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In the News

ScotGov: Creating a more successful country - The Scottish Government has launched its new Economic Strategy with the ‘purpose of creating a more successful country’, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth.  It includes the target to raise Scotland's growth rate to the UK level by 2011.

The strategy identifies five Strategic Priorities that are most critical to economic growth:
* Learning, Skills & Well-being
* Supportive Business Environment
* Infrastructure Development & Place
* Effective Government
* Equity
SAPShame of publicity may be the ultimate sanction - Organisations guilty of corporate manslaughter should face publicity orders & fines based on average annual turnover – these are the key proposals from the Sentencing Advisory Panel in a new consultation paper (closes 7 February 2008).

The imposition of significant fines would reflect the serious concerns resulting from the unnecessary loss of life involved in corporate manslaughter, where death has been caused by a gross breach of the duty of care that an organisation owed to the deceased. The prospect of large fines should also encourage compliance with health & safety regulations.

The courts may also impose a publicity order – a new sanction that is designed to bring the failings of the offending organisation to the attention of the public – and the Panel proposes that, in principle, courts should impose a publicity order on every organisation convicted of the offence.

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 was enacted in response to problems applying the existing common law offence of manslaughter by gross negligence to organisations, rather than to individual defendants; it is due to come into force on 6 April 2008.

Comprehensive guidelines are required as corporate manslaughter is a new offence and one that also incorporates a totally new sanction (publicity orders) with which the courts are unfamiliar. Following the consultation, the Panel will submit its advice to the Sentencing Guidelines Council.
 NAOStill green light for digital TV - The BBC Trust has published an independent review it had commissioned from the National Audit Office (NAO) - The BBC's Preparedness for Digital Switchover - which looks in particular at how the BBC plans to meet its obligations set out under the Royal Charter and Agreement.

Among its findings / recommendations are that:
* the NAO has identified three areas where the BBC should act to protect its position
* measures are put in place for measuring the value for money of the BBC's £200m funding of Digital UK
* lessons from the Copeland scheme are incorporated in the procurement of the National Digital Switchover Help Scheme. The Copeland region in Cumbria is the first to switch to digital television in the UK, starting on October 17 and finishing on November 14 2007

The Trust will put in place performance indicators for the Help Scheme and ensure that where possible the Copeland experiences feature in the contract.  Additionally the Trust will commission a review to monitor the operational value for money of the Digital Switchover Help Scheme around 2009.
Cabinet OfficeGovernment Flavour of the month; ‘Social Enterprises’ - Last week was Enterprise Week, with Thursday being Social Enterprise Day, which saw a new generation of social entrepreneurs participate in a day of events intended to inspire people to work for or set up businesses with social or environmental goals.

 Pupils & young people across England took part in events celebrating the achievements of social entrepreneurs and, in keeping with the youth theme of this year's Social Enterprise Day, the Government announced that GCSE business studies students will study social enterprise as a core part of the syllabus from September 2008.

In addition, thousands of aspiring & existing social enterprises will benefit from a new guide offering specialist business information & advice, launched on

 As part of other activities happening on Social Enterprise Day, thousands of votes were cast online as young people chose their favourite idea to change the world, expressed in just one minute, in Make Your Mark in 60 Seconds.  The winner received a £5,000 Award from UnLtd to make their idea happen.  

The second phase of the competition then started - challenging young people all over the country to come up with their own 60 second pitch to change lives.
DCSFLet’s hope it's more ‘fit for purpose’ than the Home Office - The Government is to consult on the process for barring unsuitable people from working with children & vulnerable adults, as part of the next stage to introduce a tougher vetting & barring scheme under the newly established public body, the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), which will be vested in January 2008.

 In the consultation (closes 20 February 2008) respondents are asked to consider points including; who the scheme will protect, who will need to join the scheme, referring information to the scheme, how applications will be made and how the scheme will be phased in.  The ISA will take consistent expert decisions as to who should be included in the new lists of people who will be barred from working with children and/or vulnerable adults.
DIUSHigh ideals, but if they cannot teach 1 in 6 even to read & write? - The Government claims that, over the next three years, more than £11bn a year will be invested in education, employment and training initiatives for young people & adults to help boost the country's job prospects. Total spending on learning & skills will rise to £12.3bn a year in 2010/11 - compared to £6.5bn in 2001/02.

At the centre of the programme is a major expansion of apprenticeships with over £1billion in Government funding to increase overall places from 250,000 today to more than 400,000 by 2010/11, provided high quality employer places are available.  Achieving these figures in this timescale would deliver the challenges set by Lord Leitch in his review of skills almost 10 years early.

Overall, total DIUS funding for LSC spending for adult skills & apprenticeships will increase to £4.3bn a year by 2011, helping deliver an increase in spending of 17% on adult learning.  The funding will provide over seven million training places over the three year spending review period from 2008/9.
Industry NewsIt may be a good idea, but have you really thought it through? - Change is an essential part of the way Public Service Organisations (PSOs) work and they are continually facing demands to deliver both existing and new services in different ways.

However, experience has demonstrated that it is far easier to decide to change the way something is done, or to start providing a new service, than to actually successfully implement a decision that is often taken for political rather than practical reasons.

One way for PSOs to be both able to encourage new ideas / concepts and to respond to political decisions is to have in place a framework that can provide an unbiased evaluation of a New Product / Service Development (NPD).  Whether for a product or service, the NPD process provides a better way to engage with clients and get new services launched successfully.

Quadrant Consultants has been bringing best practice NPD techniques from work in the private sector to clients in the public sector and has found a keen audience ready to use tools that make the process more seamless.

The process is built around two steps:
* Firstly, Quadrant Customer Proposition Big Idea Template, which provides the facility for any idea originator to get their thoughts on paper for others to share & consider in a standardised format.  This gives a ‘good idea’ the best chance of being fully considered before launch
* Secondly, Quadrant New Proposition Filtering Template provides a process whereby senior staff / stakeholders / politicians can compare the merit of one idea versus other good causes in the competition for the investment of effort or funds.  It helps identify which ones have stakeholders support, or are seen early on to need more thinking in a fundamental area.
In an exclusive offer to Wired-GOV users, the Quadrant  team are pleased to invite you to join them for a free half-day Customer Proposition Development Workshop.
For information on forthcoming Public Sector Events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar

General News

ARA: A joint investigation between the Assets Recovery Agency, Thames Valley Police and the Serious Fraud Office has led to a confiscation order worth nearly £41m - the largest believed to be secured under criminal proceedings to date.
The order is the result of a serious fraud case involving Gerald Smith, who is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence after being found guilty to the misappropriation of funds belonging to a software dot-com company, Izodia plc in September 2006. Dr Smith has been ordered to pay £40,956,911 within 12 months.
Ofwat: Ofwat has published its proposals to fine Southern Water a total of £20.3m for deliberately misreporting information prior to October 2005 and because poor processes & systems meant customers received poor service.  Customers also missed out on the payments they were entitled to because of these service failures.
Ofwat notes that the company took prompt action once it discovered the misreporting.  It reported the situation to Ofwat and the Serious Fraud Office, initiated its own investigation and co-operated fully with Ofwat's investigation. The company's new management has ensured customers received payments they were entitled to and is also returning money to customers who paid higher bills than they should have done.
HL: Grant Shapps, Shadow Housing Minister, has released his report Roughly Sleeping which disputes the government’s national street count figure. The current system requires Local Authorities to provide a rough sleepers estimate, but when any number between 0 and 10 is recorded the number is then automatically reduced to zero by central compilers, thereby dramatically underestimating the number of people sleeping rough each night.
Jenny Edwards, CEO of Homeless Link, the national umbrella organisation for frontline homelessness agencies in the UK, said: “The time is ripe to move on from debates about street count statistics to look at ending the evil of street homelessness for good……. . We call on the leaders of all political parties and all local authorities to produce plans to show how they will end rough sleeping and set an example for the world to follow."
WYPWest Yorkshire Police is warning people across the county not to fall victim to an ongoing laptop computer scam.  People - often students near to university campuses - have been approached in the street and offered a laptop computer for sale at a bargain price.

They are shown a real laptop and go to the cashpoint to draw out money.  However, when they hand over the cash, they are given a laptop bag, which, once the sellers have left, they discover contains worthless items such as bottles of water or catalogues to give weight to the bag.
DH: NHS staff will this week be able to watch some of the worlds leading health experts live online at a unique international clinical summit in London. The summit will bring together leading figures from a wide range of clinical specialities and backgrounds from the UK, US, Canada and Europe.
Discussions will focus on sharing their experience & learning with NHS staff and stakeholders who are involved in shaping the future of the NHS through the Our NHS, Our Future review. Keynote speeches from the event will be broadcast live from 14.20-19.00 on Wednesday 21 November.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

CLG: Housing Minister Yvette Cooper has announced a new £70m expansion of the Government's drive to help rough sleepers make a permanent move away from the streets. The investment will fund more than 100 new or upgraded hostels with training facilities to help some of the most vulnerable people in society move on to independence.
The new types of hostels provides on-site training for residents to learn practical vocational skills from catering to sound engineering.  Other projects include social enterprises, where the skills needed to successfully run businesses are learnt - examples include a cafe in Newcastle and a scheme to grow & deliver organic fruit & vegetables to local restaurants.  Homeless Link, the national umbrella agency for the homelessness sector will be administering the scheme.
DCSF: Minister for Schools and Learners Jim Knight has announced the three-year school funding settlement for every local authority in England for 2008-11. The revenue funding settlement is intended to target key priority areas, including closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.
Total revenue schools funding will be:
* £38bn in 2008-09
* £39.8bn in 2009-10
* £41.9bn in 2010-11
Home Office: Immigration, customs and visa checks will be united in a new UK Border Agency, it has been announced.  At the same time the Government announced a £1.2bn programme to strengthen the UK's offshore border controls with new passenger screening technology.
The government claims that by integrating the work of Customs, the Border and Immigration Agency and UKVisas, overseas and at the main points of entry to the UK, the UK Border Agency will have in place both the resources & remit to strengthen the UK's security through strong border controls beginning before travellers start for Britain.
The £1.2b programme includes a £650m contract with consortia Trusted Borders for a passenger screening system, which will work alongside the global rollout of fingerprint visas to keep the UK's border secure. The electronic border security system will screen all passengers before they travel to the UK against immigration, customs and police watch lists.
Defra: The framework that will allow a small number of local authorities in England to pilot incentives for people to reduce, reuse & recycle waste has been set out by the government. Under the powers, included in the Climate Change Bill, a maximum of five local authorities will be granted permission to pilot the schemes.
Local authorities will have to pay back to residents overall any money they collect from them as part of the pilots.  Those throwing away the least would receive a rebate and those throwing away the most could pay more. The schemes will then be reviewed to ascertain their success before a decision is made on whether they can be introduced more widely.
Details of the pilots were set out by Waste & Recycling Minister Joan Ruddock in a written Parliamentary statement and the relevant clauses are included in the Climate Change Bill, which has just been published.


LRLand Registry is seeking views on proposals to introduce two new triggers that would lead to compulsory registration of title.  An example of an existing trigger for compulsory registration is the transfer of land either by sale or gift.  The proposed new triggers are:
* appointment of a new trustee of unregistered land held in trust, where the land vests in the new trustee by deed or other instrument in writing, or by vesting of the court
* partitioning of unregistered land held in trust among the beneficiaries of the trust
The proposal to introduce additional triggers forms part of Land Registry's drive to achieve a comprehensive land register for England and Wales.  Around 60% of land in England and Wales is now registered on the national land database.
DCSF: The Government is to consult on the process for barring unsuitable people from working with children & vulnerable adults, as part of the next stage to introduce a tougher vetting & barring scheme under the newly established public body, the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). See ‘In the News’ above.
DefraDefra and the Welsh Assembly Government have published a consultation for delivering improved bathing water quality under the revised Bathing Water Directive. See ‘EU legislation, initiatives’ below.
SAP: Organisations guilty of corporate manslaughter should face publicity orders and fines based on average annual turnover – these are the key proposals from the Sentencing Advisory Panel in a new consultation paper.
See ‘In the News’ above.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

Monitor: Promoting clinical leadership in the NHS can provide powerful incentives for staff to take on greater responsibility for the services they provide.  This is one of the benefits of service-line management set out in a new guide published by Monitor, the regulator of NHS foundation trusts.
The new guide contains practical examples of how service-line management has been implemented in the NHS and the way it has been adapted to suit different trusts.  It is aimed at managers & clinicians beginning the process of introducing service-line management to their organisations.  It pulls together the experiences of the first trusts to implement this concept and identifies key areas for development.

Annual Reports

IPCC: Nearly half of complaints against the police are allegations of neglect or failure of duty and incivility, according to new statistics published by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). The statistics on complaints against the police in England and Wales during 2006/07 show neglect or failure of duty and incivility accounted for 45% of recorded allegations.
A total of 41,584 individual allegations were completed in 2006/07.  This figure includes allegations recorded in previous years and represents an increase of 9% (on 2005/06) in the actual number of allegations which were closed.  Of those formally investigated 89% were found to be unsubstantiated.
Ofwat:  Most water and sewerage companies continued to deliver the high standards of service that customers expected in 2006-07, but a few have fallen short, says Ofwat's 'Levels of Service report'.
Some problems in the past year came from difficulties with customer contact & billing systems.  Because of this the service provided to some customers who tried to contact their company in writing or by telephone was not good enough.  As a result of a number of company specific investigations into Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS), all companies were required to review how they deliver and report standards of service.

General Reports and Other Publications

DWP: More couples are in work & better off, according to new research by the DWP.  The proportion of 'work-rich' couples (where both partners are in work) has increased from 57% in 1994/5 to 67% in 2005/6.
In contrast, the proportion of 'work-poor' couples (where both partners are unemployed or inactive) has fallen from 14% to 8% for the same period.  The new findings also show that the incomes for all groups, including those with children, have increased in real terms by as much as £175 per week.
NAO:   The National Audit Office has reported that Government-led initiatives to help unemployed people find work are having a real impact.  Programmes such as the New Deal have helped reduce the number of people on benefit, and the average length of claims.
 However, too many people still do not stay in work once they have found it and of the 2.4m new Jobseeker’s allowance claims made each year, around 66% are repeat claims.  Therefore the NAO says that more now needs to be done to address the problems faced by jobseekers who cycle between work & benefit.
Acas: A new independent study has revealed the positive impact that the employment relations service Acas is having on the UK economy. Research published by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research shows that for every pound spent by Acas, over £16 is returned, generating benefits worth almost £800m a year across UK businesses, employees and the economy.
The report, which analysed Acas' six principal service areas, found that Acas work in resolving individual & collective disputes at work produced immediate savings to the economy of £313m, while the advice & guidance provided to employers and employees contributed a further £475m.
Savings in management time and reductions in recruitment, absence & other employment costs were amongst the benefits for businesses from working with Acas while employees benefited particularly from better employment prospects and avoiding a loss in earnings.
Defra: An investigation into the effects on soil quality and fertility of the heavy metals present in sewage sludge has published interim findings.  Spreading treated sewage sludge on agricultural land provides organic matter & nutrients and maintains soil carbon, as well as offering what is in many circumstances the best environmental option for recycling of sewage sludge.  The alternative disposal routes are landfill or incineration, both of which waste a potentially valuable resource.
Headline results show that under certain conditions metal-rich sludge could impact upon some microbial groups, with implications for soil quality over the long term.  Further work is now planned to understand the mechanisms behind the identified impacts and how these could be influenced.
BERR: ‘Too Much Information Can Harm’, a Department for Business (BERR) and the National Consumer Council (NCC) report highlights how much of the vital information provided with products & services is never read because it is too long or too complicated. Examples included a toaster manual with more than 50 different safety warnings, and a store card agreement form that took more than an hour to read. 
Among the measures it recommends are:
* Testing information on consumers before applying it too goods & services and ensuring it is regularly reviewed
* Introducing a small print award to recognise best practice
HSE: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published a report on its investigation into two outbreaks of Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) at Stoke Mandeville Hospital between 1 October 2003 and 30 June 2005.
Launching the report Sandra Caldwell, HSE Director of Field Operations, said:
On the basis of the evidence available, HSE did not find sufficient admissible evidence to be able to bring criminal proceedings against the Trust, alleging a link between management failures and particular deaths.  We did find some breaches relating to the requirements to keep documents.  
However, as these were not directly linked to any of the deaths and were of a relatively minor nature, HSE decided that it would not be in the public interest to bring legal proceedings against the Trust and its managers in relation to these matters. ……..
Of particular concern to HSE was the fact that the Trust did not have a contingency plan to help managers respond to any outbreak.  The consequence was that throughout the two C difficile outbreaks, managers were constantly having to respond to events rather than being able to implement and follow well thought out solutions to foreseeable circumstance."
NAO: The UK bears the ultimate risk of potential liabilities from its overseas territories such as Anguilla, Montserrat and the Falkland Islands; and, while progress has been made in managing & mitigating these risks since the last report by the National Audit Office in 1997, there is room for improvement, the NAO has reported.
The report to Parliament has found that progress has been made in improving the standards of safety and security of transport links, and in the regulation of offshore financial services in the territories. It is important, however, that the UK should reinforce its close working with Territories to manage risks in government finances, disaster and crisis management, and in law enforcement and security.

Legislation / Legal

ScotGov: Following the announcement that Glasgow will host the 2014 Games, the Scottish Parliament will now consider the Glasgow Commonwealth Games Bill, which aims to protect the Games from ‘ambush marketing' and ticket touts, while putting powers in place to address matters such as transport and land purchase.

Under terms set out by the Commonwealth Games Federation, the Scottish Government gave a commitment that, when Glasgow won, legislation covering these areas would be in place by 2010. Ambush marketing is regarded as a major threat to large sporting events like the Commonwealth Games.  Businesses pay significant sums of money to become official sponsors of such events, thereby helping to offset overall costs.
DCSF: The Children and Young Persons Bill published last week in Parliament, aims to improve the lives of the 60,000 children in care. Children in care are still five times less likely to achieve five good GCSEs and a quarter of people in prison have been in care.
Among its elements are:
* Young people up to the age of 18 will not be required to leave their care placement before they are ready to live independently and will get support as long as they need it through a personal adviser up to the age of 25
* A £2,000 bursary will be given to children in care who go on to university
* There will be an increased focus on the quality of care planning and ensuring that the child's voice is heard when important decisions that affect their future are taken.
* Local Authorities will see that children do not move schools as a result of care placement decisions, particularly in GCSE years, except in exceptional circumstances.
CLG: New measures in the Housing and Regeneration Bill include legislation to remove barriers to councils building their own social housing, stronger action where tenants are unhappy with the management of their estates and new rules for councils to tackle anti-social tenants.
The Bill will also establish a new watchdog for social tenants - Oftenant - and give this watchdog a duty to reduce red tape for good Housing Associations, with less paperwork and no routine inspections, allowing them to concentrate on building new housing.
The Bill will establish the Homes and Communities Agency which is intended to bring together responsibility for land and money to deliver new housing, community facilities and infrastructure.  It will also work with local councils on some of the 10 new eco towns the Prime Minister has pledged by 2020.
The Bill will also rewrite the rules on financing new council housing, helping councils to build new social homes in their areas where it offers value for money.
DH: The government has published the Health and Social Care Bill, which they claim will ‘enhance patient safety and improve public health’. Among other things, it will establish the Care Quality Commission, a new health & adult social care regulator with powers to inspect, investigate & intervene where hospitals are failing to meet safety and quality requirements, including hygiene standards.  The Care Quality Commission will bring together the expertise of the Healthcare Commission, Commission for Social Care Inspection and the Mental Health Act Commission.
It will also update existing public health protection legislation to provide a comprehensive set of public health measures to help prevent and control the spread of serious diseases caused by infection and contamination.
The Bill also has a key role in helping families tackle childhood obesity, as it includes new plans to provide all parents whose children take part in the National Child Measurement Programme with the results and healthy living advice - helping them make decisions about lifestyle.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

DefraDefra and the Welsh Assembly Government have published a consultation (closes 4 February 2008) for delivering improved bathing water quality under the revised Bathing Water Directive.   It sets more stringent microbiological water quality standards for popular bathing areas and requires improved public information about sites, including advice against bathing where the minimum standard is not met.
It introduces four new water quality classifications - Excellent, Good, Sufficient and Poor.  All bathing waters in Europe, with some limited exceptions, must achieve at least the ‘sufficient’ standard by 2015.  A new aspect of the regulations is the requirement for local authorities and the small number of private beach controllers to provide information & advice on water quality through beach signage.
To meet the new standards, Defra and WAG have identified three scenarios for implementing the Directive:
* Meeting the minimum requirements
* Meeting the minimum requirements, but with the use of a 'prediction & discounting' system.
* Going beyond the minimum requirements

Business and Other Briefings

HMRCHM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is urging businesses to be prepared for the new Money Laundering Regulations (MLRs) that come into effect on 15 December 2007. The new Regulations will affect: Money Service Businesses (MSBs); Trust or Company Service Providers (TCSPs); High Value Dealers (HVDs); and Accountancy Service Providers (ASPs).
They new Regulations will revoke & replace the 2003 Regulations, bring new businesses under the supervision of HMRC, provide a new fit & proper test for people in positions of ownership or control in MSBs & TCSPs, and will require businesses to implement risk-based systems & controls to help prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.
BERR: Three new groups are to be awarded £60m as part of the Government's efforts to tackle the lack of financial backing available to fledgling businesses. The public funding will be combined with £30m of private sector money as part of the latest round of Enterprise Capital Funds - designed to invest in small high growth companies.
The three groups to receive Enterprise Capital Funds are:
* MMC Ventures Limited- a £30m fund which will be invested across the UK targeting businesses in the healthcare, technology and financial services sectors
* The Dawn Capital Fund - a £30m fund which will invest in traditional sectors where there is scope to make improvements through the use of technology
* Oxford Technology ECF - a £30m fund operated by an established fund management team which will operate out of Oxford targeting early stage companies in the science, engineering and technology sectors.
Mr Hutton also announced the creation of Capital for Enterprise Limited, which will manage the funds from 1 April 2008The new body will take charge of a number of current government programmes including the UK High Technology Fund, the Regional Venture Capital Funds, Early Growth Funds and the Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme.
This Brief gives details of an article: VAT: Assets used partly for non-business purposes – implementation of ‘Lennartz Accounting’ Regulations
This Brief gives details of an article: VAT: Rebates and credit notes relating to customer discounts and associated payments

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