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In the News

DWP: Looking after a child won’t be an acceptable reason not to work - A new "jobs pledge" aiming to find job opportunities for a quarter of million people currently on benefit is at the heart of a Green Paper published for consultation (closes on 31 October 2007).

Building on the Local Employment Partnerships announced in the Budget earlier this year, major employers in both the public & private sectors have given a commitment to offer guaranteed job interviews for people who have been on benefit and who are ready & prepared to work.

The Green Paper also sets out plans for a more personalised, flexible & responsive New Deal, matched by new responsibilities for jobseekers to do all they can to help themselves. There will be a new social contract for lone parents, which promotes the value of work as the best route to tackle child poverty. Under the government’s proposals, from October 2008 lone parents, whose youngest child has reached the age of 12, will no longer be entitled to Income Support simply because they are a lone parent.

In addition, building on the Freud Report earlier this year, the Green Paper sets out proposals to make much greater use of expertise across the private, public & voluntary sectors, at both national and local level.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) responded to the Green Paper, maintaining that there was insufficient evidence of the ability of the private & voluntary sectors to outperform public sector agencies, such as Jobcentre Plus, in getting the long term unemployed back to work.

The union also warned that there was a lack of capacity & expertise in the private & voluntary sectors to fulfil the role mapped out in the Green Paper and that the commercialisation of the process would inevitably lead to contractors concentrating on more job ready clients, whilst ignoring those with more intractable problems in order to hit their targets.

DWP press release ~ PCS press release ~ Green Paper: In Work, Better Off: next steps to full employment ~ David Freud's report: Reducing Dependency, Increasing Opportunity: options for the future of welfare to work ~ Peter Hain's Statement to Parliament ~ Local Employment Partnerships ~ New Deal ~ Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) ~ Working for children ~ DWP - Delivering on Child Poverty: what would it take? ~ JRF: What will it take to end child poverty? Firing on all cylinders

: Fire, wind, or water, some preparations are common to all - The Buncefield Major Incident Investigation Board has recently published its 6th report, covering emergency preparedness for, response to and recovery from a major industrial incident. The report's starting point is for operators to reassess the major hazard potential of their sites:

* Prior to Buncefield, violent explosions & fires engulfing many tanks were not judged as being credible events

* Subsequent recommendations call for adequate preparations to contain a developing incident on the site and prevent it becoming a major incident.

The greater part of the report deals with a major incident affecting the local area. It recommends a consistent approach in government for specified ministers to have responsibility for firstly the emergency phase and secondly, the recovery phase
It calls for special status (and central funding) for areas affected by a major incident and suggests this should begin without delay in the Buncefield area. The issue of managing the recovery of devastated communities back to social normality has become increasingly important over the lifetime of the Board.

Press release ~ Report on Emergency Preparedness and Response ~ Buncefield Investigation website ~ Interim Report ~ HSC ~ Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 ~ Environment Agency in England and Wales (EA) ~ Scottish Environment Protection Agency in Scotland ~ HSE – Chemical industries website ~ HSE – COMAH website ~ BBC NEWS - How Buncefield fire unfolded ~ HPA: The Public Health Impact of the Buncefield Oil Depot Fire ~ UK Resilience - Buncefield fuel depot fire

: Too many people able to say ‘In my day’ - The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) has published the 2007 State of the Countryside report giving the latest definitive picture of rural England, which shows there are now nearly 400,000 fewer young people aged 15-29 in rural areas than just twenty years ago. This trend is set against a rising rural population overall and has contributed significantly to a rural demographic, which is both older & ageing faster than urban areas.
The report also shows:

that rural areas experienced over 200% growth in the number of migrant workers in the last three years

that just 44% of households in sparse isolated rural areas are within easy reach of a GP

a near doubling of energy crops in the last year

that due to the changing climate there are now nearly 400 vineyards in England & Wales

The number of older people in rural areas is increasing markedly with the net result that the average age is nearly six years higher than in urban areas. This is pointing towards a demographic divide between rural & urban areas and is putting a severe strain on the viability of rural services, such as schools, the provision of youth services, healthcare and housing.

In terms of the wider picture the report continues to highlight critical challenges for Government - such as the provision of youth services, changing land use, climate change, affordable housing and the availability of services.

Press release ~ CRC: State of the Countryside report 2007 ~ CRC - State of the Countryside Updates ~ Affordable Rural Housing Commission: CRC taking forward the recommendations ~ Affordable Rural Housing Commission ~ Defra – Affordable Rural Housing ~ NERC Act 2006 ~ 'Strengthening the role of local councillors' ~ Cash purchases of housing stock ~ Defra – Rural Affairs ~ Affordable Rural Housing website~ Planning for Sustainable Communities in Rural Areas ~ Rural Strategy 2004 ~CRC research - Calculating housing needs in rural England

: Cost effective, but does it make it vulnerable to attack? - The changes to how the MoD maintains & repairs Harrier and Tornado aircraft have reduced costs by a total of £1.4bn over the last six years and availability targets for both the Harrier are now being met.

Whereas previously all repairs had been carried out across multiple sites, the MoD has rationalised how it repairs & maintains its jets and created a two pronged approach of 'forward repair' - operational maintenance & minor repairs to the jets; and 'depth repairs' - where more significant work is needed.

Forward repairs are now conducted at each operational squadron and depth repairs are conducted at a single location - RAF Marham for Tornado aircraft and RAF Cottesmore for Harrier aircraft. Upgrade work has been integrated within the depth repair process, in particular for the Harrier which is undergoing a major upgrade from the GR7 to GR9 standard:

* To do this the MoD has applied new techniques, including introducing pulse lines - similar to a production line used in the motor car industry

* These bring significant benefits, including greater productivity with fewer man-hours and less workspace & spares holdings

Press release ~ Transforming logistics support for fast jets ~ Executive Summary ~ MoD ~ Harrier ~ Tornado ~ MoD Maintenance Approved Organization Scheme (MAOS) ~ DARA

: Faith should be part of everyone’s education - An overwhelming number of students & staff think that colleges should provide for people’s faith and belief needs according to the findings of a national enquiry into opportunities for spiritual and moral development in further education, undertaken by the National Ecumenical Agency in Further Education (NEAFE) and the Faiths in Further Education Forum (FiFEF).

A full report on the enquiry, "Making space for faith: values, beliefs and faiths in the learning and skills sector", has been published by the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) and NEAFE and offers a number of recommendations for the government, agencies, colleges, learning providers, churches and faith communities.

The purpose of the enquiry was to build up a picture of the role of the sector in enabling all members of society, irrespective of age, gender, ethnic background, values, beliefs and faiths, to engage with one another in shaping a positive approach to 21st-century pluralism.

73% of the staffed surveyed thought that legal entitlement to spiritual, moral, social and cultural development provided for learners in school sixth forms through the 1944 Education Act should be extended to cover students and trainees over the age of 16 in the learning & skills sector.

NEAFE and FiFEF are in the process of forming a single new body, the National Councils of Faiths and Beliefs in FE (launching in 2008) to reflect the changing needs of the sector & society in relation to social integration & community cohesion and the critical role that colleges play in working with faith and belief groups.

Press release ~ Making space for faith: values, beliefs and faiths in the learning and skills sector ~ National Ecumenical Agency in Further Education (NEAFE) ~ Faiths in Further Education Forum (FiFEF) ~ NEAFE – Related documents ~ Centre for Excellence ~ Quality Improvement Agency (QIA) ~ Further Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances ~ Faith & Public Policy Forum - King's College London ~ ESRC – Faith-based voluntary action ~ VS Magazine article – Beyond Belief ~ Article: Soul Providers

Home Office
: Report a crime if you can find a police officer - A new era of simple, accessible local crime information for all is at the heart of the Government's new crime strategy. From July 2008, everyone will have access to a straightforward, street-by-street ‘story of crime’ in their area from local police crime data posted on the Internet.

The strategy, Cutting Crime: a new partnership 2008-11, also claims to signal a ‘renewed focus on tackling serious violence, whilst maintaining a tight grip on anti-social behaviour’.

Other key elements of the strategy include:

* Less top-down Government

* A new target based on public confidence to encourage Designing out crime

* A new Design & Technology Alliance to raise the profile of how good design can tackle crime

* A focus on young people

* A streamlined approach to policy delivery across Whitehall will be overseen by a newly created National Crime Reduction Board

Press release ~ 'Cutting Crime - a new partnership' ~ Design Council evidence booklet ~ Beatcrime ~ Youth Justice Board ~ Ten years of criminal justice under Labour: An independent audit(2.3Mb) ~ Centre for Crime and Justice Studies ~ Home Office Crime Statistics ~ Crime Reduction Website~ National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) ~ Home Office Counting Rules ~ Crime Statistics for England and Wales ~ British Crime Survey ~ Crime Reduction Initiatives

: You can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink! - The Government has unveiled new plans to help over 4m adults learn new skills & improve existing ones over the next three years in an attempt to make Britain's workforce one of the most skilled in the world by 2020.

World Class Skills, published in response to the Leitch review of skills, will introduce new legislation to strengthen the current funding entitlement for adults to training in basic literacy & numeracy, giving adults a legal right to free training.

It will also create Skills Accounts, giving people greater choice over their learning. The Accounts will be available to help eligible benefit claimants to access training that will support their return to work and a new adult careers service will offer tailored employment & skills advice that better meets the needs of low-skilled and unemployed adults.

For employers, benefits will include a new Commission for Employment and Skills and reformed Sector Skills Councils to give employers the opportunity to exert influence over both the content & delivery of skills and employment programmes.

DIUS press release ~ LLUK press release ~ World Class Skills: Implementing the Leitch Review of Skills in England ~ Leitch Review of Skills ~ Green Paper: In Work, Better Off: next steps to full employment ~ FE: Raising skills improving life chances ~ In Our Hands ~ Learning & Skills Council (LSC) ~ Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK)

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General News

CLG: A record 538 Green Flag Awards - the national standard for parks and green spaces - have been awarded to sites across the country following a 32% rise in the number of winners. Winners are judged to be welcoming, safe & well maintained and involve the local community.
In addition, 60 community run sites in England were awarded Green Pennants and 31 sites achieved Green Heritage Site Accreditation.
National Archives: Although the concept of human rights as we understand it today was unknown until modern times, people in Britain have fought since the medieval period to gain the rights, freedoms and liberties we all enjoy today.
To illustrate this essential part of history, The National Archives has launched a new online exhibition tracing the evolution of our human, social and civil rights from Magna Carta to the establishment of the Welfare State.
Travelling through time via documents & images, the exhibition looks at the struggles and milestone achievements which led to the rights and liberties often taken for granted in our everyday lives.
Natural England: The UK’s leading wildlife and horticultural organisations recently joined Natural England in signing a wildlife gardening manifesto to save the nation’s gardens, particularly those in towns and cities.
Gardens act as a ‘food supermarket’ for many visiting and breeding animals. They are the place where most children make their first contact with the natural world and are often one of the only places where adults encounter wildlife, apart from on a television screen.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DWP: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Peter Hain has ‘welcomed’ the first findings of a review examining whether financial assistance for people who lost their pensions could be increased. The Assets Review, led by Andrew Young of the Government Actuary's Department, reported there are £1.7bn of assets in occupational pension schemes that qualify for help from the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS).
The current practice of each scheme purchasing annuities for their members (which are then topped up by the Government) may not offer the best use of these assets, the review found. Alternative approaches which could increase the value include bulk purchase of annuities and pooling of assets in a single fund.
The interim report (final report will be published before the end of the year) concentrated on identifying the value of assets in FAS schemes, their ownership & stewardship; potential uses of these assets and whether there are options to increase the value; other non-tax sources of funding; and the key issues relating to solvent employers.
In a subsequent press release, Minister for Pensions Reform Mike O'Brien has pledged that the Government will match any additional funds identified by the Assets Review for people who lost their pensions.
DfT: A £7.5million annual package of Government funding to help boost sustainable travel to school is to continue for another two years (until 2010), the government have announced. The Travelling to School project is a joint initiative between the Department for Transport and the Department for Children, Schools and Families that encourages children to walk, cycle, or take public transport to school.
The project is based around the development of school travel plans, which set out how an individual school will encourage more sustainable travel and reduce car use.  The funding will provide continued support for the network of local authority based school travel advisers, who work with schools to help them draw up and implement their plans.
Scottish Executive: Proposals to tackle air pollution to help improve quality of life and reduce environmental damage in Scotland have been outlined in a revised Air Quality Strategy, which covers the whole of the UK. It takes a more wide ranging approach to addressing pollutants and sets a longer term agenda to look at how air pollution impacts on both health and the environment.
The proposals outlined could potentially deliver large reductions in air pollution, generating significant health and environmental benefits. All objectives & limit and/or target values are being met across the vast majority of Scotland.
The revised Air Quality Strategy considers options which modelling suggests could reduce average exposure to air pollutants for everyone, including:
* early uptake of new tighter European vehicle emissions standards
* increased uptake of low emission vehicles
* reducing emissions from ships
DCSF: Helping young families cope with the demands of parenthood and reach their full potential is a priority for Government, according to a new strategy. As well as continuing the drive to reduce teenage pregnancies, the government claims that it wants to ensure that teenage parents receive the support they need to make successful futures for themselves & their children, and avoid repeat pregnancies in their teenage years.
The vast majority of teenage pregnancies are unplanned and the young parents & their children are much more likely to suffer problems with their health, finances, education and social integration. The children of teenage mothers are also more likely to become young parents themselves.
DfT: Shipping Minister Jim Fitzpatrick has committed the Government to maintaining its 'light touch' approach to the regulation of ports in England & Wales and announced a strengthening of the Government's ports policy framework. 
He also announced the publication of an Interim Report setting out the findings so far of the Government's Ports Policy Review (PPR). The Interim Report sets out specific actions on issues such as demand forecasting, the future of trust ports, Master Plans and the safeguarding of land for port operations where that is appropriate.  
In addition, it looks forward to further improvements through the future establishment of the Marine Management Organization and Infrastructure Planning Commission.


Ofwat: The Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) has launched a consultation (closes 28 September) on how to deliver improved competition to benefit water customers in England & Wales. In Consultation on market competition in the water and sewerage industries, Ofwat sets out a range of options for discussion.
These include ways that existing competition under the water supply licensing (WSL) regime could be improved and separating the different parts of the water supply & waste water collection services, to open them up to competition.
Defra: Defra has launched a consultation (closes 10 October 2007) on the implementation of a National Control Programme for salmonella in poultry laying flocks. Salmonella is a common cause of food poisoning and can cause serious illness in humans. The aim of the programme is to reduce the levels of the two most important types of salmonella for human health, Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) and Salmonella Typhimurium (ST).
Current UK levels are among the lowest in Europe, with Salmonella Enteritidis or Salmonella Typhimurium present on 8% of holdings with laying flocks and the UK has been set a target to reduce these two types of Salmonella by 10% each year for the next three years. The programme sets out how this will be achieved and includes mandatory sampling & testing requirements to demonstrate progress towards this target.
DCSF: The Government is consulting (closes on 31 October 2007) on how to support parents in striking the right balance between protecting their children and allowing them to learn & explore safely, by publishing Staying Safe to promote discussion on how best to keep children safe.
The strategy also looks at how to best protect vulnerable children & young people and how to respond when children and young people have been harmed. A cross-Government action plan will be published in response to the consultation.
MoJ: Bereaved families will have the right to inspect the medical forms of a deceased family member before cremation, under new proposals published for consultation recently (closes 22 October 2007). The proposals are designed to help stop a repeat of the murders by Harold Shipman.
Allowing the bereaved to see the forms is an important reform as Dame Janet Smith's Third Shipman Inquiry Report made it clear that many of the forms completed by Shipman were wholly inaccurate. Had family members been able to draw the medical referee's attention to concerns about unexpected symptoms or features of the case Shipman's activities might well have been curtailed
The consultation also proposes a new regulation dealing with the handling of contagious disease cases. In the event of a pandemic, the regulations would be amended to allow for a simpler procedure for the cremation of bodies.
DWP: - A new "jobs pledge" aiming to find job opportunities for a quarter of million people currently on benefit is at the heart of a Green Paper published for consultation (closes on 31 October 2007) – See ‘In the News’ above

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

HA: The Highways Agency is looking to build closer working relationships with local authorities by distributing a new version of the National Guidance Framework at the July Traffic Operations Co-ordination Committee meeting.  The agreement gives local authorities guidance about how they can best share information with the Highways Agency.  
It covers the operational areas where the Highways Agency and the local authority will work together to better manage traffic & ease congestion to provide more reliable journey times.  These areas for collaboration could include pre-planned events, diversion routes and the sharing of variable message signs (VMS) & CCTV systems.
DfT: The government claims that guidance published last week will allow TfL to better integrate London's inner suburban rail network with the rest of the capital's transport system. 
The guidance explains the role of TfL in the rail franchise process and, following a consultation last year, allows TfL to propose & pay for extra train services and station improvements on certain 'inner suburban' routes that extend just beyond the Greater London Authority boundary.
When proposing service or station changes TfL will have to consult local transport authorities in the affected areas beyond the boundary, as well as Regional Assemblies and London TravelWatch. Were TfL to seek any reductions to service levels, the governance arrangements are stronger.  TfL would require the agreement of affected local transport authorities.
The Government will publish the High Level Output Specification and longer term rail strategy this summer which will detail the requirements the Secretary of State has for rail services in the period 2009-2014, and examine longer term issues for rail in London and elsewhere.
NAO: The National Audit Office has reported that employment programmes are making a difference for those who take part.  More people are in work than before, and the New Deal have been successful in helping participants into work.  However more needs to be done to reach out to the most disadvantaged, particularly people living in the 3m workless households in the UK.
The Department for Work and Pensions provides a wide range of support to help people into work, and the difference between the employment rate of many disadvantaged groups and the overall employment rate has reduced.
While more people are in work than ever before, there are still more than 4.2m working age adults and 1.7m children living in households where nobody works.  Internationally the United Kingdom has one of the highest rates of people living in workless households. 80% of workless households have no-one who is actively seeking work and many have been on benefits for a long time.

Annual Reports

DH: The Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, recently published his Annual Report for 2006, On the State of Public Health, in which he reviews key health problems & developments and calls for action in five key areas:
* improving levels of hand hygiene in hospitals
* tackling the present crisis in organ shortages for transplantation
* reducing the risk of radiation overdoses during cancer treatment
* taking steps to increase the number of women in the most senior positions in medicine
* conducting more research to establish the reasons why 500 babies die each year despite starting the process of birth apparently healthy
FSCS: The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), the UK’s fund of last resort for customers of regulated financial services firms, paid almost £150m in compensation during 2006/07 while improving its service to consumers, according to its annual report.

FSCS completed more than 31,200 claims and spent just under £27.2m on management expenses, compared to a forecast for the year of completing 28,150 claims within a budget of £29.37m.
MoJ: The Council on Tribunals' 2006-07 Annual Report has been published, providing an account of the Council's work in the reporting year from April 2006 to March 2007.
In his preface the Chairman of the Council, Lord Newton of Braintree, refers to the year's most welcome news - the appearance of the Tribunal, Courts and Enforcement (TCE) Bill, the legislation needed to complete the tribunals reform programme, which began with the Leggatt Report 2001, followed by the White Paper 'Transforming Public Services' in 2004.
P&HSO: In her 40th anniversary Annual Report Putting Principles into Practice, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, calls for public bodies to put the customer at the centre of public services, using her six Principles of Good Administration. Many complaints investigated by the Ombudsman show a failure to follow the Principles, which have been welcomed across Government and the NHS.
Ms Abraham reported on 2,502 investigations over the year ending 30 March 2007, of which 1,363 related to government departments and a range of other public bodies in the UK (parliamentary), and 1,139 to the NHS in England (health).
ECGD: The Exports Credits Guarantee Department, the UK's official export credit agency, today published its Annual Review and Resource Accounts 2006-07, showing it provided £1.8bn (GBP) of support to UK exporters & UK investors undertaking business overseas.
ECGD earned £55m of premium and recorded a net operating income of £404m, compared to £88m and £1.7bn respectively in the previous financial year.
Monitor: Transparent & robust regulation is helping the rapidly-expanding foundation trust sector deliver significant benefits to patients, Dr William Moyes, Executive Chairman of Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts has claimed.

Writing in Monitor’s annual report, he said there was “increasing evidence” that NHS foundation trusts were offering better-quality, more-responsive services than non-foundation trusts.

He added there was “clear evidence” of Monitor’s light-touch but robust regulatory regime assisting that development.  And it was therefore essential that Government proposals for statutory registration operated by the proposed new regulator Ofcare did not result in confusion, duplication or undue bureaucracy.
NAO: The evasion of road tax by motorists and motorcyclists has increased significantly, the National Audit Office has reported, with Vehicle Excise Duty evasion running at some 5% (£217 million), up from 3.6% (£147 million) the previous year.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has little prospect of achieving its evasion target of 2.5% by December 2007 and also has little chance of meeting its related Gershon efficiency target to generate - through reduction in evasion - an additional £70 million in revenue each year by the end of March 2008.

The survey also estimated that 37% of motorcyclists are unlicensed, an increase from 30% in the previous year. Police statistics also indicate that about three-quarters of persistently untaxed vehicles are used by people involved in some other criminal activity. 

General Reports and Other Publications

HC: The Healthcare Commission (HC) says that most primary care trusts are commissioning services that only deliver the basic needs for people with diabetes and that PCTs need to improve the help they offer people with diabetes to manage their condition.
The Commission found that trusts that were rated ‘fair’ and ’weak’ (85%)were not commissioning services that offered enough support to people with diabetes to manage their condition. Managing their own condition, and being given the support to do so, can have significant benefits for a person with diabetes, helping to prevent the onset of diabetic complications such as heart problems, blindness, kidney failure and limb amputation.
These complications not only have physical effects for people with diabetes, but there is also a large & growing financial impact on the NHS. In 2002, £1.3bn, or around 5% of total NHS expenditure, was used to care for people with diabetes.
Defra: Environment Minister Phil Woolas has published the report of review of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP), which was part of a government recommendation that public bodies are subjected to periodic study to ensure that they are still delivering high quality services and are adequately resourced.
The report does not constitute Defra’s policy position and Defra will now examine the options proposed in the report in more detail and explore their financial and organisational implications before formulating a government response later in the year.
Defra: The Government has published its response to the Farm Animal Welfare Council's report on the welfare implications of animal breeding and breeding technologies.
Defra has accepted or partially accepted several of FAWC's 8 recommendations, including that surveillance systems should be established to monitor on-farm welfare problems associated with breeding, and to monitor farms where new breed types or new breeding technologies are first introduced into commercial practice.
In the response Defra has also recognised the improvements made since the FAWC report was published. For example, a new EU-wide code of practice for animal breeding technologies is now in place. The breeding industry now routinely incorporates animal health & welfare considerations into breeding programmes.
MoD: Defence Secretary Des Browne has responded verbally to the House of Common's Defence Committee report on UK Operations in Afghanistan. The Ministry of Defence will consider the Defence Committees report in detail and will make a formal response in due course.
The ISAF mission in Afghanistan currently consists of approximately 36,000 troops of which around 7,100 are UK forces.
Ofsted: Too great a focus on a relatively small number of issues means pupils are not able to answer the ‘big questions’ in history. They lack an overview of history, are not good at establishing a sense of chronology and cannot make connections between areas they have studied.

This important curriculum weakness is affecting standards in primary and secondary schools, according to History in the balance: History in English Schools 2003-07, published recently by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted).

Ofsted recommends that the curriculum should be revised to ensure that pupils have a better understanding of chronology in history. A compulsory core of knowledge & skills should be balanced with more flexible elements that respond to local needs.

The curriculum is heavily based on aspects of English history:
* Scotland, Wales and Ireland are very largely overlooked, as are major European and world themes
* In many schools the stories of the people who have come to Britain over the centuries are ignored
Appropriate curriculum innovation to include these stories could go a long way towards raising standards, helping pupils understand the contemporary world, and countering prejudice.
Scottish Executive: The Inspectorate of Prosecution has published a thematic report on liaison in death cases, with particular reference to organ retention.
Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prosecution Joe O'Donnell said:
"The role of the Procurator Fiscal in the investigation of deaths is an important one and not as widely understood by the public compared to the role of prosecution of crime. This report looks at liaison between Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and nearest relatives in death cases and, following public concern, pays particular attention to organ retention”.
ESRC: A study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, of community renewable energy projects in Britain has found that so far, projects are largely based in the countryside, some quite remote. From wind turbines to shared heating systems, small-scale renewable energy doesn’t just help in the fight against climate change. It can also bring people together, revitalise local economies and help alleviate poverty.

This study documented more than 500 community energy projects happening in the UK, far more than researchers expected to find. It is suggested that some renewable technologies, like wind turbines or biomass heating, are more suited to rural areas, where they can provide a new source of income for farmers.
Many villages are off the gas network and electricity supplies may be unreliable, so there is more drive towards alternative sources of energy.
NAO: The process for setting the London 2012 Games budget has been thorough, the National Audit Office has reported, but the level of public funding has increased greatly and significant areas of uncertainty remain including the finalisation of the design of venues and the intended wider benefits.
These are the main findings in a new report which examines the development of the budget for the Games. At the time of the bid to host the Games the estimated gross cost was just over £4 billion, to be met by £3.4 billion in public funding and an anticipated £700 million from the private sector.
The budget announced in March 2007 is now over £9 billion and it includes a number of new costs & provisions which account for much of the increase from the time of the bid, including the Olympic Delivery Authority’s programme management budget, contingency, tax and security.
The report states that the revised funding package is sufficient to cover the estimated costs of the Games, with the important proviso that the assumptions on which the budget is based hold good.
Scottish Executive: More & more women are being sent to Cornton Vale and more of them display a combination of bad physical & mental health, addiction and history of abuse, according to the latest report published by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland.
Dr Andrew McLellan's report, based on a follow up inspection of the prison and Young Offenders Institutions in March this year, highlights that:
* The physical & mental health of most women entering Cornton vale is very poor
* Prisoner numbers continue to rise, and a fire has put even more strain on facilities
* It could be possible for a woman to have to wait for an hour before being given access to the toilet
* There is a lack of purposeful activity for prisoners on remand
* The unacceptable practice of handcuffing all women under escort, regardless of level of risk, continues

Legislation / Legal

BERR: Consumer Minister Gareth Thomas has claimed that consumers will have stronger protection from rogue estate agents and traders as the Consumer, Estate Agents and Redress Act becomes law.  All parts of the Act will come into force in the course of 2008.
Ed Mayo, Chief Executive of the National consumer Council said: "This is a real victory for consumers and puts companies with shoddy services on notice that they will need to clean up their act”.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

Defra: Dolphins, marine turtles, otters and other European Protected Species are to benefit from increased protection from this summer, as stronger laws will be created for the protection of European Protected Species and their habitats.  Defra is reminding people that they will be brought into force on 21 August 2007.
These new regulations implement EC legislation (the Habitats Directive), by making changes to the Habitats Regulations, and by introducing the new Offshore Marine Conservation Regulations.
It is recommended that operators follow good practice guidance issued by Natural England and the Forestry Commission.  This gives advice on assessing the presence of European Protected Species, assessing the possible impact of operations and practical strategies for avoiding committing offences.  If an offence cannot be avoided the operator may seek a licence.

Business and Other Briefings

DIUS: The government claims that number of spin off companies with links to higher education institutions (HEI) is on the rise, with growing commercial research and intellectual property income underscoring higher education's key role in the economy.  There are currently 9,000 active patents held by UK HEIs.
The sixth Higher Education-Business and Community Interaction (HE-BCI) survey report finds that the quality of these companies is also increasing, with the number of spin offs in business three years and older rising from 592 in 2004-05 to 669 in 2005-06.
In addition, the Third Annual Survey of Knowledge Transfer Activities in Public Sector Research Establishments (PSREs) has also been published, which covers a wide range of publicly owned research organisations including Research Councils and Government Laboratories.
HMRC: HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is offering accountants a chance to hear about its online services, and have their say, at a series of free workshops around the UK. The workshops are taking place across the UK in July and August, and will show accountants what online services are available, how to register to use them and the benefits of dealing with HMRC online.
Places are free, and available on a first come, first served basis.  To find out about events in your area, please follow the online links for your region's listings, and use the e-form to book your place.

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For the official view of a source organisation, readers should click on the ‘press release’ that is the first link attached to each item.
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While every care is taken to ensure that all links ’work’ in the newsletter (including checking just before publication), WGPlus cannot guarantee that websites will not make changes that will nullify individual links, especially over a period of time.
WGPlus is not responsible for the content of external websites
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