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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

NAO: An indication of how to deliver value for money - A joint report, published by the Audit Commission, Audit Scotland, the National Audit Office, the Northern Ireland Audit Office and the Wales Audit Office, includes five sets of indicators which allow organisations to assess the value for money performance of their:

  • finance
  • human resources
  • information and communication technology
  • estates management
  • procurement

These services have been identified by the government as priority areas for increasing efficiency and releasing resources for use in delivering front-line services.

The indicators have been designed to ensure that public bodies will be able not only to assess their own value for money performance, but also compare their results against other public sector organisations.

Press release ~ Value For Money in public sector corporate services - A joint project by the UK Public Sector Audit Agencies ~ Audit Commission ~ Audit Scotland ~ National Audit Office ~ Northern Ireland Audit Office ~ Wales Audit Office ~ ESRC – The Management of Second Best ~ Public Sector Performance: Efficiency or Quality? ~ Transforming Government procurement ~ Public service reform in Scotland ~ NHS Better care, better value indicators ~ NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement ~ NHS Institute – Service Transformation ~ Complete list of new operational targets for government estate ~ OGC - Procurement ~ Procurement vacanciesTransforming Government Procurement ~ Government Procurement Service ~ NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency

DfES: New powers to cut down school violence - Teachers now have the power to search pupils for knives and offensive weapons without consent as part of the Government's drive to ensure schools are safe & secure places to learn. The new power, which has just come into force, comes alongside the ability for schools to screen pupils for violent weapons using devices such as arches and 'wand' metal detectors.

Guidance for schools on how best to use these new measures makes it clear that screening & searching can be carried out by professional trained security staff, as well as teachers, but where there is felt to be any risk to safety, the police should be called.

The Guidance advises heads how to screen pupils and suggests that randomly selected group of pupils, such as a class, could be screened in order to send a strong deterrent message. It also makes clear that a pupil can be refused entry to the school or a visit if they refuse to be screened.

The guidance highlights the fact that no member of staff, unless authorised by the head teacher, can undertake a search and it also makes clear that:

  • two members of staff must always be present at a search and recommends that both should have received appropriate training
  • the search must be undertaken by a staff member who is the same sex as the pupil, and
  • where possible, it should take place out of public view

Press release ~ Guidance on Screening and Searching Pupils for Weapons ~ Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 ~ 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 ~ Home - School Agreements ~ Violence reduction in schools - Teachernet ~ Learning Behaviour Report (1.3Mb) ~ Pupil Referral Units ~ TeacherNet - Violence, threatening behaviour and abuse in schools ~ Safer Schools Partnership ~ Behaviour UK ~ Ofsted: Improving behaviour

Ofsted: A better chance of learning for a decent life - Ofsted have produced a report - The Key Stage 4 Curriculum: increased flexibility and work-related learning - following a two-year survey, which found that 60% of schools visited in the second year, 2005/06, provided a good curriculum.

The survey found that a more appropriate curriculum, particularly the provision of vocational courses, has re‑engaged many students. Behaviour & attendance have improved and achievement has been raised among particular groups of pupils, particularly those who are at risk of disaffection or disengagement. The overwhelming majority of students surveyed were very positive about changes to their curriculum.

Across the two years of the survey, however, curriculum development in a small minority of schools visited was constrained by a perception that change would not maximise success in public examinations or performance tables. Consequently, these schools offered a narrow curriculum with little or no access to vocational qualifications.
Press release ~ The Key Stage 4 Curriculum: increased flexibility and work-related learning ~ Developing a Coherent 14-19 Phase of Education and Training ~ The Key Stage 4 Curriculum: Increased flexibility, work related learning and young apprentices ~ Developing Enterprising Young People ~ The Standards Site: Key Stage 4 Curriculum ~ QCA - Changes to the key stage 4 curriculum ~ Teachernet , Key Stage 4

DH: Just because they cannot understand doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t get equal care - Sir Jonathan Michael, former Chief Executive of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, will chair the independent Inquiry into access to healthcare for people with learning disabilities. The establishment of an independent inquiry follows Mencap's March 2007 report into the deaths of six people with learning disabilities.

The review will focus on the action needed to ensure adults & children with learning disabilities receive appropriate treatment, primarily in general acute health care and with reference to wider health services. The review will also aim to learn lessons from the six cases highlighted by the Mencap report 'Death by Indifference'.

It will also take into account evidence & findings from the Disability Rights Commission’s Formal Investigation into Health Inequalities for people with learning disabilities and mental health problems.

The Health Service Ombudsman for England, Ann Abraham, will be carrying out her own independent investigation of the cases. The inquiry will not be considering in detail any individual cases other than those set out in the Mencap report.
Press release ~ M encap's March 2007 report into the deaths of six people with learning disabilities - 'Death by Indifference' ~ Good Practice guides and related documents ~ DH - Learning disabilities ~ Health Service Ombudsman ~ Disability Rights Commission’s Formal Investigation into Health Inequalities for people with learning disabilities and mental health problems ~ Connects: the Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Portal ~ Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability ~ Learning disabilities white paper ~ CSIP: Our initiatives: Learning disabilities ~ Valuing People Support team ~ Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities ~ Survey of adults with learning difficulties in England 2003/4: Final and summary reports ~ British Institute of Learning Disabilities ~ NLH - Learning Disabilities ~ LDUK ~ The National Network for Learning Disability Nurses (UK)

BLF: See, they do support mainstream charities! - The latest round of funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme sees over £6.5 million being awarded to groups across England. Within these grants are two England-wide projects serving very different sections of society:

  • Prisoners will be helped to overcome exclusion and to rejoin the community after release, with a £347,225 grant awarded to Unlock – The National Association of Ex-Offenders, based in Snodland, Kent.
  • The second England-wide project to benefit will help blind & partially sighted people to continue to enjoy their gardens after sight loss. Reading-based, national charity Thrive (The Society for Horticultural Therapy) has been awarded £255,774 to run its National Blind Gardeners’ Club, which helps visually impaired people to continue gardening and reap the associated benefits it brings

Press release ~ Big Lottery Fund ~ Reaching Communities programme ~ Unlock– The National Association of Ex-Offenders ~ Thrive - (The Society for Horticultural Therapy) ~ RNIB

C-NLIS: Caveat Emptor when buying property - Homeowners are warned to closely examine property search data supplied during house purchase to avoid costly mistakes, says the Council for National Land and Information Service (C-NLIS).

C-NLIS manages the National Land Information Service (NLIS), which supplies searches from all Local Authorities in England and Wales. These searches include information on the most common restrictions or problems homebuyers should look for before purchasing a property, wherever they are looking to live whether it be in an urban or countryside setting.

Factors to look out for include:

  • Availability of parking
  • Conservation Area Restrictions
  • Traffic control schemes
  • Plans for new roads
  • Contaminated land
  • Tree preservation orders

Press release ~ Council for National Land and Information Service (C-NLIS) ~ Home Information Pack ~ Home Buying Tips ~ Land Registry

HL: Integrated care is not only better, it is more cost effective - In an attempt to establish how local housing authorities and Drug Action teams could work more effectively together, Homeless Link has been conducting research in three London boroughs and has just released the results in a new report; Clean break: integrated housing and care pathways for homeless drug users.

Government departments & agencies have agreed that much more interdepartmental co-operation is needed to succeed in tackling the intertwined issues of drugs and homelessness. With 80% of rough sleepers acknowledging a drugs problem and research indicating that every £1 spent on drug treatment equals £9.50 saved on criminal & health care costs, this is not an issue that can be ignored.

Lisa Barker, deputy director homelessness & housing management at Communities and Local Government, has acknowledged that government targets to reduce rough sleeping had often failed to reach the one in five rough sleepers who have both substance misuse and mental health problems.

Barker recognised that a past lack of joined up work between agencies had failed some drug users whose accommodation needs were not considered until they were ready for discharge from treatment, at which point it was often too late find appropriate housing.

Press release ~ Homeless Link ~ Clean Break: Homeless Link Toolkits ~ Clean break: integrated housing and care pathways for homeless drug users ~ National Treatment Agency ~ Drug Action Teams ~ DrugScope ~ Economic analysis of costs and consequences of the treatment of drug misuse: 2-year outcome data from the National Treatment Outcome Research Study (NTORS)

BNSC: Fourteen organisations agreeing to Boldly Go! - In an unprecedented move, 14 of the world's leading space agencies have recently revealed their agreed vision for globally co-ordinated space exploration to the Moon, Mars and beyond. Following months of intensive discussions, they published their common ideas for space exploration: The Global Exploration Strategy: The Framework for Co-ordination.

The document outlines the rationale for society to explore space, defines the current focus & process of space exploration, the current interest in returning to the Moon & exploring Mars and proposes a framework for the future co-ordination of global space exploration.

The British National Space Centre - which co-ordinates UK civil space activities and represents the UK at the European Space Agency - was fully involved in shaping this document. The UK space sector is worth £4.8bn per annum, supports 70,000 jobs and makes an overall contribution to UK GDP of almost £7bn per annum.

Press release ~ British National Space Centre ~ The Global Exploration Strategy: The Framework for Co-ordination ~ Science and Technology Facilities Council ~ European Space Agency ~ Aurora space exploration programme (ESA) ~ NASA

Forthcoming Event: July sees Lean Government 2007 being held with the theme of Delivering the future of efficiency to Government with innovative approaches including Shared Services, e-Government and Lean Six Sigmaon 11 - 12 July at The Selfridge Hotel, London, UK.

Despite the claims from the government to have invested ‘Billions’ in the public sector over the last decade, much of the money has been allocated to building projects and other new projects (Sure Start, etc.) and Public Sector Organisations (PSOs) are still facing the perennial problem of having to do ‘more with less’.

Not only that, the government is looking for ‘payback on its ‘investment’ in such areas as e-government and is demanding billions in cuts over the next few years in line with the Gershon review, etc.

Lean Government 2007 will enable you to:

  • Find out which techniques will deliver the biggest efficiency savings: Hear from an array of Local and Central Government on Shared Services, e-Government, Six Sigma and Lean
  • Sustain and accelerate your efficiency programme – drive your transformation into the next decade through fresh guidance from Colin Whitehouse
  • Boost productivity by 50% - Replicate the latest success of HMRC who have used Lean as the catalyst to overcome cultural resistance
  • Provide vastly improved service to the public by using the most advanced techniques to make your efficiency programme customer focused

Dedicated extended sessions will:

  • Focus on workforce
  • Continuous process improvement in the Public Sector
  • Providing excellent service to the public for now and the future
  • Transforming Government through re-structuring and technology

In addition, IQPC’s renowned Network Centre will facilitate your making the most of the shared knowledge across the conference attendees

All Wired-GOV registrants are entitled to a 10% discount on this event. Click here to book or find out more
Full details ~ Evaluati on Of The Lean Approach To Business Management And Its Use In The Public Sector ~ Research Findings of the Lean Approach to Business Management ~ What Do We Measure and Why?: An Evaluation of the CitiStat Model of Performance Management and its Applicability to the Scottish Public Sector ~ Efficient Government Reporting – Framework for LAs in Scotland ~ Guide to Leading Practice Performance Management ~ Scottish Improvement service ~ Improvemen t Network ~ IDeA: working for local government improvement ~ Audi Commission: Lean Thinking – what is it? ~ Applying Lean and Reducing Waste (Excess processing) ~ Applying Lean and Reducing Waste (Waiting) ~ Applying Lean and Reducing Waste (Over-production) ~ OGC – Briefing note on Six Sigma ~ Other Lean related OGC presentations (scroll down) ~ OGC Efficiency Team ~ WBS: Can The Public Sector Become Lean? ~ NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement - Lean Six Sigma ~ Gershon review ~ GLC: Delivering efficiency in local services

For information on other forthcoming public sector events please click H ERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar

For Industry News please click HERE

General News

Defra: The Carbon Trust and Defra have announced that they will be working with BSI British Standards to co-sponsor the development of a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) for the measurement of the embodied greenhouse gases (GHGs) in products and services.

The aim of the work is to develop an agreed method for measuring embodied GHG emissions which can be applied across a wide range of product & service categories and their supply chains to enable companies to measure the GHG related impacts of their products and reduce them.
Press release ~ Carbon Trust ~ BSI British Standards ~ Publicly Available Specification (PAS)

Defra: Funding of over £1.6m has been awarded by Defra to projects across the country to help farmers improve farm animal health and welfare. Following an application process, 27 different projects have received funding for a variety of farm health planning events & initiatives including farmer training, advice workshops and the development of farm health planning 'champions'.

Farm health planning means undertaking a range of measures to proactively manage disease risk on-farm. This involves good disease record keeping; identifying existing health problems on-farm & prioritising control measures for these; developing action plans for specific problems; and assessing whether measures have been effective & reviewing health plans where necessary.
Press release ~ Farm Health Planning ~ HSE – Farm Safe

DfT: Transport Minister Gillian Merron has given final approval to the proposed London Gateway Port at Shellhaven, Thurrock, in the Thames estuary, following agreement between the Port promoters, P&O (part of Dubai Ports World) and local planning & highway authorities to ensure that the impact of the full development on the local area highway network is adequately catered for.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has, in addition, granted planning permission for the adjacent London Gateway logistics & commercial centre and Business Park on the Shellhaven site.

London Gateway port, when fully developed, will comprise up to seven container vessel berths and a ro-ro facility along 2.7km of quayside on the site of the former Shell oil refinery at Shellhaven in the borough of Thurrock, Essex.  The planned adjoining commercial and logistics centre will utilise the rest of the landside, brownfield site of the decommissioned oil refinery.
Press release ~ London Gateway (Shell Haven) Inquiry ~ PLA - London Gateway PortPortswatch: London Gateway (Shell Haven) ~ DfT Minded view letter ~ Environmental impacts of the London Gateway development ~

LL-UKLifelong Learning UK have announced that a new alliance aimed at bringing employers and colleges closer together to deliver more economically valuable skills has been launched, bringing together employers, college principals & executives from the AoC, the Sector Skills Councils & the Sector Skills Development Agency, which supports & funds the SSCs. 

It is the first time the demand and supply sides of education & training have come together in this way to construct & deliver learning and qualifications relevant to the world of work.  The move has been sparked by the Leitch Review of Skills which called for the UK government to commit to becoming a world leader in skills by 2020.
Press release ~ Leitch Review of Skills ~ Lifelong Learning UK ~ Association of Colleges (AoC) ~ Sector Skills Development Agency ~ Sector Skills Councils

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DH: By the end of 2008 the Government expects all alcoholic drinks labels to include alcohol unit information, following an agreement between Government and the drinks industry. 

Labels with unit information will help people keep an eye on how much they are drinking, allowing them to monitor their alcohol intake more easily. Over 7.1 million English people are ‘hazardous or harmful drinkers’, which means that they are drinking more than the recommended guidelines.

In addition, the Government is also encouraging the alcohol industry to include sensible drinking information for pregnant women on labels. Avoid alcohol if pregnant or trying to conceive is the shortened form of the Government advice announced on 25 May 2007.
Press release ~ Drinkaware Trust ~ 2004 Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy ~ Memorandum of Understanding between the Government and alcohol industry ~ National Organisation on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome - UK

Scottish Executive: Finance Secretary John Swinney has set out his plans to give Scotland a clear competitive edge as a place to do business, during a parliamentary debate on the theme of wealthier and fairer. Among the key proposals are:

  • Refocusing & reforming the Enterprise Networks
  • Reducing & removing business rates
  • A Council of Economic Advisers
  • Lighter & more effective regulation
  • A commitment to creating vocational opportunities for young people to flourish in education & employment
  • A freeze in council tax rates, moving towards legislation to scrapping & replace it with a local income tax

Press release ~ Priorities to achieve economic growth ~ Scottish Executive - Economy ~ BBC News: Economy 'will pick up' next year ~ EDAS (Economic Development Association Scotland) ~ Scott ish Economic Report December 2006 ~ Scottish Enterprise ~ Scots Independence Tour - A Bright Economic Future

NSG: Nominations are now sought from government departments for the second Cohort of Leaders UnLtd - a new leadership development scheme designed specifically for UK civil servants working at Grade 6/7 (or equivalent) who are women, have a disability, or are from minority ethnic backgrounds.

The result of a partnership between the Cabinet Office and the National School of Government, Leaders UnLtd seeks to equip talented people in groups currently under-represented at senior levels in government with the leadership skills they need for entry to the Senior Civil Service (SCS).

Entry onto the scheme is by departmental nomination and successful completion of a one day Assessment & Development Centre.  The deadline for nominations is 29 June 2007.

All nominees who attend the Centre will receive detailed feedback, with those who are successful having a leadership development plan based on the results.  Participants will then learn, work & build networks with peers from across the Civil Service in the ‘core’ part of the programme.
Press release ~ National School of Government - Leaders UnLtd ~ Cabinet Office – Leaders Unlimited ~ NSG’s Centre for Strategic Leadership ~ Civil Service 10-point plan for diversity ~ Workforce Reform at the Cabinet Office ~ Professional Skills for Government (PSG) framework


DTI: Consumer Minister, Ian McCartney has published a consultation that will implement the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD), whichwas adopted on 11 May 2005Among the 31 types of unfair practices it will outlaw are:

  • prize draw scams, such as those that con people into calling premium-rate phone numbers
  • bogus 'closing down' sales
  • refusing to leave a customer's home when asked to do so
  • preying on elderly peoples' fears about their personal security to sell them burglar alarms, and
  • making persistent & unwanted telephone calls encouraging consumers to buy products

The DTI is consulting on draft Regulations before they become UK law in April 2008 and the OFT, working with the DTI, is also consulting on draft Guidance on the law.  Both consultations will close on 21 August 2007.

Press release ~ OFT - Consultation on draft Guidance on the UK implementation of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive ~ DTI - Implementing the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD) into UK law - DTI ~ EC Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD) ~ General Insurance Telephone Sales - Results of thematic work: Examples of good and poor practice ~  OF T – Doorstep Selling ~ OFT - Scams ~ Consumer Direct

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DfES: Teachers now have the power to search pupils for knives and offensive weapons without consent as part of the Government's drive to ensure schools are safe and secure places to learn. The new power, which has just come into force, comes alongside the ability for schools to screen pupils for violent weapons using devices such as arches and 'wand' metal detectors – See ‘In the News’ for full details.

NICE:   The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has issued a draft version of its guidance on the use of varenicline (Champix) for smoking cessation and the draft recommendations are as follows:

  • Varenicline, within its licensed indications, is recommended as an option for smokers who have expressed a desire to quit smoking
  • Varenicline should normally be prescribed only as part of a programme of behavioural support

NICE has not yet issued final guidance on the use of varenicline and stakeholders now have the opportunity to appeal against the draft guidance. Subject to an appeal being received, final guidance is expected in July 2007.
Press release ~ Varenicline for smoking cessation: Final appraisal determination ~ NICE guidance on providing support in the workplace for people who want to stop smoking ~ Stop smoking start living ~ Smokefre e Public Places ~ Your business, your rubbish and the law ~ Quit smoking start living - How do I go Smokefree? ~ DH - Smoking

Annual Reports

Monitor: Monitor has published its Business Plan for 2007- 08, which builds on their Corporate Plan 2006-09, refining their overall goals to reflect their experience over the past year, and setting their detailed agenda for the coming year.
Press release ~ Business Plan for 2007-08 ~ Corporate Plan 2006-09 ~ Annual Report 2006

Pesticides Forum: The government claims that two new reports - Pesticide Forum's '2006 Annual Report' and the '2006 Report of Indicators reflecting the impacts of pesticides use' -confirm that farmers & growers are doing much to reduce impacts on the environment from the use of pesticides, although it is disappointing that levels of pesticides found in water increased in 2005.
Press release ~ Pesticide Forum's '2006 Annual Report' ~ '2006 Report of Indicators reflecting the impacts of pesticides use' ~ Pesticide Residues Committee (PRC) ~ PSD Food Safety ~ Food Standards Agency - Pesticides ~ Defr a: Pesticide safety and use

General Reports and Other Publications

CEL: A series of six policy seminars recently hosted by the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) brought together an influential group of senior leaders from colleges, education & training providers, sector agencies and the DfES to discuss & debate key themes around leadership, the public sector and changes currently being faced by sector leaders.

Leading the FE System – shaping the world of tomorrow is a summary of the series and future perspectives, published by CEL in May.
Press release ~ Leading the FE system – shaping the world of tomorrow ~ Centre for Excellence in Leadership ~ National College for School Leadership (NCSL) ~ Researching Leadership in the Learning and Skills Sector: By the Sector, On the Sector, for the Sector

DfES: The first report in a major new series of practical progress reports for teachers and learners has been published recently by Education and Skills Secretary Alan Johnson. Keeping up - pupils who fall behind in Key Stage 2 looks at the experiences & behaviour of pupils aged between 7 and 11.

This particular group of children ended Key Stage 1 doing well in English and maths, achieving the right level for their age; but as they move through Key Stage 2, they don't develop their skills & abilities as they should, and the rate at which they progress slows down.

The report identifies common characteristics of children who are making slower progress than expected at Key Stage 2 in English & maths and includes recommendations on practical classroom strategies which teachers can use to identify so-called 'invisible children' & 'children in the comfort zone' and to help them get back on track.
Press release ~ Keeping up - pupils who fall behind in Key Stage 2 ~ QCA: Key stage 2 explained ~ Parents Centre ~ KS2 Bitesize Revision ~ KS2 Resources ~ Key Stage 2 teachers  ~ D fES, e-Consultation

Legislation / Legal

MoJ: The government claims that victims of stalking and domestic violence will benefit from new legislation coming into force this week designed to protect people at risk if their details appear on the electoral register.

Anyone wanting to register their details anonymously must provide evidence such as an order under the Family Law Act 1996 or the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.  If an application is granted, the details that appear on the register only have a person's electoral number and the letter N.
Press releaseElectoral Administration Act 2006 ~ Victim Support ~ Rights of Women ~ Ministry of Justice

MoJ: Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Lord Falconer has said that lawyers who cause costly delays to court cases in England & Wales could be replaced in plans for speedier and more efficient trials.

Very high cost cases - trials expected to last 41 days or more - often include cases of alleged terrorism or fraud where several people are charged.  Delay can lead to collapse of a trial and incur huge costs. Half of all crown court legal aid money is spent on just 1% of the cases.

The full response is outlined in the paper Response to Consultation on Proposals to Manage Conflict of Interest and Capacity Issues in Very High Cost Cases and the policy will enable a trial judge to refer cases to the Legal Services Commission (LSC), who oversee the legal aid contracts paying lawyers in such cases, because of concerns over capacity. The LSC could then ask the defendant to find a different lawyer.
Press release ~ Response to Consultation on Proposals to Manage Conflict of Interest and Capacity Issues in Very High Cost Cases ~ Legal Services Commission (LSC) ~ Justice - a new approach - Ministry of Justice

Home Office: A new power for the police to enter & search a registered sex offender's home, to assess the risk they pose to our communities, has been welcomed by Home Secretary John Reid. The new measure, which comes into force under the Violent Crime Reduction Act, means that where an offender has denied access to the police on more than one occasion, the police can apply for a warrant to enter and search the property, by force if necessary.

For example, if a police officer sees a child's bike in the house of a registered sex offender, the officer might then decide to search for further evidence to reassess the risk posed by the offender.  Where it can be demonstrated that the offender poses a risk of serious sexual harm, the police could then apply for a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) or decide whether it was necessary to alert others to the presence of the offender.
Press release ~ Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 ~  Prevention of individuals from working with children

DfT: The Department for Transport has proposed further changes to the cycling elements of the revised Highway Code laid before Parliament on 28 March 2007. The changes put forward are in order to clarify advice in the Code on the use of cycle facilities and cycle lanes. They also take account of further representations from & discussions with, the cycling organisation CTC.

Following the public consultation on proposed changes to the Highway Code in 2006, more than 40 changes were made to the cycling rules and elsewhere in the Code to improve cyclists' safety.  These were included in the proposed new Code laid before Parliament in March 2007.

Press release ~ CTC ~ The Highway Code ~ British Cycling ~ DfT: Cycling ~ Cycling Plus ~ Sustrans: sustainable transport charity ~ Cycling England

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

Defra: The REACH Regulation on the management and control of chemicals came into force on 1 June 2007.  REACH, which stands for Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals, is aimed at ensuring a high level of protection of human health and the environment, as well as improving industry competitiveness and innovation.

REACH sets in place measures for industry to provide evidence of any chemical risks and will make sure everyone in the supply chain knows how to use them safely. Under REACH, manufacturers, importers, distributors & professional users who market or use chemicals must ensure that they are registered with the new European Chemicals Agency in Helsinki, which will oversee the operation of the Regulation.
Press release ~ REACH website  ~ European Chemicals Agency ~ UK Chemicals Stakeholder Forum ~ Defra – Future EU Chemicals Policy  ~ EU Enterprise & Industry Chemicals website ~ EU REACH ~ WWF-UK: Chemicals and Health ~ WWF - Too early to celebrate REACH

DTI: Consumer Minister, Ian McCartney has published a consultation that will implement the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD), whichwas adopted on 11 May 2005. See ‘Consultations’ above for full details.

Business and Other Briefings

FSA:  The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published a Policy Statement that should lead to a simplification of the rules firms need to follow in carrying out investment business with their customers.

The reform of the Conduct of Business rules is a flagship project for the FSA in the move towards principles-based regulation and away from detailed prescriptive rules.  The FSA is removing much of the detail of the old rule book to create a new rule book – COBS – of about half the length.

The Policy Statement confirms the approach set out in CP 06/19 & CP 06/20 published in October 2006 to operate on the basis of principles & high-level rules, except where detailed provisions are either required by EU directives, or are the only practicable way to achieve a desired consumer protection or other regulatory outcome.
Press release ~ Policy Statement 07/6: 'Reforming Conduct of Business Regulation' ~ CP 06/19 'Reforming Conduct of Business Regulation' ~ CP06/20: Financial promotion and other communications Including draft Handbook text for NEWCOB 4 and 5

FSA:  The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published the final FSA fees and Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) levies for regulated firms for 2007/08.  In nearly all fee blocks, increases in the minimum fee (the basic fee that all firms pay) have been capped at 3%, benefiting around half of all regulated firms which only pay the minimum fee.
Press release ~ F ee Calculator ~ Consultati on Paper and Feedback

HMRC:  A new way of accounting for VAT took effect on 1 June 2007, which changes the way VAT is paid on mobile telephones and computer chips, in a measure designed to combat fraud in these goods.

From that dat, VAT-registered customers of these goods will be required to pay the VAT on the sale to HMRC, as opposed to the supplier - which is the norm in most transactions.  The move is designed to help combat what is known as MTIC (Missing Trader Intra-Community) fraud - also known as carousel fraud.
Press release ~ Business Brief ~ Article on identifying MTIC ~ Chartered Institute of Taxation paper

HMRC:  Revenue & Customs Brief 42/07

This Brief gives details of an article : Hydrocarbon Oils : Introduction of an upper 'Euromarker' marking limit.

HMRC:  Revenue & Customs Brief 41/07

This brief provides notice that the Code of Practice 10 facility has been reinstated for Substantial Shareholdings Exemption.

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