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In the News

HCStill only getting it half right - The Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) and the Healthcare Commission have published their national review of adult specialist community mental health services. The joint work reflects the shared responsibility for the delivery of these services across health & social care.
 
The findings show that, since the introduction of the National Service Framework for mental health, there has been a steady improvement in the range & quality of such services for those who need them and Local Implementation Teams (LITs) appear to be an effective vehicle for commissioning & delivering new models of community mental health.
 
However, the pace of change & improvement has been variable, leaving some people with little or no access to specialist care and treatment.  The report found room for improvement in all LITs as well as noticeable variations in performance between the regions.
 
Of particular concern was the fact that people who use the services were not being routinely involved in decisions about their care & treatment.  It is crucial that people are given full information about the options available to them and are fully involved in decisions about their treatment and care.
 
The report recommended that, in order to ensure that people with mental health problems receive the services & support they require, LITs must review their practices and ensure that they are effectively implementing the Care Programme Approach.
 
The report also highlighted the fact that just 46% of people with schizophrenia or suspected schizophrenia were being offered Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) despite the fact that, under the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines, each & every one should be offered CBT.
 
NAOIt may be useless to you, but …. - The public sector should plan more carefully how it disposes of its growing volume of personal computers & associated equipment, according to the latest report by the National Audit Office.   
 
The efficient, legal & socially responsible disposal of such equipment is an increasingly important issue for the public sector, but many public bodies have limited information about the volume & condition of the equipment they dispose of.
 
The report indicates that public bodies could potentially generate significant savings, through reduced operating costs & improved resale value, by following best commercial practice and disposing of equipment at three years.
 
The NAO recommends that the public bodies at the centre of government with responsibilities in this area (the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), Defra, DTI and the Environment Agency, should conduct a joint analysis of how to maximize the ‘whole life value’ of public sector ICT equipment.
 
In addition to value for money, public bodies also need to think about a range of other issues when disposing of ICT equipment, including vulnerability to legal action and loss of reputation & public trust if they fail to act properly, or fail to maintain adequate oversight of the third parties they employ to resell or dispose of ICT equipment.
 
DCSFNo way to re-organise a health service - The Government has promised to ‘improve life for disadvantaged children in England, with a cash injection of more than £4bn to children's centres, early years education and childcare’.  
 
The £4bn grant, spread over three years, will go towards fulfilling the existing pledge that there will be a Sure Start children's centre for every community by 2010, by:
* providing a Sure Start Children's Centre in every community
* outreach work to reach the most disadvantaged families
* training & support for the early years workforce
* ensuring there are sufficient childcare places in each Local Authority
* ensuring every nursery & children's centre has a graduate to lead children's learning & development
 
The government says that; Sure Start Children's Centres will give all parents and their children a place to go and a one-stop shop to find the services they need - from maternity checks to childcare to advice on getting back to work.
 
Beverley Hughes, Children, Young People and Families Minister said: Local Authorities now have the money to make that happen."
 
The funding will also help ensure that every full daycare nursery and childcare centre has at least one graduate (with two graduates in the most disadvantaged areas) as research reportedly shows that this can have a dramatic impact on a child's early years' education. 
 
DCSF says it has recognised that there is more to do in order to reach the most disadvantaged children.  That is why they have contracted with Together for Children to support the delivery of Sure Start Children's Centres and to make sure they do the best possible outreach work.
 
CLGThey won’t be helping you for free - Floods Recovery Minister John Healey has urged people in communities hit by the July floods to seek free & impartial insurance advice before signing up with third parties who offer to help settle insurance claims.
 
His advice includes:
* You can make a claim directly & free of charge direct to your insurer
* You don't need to pay a 'middleman'
* If you choose to accept help from third parties check they are regulated by the FSA (see their Register)
* Free, independent advice is available from your local Citizen's Advice Service
 
If however you do decide you want to hire a third party to help you progress your insurance claim, make sure you check how much it will cost you first, as they may charge a share of any sum paid out by the insurer, which may leave you short of the money you will need to repair damage and replace possessions.

 
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General News

MOD: The MoD has announced an additional £10m for research at an event at Copehill Down to introduce the finalists in the MoD Grand Challenge, at which the results of the MoD Competition of Ideas were also revealed.
 
The Grand Challenge is a major science & technology competition to find new ideas to counter the threats faced daily by our Armed Forces.  It also offers a unique opening into the UK defence market for new suppliers and investors.  Both the Grand Challenge and the Competition of Ideas are key drivers of the MoD's Defence Technology Strategy.
 
The Competition of Ideas has attracted more than 450 proposals (half from universities and SMEs).  All proposals have been assessed and 66 contracts are to be placed.
 
MoD: A new IT system that allows military medical records to be accessed across the UK, overseas and on the battlefield has taken a major step forward, the MOD and LogicaCMG have announced. After piloting at two small sites, Colchester Medical Reception Station was the first large military medical centre to implement the system, known as 'DMICP' (Defence Medical Information Capability Programme).
 
The system is now being progressively rolled out to all UK Army medical facilities, before being extended to the RAF, Royal Navy, Defence Dental Services and permanent overseas bases by August 2008. After 2008, a version of the system will be available in field hospitals, on board ships and on the battlefield via laptop and other portable equipment under development.
 
From 2010, the system will be connected to NHS information systems, simplifying & improving the processes by which Service personnel gain access to treatment in NHS hospitals.  It will also mean that the NHS medical records of new recruits can be imported directly into the Defence Medical Services, and records can be exported back to civilian GPs on retirement.
 
FCO: With the agreement of the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary has appointed Michael C. Williams to be the UK Special Representative on Middle East and Special Projects.
 
Dr. Williams, who is currently serving as the UN Secretary General's Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and his Personal Representative to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, will start his new role in September.  He will be based in the FCO, and will report to the Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

CLG: A new system to help homebuyers get green grants worth hundreds of pounds to lower their fuel bills and make their homes greener has been announced, linked to the introduction of Home Information Packs (HIP) and Energy Performance Certificates.  Under the Energy Efficiency Commitment (EEC), household energy suppliers have an obligation to promote household measures to achieve a target level of energy savings.
 
Most people are unaware that there are typical grants of £100 to £300 grants for cut price loft & cavity wall insulation.  Measures recommended in the EPC could save the average consumer £300 a year off their fuel bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
 
Scottish Executive: Funding of £1.24m is to be allocated to 29 communities in Scotland for environmental renewal projects as part of the allocation of the first round of this year's Community Environmental Renewal Scheme funds.
 
The grants from the first round of this year's Community Environmental Renewal Scheme (CERS) are aimed specifically at communities who are in the vicinity of quarrying activity.  The scheme is administered by Forward Scotland, on behalf of the Scottish Executive, using funds from the Aggregates Levy.
 
The scheme supports projects directed at the provision, restoration, protection or the promotion of understanding of landscape, habitats and local biodiversity, the built or cultural environment, including historic, geological or archaeological heritage, or community recreational amenities.
 
This is the first tranche of projects in the 2007-08 scheme. There was a second application deadline date of 27 June2007.  The remainder of the total available funding of £1.75 million announced on 5 March 2007 will be allocated later this year.

Consultations

Scottish Executive: Consultation (closes 31 October 2007) has begun on a new Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) in Scotland, which is designed to be affordable & sustainable, as well as fairer for employers, scheme members and tax payers.  
 
Following the consultation, final decisions will be taken on the new scheme outline and these are likely to be announced at the end of 2007.
 
BERR: Reducing on-site waste, using sustainable materials and increasing skills in the workforce are just some of the targets set out for the construction industry in a draft Government and Industry Sustainable Construction Strategy, recently launched for consultation (closes 30 November 2007) which aims to help the industry deliver more sustainable construction methods & products.
 
The draft strategy's key areas include:
* Reducing the carbon footprint of activities within the construction sector
* Production of zero net waste at construction site level
* Developing voluntary agreements & initiatives between the construction industry and its clients with the aim of reducing the carbon footprint and use of resources within the built environment
* Creating a safer industry by improving skills, boosting the numbers of workers taking part in training programmes, and retaining more skilled workers.
 
CLG: The Government is seeking views on plans to beef up powers for local authorities to tackle illegal or botched construction by cowboy builders
 
Proposals in the consultation paper (closes on 23 October 2007) would increase the time limit in which a prosecution can be brought from 6 months to 2 years.  Within this period, a prosecution can be brought within six months of discovery of sufficient evidence to prosecute.
 
Sport England: Jennie Price – Sport England’s Chief Executive – has announced that Sport England will undertake, with its partners, a short focused review of its No Limits Policy, saying: “In order to realise our ambition of getting 2m people doing more sport by 2012, we have to reach out to women, people with disabilities and those from ethnic minority backgrounds.
 
The purpose of the review is two-fold; to update & review and to make sure the Equality Standard is an effective tool in driving up participation in community sport.

The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS), Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) and Sporting Equals Limited (SEL) have pledged to support the review and will be key partners during the process.  For more information or to take part in the review, email: tim.woodhouse@sportengland.org(Before 30/11/07)
 
BERR: Smart meters in every home & business will play a key part in reducing our carbon footprint and cutting our energy bills, according to Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks, as the Government launched its consultation on metering & billing (closes 31 October 2007).
 
The consultation looks at how to implement the Government's proposals to cut energy use through the roll out of state of the art smart meters and real time visual display units to households & businesses.
 
The consultation will also seek views on the Government's expectation that, over the next ten years, all gas & electricity customers will be given smart meters with visual displays.

Annual Reports

Scottish Executive: The eighth annual & technical reports of the Scottish Household Survey (SHS) have been released in an annual report which outlines the main findings from interviews carried out with 31,013 households throughout Scotland in 2005 and 2006, providing detailed information about people living in Scotland today.  It reports at both national and local authority level.
 
The survey has been commissioned to provide accurate, representative and up-to-date information on the characteristics, composition and behaviour of households in Scotland in a number of areas, particularly relating to communities, transport and local government.

General Reports and Other Publications

BERR:  A comprehensive study by Salford University has concluded that the noise phenomenon known as aerodynamic modulation (AM) is not an issue for the UK's wind farm fleet. AM indicates aerodynamic noise from wind turbines that is greater than the normal degree of regular fluctuation of blade swoosh and it is sometimes described as sounding like a distant train or distant piling operation.
 
The Government commissioned work assessed 133 operational wind projects across Britain and found that although the occurrence of AM cannot be fully predicted, the incidence of it from operational turbines is low. 
 
Based on these findings, Government does not consider there to be a compelling case for more work into AM and will not carry out any further research at this time; however it will continue to keep the issue under review.
 
ESRC: The Internet and other communications technology are helping to speed up international mobilisation to causes & campaigns and are contributing to changes in governance structures and a new booklet entitled From local to global, published by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), examines the implications for civil society organisations and other activists.
 
It was produced following the fifth in a series of special seminars entitled ‘Engaging Citizens’, organised by the ESRC in collaboration with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and it explores how links between local and global groups are forming effective social movements for campaigning and advocacy.
 
In addition, it highlights why social movements benefit from a better understanding of the inter-relationships between the different forms of political and economic power.
 
MoD: Researchers in the King's Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR) have found evidence that the amount of time Armed Forces personnel spend on military operations, above current guidelines, increases the risk of common mental illness, including post-traumatic stress disorder.
 
The research demonstrated a consistent pattern of excess symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, psychological distress, multiple physical symptoms and severe alcohol problems in those deployed for 13 months or over in comparison to those deployed for a shorter period of time in the last three years.
 
The MoD admits that while the ‘continuing high operational tempo is manageable. It has, however, meant that the harmony guidelines are not always met. The definition of a breach in the Harmony guidelines used by King's College is different to that used by the MoD.  King's College define it as 13 months or more in a three year period.

Legislation / Legal

Defra: New measures to reduce regulatory burdens for game shooting businesses and farmers have been announced, by Jeff Rooker, Minister for Sustainable Farming and Food. 
 
The Heather and Grass Burning Regulations 2007 update Defra's policy on the controlled use of fire in the management of moorland and heathland.  The regulations will be administered by Natural England and will come into effect from 1 October 2007.
 
The regulations are accompanied the Heather and Grass Burning Code 2007, whose aim is to ensure that burning takes place safely and with respect for wildlife and the environment.
 
Jeff Rooker also announced the new Regulatory Reform Deer Order 2007 (England and Wales), which is intended to help to improve management of the wild deer populations and enhance the welfare of wild deer.
 
Defra recently announced new reforms for game licensing in England and Wales, which were effective from 1 August 2007, which were designed to improve consumer choice by enabling game dealers to sell game all year round, and make the shooting of & dealing in game less bureaucratic.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

CLG: Flood Recovery Minister John Healey has announced the Government's intention to lodge an application to the European Commission for support from the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) to help recovery from the recent flooding in the UK.
 
Government has already announced over £46million for flood-hit areas as well as more support through the special Bellwin scheme.  This application is subject to meeting the eligibility criteria set out by the European Commission and, if successful, they would expect resources to be available in nine to twelve months time.
 
The aim of the EUSF is to help Member States meet the uninsurable costs of dealing with natural disasters, for example, supporting the costs of emergency services, cleaning up and putting infrastructure back into working order.
 
For the application to be successful, the technical criteria set out by the EU state the total amount of damage caused by a natural disaster has to exceed £2.2bn.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

CC: Accountable & transparent governance, strong financial management and effective risk management policies & procedures are key to charities' ability to protect themselves from terrorist exploitation, according to the Charity Commission's response to the Home Office/HM Treasury Review on protecting the sector from terrorist abuse.
 
The Treasury has already committed additional funding of £1m in 2007/08 to increase the Commission's capacity for tackling terrorist links to charities and promoting public trust and confidence in charities and the Commission proposes to publish a draft counter-terrorism strategy for public consultation in the autumn.

Business and Other Briefings

FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is proposing to make it easier for firms to complete both the Complaints Return and the Retail Mediation Activities Return (RMAR) by simplifying & shortening them. The volume of information that firms must report through the Complaints Return and RMAR – both of which are submitted every six months by most firms – will be reduced by around 80% and 30% respectively.
 
HMRC: With less than 3 months to go until e-filing becomes mandatory for registered pension schemes, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is urging Pension Scheme Administrators to register now for online filing.
 
From 16 October 2007, Pension Scheme Administrators will have to submit the following information electronically to HMRC:
* Applications to register a pension scheme
* Registered Pension Scheme Returns
* Accounting for Tax Returns
* Scheme Administrator's Declarations
* Event Reports
* Notifications of the winding-up of a registered pension scheme; and
* Notifications of a scheme administrator terminating their appointment
 
To submit information online, Scheme Administrators, or a practitioner acting on their behalf, will need to be registered to use HMRC's Pension Schemes Online service. To register online click HERE, but you will need to allow up to 7 working days to register as a Scheme Administrator, as some of the information you need will be sent to you by pos
 
HM Revenue & Customs is seeking the views of both data providers and users on various Intrastat Simplification options that are being considered.

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