In the News
Please Note: We are taking a summer break for the next two weeks and the next WGPlus newsletter will be published on Monday 10 September
DH: Don’t get old under New Labour as reports show all is not well below the surface - Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis has announced that the 'dignity in care' campaign (which is meant to ensure that older people are treated with respect by health and care professionals) will be extended to people with mental health problems.
There are now 1,000 individuals who have been recognised as 'Dignity Champions' and been rewarded for going that extra mile in improving the service that older people receive. Initiatives round the country include installing a music system in wards at West Hertfordshire NHS Trust to mask confidential conversations to maintain the crucial privacy that older people need to feel respected.
Ivan Lewis said: People experiencing mental health difficulties are amongst the most vulnerable in society. We know people fear what they don't understand. Fear can result in discrimination and we know that people with mental health problems are facing discrimination when trying to access public services like health care or get support from social services.
CLG: Planning for DIY energy - The government claims that many shops, offices, pubs and clubs could soon be powered by renewable energy, under changes to planning rules that will make it easier for businesses to install 'green' technologies like solar panels and wind turbines.
Entec - a leading environmental & planning consultancy - have been asked to draw up new planning rules that will ensure the system is doing more to encourage the use of renewable energy. The research will specifically look at removing barriers to installing small-scale renewable & low carbon technology equipment that can currently lead to increased costs and lengthy delays.
The Government also announced that Housing Minister Yvette Cooper has asked the UK Green Building Council to set out a route map for improving the overall energy efficiency of non-domestic buildings with the aim of delivering substantial reductions in carbon emissions from new buildings over the next decade.
The Government has also commissioned White Young Green Planning (WYGP) to carry out a wider investigation into what planning reforms are needed to make it easier for businesses to build extensions or make improvements to their premises.
Scottish Executive: Is divorce on the cards, or just a trial separation? - A National Conversation on Scotland's constitutional future has been launched alongside the publication of a paper outlining different options for public debate and proposals for a referendum.
The Scottish Government believes the principal choices are:
* Small extension of devolved powers
* Radical redesign of devolution and greatly enhanced powers
DH: Ensuring we are at the head of the queue - Advanced supply contracts to provide the vaccine for a possible flu pandemic have been awarded by the Department of Health to pharmaceutical company GSK and Baxter Healthcare. The contracts, worth £155.4m over four years, are part of the Government's continued work to prepare for & reduce the impact of a possible flu pandemic.
Under these contracts GSK and Baxter are committed to supply a pandemic influenza vaccine as soon as the pandemic strain is identified and made available by the World Health Organisation.
There will be a time lag of some months before vaccine becomes available because the vaccine production process is complex. Under these advanced supply contracts, the DH is reserving production capacity for the manufacture of the new vaccine and making an investment in R&D by the manufacturers.
This means that although the UK may not take delivery of vaccine until after a pandemic has started, it will nevertheless have a guaranteed supply of vaccine at a time when there will be significant international demand.
Defra: Water metering is going to happen (probably) - Water companies in areas of serious water stress will be able to seek compulsory water metering as part of their 25 year forward plans, Environment Minister Phil Woolas has announced. The proposal, developed by the Water Saving Group, adds metering to the existing raft of options for companies - alongside developing new resources - for ensuring long term security of supply.
In April 2007 the Government placed water companies under a duty to produce & consult upon water resource management plans. Ministers will be able to direct the content of plans & draft plans will be consulted upon in 2008 and finalised in 2009. Inclusion of metering in long term management plans will come into effect after the price review 2009.
The Consumer Council for Water has backed Defra's announcement, but warned that the potential financial impact on customers must be properly taken into account and appropriate protection provided for vulnerable customers.
The Consumer Council for Water's Fair Charging research showed that the majority of consumers think that metering is fairer than other charging systems. However, many customers also worried that metered tariffs would rise, that it would become a struggle to pay bills, and even that they might become anxious about using water.
Forthcoming Event: Scotland leading the way transforming public service delivery - The delivery of public sector services is changing throughout the UK and transformation, modernisation and the commitment to reform are all top of the agenda for every public sector organisation.
However, it is never a case of ‘one size fits all’ and there are a number of goals which need to be reached to successfully meet the challenges and greater flexibility requirements in the way organisations deliver public services throughout Scotland.
So how do managers know which changes best suit their requirements and how to implement them?
The Delivering Public Sector Services in Scotland 2007 conferenceon 12th September 2007 will not only cover existing methods of change, project & risk management, sustainable procurement and best practice, it will also highlight the opportunities for the Scottish public sector in terms of identifying new methods of partnership working across both council and organisational boundaries.
For information on other forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
For Industry News please click HERE
DCMS: £750,000 is being given to the
national tourism agency – VisitBritain - to promote rural
destinations and visitor attractions which are vital to the economic health of
local communities. The package, supplemented by £250,000 from
VisitBritain's existing budgets, will fund a targeted marketing campaign for
the regions of England and businesses such as B&Bs, caravan parks and
Tourism is the UK's
fifth largest industry,
worth £85bn to the economy and employing around 2 million people directly
DSA: Learner drivers and motorcyclists will face
more theory test questions from early September when the pass marks are driven
up to improve road safety. At the moment both car and motorcycle bike
tests involve 35 questions and candidates must get 30 right but, from 3
September 2007, the number of questions will rise to 50 with a pass
score of 43.
The time allowed for the
multiple choice part of the theory tests will increase to 57 minutes and
fees will also increase from £21.50
to £28.50. The updated version of
the Official theory test book and CD Rom is now available in shops or from the
FDA: The decision to appoint Jack McConnell,
former Scottish First Minister, as the UK's High Commissioner to Malawi from
2009 has been with disappointment by the FDA - the union representing
all grades in the Diplomatic Service.
This appointment follows the
appointment in 2005 of former Chief Secretary to the Treasury Paul Boateng as
High Commissioner to South Africa and former Scottish Secretary Helen Liddle as
High Commissioner to Australia. As such, it appears to represent a
worrying trend in political appointments to diplomatic posts.
FDA spokesperson Paul Whiteman
said: "The Government is very keen for top jobs to be open to
candidates from outside the civil service and we welcome the diversity that
openness brings. However, such appointments can only be seen to be fair
if there is open competition between internal and external
Policy Statements and Initiatives
Office: The Cabinet Office announced a further two
departments undertaking 'Capability Reviews' - HM Treasury and HM
Revenue and Customs – which will consider their capability in three
key areas: leadership, strategy and delivery.
In addition, the National School of
Government's Sunningdale Institute has been commissioned to undertake an
evaluation of the programme as a whole, exploring the process & impact and
recommending how it might develop at the next stage.
HM Treasury's Capability Review will take
place after the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 and the findings of
both reviews will be published this
DH: Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis has
announced the opening of a 4-year £73m Social Enterprise Investment
Fund for health and social care intended to set up & build social
enterprises that meet specific needs and provide services that will benefit
The Fund will offer loans,
grants and equity capital (or a mixture of these). It will support
organisations which are, or are aiming to become, social enterprises delivering
one or more health and/or social care services. The closing date for the current round of
proposals is 31st October 2007
and the next call for proposals will be announced later this year.
One of the key features of
these schemes is that they reinvest surpluses into the community they serve or
the services they provide. This means that in addition to improving
services, they can also help with the wider regeneration of communities.
SAP: The Sentencing Advisory Panel (SAP) has published two new consultation papers.
In the first, consultation paper (closes 6 December 2007) the SAP is calling for greater consistency in sentencing for fraud offences. It feels that comprehensive guidelines are needed as few fraud offences are covered by existing guideline judgments and new offences were introduced by the Fraud Act 2006, which came into force on 15 January 2007.
Boundaries between the offences - both old and new - sometimes overlap and conduct may fall within more than one offence provision. In these circumstances, the Panel has based its proposals on the type of fraudulent behaviour rather than the particular offence that might have been charged.
To promote consistency in sentencing for similar types of fraudulent behaviour, the Panel is consulting on one comprehensive guideline for sentencing various frauds against institutions. These include tax fraud, benefit fraud, insurance fraud, bank account fraud and payment card fraud. Separate guidelines are proposed for ‘confidence tricks’ and also for possessing, making or supplying articles for use in fraud.
In the second consultation (closes 9 November 2007), the Sentencing Advisory Panel is looking at sentencing for breach of an Anti-social Behaviour Order (ASBO). The number of ASBOs has increased considerably since the order first became available in 1999, and the courts now regularly face the task of sentencing an offender for breach.
Guidelines are needed to ensure that the approach to sentencing is proportionate & consistent. The range of prohibitions that can be attached to an order is very wide and therefore many types of behaviour may constitute a breach.
The consultation paper summarises existing guidance about the making of an order before considering the approach to sentencing for breach. One key issue is the degree to which the original conduct that led to the making of the order is relevant when sentencing for breach.
Scottish Executive: The Health and Wellbeing Secretary for Scotland has launched a nationwide discussion document 'Better Health, Better Care' (closes on November 12 2007)to inform the development of the new Scottish government's health and wellbeing action plan, to be published by the end of this year.
The new Action Plan will seek to accelerate the process of change set out in the 2005 'Building a Health Service: Fit for the Future' document.
Press release ~ Better Health, Better Care: A Discussion Document ~ Hea lth improvement action plan video ~ Building a Health Service: Fit for the Future ~ NHS Quality Improvement Scotland: Shifting the Focus ~ NHS Scotland ~ InfoScotland: Healthier Scotland ~ Scottish Executive: Health and Community care
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
DfT: Guidance to help local authorities apply for funds to repair flood damaged roads has recently been launched by the Department for Transport (DfT), which has also told councils it will now consider ‘all reasonable claims’.
To ensure local communities are able to return to normality as quickly as possible DfT has also appointed a specialist to assist local authorities as they assess the damage caused and help them to prepare a claim for funding. Authorities have been advised not to delay urgent remedial work, which they will later be able to include in their claim.
DH: From April 2008, the Government plans to replace Patient Forums with Local Involvement Networks (LINks) in order to ‘help strengthen the system that enables communities to influence the care they receive’.
Last week saw the publication of guidance for local organisations and this week sees the publication of a document for general public consumption that summarises what LINks will do, their proposed powers and how they will be set up.
Scottish Executive: The Drinking Water Quality Regulator's (DWQR) report into the state of supplies in 2006 shows that, of the 170,552 tests carried out on samples taken from consumers' taps, 99.66% met strict European standards.
More than 99% of samples were also clear of coliform bacteria, making these the best microbiology results since water quality regulations were introduced in 1991.
Despite this, the DWQR, Colin McLaren, warned that in a few areas the taste and appearance of drinking water is still an issue. He stressed that Scottish Water must do more to ensure water is not only safe but also acceptable to consumers.
General Reports and Other Publications
DH: A joint report, by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), says WHO Growth Standards should be applied to children aged from 2 weeks to 24 months. Current UK growth charts are based on predominantly formula fed babies and reflect ‘how babies were growing’ in the UK.
WHO charts prescribe ‘how babies should grow’ under optimum conditions including exclusive breastfeeding for healthier outcomes. WHO standards are based exclusively on breastfed infants and can be used for assessing & monitoring growth of all babies and encourage mothers to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of a baby's life.
CIOB: ‘The Green Perspective’ report by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has revealed that over 94% of construction professionals believe that ‘green’ building is the future for the construction industry and that there are financial benefits to producing energy efficient buildings.
The results show that the industry itself sees the importance of sustainable building, but 67% of respondents felt that the current UK building regulations do not go far enough to create energy efficient buildings.
HC: The Healthcare Commission has welcomed the release of findings of the report from the Joint Select Committee on Human Rights investigating older people’s rights in hospitals and care homes. The Commission agrees more work needs to be done by healthcare providers to ensure older people’s rights are protected while in hospital.
Last year the Commission published its high profile report called “Living Well in Later Life”, with the Audit Commission and Commission for Social Care Inspection, which suggested that “deep-rooted cultural attitudes to aging” were hampering attempts to improve services to older people.
The Commission is working with the Department of Health to develop & pilot possible alternatives for consideration as part of their current consultation on a new approach to complaints handling.
ESRC: It is not just the students who have a lot riding on exam results this month, as for the schools they have attended and the teachers who work in them poor results can mean bad headlines and professional damage. But research is now finding out about the factors that make some schools more successful than others.
New research carried out by the Economic and Social Research Council’s Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP), and being sent to all schools in the UK at the start of next term, will help schools turn into places where students can become independent learners instead of being taught to pass tests and keep exam scores high.
MIIB: The Buncefield Major Incident Investigation Board (MIIB) has published the Explosion Mechanism Advisory Group report, outlining the work required for better understanding of the severe explosion that took place at the Buncefield oil depot on 11th December, 2005.
From the outset the Board wanted see a serious attempt made to understand the explosion mechanism that produced such a forceful explosion with high overpressures. The Board agreed that such understanding would provide further material assistance in guiding the design and operation of sites that store large quantities of vaporising flammable materials.
Legislation / Legal
SAP: The Sentencing Advisory Panel
has publishedtwo new consultation papers.
In the first, consultation paper (closes 6 December 2007) the SAP is calling for
greater consistency in sentencing for fraud offences.
In the second consultation (closes 9 November 2007), the Sentencing Advisory Panel is looking
at sentencing for breach of an Anti-social Behaviour Order (ASBO)
‘Consultations’ section for more information.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: Three international development
organisations carrying out research into HIV/AIDS awareness in disadvantaged
countries have received over £28,000 from the Big Lottery
Fund. The grants are part of a total of five projects that are
benefiting from a £46,310 global cash package from BIG’s £72
million International Grants programme.
In addition, a grant of
£8,150 to the Karen Hill Tribes Trust will help them evaluate
how the organisation's activities, such as installing clean water supplies,
improving school education and assisting with farming equipment & cattle,
have impacted upon social and economic trends in villages in the region.
Finally, a grant of
£9,975 will be used to look into beekeeping and trade in bee products as
a means of bringing income benefits to the most disadvantaged subsistence
farmers in Western Equatoria, Southern Sudan.
Business and Other Briefings
HM Treasury: Kitty Ussher, City Minister, has hosted the first meeting of the Islamic Finance Experts Group, which was set up to act as an industry sounding board for HM Treasury and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) on Islamic Finance.
The focus of the meeting was the Government's feasibility study into issuing sovereign sukuk and the potential benefits for the City and retail customers of the Government issuing sovereign sukuk. Sukuk is an asset-backed, Shariah-compliant trust certificate. The closest instrument comparable in the conventional financial system would be a bond issued in relation to a securitisation.
The Government's aims for Islamic Finance are to:
* entrench London's position as a global gateway for Islamic Finance, and
* to create a level playing field for alternative finance & investments, such as Islamic Finance, in the retail market.
This Brief gives details of an article: Disclosure of avoidance schemes: New information powers.
This Brief gives details of an article concerning: Assets used partly for non-business purposes – delay in implementation of ‘Lennartz Accounting’ Regulations.
This Brief gives details of an article: Revised treatment of VAT incurred on home computers made available by employers to their employees.
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