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In the News

DCMSDo they really think teachers have 5 hours spare a week? - A new £25m 'Find Your Talent' scheme, part of the Government's ambition to give young people the chance to experience high quality arts & culture, has been announced by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham and Children's Minister Ed Balls.

It will be accompanied by a £110m investment in the 'Creative Partnerships' scheme which allows children and young people in schools to work with creative professionals such as artists, writers and actors.  The moves are part of the Government's drive to unlock the creative talent of all young people.

The 'Find Your Talent' programme will be piloted in ten areas around the country and it is intended to give young people the chance to discover & develop their talents with the intention, ultimately, to offer children five hours of arts and culture a week, in & outside of the school day.

The Government is also announcing the SHINE Festival which will run from 30 June to 4 July this summer.
HCWould you put up with it for their salary? - More than half of nurses on mental health wards report being physically assaulted at work and the figure rises to almost three-quarters for mental health nurses working on wards for patients with disorders such as dementia.  The findings come in the second national audit of violence in mental health services conducted on behalf of the Healthcare Commission by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

The Commission and the Royal College joined forces to highlight the high levels of violence on mental health wards, saying the impact on staff and patient can be ‘constant and intolerable’.  Improvements have been made to the way violence is managed on wards for people of working age, but more improvements were needed, particularly on wards for older people, where physical environments, activities for patients, training and staffing levels were particularly poor.

Dr Paul Lelliott from the Royal College of Psychiatrists commented: “Those working on psychiatric wards, and in particular the nurses, are the unsung heroes of mental healthcare.  Their every working day is a challenge and this audit once again highlights the danger to their personal safety.  Despite this, ward staff continue to provide care to the most severely ill people in a professional and compassionate manner".
DIUSEasier said than done - Bill Rammell, Minister for Further and Higher Education has announced that Colleges have a responsibility to foster our shared values and protect their students & staff from those who wish to intimidate and promote violence.

The proposals are part of a consultation (closes on 6 May 2008) on the role of Further Education (FE) colleges in promoting community cohesion, fostering shared values & preventing violent extremism and they mirror the updated guidance issued to Higher Education institutions last month.  The Government's assessment is that the biggest current threat the UK faces is from Al Qa'ida-influenced terrorism and that the threat in FE Colleges is serious but not widespread.
BNSCA new mission to return to space - New proposals for the UK's future involvement in an increasingly competitive international space sector have been published in the UK Civil Space Strategy: 2008 - 2012 and beyond.  With the space sector currently contributing approximately £7bn to the UK economy, Science and Innovation Minister Ian Pearson announced how the UK would continue to be at the ‘forefront’ of this expanding sector, including:
* Continued UK involvement in Earth observation, space science and telecoms developments
* Closer involvement in international initiatives on the future shape of space exploration
* Setting up a National Space Technology Programme
* Establishing an international space facility to focus on climate change, robotic space exploration & applications

The British National Space Centre, which co-ordinates the UK's civil space activities, will now provide the leadership to take forward the strategy by undertaking a study of programme options drawing on the findings of the 2007 UK Space Exploration Working Group, taking into account the scientific, technological and economic costs & benefits, and UK's existing strengths in robotic exploration.
NEVolunteers jump into action - To help save England’s frogs, toads and newts amateur amphibian aficionados from across the country are being trained to track a potentially deadly disease that could have a devastating effect on amphibians. 

Natural England, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Herpetological Conservation Trust have enlisted scores of volunteers to help assess the potential impact of this disease.  The project, which is the first of its kind in Europe, galvanises action on this newly discovered fungal disease, which has already been found in a few ponds in Cumbria and Kent.

Frog specialists in other parts of the world have been saddened to see their amphibians disappear after infection by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which causes the disease chytridiomycosis.  However scientists here need to know whether the disease is more widespread and whether it is actually having an impact on our amphibians.

The project will involve a nationwide survey, targeted research in areas where the fungus has been found and developing advice on precautions for amphibian workers. So far the fungus has been found at six sites in Cumbria and two in Kent, though to date the amphibians there are persisting.
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General News

DHFrom 1 April 2008, a specialised service at six centres across the UK will allow selected people with Type 1 diabetes to live free from the risk of blackouts and hospital admissions associated with hypoglycaemia (Hypoglycaemia is the medical term for low blood glucose).
The Department of Health will invest up to £2.34m in islet transplant services in the first year, increasing to a maximum of £7.32m to meet the predicted annual need in the longer term. People receiving the treatment will be injected with insulin producing islets, taken from a donated pancreas.  Each of them will have suffered from recurrent hypoglycaemia or have had a kidney transplant.
DfT: The streets of Hampshire, Southampton and West Sussex are set to benefit from a record £225m in Private Finance Initiative investment, Transport Minister Rosie Winterton has announced. It will allow Hampshire County Council, Southampton City Council and West Sussex County Council to upgrade 165,000 streetlights over the next 25 years.
The next stage in the process is for the Councils to select a potential partner who will undertake the work.  When this is complete, work could start in 2009 in each area.
ScotGov: Celebrity chef and cook school proprietor Nick Nairn has launched the first video blog on the national food discussion. The blog is now live online, giving people the opportunity to have their say on the future of Scottish food.
Listen to Nick Nairn talk about food in Scotland and submit your views online.  Further video blogs will be added to the website throughout the food discussion.
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) has announced that the BERR Committee has taken up the CRC’s recommendation concerning the threat to the survival of village shops where these are attached to a post office, by recommending that ‘there should be a presumption against closing a post office where this is the last shop in the village’.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

Defra: Defra has confirmed its intention that packaging waste recovery & recycling targets for Great Britain will increase from 2008 onwards.  The targets have been designed to save more CO2 emissions than the targets originally published in Defra's consultation paper last year.  They are based on updated market data and the feedback received during the public consultation, which ended in November 2007.
The new overall recovery targets of 72% in 2008, 73% in 2009 and 74% in 2010 are intended to ensure that we meet our 2008 EU Directive target of recycling at least 60% of our packaging waste and also contribute to meeting the ambitions outlined in the 2007 Waste Strategy for England.


CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities have launched a review of rural proofing and want your views & opinions (by the end of March) on how it should develop or change for the better.  
Rural proofing is a government commitment and has been put in place to help ensure that as policy is developed, government departments think about the impacts of their policies on rural areas, people, economies and environment.  And then adjust these policies and their implementation to take account of rural circumstances, where this makes sense.
NAThe National Archives has issued two draft Operational Selection Policies (OSPs) for public consultation (closes on 10 March 2008):
* One is for government case files relating to competition (OSP 43) and
* the other for OFWAT, the Water Services Regulation Authority, (OSP 47)
The criteria for selecting public records for The National Archives and other archives are defined in the Acquisition and Disposition Strategy, published in March 2007.  OSPs apply these criteria to the records of individual departments and agencies or to records relating to a cross-departmental theme.  Please send your comments or queries to Elaine Baldwin for OSP 43 and Jeremy Harley for OSP 47.
ScotGov: The Scottish Court Service (SCS) is proposing to increase civil court and Public Guardian fees in order to reduce substantially the amount of public subsidy for these services and to try to distribute the subsidy more fairly between the Court of Session, Sheriff Courts and Office of the Public Guardian.

The SCS has launched a consultation (closes May 6, 2008) on its proposed fee increases.  Respondents are invited to give views on the proposals for distribution of subsidy, on future inflation increases & on the fairness of the system of fee exemptions. A report on this consultation process will be produced by 23 May 2008.
ScotGov: Patients, carers, NHS staff, charitable and voluntary organisations and the general public are being invited to contribute their views to a consultation (closes 5 May 2008) which will shape Scotland's future cancer strategy.

The discussion will open up for debate issues surrounding prevention, screening, diagnosis & treatment, palliative care, quality of care, patient experience & delivery of services and will also put the spotlight on improving cancer waiting times.  The new cancer action plan is due to be published this summer (2008).
ScotGov: Scottish Government officials will host two public meetings to discuss the possible extension of crofting tenure. The meetings form part of the public consultation on proposals to extend crofting tenure to include the islands of Arran and Cumbrae, plus the remaining parts of the Highlands & Islands not currently designated.

The public meetings will take place in the Ben Mhor Hotel, Grantown-on-Spey  on February 19 and in Arran High School, Lamlash, Isle of Arran, on March 10.  Both events will start at 7pm and are open to the public.

A consultation exercise is taking place on the proposal to align the crofting counties with the area covered by Highlands and IslandsEnterprise (HIE), which will look at designating as new crofting areas.  The results of the consultation should be available for consideration in April 2008.
ScotGov: Proposals to better protect homes & communities from the threat of flooding have been published for consultation (closes on 23 April 2008) by the Scottish government. The discussion document on the future of flood risk management in Scotland outlines plans to update legislation to help make the process for protecting at-risk areas quicker & simpler.  The consultation also includes proposals to reform the Reservoirs Act 1975.

The proposals which will shape the new Flooding Bill are designed to:
* Introduce a more sustainable & modern approach to flood risk management
* Create a more joined up & streamlined process to avoid duplication
* Simplify & speed up the development and implementation of flood defences

DIUS: Bill Rammell, Minister for Further and Higher Education has announced a consultation (closes on 6 May 2008) on the role of Further Education (FE) colleges in promoting community cohesion, fostering shared values and preventing violent extremism and they mirror the updated guidance issued to Higher Education institutions last month – See ‘In the News’ for more details.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

MoJ: New guidance for the family courts aimed at reducing unnecessary delay in the care proceedings system has been published by the Ministry of Justice. The Public Law Outline (PLO), an initiative led by the judiciary of England & Wales, is designed to promote better co-operation between all the parties involved in care and supervision cases.
Under the PLO (which will operate from 1 April 2008), the current six stages of the court processwill be reduced to four, resulting in a simpler more streamlined process with fewer unnecessary hearings.  The court will set an appropriate timetable for the case, focused around the needs of the individual child.  Free pre-proceedings legal advice will be available to parents with the aim of narrowing or resolving the issues in the case.
Sport England: Sport England's Active Design guidance - which aims to put sport at the heart of new building developments - was a finalist in the prestigious Royal Town Planning Institute Awards (RTPI) held at the Hilton Hotel, London recently.

Active Design gives easy-to-use guidance & information to town planners and urban designers on how to put sport & activity at the heart of new housing and community developments.
C-NLIS: The Council for the NationalLand Information Service (C-NLIS) has launched a free consumer guide to property searches.  Entitled ‘Property Searches - Your Guide to the Facts’, the guide:
* offers practical advice & guidance on the different search options available
* describes how to choose a search provider and
* gives a clear explanation on the latest home information pack (HIP) requirements
ScotGov: Guidance on how NHS priority treatment will be extended to all armed service personnel who have developed health problems as a result of service to their country has been issued to health boards in Scotland. Previously, war veterans were only entitled to priority treatment for conditions relating to service if they received a war pension.
The guidance issued to health boards asks them to ensure that all relevant staff are aware of the new arrangements, which come into effect on February 29 2008. The Scottish Government will shortly organise a workshop for individuals, representatives from veterans' organisations and representatives from Citizens Advice Scotland promote understanding of the new guidance.

Annual Reports

WYP: A report to last weeks meeting of West Yorkshire Police Authority’s Strategic Planning and Performance Committee highlighted that the Force is set to hit targets in relation to reducing key priority crimes such as violent crime, vehicle crime and criminal damage.

Recent months have seen an increase in the number of burglaries, but the Force has a number of operations underway across the county to combat thieves.  Operation Maximum Impact was also launched earlier this week to crack down on criminals across the region.
QCA: The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) has published its Annual Review of activities in 2007, which gives an overview of developments over the year, reporting on the monitoring of the examination system, assessments, qualifications and the curriculum.
DfT: Figures on road tax evasion show that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) collected an estimated 98.5% of all potential revenue from road tax in 2007. This year the survey was based on the use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, providing a more accurate picture of Vehicle Excise Duty evasion. Previously road tax evasion figures were mainly collected manually so it is not possible to compare them to earlier figures.
DVLA has a fleet of ANPR cars capable of capturing data on all vehicle types across multiple lanes of traffic. The units will read over 10 million vehicle movements this year and the Agency will issue penalties against the keepers of every unlicensed vehicle seen in use from that total.

General Reports and Other Publications

OFT: The Office of Fair trading (OFT) has published its report into credit card comparisons, which makes a series of recommendations to help consumers choose a credit card.  The report follows a super-complaint from Which? that highlighted that consumers choose credit cards without understanding all the issues that affect the cost of the card.
OFT research shows that 70% of credit card holders did not shop around before selecting their current card, and that this meant they could be placing themselves at a financial disadvantage. Research into the report involved looking at issues surrounding the comparative costs of using different credit cards for purchases, cash advances, introductory offers and payment allocation.
CLG: The Government claims that a new independent report shows that the £2bn New Deal for Communities programme is ‘delivering real improvements to people's lives, raising satisfaction and bridging the gap between some our most deprived neighbourhoods and the rest of England’.
In all 32 of 36 indicators used show improvement with a more mixed picture in the other four.  The report shows that ‘evidence of change at the area level is overwhelmingly positive’.
QCA: The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) has published two reports on the examinations system:
* Report on the performance of awarding bodies 2007 and
* GCSEs and A levels: the experiences of teachers, students, parents and the general public, an update on trends to 2007
The National Assessment Agency's National curriculum assessments - 2007 maladministration report has also been published.
HM Treasury: HM Treasury has launched two new publications produced by a number of influential government advisors on financial management:
Commenting on the publication, Dame Mary Keegan, Head of Government Finance Profession, said:
"We believe that the advice in these reports may be of considerable assistance to departments and their delivery bodies throughout the wider public sector".
ESRC: Due to cash shortages, public, not private, childcare provision is the only option for many working class parents who are in employment. In many communities in the UK, childcare is available through public, voluntary & private nursery provision and through a network of home-based childminders.
However, although affluent middle class parents are in a position to choose their preferred childcare option, research funded by the Economic and Research Council (ESRC), has highlighted that working class parents, constrained by low income, are largely restricted to state-run day nurseries only.
BNSC: The British National Space Centre (BNSC) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have issued a report from the Joint Working Group (JWG) on lunar exploration that outlines next steps in possible UK - US space exploration co-operation.
A key area of co-operation under consideration is a mission to understand the Moon's structure, listen for 'Moonquakes' and trial the lunar cell-phone network of the future. See also ‘In the News’ section for other related item.

Legislation / Legal

Newswire LSC: The numbers of people facing housing repossession is surging, but they could keep their homes if they get legal help without delay the Legal Services Commission (LSC) insisted recently.  People in danger of eviction or having property repossessed can get free advice through a LSC scheme paid for by legal aid.
TheHousing Possession Court Duty Scheme’ can be a source of free last minute help for people at hearings in possession proceedings.  For people who have not sought legal advice prior to hearings, this scheme offers access to a duty solicitor or adviser at the court on the day.  The adviser represents the defendant through the hearing itself and follows up any resulting action.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

PCS: On Thursday 28 February 2008 the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) and its trade union affiliates from 10 countries across Europe, including PCS, will be demonstrating in Brussels to highlight the serious and growing problem of prison overcrowding.
Prison staff including warders, administrative and health workers from Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Spain and the UK will demonstrate in Brussels.
Members of PCS in the Prison Service will be holding events in England, Scotland and Wales as part of the campaign to highlight the growing crisis that is the UK prison population and the effects on workers within the system. PCS contact: Hannah Charnock Tel: 0207 801 2820 – Email:

Charity and Voluntary Sector

CC: The Charity Commission has voiced concerns that proposals in the Housing and Regeneration Bill could have serious implications for charitable housing associations. 
Provisions in the Bill include establishing a new regulator which would have the power to set compulsory standards for providers of social housing.  This could force a charity to engage in activity beyond its charitable objects, which would mean its purposes were no longer exclusively charitable and it could lose the financial and practical benefits of charitable status.

Business and Other Briefings

HMRC: HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is urging Trust or Company Service Providers (TCSPs) to register their businesses with HMRC by 1 April 2008 under the new Money Laundering Regulations (MLR), which came into force on 15 December 2007.  TCSPs need to register with HMRC by the deadline if they want to carry on in business.
At the same time, HMRC is alerting Accountancy Service Providers (ASPs) that they will be able to register with HMRC from 1 April 2008.  Applications received before that date will be held for processing immediately the register opens.
ASPs need to apply before 1 July 2008 to give HMRC sufficient time to process their application by the deadline.  Businesses that apply late risk not being included on the register when it opens on 1 October 2008. If that happens they will not be able to trade legally until they are included on the register.
This Brief gives details of an article: Money Laundering Regulations - Registration announced for 2008 - 2009.
This Brief gives details of an article: Money Laundering Regulations Introduction of a register for Accountancy Service Providers.
This Brief gives details of an article: Tonnage Tax - Registration of ships in Member States

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