In the News
DH: Wasting away - Health Minister, Ivan Lewis, has published a Nutrition Action Plan in conjunction with over 25 leading stakeholders, outlining a range of actions to tackle malnutrition and ensure the nutritional needs of older people in hospitals and care homes are better met.
The action plan outlines five priorities for health and social care organisations, which are to:
* raise awareness of the link between nutrition and good health and that malnutrition can be treated
* ensure that accessible guidance is available across all sectors and that the most relevant guidance is appropriate & user-friendly
* strongly encourage nutritional screening for all people using health and social care services; with particular attention to those groups who are known to be vulnerable
* encourage provision & access to relevant training for frontline staff and managers on the importance of nutrition for good health and nutritional care, and
* clarify standards and strengthen inspection & regulation
As part of the plan, the Government and stakeholders will also be encouraging the NHS to use the Council of Europe Alliance (UK) ‘10 Key Characteristics of Good Nutritional Care’ - a landmark document which creates a common understanding of what good nutritional care looks like in hospital settings.
Gordon Lishman, Director General of Age Concern, has been asked by Ivan Lewis to chair the Nutrition Action Plan Delivery Board that will ensure delivery of the Action Plan.
BERR: Coalition of the committed rather than the posturing? - A coalition of European Union countries, the European Commission, U.S. states, Canadian provinces, New Zealand and Norway have announced the formation of the International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP) to fight global warming.
ICAP will provide an international forum in which governments and public authorities adopting mandatory greenhouse gas emissions cap & trade systems will share experiences and best practices on the design of emissions trading schemes.
This cooperation will hopefully ensure that the programs are more compatible and are able to work together as the foundation of a global carbon market. Such a market should boost demand for low-carbon products & services, promote innovation and allow cost effective reductions so as to allow swift and ambitious global reductions in global warming emissions.
DfT: Detailed achievable framework or politically correct aspirations - A new framework to deliver a transport system to support the economy and reduce carbon emissions has been unveiled by Ruth Kelly. 'Towards a Sustainable Transport System' is the Department for Transport's response to both the Eddington Transport Study and the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change.
It is the first stage of a consultation process to deliver a transport system that meets the key objectives of supporting the country's economic competitiveness and helping address climate change.
It argues that forcing the pace of technological improvements and removing the obstacles to behavioural change will be key to ensuring transport makes a substantial contribution to the goal of at least a 60% reduction of CO2 by 2050.
It will begin the development of a plan for cutting transport's carbon footprint and will hopefully ensure that attention is focused where the most benefit can be gained. The next stage will be the publication of a Green Paper and formal consultation in the spring 2008.
CLG: Just how much power has the Treasury and GLG handed over? - The government claims that Councils and communities have been given ‘a new era of greater power and influence to tackle the issues they care about with less Whitehall control’, as the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act received Royal Assent.
Minister John Healey declared it as ‘D-day for devolution’ confirming that new opportunities for local action will be in place within six months, but adding that ‘this was just the beginning’.
The Act opens the door to implementing councils' proposals for unitary status. The Minister claimed that ‘this is an opportunity to create new flagship authorities which can lead the way on meeting today's challenges of promoting prosperity, empowering citizens and communities and modernising local service delivery’, as well as pledging:
* new measures on local petition powers
* improving representation
* greater local action to tackle worklessness, and
* a concordat enshrining a more mature relationship between central & local government by the end of this year
He will also be setting out a detailed Local Government White Paper Implementation Plan within days.
MoJ: Would you trust a politician with the collection plate? - Talks between the three main political parties to reach agreement on measures to reform political party funding have been suspended, Sir Hayden Phillips, the Chairman of the Talks, has announced.
In announcing the suspension of the talks Sir Hayden said:
"The issue of how political parties are funded is one of considerable public importance, not just in terms of probity and propriety, but also in terms of helping to restore trust and confidence in the wider political system…..
I said at the outset of these talks that I believed that a consensus between the parties on future reform was both desirable and possible….. I am now publishing the draft agreement that I put to the parties in late August. I hope that this will inform the current public debate".
CC: So it’s even more big superstores then! - The UK groceries market is delivering a good deal for consumers, but action is needed to improve competition in a number of local markets and to address relationships between retailers and their suppliers, the Competition Commission (CC) has provisionally concluded.
In its provisional findings report, the CC states that a lack of competition in certain local markets not only disadvantages consumers in those areas but also allows retailers to weaken their offer to consumers nationally. Further, some retailer land holdings and other practices, such as restrictive covenants, mean that competition is not as effective as it could be in a number of areas.
The CC is also concerned about the ability of grocery retailers to transfer excessive risk & costs to suppliers through various purchasing practices, such as retrospective changes to supply agreements. The CC considers that these practices could damage investment and innovation in the supply chain to the ultimate detriment of consumers.
The CC will now consider a range of measures to address these concerns before deciding on its final remedies. Options under consideration include the lifting of restrictive covenants and exclusivity arrangements, sales of land holdings, and recommending changes to the planning system to place greater weight on competition and choice.
The CC will also consider changes to the Supermarkets Code of Practice (SCOP), which regulates retailer - supplier relationships.
The CC would like to hear from all interested parties, in writing about both the provisional findings report (by 30 November 2007) and the notice of possible remedies (by 23 November 2007).
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Home Office: Young people aged 16 or 17 will be able to apply for a passport without parental consent, the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) has announced. The new measure will bring passports in line with modern legal practice for 16 and 17 year olds. Parental consent will still be needed where a court order requires it or the young person has a mental disability.
The conclusions of a review of policy on passports for children also agreed that all passport renewals for children under 11 will require a counter signatory. IPS will no longer require parental views before issuing passports to 16 and 17 year olds who have changed name. The measures will come into force on 10 December 2007.
Yorkshire Forward: A new major awards scheme celebrating businesses, community organisations and public sector bodies working towards social inclusion within Yorkshire and Humber is to be launched at the Building Better Businesses and Communities Conference on 7 November 2007.
The Creating Better Futures Awards will recognise commitment to transforming the regions communities by working towards inclusion for all and will be based on factors identified as key in project success; Ambition, Diversity, Leadership, Involvement, Creating a culture of change, Partnership working and Measuring effectiveness.
The awards coincide with the arrival of ‘Promise’ the region’s inclusion strategy, which marks a new phase in how the region will work together to address this issue, building on work that the region has already carried out.
OFT: UK consumers will continue to be protected when purchasing goods overseas on their credit cards following a landmark ruling by the House of Lords. The Lords confirmed that section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 applies to overseas as well as domestic transactions, and this ruling brings to an end a legal process initiated by the OFT in 2004.
This applies to overseas purchases where the price is above £100 but no more than £30,000. As a result, cardholders are able to make a claim against the credit card issuer as well as, or instead of, the supplier.
Section 75 covers foreign transactions including where:
* a consumer uses a UK credit card to buy goods or services while abroad
* a consumer orders goods or services from a foreign supplier while abroad for delivery into the UK
* a consumer in the UK buys goods or services from overseas by telephone, mail order or over the internet which are delivered to a UK address, or
* there are face-to-face pre-contract dealings with a foreign supplier temporarily in the UK, or with a UK agent of a foreign supplier, but the contract is not completed in the UK
Defra: Most people claimed that being 'green' is now the socially acceptable norm, a survey into public attitudes & behaviours has found, rather than being an alternative lifestyle, and the main motivation for an environmentally friendly lifestyle is guilt about harming the environment.
The 2007 Survey of Public Attitudes and Behaviour toward the Environment is the sixth in a series of surveys that Defra and its predecessors have conducted since 1986.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
CLG: Housing and Planning Minister Yvette Cooper has confirmed that an ideas competition will be run to develop & set the design standards for ten new eco-towns. The Government's adviser on architecture and urban design CABE, with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment, will assist the Government in the competition and establish a judging panel to assess the entries.
The competition will focus both on the practical design ideas and the design & development process. At the end of the competition, the best of the ideas & lessons learned will be drawn together in an exhibition and eco-towns "compendium", which will help inform the thinking of local authorities and developers taking forward eco-town proposals.
DCSF: Schools Minister Andrew Adonis has announced John Stannard as the new National Champion for the Young Gifted and Talented (YG&T) programme, which nurtures the abilities of the most able children. His first priority will be to target the 300 secondary schools which still do not identify any gifted & talented pupils, so that every school has in place extra provision to meet their needs.
This follows the Prime Minister's announcement this week that the YG&T programme will be expanded to support one million gifted and talented learners. He also announced an inquiry to report on how applications to universities can be increased from comprehensives in disadvantaged areas. The Sutton Trust and universities will be engaged in this work.
HA: A new draft policy for providing & operating motorway services and other roadside facilities on England's strategic roads has been published by the Highways Agency for a consultation (closes 11 December 2007). An earlier call for evidence asked the views of road users, industry and other interested parties and that feedback has been used to prepare the draft policy.
The draft policy sets out how the Agency will regulate the provision of motorway service areas and rest areas, trunk road service areas and lay-bys to ensure they continue to provide safe &suitable roadside facilities for road users to take a break during their journey.
It says that the Highways Agency is now prepared to consider a number of new ideas which could lead to motorway service areas being used for conference facilities, coach interchanges or to provide a base for park and ride or park and share. There is also a proposal to develop a new quality standard award for service facilities in partnership with the British Tourist Authority.
DH: Speaking at this year's Chief Nursing Officer's Conference, Health Secretary Alan Johnson launched a formal consultation to look at a new structure for nurses' careers (closes on 15 February 2008). The draft proposals reflect changing health needs and the new ways in which healthcare is being delivered by organising nursing careers around a series of 'patient pathways'.
Chief Nursing Officer Christine Beasley said: It is so important that this consultation on post registration training is launched at the same time as the Nursing and Midwifery Council launch their consultation: ‘A framework for pre-registration nursing education'.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
HSE: The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) and the Institute of Directors (IoD) have published 'Leading health and safety at work' - a practical, common sense health and safety guideline, which will remind Directors across organisations of all sizes it is their responsibility to lead on health & safety and establish polices & practices that make it an integral part of their culture and values.
The guidance is written 'by directors for directors' and offers them straightforward practical advice on how to; Plan, Deliver, Monitor and Review, health and safety in the workplace.
ScotGov: A new Standard for Childhood Practice has been launched, giving professional recognition to nursery and childcare workers. Developed by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), the Standard will help build an integrated qualification and professional development framework for early years and childcare workers in Scotland.
It sets the standards required for a new award that is expected to be rolled out by universities, colleges and training providers in autumn 2008.
DH: A new set of benchmarks, in the Essence of Care series, which will help nurses and other health and social care staff improve the care environment - such as the hospital ward, a patient's bed, or a GP practice – has been launched by Chief Nursing Officer, Christine Beasley.
The new benchmarks, focuses on important aspects of the care environment - such as ease of access, how well maintained it is, cleanliness & tidiness, personal space, visible precautions for controlling infection, as well as the culture of wards and clinical areas. The 'red tray' scheme which highlights those patients who need special help with diet and nutrition was a idea generated by nurses using the Essence of Care system.
The Healthcare Commission is incorporating the Essence of Care into its own monitoring of NHS trusts.
DH: The NHS has now received guidance on what a deep clean might entail, although the details of a deep clean will be finalised locally. SHA estates and facilities advisors can help PCTs and SHAs to commission deep cleans that meet the needs of the site and deliver tangible outcomes by year-end.
In some instances it may be more appropriate to replace items that cannot be satisfactorily cleaned, or to replace damaged finishes to make subsequent cleaning easier.
PB: The Parole Board has published its Annual Report and Accounts for 2006/07, reporting on its performance against business plan targets, statistics for determinate sentence and indeterminate sentence prisoners and accounts for the year. The number of cases handled during the year was 25,436 which, compared with 2005/06, was up by more than 31%.
One chapter in the report is devoted to the Board's increasing victim perspective, including the new NOMS public protection advocates, training for Board members on victim issues and work with victim's groups. The chapter features a thought provoking contribution from Wendy Crompton, whose son was the victim of murder and who has been working closely with the Board in helping members to understand the perspective of victims and their families.
CCWater: Almost 241,000 written complaints were made by customers to water and sewerage companies in 2006-07, an increase of nearly 30% compared with the previous year, the Consumer Council for Water has announced.
More than 109,000, nearly half, the complaints were about billing and charges and three companies accounted for 78% of these complaints: Thames Water, United Utilities and Severn Trent Water. Complaints about water services (such as supply, quality and pipes) accounted for more than 15%.
General Reports and Other Publications
Defra: Defra has published the first epidemiology report into the Bluetongue outbreak, based on the situation up to 19 October 2007. The report concludes that the infection was likely to have been initially introduced into Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex on the night of 4/5 August by windborne transmission of infected midges from continental Europe.
The report also describes the generally low morbidity, mortality and prevalence rates in infected animals. The majority of infected premises have only one infected animal and the prevalence is generally low. Surveillance and testing are ongoing to gain an understanding of the geographical extent of the Bluetongue infection and to determine disease prevalence within herds and flocks.
ESRC: A new booklet, entitled ‘Human rights, a tool for change’, published by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) examines the role that human rights should be playing in the lives of all in the UK. It was produced following the sixth, and last, in a series of special seminars entitled ‘Engaging Citizens’, organised by the ESRC in collaboration with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).
‘Human rights, a tool for change’ draws on presentations at a recent seminar given jointly by Katie Ghose, director of the British Institute of Human Rights, and Professor Weir. Their work is helping people and organisations in the UK realise that human rights are not granted, but must be claimed and used to bring about changes in society that will ensure social justice.
ESRC: Now is the time that many parents will be choosing secondary schools for their children but with education policy mostly focused on individual success and achievement, the importance of children’s school friendships is largely ignored, according to a study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
Fear of being bullied made it vital for children to have a solid group of friends who acted as ‘back up’, ready to support & defend them. Those without solid friendships were inherently more vulnerable. For the minority who found the move challenging, friends from primary school were particularly important.
DfT: An independent study of public attitudes to aircraft noise – the Attitudes to Noise from Aviation Sources in England (ANASE) - has been published by the Department for Transport (DfT) and Two key conclusions emerge from the study:
* First, that people are more annoyed by all levels of aircraft noise than they were in 1985, when the last major study in this field was carried out.
* Secondly, there is no identifiable threshold at which noise becomes a serious problem. Even relatively low levels of noise can cause some annoyance, which rises as the noise increases.
Legislation / Legal
Defra: Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said that the Government would amend its draft Climate Change Bill, following a three-month public consultation and pre-legislative scrutiny by three parliamentary committees.
When originally published in March 2007, the draft Bill set out legally binding targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the UK by at least 60% by 2050 and 26 to 32% by 2020. This is to be based on a new system of ’carbon budgets’ set at least fifteen years ahead. It also proposed the creation of a new independent, expert Committee on Climate Change to advise on the best way to achieve these targets.
The changes to the draft Bill are set out in a Command Paper entitled 'Taking Forward the UK Climate Change Bill' and the Government now plans to introduce a revised Bill to Parliament at the earliest possible legislative opportunity.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government's Public Health etc (Scotland) Bill is designed to comprehensively modernise Scotland's public health legislation which dates back to 1889, ensuring that organisations responsible for protecting public health are better equipped to protect Scotland from the threat of infectious diseases and contamination.
It is intended to bring public health legislation into line with many other countries and ensure full compliance with the International Health Regulations 2005 which broaden the scope of action beyond infectious diseases to those caused by contamination (biological, chemical and radiological).
The Bill will also include a statutory duty for the provision of mortuaries and amendments to the statutory nuisance regime of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, similar to the statutory nuisance regime in place in England and Wales.
Home Office: The UK borders bill has gained Royal Assent. This is the latest step in the Government's shake up of the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA), which will see several changes to the immigration system introduced over the next 12 months.
The UK Borders Act is designed to increase the powers the BIA has to build stronger borders, tackle organised crime and remove incentives for illegal immigrants wanting to come to Britain. It also ensures that from 2008 ID cards will be introduced for foreign nationals subject to immigration control.
Home Office: The Serious Crime Bill has received Royal Assent and its measures are intended to help deliver the Government's strategy to tackle serious organised crime and target the behaviour of those who profit from damage to our communities.
MoJ: The independent Office for Legal Complaints, introduced under the Legal Services Act which has just received Royal Assent, will remove complaints handling from lawyers and establish a new ombudsman scheme as a single point of entry for all consumer legal complaints.
Its provisions also enable greater consumer choice and flexibility in legal services by removing disproportionate restrictions on business structures, allowing lawyers and non-lawyers to set up businesses together for the first time ever, and enabling services in develop in new, consumer-friendly ways.
The Act also introduces an independent oversight regulator, the Legal Services Board, whose members will be recruited shortly.
Adverts for the post of Chair of the Legal Services Board are due to go out in November. It is envisaged that the Chair will be appointed by February 2008.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
Defra: UK Fisheries Minister Jonathan Shaw has backed new European Union moves to stamp out the global trade in illegal fish. Ministers meeting in Lisbon last week signed a declaration aimed at stopping illegal produce entering the food chain, calling for existing control and surveillance measures aimed at fishermen, processors and importers to be strengthened.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a worldwide organised crime that deprives poor communities of up to $9 billion in lost income every year - $1bn of which is lost to Africa. In April the UK government gave its backing to a new system to beat illegal fishing around the world by tracking fish from the moment they are caught to when they arrive on consumers' plates.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: Some 58 library authorities are being given grants of between £250,000 and £2 million each from BIG’s Community Libraries funding to renovate, extend or build new libraries so that they can offer a broader range of activities to their communities.
The Community Libraries funding will create new spaces, turning libraries into community hubs that offer a range of activities to appeal to a wide section of society. Using their additional space, libraries will offer more learning opportunities and activities to attract groups and individuals who may not have used the buildings in the past.
Reading groups, writing groups, language classes, family learning activities, art and museum exhibitions, cultural activities, drama, information seminars, fitness classes and health initiatives are all some of the activities that could be on offer.
CC: The Charity Commission has published a revised & updated timetable for the development of its advice and guidance for charities on public benefit.
Under the 2006 Charities Act, all charities - including charities which advance education or religion, or to prevent or relieve poverty - must be able to demonstrate that they are established for the public benefit. The Commission is responsible for interpreting the law through its guidance, which is intended to help charities understand their responsibilities under the Act.
The revised timetable, a summary of responses to the draft guidance on the principles of public benefit, and other information about public benefit and the Charities Act 2006 is available on the Commission's website.
CC: The Charity Commission has launched a web-based list of newly-registered charities which will help umbrella, membership & support organisations introduce the help they can offer new charities more swiftly than ever before (400 organisations register as charities with the Commission every month).
The new list has been created in response to a suggestion by just such a 'second-tier' charity. It allows anyone to view newly registered charities on a daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly basis.
Business and Other Briefings
HM Treasury: Economic Secretary and City Minister Kitty Ussher has announced that the Financial Services Authority will be the UK regulator for the provision of payment services, established by the Payment Services Directive.
Currently, cross-border competition in payments is hampered by differing national standards and the Directive creates a harmonised legal framework for payment services such as direct debits, card payments, and remittances.
The details of implementing the provisions of the Payment Services Directive into UK law are now being considered, and the Treasury will publish a consultation document on implementation later this year.
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