In the News
Newswire: We need to ‘join the mission and boldly go’ - The UK should have involvement in both human and robotic elements of space exploration if it wants to play a full & active role in the unique opportunities that will define space exploration during this century.
This is one of several recommendations made in a report published recently by the UK Space Exploration Working Group (SEWG), an advisory committee established by the UK Government’s British National Space Centre (BNSC).
The SEWG was tasked in January this year to review current worldwide plans for space exploration as defined by the Global Exploration Strategy – an international initiative that involves 14 national space agencies including the UK - which outlines the ambitions of the world’s space-faring nations including China, Russia, India and Japan.
The Global Exploration Strategy heralds a new era of exploration that will see humans and robots working in partnership on the surfaces of the Moon and Mars, while fleets of unmanned probes venture out across the far reaches of the solar system.
Commenting on the report’s recommendations Professor Keith Mason, Chair of UK Space Board and CEO of The Science and Technology Facilities Council (a key partner in BNSC) said: “The working group has produced a comprehensive report and set of recommendations which will contribute and feed into the new UK Civil Space Strategy currently being developed by BNSC and scheduled for publication this autumn”.
DH: Matron comes back as a Regulator - A new hospital regulator with powers to impose fines and close down entire wards in hospitals that do not meet hygiene requirements will be introduced and hospitals across England will undergo an aggressive programme of intensive deep cleaning.
Trusts already undertake deep cleaning programmes on a ward-by-ward basis, but this will be the first time hospitals have been asked to deep clean their entire site restoring surfaces and fabrics as close as possible to their ‘original’ condition.
The deep cleaning could cost as much as £50m, but Strategic Health Authorities will be expected to manage the funding of this programme from within their own regional financial plans. The government claims that each of the ten SHAs has the resources to do this in this financial year.
The new regulator is intended to have a much stronger focus on safety & quality across all health and adult social care services, in both the NHS and independent sector. It will replace three existing bodies (Healthcare Commission, Commission for Social Care Inspection and the Mental Health Act Commission), building on their existing experience & expertise and simplifying cross-boundary working.
The proposals to create the new regulator will be introduced in the Health & Social Care Bill in the next Parliamentary session, while Trusts will be expected to begin their deep cleaning programmes as soon as possible.
DCSF: Dealing with the dark side of an e-world – The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) has launched an online cyberbullying campaign which also includes new guidance and a short film to help schools tackle bullies who use the internet or mobile phones to bully other children or abuse their teachers. It also published new guidance to teachers about how homophobic bullying can be addressed in schools and a summary of the Government's overall approach to bullying.
Estimates vary, but a recent study by the DCSF showed that up to 34% of 12-15 year olds had experienced some form of cyberbullying. There is also growing concern from teaching unions that school staff are increasingly becoming the victims of cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying can include posting upsetting or defamatory remarks about an individual online and name-calling or harassment using mobile phones. These may be general insults or include prejudice-based bullying. In other cases bullies physically assault other children and post images of fights online or send recordings via text messages to other people.
Defra: Switch bulbs if you can’t switch off - Defra has announced that the most energy-guzzling light bulbs in Britain will start disappearing from shop shelves early next year as part of efforts to cut CO2 emissions. This ‘voluntary’ initiative will see energy efficient light bulbs replace their least efficient equivalents on shop shelves over the next four years.
Its aim is to save up to 5m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year by 2012 from UK electricity generation - the equivalent to the carbon emissions of a typical 1 Giga Watt coal fired power station.
Climate Change Minister Joan Ruddock has also written to retailers to progress the initiative announced in Budget 2006 to encourage more energy efficient set top boxes and other consumer electronics, including setting targets to reduce stand-by power.
DCSF: Good policy, but will there be the staff resources to carry it out? – The Department for Children, Schools and Families, has announced a new programme of intensive support for writing in primary schools - Every Child A Writer. It also announced the roll out of intensive support and one-to-one tuition in reading & maths: Every Child A Reader (ECAR) and Every Child Counts (ECC).
The Government will spend £144m over the next three years into rolling out nationally the two programmes and claims that, by 2011, 30,000 seven-year-olds who need help with maths and 30,000 six-year-olds who have difficulty reading will get intensive one-to-one tuition through ECAR and ECC each year.
Every Child Counts will be a partnership between the Government and the new charity - Every Child a Chance – set up by the KPMG Foundation and a coalition of business partners, charitable trusts and others.
CRE: As always, it comes down to communication, communication, communication - The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) has used its official powers to hold a Formal Investigation into regeneration schemes in England, Scotland and Wales.
In this, one of the most important pieces of work carried out by the CRE in its 30 year history, the impact of these schemes on local communities has been revealed. The report highlights the hidden human cost of regeneration schemes.
Billions of pounds of public money are being invested to create brighter futures for some of the most deprived areas in this country. However, this investigation has revealed that the communities that these schemes are affecting are not being properly involved in the process.
The report highlights that new buildings and public spaces must allow for interaction between different communities. However, the CRE found that often these schemes create further divisions between these groups.
Local authorities and public bodies have a key role to play in this process. They are the organisations that are uniquely placed to shape and revive the communities they serve.
Building on examples of effective regeneration, the report recommends how local authorities can put in place plans and governance structures to ensure race equality is embedded in the policy & practice of regeneration, so that it has a real impact on communities.
The CRE argues the need for strong local leadership in order to ensure that regeneration delivers benefits to all members of society. This issues a warning to the government and other national bodies that they must provide leadership & support for local authorities to help them achieve this.
HC: Remember, some day you might end up old and in hospital - The Healthcare Commission has called for NHS trusts to do more to ensure they consistently provide dignity in care to older people, including offering adequate nutrition and privacy.
Publishing a national report on dignity in care, the independent watchdog is warning NHS trusts of further checks, including unannounced visits, where there are clusters of evidence suggesting a problem at a hospital or on a ward. It is also asking patients, their carers and the public - and their representative bodies like Age Concern - to come forward and tell the Commission where they have reason for concern.
Examples of best practice included one trust that had introduced a new gown to protect patient modesty and another where senior nursing staff spent Fridays on the wards to better understand the challenges. But the Commission also found that in some cases, there were inadequate arrangements for providing privacy through curtains and locks on toilet & wash facilities.
The Commission’s inspections found not all trusts had clear policies relating to dignity issues for older people, including nutrition and privacy. The Commission recommends that attendance on training courses on equality, diversity and the practical aspects of dignity must be mandatory & be ongoing, not just available to staff at induction.
The inspections found that all trusts inspected had mechanisms for involving older people in their care but they were not always put into practice. Systems for involving older people & their carers from minority ethnic groups were not robust and there was a greater reliance on family members to provide translation in these cases.
For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
For the latest public sector Industry News please click HERE
CIOB: The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has launched the Faculty of Building Control and Standards with the intention of raising the professional profile of building control professionals and to assist individuals who are currently working within all sectors of Building Control to gain additional recognised professional qualifications.
DfT: The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) has launched its specification for the design of wheelchairs for use on board commercial passenger aircraft. Any manufacturer that keeps to the DPTAC specification will know that they are providing a chair that offers a comfortable, dignified & safe mobility aid for the vast majority of passengers who would otherwise have difficulty moving around on board an aircraft.
DPTAC is also about to publish an accessibility specification for toilets on aircraft. The onboard wheelchair specification will dovetail with this, in order to ensure a safe and comfortable means for mobility impaired passengers to transfer within the aircraft.
While DPTAC specifications are not statutory requirements, experience with DPTAC specifications for other modes of transport strongly suggests that there will be progressive introduction of the specifications as a basis for tendering, resulting in vehicles & aircraft offering both improved access and better travelling conditions.
TNA: The National Archives is celebrating its victory at the Conservation Awards 2007, where it won an award for leadership and practical advancement in the new & challenging field of digital preservation.
The prize was given to The National Archives for its work on active preservation through the development of two tools:
* the PRONOM Technical Registry and
* Digital Record Object Identification (DROID) file format identification
ScotGov: Scottish Government Ministers have given the go ahead for the biggest wave energy project in the world, capable of generating electricity for around 2,000 homes. The project, owned by ScottishPower and operated from the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, will consist of four 750 Kilowatt Pelamis wave energy converters.
Defra: Defra has confirmed that Bluetongue disease is circulating between the local animal and midge population in East Anglia.
Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, Fred Landeg said: "Bluetongue is spread via midge vectors, rather than animal to animal. This means animals infected with Bluetongue will not be compulsorily slaughtered from now on. There is no vaccine currently available, however we will consider vaccination in the event that a suitable authorised inactivated vaccine becomes available."
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DWP: 40% of older workers believe their younger
colleagues teach them skills they previously did not have, according to a study
of older and younger workers commissioned by Jobcentre Plus, whilst
one third of younger workers believe older workers are more likely to work
anti-social hours than colleagues their own age.
Jobcentre Plus has launched
Council’ - a
dedicated, online advice forum spear-headed by inventor Trevor Baylis and
supported by TAEN - The Age and Employment Network and BT for
employers & individuals across the country, to enable older people to make
the most of employment opportunities available.
In addition, this week saw the
launch of 'Gene
rationXperience UK Older people's day'
1 October 2007 -
a celebration of the opportunities &
aspirations of older people and their contribution to society. See also
‘General Reports and Other Publications’ below -
findings have been published from DWP research into 'Employer responses to
an ageing workforce',
DWP: Citizens Advice and Jobcentre
Plus have announced a new partnership agreement to improve links between
them and deliver better advice & support to people in England and Wales.
Jobcentre Plus is also working with Citizens Advice Scotland on
a similar partnership agreement.
Citizens Advice Bureaux advise
over 2 million people each year on employment, benefits and tax credits.
In the financial year 2006/07 the CAB service helped people deal with
more then 5.7 million problems, the most common being debt and welfare
benefits. Many clients that use a local CAB are also customers of
Jobcentre Plus and many are amongst the poorest and most vulnerable members of
ScotGov: A consultation (closes 4 January 2008) on a new Strategic
Framework for Scottish Freshwater Fisheries has been launched, which seeks
to outline the actions required to develop the direction within which the
future management of fisheries in Scotland should work.
The strategic framework has
been developed by the fisheries sector and this consultation allows wider
dissemination of their views & proposals before it can be considered for
adoption by all the parties, including Scottish Ministers. Freshwater
fisheries in Scotland currently contribute in excess of £120m to the
Scottish economy and support around 2,800 jobs.
OFT: The OFT has launched consultations on the
way it calculates the direct financial benefits to consumers of its work and on
the way it prioritises which projects should be started and whether work on
existing projects should continue.
The consultation on
measuring direct benefits to consumers (closes 18 December 2007)sets out how the OFT proposes to
assess performance against its key target to deliver direct financial benefits
to consumers of at least five times the amount the OFT costs
taxpayers. Direct benefits to consumers from OFT actions include price
decreases after remedying anti-competitive activity, but also improvements in
quality or the benefits consumers gain from making better informed
The consultation on
prioritisation principles (closes 22 January 20087)forms part of the OFT's continued commitment to a more
targeted & transparent approach to its work. This consultation is
inviting stakeholders to contribute their views on what principles should
underline the OFT's future priorities and explains how the OFT currently
understands a range of issues, including consumer welfare.
LR: Following an internal review, Land
Registry is seeking views on its proposals to amend the Land
Registration Rules 2003. The review looked for ways to improve
practice for the benefit of customers and reduce the administrative burden of
land registration. The consultation period runs from 8 October 2007 until
14 January 2008.
Many of the proposals
are to amend existing rules, but there are some that would introduce new
practice, such as:
* a requirement on
Conveyancers to provide, on application forms, confirmation as to the identity
of parties they are acting for
* making exceptions to public
inspection of documents in the case of those that relate to identity evidence
or the investigation and prevention of fraud and other crime
* the use of statements of
truth as an alternative to statutory declarations
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
DfT: The first revised Highway Code in eight
years has been published and it offers the latest road safety rules and advice,
as well as promoting greater courtesy & understanding among all road users,
particularly those who are most vulnerable.
The revised Code has increased
in size by approximately 50%. It includes 29 more rules than previously
and many other rules have been increased, rewritten or enhanced to make things
much clearer for all road users on how they should act or react in a variety of
A new Safety Code for
Novice Drivers, to help motorists better navigate their first few months
behind the wheel, has also been added.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and
Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued the newly updated guideline on the
early care of adults & children with head injuries.
Developed by the National Collaborating Centre for Acute Care,
the NICE clinical guideline gives recommendations on the care & treatment
options that should be available in the NHS for people with a head injury.
This guideline is a partial
update of the original document issued in 2003, revising areas where new
evidence has since been published. The guideline also gives some new
recommendations, including imaging of children and the need for collaboration
between hospitals to achieve optimum care.
departments see an estimated 750,000 people with head injuries each year.
The advice provided by the guideline includes pre-hospital management,
assessment in the emergency department, investigation for clinically important
brain & cervical spine injury and indications for specialist referral.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and
Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the National Collaborating Centre for
Women’s and Children’s Health have issued guidance providing
clear & consistent advice to doctors and midwives on how to support
& care for women in labour.
The guideline supports normal
birth (that is a spontaneous vaginal birth where mother & baby are healthy
afterwards), as well as setting out what to do if labour does not progress
All recommendations in
the guideline are underpinned by the principle that women are provided with
information & advice so they are in control of what happens to them during
labour and are able to make decisions that are right for them and their baby.
HA: The Highways Agency has published
new guidance, in the latest version of the Design Manual for Roads and
Bridges, to help highway engineers, planners and environmental specialists
to assess the impact of transport schemes on historic landscapes throughout
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It provides advice on the
assessment of historic landscape character and the effects of road schemes
using the analysis of topography, archaeological remains, historic buildings
and the natural world. The new guidance will help scheme designers to
prepare more sensitive designs that integrate better with the environment and
reduce the impact of road schemes on sites of historic interest.
ScotGov: Annual Statistics on child protection in
Scotland in 2006-07 have been published and the headline messages include:
* In 2006-07, there were
11,960 child protection referrals, spilt fairly evenly between the sexes
* For 85% of children who were
subject to a case conference, the primary known/suspected abuser was the
child's birth parent (where this was known)
* In 2006-07, the number of
registrations on to child protection registers as a result of emotional abuse
were up by 26%, and by physical neglect were up by 21%
* The number of registrations
due to sexual abuse were down by 11%
ScotGov: Crime covered by the Scottish Crime
and Victimisation Survey (SCVS) 2007 increased by an estimated 13% between
2003-04 and 2005-06, according a research report published by the Scottish
22% of people had been the
victim of at least one household or personal crime, but there has been no
statistically significant change in this figure in recent years.
Longer term, crime against
households appears to have fallen, specifically housebreaking and theft from
motor vehicles. Crime against the person has increased, mainly driven by
the number of minor assaults recorded
DfT: The Department for Transport has
published ‘Road Casualties Great Britain 2006: Annual
Report’", which provides headline final figures on the number
of people killed & injured on the roads in Great Britain in 2006, based on
information about accidents reported to the police, that were first published
in June 2007.
This report provides more
detailed information about accident circumstances, vehicle involvement and the
consequent casualties in 2006, along with some of the key trends in accidents
and casualties. There are also six articles containing further analysis
on specific topics.
IPCC: The Forum for Preventing Deaths in
Custody - an independently-chaired high level group to reduce deaths in
custody - has published its first annual report. The Forum has found that
approximately 600 people die each year in
Although many of these deaths
are through natural causes, some follow as a result of apparent suicide
attempts and others from other non-natural causes. The Forum believes
that some of these deaths could and should have been prevented.
The work of the Forum includes
deaths of people in prison, police stations, immigration detention and secure
mental hospitals. It also focuses on those who have been released from
custody and are under supervision of the National Probation
General Reports and Other Publications
DWP: Key findings have been published from DWP
research into 'Employer responses to an ageing workforce', which aimed
to examine how employers are responding to an ageing workforce, particularly in
response to the introduction of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations
2006 which outlawed age discrimination in the workplace and in vocational
training in October 2006.
DWP: New research reveals that people's
perceptions of ethnic minority women in the workplace are lagging behind the
reality. 37% think that unemployed Bangladeshi & Pakistani women face
cultural & religious barriers that prevent them from working and that 53%
of people thought that white British women in work were more likely than ethnic
minority women in work to have a degree.
A separate study on Pakistani
and Bangladeshi women's attitudes to work & family found that attitudes are
changing from one generation to next. It shows that difficulties in
finding suitable childcare and flexible working arrangements act as the biggest
barrier to work for ethnic minority women, in the same way as they do for women
Ofwat: Water companies are continuing to invest
to deliver environmental and water quality improvement, according to a report
published by Ofwat. The Financial performance & expenditure of the
water companies in England and Wales 2006-07 report
provides a comparison between the industry's actual performance over the last
financial year and Ofwat's expectations of when the price limits were set in
Overall investment in spending
on assets (which includes maintenance & improvement schemes) is
expectations for the first two years of the current price limit
period. While the majority of companies are investing what is needed in
most areas to maintain the standard of service consumers expect, there have
been delays in delivering some improvement schemes.
CRE: The CRE has recently launched its final legacy
document, 'A lot done, a lot to do: Our Vision for an integrated
The report outlines the
current state of race in the UK today, with facts & statistics relating to
all aspects of British life, from young people, health and education through to
employment, communities, sport and local government.
In it, the CRE sets out the
challenges faced in creating an integrated society and some key steps that need to be taken to
reduce pernicious inequalities, growing social segregation & declining
participation. It contains specific recommendations for both government
and the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights.
ScotGov: The independent body charged with reviewing
NHS Health Board funding has submitted its final report to the
Scottish Government. Ministers will now consider the detailed
recommendations of the NHS Scotland Resource Allocation Committee
(NRAC) within the context of the forthcoming Spending Review. The
earliest any proposed revisions to the Formula could be implemented is
NRAC was established in March
2005 to "improve and refine" the Arbuthnott Formula, which
has been in use since 2000 to allocate resources to the territorial NHS Boards
to cover funding for Hospital & Community Health Services and GP
The final report includes more
than 30 recommendations, including a proposed revised formula to replace the
Arbuthnott Formula, as well as other recommendations on data developments, use
of formulae in funding allocations and on the future maintenance of the
Legislation / Legal
Home Office: A range of new powers to tackle alcohol-fuelled disorder, knife and gun crime, including realistic imitation firearms and air weapons, have come into force under the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006, including:
* An offence to manufacture, import or sell realistic imitation guns
* An offence to modify an imitation gun to make it realistic or convertible into a real firearm
* A doubling of the maximum sentence for carrying an imitation gun in public without reasonable excuse
* Air weapons to be sold only by firearms dealers who are registered by police with all sales taking place face-to-face
* An offence to sell a knife to a person aged under 18 (increased from 16)
MoJ: A new organisation looking after the interests of some of the most vulnerable people in society started this week. The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), introduced under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, is intended to provide legal protection for thousands of people lacking the mental capacity to make decisions themselves.
Under the final clauses of the Act, there will also be:
* a new Court of Protection with a wider jurisdiction than the old court, and
* a new Lasting Power of Attorney replacing existing Enduring Powers of Attorney.
Lasting powers of Attorney (LPAs), replacing Enduring Powers of Attorney, will hopefully give vulnerable people greater choice & control over their future and enable people to choose someone they trust to look after their affairs should the need arise.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
Defra: Defra have announced an immediate
programme of environmental monitoring of farmland following the EU Agriculture
Council's decision to set a 0% rate of set-aside for 2008. The monitoring will be established under
Defra's Agricultural Change and Environment Observatory (ACEO) to
assess what happens on the ground in the next few months and to provide a
firmer basis for future action.
If there is evidence of
significant environmental impact - including on the bird population - as a
result of the zero percent rate of set aside in 2008, then the Government will
look at what action to take.
Defra will also be looking at
how the Entry Level (ELS) strand of Environmental Stewardship can help
to mitigate any environmental impact, as part of the current review of scheme
progress and their preparations for the CAP Healthcheck.
Business and Other Briefings
HMRC: The Joint International Tax Shelter
Information Centre (JITSIC) has opened a second ‘home’ in
London. JITSIC London and JITSIC Washington will work
together as a single office.
JITSIC was established in 2004
by the tax administrations of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the
United States, to supplement the ongoing work of the Australian Taxation
Office, the Canada Revenue Agency, HM Revenue & Customs, and the US
Internal Revenue Service in identifying & curbing tax avoidance &
shelters and those who promote them & invest in them.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority
(FSA) has published the findings of its latest review of Payment
Protection Insurance (PPI) selling standards. They show improvements
in some areas, but also that many firms are still failing to treat their
The FSA's latest review
assessed whether firms had made improvements in five key
areas. Welcome improvements
were found in two of these: the vast majority of firms are now
making it clear to customers that PPI is optional; and firms are now offering
cancellation refunds on virtually all single premium PPI policies.
However, little or no progress has been made in the other three
areas: many firms are still not giving customers clear
information about the product and what it will cost; not telling them the
extent to which they are eligible for PPI cover and what they are covered for;
and not telling them why, where advice is given, the recommended PPI policy
meets their demands and needs.
BERR: The government claims that businesses will
begin to see the benefits of the Companies Act 2006 from this week, as
the first major provisions of the Act are implemented. The Act, which
followed extensive consultation with the business community, is expected to
save business up to £250m a year and bring greater shareholder engagement
and transparency. Further provisions in the Act will be implemented with
effect from April 2008 and October 2008.
Provisions which commenced on
Monday 1 October include:
* The statutory statement of
Directors' Duties (other than those on conflicts of interest)
* An enhanced business review
for quoted companies
* Increased Rights for
* A new approach to Company
* New procedures for bringing
BERR: Millions of British workers will benefit
from an increase in the national minimum wage and additional annual leave
entitlements, which came into effect on Monday, 1 October 2007.
Under the changes:
* The minimum wage will
increase from £5.35 to £5.52 an hour for workers aged 22 and
over. There will also be increases from £4.45 to £4.60 for
18-21 year olds and from £3.30 to £3.40 for 16-17 year olds.
* The minimum annual leave
entitlement will increase from 20 days to 24 days for full-time workers.
A further increase to 28 days will take place on 1 April 2009.
Editorial Content Statement
like to make it clear that
the commentary & links provided, in respect of any particular item, are
published in its capacity as an independent non-government funded
organisation and reflect the editorial team’s need to both
précis & re‑format the content of news releases.
Any views expressed are
therefore entirely those of the WGPlus editorial team and independent
of any sponsor, government organisation or political party.
For the official view of a source organisation, readers should click on the ‘press
release’ that is the first link attached to each item.
Speed of download -
Readers are reminded that some documents linked to can be large (VL) or even very,
very large (VVL) and may take some time to download, even with a broadband
link. Readers are encouraged to be patient.
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.