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In the News

Scottish Executive: Not outright control, but its still a ‘Double First’ for Alex Salmond - The Scottish Parliament has elected Alex Salmond (MSP for Gordon) as First Minister to lead the Executive for the next four years.

Mr Salmond received the Royal Warrant from the Queen before taking the official oath of allegiance in front of a panel of judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh to confirm him as FM and Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland. He is leader of the Scottish National Party and the first member of that party to become First Minister.

The management structure of the Executive is to be re-aligned as a new government is formed, Permanent Secretary Sir John Elvidge has told civil servants. The Cabinet will comprise the First Minister and five Cabinet Secretaries and there will be two Law Officers.

With immediate effect, the Executive's Strategic Board is to consist of the Permanent Secretary and five Directors-General who will lead on one of the government's strategic objectives.

The First Minister and Cabinet Secretaries for Finance and Sustainable Growth, Health & Wellbeing and Education & Lifelong Learning will each be supported by two Ministers. The Cabinet Secretaries for Rural Affairs and Justice will each be supported by one Minister.

Election of FM press release ~ Structure press release ~ Scottish Parliament ~ Scottish Executive ~ Ministers and Law Officers

DWP: If at first you don’t succeed! - The Department for Work and Pensions has published its response to the consultation on the Child Maintenance White Paper, 'A New System of Child Maintenance'.

The White Paper put forward proposals for a fresh start for child maintenance and would replace the Child Support Agency (CSA) with a ‘tougher’ non-departmental body led by a new Commissioner for Child Maintenance.

The new Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (C-MEC) would provide a new information & support service to ensure parents get additional help to make their own maintenance arrangements where they can, or use the new body to quickly establish & enforce payments where they cannot.

The department has also published its response to the conclusions & recommendations of The Work and Pensions Select Committee report 'Child Support Reform' which was published earlier this year.

Press release ~ DWP: Child Maintenance Redesign – Reports, response and White PaperChild Support Agency (CSA) ~ CSA Changes - Q&As ~ NAO: Child Support Agency – Implementation of the Child Support Reforms ~ BBC NEWS - Child support trouble for 600,000 ~ Children and Family Court Advice and Support Service ~ DFES guide for Separating Parents ~ Family Mediation Helpline

CLG: ‘Nanny’ doesn’t always know best then? - Local people should be given greater control in how key assets in their communities are run - from disused swimming baths to pubs & community centres according to a new report - Making Assets Work.

Barry Quirk, Chief Executive of Lewisham Council has concluded that transferring public assets to communities not only leads to more responsive services that meet local people's priorities, but can also create more confident empowered communities with greater civic spirit.

Powers already exist for this, but the report finds that many are not fully aware of them, or are not using them to full benefit. Therefore a change in culture is required so that every community has the chance for:

  • more active citizenship
  • a greater role in running services & owning assets, and
  • improving wellbeing in their communities

This week the Government is announcing an action plan to promote a new era of civic pride where every local authority is asked to explore whether public assets could be handed over or run by the community.

Press release ~ Making assets work: The Quirk Review ~ Community Call for Action ~ Community Assets fund ~ CLG - Community Management and Ownership of Assets ~ CLG – Civil Renewal ~ Public Request to Order Disposal (PROD)

ESRC: ‘Common Sense’ versus Professional Opinion? - New research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (RSRC), calls into question previous assumptions that youth justice practice is evidence based and that young people’s views are taken into account.

The research, which looks at how practitioners in the field of youth justice make their judgements, finds that magistrates often believe that they know best - disregarding the advice of Youth Offending Teams and other professionals.

The research findings will be presented by Dr Phoenix at the National Association of Youth Justice in Shropshire in September this year and at the American Society of Criminologists in Atlanta, Georgia in November.

Press release ~ 'Doing Justice: Analysing ’risk and need’ assessments in youth justice practice' ~ ESRC Society Today ~ Youth Offending Teams ~ Youth Justice System ~ Annual Youth Justice Convention 2007 ~ National Association for Youth Justice ~ Hom e Office - Youth crime ~ Youth justice - Every Child Matters ~ Scottish Executive - Youth Justice ~ Youth Justice Agency of Northern IrelandNational Standards for Scotland's Youth Justice Services ~ Audit Commission - Youth Justice 2004 ~ All Wales Youth Offending Strategy ~ Other useful links

DH: Yet another call for joined-up service delivery - Health Minister Ivan Lewis promised a new national strategy for children's palliative care and accepted key recommendations of the independent review of services published last week. The independent review of children's and young people's palliative care services by Professor Sir Alan Craft, Head of Child Health at Newcastle University and Sue Killen, a senior civil servant, examined access to services and their long term sustainability.

Recommendations from the review include:

  • a call for a national strategy, including development of a national indicators & standards
  • more funding to be provided for services as a whole
  • incentives to be given to developing pooled budgets covering health, social care and education
  • more resources for community services & improved end of life care with children supported to die at home

There are over 20,000 children and young people in England with conditions likely to require palliative care and around 4,000 deaths a year. About 1,800 a year potentially require end-of-life care at home or in a hospice.
Press release ~ Palliative care services for children and young people in England. An independent review ~ DH – Children’s Services ~ Association of Children’s Hospices ~ Children’s Hospice Association, Scotland ~ JRF:&nb sp;The role of children's hospices in providing respite care ~ Funding for children's hospice and children's hospice at home grant for voluntary organisations in England: Guidance notes for grant application

Defra: Minor Works get minor funding of £1.27 per home at risk - Minister for Climate Change and the Environment Ian Pearson has announced a £500,000 funding package to help make vulnerable homes more resilient to the threat of flooding. The funding supports the first phase of a pilot grant scheme for vulnerable households, which would be under increased threat as climate change increased the risk of flooding to low-lying areas of the UK.

Currently, around 470,000 properties in England and Wales are at risk of flooding, including 393,000 homes - this is likely to rise as the effects of climate change increase. The funding will help to provide effective measures against flooding for vulnerable properties including measures to stop water getting into the home, such as temporary door-guards or waterproof render, or to reduce damage if water does enter the home, such as water-resistant walls & floors or raising electrics.

Defra has also published the results of a scoping study on flood resilience called Flood resistance and Resilience Solutions: an R & D Scoping Study, whichbroadly determines the suitability & cost effectiveness of a variety of flood resistance and resilience measures - such as temporary flood gates, water resistant floors and wall coverings at property level - especially those that could be supported through a potential pilot grant scheme.

The Government has also launched a new guidance document, entitled - "Improving the flood performance of new buildings: Flood resilient construction" (provisional).
Press release ~ Flood resistance and Resilience Solutions: an R & D Scoping Study ~ Planning for flood risk: the facts ~ Making Space for Water ~ Improvi ng the flood performance of new buildings: Flood resilient construction ~ Planning Policy Statement 25: Development and Flood Risk ~ Development and Flood Risk: A Practice Guide Companion to PPS25 'Living Draft' ~ Development and Flood Risk: PPS25 Practice Guide Questionnaire ~ Consultation on Planning Policy Statement 25: Development and Flood Risk ~ Circular 04/06 (Communities and Local Government): The Town and Country Planning (Flooding)(England) Direction 2007 ~ P reparing for Emergencies - Severe weather, flooding, drought ~ Atlantis Initiative ~ F oresight study on Food & Coastal Defence ~ UK Climate Impacts Programme – Scenarios Gateway ~ Defra Flood management website ~ ABI Flooding & Insurance website (includes principles) ~ Flooding in Scotland ~ National Flood forum ~ National Appraisal of Assets at Risk of Flooding and Coastal Erosion in England and Wales ~ Flood Ranger ~ Direct Gov Flooding website ~ Institute of Civil Engineers – Engineering skills for flood risk management

CRC: Cash rich ‘townies’ price out rural locals - The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) has released a report - Cash purchases of housing stock - which shows that in 2005 over 47,000 houses were bought for cash in rural areas, equivalent to nearly one third of all rural house sales for the year. The South West of England had the highest proportion of cash purchases when compared to all other English regions.

The CRCs analysis of the most recent HM Land Registry data shows that in rural settlements a greater proportion of house purchases are wholly paid for in cash than in urban districts and the report also shows that:

  • in villages, hamlets and isolated dwellings in sparse areas nearly 50% of all purchases are made with cash
  • of 11 high-pressure districts that are experiencing the most extreme values of these inter-related factors, 10 of these are rural districts and 7 of these are located in the South West region
  • of the 71 districts with the highest proportion of cash purchases, 53 are rural

As part of their ongoing work on the importance of affordable rural housing, the CRC has made a commitment to monitor & track progress on taking forward the recommendations made by the Affordable Rural Housing Commission in May 2006, at a national, regional and local level.

In order to get a full picture of what has happened since the commission reported they are holding a ‘One Year On’ conference on 14th June 2007, at the QEII Centre, Westminster, at which they will report on progress made to date.

Press release ~ Cash purchases of housing stock ~ CRC - State of the Countryside Updates ~ Affordable Rural Housing Commission: CRC taking forward the recommendations ~ Defra – Rural Affairs ~ Affordable Rural Housing website ~ Affordable Rural Housing Commission ~ Planning for Sustainable Communities in Rural Areas ~ Rural Strategy 2004 ~ Ends and Means: The Future Roles of Social Housing in England ~ CRC research - Calculating housing needs in rural England

DfES: Selected offenders to get selective learning & skills training - A personalised skills assessment is to be made available in prisons and in the community to identify offenders who will benefit from a programme of employment-focused learning & skills training to reduce re-offending. Under a new system selected offenders will receive tailored information, advice & guidance and be offered a range of skills training after completion of their assessment.

Training could include; Literacy, Numeracy, language & key skills, employer-led vocational skills, enterprise & self-employment training, work trials, work experience and voluntary work with skills training

Commenting, the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists said that it welcomed the announcement by the DfES of employment-focused learning & skills training to help young offenders, but said that without speech & language therapy input many will be unable to benefit.

According to the RCSLT, more than 60% of the 11,000-plus young offenders in institutions today lack the communication skills to take part in educational programmes, courses in behaviour & anger management and initiatives designed to improve their thinking skills. 24,000 young offenders in England and Wales have a learning disability or difficulty which impacts upon their ability to cope with the prison regime.

Press release ~ Reducing Re-Offending through Skills and Employment: Next Steps ~ Offender Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) ~ National Offender Management Service ~ EDM - Communication Difficulties and Young Offenders ~ NatCen ~ Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College, London ~ Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists ~ BBC NEWS - Communication skills 'cut re-offending' ~ Former Chief Inspector of Prisons, Lord Ramsbotham’s, statement to the House of Lords on the value of speech and language therapy in prisons (scroll down to column 1447) ~ Corporate Alliance for reducing re-offending ~ Faith and Voluntary Sector Alliance ~ Civic Society Alliance ~ Learning and Skills Council

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General News

FDA: The FDA (formerly First Division Association) has warned that the Office for National Statistics is at ‘crisis point’ and statistical outputs could be put ‘at risk’ in its evidence to the Treasury Sub Committee Inquiry into the efficiency of the Chancellor’s Departments.

The FDA cited the recent debate in the House of Lords on the Statistics and Registration Service Bill, outlining the negative impact on the department of the efficiency agenda, relocation of the London office and poor management of people and processes. 

According to the FDA evidence, it believes that the business case for relocation is fundamentally flawed and that, in the FDA’s view, an effective independent Statistics Board cannot operate without a London base.

The FDA warned that the most skilled, experienced statisticians were leaving the service for jobs elsewhere in the public sector or in the City rather than leave London. In fact the ONS has now had to resort to paying retention allowances to staff in the London office to try to keep enough of them there in order to be able to continue producing good quality statistics in the run down period.
Press release ~ Related press release ~ Office for National Statistics ~ Statistics and Registration Service Bill ~ Treasury Sub Committee Inquiry into the efficiency of the Chancellor’s Departments

NAYour Archives is a new resource, which has recently been launched as part of The National Archives´ online services.  It is a virtual community of record users where people can share their knowledge of archival sources held by The National Archives and by other archives throughout the UK.

The content on Your Archives is contributed by users and is designed to offer information additional to that currently available in our Catalogue, Research Guides, DocumentsOnline and the National Register of Archives.  The Catalogue has a link on each page to Your Archives encouraging users to find out more, or to contribute their knowledge about a particular record.
Press release ~ You r Archives ~ DocumentsOnline ~ The Catalogue ~ ‘Wiki’  ~ Wikipedia online encyclopaedia ~ Adrian Jones~Your Caribbean Heritage ~ WO 22

WYP: Building on the success of last year’s inaugural event, the Police National Legal Database’s (PNLD) 2007 conference was a sell-out.  Held on 26 April at Tally Ho Conference Centre, in Birmingham, over 150 delegates representing 44 police organisations & forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, attended the second national conference for first line managers in frontline law enforcement. 

Six leading experts spoke on differing aspects of the policing of terrorism and criminal law to an audience composed mainly of sergeants and inspectors.

Successes achieved by the PNLD team over the last twelve months include registration with ISO 9001 Quality Management and reaching the finals for two prestigious IT awards.
Press release ~ PNLD’s 2007 conference ~ Police National Legal Database (PNLD)  

DH: Historic changes to the regulation of the pharmacy profession announced earlier this year have been endorsed by an independent working party. The short-term working party, led by Lord Carter of Coles was asked to work with key stakeholders on proposals to form two separate bodies to oversee pharmacy - a General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) to regulate the profession and a body akin to a Royal College for Pharmacy to provide leadership.

The chairperson and terms of reference of the Pharmacy Regulation and Leadership Oversight Group will be announced in due course.  The Oversight Group will be asked to take into account all the recommendations contained in the report from Lord Carter of Coles' Working Party
Press release ~ Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) ~ Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) ~ 'Report of the working party on professional regulation and leadership in pharmacy' ~ White Paper; Trust, Assurance and Safety, The Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century ~ 'Professional Leadership in Pharmacy - Exploring the case for a Royal College for the Pharmacy Profession'

HMRCHM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has redesigned its R40 'Tax Repayment Form' to make it easier for customers to understand & complete. Form R40 is used by around 600,000 people every year - mainly pensioners, married women and children - to claim back tax deducted from bank or building society interest, or other investment income.

The new 4-page form has the same look and feel as the Short Self Assessment Tax Return, introduced last year and follows a successful two-year trial involving around 1,000 people.

Anyone paying too much tax on their bank or building society interest may be able to register to have it paid gross, without tax being deducted.  To find out more, phone 0845 980 0645 or log on HERE.
Press release ~ R40 'Tax Repayment Form ~ Guidance notes ~ Explanatory flyer

: Nominations are now invited for the National School of Government Leadership AwardWhitehall & Westminster World Civil Service Awards 2007 in association with Ernst & Young, and endorsed by Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service Sir Gus O’Donnell.
– part of the

Designed to celebrate achievements within government and to provide a platform for the sharing of knowledge across the whole of the Civil Service, the Awards recognise excellence in a full range of categories covering key government priorities and business disciplines. 

The winner of the 2007 Leadership Award, along with winners of the other 11 category awards, will also be considered for the Cabinet Secretary Award - decided upon by a panel of present and former Cabinet Secretaries. Nominations close on 27 July 2007
Press release ~ Whitehal l & Westminster World Civil Service Awards 2007 ~ National School of Government Leadership Award ~ Cabinet Secretary Award ~ National School of Government’s Centre for Strategic Leadership

WW-UK: The annual Work Wise UK Summit was held at the QEII Conference Centre in London last week and leading speakers discussed & debated progressing the campaign for the wider adoption of new smarter working practices to increase business productivity & competitiveness, reduce transport congestion & pollution, improve health, assist disadvantaged groups, and harmonise work & family commitments.

Work Wise UK, which was launched in May last year, is a five-year not-for-profit programme to encourage new smarter working practices such as flexible working (including condensed hours and nine-day fortnights), remote and mobile working, and working from home.

Traffic congestion is becoming an increasingly important issue in the UK.  The Eddington Report predicted that, if unchecked, congestion will waste around £22 billion worth of time in England alone by 2025. Organisations that adopt new smarter working practices are able to change travel patterns; reducing the overall need to travel and staggering the times when people have to travel.
Press release ~ Work Wise UK ~Edd ington Report ~ Make Working From Home Work for You ~ Home Business Alliance ~ Empl oyees working from home - Business Link ~ Pla nning Portal - Working from home ~ VOA - Council Tax, Working from home ~ The Telework Association ~ CIPD - Teleworking ~ FAQ: What are the benefits of Telework - Telecommuting? ~ TUC - Work-Life Balance

DTI: The Science and Innovation Minister, Malcolm Wicks, has announced the appointment of the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) as the enforcement body for the distributor obligations under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations.

From 1 July 2007, distributors of electrical & electronic equipment will have to provide facilities for their customers to return old electrical equipment free of charge when they buy a replacement item.  Distributors, including distance sellers, have two options:

  • They can either join the Distributor Takeback Scheme (DTS) which supports a network of primarily local authority collection points where customers can return their waste electricals
  • Or they can allow customers to bring goods back to the store

Press release ~ Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) ~ DTI - EC Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) (scroll down for latest developments) ~ Def ra – WEEE Producer Responsibility ~ Guidance on Best Available Treatment Recovery and Recycling Techniques (BATRRT) and treatment of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) - November 2006 ~ Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations ~ Valpak Retail WEEE Services ~ Val pak Distributor Takeback Scheme (DTS)

Policy Statements and Initiatives

Sport England: Over 250 people gathered at the City of Manchester Stadium last week for the launch of 'Be Inspired' - the North West Legacy Framework for the 2012 Games.  Sport England and all the partners at this key event welcomed Sebastian Coe, Chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games to the region.

The Framework sets out how the North West will use the inspiration of the 2012 Games to increase levels of sports participation, improve recognition of volunteers, drive up standards in the NW's tourism industry, build on the region's vibrant & engaging cultural life and increase the competitiveness of the region's businesses.
Press release ~ 'Be Inspired' - the North West Legacy Framework for the 2012 Games ~ London 2012~ London 2012 Sustainability Policy ~ Sport England

MoJ: Speaking at the recent Lawyer Diversity Conference, Bridget Prentice said women lawyers and those from ethnic minorities were sometimes shunted into family & immigration work respectively, which might not be where their strength or preference lay. Bridget Prentice also renewed her challenge to law firms to publish their diversity figures showing their commitment to opening up the profession to people from all backgrounds.

Barriers that women face in pursuing a legal career & suggested ways of overcoming them include:

  • Lack of easily accessible information about how to pursue a career in law or alternative routes into the profession
  • Inadequate information to students about costs, timescales, employer expectations, skills & experience required
  • Lack of comprehensive research about what affects career progression, equal pay and flexible working
  • The need for more recognition of work based learning and other skills and experience as part of recruitment

Press release ~ Increasing Diversity in the Legal professions ~ Ministry of Justice ~ Diversity in the legal professions: working group report  ~ Routes into the legal profession ~ Judicial Diversity Strategy

DfES: Schools Minister Andrew Adonis and Kate Griggs, founder of the charity Xtraordinary People, have recently launched 'No to Failure', a new project that aims to ensure children with dyslexia get the support they need at school.

This unique project, part of a wider new programme of support for children with dyslexia and their teachers, identifies 'trailblazer' schools and local authorities leading the way in meeting the needs of dyslexic pupils.
Press release ~ No to failure  ~ Xtraordinary People ~ British Dyslexic Association ~ Dyslexia Action ~ Key Facts ~ Dyslexia Parents Resource ~ Schoo ls and Tuition ~ Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) ~ SEN Code of Practice

DfES: Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Education and Skills, has invited every maintained secondary school in England to choose 20 free books for their library as part of a £600,000 initiative to encourage more teenage boys to read for pleasure.

Schools will be able to select the books from a new ‘Boys Into Books’ list commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills and created by the School Library Association (SLA), which has put together a collection that incorporates classic novels with action, adventure, fantasy, crime, horror and sports titles, as well as fact-based books, history and humour.

The initiative is designed to encourage 11 to 14 year old boys to re-ignite their passion for reading and it follows research indicating that, while many boys read for pleasure at primary school, this good habit tends to fade after the age of 11, resulting in a significant "reading gap" between boys and girls in their early teens.
Press release ~ SLA – Boys into Books ~ National Literacy Trust ~ Research - school libraries ~ Reading Agency ~ What the top writers say every child should read - Guardian Unlimited


DTI:  Employment Relations Minister Jim Fitzpatrick has set out new paternity leave proposals being developed by the Government, which are ‘designed to give working parents more choice in their caring’.

The consultation (closes 3 August 2007) sets out proposals on the administration that will give fathers the opportunity to choose to take up to 26 weeks Additional Paternity Leave to care for their child if certain conditions are met, including the mother returning to work.

Although the term 'father' is commonly used when describing additional paternity leave & pay, it is the Government's intention to make additional paternity leave and pay also available to partners and civil partners of mothers and members of adopting couples who meet the eligibility criteria.

The Government proposes introducing this new provision by the end of this Parliament at the same time as extending maternity pay to 12 months.

The earliest date that Additional Paternity Leave and Pay will be implemented will be for babies due in April 2009.  However, this is not a firm date for introduction.
Press release ~ Work and Families consultation ~ Impact assessment ~ DTI – Work and Families ~ Work and Families Act ~ Working Families ~ The Effect of Fatherhood on Men’s Patterns of Employment ~ Acas – Sexual orientation and the workplace

Cabinet Office:  The Government has made a package of announcements that they claim will ‘free up honest businesses from red tape and crack down on the rogue businesses that undermine those who play by the rules’.


The government claims that the package involves no new paperwork or hassle for business and includes:

  • Appointing a Chief Executive and 7 board members to the new Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO)
  • A consultation (closes 15 August 2007) on a draft Regulatory Sanctions and Enforcement Bill
  • Consultation on a draft statutory code of practice for regulators

Press release ~ Better Regulation Executive ~ Reg ulatory Sanctions and Enforcement Bill ~ Compliance Code ~ Hampton Report – ‘Reducing administrative burdens: effective inspection and enforcement’ ~ Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) ~ Federation of Small Businesses ~ British Chambers of Commerce

DfES:  Education Secretary Alan Johnson has launched a young people's consultation (closes 14 June 2007) on whether the education & training ‘leaving age’ should be increased to 18.  It is in the format of a magazine & questionnaire and it aims to canvas young people's views about raising the leaving age proposals.

The government's proposals were set out for public consultation in the Green Paper; Raising Expectations published 22 March 2007.
Press release ~ C onsultation documents ~ G reen Paper, Raising Expectations ~ Education Maintenance Allowance ~ Get set for life website ~ Lord Leitch's report on skills ~ Learning and Skills Council ~ LSC - Apprenticeships ~ Disengagement from secondary education: a story retold (scroll down) ~ Effective entry to work-based learning ~ DfES White Paper: Skills Getting on in business, getting on at work  ~ White Paper: 14-19 Education and Skills ~ Train to Gain ~ Statements of Content for Diplomas ~ DfES 14 – 19 Gateway ~ Teachernet E2E ~ Vocational ladders or crazy paving?

Home Office:  The Home Office has begun a drive against illegal working by talking & consulting (closes 7 August 2007) with industry on the implementation of new legislation designed to crackdown on bogus employees. 

The new rules will hopefully see rogue employers face a prison sentence and/or an unlimited fine if found knowingly employing illegal workers.  Civil penalties will also be levied on companies which have been negligent in carrying out checks on workers.  The level at which these fines will be set and how they will be imposed is now the subject of a consultation.

The new measures, which will take effect early in 2008, are part of the Home Office's just launched Illegal Working Action Plan, co-ordinated through the new Border and Immigration Agency (BIA).  The Action Plan includes a new pilot project to help British businesses check migrants identity & right to work.
Press release ~ Prevention of Illegal Working - Immigration Asylum and Nationality Act 2006: Consultation on the implementation of new powers to prevent illegal migrant working in the UK ~ La w & Policy ~ Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 ~ Border and Visa Strategy ~ Enf orcement Strategy ~ On-line employer guide to employing migrant workers ~ Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) ~ Identity and Passport Service (IPS) ~ U K Borders BillRecruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) ~

Ofwat:  Competition in the water industry took a step forward last week when Ofwat announced a proposal to create the first new water & sewerage company to serve domestic customers since privatisation 18 years ago.

Ofwat is proposing to grant an `inset appointment' to allow Scottish and Southern Energy Water (SSEW) to supply water & sewerage services to a 935 home development near the Wiltshire city of Salisbury.  The development is in Wessex Water's current area of supply and Ofwat is now asking for views (by 15 June 2007) on its proposal to grant an appointment.
Press release ~ Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) ~ Proposal ~ Copy of public notice

HMRC:  HM Revenue & Customs has published two more consultation papers (closes 10 August 2007), as part of its work to modernise its powers, deterrents and the accompanying safeguards.  The first paper considers options for a new approach to compliance checks, while the second asks for views on the adequacy & effectiveness of current safeguards for taxpayers.

Currently, HMRC relies on provisions inherited from its predecessor Departments - the Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise - which evolved over a considerable period of time, and involve substantial differences between different areas and taxes.
Press release ~ Modernising powers, deterrents and safeguards: A new approach to compliance checks ~ Modernising powers, deterrents and safeguards: Safeguards for Taxpayers

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) intend to collaborate on a pilot project to produce guidance on cost-effective interventions to prevent or mitigate patient harm in the NHS.  This follows recommendations made in Safety First, the CMO’s 2006 Report which reaffirmed the place of patient safety at the heart of the healthcare agenda.


The pilot project, which will be carried out between April and November 2007, will assess evidence on clinical & cost-effectiveness and produce recommendations for the NHS of the following safety interventions:

  • systems based and IT based interventions in medicines reconciliation
  • the prevention of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP)

Safety guidance is expected to be issued to the NHS in November 2007.

Press release ~ Patient safety solutions pilot ~ National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) ~ Safety first: a report for patients, clinicians and healthcare managers, DH, December 2006 ~ Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI) ~ A charter for the safety of patients ~ Healthcare Commission ~ DH – Patient Safety ~ Medi cines reconciliation ~ Ventilator-associated pneumonia

DfES: The government has launched new guidelines intended to ensure effective & early action is taken to improve ‘weak & failing’ schools. The guidelines are meant to ‘make it clear’ to both local authorities & schools that ‘the Government will not tolerate schools being allowed to slide into failure or drift into mediocrity’.

The full statutory guidance on Schools Causing Concern has been published on the DfES website and the government claims that it ‘provides full details on the use of new local authority powers which will help them turn schools around more quickly’.

In addition, authorities will be able formally to warn schools where there are clear indications they can do better and there is a danger of Ofsted failure.

Press release ~ 2007 Statutory Guidance on Schools Causing Concern ~ School discipline and exclusions: Directgov ~ Behaviour and discipline - ParentsCentre ~ Improving School Discipline in Scotland ~ Parenting contracts ~ DfES – Behaviour and Attendance ~ Social & emotional aspects of learning (SEAL) curriculum ~ Teachernet - Behaviour ~ Education and Inspections Act 2006 ~ NAO report - Improving poorly performing schools in England~ The Academies Programme ~ Fresh Start Schools ~ Ofsted: Framework 2005: Framework for the inspection of schools in England from September 2005 ~ Teachernet – Surviving Ofsted ~ Home - School Agreements

Annual Reports

HC: The Healthcare Commission survey of more than 80,000 patients shows that for the third year running the vast majority of patients (92%) reported a positive experience of hospitals in England, rating the care they received as "excellent," "very good" or "good".
Press release ~ Key findings ~ Benchmark reports and tables

FSA: The Financial Services Practitioner Panel (the Panel) has published its Annual Report for the period 2006/7, which summarises the Panel's work over the preceding 12 months and sets out its priorities for the year ahead.

As well as containing further information on those issues mentioned above, it includes commentary on the FSA's Retail Distribution and Quality of Advice reviews, its Financial Capability strategy, and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) funding review.
Press release ~ The Financial Services Practioner Panel ~ FSA ~ Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) ~ Financial Capability strategy

Defra: The results for UK installations of the second year of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), which sets a cap on total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from European industries, have been published.

UK sites covered by the scheme emitted 251.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) in 2006, an increase of 8.8MtCO2, or 3.6%, from 2005. The power sector increased its emissions by 9.3MtCO2, while other industry sectors decreased their emissions by 0.5MtCO2 in 2006. The total UK cap for 2006 was 217.3MtCO2, meaning that 33.8 MtCO2 were purchased through emissions trading to keep within the overall cap.

This increase was due mainly to unusually high international gas prices, which led to a switch to coal in electricity generation.  Coal-fired power stations emit approximately twice as much as gas-fired power stations per unit of electricity generated.
Press release ~ Defra - EU Emissions Trading Scheme - Compliance and results ~ UK Power Sector Emissions - targets or reality? ~ The balance of power: Reducing CO2 emissions from the UK power sector - A summary of WWF-UK’s response to the 2006 Energy Review~ Stern Review ~ Defra – Emissions trading ~ UK ERC - Carbon Capture and Storage ~ UKCCSC project ~ IEA Clean Coal Centre: Carbon capture & storage (sequestration)

Defra: Environment Secretary David Miliband has highlighted environmental achievements & challenges for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs in his Department's Annual Report. He also highlighted the Marine Bill White Paper and the funding for the Rural Development Programme for England as key achievements.
Press release ~ Defra's Departmental Report 2007 ~ Marine Bill White Paper ~ Rural Development Programme for England

HMRC: The HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) Departmental Report has been laid before Parliament and published on the HMRC website.  It details HMRC's performance for the year 2006/07 and this is the first time HMRC have combined their Spring Departmental and Annual Reports into one document.

The report details HMRC's business & operations and how the Department is currently performing against its Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets.  Key achievements include:

  • A rise in tax revenues for the second consecutive year - an increase of £25bn on the previous year
  • Marked progress in detecting & disrupting organised VAT fraud
  • Further reductions in the administrative burden for business - estimated at £130m (net)
  • Increases in the uptake of online services, including 2.9m self assessment returns

Press release ~ HMRC Annual & Spring Departmental Report 2006/07


Defra: The government has published the Chief Veterinary Officer's 2006 annual report, which summarises progress & developments in the field of animal health and welfare during the last calendar year. It also defines progress in relation to the five strategic principles of the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy, as well as being a continuous statistical record of the state of animal disease.

Press release ~ Chief Veterinary Officer's 2006 annual report ~ Animal Health and Welfare Strategy ~ Animal Welfare Act  ~ Exercise Hawthorn ~ UK Responsibility and Cost Sharing Consultative Forum ~ Eves review of the Animal Health and Welfare Delivery Landscape ~ National Wildlife Crime Unit ~ Bluetongue factsheet ~ N ewcastle Disease factsheet ~ National Fallen Stock Scheme


General Reports and Other Publications

CC: Personal banking customers in Northern Ireland will benefit from new measures next year to increase competition following the publication of the final report from the Competition Commission (CC) on the market for personal current account (PCA) services in Northern Ireland.

The CC found that competition was limited by banks' unduly complex charging structures & practices, their failure adequately to explain them and customers' reluctance to switch to another bank.

Banks in Northern Ireland must now make major improvements to their PCAs, including:

  • providing better & clearer information to customers to help them understand banks' PCA services, charges & interest rates
  • giving customers at least 14 days' notice before deducting charges & interest from their accounts, and
  • introducing improvements to the switching process to ensure customers who switch banks do not incur costs in doing so

Press release ~ Final Report ~ Competition Commission (CC) ~ Banking Code Standards Board (BCSB) ~ DTI - Consumer Credit Act 2006 ~ R esponse by Which? To OFT inquiry

DH: The NHS must continue to change if it is to deliver better cancer care to patients says the National Cancer Director for England in a new report - Getting it right for people with cancer: the clinical case for change.

According to the report this should be through:

  • better co-ordination of patient care by ensuring a specialist team coordinates a patient's care
  • centralisation of complex services so staff develop expertise & experience to get the best results
  • moving simpler tests & treatments closer to patients so people are not forced to travel large distances
  • using staff more flexibly and ensuring support is available so that people are not admitted to hospital when they don't need to be, and that they can come home from hospital when they no longer need to be there

Press release ~ 'Getting it right for people with cancer: The clinical case for change'~ 'Cancer Ten Years On: Improvements across the whole care pathway' ~ Kin g's Fund - Future Trends and Challenges for Cancer Services in England: A review of literature and policy ~ DH - Cancer

DH: Patricia Hewitt has claimed that people across the country will benefit from hundreds of new health services over the next twelve months.

Details about what the investment will deliver are outlined in a new report 'Local Spending for Local Needs' , which catalogues schemes being taken forward across the country and coincides with local plans published by Strategic Health Authorities.
Press release ~ 'Local Spending for Local Needs' ~ NHS Allocations

ESRC: A simple request, when placed in a certain context, has the potential to create conflict.  This is epitomised in the phrase - ‘Does he take sugar?’ - an approach society has learned to avoid when speaking about a disabled person.  New research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) seeks to better understand the ways in which people strive to avoid disagreement in every-day conversation. 

The results reveal our ability to choose the right, rather than the wrong form of words to avoid potentially troublesome situations.  Carried out between six different European countries, the research could provide valuable guidance for improving the use of language in potentially troublesome circumstances.  With increasing migrant flows across Europe, this could have an important impact on language learning in general and on improved inter-cultural relations in particular.   
Press release ~ 'Affiliation and disaffiliation in interaction: language and social cohesion' ~ ESRC Society Today ~ Language and social action

DH: Partnerships between patients & clinicians are as important as those between primary and secondary care in providing high quality diabetes services, according to a new report. There are an estimated 2.35m people living with diabetes in the England and this is set to rise to 2.5m by 2010, due to an ageing population and a rise in obesity. 5% of NHS budget is spent on treating diabetes and its complications

The report says that innovative ways of delivering services and more joined up care in community settings is vital for the NHS to continue to provide first-rate services to the growing number of people with diabetes.  For example, moving overbooked annual assessments with long waiting lists out of hospitals and in to GP surgeries means more comprehensive check-ups, less duplication of tests and a more convenient service for people with diabetes.
Press release ~ Working together for better diabetes care ~ DH - Diabetes ~ Diabetes national Support team ~ Diabetes UK

Defra: The results of a study which explored some of the ways in which nanotechnologies could cut the use of non-renewable energy sources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been published. The study investigated the opportunities & potential obstacles to adoption of a number of environmentally beneficial nanotechnologies.

The resulting report explores the application of nanoscience in the areas of insulation, photovoltaics, electricity storage, engine efficiency and the hydrogen economy. In these areas nanotechnology could contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 2% in the near term and up to 20% by 2050 with similar reductions in air pollution being realised.

Nanotechnology refers to the application of materials at atomic, molecular and macromolecular scale where properties differ from those found in the same material in gross form.  A human hair is 80,000 nanometres (nm) wide, a red blood cell 7,000 nm wide, and a water molecule 0.3 nm wide.
Press release ~ Oakdene Hollins ~ Environmentally beneficial nanotechnologies: barriers and opportunities ~ Appendices ~ Defra - Nanotechnology ~ DTI' s Micro and Nanotechnology Manufacturing Initiative ~ Centre of Excellence for Metrology in Micro and Nano Technology (CEMMNT) ~ Centre for Micro and Nano Moulding (University of Bradford) ~ metaFab (Cardiff University) ~ Fluence (Epigem Ltd) ~ Photonix ~ Institute of Nanotechnology ~ Nanotechnology Issues Dialogue Group

Legislation / Legal

DH: The government has published the draft Human Tissues and Embryos Bill, which it claims represents a major overhaul of the law on assisted human reproduction and embryo research.

Measures contained in the draft bill include a total ban on sex selection for non-medical reasons, explicit rules for embryo screening and more scope for embryo research.

It also contains further details of the proposed new Regulatory Authority for Tissue and Embryos (RATE), which will replace the existing regulators the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Human Tissue Authority (HTA). It is intended to establish RATE in 2009.
Press release ~ Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill ~ DH - Assisted reproduction key documents ~ Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act ~ Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) ~ Human Tissue Authority (HTA) ~ Science and Technology committee ~ DH - EU Tissues and Cells Directive

DTI: Employment Relations Minister Jim Fitzpatrick has set out new paternity leave proposals being developed by the Government, which are ‘designed to give working parents more choice in their caring responsibilities’ responsibilities’ – See ‘Consultations’ section above.

Cabinet Office: The Government has made a package of announcements that they claim will free up honest businesses from red tape and crack down on the rogue businesses that undermine those who play by the rules – See ‘Consultation’ section above.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

HMRC:  As from 15 June 2007, people who are either entering the UK from a non-EU country, or are travelling from the UK to a non-EU country and are carrying 10,000 Euros or more (or the equivalent in other currencies) will be required to declare the cash to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) at the place of their departure from, or arrival in, the UK.

The declaration form will be produced with a carbon backed top copy so as to allow travellers to have a duplicate, which officers of HMRC may ask them to produce as evidence of having made a declaration. Travellers could face a penalty of up to £5,000 if they fail to comply with the obligation to declare, or provide incorrect or incomplete information.

HMRC officers will not detain properly declared cash if they have no reason to doubt its legitimacy. However, cash may be seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 if an officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that it is either the proceeds of, or is intended for use in, unlawful conduct.
Press release ~ Council Regulation No. 1889/2005 ~ Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

Charity and Voluntary Sector

Cabinet Office: The Cabinet Office and Charity Commission have launched 'Charities Act 2006 - what trustees need to know', a concise guide to the biggest shake up of charity law for centuries, which is primarily aimed at those running small charities that may not have the knowledge or expertise to make the most of the new laws.

The Government is currently in the process of implementing the Act and Secondary legislation has already been put in place to ease bureaucracy on charities, including increasing the income threshold above which charities are required to register with the Charity Commission.

Further provisions of the Act will be brought in over the next three years and after that it will be evaluated to ensure that it is still meeting the current needs of charities.
Press release ~ 'Charities Act 2006 - what trustees need to know' ~ Charity Commission  ~ Charities Act implementation plan ~ Regional Events ~ Office of the Third Sector

Business and Other Briefings

FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has confirmed that its supervision of outsourcing by firms will in future take account of industry guidance which has been issued by MiFID Connect.

The guidance covers so-called 'common platform' FSA firms - those subject to MiFID and/or the Capital Requirements Directive. MiFID Connect is a joint project set up by 11 trade associations to support their members in implementing the Directive. The Discussion Paper set out plans to encourage greater use of Industry Guidance as the FSA moves toward a more principles-based approach to regulation.

Press release ~ Gui deline on the application of the outsourcing requirements under the FSA rules implementing MIFID and the CRD in the UK ~ MiFID Connect ~ Discussion Paper FSA confirmation of Industry Guidance ~ Markets in Financial Instruments Directive


FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published an insurance sector briefing on thematic work which suggests that some advisers are not providing sufficient ongoing advice for with-profits policyholders.  It also shows that after-sales communication documents for these and other life sector policyholders are of variable quality.

The findings suggest that some firms – product providers and advisers – are not currently treating their customers fairly and the FSA expects the senior management of firms to review their current approach.

Press release ~ Insurance Sector Briefing ~ FSA - Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) ~ &lsq uo;Treating Customers Fairly Initiative: Progress Report' ~ Treating Customers Fairly – towards a fair outcome for consumers’  ~ TCF self assessment tool

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