance (retail PPI) is sold.
In a document published last week, the CC outlines changes that will see clearer information provided to customers on the cost of retail PPI cover and their rights; 'unbundling' PPI from merchandise cover and a requirement for providers to supply information to the new Consumer Financial Education Body (CFEB) for its price comparison tables. Comments on the draft decision are now invited and should be made in writing to: email@example.com.
BIS: The Default Retirement Age (DRA) will be consigned to the history books by October 2011 under proposals published for consultation (closes on 21 October 2010) by the Government last week.
The new plans allow for a six month transition from the existing regulations, following the announcement in the Budget that the DRA would be phased out from April 2011.
The consultation also proposes to help employers by removing the administrative burden of statutory retirement procedures. With the DRA removed there is no reason to keep employees ‘right to request’ working beyond retirement or for employers to give them a minimum of six months notice of retirement.
CLG: The public will be given the power to veto excessive council tax rises Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, announced last week. Under the new proposals laid out in a technical consultation (closes on 10 September 2010) any council that set its council tax increase above a set ceiling, approved in a democratic & transparent manner by Parliament each year, would trigger an automatic referendum of all registered electors in their area.
Residents would be asked to choose between the proposed rise and a 'shadow budget', which the council must also prepare within the defined limit. A no vote would leave councils having to refund taxpayers or give a credit at the end of the tax year.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency, Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government are jointly inviting people to share their views (by 25 August 2010) on the European Commission's 'TSE Roadmap 2' and the accompanying Commission staff working document.
Although the roadmap contains no specific proposals or timetable for change, it identifies areas where changes could be made to TSE measures in the future.
Defra: The Government’s review of waste policies has been formally launched (closes on 7 October 2010). Opening a call for evidence, Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, called on businesses, households, communities, and local authorities in England to contribute their views.
ScotGov: Views of Orkney & Shetland communities are being sought as part of a study into potential cost reduction measures on the Northern Isles ferry services currently provided by NorthLink Ferries. The study will be carried out by BM Consulting and Reference Economic Consultants who will shortly contact a range of ferry users and other interested parties for their views.
People can also contribute their views by email to NIF consultation (by Tuesday 31 August 2010) or by writing to: Scottish Government, Ferries Division, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ. The work will be carried out over the next few weeks and the working group will report back to Ministers in the autumn.