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In the News

WAG: Living longer AND better in Wales - Deputy Minister for Social Services Gwenda Thomas launched phase two of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Strategy for Older People at the Living Longer/Living Better conference at the Marriott Hotel, Cardiff last week.

The second phase will build on the achievements of the first phase, which has seen the introduction of popular schemes such as free bus travel and free swimming for older people, as well as the appointment of a Commissioner for Older People.

The new phase of the strategy, from April 2008-2013, will focus on a range of key strategic areas including continuing to improve the health & well-being of older people and ways of enabling them to stay independent and active for longer.
MPA: Hidden tragedy - Responding to the report ‘Forced marriage, family cohesion and community engagement: national learning through a case study of Luton’ by Dr Nazia Khanum OBE, Aneeta Prem, Metropolitan Police Authority lead member on dishonour based violence, said:
"Being forced into a marriage against one's will is an abuse of basic human rights. The police, partners in the criminal justice system, local government and health agencies are determined to tackle the problem, but there still needs to be a national strategy to ensure consistency of service provision across the country.

Existing legislation only deals with the results of coercion into marriage - beatings, kidnap and, in the worst cases, murder. Police are unable to quantify the full extent of the problem because of the way these crimes are recorded, which leads to difficulties in allocating appropriate resources”.
LGCR: It appears ‘We’ were not consulted - In his report Citizenship: Our Common Bond, former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith sets out reforms that ‘will make it clearer what it means to be a citizen and practical measures that may help to enhance a sense of shared belonging’.

The report contains key findings from a five month investigation into the current condition of citizenship in the UK. To make it clearer who is a citizen and what it means to be a citizen it recommends:
* Abolishing residual types of citizenship
* Providing that only citizens should have the fullest rights to political participation
* Reforming the category of permanent resident as it blurs the distinction between citizens and non-citizens
* Reform of the law of treason to make the duty of allegiance relevant to modern conditions

To enhance our sense of shared belonging
along all stages of a citizen's journey through life, the report’s recommendations include:
* Creating a clear statement of the rights & responsibilities of citizenship
* Developing a new national day which becomes a focus for expressing our sense of shared belonging
* That citizenship education has to be active throughout, consisting in learning through doing
* Young people should have a citizenship ceremony at the end of school
* Reduction in university fees for those who take part in civic activities
* A new standard to give employers an incentive to promote civic engagement among their
* Creating more mentoring opportunities for people at different stages of their lives

The report also looks at how to engage newcomers to the UK in UK society.
* Taking new steps to promote the learning of English - including language loans
* A mentoring scheme for people aspiring to become citizens
* Encouraging more people to take a citizenship course
* Using citizenship ceremonies to connect new citizens with the local community
DfT: Make them pay for ‘mocking’ those with real disabilities - New Blue Badge passes are to be issued in a tamper-proof laminated casing as part of the drive to combat abuse of the parking concession for people with disabilities. The laminated cover means that any attempt to manipulate the details contained on the badge will leave permanent damage making it immediately obvious that the badge has been tampered with.

This change builds on other anti-fraud measures announced in October 2007, such as a new hologram on the badge and a gender-specific serial number to aid parking enforcement.

Transport Minister Rosie Winterton announced the new measure during a speech to the British Parking Association, where she called upon local authority parking services to step-up efforts to reduce theft, forgery and misuse of the scheme. She also urged delegates to take part in the current consultation of the Blue Badge scheme (closes on 17 April 2008).
LDA: Designing a sustainable business economy - Design in the capital received a boost last week with the announcement that the London Development Agency (LDA) will be launching the £3.5m Designing Demand programme in the summer for London’s aspiring small businesses.

Designing Demand is a national design support programme developed by the Design Council and delivered by regional development agencies. It shows business leaders how design can turn ideas & technologies into profitable products, services and brands. The LDA supports design as driver of business growth & productivity and as an effective way of promoting & improving business performance.

The London consortium combines Grant Thornton’s business expertise, knowledge of the Small and Medium Size Enterprise market and strong investor networks with Design London’s excellence in design, business and research.

The consortium will hopefully extend the Design Demand offer to provide design support that will help London’s businesses excel. This will include tailoring their services for business based on their executive development courses and associated facilities such as rapid prototyping and technology labs.
Industry News: Volunteering to help overseas can create benefits for all involved - After many years in local government, Dave Sternberg decided to take a career break and volunteer with VSO for two years. As Head of Community & Economic Development at Coventry City Council, Dave was responsible for delivering a range of anti-poverty, unemployment and economic development programmes: “Once VSO offered me the job in Bangladesh, I went to my boss to resign. But he told me there was no need – I could take a career break instead”.

Dave joined Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association (BNLWA) as a management & strategy adviser: “My job was to help BNWLA re-organise itself from the small pressure group it once was to the large, many- branched organisation it had become,” says Dave. “They needed to make a good practical plan for the next five years, bringing all their work together and pinpointing what actions they needed to take”.

Back in the UK, Dave had managed over 30 staff, but in Bangladesh he wasn’t a manager, he was an adviser, and that meant he had to approach working with others in a totally different way: “At BNLWA I couldn’t ask people to do things as I would have done as a manager – but that meant I developed my persuading and influencing skills”.

For those readers who are thinking of doing something similar, there is good news in that the government has just announced public sector workers who take a career development break to volunteer overseas will, under a three year pilot government scheme, have these gaps funded without cost to the individual employer or employee.

As for convincing your boss on the benefits of such breaks, there is solid evidence available (See: Valuing Volunteering link).
For Industry News please click HERE

General News

CIOB: The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has awarded 300 members Chartered Environmentalist status.
To become a ‘Chartered Environmentalist’ a CIOB member must be able to demonstrate (through qualifications and experience) competence, knowledge and engagement in sustainable environmental management and development.  The CIOB was granted a license by the Society for the Environment to award Chartered Environmentalist status.
Home Office: The new National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS) was seen by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith on a Tackling Gangs Action Programme visit to West Midlands Police. The £8m NABIS database will roll-out incrementally from April this year and be fully operational by September, operating via three hubs in Birmingham, London and Manchester.
It will include:
* A complete registry of all recovered guns & ammunition coming into police possession in England & Wales
* A ballistics comparison capability to link crimes & incidents within 24 to 48 hours
* Intelligence relating to suspects, weapons, locations & incidents
COIB: The Chartered Institute of Building’s (CIOB) Vision 2020 seminar held at the recent Ecobuild exhibition in London is now available as a webcast. The seminar involved some of the international industry’s most visionary & respected leaders sharing their views on the challenges, considerations and opportunities facing the construction industry in the coming years.

STFC: For many years scientists have been trying to take advantage of the natural ability that certain bacteria have for creating chains of tiny magnets that are less than 1/1000th of the size of a human hair.  Known as ‘bio-nanomagnets’, they could hold the key to creating effective, targeted anti-cancer therapies.
Guided magnetically, they could be used as miniature shuttles for moving drugs around the human body to specific sites, particularly to cancer tumours.  The heat generated from another external magnet to make the nanomagnets vibrate very rapidly would then also destroy the surrounding diseased cells without affecting healthy tissue.
DCSF: The Department for Children, Schools and Families has announced the preferred bidder for the contract to deliver Teachers TVEducation Digital 2, a consortium of Ten Alps PLC and ITN, is in final negotiations over the £50m five-year contract to provide high quality news, information and resources to people who work in schools.
Teachers TV was launched on 8th February 2005 and is available 24 hours per day to viewers across the UK on Sky, Virgin Media and Tiscali TV and on Freeview from 4-5pm daily. Programmes are also made available through the channel's website.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

Cabinet Office: Minister for Transformational Government Tom Watson has launched the new Customer Service Excellence (CSE) standard, the aim of which is to encourage, enable and reward organisations that are delivering services based on a genuine understanding of the needs & preferences of their customers and communities.
The government claims that successful organisations will be able to demonstrate:
* Personalisation: services must be designed around the needs of the public.  Hard-to-reach groups must not be ignored
* Collaboration: Work must be done in partnership with citizens
* Workforce skills: emphasising the link between public service reform and training for staff
* Leadership and commitment: organisations must display customer-focus from the Chief Executive down to frontline staff
* Accountability: to communities & individuals
BERR: The Government has published Enterprise: Unlocking the UK's Talent, a new 10-year strategy to make the UK the most enterprising economy in the world - and the best place to start and grow a business.  t is designed to unlock the nation's entrepreneurial talents - boost enterprise skills & knowledge - help new & existing business get funding to start up & grow - and ease the burden of regulation (particularly on small firms which feel its impacts most).
Published jointly by HM Treasury and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, it details five areas where Government will focus its efforts:
* Culture - developing an enterprise culture where everyone with entrepreneurial talent is inspired and not afraid to take up the challenge of turning ideas into wealth
* Knowledge &Skills - ensuring that people & businesses have tools to support the growth of their businesses
* Access to Finance - ensuring start ups and growing businesses can get the finance they need
* Business Innovation - reinforcing innovation's role at the root of all entrepreneurial activity
* Regulatory Framework - recognising that unnecessary or complex regulation can stifle enterprise and have a disproportionate impact on small firms
MoJ: Universal testing for the opiate substitute buprenorphine is to be introduced into all prisons in England and Wales from 1 April 2008, Justice Minister David Hanson has announced. The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) commissioned a survey to assess the scale of the illegal use of the drug in prisons following the increased use of buprenorphine (Subutex) in the treatment of opioid dependence in the community. 
The Prison Policy Update published in January included a new package of measures aimed at tackling re-offending by getting prisoners off drugs and into work.
DIUS: The power of Government spending must be harnessed to create demand for new innovative products & services, concludes a new White Paper - Innovation Nation - which sets out the Government's aim to make the UK the best place in the world to run an innovative business or public service.  It argues that innovation is essential to the UK's future prosperity and the ability to tackle major challenges like climate change.
The announcement comes after a budget in which the Chancellor said he would look into the practicality of setting a goal for small & medium enterprises (SMEs) to win 30% of £150bn in public spending on goods & services each year in the next five years.
Immediate steps include a commitment for each Government department to publish an Innovation Procurement Plan as part of its commercial strategy.  Other key themes are:
* further supporting innovative businesses & research
* increasing exchanges of knowledge
* boosting the supply of skilled people
* supporting innovative towns & regions and
* promoting innovation in the public sector
WAG: A major boost for integrated transport as part of a drive to ensure a greener Wales has been announced by Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones.  The Welsh Assembly Government's Transport Grant settlement for 2008-09 will include £28m support for integrated transport in Wales, together with significant funding for Wales’ rail network.
The new ‘Safe Routes in Communities’ schemes have been allocated an additional £10m to help local authorities to develop safe routes for walking & cycling and improve accessibility for all within a safe environment.
Defra: All central Government departments will be included in a new emissions trading scheme that will also target emissions from large businesses including supermarkets, banks, hotel chains and department stores, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has announced.
The Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), scheduled to begin operation in 2010, is a mandatory emissions trading scheme that will cover around 5,000 public & private organisations, including government departments, retailers, banks and local authorities, which combined account for 10% of the UK economy's emissions.
WAG: First Minister Rhodri Morgan and Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones have welcomed the handing over of the report of the Establishing Committee of the All-Wales Convention.  The document outlines the terms of reference for the Convention, and gives suggestions on how it might operate when it gets underway this summer.

The setting up of the All-Wales Convention was a commitment made as part of the One Wales agreement between Labour and Plaid Cymru.  Its purpose is to create a national debate on full law-making powers for the National Assembly and assess the levels of support for any future referendum.


SGC: Offenders who target elderly victims and steal from them on the street or in their homes should face custodial sentences the Sentencing Guidelines Council has recommended in a Consultation Guideline on theft offences (closes on Friday 23 May 2008).
The Guideline covers four forms of theft:
* theft in breach of trust
* theft from the person
* theft in a dwelling, and
* theft from a shop – as well as burglary in a building other than a home

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

NE: Natural England is funding a number of pilot projects, in partnership with a wide range of environmental and community organisations, primarily in London to demonstrate what can be achieved when local communities are supported with a little expertise to get projects started and with relatively small sums of money.
Its Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard says that everyone home should be within 300 m of an accessible natural green space of at least two hectares (ha) which is equivalent in size to two football pitches.  In addition, Natural England recently launched a £25m Big Lottery funded ‘Access to Nature’ scheme – to support projects that bring new audiences into contact with nature.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s (NICE) public health guidance on community engagement has been launched at the LGA 2nd Sustainable Communities Conference in Liverpool.  It makes recommendations about how communities can effectively be involved in the planning, design & delivery of services that can improve people’s health & well-being and address the wider social determinants of health.

Involving communities, particularly those who experience disadvantage, is central to national strategies for promoting health and well-being and reducing health inequalities.  Community engagement activities typically range from one-off consultation exercises through to longer-term activities which allow communities to participate fully in the planning and delivery of services.

The NICE guidance, which is for those working in the NHS and other sectors who have a direct or indirect role in community engagement, presents four important, interlocking themes which represent the ideal scenario for effective community engagement:
* Prerequisites for success
* Infrastructure
* Approaches (to support & increase levels of community engagement)
* Evaluation
In addition to the guide, the following implementation support tools will be available on the website shortly: a slide set - implementation check-list - audit criteria
LSN: As the demands on post-16 education continue to grow, so do the demands on the sector’s leaders and managers.  The Learning Skills Network is helping learning providers respond to these demands through the launch of its Leadership and Management Unit.
The unit will deliver an package of leadership & management programmes and services.  Combining practical tools and techniques, it will offer ways to make a difference in both the long & short term as well as sustaining development, improving performance and facilitating change.  Action learning, coaching and mentoring skills will form an integral part of this.

Annual Reports

HC: The Healthcare Commission has called on NHS and independent sector hospitals to ensure they are not exposing patients to the dangers of unnecessary radiation through x-rays, CT scans and other procedures. In the first report of its type, the Commission analyses 329 incidents reported to it during the 14 month period from November 2006 to December 2007 under the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations (2000).
Exposure to ionising radiation is a vital part of healthcare provision and can save lives, but it does have the potential to cause harm and in extreme cases can increase the risk of cancer.  The Commission stresses that the majority of incidents reported to it were of a low dose and carry little risk to patients.
The report states that a third of the errors occurred when x-rays and other diagnostic examinations were carried out on the wrong patient.  In radiotherapy, where doses are higher, patient identification was not an issue.
DH: The new IT systems in the NHS are on course to deliver better care and an estimated £1.14bn in savings by 2014, according to the first annual Benefits Statement published by the Government. The report summarises information from 1 in 5 Trusts who have implemented new IT from the National Programme for IT Programme and claims that, since its introduction, it has already delivered a total of £208m in savings by providing quicker, more efficient and convenient patient care.
Savings include:
* £192m through the delivery of the National Network for the NHS
* £14m from the use of digital imaging & scans (plus an additional £35mp.a.forecast recurrent savings)
* £617k on software licensing & hardware maint. costs (plus a £1.6m p.a. forecast recurrent savings)
ScotGov: Figures for cases of 'missing' sex offenders will be published annually from the autumn, as well as the number of formal police/social work disclosures about offenders in the community, Holyrood's Justice Committee has been told.

Arrangements are now in place to publish this information in forthcoming annual reports of the new Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPAs) - implementing a further two of the recommendations of the cross-party justice sub-committee inquiry into child sex offenders.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has written to the Committee updating MSPs on the progress made towards implementing the 33 recommendations of the justice sub-committee inquiry into child sex offenders, published in December 2006. He said that of the 8 recommendations that remain outstanding, 4 should be implemented by the autumn - including a public information strategy to raise awareness of offender management and provide advice to parents, children & communities to help them further reduce the risks of exposure to harm.

General Reports and Other Publications

Cabinet Office: Baroness Julia Neuberger, the Government's independent volunteering champion, has published her report, Volunteering in the Public Services: Health and Social Care.  The report is the first in a series examining the role of volunteers and volunteering in public services and through consultation with over 1,000 volunteers and organisations it found much potential to expand volunteering in health and social care to build more people centred services.
The report identifies a largely untapped source of volunteers in service-users.  It argues that they could make an enormous contribution as volunteers in health and social care because no one understands what it is like to have a condition like a person who has it themselves.
Defra: Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has ‘welcomed’ a report into last summer's Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak. Foot and Mouth Disease 2007: A Review and Lessons Learned was written by Dr Iain Anderson, who carried out a review into the handling of the 2001 FMD outbreak.
It commends the Government's overall handling of the 2007 outbreak, stating that ‘many of the lessons identified in the 2002 report had been acted upon and performance, taken as a whole, was much improved." It concludes that "on balance, the positive easily outweighs the negative’, but it does identify deficiencies that need to be addressed.
In August 2007, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) asked Sir John Beringer to undertake a review of the governance, funding & risk management of the Institute for Animal Health. Sir John is due to report to the BBSRC in April 2008
IPCC:  ‘Adherence to custody policies and procedures saves lives’ according to Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) Chair Nick Hardwick, on the publication of IPCC research that estimates there are around a thousand near misses in police custody in England and Wales every year.  Of these 400 were likely to lead to death without prompt intervention by custody and medical staff.
Acute health needs and other risks are a strong feature among those people held in police custody and evidence from IPCC investigations, its work around learning the lessons and this study indicate that there are three areas that police forces need to focus on:
* The need for good quality risk assessment when a detainee enters custody
* Appropriate training for custody staff
* For the management of custody suites to reinforce to staff the importance of following procedures and training centring on the care of vulnerable detainees
The report makes 11 recommendations for all police forces.
Ofgem: Energy suppliers have stepped up their efforts to offer fair prices to approximately 1,500 customers wanting to sell electricity generated from household microgeneration units, according to a new report by Ofgem to the Government.

A variety of units such as roof-top wind turbines or solar panels can be used to generate electricity in the home and the Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Act, which became law in 2006, requires suppliers to set up arrangements to buy back any surplus electricity that customers would want to sell. Nonetheless, Ofgem estimates that the payback on the costs of household electricity generation kits may take twenty years or more, given current market conditions.
Ofsted: Ofsted's new report, 'Developing financially capable young people' shows that delivering better teaching of personal finance education in schools and colleges can equip students with the right mix of skills & attitudes to help them manage their finances sensibly.  It can also help prepare them for the world of bank accounts, credit cards, insurance and mortgages.
According to Ofsted's inspections, students in schools and colleges that are teaching personal finance skills successfully showed a good understanding of the issues.  They were able to use financial terms correctly and apply their knowledge to making financial decisions.  The programme worked because it was strongly supported by senior managers who gave it time in the curriculum.
The main barriers to developing personal finance education were pressures on curriculum time; teachers' lack of subject knowledge and expertise in the area; a lack of awareness of available resources or other forms of support for the subject and the very wide variation in the nature of post-16 provision.
TfLTransport for London (TfL) has issued a report outlining the organisation's progress over 2006/07 towards reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions across the Capital, which claims to show how TfL is taking a world-leading role in successfully encouraging Londoners to travel in less polluting ways, by operating the transport system more efficiently, and by promoting the uptake of low-carbon vehicles and fuels.
Transport is responsible for 22% of London's emissions.  The Mayor's climate change action plan sets out how annual transport emissions can be cut by 4.3 million tonnes as part of an overall target reduction of 60% by 2025.
NAO: In 2006-07, almost 800,000 incidents caused 14 million minutes of delay to rail journeys costing a minimum of £1bn in terms of time lost to passengers, according to a report released by the National Audit Office.
There was a sharp increase in delay minutes after the Hatfield derailment in October 2000 and the number of rail incidents also increased.  Network Rail has succeeded in working with the Train Operating Companies to reduce the number of incidents on the passenger network to below the level recorded in 1999-00, whilst the number of delay minutes is almost back down to its pre-Hatfield level.
In 2006-07 faults were due to:
* Network Rail infrastructure faults such as problems with the track & signal failure - 42%
* Train Operating Companies - 38% and
* external events such as weather conditions or vandalism - 20%

Legislation / Legal

SGC: Offenders who target elderly victims and steal from them on the street or in their homes should face custodial sentences the Sentencing Guidelines Council has recommended in a Consultation Guideline on theft offences (closes on Friday 23 May 2008) – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
ScotGov: Sweeping reforms to Scotland's summary justice system came into force last week, transforming how police, fiscals and the lower courts handle thousands of cases involving less serious offences:
* Procurators fiscal will have enhanced powers for offering an accused person a 'fiscal fine' and/or the opportunity to make compensation payments as a 'direct measure' in cases that can be appropriately dealt with out of court. 
* Police will have powers to require those charged with offences and released on an 'undertaking' to appear at court to comply with specific extra conditions (such staying away from an area) until their first court date.
* New fines enforcement officers come into being, who will be able to provide payment advice, while also having powers, including the ability to dock wages, freeze bank accounts and seize vehicles, to tackle wilful non-payment. 
In addition a rolling process to unify the administration of all courts under the Scottish Court Service (SCS) also started with lay justice JP courts in Lothian and Borders coming under the agency's responsibility.
ScotGov: A Bill to establish a new body to support Scottish arts and culture has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament. Culture Minister Linda Fabiani said that the Creative Scotland Bill is a significant step towards the amalgamation of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen to form the cultural development body, Creative Scotland.

The Creative Scotland Bill is intended to give the new Creative Scotland body functions to:
* Promote understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the arts and culture
* Identify, support and develop talent and excellence in the arts and culture
* Realise the value and benefits of arts and culture
* Support activities which involve the application of creative skills to the development of products and processes
Press release ~ Creative Scotland Bill ~ ScotGov: Arts and Culture ~ Scottish Arts Council~ Scottish Screen ~ Creative Scotland Transition Project ~ Bòrd na Gàidhlig

Charity and Voluntary Sector

CC: The Charity Commission is introducing new measures to ensure that charities that no longer operate are removed from the Register of Charities.  Charities that fail to provide evidence that they are still operating will, after a series of warnings, be removed from the Register.
In the last year, 25% of charities on the register filed their accounts and returns late (i.e. more than ten months after their financial year end).  9,000 charities with a previous known income of more than £10,000 have not sent an annual return or accounts for the last financial year, 1,200 of which have not sent an annual return or accounts for more than six years.
BIG: Nine projects aimed at helping those most in need across the capital are benefiting from more than £1m of Big Lottery Funding. The money is handed out through BIG’s Reaching Communities programme, dedicated to improving the lives of the most vulnerable people in the country.  Good causes this month include supporting carers in Redbridge and opening up opportunities for disabled children in Greenwich.

Business and Other Briefings

FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published Market Watch 25, which focuses on firms' reviews of their systems and controls in light of the Société Générale (SG) 'rogue trader' incident.  Market Watch highlights the measures firms should consider when reviewing the systems & controls which protect them against 'rogue trader' risk.
Amongst other areas, Market Watch looks at:
*Front office culture & governance, in particular are traders encouraged to take two-week continuous holidays, and appropriate segregation of front office staff from middle and back office functions
* The use of suspense accounts;
* The quality of management information, both routine & outside normal parameters; and
* Elementary IT precautions, such as whether access to systems is password dependent
This Brief gives details of an article: Fuel for Road Vehicles - changes to some vehicle categories from 1 April 2008.
This Brief gives details of an article: Valuation of imported goods: Customs valuation declarations and general valuation statements.

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