In the News
Newswire France 24: An outside review of Immigration from a 21st Century source - A study, carried out for broadcaster France 24 by TNS Sofres across Europe, confirms that 52% of Britons see immigration as a threat to their national identity, with 56% considering illegal immigration as the main source of the problem.
However, the benefits of immigration are also recognised, with 71% recognising how it can boost the workforce in certain sectors of the economy and 77% believe it enhances tolerance and cultural diversity, with the caveat that any failure to integrate is down to immigrants failing to take the necessary steps to integrate into British society.
Confidence in government immigration policy is low with many wanting to see quotas in place, either by occupation, 63%, or by country of origin, 51% and nearly half feel that many immigrants should be returned to their country of origin.
France 24 has commissioned a 5-country survey to compare attitudes towards immigration across Britain, Spain, Italy, Germany and France.
Alain de Pouzilhac, Chief Executive Officer, France 24, said: “France 24 is seeking to open up an intelligent discussion on the issue of immigration. Its editorial style is to back up accurate news reporting with analysis, discussion and debate on complex issues such as this”.
DH: Will they ever ‘get it right’ - Delivering the highest quality of care for all, as good or better than any country in the world, must be a fundamental goal of the NHS, Lord Darzi said as he published his interim report on the 'Our NHS, Our Future' review.
To achieve this, greater influence must be placed in the hands of local NHS staff and others working in partnership across the service, based on the best available evidence, using the latest technological innovations and responding to the needs of local communities.
Lord Darzi's interim report highlights the importance of NHS innovation in health. As an immediate step to improve innovation in the NHS a new Health Innovation Council will be established, together with a fund of up to £100m to help the NHS develop & deploy hi-tech healthcare such as medical devices and diagnostics.
Secretary of State Alan Johnson said: "I am pleased to welcome the interim report that Lord Darzi is publishing today…… I am today announcing a major package of changes to improve access to GP services across the country so that more people can see a GP where they want to and at a time they want to".
To help develop future strategy on primary care a new advisory board will be appointed that includes GPs, community nurses and other health & care professionals.
Taking forward the second stage of 'Our NHS, Our Future' at a local level Lord Darzi announced the appointment of 72 doctors, nurses and other health and social care professionals as clinical champions to lead the next stage of the review in Strategic Health Authorities across England (excluding NHS London).
The clinical champions will look at eight key health issues that can affect people at different stages in our lives, from maternity and children's health care, through long term health, mental health care to end of life care.
CRC: The beginning of the end for a comprehensive national postal service? - The Rural Advocate is urging communities to make their voice heard in the consultation on future of Post Offices.
Tuesday 2 October 2007, saw the beginning of a UK-wide consultation on the future of the Post Office network. Starting in Kent, East Midlands and East Yorkshire with Bassetlaw and North Lincolnshire, plans detailing proposed changes in each of nearly 50 areas of the country are to be subject to a 6-week period of consultation (closes 12 November 2007).
As part of a programme of change up to 2,500 branches are to close across the country, with the possibility of up to 500 of these being replaced through ways of providing an alternative service known as 'Outreach'.
Ofsted: You cannot just order children to ‘eat up their greens’ as every of parent knows - The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) has made a series of recommendations to help schools reverse the decline in the number of pupils eating school meals. A new Ofsted report, Food in schools: encouraging healthier eating, found that the number of pupils eating school meals had fallen in 19 of 27 schools surveyed, reflecting findings from the Better Regulation Commission.
Inspectors found that reasons for the decline were complex but included:
* a lack of consultation with parents & pupils about the new arrangements for healthy school meals
* poor marketing of new menus and
* a lack of choice in what was offered
Ofsted recommends that schools should:
* monitor the take-up of school lunches and identify & eliminate the factors that are discouraging pupils from eating them
* involve pupils closely in developing school menus and in exploring a wider range of food and that
* Dining areas should be attractive & well organised as long queues and insufficient areas for socialising also put pupils off
Schools should also ensure that the cost & methods of paying for school meals do not discourage children from low income families or those entitled to free school meals and the report highlights how cashless catering systems and other initiatives can make a difference.
In the eight schools in the survey where take-up had been maintained or improved, cooks had tried to reflect pupils' preferences and changed the set menu to reflect both their tastes and the food-based standards. Schools had the most impact on encouraging healthy choices when close partnerships existed between senior managers, pupils and their families.
CLG: Yet more for LAs to do - Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has announced a ten-point action plan to promote cohesion and tackle community tensions, including a £50m investment, as part of the Government's response to the 10-month review by the Commission on Integration and Cohesion, which looked at the major challenges Britain faces in responding to increasing change in local communities.
The new proposals have been set out in a letter from Hazel Blears to the Commission's Chair Darra Singh - Chief Executive of Ealing council.
New national indicators on promoting cohesion will help local authorities focus their attention on what really works in their local area and help other areas learn from it. In addition they will place a new responsibility on local authorities to create opportunities for people from different backgrounds to mix & develop a sense of belonging.
The government will publish new guidance for local authorities and public bodies in the coming weeks, which will set out how local authorities should only translate where necessary and put a greater focus on promoting English.
New Cohesion funding guidance. The government will stress that funding for public bodies should focus primarily on groups promoting integration and support the coming together of different communities rather a single identity.
Other actions contained in the plan include:
* A cohesion web-based 'one-stop shop' will be set up to provide help, advice or support on how to develop cohesion policies or respond to cohesion issues
* New cohesion impact tests will also be available - a useful tool for 'cohesion proofing' policies.
* A new interfaith strategy that will focus on what more needs to be done to promote interaction & dialogue between faiths and develop shared values.
Planning Portal: Eco, Eco, Everywhere - Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced that the Government's programme of eco-towns will be doubled from 5 to 10 as a result of there being at least 30 expressions of interest for specific schemes from local authorities and developers. Planning Minister Yvette Copper has indicated she is hoping there will be one such development in every English region.
In a related development the Town and Country Planning Association has stressed the need for more green spaces and medium density housing to cope with climate change. The call for more innovative use of space within and around buildings, as well as more generous tree cover, comes in an association paper on 'Eco-towns and the next 60 years of planning'. See also ‘Guidance Notes and Best Practice’ section below for CLG item.
BNSC: It’s not just about sending rockets into space - 50 years after the launch of Sputnik-1, Science & Innovation Minister Ian Pearson joined representatives from science & industry at the Jodrell Bank Observatory to highlight the UK's achievements in space.
Ian Pearson announced that the British National Space Centre (BNSC) will assess the UK's participation in space exploration, looking at robotic technology and the possible role of humans, saying:
"Space exploration is a global endeavour and is set to move forward at a tremendous pace in the coming years. The UK is already a major player in this great adventure and we are now looking at how best to be involved in the future. I am quite certain that in 10, 20 and 50 years time space science, communications and exploration will be even more important than they are today we need to recognise that in Government policy as we all move forward."
The announcement comes in response to the UK Space Exploration Working Group report, which was published last month. The report recommended the UK should be strategically involved in human exploration while maintaining its lead in robotic technology.
The event's host, the University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Observatory, is home to the Lovell Telescope, which was the only radio telescope in the world able to track Sputnik-1's carrier rocket.
Jodrell Bank's Director, Professor Phil Diamond, announced the observatory will be the global headquarters of the JBO - Square Kilometre Array. This new radio telescope will enable astronomers to explore dark energy, to see the first stars and galaxies, to test Einstein's theories and to study the origin of stars, planets and life. Construction is planned to begin in 2012 with the telescope becoming fully operational by 2020.
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FDA: The FDA, the union representing top public
service managers & professionals, is calling for the government to abolish
fixed retirement ages in the civil service in the wake of a survey showing that
more than one in four of its members want the right to work beyond age 65.
While some government
departments have no set age when workers must retire, employees at most
departments – and all senior civil servants – are required to
retire at 65 whether they wish to continue working or not.
The survey results also raised
the difficulties of getting promoted to senior posts after the age of
50. Comments given showed that while their work had generally been
praised, those in this age category have, as one person put it, ‘missed
the boat’ when it came to becoming a member of the Senior Civil Service.
ScotGov: The Perth Families Project, run
by the leading children's charity NCH Scotland in partnership with
Perth and Kinross Council, has been officially opened by Community
Safety Minister Fergus Ewing.
It is modelled on the
successful Dundee Families Project, established by NCH Scotland 10
years ago, which has since been expanded across Britain to help hundreds of
families put their previously shattered lives back together again.
Funding of £2m is being
provided over two years for these projects that bring together health, housing
and social work professionals to provide intensive supervision &
intervention for individuals & families involved in antisocial
MPA: The way in which the Metropolitan Police
Service responds to the specific needs of
London's deaf and disabled communities in the
event of a major emergency in the capital has been examined by the
Metropolitan Police Authority.
The MPA's Equal
Opportunities & Diversity Board looked at how the Met has implemented
16 key recommendations made to it by deaf & disabled people at a conference
held last year jointly by the MPA and Transport for
BSA: Involving Asian Families in
Learning is a programme about Pakistani & Bangladeshi parents getting
involved in Family Literacy, Language and
Numeracy (FLNN) programmes.
It was filmed in Rochdale, Derby & Croydon and the programme will be
broadcast on Tuesday 9 October at
available online shortly after.
Copies of the programme are
included in a case study guide &
to be published in
. Teachers TV can be watched online at www.teachers.tv
, or on
channels Sky:880, Virgin:240, Tiscali:845 and Freeview:88 (4-5pm)
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DCSF: Schools Minister Andrew Adonis has launched
a prospectus encouraging successful private schools to get involved in
Academies, on the same day that the Girls' Day School Trust announced
that it is applying for Birkenhead High School to become the latest successful
independent day school to convert to an academy.
Woodard Schools, the
education trust whose private schools include Lancing, Ardingly and
Hurstpierpoint Colleges in West Sussex, has also announced its plans to sponsor
three academies in West Sussex in partnership with West Sussex County
The prospectus clarifies that
private schools - alongside universities - will be able to sponsor Academies
without needing to provide the usual £2 million sponsorship contribution.
It sets out four ways that independent schools can get
involved in the management of state-funded schools, by:
* Setting up, sponsoring &
managing their own Academies
* Supporting an Academy as a
co-sponsor, bringing educational expertise
* Sponsoring a Trust school
maintained by the local authority to help it expand or enhance its
* Becoming an Academy in areas
where there is a demand for high quality secondary school places - stopping
charging fees and extending their intake to cover a wider social mix
Defra: A 20-year vision - Fisheries 2027 -
to help fishing communities & businesses prosper, safeguard fish
stocks and protect the marine environment has been unveiled. It envisages
more joined-up, flexible & responsive management of fisheries to address
the effects of climate change and predicts that better-informed consumers will
demand more variety and more local, environmentally-caught seafood in
Defra will be discussing a
draft implementation plan
on how to achieve the vision with people throughout the sector with the aim of
publishing a shared plan next
Defra: A strategy for improving animal welfare in
England by building new relationships between Government and its key partners
has been published. The Animal Welfare Delivery Strategy applies to all vertebrate
animals under the care or control of humans and it sets five key
* Improving the skills &
knowledge of animal keepers
* Developing more robust
systems for monitoring welfare standards
* Providing clear & simple
information to consumers on the welfare history of animal products
* Enforcing welfare rules
effectively whilst minimising burdens on animal keepers
* Working towards
internationally-agreed standards for animal welfare
Defra will be working in
partnership with stakeholders over the next few months to agree an
Implementation Action Plan. Delivery will be monitored by a new
Sub-Group of the England Implementation Group.
DCSF: The Government has pledged to stamp out the
poor practice of asking children to leave care at the age of 16, before they
are ready to live independently. Eleven pilot projects across the country,
costing an estimated £6m over three years, will explore how best to plan
care around the needs of young people and give them a greater say over whether
they stay in care until they are 18, or move out into independent flats or
The Right2bCared4 pilot
programme was first proposed in Care Matters, the Government's
Green Paper for children in care and then, after receiving overwhelming
support, the pilot was confirmed in the White Paper, Care Matters: Time for
Change. The programme will start in
October 2007 and run for three years.
DIUS: The Government will invest £1bn over
the next three years to boost business innovation & technology development
and will create a new science &
innovation strategy, to help position Britain as a key
knowledge economy at the forefront of 21st century innovation. The review
of science & innovation by Lord Sainsbury of Turville will be used as a
blueprint to drive success.
The review finds Britain has
significantly improved its innovation performance in recent years, but still
needs to do more to produce the best possible conditions to stimulate
innovation in industry.
IPCC: The Independent Police Complaints
Commission (IPCC) has begun a public consultation (closes 10
November 2007) on its draft guidelines on investigating
allegations of discriminatory behaviour, which will replace the Police
Complaints Authority (PCA) guidelines, Investigating Allegations of
Racially Discriminatory Behaviour.
These guidelines will assist
investigators employed by the IPCC and police Professional Standards
Departments when considering complaints and allegations against police staff
CRC: The Rural Advocate is urging
communities to make their voice heard in consultation on future of Post Offices
– See ‘In the News’ above.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
Acas: With holiday entitlements increasing by 4
days from 1 October 2007, employment relations service Acas has launched a
new guide offering free
advice to help employers introduce the changes. The Acas guide
Holidays and holiday pay is available free online to businesses &
employees and it offers advice on:
* holiday rights for full
& part-time workers and
* guidance on how to calculate
Statutory holiday entitlement
increases to 4.8 weeks (24 days if you work a five day week) and to 5.6 weeks
(28 days if you work a five day week) from 1
April 2009. Employers will need to inform all employees in
writing of the increased entitlement and ensure that all new written statements
of employment feature the updated holiday & holiday pay entitlements
CLG: Housing and Planning Minister Yvette Cooper
has called on developers to refocus their efforts to deliver the eco homes of
the future as Communities and Local Government published revised guidance to help the
construction industry respond to the challenge of meeting the zero carbon homes
The guidance, which responds
to comments & feedback from industry, provides greater clarity in a number
of areas including the future eligibility of different energy sources and the
method for calculating anticipated water consumption.
DCSF: Schools should make every effort to limit
the cost of school uniforms or risk enforcement action, according to new advice
issued by the government.
The guidance, which was
published following a 3-month consultation, urges all schools to have a school
uniform, but warns that any set policy must be affordable, non-discriminatory
and sensitive to the needs of pupils. In particular, the guidelines warn
that schools that have exclusive contracts with suppliers may
be subject to enforcement action under the terms of the Competition Act.
Overly expensive uniform
policies may also fall foul of the School Admissions Code, which
places a statutory duty on all governing bodies to ensure that
their policies & practices do not disadvantage any children.
Monitor: In a unique link-up for the NHS,
Cass Business School, London, is to deliver a new Strategic Finance Leadership Programme for NHS
Finance Directors. The 2-week tailored executive
education programme will run over the next two years and will draw on
Cass’ significant expertise in finance & management, with support
& input from a number of key stakeholders in the NHS.
The programme – which
was initiated by Monitor, the Independent Regulator of NHS Foundation
Trusts – is sponsored by the NHS Institute for Innovation and
Improvement and supported by the Department of Health. It
will cover a range of subjects, including corporate governance, risk
management, strategic planning and treasury management.
DH: The Department of Health has announced the
names of fourteen organisations appointed to offer support services to the NHS
through a new agreement, known as the Framework for procuring External
Support for Commissioners (FESC).
The framework is comprised of
organisations, which have undergone a pre-qualification process, and will offer
a menu of services such as data analysis and contract management expertise to
Primary Care Trusts (PCTs). The organisations on the FESC will not deal
with the delivery of direct patient care.
Although a number of PCTs
already seek external support in undertaking their commissioning activities, it
is expected that the framework will provide easy access to a bank of specialist
expertise. The FESC suppliers have been appointed by the Department of
Health on the basis of their technical and commercial ability to deliver a
range of appropriate services.
ScotGov: The Parole Board for
Scotland Annual Report 2006 has been published showing
that out of the 754 determinate sentence prisoners whose cases were referred to
the Board 283 were recommended for release on parole. This compares with
363 out of 764 in 2005.
The Parole Board takes decisions on the
release of life sentence prisoners and on the timing of the release on parole
of determinate sentence prisoners serving sentences of four years or
more. Prisoners sentenced to four years imprisonment or more on or after I
October 1993 are automatically released from custody when they have served
two-thirds of the sentence.
General Reports and Other Publications
Home Office: In a joint trial with the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), 160 volunteers piloted two online services aimed at accelerating & toughening-up background checks on people who want to work with children and vulnerable adults. The first is a short-term process using UK passports, the second a longer-term process using ID cards under the National Identity Scheme.
At the trials all volunteers went through a simulated experience of applying for a position requiring a CRB check including meeting their prospective employer, filling out the CRB Disclosure application form, having their identity authenticated by a counter-signatory and receiving their Disclosure.
Each volunteer completed two circuits; one using a passport and one using an ID card which enabled experience of both proposed processes to derive comparisons. An independent company, FDS, carried out interviews with the volunteers and analysed the research.
CC: The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has published the Competition Commission's (CC) report & recommendations on charges at Heathrow and Gatwick airports for the five years from 1 April 2008.
The CC is recommending an increase in the maximum level of airport charges at Heathrow of RPI + 7.5% and a small reduction below RPI at Gatwick (0.5% below the increase in RPI). The CAA, having considered the CC's recommendations, and after consultation with BAA, the airlines & others, will make its final determination on the maximum level of airport charges in early 2008.
In addition, the CC also found that both airports had acted against the public interest by failing to manage security queuing & queue times so as to avoid unacceptable delays to passengers, crew & flights.
CLG: Major changes in how councils are organised have led to more visible & effective leadership, faster decision-making and better public services, according to a five year study commissioned by Communities and Local Government.
The research looked at the impact of changes in the Local Government Act 2000 which gave local authorities with populations over 85,000 the option to adopt either a mayoral or a leader and cabinet system to enhance executive decision-making.
Legislation / Legal
Defra: From 1 October National Park
Authorities can make traffic regulation orders within their boundaries on
rights of way & un-surfaced roads, which will enable them to control the
use of motor vehicles on rights of way.
The last few years has seen a
growing debate about the appropriateness & sustainability of the use of
byways by motor vehicles for recreation and the government considers that in
many cases a level of recreational use that may be acceptable in some areas is
inappropriate in National Parks, which are designed to conserve & enhance
natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage as well as enabling people to
enjoy their special qualities.
Home Office: Incitement to religious hatred has
become a criminal offence in England and Wales with the commencement of the
Racial and Religious Hatred Act, which creates a new offence of intentionally stirring up
religious hatred against people on religious grounds, closing a gap in the
Existing offences in the
Public Order 1986 Act legislate against inciting racial
hatred. Jews and Sikhs have been deemed by the courts to be racial groups
and are protected under this legislation, but other groups such as Muslims and
Christians are considered to be religious rather than racial groups and have
therefore not previously received any protection under the law. The new
Act will give protection to these groups by outlawing the use of threatening
words or behaviour intended to incite hatred against groups of people defined
by their religious beliefs or lack of belief.
The new offence is limited to
threatening words or behaviour, and there is a requirement for the prosecution
to prove intention to stir up religious hatred. The new offence
recognises that religious beliefs are a legitimate subject of vigorous public
debate and all prosecutions, whether for racial or religious hatred, require
the consent of the Attorney General.
MoJ: Means testing in the Magistrates' Courts was
introduced on time & on budget and remains on course to deliver its
projected annual savings of £35m, a post implementation review has found.
The new scheme was introduced on 2 October 2006 in all magistrates'
courts to ensure that all those who can pay for their criminal defence are now
The review of the first six
months of the scheme acknowledges that it has presented some
operational challenges and sets out measures that are being put in
place to tackle these issues effectively and so drive up efficiency across the
criminal justice system.
One of the review's most
significant recommendations is to extend the 'passporting' provisions for
youths so that all defendants appearing before the youth court and all under
18-year-olds appearing before the magistrates' court are exempt from the means
test. This change will be implemented on 1 November 2007. All cases will still need to
satisfy the Interests of Justice test.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
DfT: EU drivers' hours rules will be relaxed in areas outside the Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) Risk Area to allow important movements of animals, Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly has announced. It will increase the driving hours available by one third over a fortnight. The European Commission's approval will be required for an extension beyond 30 days.
The changes, which will be in place for one month, will apply only to drivers who are wholly or mainly engaged in transporting cattle, pigs and sheep (including lambs) in connection with meeting the exceptional circumstances arising as a consequence of the foot and mouth outbreak.
To allow drivers to use the full amount of additional driving time proposed the government also intend that the weekly working time limit is raised by 10% from 60 to 66 hours (the maximum permissible under EU legislation).
BERR: Shoppers will benefit from greater choice and flexibility in the supermarket after a new European Directive deregulated fixed packaging sizes. From April 2009 UK companies will have the freedom to pack foods in different sizes and to develop innovative packaging.
Shopping habits have moved on massively since the 1960s, when these restrictions were originally introduced. At present, legislation dating back to the 1960s requires about 30 different foods to be packaged in specified quantities, including butter, cereal, potatoes, sugar, dried fruit, pasta and rice.
The deregulation of specified quantities will not impose any new costs for business. They will be free to pack in any size, including the sizes they now use. In addition, guidance has been issued by Local Authority Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) that no new prosecutions should be undertaken against manufacturers who introduce new package sizes from a date three months after the Directive comes into force.
Press release ~ EC Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive 94/62/EC - BERR ~ Packaging in the EU - BERR ~ Local Authority Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS ~ EU Pre-packaging
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: A new £15 million pot of lottery
funding has been opened up by the Big Lottery Fund for UK-based
organisations that will work in partnership to help the most marginalised
communities across the world. BIG will award grants of £1m -
£5m for development work that has a particular focus of improving mother
& child health, measures to prevent HIV/AIDS and mitigate its impact and
education with an explicit focus on girls.
Organisations applying to the reopened
Big Lottery Fund’s International Strategic programme will aim to
tackle the causes of poverty and deprivation and bring real changes to the
lives of the most disadvantaged people in the developing world.
To help potential
applicants develop their portfolios, BIG will be holding briefing workshops in London on
8 and 18 October 2007.
Business and Other Briefings
UK IOP: A new simplified trade mark registration system will help businesses register new products, Intellectual Property and Quality Minister Lord Triesman said, as he welcomed amendments to Section 5 of the Trade Marks Act 1994, which comes into force this week.
In future trade mark examiners will no longer automatically refuse applications where there is an earlier similar trade mark. Instead it will be for the holder of the earlier mark to seek to block the application if they so wish.
CLG: New guidance published this week will help facilities managers to think about how to monitor energy efficiency & streamline their energy expenditure. One company in Wales that employs 65 people recently reviewed their heating system and installed a new high efficiency boiler - it reduced their energy bill by 18%.
Four year energy efficiency loans of up to £100,000 pounds are available to eligible small & medium companies (SMEs) to help them make changes sooner rather than later. It is also possible to apply for tax relief via enhanced capital allowances - if a business invests in energy-saving machinery it can write off the whole cost of the equipment against taxable profits in the year of purchase.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has announced it is introducing new measures to increase its contact with small firms. The aim is to help firms make faster progress in meeting the FSA's Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) initiative and to identify, more quickly, those firms most in need of regulatory attention.
Building on its current risk-based approach, the FSA is introducing an ongoing programme of structured visits and/or telephone assessments to test the quality of management and progress towards embedding TCF. The FSA expects to carry out full on-site visits to approximately a quarter of firms in order to verify the assessments and follow-up identified issues.
HMRC: From 19 October, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will start charging penalties for all Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) returns not received by the due date, namely the 19th of every month. This includes returns due from the start of the new scheme between May and September, including nil returns.
After this date, any return not received from contractors by the due date will be liable to a fixed penalty of £100 and a further penalty for every additional month that the return remains outstanding.
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