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In the News

OGC: Desirable, necessary and should have been done years ago, but will they deliver? - Whitehall departments accounting for over 90% of the Government's office estate have an action plan to deliver Government's High Performing Property initiative, which is a major change programme which seeks to deliver:
  • a rationalised & fit for purpose Government estate that is aligned to deliver a more efficient service
  • annual savings of between £1bn & £1.5bn by 2013 from an estate that costs £6 billion a year to run
  • accommodation solutions that provide greater flexibility & adaptability
The action plan includes:
  • collaboration & data sharing on the way that Government occupied buildings are managed & used
  • collection & maintenance of data on a building by building basis
  • a focus on improving space utilisation as a key source of significant efficiency gains
The use of the Office of Government Commerce's cross Government property database (e-PIMS) as the primary platform for information on individual holdings on the estate and for performance measurement & benchmarking. Use of the OGC's Property Benchmarking Service has now been mandated to all departments, agencies and sponsored bodies.
DH: Why should simplification lead to a 28% cut in funding for many? - Care Services Minister, Ivan Lewis is claiming that thousands of people in England are likely to receive more help towards their care costs from October this year.

The new National Framework for NHS Continuing Healthcare is intended to create consistent access to fully funded care with clear national policies for deciding eligibility.

If individuals are not eligible for continuing care, they may be eligible for NHS registered nursing care provided in a nursing home. The framework has also abolished the different nursing bands for free nursing care - The current nursing band rates are, are £40, £87 and £139, while the new single rate is projected to be only £101.
DfES: ‘Its tough being young’ (some things never change) - Young people in England are increasingly feeling let down by and isolated from the older generation - this was one of the messages from the nation's youth, delivered by Young People's Minister, Parmjit Dhanda, at the first annual Youth Summit.

He also unveiled a new Department for Education and Skills' engagement strategy, with an action plan for involving the third sector, claiming thatthey will put the third sector at the heart of DfES business.

The Youth Summit, organised by the National Youth Agency (NYA), involved around 300 key players in the youth sector, including Tom Wylie, chief executive of the NYA and Justice minister Bridget Prentice.

The DfES also commissioned the NYA to undertake 3 dialogue events across the country which enabled groups of up to 30 young people to discuss with Parmjit Dhanda the issues around the activities that they undertake. A report on the events will be published in August 2007.
Home Office: Keeping child immigrants safe - Immigration Minister Liam Byrne has announced an overhaul of the Border and Immigration Agency's policies concerning children. A new amendment to the UK Borders Bill will place a legal obligation on the BIA to keep children safe from harm.

The Agency will have a duty to have regard to a new statutory Code of Practice when dealing with children as it carries out its immigration functions.

The amendment came as part of a package of measures including a pilot to explore alternatives to detention of children result of a review of section 4 and the use of section 9, a review of family removals, and the launch of the Agency's framework of principles to keep children safe from harm.
DBRR (DTI): Stub out that cigarette and save the environment with WEEE - New legal obligations on the electrical industry will, from Sunday 1 July, start to see more waste products recycled and not consigned to the scrap heap. Last year 2 million tonnes of electrical waste was generated in the UK alone, enough to fill the new Wembley Stadium six times over.

From this Sunday, business & household consumers buying electrical products, from toasters & computers, through to mobile phones & televisions, will be offered free take-back of old products, either in store, through collection or at a local amenity site thanks to the introduction of these regulations.

The Directive does not place any obligations on householders, and they will be not be prohibited from throwing WEEE away with general domestic rubbish.

The Government claims to have worked closely with industry to set up the various components of a flexible & viable national electrical waste system, which includes:
  • A Distributor Takeback Scheme (operated by Valpak)
  • A network of 1,450 designated collection facilities (DCFs)
  • The approval of 37 producer compliance schemes
  • The appointment of enforcement bodies
  • Approval of 142 approved authorised treatment facilities (AATFs)
NE: We cannot save the planet on our own - Natural England, the Government's adviser on the natural environment in England, is calling for a Europe-wide partnership on adaptation. The call comes with the launch of the new European Commission Green Paper ‘Adapting to Climate Change’.

It is calling for European-wide partnership on climate change adaptation amongst all the environment agencies to work with the European Union to:
  • Climate proof the Common Agricultural Policy
  • Maximise the role of sustainable land management for both adaptation and mitigation incentives
  • Provide strong biofuel accreditation schemes to provide consumer confidence in biofuels
  • Ensure the Natura 2000 network of international wildlife sites is resilient against climate change
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General News

MoD: The second annual Veterans' Day was marked across the country in a series of events spread over five days, celebrating the contribution made by our veterans of all ages in conflicts both past & present and remembering those who did not return.
Large-scale events took place in Birmingham and Greenwich to mark Veterans' Day and, as part of the celebrations, Veterans Minister Derek Twigg announced a further extension to the eligibility for the HM Armed Forces and UK Merchant Seafarers Veteran's Badges.  Veterans who served up to 31 December 1994 can now apply for the free Veteran's Badge from the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency.
Scottish Executive: As the summer holiday season begins, a host of projects are being organised for young people with the aim of promoting good behaviour and providing an alternative to drink, drugs & antisocial behaviour.
For the first time in Scotland, Street Athletics will take place in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Shotts, Dundee, Stranraer and Inverness, with the final being hosted in Dundee on September 8.
Acas: Acas, the employment relations service, is extending its expertise by providing conciliation in selected cases referred to it by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).
In 2005/06 the EAT accepted 836 cases for appeal and the types of cases which are expected to be referred to Acas by the EAT include:
  • where the parties employment relationship is ongoing
  • where a case could be referred back to the employment tribunal
  • appeals relating to monetary awards

Press release ~ Acas ~ Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT)

Policy Statements and Initiatives

Scottish Parliament: New procurement guidelines which aim to place greater emphasis upon environmental & social issues have been published by the Scottish Parliament (SP) in a month long consultation (closes 20 July 2007).
The strategy, on which public views are now sought, has been developed by the SP's Procurement Services team and covers four key areas: Professionalism, Environmental impact, Ethical & social issues and Small & medium sized enterprises (SMEs) & local suppliers.
The draft strategy also focuses on the importance of environmental and ethical factors when choosing suppliers and sets clear targets to encourage existing contractors to improve their own environmental performance.
Scottish Executive: The new Scottish Government will move forward with a transport programme that will be 'ambitious, achievable and value for money', MSPs have been told.
The Government accepted a parliamentary vote to proceed with the Edinburgh Trams project within the budget limit set by the previous administration. It also agreed to report back to Parliament in September on the governance defects identified by the Auditor General in the EdinburghAirport Rail Link (EARL) project and to make no new financial commitment to the project in the meantime.
Transport Minister StewartStevenson also set out the following priorities for roads:
A commitment to complete the M74 extension
To complete the missing gap in the M80 between Stirling (Stepps to Haggs)
A commitment to complete the key link between the M8 at Baillieston to Newhouse
A commitment to proceed with the delivery of the A90 Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route


Defra: Proposals for the way in which a site will be chosen for the long-term disposal of higher activity radioactive waste have been published for public consultation (closes 2 November 2007) by the UK Government and the devolved administrations in Wales & Northern Ireland. They stressed that this is not the start of a site selection process,
The consultation is seeking views on the technical aspects of designing & delivering a disposal facility for higher-activity radioactive waste and on the process & criteria to be used in deciding where the future facility should be located.
The interesting news is that the Scottish government has declined to endorse the plans to consult on proposals to bury nuclear waste in deep geological facilities in Scotland.
HM Treasury: The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Ed Balls, has announced that the Government intends to give the Financial Services Authority (FSA) the responsibility for regulating the selling of travel insurance sold along with a holiday.  The FSA at present only regulate travel insurance sold on a stand-alone basis. This will come into effect from January 2009, following a further period of consultation (closes 18 September 2007).
Travel firms that decide not to seek FSA authorisation will be able to sell travel insurance through an appointed representatives route (i.e. the travel firm will be able to sell travel insurance on behalf of a FSA regulated company).
There are additional options available to travel firms that may allow them to provide information on insurance for remuneration and, as part of the consultation, HM Treasury are seeking views on whether these freedoms offer travel firms a viable alternative to continue offering insurance services to their customers.
Defra: Detailed proposals for the implementation of the UK's pioneering emissions trading scheme for large organisations in business & the public sector have been set out for consultation (closes 9 October 2007).
The Carbon Reduction Commitment is a mandatory auction-based emissions trading scheme for organisations using more than 6,000 MWh/year from mandatory half-hour meters, equivalent to an electricity bill of around £500,000 a year at current prices, which are collectively responsible for around 14 million tonnes of carbon each year.
The Government intends to bring the CRC into force in 2010, beginning with a three-year introductory phase, during which allowances will be sold at a fixed price.
SGC: Consultation (closes on 2 November 2007) guidelines - Assault and other offences against the person, and Overarching principles: Assaults on children and Cruelty to a child - published by the Sentencing Guidelines Council (SGC) recognise the considerable range of harm caused to victims of violent offences.
The first guideline deals with 7 commonly charged offences of violence, which almost always involve the infliction of harm (which can be temporary or permanent) directly by an offender, or an intention to cause harm to a victim even if harm does not if fact result.
The second guideline includes advice on the principles relevant to sentencing in cases involving child victims of assault and also contains guidance in relation to the specific offence of cruelty to a child.
In making its recommendations the SGC received comprehensive advice from the Sentencing Advisory Panel  (SAP) (also published), which consulted widely to reach its conclusions.  The Council is proposing a different approach to sentencing for attempted murder to that advised by the Panel and full details are provided in a separate background document to support the consultation process.
DWP: The Government has set out proposals for consultation (closes on 25 September 2007) to require unmarried parents to jointly register the birth of their children.  The Green Paper Joint Birth Registration: promoting parental responsibility proposes that unmarried fathers may face penalties for refusing to be named on their child's birth certificate. 
Currently, for unmarried parents, the responsibility to register a new baby lies solely with the mother and it is only the mother who faces penalties if she does not comply.
OFT:  The Office of Fair trading (OFT) has announced a formal consultation (closes 21 September 2007) on the draft guidance on fitness and requirements for holders & applicants of Consumer Credit licences, as well as simultaneously consulting on a draft statement of policy on civil penalties for failure to comply with requirements.
Following reforms of the consumer credit legislation, the OFT is issuing revised guidance on how it will decide whether a person is fit to hold a Consumer Credit licence, and how the OFT will exercise its power to impose requirements on licensees.
The OFT's powers have been strengthened by the reforms and this new guidance explains how the OFT will identify those individuals & businesses that pose greater risks to consumers, then remove or refuse their consumer credit licences.
SP: New procurement guidelines which aim to place greater emphasis upon environmental & social issues have been published by the Scottish Parliament in a month long consultation (closes 20 July 2007) that is open to the public - See ‘Policy Statements and Initiatives’ above for more details.
HMRC: Options for improved payment methods for taxpayers and modernised debt management operations are contained in a consultation (closes 17 September 2007) document published by HM Revenue & Customs – See ‘Business and other Briefings’ below.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published a consultation paper (closes 28 September 2007) proposing to reform the rules firms need to follow in carrying out general insurance business with their customers - See Business and other Briefings’ below,
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published the first proposals for discussion & consultation (closes on 31 December 2007) from the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) - See Business and other Briefings’ below,

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

SE: A new online directory to help drug users and their families get the treatment they need has been launched, which contains details of more than 220 community based & residential service offering drug treatment services throughout Scotland. 
It has been funded by the Scottish Government and builds on the Scottish Drug Forum's (SDF) online directory. The new upgraded directory will be maintained by the SDF.
Home Office: Community groups including the Damilola Taylor Trust have been awarded £800,000 by the Home Office to tackle crime & gang culture. The Damilola Taylor Trust will receive £300,000 to continue its ‘Respect your life, not a knife’ campaign that urges young people not to carry a knife or other weapons.
Other community groups across England and Wales will receive a share of £500,000 through the Home Office's Connected Fund to support projects that help to tackle gang culture.  With the recent award of £150,000 to Urban Concepts "Don't Trigger" campaign, this brings to almost £1m the amount the Home Office has given to community groups in recent weeks.
The Home Office is also, in conjunction with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), publishing Knife Crime Best Practice Guidelines to help police and crime & disorder reduction partnerships to tackle knife crime in the most effective way.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued guidance on the use of carmustine implants and temozolomide for the treatment of newly diagnosed high-grade glioma, a type of cancerous brain tumour.

 Approximately 1,860 new cases of malignant glioma are diagnosed in England and Wales each year.  Symptoms vary but can include seizures, visual disturbance, speech & language problems and changes in the ability to carry out normal daily activities, which can be assessed using a performance scale, such as the WHO performance status classification.

NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the National Collaborating Centre for Acute Care have issued a guideline on the care & treatment of adults with faecal incontinence, which is the involuntary loss of solid or liquid stool, a condition that affects up to 1 in 10 people at some time in their lives.  
The new national standards call for healthcare professionals to actively ask people in high-risk groups (such as frail old people, women who have recently given birth and those with diarrhoea or with a neurological or spinal disease) about whether they have any signs of faecal incontinence.
The guideline outlines treatments that can manage or sometimes cure the condition as well as strategies to help people cope with the condition where it is not treatable.  It is hoped that the guideline will encourage people with the condition to feel more confident talking about faecal incontinence and be reassured that healthcare professionals will take their symptoms and concerns seriously.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recently issued guidance on the use of the “clot-busting” drug alteplase for the treatment of acute ischaemic stroke.  NICE has recommended alteplase within the NHS as long as it is used in accordance with the safety rules already set out in the drug’s licence.

Each year in the UK, approximately 120,000 people have a first stroke, 30% of whom die within a month.  In addition about 30,000 recurrent strokes occur.  The risk of having a stroke before the age of 85 years is one in four for men, and one in five for women.
Stroke is also the single most common cause of severe disability, with more than 250,000 people currently living in the UK with disabilities caused by stroke.  However, by breaking down the clot quickly through the use of clot-dissolving medications like alteplase, the complications of stroke can be reduced.

DCMS: Revised guidance for local authorities on the licensing laws has been published by the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS).  It offers advice & clarification for councils on a wide range of issues to help them deliver the Licensing Act 2003 effectively.
The original Guidance was published in July 2004 and parts of it were updated in June 2006, following an initial review. Licensing authorities must 'have regard' to the Guidance, but it does not in any way replace the statutory provisions of the Licensing Act or add to its scope and the interpretation of the Act is a matter for the courts.

Annual Reports

DfT: The Department for Transport has published National Statistics on road casualties in Great Britain in 2006, which relate to casualties in accidents reported to the police.
Key results include:
  • The number of people killed in road accidents fell, by 1%
  • Child casualties fell by 9%
  • There were 675 pedestrian deaths, 1% more than in 2005
  • The number of pedal cyclists killed fell by 1% to 146 in 2006
  • Motorcycle user fatalities were 5% higher

General Reports and Other Publications

DfES: Extended schools lead to better exam results and children being more focused in school, particularly for disadvantaged children, a new Government report claims. The study found that full service extended schools (FSES) had a positive impact on the attainment of pupils and on engagement with learning, family stability and enhanced life chances and generated positive outcomes for families and local people.
Positive effects were also felt in relation to the local community, including examples of unemployed adults beginning to see themselves as learners, acquiring qualifications and finding work. The schools studied were also found to have a range of other positive impacts on outcomes for pupils, including engagement with learning, family stability and enhanced life chances.
CRC: A new study produced for the Commission for Rural Communities investigates the significance and co-dependency of combined rural post offices & village shops in England and provides an overall perspective on their viability.
MoJ: People going to court are motivated by getting justice and a final decision, Government research shows. The research report, What's cost got to do with it?: the impact of changing court fees on users, carried out in England and Wales, found that people worried more about how stressful or long their court case would be than about the potential costs of the case.
When asked about court fees, most people said court users should only pay for the services used.  They would also like to know up front how much the process would cost them. Other findings show:
  • Over half of court users know the court process, and just under half know about court fees specifically
  • People claiming money back and people wanting to divorce would prefer to go to court without legal representation, to cut costs
  • In the sample court users who used solicitors were just as satisfied with the process as those who did not use them
MoJ: Portland is a clear example of the damage caused by the prison population crisis, said Anne Owers, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of an unannounced full follow up inspection into the young offender institution in Dorset.
The inspection showed that, in spite of some improvement, Portland continued to suffer from unfit buildings, insufficient activity, negative staff culture and inadequate arrangements for young people's safety.  Moreover, young people, mainly from London, were held too far away from their homes.
NAO: The National Audit Office has reported on the DTI’s scheme to compensate former UK trawlermen who lost their jobs as a result of settlement of the ‘Cod Wars’ with Iceland. The scheme cost some £43m (£18m more than initially estimated) and the NAO could be certain about the accuracy of the Department’s decision in only 64 claims out of 100 that it examined.
There is no general guidance for departments on how to design & deliver compensation schemes.  The NAO aims to share the lessons learnt on the design & implementation of this scheme so that they can be applied to future schemes.

Legislation / Legal

MoJ: The government has announced what they claim are ‘tougher offences to tackle crime and strong, new measures to cut re-offending’ in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill.
Home Office Minister Baroness Scotland said:
"Measures in this bill make good the Government's commitment to change the law to deny leave to remain to foreign nationals involved in terrorism or serious crime while new powers will be created to protect the public from violent offenders who present a high risk of harm."
SGC: Consultation (closes on 2 November 2007) guidelines - Assault and other offences against the person, and Overarching principles: Assaults on children and Cruelty to a child - published by the Sentencing Guidelines Council recognise the considerable range of harm caused to victims of violent offences – See ‘Consultations’ above for more details.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

NE: Natural England, the Government's adviser on the natural environment in England, is calling for a Europe-wide partnership on adaptation.  The call comes with the launch of the new European Commission Green Paper ‘Adapting to Climate Change’ – See ‘In the news’ above.

Business and Other Briefings

HMRC: Options for improved payment methods for taxpayers and modernised debt management operations are contained in a consultation (closes 17 September 2007) document published by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
The consultation paper forms part of HMRC's work to modernise its powers, deterrents and the accompanying safeguards.  It invites comments on a range of ideas to make it easier for taxpayers to pay on time and improve the way HMRC deals with those who do not.
All the options would require legislative change, if they were adopted, and would therefore be subject to full Parliamentary scrutiny and debate.
ECGD: Ministers have agreed a new financial framework for Export Credits Guarantee Department, the UK's official export credit agency, which is to be in place from 1 April 2008 and will replace plans for ECGD to become a Government Trading Fund.  It takes account of the results of ECGD operating as a pilot Trading Fund over the past two years.
ECGD works with exporters, project sponsors, banks and buyers to help UK exporters of capital equipment and project-related goods and services, by providing insurance against non-payment risks to UK exporters and guarantees for bank loans to facilitate the arranging of finance to buyers of UK goods.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published the first proposals for discussion & consultation (closes on 31 December 2007) from the Retail Distribution Review (RDR).  The Discussion Paper (DP) represents ideas from the market and consumer representatives involved in the RDR and follows six months work to address the root causes of persistent problems in the retail investment market.
The ideas seek to improve the current standards of professionalism; find more cost-effective ways of making advice available to a wider range of consumers; and improve consumer understanding of what they are getting for their money.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published a consultation paper (closes 28 September 2007) proposing to reform the rules firms need to follow in carrying out general insurance business with their customers.  
For general insurance business, such as household, motor or pet policies, this means moving to principles and high-level rules, except where detailed provisions are required by European Union Directives or in a small number of cases where they are the only practicable way to protect consumers.
For protection products (Payment Protection Insurance (PPI), critical illness cover, income protection and term assurance), the FSA is proposing a small number of additional rules carefully targeted to improve selling practices in areas where consumers are losing out.
Following the consultation, the new general insurance regime is likely to come into effect in January 2008 with firms being allowed a transitional period for implementation.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published independent research which indicates the benefits of the suitability letter.  This will help inform the FSA's decision whether to retain its requirement for firms to provide information on product suitability to consumers.
The FSA commissioned Oxera, an independent economics consultancy, to assess the benefits of its suitability letter requirement in response to Deloitte's 2006 report on the cost of regulation, which found that this rule imposes relatively high costs on the industry.  This is the second of three reports being produced as part of the FSA's response, and feeds into the regulator's broader drive to measure the benefits of financial regulation.
HMRCHM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) officers investigating a suspected multi-million pound VAT fraud made 10 arrests last week in nationwide raids.
Arrests were made across the UK, and 20 premises were searched in the co-ordinated dawn raids.  Operation Varlet, followed an 18 month investigation into a complicated missing trader VAT fraud, commonly known as "carousel" fraud.
This Brief gives details of an article concerning : VAT: introduction of a reduced rate for the supply of smoking cessation products
This Brief gives details of an article concerning : VAT: introduction of a reduced rate for the supply and installation of mobility aids for the elderly

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