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WGPlus provides an in-depth weekly briefing from the UK Government and Public Sector. To save your time, we research & validate the links to websites, documents and further background information. Click here for more about WGPlus

In the News

Home Office: We have the technology but will it cost $6m dollars per employee? - A new policy document - Building on Progress: Security, Crime and Justice - looks at how new technology, powers, service structures and ways of fighting offending will hopefully help the Home Office keep pace with an ever changing society. It aims to ensure victims & communities feel more secure while justice is effectively & efficiently done and seen to be done by looking at three themes:

  • Prevention of crime: Proposals look at identifying & intervening with at-risk children as early as possible, targeting & gripping the most prolific offenders and designing out crime
  • Detection and enforcement: The need to ensure the police, courts & CPS can punish crimes & enforce sentences as rapidly as possible and that they have all the powers they need to seize criminal assets and punish breach of probation orders.
  • Reforming the criminal justice system: Making it work for the law abiding citizen by ensuring it is responsive to local people.

Among the measures being announced the Government will undertake a review of the Police Service, which will look into four key issues:

  • Reducing bureaucracy & promote better business processes
  • Sustaining the progress that has been made on neighbourhood policing
  • Ensuring that the public are driving local policing priorities and improve local involvement & accountability
  • Managing resources effectively to deliver on the tough challenges of the coming years

The prolific offender case management programme will also be expanded to tackle the 5,000 offenders who are responsible for one crime in ten.
Press release ~ Building on Progress: Security, Crime and Justice (3Mb) ~ NAO Report on Asset Recovery Agency ~ Asset Recovery Agency ~ National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) ~ Written Ministerial Statement on proposals to merge ARA with SOCA and the NPIA ~ Impact Assessment of the Prolific and other Priority Offender Programme ~ Other related documents (scroll down) ~ Prolific and other Priority Offender Strategy ~ Ten years of criminal justice under Labour: An independent audit (1.8Mb) ~ Community Impact Statements ~ Community justice courts ~ Respect website ~ National Criminal Justice Board ~ National Offender Management Service ~ Supporting Magistrates to Provide Justice ~ Consultation: Making Sentencing Clearer ~ CJS Review: Rebalancing the criminal justice system in favour of the law-abiding majority ~ CJS Online ~ Sentencing Guidelines Council

DWP: Oliver Twist looks no nearer to being rescued from the Poor-house - 'Working for Children' sets out how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will help parents to lift themselves and their children out of poverty through employment. It was published alongside the Households Below Average Income figures for 2005/2006, which showed a rise in the number of children in relative poverty of 100,000 from 2004/2005 to 2005/2006.

In March 1999, the Prime Minister pledged to eradicate child poverty within a generation. This pledge was underpinned by ambitious targets - to reduce child poverty by a quarter by 2004/05, by a half by 2010/11 and to eradicate it by 2020. The Government missed the 2004/05 target.

'Working for Children' is intended to ‘refocus’ £150 million of resources within the DWP towards greater support for families, by:

  • Piloting a 'New Deal for Families' approach so more families get access to support that is often only available for lone parents.
  • Extending the New Deal for Lone Parents Plus scheme to help more lone parents benefit from this service and signalling initial support, ahead of a period of consultation, for recommendations from David Freud to increase obligations on lone parents with older children to look for work
  • Widening & improving the in-work credit scheme which provides additional financial support for lone parents as they make the transition to work
  • Changing Jobcentre Plus systems so parents are properly identified in the benefit system for the first time and recording the childcare needs & preferences of all parents - not just lone parents as at present
  • Providing advice & support for the partners of parents claiming Jobseekers Allowance, with the introduction of mandatory six-monthly work-focused interviews for this group

Press release ~ 'Working for Children' – Child Poverty Strategy ~ Executive summary ~ Delivering on Child Poverty: what would it take? ~ New Deal for Lone Parents Plus scheme ~ New Deal for Employers ~ David Freud: Reducing dependency, increasing opportunity: options for the future of welfare to work ~ White Paper: A new system of child maintenance ~ Sir David Henshaw's report ~ Local Employment Strategies and Welfare Reform 2006 ~ Work Related Activity Premium (WRAP) ~ Work Focused Interviews and lone parent initiatives: further analysis of policies and pilots ~ Lone parents and work: developing new survey measures of the choices and constraints ~ Helping Lone Parents ~ Green paper - A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work ~ Report: What will it take to end child poverty? Firing on all cylinders ~ Summary of findings ~ A series of background papers on child poverty ~ Micro-simulating child poverty in 2010 and 2020 ~ Five case studies ~ End Child Poverty coalition

Home Office: A never ending problem! - More people will face checks before entering the with the introduction of a US-style visa waiver programme that the Government claims will create a strengthened border control by screening people even before they get here.

'Securing the Border' also sets out how the will overhaul visitor visas, including:

  • consulting on ‘tougher’ sanctions for sponsors of family visas
  • consulting on requiring English for spouses,
  • as well as installing technology at ports to record biometrics of non-EEA citizens without visas

In addition, the Home Office will be setting up the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) which, once up & running, will advise Ministers on where migration might sensibly fill gaps in the labour market.

The government is also establishing a new Migration Impacts Forum (MIF), which will provide information on the wider impacts of migration on local communities and how best to ensure public services can respond & community cohesion retained.
Press release ~ 'Securing the UK Border' - Borders and Visa strategy ~ Borders Action Plan ~ Migration Advisory Committee consultation responses (scroll down) ~ Airline Liaison Officers ~ e-Borders pilot, Project Semaphore ~ Life in the UK test ~ Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship ~ Advisory Board on Naturalisation and Integration (ABNI) ~ DfES: Adult ESOL Core Curriculum ~ Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) – Applying for British nationality ~ IND reform plan: Fair, Effective, Transparent and Trust: Rebuilding Confidence in our Immigration System ~ Command Paper 'A points-based system: making migration work for Britain' ~
Employers' use of migrant labour ~ 5 year strategy: Controlling our borders: making migration work for Britain' ~ Electronic immigration network ~ Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner ~ Asylum and Immigration Tribunal ~ UK Visas – Immigration rules ~ Integration Matters strategy (VL File 2.4Mb) ~ National Asylum Support Service

FDA: Act in haste, regret at leisure? - FDA, the union representing senior public servants, including senior civil servants at the Home Office and Department of Constitutional Affairs, has urged caution at Government plans to create a new Ministry of Justice by 9 May 2007.

FDA head of operations Dave Penman said: “The Government has the right to split the Home Office and the FDA does not believe that departmental boundaries are immutable and should never change. However, we question the wisdom of rushing through such significant machinery of government changes within a matter of weeks.

The FDA says that the changes will impact more than 50,000 staff and that fundamental operational issues, such as differing IT systems & organisational structures, have yet to be considered. Dave Penman continued:

“No private sector company of 50,000 staff would plan to implement a merger within this timeframe, so how can it be suitable for organisations responsible for protection of the public? …………. The assertion that these changes can be implemented within existing resources simply does not reflect the reality of experience with machinery of government changes.
FDA press release ~ FDA (formerly First Division Association)~ Reforming the Home Office

DH: Will change in accounting rules be in time to stop cuts before local elections? - The NHS is set to move to a more transparent & fair financial regime following the announcement of the reversal of RAB deductions and the replacement of cash brokerage with a formal system of loans for NHS Trusts.

The move follows recommendations made by the Audit Commission to change the Resources Accounting and Budgeting (RAB) rules for NHS trusts. The Audit Commission said the rules were unfair because of the 'double whammy' effect under which overspending trusts not only had to pay back their debts, but received less income the following year as well.

The Government also announced that it would now allocate the £450m contingency to strategic health authorities (SHAs) on a fair shares basis meaning that the ‘most needy’ areas of the country will receive a larger share of the funding in line with the our needs based resource allocation formula.
Press release ~ Audit Commission - Review of the NHS Financial Management and Accounting Regime ~ Audit Commission comment on decision ~ King's Fund - Change in NHS accounting rules will bring greater transparency

DCA: The price of Freedom (of Information) is worth the cost to public organisations - The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) has announced that there is to be a further opportunity to comment (by 21 June 2007) on the proposals to amend the Freedom of Information (FoI) fee regulations, specifically on whether they should be amended to deal with requests that ‘impose a disproportionate burden on public authority resources’.

The supplementary paper is aimed at members of the public, public authorities, the media and campaign groups with an interest in the proposed changes.

Further comments on the draft regulations contained in the consultation paper of 14 December 2006 have also been welcomed.
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ ‘Independent’ Review of the impact of the FoI Act ~ DCA – FOI ~ Independent review of the impact of the FoI Act ~ Scottish Executive website for the Freedom of Information Act Scotland 2002 ~ Information Commissioner ~ The Times of reckoning for Brown – Times Online ~ Gloomy predictions that the Chancellor chose to ignore - TimesOnline

For Wired-GOV Industry News please click HERE

General News

DTI: The Science and Innovation Minister, Malcolm Wicks has announced names of the Chair and members for new Science and Technology Facilities Council, which brings together the work of the:

  • Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC)
  • Council of the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC) and
  • the nuclear physics work of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

It will be responsible for particle physics, astronomy, space science, nuclear physics, synchrotron radiation, neutron sources and high power lasers and will manage the Rutherford Appleton and Daresbury laboratories.

The STFC will have a budget of about £530 million per annum, employ more than 2,000 staff and will be under the sponsorship of the Department of Trade and Industry, which will provide most of its funding
Press release ~ CCLRC/PPARC merger home page ~ Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) ~ Council of the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC) ~ Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Defra: From 1 April 2007 the State Veterinary Service (SVS), an executive agency of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), will be known as Animal Health.

The move brings together, under a single agency, all the expertise previously offered by SVS, the Dairy Hygiene and Egg Marketing Inspectorates and the Wildlife Licensing and Registration Service. The formation of this new single body is in line with recommendations made by the Hampton Review.
Press release ~ Veterinary Service (SVS) ~ Dairy Hygiene Inspectorate ~ Egg Marketing Inspectorate ~ Wildlife Licensing and Registration Service ~ Defra – Animal health and welfare ~ NOAH (National Office of Animal Health) ~ Hampton Review

DWP: The government claims that it is committed to maintaining momentum on pensions reform, as it takes forward proposals in a White Paper for a system of personal accounts.

It said the National Pensions Debate found that there is broad agreement on proposals such as restoring the earnings link and raising the State Pension Age. The raising of the retirement age to 68 by 2046 will broadly maintain the proportion of adult life spent over State Pension age at around 30% - as it is today.
Press release ~ The White Paper, Personal accounts: a new way to save ~ Information on pensions reform ~ National Pensions Debate ~ White Paper on Pension Reform - Security in Retirement: towards a new pensions system ~ Public attitudes to personal accounts: Report of a qualitative study ~ Tax help for older people on low incomes with tax problems ~ Pensions Commission ~ Which? - NPSS model

Defra: A new policy for managing solid low level radioactive waste has been published by the UK Government and the devolved administrations. The policy, which follows a public consultation in 2006, claims to put proving public safety at the forefront of dealing with low level radioactive waste (LLW) and sets out a more flexible & pragmatic approach to managing LLW.

It also stresses the need to minimise the amount of waste created and recognises the need to involve the public in developing & authorising LLW management plans.
Press release ~ Policy for the Long Term Management of Solid Low Level Radioactive Waste in the United Kingdom ~ Defra – Radioactive waste ~ Nuclear Decommissioning Authority ~ Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) ~ Closed consultation on UK policy for long term management of solid low level radioactive waste
~ Inventory of UK radioactive wastes ~ Copeland BC - Response to the consultation on the EA's regulatory review of the disposal of radioactive waste (low level waste) at the national low level waste repository (LLWR) at Drigg in Cumbria ~ Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee (RWMAC) ~ DTI nuclear website ~ Scottish Executive ~ British Energy ~ BBC news item on Sweden’s problems ~ FoE website ~ Greenpeace website~ Nirex ~ UKAEA ~ HSE Nuclear web pages ~ HSE Nuclear Safety Advisory Committee (NuSAC) ~ Office for Civil Nuclear Security~ BNFL

MCA: The MCA monthly video podcast newsletter is a series of video files with voice over commentary available for download over the internet, containing news, safety information maritime incidents and events happening in the MCA.

You can subscribe to our podcast page and listen to (or watch) the downloaded files on your computer, or move them to a portable device (like an mp3 player or mobile phone) to listen to while you're out and about
Press release ~ Monthly newsletter video podcast

FDA: The FDA, the union representing senior public servants, has joined MPs’ calls for a Civil Service Act and expressed its ‘deep concern’ over revelations that Home Office MP Gerry Sutcliff had asked his department for lists of officials who supported or opposed his Offender Management policy.

FDA head of business development Paul Whiteman said: “The FDA welcomes the publication of the Public Administration Select Committee’s (PASC) report Politics and Administration: Ministers and Civil Servants, and we look forward to considering its detail. ….. We strongly echo the PASC’s call for a Civil Service Act to enshrine the values of independence and impartiality of the civil service in legislation.”
Press release ~ FDA (formerly First Division Association) ~ Politics and Administration: Ministers and Civil Servants ~ Written response by the Civil Service Commissioners ~ Issues and Questions paper ~ Times online article

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DCLG: Race and Faith Minister Phil Woolas has pledged to step up action to eradicate anti-Semitism in a report strongly condemning the increase in incidents in the , which outlines new work to:

  • improve recording & reporting of anti-Semitic incidents
  • review & strengthen the prosecution process
  • accelerate work to confront extremist groups who spread hate
  • promote community cohesion through education about different faiths
  • prevent any manifestation of racial or religious intolerance on university campuses

Press release ~ All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into anti-Semitism ~ Governme nt response ~ Local Crime and Disorder Partnerships ~ Connectin g Community Plus grant scheme ~ Faith Capacity Building Fund ~ Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) ~ Commission on Integration and Cohesion ~ Board of Deputies ~ Commission for Equality and Human Rights ~ Holocaust Educational Trust ~ Holocaust Memorial Day Trust ~ Guidance for Higher Education providers to help Tackle Violent Extremism in the name of Islam on Campus ~ Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia Today

Defra: The Forestry Commission's Woodfuel Strategy for England, launched by Biodiversity Minister Barry Gardiner, aims to boost the woodfuel market with an extra two million tonnes of wood a year by 2020, saving 400,000 tonnes of carbon annually - the equivalent of taking 550,000 cars off the road.

The publication of the Strategy will be followed up by a detailed implementation plan in the summer.
Press release ~ Woodfuel Strategy for England (3.9Mb) ~ Forestry Commission – Woodfuel ~ Defra: Industrial Crops - Energy ~ Forest Research - Woodfuel Information Pack ~ Forest Research - Woodfuel ~ Wood Energy Scotland ~ Wood Fuel Wales

DCLG: The Government is working with local authorities and lenders to make it easier for their leaseholders - people who own former council flats - to pay their share of the cost of bringing them up to modern standards, such as with new roofs and windows.

Works of repair, maintenance & improvement now being undertaken by local authorities and by their associated arms length management organisations (ALMOs) are generating substantial major works bills - some recent ones for as much as £58,000.

The Government considers that more can be done to help leaseholders to deal with high bills through available payment options, with minor enhancements & additions - if they are managed sensitively and flexibly.
Press release ~ Assessment of the impact of the cost of repairs for Right to Buy leaseholders ~ DCLG - Decent Homes ~ Social Sector Working Party ~ Leasehold Advisory Service ~ Service Charges and other issues ~ HouseProud


DCLG: Local Government Minister Phil Woolas has announced that sixteen councils bidding for unitary status have been shortlisted to go forward for consultation (closes on 22 June 2007). If implemented, the government hopes that it could save up to around £200m per annum.

The government claims that re-structuring will help to prevent unnecessary inefficiency, confusion & duplication of services. For example currently in some areas maintaining the grass verges can be a matter for the parish council, keeping the pavement clean - the district council and keeping the road clean - the county council.

In remaining two-tier areas Government expects all councils to pursue new working arrangements to achieve the same level of improvement & efficiency gains as they expect the new unitaries will be achieving. As part of this, Government also invited councils to submit proposals to pioneer, as pathfinders, new models of two-tier working. Five proposals have been submitted to Government and a decision on those proposals will be made after the local government election ‘purdah’.
Press release ~ Consultation document Proposals for Future Unitary Structures: Stakeholder Consultation ~ Invitation to councils ~ Strong and prosperous communities - The Local Government White Paper ~ Press comment from LGA

DfT: Transport Minister Gillian Merron has announced a consultation (closes on 19 June 2007) on changes to the scheme for disabled parking badges. The main changes proposed include:

  • extending the scheme to children under two who are dependent upon bulky medical equipment
  • extending the scheme to people with severe congenital disabilities in both arms, so that all those with Thalidomide related disabilities would be eligible
  • including a hologram on the badge as a security measure

The new regulations will be in place by September 2007 and are in line with recommendations from a Disabled Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) report from 2002. Gillian Merron also announced a three month strategic review of the scheme, which will contribute to a comprehensive Blue Badge Reform strategy, to be published in 2008.
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ DfT - Disabled Person's Parking Badge Scheme ~ Directgov - Blue Badge parking scheme ~ Find a Blue Badge Parking Bay ~ Disabled Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) ~ DPTAC 2002 report recommendations ~ DfT Blue Badge scheme explanatory booklet ~ Guidance on enforcement ~ Blue Badge Network

DH: The government has published a consultation paper (closes 25 June 2007) setting out its proposals for changes to the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, which consolidated earlier legislation, much of it dating back to the 19th century.

The Act gives local authorities certain powers to prevent & control the spread of infectious disease and the consultation paper proposes that these powers should be brought up-to-date, in particular by:

  • Supplementing current powers that allow an infected person to be medically examined & detained in hospital with powers that may be more effective at controlling the spread of disease, such as keeping a person in quarantine
  • Increasing the scope of the Act to cover contamination by deliberate or accidental release of chemicals or radiation as well as infectious disease

Press release ~ Review of parts 2, 5 and 6 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 ~ UK Public Health Association ~ Health Protection Agency ~ The Royal Institute of Public Health ~ Public Health Resource Unit ~ NICE – Public Health ~ Public health training for local government: evaluation of a pilot programme: summary ~ NeLH: Public Health

DfT: Government Ministers have launched a consultation on how the aviation sector can play its part in combating climate change through the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). If airlines within the scheme emit more than their allocation of carbon allowances, they would have to buy an equivalent number allowances from the carbon market.

The consultation (closes 1 June 2007) seeks responses on a number of issues, including the following:

  • Should the scheme cover those arriving in & departing from the EU or just those flying between EU airports
  • when aviation should enter the scheme
  • how the scheme should be regulated, and
  • how allowances will be allocated

Press release ~ Consult ation papers ~ De fra - EU Emissions Trading Scheme ~ Defra - Carbon offsetting ~ Travel Foundation ~ Integrated travel emissions profiles ~ DfT - The Eddington Transport Study

DCA: The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) has announced that there is to be a further opportunity to comment (by 21 June 2007) on the proposals to amend the Freedom of Information (FoI) fee regulations – See ‘In the News’ above.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DfES: Minister for Further and Higher Education Bill Rammell has published the Race Equality Impact Assessment (REIA) on the:

- changes to the eligibility for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses and

- changes to the eligibility to FE funding for asylum seekers

He also announced a range of new measures intended to address the concerns raised around the changes to ESOL, including £4.6m in 2007-08 to support vulnerable learners through the Learner Support Hardship Fund.
Press release ~ ESOL impact statement and new funding guidance for 2007 - 2008 ~ LSC Learner Eligibility guidance for 2007-2008 ~ Learner Support Hardship Fund ~ Race Equality Impact Assessment (REIA) ~ English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses ~ FE funding for asylum seekers ~ Learning and Skills Council (LSC)

NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued new national standards calling for anyone who works with young people to identify those who are vulnerable to drug problems and intervene at the earliest opportunity - before they start using drugs at all or before they get into worse problems if they are already misusing drugs.

The guidance gives advice on stepping in & helping young people access the right support & services, and outlines effective individual, family and group-based support which can improve motivation, family interaction and parenting skills.
Press release ~ Substance Misuse Guidance ~ Targeted youth support toolkit - Every Child Matters ~ Common Assessment Framework - Every Child Matters ~ NTA: Unit costs for substance misuse ~ NTA: National Drug Treatment Monitoring System ~ NTA: Assessing young people ~ Lets talk about it - A review of healthcare in the community for young people who offend ~ Healthcare Commission - Improvement review of substance misuse 2006/2007~ Drug Interventions Programme ~ Drug Strategy ~ Race and Diversity strategy ~ Drug Action Teams ~ DH Substance Abuse website ~ Treatment Works website ~ RCGP UK - Toolkit

DH: Clinicians on new PCT professional executive committees (PECs) will gain greater control over local NHS priorities, policies and investment plans under new guidance designed to ensure that clinicians from a multi-professional background are firmly part of primary care trusts' (PCTs) decision making process.

The new guidance for PECs advises that all PEC members should be appointed on the basis of their skills, competencies & ability to lead and that clinicians must also be in the majority on the committees. Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) will oversee the new arrangements to ensure that PCTs are effectively engaging their clinicians and using their PECs to design & deliver local services. PCTs are expected to implement the new guidance by 1 October 2007.
Press release ~ Guidance for the PCT Professional Executive Committee (PEC) ~ DH - 'Fit to Lead, a Review of the PEC' consultation ~ DH - PECs ~ NHS Networks - Resources for PEC Chairs and PEC Members ~ NHS Networks – PEC Chairs ~ NHS Alliance

CEL: The Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) and the National College for School Leadership (NCSL) have designed a range of programmes aimed at supporting school and college leaders within the 145 consortia chosen to deliver the new Diplomas from September 2008. The range of tailored programmes includes:

  • lone-to-one and group-based coaching for leaders
  • workshops and seminars tailored to local and regional needs
  • leadership exchange activities
  • consultancy support in managing structural and cultural change
  • access to a virtual learning environment that includes, for example, learning modules on collaborative leadership and diversity competence
  • building and sharing research on leadership good practice
  • consultancy, support and guidance following the Gateway process.
Press release ~ Support for Leaders ~ Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) ~ White paper - Further Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances ~ National College for School Leadership (NCSL) ~ G reen Paper on Raising the Participation Age ~ Statements of Content ~ DfES 14 – 19 Gateway ~ Diploma Gateway results

DCLG: The government has published new guidance on street design which aims to breathe new life into communities by creating safe & sustainable environments for residents. Manual for Streets emphasises the importance of residential streets in the creation of places in which people want to live.

In aims to reduce the impact of vehicles on residential streets by asking practitioners to plan street design intelligently & proactively and gives a priority to the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and users of public transport.

It also urges practitioners to use street design to promote better social interaction, reduce crime & anti-social behaviour and to encourage the use of sustainable modes of transport (walking, cycling & public transport).

Press release ~ Manual for Streets ~ PPS3 Housing ~ Sustrans Liveable Neighbourhoods ~ English Heritage – Streets for all ~ Edinbur gh Standards for Streets

DCLG: The Government has launched a modernisation of the Building Control system with the publication of a paper detailing its vision for how the system can be improved. 'The Future for Building Control' sets out a package of options that the Government is minded to develop further and invites interested parties to provide suggestions on how reform should proceed.

Also published was study document Achieving Building Standards, which has fed into the Government's analysis of the current system. A full consultation document will be published in due course.
Press release ~ 'Building the Future Paper' ~ 'Achieving Building Standards' ~ 2006 Roundtable ~ DCLG – Building Regulations ~ Local Authority Building Control - LABC ~ Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC)

DfES: Details of a system - Framework for Excellence - to give learners & employers clearer assessment of college and learning provider performance have been published. It will be trialled using a balanced set of scorecard indicators to measure effectiveness and achievement. It will be fully operational by summer 2008.

The framework will provide a transparent basis for employer & learner choice that takes into account all the main aspects of college and provider activity. It will also be a management tool for providers' self-improvement.

For the first time, seven key performance areas, including responsiveness to employers and financial health, will contribute to the providers' overall rating. Key areas have been grouped into three dimensions: effectiveness, responsiveness and finance.
Press release ~ Framework for Excellence: Raising Standards and Informing Choice ~ Implementing New Measures of Success ~ QIA Improvement Strategy

Annual Reports

Highways Agency: The Highways Agency has published its Business Plan for 2007/08 and in it, explains what it will do to make travel safer and tackle unreliable journey times on the busiest parts of the national road network, by using new technology & traffic management techniques.

Work is due to start on 8 major improvement schemes, including widening the M25 between Dartford and the M20 junction at Swanley, where the motorway is used by nearly 135,000 vehicles every day, and by April 2008, the Agency also plans to:

- Open the first car share lane on a motorway between the M62 and M606 near Bradford, West Yorkshire.

- Introduce access management measures to improve traffic flow on motorways.

- Launch a range of new services to help drivers plan their journeys

- Make CCTV images available to the public via the Highways Agency
Press release ~ Highways Agency Business Plan 2007 - 08 ~ Real-time traffic information ~ HA - Road Projects

Defra: Following concerns about the impact on agriculture of crude oil price increases, a new chapter entitled Intermediate consumption has been added to Defra’s annual report into agriculture. The chapter presents long-term trends in crude oil prices & intermediate consumption (e.g. fuels, feed, seeds, etc) and demonstrates how key inputs, such as fuels, electricity and fertiliser are closely linked to the oil price.

The report - Agriculture in the United Kingdom 2006 - is the most authoritative statistical release on agriculture produced by Government and provides a statistical overview of important developments in agriculture in the .

A pocketbook, Agricultural Statistics in your Pocket 2006, which complements Agriculture in the United Kingdom 2006 has also published
Press release
~ Agricultu re in the United Kingdom 2006 ~ Agricultural Statistics in your Pocket 2006 ~ Defra - Farming ~ Provisional estimates on farm incomes

General Reports and Other Publications

HC: Long waits for endoscopies have been eliminated in many parts of the country, but some people are still waiting too long for the procedures, particularly in the south east, according to a report published by the Healthcare Commission. Just over a million patients in undergo an endoscopy each year

The report also highlights concerns about the quality of care for patients undergoing an endoscopy, a procedure used to detect conditions such as bowel cancer and stomach ulcers. Taking a Closer Look is the second of three reports from the Healthcare Commission, which together present a comprehensive assessment of diagnostic services in during the period 2005/06.

At the time of the review, some patients were waiting more than a year for a routine colonoscopy and some less than a month for the same procedure. At the end of last year, in the south east, 50% of patients had been waiting for more than 26 weeks for a colonoscopy, while in north east less than 0.2% of patients had been waiting this long.
Press release
~ Taking a closer look – endoscopy services in acute trusts ~ National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme ~ DH: Bowel cancer screening - the facts ~ Bowel Cancer UK ~ D H: Bowel cancer screening policy

Monitor: NHS foundation trusts should provide incentives to engage clinicians in every aspect of service provision. Devolving decisions creates a culture of shared responsibility for clinical, operational & financial outcomes. That was the message at a recent Monitor conference on service-line reporting (SLR) for NHS foundation trusts.

Two new publications on SLR launched at the conference describe the possibilities for ‘incentivising’ clinicians in order to change the management structure at NHS organisations and utilise their ‘shop floor’ knowledge in the planning process.
Press release ~ Monitor ~ Getting the most out of managing service lines: using service-line reporting in the annual planning process ~ Getting the most out of managing service lines: organisational change and incentive-based performance management

Cabinet Office: Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, has announced publication of five more Capability Reviews alongside a summary report on the key themes emerging from all twelve Reviews published so far.

Reviews were published for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence and Departments for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, International Development and Culture, Media & Sport. By the summer - a year into the programme - 15 reports will have been published covering nearly 80% of the Civil Service.
Press release ~ Capa bility Reviews and summary reports ~ NAO Efficiency Toolkit ~ Gus’s Vision on Civil Service Reform ~ Cabinet Office – Civil Service reform

DfT: The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has released its report into two separate derailments of passenger trains on the Ravenglass & Eskdale railway on 29th May and 5th July 2006.

Press release ~ Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) ~ Passenger train derailments on the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway on 29 May & 5 July 2006 ~ DfT Railways

HM Treasury: Brian Pomeroy, the Chairman of the Financial Inclusion Taskforce, has published his review into Christmas hamper savings schemes, which was commissioned following the collapse of Farepak. The review argues that these schemes are valued by many, particularly low-income, households, but that it is essential that money paid in advance to hamper scheme companies is properly protected.

However, the review also argues that it is important that there is genuine consumer choice and encourages mainstream financial services providers & major retailers to compete in this market and recommends that more is done to inform & educate consumers about the advantages & disadvantages of the range of Christmas savings options available to families.

In addition to responding to the report, Ed Balls, Economic Secretary, also published the publication of Financial inclusion: the way forward setting out the next steps for the Government's work to tackle financial exclusion.

The OFT has announced that it is to carry out awareness campaign following Farepak collapse.
Review press release ~ HM Treasury press release ~ OFT press release ~ Pomeroy Review Report ~ Financial inclusion: the way forward ~ Family resource survey ~ Financial Inclusion Taskforce ~ Transact - the national forum for financial inclusion ~ Fa repak: review of the regulatory framework - Advice from the OFT

DH: Two new reports on vCJD (variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease) have been published as part of on-going work to manage the risks associated with the disease.

The first was produced by the vCJD Clinical Governance Advisory Group (CGAG) and it proposes the creation of patient-focused clinical governance arrangements to standardise the care that patients at risk of vCJD receive across the country. It recommends that GPs should take the lead in commissioning care for them, supported by consultant neurologists and specialist centres such as the National CJD Surveillance Unit and the National Prion Clinic.

The second report, commissioned by the Health Protection Agency, examines attitudes of key stakeholders towards the possible future introduction of a vCJD test for blood donations and finds a number of issues around the potential introduction of such a test.
Press release ~ CGAG report ~ HPA Blood Test report ~ DH – Clinical Governance ~ National CJD Surveillance Unit ~ Natio nal Prion Clinic ~ DH - CJD ~ CJD Resource Centre ~ Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC)

Legislation / Legal

DCLG:  Proposals to strengthen the transparency of the payment mechanisms on park home sites in and have been announced by the Government and the DCLG has also decided that the maximum rate of commission payable on the sale of a park home is to remain at 10%.  The proposals will affect at least 200,000 residents on more than 2,000 park home sites.

In the 1960s, the going rate was about 20%.  With the introduction of the Mobiles Homes Act 1975, the payment was put on the statute book and limited to15%.  This was then reduced again in the Mobile Homes Act 1983 to 10%.
Press release ~ Summary of responses ~ DCLG Park Homes ~ Legislation

Home Office:  The Government is set to remove existing time limitations on key football banning order laws and will introduce tougher penalties to tackle football disorder.  Section 52 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 which comes into force on 6 April 2007 will enshrine on the statute book two banning order measures which were due to expire on 27 August 2007:

  • The police power to require known troublemakers to surrender their passports five days prior to an overseas match or tournament; and
  • The ability of the police to make the case for a banning order based on complaint (for example, using overseas police footage of misbehaviour as evidence), rather than just based on conviction of a football-related offence

The Violent Crime Reduction Act will also increase from three years to five the maximum period of a banning order made following a complaint from the police.  Powers to apply for banning orders will be extended to the Crown Prosecution Service and the British Transport Police.

Ticket touting laws (Section 53) will also be extended next week to cover the sale of unauthorised football match tickets on the internet, leading to a maximum fine of £5,000.  It will also become illegal to advertise the unauthorised sale of match tickets.

Press release ~ Violent Crime Reduction Act ~ Football (Disorder) Act 2000 ~ Home Office – Football disorder

DCA:  Carers who ill-treat or wilfully neglect a person lacking mental capacity will be committing a crime which carries a range of penalties from a fine to a prison sentence of up to five years or both, under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 as from 1 April 2007. 

The new offence will apply to anyone caring for a person who lacks capacity to make decisions for themselves, including family carers, healthcare & social care staff in hospital or care homes and those providing care in a person's home.  Those protected include people with learning disabilities, dementia, or brain injuries. 
Press release ~ DCA – Mental Capacity ~ Useful Links ~ Sutton and Merton report ~ On-going National Audit ~ Valuing People Support Team website ~ National dignity in care campaign ~ DH – Dignity in Care ~ The Dignity Challenge ~ Dignity in Care Practice Guide ~ DH - Vulnerable Adults ~ Action on Elder Abuse ~ General Social Care Council (GSCC) ~ A new ambition for old age, Next steps in implementing the national framework for Older people ~ AEA report: Adult Protection Data Monitoring ~
No secrets: guidance on developing and implementing multi-agency policies and procedures to protect vulnerable adults from abuse ~ Caring about Carers ~ Commission for Social Care Inspection

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

DCLG:  Public buildings like museums, galleries, government buildings and town halls must get energy ratings - like consumer friendly fridge ratings - and display them to the public from April 2008, the Government has announced.  The changes are part of new regulations published implementing the EU's Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.

By October 2008, all buildings that are constructed, sold or rented out will need to have an EPC, which will give an energy rating from A-G and recommendations on how to reduce carbon emissions. 

The government also claims that new figures show there are now more than 3,000 energy assessors in training in addition to the 1,000 Home Inspectors already trained, ‘ensuring the industry will be ready for smooth implementation of HIPs on 1 June 2007’.
Press release ~ DCLG - Energy Performance of Buildings ~ HIPS website ~ EU's Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

Charity and Voluntary Sector

Cabinet Office: Ed Miliband, Minister for the Third Sector, has launched the Government's search for a partner to deliver a new £1.2m Innovation Exchange - a programme to support the third sector's capacity to innovate.

The Innovation Exchange programme - being put out to tender today by the Office of the Third Sector (OTS) in the Cabinet Office - aims to provide third sector innovators with access to the people and potential capital they need to make their ideas a reality.

The last day on which Invitation to Tender documents can be requested is 7th May, 2007 and tenders must be received by 14th May, 2007. It is expected contracts will be awarded during June, 2007.
Press release ~ Invitation to Tender documents ~ Office of the Third Sector (OTS) ~ Partnership in Public Services action plan

Business and Other Briefings

FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published a paper which examines the recent growth in investment in commodity markets. The paper, Growth in Commodity Investment: risks and challenges posed for commodity market participants, concludes that markets have changed significantly bringing new issues which need to be understood and acted upon by participants.

Although direct investment by retail investors is limited at present, financial firms are responding to growing consumer interest by developing products which will allow individuals to gain an element of exposure to commodity markets.

These changes, combined with a shortage of financial services professionals who understand the market, could result in consumers buying products they don't fully understand. Indirect exposure of retail investors is also increasing through pension fund investment.
Press release ~ Growth in commodity investment: risks and challenges for commodity market participants ~ FSA

FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) yesterday has set out proposals that would allow retail consumers to invest in funds of hedge funds and other alternative investments sold by firms authorised in the .

A key element in the FSA's approach is its expectation that the fund manager will operate with ‘due diligence’. This sets out FSA requirements in a more principles based way, and the FSA proposes guidance for the fund manager in the matters the FSA believes he needs to consider in making & maintaining, significant investments into unregulated schemes.

The FSA has also accompanied the Consultation Paper (closes 27 June 2007) with a case study illustrating the respective responsibilities of providers and distributors of these products, and would welcome comment upon that as well.
Press release ~ CP 07/6, Funds of Alternative Investment Funds ~ Discussion Paper 05/3 Wider Range of Retail Investment Products: Consumer Protection in a Rapidly Changing World

FSA: The Financial Services Authority has set out proposed changes to its ‘Permitted Links’ rules that govern which assets the £650 billion unit-linked insurance sector can invest in. The current Permitted Links rules have been in place for 13 years and they have not kept up to date with market changes since then.

The FSA will replace them with a more principles-based set of rules which will allow investment in a wider range of assets while maintaining current levels of consumer protection. To do this the FSA will put in place a set of high level rules for unit-linked insurance funds which will be underpinned by some more detail rules on specific assets. The consultation closes 28 June 2007.
Press release ~ Consultati on Paper 07/7 – Permitted Links for Long Term Insurance Business

HMRC: Revenue & Customs Brief 30/07

This Brief gives details of an article concerning the outcome of Halifax case.

HMRC: Revenue & Customs Brief 29/07

This Brief gives details of an article concerning : ESC 3 29 and change of use provisions

HMRC: Revenue & Customs Brief

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