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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

CLG: Cutting red tape or a plan to override local objections? - Ruth Kelly has unveiled major reforms of the country's planning system in a White Paper (consultation ends 17 August 2007), to ‘make it fit to tackle new challenges in the 21st century - speeding up the system alongside improved community consultation’.

The White Paper sets out our detailed proposals for reform of the planning system, ‘building on Kate Barker's recommendations for improving the speed, responsiveness & efficiency in land use planning and taking forward Kate Barker's and Rod Eddington's proposals for reform of major infrastructure planning’.

It has four key pillars:

  • A quicker system to decide major infrastructure projects
  • Making it easier for householders to make home improvements like extensions and conservatories
  • Planning playing a bigger role in tackling climate change
  • Ensuring the planning system continues to support vibrant town centres

The government also pledged a new commitment to protect the green belt.
CLG press release
~ CRC press release ~ 'Planning for a Sustainable Future' White PaperConsultation document ~ Barker Review of housing supply ~ Eddington Transport study ~ Planning Delivery Grant ~ Code for sustainable homes ~ Planning Aid website ~ Planning Aid for London ~ Planning Aid Concordat ~ Planning Inspectorate's film (Requires Adobe Flash player) ~ The Planning Inspectorate ~ Planning Portal - Appeals ~ National Standard Planning Application form ~ DCLG – Reform of the planning system ~

DTI: Another attempt to go nuclear - Greater energy efficiency and a secure, low carbon energy mix for the long-term are claimed to be at the centre of the new Energy White Paper published by Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling. The Energy White Paper takes forward the conclusions set out in the Energy Review report 'The Energy Challenge' published in July 2006.

Announcements in the White Paper include:
  • A requirement for new meters to come with a real-time display from 2008
  • A consultation to double energy suppliers' current obligation to deliver energy efficiency measures to customers through a new 'Carbon Emission Reduction Target'
  • A cap and trade ‘Carbon Reduction Commitment’ for large commercial organisations
  • A 'Distributed Generation' Report is published
  • Legislation to band the Renewables Obligation to benefit offshore wind, wave, tidal, etc. technologies.
  • Publication of a Biomass Strategy as well as a response to 'Creating Value from Renewable Materials'
  • Detail on the competition to build the world's first end-to-end Carbon Capture and Storage plant
  • Legislation to allow the storage of natural gas under the seabed & unloading of LNG at sea
  • A three month deadline within which DTI will make consent decisions on large scale energy projects, pending more radical reforms set out in the Planning White Paper
  • A new energy market information & analysis service from this autumn
  • A Low Carbon Transport Innovation Strategy is published
In addition, published alongside the White Paper, are:
  • A new consultation on the Government's preliminary view that it is in the public interest to give private sector energy companies the option of investing in new nuclear power stations. A 20 week public consultation running ends 10 October 2007.
  • A related consultation setting out the proposed 'Justification' and 'Strategic Siting Assessment' processes for new nuclear power.

Press release ~ Energy White Paper: Meeting the Challenge~ The Future of Nuclear Power: Consultation Document(1.8Mb)~ Energy White Paper Supporting Documents ~ Energy Review report 'The Energy Challenge' (2006) ~ Online Nuclear consultation ~ Renewable Energy: Reform of the Renewables Obligation consultation (closes 6 September 2007) ~ Guidance on the Gas Act 1965, under which licensed Gas Transporters proposing to store gas in natural porous strata onshore seek consent from the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry: A consultation (closes 15 August 2007).

DfT: Cutting congestion or just raising revenue? - A draft Bill to help improve public transport across the country and cut congestion in our towns & cities has been published for consultation (closes 7 September 2007) by the Government. It sets out proposals to restructure how local transport is delivered within communities. If approved by Parliament the draft Bill would:

  • Give local authorities powers to improve the quality of local bus services
  • Empower local authorities in our major urban areas to review & propose their own arrangements for local transport governance to support coherent and effective transport planning and delivery
  • Update existing powers so that where local areas wish to develop proposals for local road pricing schemes, they have the freedom & flexibility to do so in a way that best meets local needs.

It is expected that any scheme would be part of a wider package of measures to address local congestion problems and the draft Bill would require that the proceeds from any local schemes are spent on local transport.

The government claims that the draft Bill would not provide the legal powers that would be needed for a national system of road pricing.

Press release ~ Draft Local Transport Bill and the related consultation documents ~ Eddington Transport Study ~ 'Putti ng Passengers First' ~ DfT - Local transport plan - process and initiatives ~ DfT – Road pricing

Defra: Let’s not waste what landfill we have left - Environment Secretary David Miliband has published a new strategy for cutting waste and the Government is also launching a parallel public consultation (closes 16 August 2007) on removing the ban on local authorities introducing financial incentives for recycling.

The main points of the waste strategy include:

  • more effective incentives for individuals and businesses to recycle waste, leading to at least 40% of household waste recycled or composted by 2010, rising to 50% by 2020.
  • a greater responsibility on businesses for the environmental impact of their products & operations
  • a strong emphasis on waste prevention
  • a service so that people will be able to opt-out of receiving unaddressed, as well as addressed direct mail
  • working with retailers for the end of free single use bags
  • banning biodegradable and recyclable waste from being put into landfill sites.
  • an increase in the landfill tax escalator by £8 per year from 2008 until at least 2010/
  • Increasing the amount of energy produced by a variety of energy from waste schemes, using waste that can't be reused or recycled.

The waste strategy also sets out the Government's view that there are strong environmental arguments for encouraging more separate collection of food waste to boost composting and anaerobic digestion.

It also outlines action the Government proposes for its own estate - a 25% reduction in waste by 2020 and 75% of waste recycled by 2020.

WRAP has also published a report, Managing Biowastes from Households in the UK: Applying Life-cycle Thinking in the Framework of Cost-benefit Analysis, which suggests that where food waste is collected separately, the frequency of collection should be higher than for residual waste.
Press release ~ The waste strategy and consultation paper on incentives for recycling by households and accompanying partial regulatory impact assessment ~ WRAP: Managing Biowastes from Households in the UK: Applying Life-cycle Thinking in the Framework of Cost-benefit Analysis
~ Land Regeneration network ~ SEPA waste website ~ Guidance for the Incineration of Waste and Fuel Manufactured from or including Waste ~ Waste implementation programme (WIP) ~Innovation Forum report into the benefits of joint working on waste ~ Waste Infrastructure Development Programme (WIDP) ~ LA support website ~ H&S in waste management & recycling ~ Community Recycling network ~ Industry Council for Electronic equipment recycling (ICER) ~ Landfill Tax Credit Scheme ~ Pollution from landfill ~ Sust ainable Procurement Action Plan ~ BBC NEWS - Irish bag tax hailed success ~ Reducin g the reliance on landfill in England

DH: Are you Ok? - Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has announced new sites that will use hi-tech home healthcare to help older people, and those with long term conditions, to lead more independent lives - helping to prevent emergency or unexpected admissions to hospital.

Telehealth monitoring devices help people with long-term conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, to monitor and manage their condition. People test their blood glucose levels or blood pressure on a small machine at home and the results are monitored by healthcare professionals who can alert patients with any concerns. The local GP surgery can also monitor the patient remotely.

Telecare devices consist of sensors in the home and carry out simple tasks like switching lights on or raising an alarm if an old person does not return to bed in the middle of the night. These systems are closely monitored and ensure assistance is sent to an old person as soon as they need it.

Teams in Kent, Newham and Cornwall have been awarded £12m to look at how best these services can be implemented and the aims of the programme are to:

  • Help people to maintain their independence
  • Reduce the number of prescriptions dispensed
  • Reduce the numbers admitted to residential care and nursing homes
  • Reduce emergency hospital bed days and admissions, and reduce A&E attendances

The Department is commissioning a major independent evaluation through its Policy Research Programme, which is intended to capture the lessons from the demonstrators and determine the best options for wider implementation of whole systems programmes to meet the needs of people with long term conditions.
Press release ~ Telecare 2007 ~ DH - Building telecare in England ~ Telecare Alliance ~ Kent CC - Telecare ~ CSIP - Telecare ~ Purchasing & Supply Agency - Telecare ~ Telecare – JIT (Joint Improvement Team) ~ DH - Telecare Collaborative ~ DH - Self care ~ Independent Living Telecare and Telehealth ~ National Framework Agreement ~ Related reports and case studies ~ Audit Commission - Implementing telecare ~ SSIA - Telecare
~ 'Be tter outcomes, lower costs' ~ 'The costs and benefits of independent living' ~ Independent Living Review ~ Supporting People Programme

DH: The wider aspects of drug treatment - The government claims that a new drug Harm Reduction Action Plan, published this week, will result in more effective treatment being provided to drug misusers and will provide more support for rehabilitation & abstinence.

The numbers of drug related deaths and cases of blood-borne virus infections amongst drug misusers had been falling, but recent data suggests that this downward trend has stopped. In 2005, 1,506 drug users died in England from drug abuse and 44% current injecting drug users have contracted hepatitis C.

The Action Plan will hopefully help through a wide range of actions, such as:

  • improving the quality of data on drug overdose-related deaths and blood-borne virus infections, which will help local commissioners prioritise harm reduction activity
  • exploring mechanisms for routine collection of needle exchange data
  • action plans to improve harm reduction in the poorest 10% of areas
  • new training & guidance to service users & carers on how to minimise harm associated with drug use
  • a health promotion campaign, including hepatitis B vaccination, targeted at those most at risk
  • regional road shows that focus on local implementation and highlight key messages to local stakeholders

Press release ~ Drug Harm Reduction: An Action Plan ~ National Treatment Agency ~ Treatment outcomes monitoring ~ Home Office - Treatment ~ Home Office - Drug Interventions Programme ~ Home Office - Drugs ~ Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) ~ Understanding Drugs Pack

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General News

CLG: The Government has announced that they will be implementing Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and Home Information Packs (HIPs) from 1 August instead of 1 June 2007, having reached agreement with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) on their judicial review of Energy Performance Certificates.

The Government will revise regulations and implement the following changes:

  • From 1 August 2007packs - including energy performance certificates - will be required for the sale of four bedroom properties & larger as these are usually the properties which are the most energy inefficient
  • Packs for smaller properties will be phased in as sufficient energy assessors become ready to start work
  • Until the end of the year, they will allow people to market their properties as soon as they have commissioned a pack - rather than making them wait until they have received them
  • As a temporary measure, they will allow EPCs to be up to twelve months old when the property is put up for sale and will consult further on the long-term arrangements for the age of EPCs
  • They will also be inviting councils and registered social landlords to work with them to introduce EPCs on a voluntary basis in social housing, for example at the time of stock transfers

Press release ~ Copy of Ruth Kelly’s statement ~ Energy saving grants and offers - Energy Saving Trust ~ HIP website ~ Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)

NSG: The National School of Government has created a new Centre for Working with Ministers & Parliament devoted to giving officials the skills, confidence & understanding they need to excel in their support for ministers.

The Centre offers officials training which provides an understanding of the ministerial & parliamentary environment - what ministers and Parliament need & why - and training in briefing and drafting speeches & replies to Parliamentary Questions and letters from MPs & the public. It also helps officials prepare for Select Committee appearances.
Press release ~ Centre for Working with Ministers & Parliament ~ NSG - Professional Skills for Government

DfES: Adults under the age of 25 who have missed out on education and training opportunities will be able to get free tuition to obtain a first, full Level 3 qualification (equivalent to 2 A levels), from this August. The new entitlement for the key intermediate technician level skills employers say they need will provide routes back for those who left education early and want to return to improve their qualifications and job prospects.

The entitlement is expected to benefit some 60,000 learners in 2007/08, enabling more young adults to achieve higher level technical and professional qualifications.
Press release ~ Further Education White Paper 'Further Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances' ~ Adult Learning Grant (ALG) ~ Leitch Review of skills ~ Learning and Skills Council

MoD: To mark the 90th anniversary of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Defence Secretary, Des Browne, helped launch a photographic exhibition and a new illustrated history. The Remembered exhibition features photographs by the award-winning photographer Brian Harris and the accompanying illustrated history book also contains more than 40 images from the Commission's own archives.

The War Graves Commission was established in 1917 and is responsible for marking & maintaining the graves of Commonwealth personnel who died during the two World Wars.

The Remembered photographic exhibition is on show at Canada House in Trafalgar Square until 16 July and entry is free to the public.
Press release ~ Commonwealth War Graves Commission ~ Remembered Exhibition ~ Campaigners for War Grave Commemorations

CIOB: The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) have been working in partnership to establish a suite of qualifications, which will offer a coherent programme of education for housing maintenance, repairs and development professionals. The aim is to support development, underpin progression and ultimately assist staff retention.

The Qualification and Curriculum Authority has now approved the establishment of the CIOB-CIH Joint Awarding Body, which will offer a range of qualifications from Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) to a Level 4 Certificate / Diploma programme (HNC equivalent), covering maintenance management, repairs management and development.

Press release ~ Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) ~ Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH)

MCA: The Hydrography Unit of the MCA's Navigation Safety Branch have released a selection of files for download to the general public which provide information regarding some of the MCA's bathymetric multibeam surveys.

The files can be viewed by downloading free Google Earth and show extensive information about the areas the MCA has surveyed in recent years. Each file includes an image of the surveyed seabed.
Press release~ Google Earth ~ Hydrography website ~ UKSeaMap project ~ INTERREG IIIB ~ MESH (Developing a framework for Mapping European Seabed Habitats)

Policy Statements and Initiatives

HM Treasury: A package of policies to support disabled children and their families has been announced by the government alongside publication of the report - Aiming High for Disabled Children: Better Support for Families - part of the wider Policy Review of Children and Young People, which the government claims ‘sets out clear action across health, social services and education, to provide a better co-ordinated approach to service provision and enhance equality & opportunity for disabled children and their families’.

The Review commits the Government to boosting the provision of vital services and giving parents of disabled children a real choice in how they are delivered, underpinned by over £340 million of investment, by focusing on three priority areas:

  • access & empowerment
  • response services & timely support, and
  • improving quality & capacity of services

Press release ~ Aiming High for Disabled Children: Better Support for Families ~ Council for Disabled Children ~ Complex Disability Exemplar ~ 'Able Authorities: the Disability Discrimination Act, Local Authorities and Disabled People' ~ Improv ing Information for Disabled People ~ Special Educational Consortium ~ National Parent Partnership Network ~ Special educational needs (SEN) - Parents Centre ~ National Association for Special educational needs

CLG: Local Government Minister Phil Woolas has announced a six point action plan to give people greater control over how key assets in their communities are run - from disused swimming baths to pubs & community centres.

The Opening the Transfer Window implementation plan challenges councils to maximise the transfer of public assets to communities in order to make services more responsive and create more confident empowered communities with greater civic spirit. It comes in response to a major report by Barry Quirk, Chief Executive of Lewisham Council last week.

Press release ~ Opening the Transfer Window: The Governments Response to the Quirk Review ~ 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) ~ New Deal for Communities programme

Scottish Executive: Farming, environmental and other key interests were called together last week to discuss future investment in rural . Decisions have to be made soon relating to more than £1.5 billion potential spending for the draft Rural Development Programme over the next seven years, as the deadline for a submission to the European Commission on Voluntary Modulation is due on 12 June.

Investment is directed to support key themes:

  • improved farming and forestry viability
  • environmental benefits (tackling climate change, enhanced landscape & biodiversity and improved water quality)
  • thriving rural communities

Press release ~ Scottish Executive – Rural Development ~ Scottish Executive - Agriculture ~ Funding Q&As


Ofwat: The Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) has launched a consultation (closes 18 June 2007) over the regulatory issues arising from the sale of Deutsche Bank's stake in Aqueduct Capital (UK) Ltd (ACUK), the UK holding company of Sutton and East Surrey Water plc.

Ofwat is now asking for views on the following issues:

  • the capacity of ACUK and its investors to be the owner of a regulated business
  • who should provide the ultimate controller undertaking required by Sutton and East Surrey Water's (SES) licence, and
  • the addition of the cash lock-up conditions to SES's licence

Press release ~ Consultation paper

TfL: Transport for London is encouraging local people to get involved in a public consultation (closes 13 July 2007) on route options for the East London Transit from Barking town centre to Dagenham Dock via Barking Riverside.

TfL is holding public consultation exhibitions on route options for East London Transit from Barking town centre to Dagenham Dock via Barking Riverside - these will be held on Saturday 9 June between 10am and 4pm and Monday 18 June between 9am to 8pm at the Sue Bramley Centre, Bastable Avenue, Barking. More than 3,000 leaflets are also being sent to local businesses and people living near the route options asking them for their opinions.
Press release ~ East London Transit

Home Office: New Government proposals to give law enforcement agencies new powers to make it easier to seize criminals' luxury possessions and high value goods used in crime, such as cars & boats, have been announced. The range of new proposals outlined in the Asset Recovery Action Plan consultation paper (closes 23 November 2007) include:

  • New powers to seize 'bling', such as jewellery & plasma TVs, from those charged with acquisitive crimes
  • Extending powers to include the seizure of cash & other assets used in crimes
  • Offering citizens a percentage of assets seized for whistle-blowing
  • Removing the time limit for the seizure of assets through civil recovery
  • Asset sharing with other countries to target assets sent overseas
  • Giving law enforcement agencies the authority to decide which assets should be seized to pay the confiscation order and extending the use of tax powers to target unexplainable criminal assets

The Assets Recovery Agency Annual Report 2006/2007 has also been published, showing that it met or exceeded all of its key disruption and enforcement targets.
Press release ~ Asset Recovery Action Plan ~ Assets Recovery Agency Annual Report ~ NAO Report on Asset Recovery Agency ~ Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 ~ Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) ~ Written Ministerial Statement on proposals to merge ARA with SOCA and the NPIA

SGC: The Sentencing Guidelines Council (SGC) is putting out to consultation (closes 25 July 2007)a draft guideline to assist sentencers dealing with the large number of offenders who unnecessarily disrupt & delay criminal proceedings through failure to keep appointments and attend court hearings in answer to bail.

A guideline for these offences is important because of the volume of offences committed each year (which can occur at any stage of criminal proceedings), and because the behaviour has significant direct & other consequential effects on victims & witnesses, police and & resources and public confidence in the criminal justice system.

The draft guideline should be considered in conjunction with the advice of the Sentencing Advisory Panel (also published just published) which sets out a proposed approach and relevant principles in relation to sentencing those who fail to surrender to bail imposed by the police or courts. The advice and guideline also provide guidance to sentencers in relation to procedural issues relevant to sentencing for this offence.

Press release ~ Consultation guideline on sentencing offenders who fail to surrender to bail ~ Read the letter to consultees ~ Advice on sentencing for Bail Act offences ~ SGC website ~ SAP website

CIOB: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is consulting on proposals to make Site Waste Management Plans (SWMP) a legal requirement for construction and demolition projects in England. The regulations would require the preparation and implementation of a SWMP for works involving construction, demolition or excavation above £250,000 in value.

This paper provides you with a summary of the proposals and requests your feedback on the need for, and the potential costs and benefits of, a mandatory system. The CIOB would like to make a submission and it is important that this is informed by our members.
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Site Waste Management Plans (SWMP)

DfES: A public consultation (closes 3 September 2007) aimed at providing seamless services that meet the individual needs of children and their parents, has been launched by the Department for Education and Skills. The guidance will hopefully help improve outcomes of children and as it calls for closer working between local authorities, Strategic Health Authorities, Primary Care Trusts and Jobcentres Plus.

The Early Years outcomes duty in the Childcare Act 2006 is a statutory duty on local authorities in England to improve the Every Child Matters outcomes for all young children aged 0-5 and reduce inequalities between them, through the planning and delivery of integrated early childhood services.

The draft statutory guidance outlines what local authorities and their partners, Primary Care Trusts, Strategic Health Authorities and Jobcentre Plus should do to fulfil the duties (which will commence on 1 April 2008) set out in sections 1- 4 of the Childcare Act 2006.
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Childcare Act 2006 ~ Every Child Matters

: A draft Bill to help improve public transport across the country and cut congestion in our towns and cities has been published for consultation (closes 7 September 2007) by the Government. It sets out proposals to restructure how local transport is delivered within communities – See ‘In the News’ above for more details.

CLG: Ruth Kelly has unveiled major reforms of the country's planning system in a White Paper (consultation ends 17 August 2007), to ‘make it fit to tackle new challenges in the 21st century - speeding up the system alongside improved community consultation’ – See ’In the News’ above.

DTI: Greater energy efficiency and a secure, low carbon energy mix for the long-term are claimed to be at the centre of the new Energy White Paper published by Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling. The Energy White Paper takes forward the conclusions set out in the Energy Review report 'The Energy Challenge' published in July 2006 with a selection of consultations - See ’In the News’ above.

Defra: Environment Secretary David Miliband has published a new strategy for cutting waste and the Government is also launching a parallel public consultation (closes 16 August 2007) on removing the ban on local authorities introducing financial incentives for recycling - See ’In the News’ above.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

Defra: Guidance on the biodiversity duty under Section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (NERC) has been published by Defra. All public authorities are affected, including over 900 public bodies local authorities, fire, police and health bodies, museums and transport authorities.

In recognition of the key role local authorities play with regard to conserving and enhancing biodiversity, there are two sets of guidance:

  • specific guidance aimed at the needs and requirements of local authorities and
  • more generic guidance aimed at all public authorities affected

Press release ~ Guida nce and related documents ~ Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act ~ Biodiversity strategy ~ UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP)

DH: New health guidance is advising pregnant women or those trying to conceive to avoid alcohol. The revised Department of Health advice says; Pregnant women or women trying to conceive should avoid drinking alcohol or, if they do choose to drink, to minimise the risk to the baby, they should not drink more than one to two units of alcohol once or twice a week and should not get drunk.
Press release ~ National Organisation on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome UK ~ FAS Aware UK ~ National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit ~ DH – Alcohol Misuse

NICE: Updated guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) are set to have a significant impact in reducing premature deaths by improving the care received by hundreds of thousands of adults in England and Wales who have survived a heart attack (myocardial infarction or MI).

Produced by the National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care (NCC-PC), the guideline on secondary prevention of MI update the 2001 recommendations on the use of drugs after a heart attack and contains several recommendations on the “lifestyle” advice that should be given to patients, such as giving up smoking, being physically active for 20-30 minutes a day and eating a Mediterranean diet.

Press release ~ NICE Guidance fo MI: Secondary Prevention ~ The guidance, together with a costing template and costing report ~ National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care (NCC-PC) ~ DH - Coronary heart disease

NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recently launched guidance on the use of cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) – potentially life-saving heart pacing devices for the treatment of people with heart failure. The guidance also provides additional treatment options for some groups of people covered in NICE’s guidance on implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) published in 2006.

The aim of CRT (also known as biventricular pacing) is to improve the heart’s pumping efficiency by resynchronising the pumping action of the chambers.
Press release ~ Heart failure - cardiac resynchronisation

CC: The Charity Commission has published its revised guidance - Trustees, trade and tax - how charities may lawfully trade - to help charities avoid the potential risks of trading and get the most out of their trading activities, while also complying with their legal and fiscal requirements – See ‘Charity and Voluntary Sector’ below.

Annual Reports

CIOB: The CIOB’s Annual Review 2006 has been published. It charts the Institute's activities & achievements over the year, highlighting their responsibility of providing a safe & sustainable built environment for the benefit of all, as dictated by their Royal Charter.
Press release ~ CIOB Annual Review 2006

Home Office: The Assets Recovery Agency Annual Report 2006/2007 has also been published, along with new Government proposals to give law enforcement agencies new powers to make it easier to seize criminals' luxury possessions and high value goods used in crime, such as cars and boats – See ‘Consultations’ section above.

General Reports and Other Publications

ESRC: As societies emerge from conflict, men’s dominance at all levels of decision-making ensures women never feel truly secure according to new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

In a unique study of women’s security and participation in three post conflict societies - Northern Ireland, South Africa and Lebanon - researchers found that women see security differently from men. And because men dominate the institutions of peace-making and peace-building, they often fail to consider the specific security needs of women.

In all three case studies, women saw security as much more than physical safety. It was about feeling represented in societal institutions, having a job, an education for their children, a good health service and a feeling that society recognised the specific interests of women.
Press release ~ ‘Re-imagining Women’s Security: a Comparative Study of South Africa, Northern Ireland and Lebanon’ ~ ESRC New Security Challenges Programme ~ ESRC Society Today

Arts Council: Lack of interest and lack of time are the main barriers that stop more people from engaging with the arts, according to a survey of over 28,000 adults. Over a third of people who hadn’t participated in any arts activities over the last year said this was because they had no interest in the arts and a further third of people blamed this on a busy lifestyle.

The DCMS has released the results of the Taking Part survey, the first in-depth study of how people spend their leisure time and the report highlights a variety of reasons why different population groups fail to engage with the arts. Lack of interest is the main reason in lower socio-economic groups, but for higher socio-economic groups lack of time is the key.

Press release ~ Taking Part survey

NAO: The National Audit Office has called for a step change improvement in how central government departments work with each other and with regional and local bodies, if the Government’s ambitious aspirations for the Thames Gateway region are to be realised.

The report stresses that the Government still does not have a single overall, fully costed plan for the programme to join up local initiatives, commit central government to key infrastructure projects and consider progress across funding streams.

The NAO calls on the Department for Communities and Local Government to:

  • improve its programme management
  • make its plans more coherent, and
  • ensure that investment is better targeted and that risks are better identified & managed

Press release ~ The Thames Gateway: Laying the Foundations ~ Execut ive Summary ~ Th ames Gateway Landmark Map ~ Code for Sustainable Homes ~ London Development Agency ~ London Thames Gateway Housing Sites Database ~ London Thames Gateway Development Corporation ~ Thames Gateway London Partnership ~ CLG - Thames Gateway ~ Creating Sustainable Communities: Delivering the Thames Gateway(2.5Mb) ~ Creating Sustainable Communities: Delivering Greenspace in the Thames Gateway

HL: Homeless Link has recently completed research into the facilities available to homeless drug users attempting to reduce their use or kick their habit. The findings of this research are detailed in Clean Break, a new report which reveals that, whilst some excellent facilities were identified, overall provision is lacking.
All too often people trying to get or stay clean are placed in hostels where there are people still actively using drugs, increasing the likelihood of relapse. The report identifies a number of agencies that provide specialised accommodation designated for people who want to make a clean break from drug use, where the success rate is much higher.

NE: Action is needed now to prevent the loss of some of the UK's most valued plants and wildlife as a result of climate change, according to a new report by Natural England. The MONARCH report illustrates potential impacts of climate change on some of our most rare or threatened species, under different projected levels of greenhouse gas emissions to the 2080s.

Also launched last week was ‘Conserving biodiversity in a changing climate’, which provides guidance on and explains six key strategies that can be used now by land managers, to help wildlife adapt to climate change.

The guidance recommends that to allow species to find new homes as climate changes, it will be necessary to manage entire landscapes, not just the protected sites where species now occur.
Press release ~ MONARCH (Modelling Natural Resource Responses to Climate Change) ~ Monarch report ~ Conserving Biodiversity in a changing climate ~ Millennium Ecosystem Assessment ~ Parliamentary report: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment ~ Natural England

DTI: A report of the first stage of a new study, examining how the Home Office manages & uses science, has been published by Sir David King, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, in the form of an open letter to Sir David Normington, the Home Office Permanent Secretary.

The key recommendations contained in the report centre around the need for the Home Office to:

  • make better use of science, especially in policy-making and,
  • adopt a more joined-up approach across the scientific disciplines in the department, especially between the natural and social sciences.

Press release ~Report

HM Treasury: Ed Balls, Economic Secretary to the Treasury has launched the evaluation report of the second Saving Gateway pilot and outlined the Government's next steps on this key initiative. Saving Gateway is a savings account designed for lower income groups to encourage them to save & engage with mainstream financial services.

He claimed that the results of the second Saving Gateway pilot show overwhelmingly that the principle of matching savers' contributions helps those on lower incomes to save, to learn the savings habit and use mainstream financial institutions.
Press release ~ Saving Gateway website and Pilot 1 and 2 reports ~ Helping People to Save ~ FSA Money made clear – products explained

DfT: The Department for Transport has published a report on potential reform in the trust port sector in England and Wales. The report was commissioned to help the Department understand how the potential of trust ports can be fully exploited and to recommend ways in which they can improve their accountability and financial performance.

Trust ports are independent statutory bodies, governed by unique legislation and controlled by an independent board rather than shareholders. More than fifty ports in England and Wales are trust ports - including Dover, Milford Haven, and the Port of London Authority (which holds conservancy duties for the Thames Estuary).

Press release ~ Pr icewaterhouse Coopers Report ~ DfT- Modernising trust ports

DWP: Landlords' responses to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA): A research report published by the Department for Work and Pensions explores landlords' awareness of & responses to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), looking particularly at issues relating to changes to policies and procedures & adjustments. The new DDA duties for landlords came into force in December 2006.
Press release ~ Research Report 429 - Landlords' responses to the Disability Discrimination Act ~ Summary version ~ DWP report 410 ~ 'Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People' ~ Office for Disability Issues (ODI)

ESRC: Skills being used in British workplaces have been rising for the last two decades, but the pace of change has slowed in the last five years, according to a new study published by the ESRC Research Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE).

The report, Skills At Work, 1986 to 2006 gives the first findings from the 2006 Skills Survey, a nationally representative survey of 4,800 working individuals in Britain aged 20-65 and similar surveys carried out over the last two decades, which collected a wealth of information about the skills utilised at work, and about workers’ views on training and work, and about their pay and well-being.
Press release ~ Skills At Work, 1986 to 2006 ~ ESRC Research Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE) ~ 2006 Skills Survey ~ ESRC Society Today

Legislation / Legal

TS: A strategy to reform tribunals into a more efficient, independent and user-focused service has been published by the Tribunals Service (TS). 'Delivering the future: one system, one service' sets out the blueprint on how TS - an agency of the new Ministry of Justice - will use the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill currently before Parliament to move from a service administering 27 very different central government tribunals to one providing unified support to a radically simplified tribunal structure.

The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal will remain as separate tribunals within TS, but the new structure will make it easier for judiciary and staff to work more flexibly across different tribunals under the leadership of a new Senior President of Tribunals.

The TS Strategy outlines plans to set up around 40 hearing centres in major towns & cities that can host a wide variety of tribunals. These will make more services available to the public at a single venue. These will be complemented by the hiring of venues in other locations when very local hearings are necessary.

Press release ~ 'Delivering the future: one system, one service' ~ Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill ~ White Paper 'Transforming public services: complaints, redress and tribunals' ~ Tribunals Service ~ Ministry of Justice ~ 27 central government tribunals and organisations

Scottish Executive: The Lord Justice Clerk, the Rt Hon Lord Gill, Chairman of the Civil Courts Review, has issued a call for information & evidence to assist the Review in its work. The 2-year Review will look at the provision of civil justice by the courts in Scotland, including their structure, jurisdiction, procedures and working methods, having particular regard to:

  • the cost of litigation to parties and to the public purse
  • the role of mediation and other methods of dispute resolution in relation to court process
  • the development of modern methods of communication and case management
  • the issue of specialisation of courts or procedures, including the relationship between the
    civil and criminal courts

Press release ~ Civil Courts review

Charity and Voluntary Sector

CC: Charities receive a significant proportion of their income from their trading arms and the Charity Commission has published its revised guidance - Trustees, trade and tax - how charities may lawfully trade - to help charities avoid the potential risks of trading and get the most out of their trading activities, while also complying with their legal and fiscal requirements.

The guidance provides clear answers to the questions most commonly asked by charities and it reflects the latest tax & VAT position and also sets out a more flexible policy for funding & investing in trading companies.

Press release ~ CC35 - Trustees, trading and tax: How charities may lawfully trade

Cabinet Office: The Cabinet Office has published a discussion paper to invite further views on the tender for a partner to deliver the second phase of the Futurebuilders Fund - to distribute £65m of funding to third sector organisations over three years.

The deadline for responses to the discussion paper is 20 June for time sensitive questions (those relating to the characteristics of the organisations that might be invited to enter the competitive dialogue) and 17 August for all others.
Press release ~ Re-tender of the Futurebuilders Fund - Discussion Paper ~ Futurebuilders Fund ~ Futurebuilders England Ltd (FBE) ~ Charity Bank ~ Futurebuilders Advisory Panel report on the Futurebuilders programme

Business and Other Briefings

HMRC: Share fishermen across the UK are being encouraged to join a scheme tailor-made to help ensure they won't be caught short when their tax is due, following research that has revealed that they often don't save for tax & national insurance and this can cause difficulty when the tax bill finally arrives.

The Share Fisherman Scheme, set up by HMRC, helps its members set aside 20% of money earned aside each month from every catch, helping them to pay tax & national insurance on time and automatically at the end of the tax year.
Press release ~ SF – Historical Background ~ SF – Job Seekers Allowance ~ SF - NI

FSA: The Financial Services Authority has been conducting an investigation into the activities of certain fund managers and brokers in the split capital investment trust sector between September 2000 and February 2002 and has now has now resolved & discontinued its investigation in respect of the remaining firms and individuals under investigation.

The FSA and the Firms agreed a package of approximately £195 million for investors. The Firms agreed to contribute without admissions to a fund for distribution to eligible individuals who invested in zero dividend preference shares ("Zeros") and in a number of specified unit trusts and other financial products that invested in Zeros. Fund Distribution Limited ("FDL") was established to make distributions to eligible investors and it has now completed the distribution of its funds to eligible investors.
Press release ~ Fund Distribution Limited ~ Split capital investment trusts : FSA Money made clear

FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has announced the outcome of its review of the use of savings claims in general insurance press advertising, which has found a significant improvement in standards since it raised concerns in January 2007.

The review of all home and motor insurance advertising appearing in the national press over a ten day period in April 2007 found that 94% of advertisements issued by 28 firms fairly & accurately described what savings consumers would be able to achieve, while 6% contained misleading savings claims.

This follows the financial regulator's challenge to firms to improve standards after the FSA's January review revealed that 45% of home and motor insurance press advertising made misleading savings claims.

Press release ~ Review ~ Initial review ~ Are you covered? ~ FSA – Financial promotions

Revenue & Customs Brief 40/07

HMRC: This Brief gives details of an article: Oversea leasing - sections 109 and 110 Capital Allowances Act 2001 - leases entered into before 1 April 2006.

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