You are viewing our public content
You can sign in or register for additional services

WGPlus provides an in-depth weekly briefing from the UK Government and Public Sector. To save your time, we research & validate the links to websites, documents and further background information. Click here for more about WGPlus

In the News

HoL EAC:  Lies, Dammed Lies and Statistics - The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, in a report published last week, rejected the Government's argument that a high level of net immigration is of economic benefit to the UK.  In the light of this, they call on the Government to set an explicit target range for net immigration to the UK.

Commenting Lord Wakeham, who chaired the inquiry, said: "The argument put forward by the Government that large-scale net immigration brings significant economic benefits for the UK is unconvincing.  We have found no evidence to support their position.  The Government's use of impact on overall GDP as the key measure is preposterous and irrelevant because it does not reflect the economic well-being of the existing population".

The Committee also reject the Government's position that a high level of net immigration is needed to prevent labour shortages, arguing that, by providing ready access to cheap imported labour, the Government risks discouraging employers from adopting alternative solutions to labour shortages such as increasing investment in new technology to make work less labour-intensive or increasing their spending on staff training to meet skills shortages.

In addition, the report asserts that arguments made in favour of immigration as a way to defuse the 'pensions time bomb' do not stand up to scrutiny.  The Committee point out that over time immigrants too will grow old and, having lived & worked in the UK, be eligible to draw pensions.

 The Committee also heard evidence that under, current plans for house building, the level of net immigration assumed by the Government Actuary's Department over the next 20 years (190,000 per year) will lead to house prices being more than 10% higher than would be the case with zero net immigration.
OSElectronic map of history - The Legal Deposit Libraries have unveiled a new way of viewing large‑scale mapping, following the signing of an agreement with Ordnance Survey, which ensures the libraries will continue to hold annual snapshots of detailed digital mapping of the whole of Great Britain.

The libraries collectively hold comprehensive archives of Ordnance Survey mapping dating back over two centuries.  This was originally received in paper form and then microfilm, but in 1998 the shift was made towards purely digital data. Since 2006 this had meant receiving an OS MasterMap snapshot of every year.

This entire archive of digital mapping, from 1998–2007, can now be explored & compared through a user-friendly viewer, which has been developed by the software company Dotted Eyes, using ResponseMX and over 1.5 terabytes of mapping data loaded using their InterpOSe and TranspOSe tools.

OS MasterMap is highly detailed, allowing precise recording of landscape change over time.  It can be viewed in all of the six UK Legal Deposit Libraries and a limited number of customised A4‑sized colour printouts of any area can be made for private, non-commercial use.
DefraA bright new future for our marine life? - A new network of marine conservation zones, for species & habitats of national importance, will be put in place by 2012 under new powers contained in the government's draft Marine Bill.  Measures to give people the freedom to walk round the English coast for the first time are also included.

The new marine conservation zones will have clear conservation objectives, to protect habitats & species of national importance, ensuring that some types of fishing, dredging or other forms of development do not damage them. 

The draft Bill includes new systems for managing & protecting our coastal and marine waters through:
* A new UK-wide marine planning system
* Simpler licensing of marine developments (e.g. offshore wind farms)
* Improved management of marine & inland fisheries
* A new Marine Management Organisation - a centre of marine excellence - will be created to regulate development & activity at sea and enforce environmental protection laws.
DHSo why close so many of them? – The government has published the White Paper - Building on Strengths, Delivering the Future – which sets out how pharmacists will work to complement GPs in promoting health, preventing sickness and providing care that is more personal & responsive to individual needs.

Under the new proposals, pharmacies will:
* become ‘healthy living’ centres promoting health and helping people to take better care of themselves
* be able to prescribe certain common medicines and be the first port of call for minor ailments
* provide support for people with long-term conditions - such as high blood pressure or asthma
* be able to screen for vascular disease and certain sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia
* work much more closely with hospitals to provide safe, seamless care, and
* play a bigger role in vaccination
Cabinet OfficeWhen will they start working together? - A strategy committing leaders in the civil service & armed forces to work together on common skills issues has been launched by head of the civil service, Sir Gus O'Donnell. Government Skills, the sector skills council for central government, has worked with HR directors and learning leads, heads of professions and permanent secretaries to develop the strategy.

Called 'Building Professional Skills for Government', it is intended to help departments:
* deliver higher professional standards
* improve value for money in closing skills gaps and
* ensure that candidates for the future workforce are better prepared for a civil service career
Evidence from the Capability Reviews of government departments has shown that delivery of services could improve further if skills gaps are addressed. Despite the commonality of the skills issues faced, Government Skills research with training providers showed that departments are not acting together.
Forthcoming event:  Piecing together the information puzzle - AIIM 2008 Roadshow - AIIM, the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Association, has announced the results of its annual user survey. AIIM’s research indicates that 63% of UK respondents have little or no confidence that emails related to commitments and obligations made by themselves and their staff are recorded, complete and recoverable. This compares to 56% in last year’s survey. The figure for public sector organisations rises to over 70%. When asked, “If your organisation was sued by a former customer or citizen, how long would it take to produce all of the information related to that person?” 27% cited more than one month.
Without effective knowledge sharing between colleagues, suppliers, partners and customers, your projects and processes will disconnect. Productivity will suffer and competitiveness will crash. The key is the ability to connect people with the information they need, when the need it and where they need it, whilst also keeping it safe and secure for the future.
Today's ECM solutions manage faxes, invoices, reports, case notes, emails, images, documents, spreadsheets, web pages, presentations, contracts, customer records…
The pieces of the information puzzle are document management, process optimisation, enterprise search, information capture, collaboration, records management, web content management and email management. Completing the Enterprise Content Management jigsaw could provide your organisation with wall-to-wall findability, shareability and controllability.
AIIM will address these issues at its 2008 AIIM Roadshow, which visits five UK cities Glasgow, Bolton, Coventry, Bristol and Londonfrom April 28th to May 2nd. This year’s educational theme is “Piecing together the Information Puzzle” and industry experts will deliver information and advice throughout the week.
At the AIIM Roadshow learn how best practice in document and records management can help your organisation improve services, optimise business processes, get to grips with compliance, ease growth, aid diversification and, last but not least, save money.

For information on other forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar 

For Industry News please click HERE

General News

UKSA: The new UK Statistics Authority has come into existence with its Publication Hub providing a one-stop shop for statistics which are accessible, clear and free from political commentary.  It is an independent body, with powers & the obligation to promote, improve and safeguard official statistics across the UK.  Its aim is to rebuild public trust in Government statistics by separating statistical analysis from political comment.
The Authority will have oversight of all UK official statistics, with statutory powers and the obligation to promote, improve & safeguard official statistics across the UK.
Monitor: Monitor, the independent regulator for NHS Foundation Trusts has confirmed the following will be authorised from 1 April 2008, bringing the total to 92:
* Medway NHS Foundation Trust
* Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
* The Mid Cheshire NHS Foundation Trust
MoD: The MOD has launched an internet-based Armed Forces Benefits Calculator (ABC) to make it quick & easy for service personnel to assess the total value of their full employment package.
The ABC incorporates basic pay, specialist pay, individual allowances, pension and other MOD provided benefits to give an estimate of the package's financial worth.  The Calculator will also be made available to potential recruits keen to investigate the type of reward package that might be available should they choose to join the Armed Forces.
Home Office: The government has announced that changes to checks for those working with children & vulnerable adults will start from October 2009 and that the fees structure for the scheme has also been set. The Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) will cover 11.3m people wishing to seek work or volunteer with children or vulnerable adults.
The ISA scheme will mean a single vetting authority maintains a constantly updated list of people who are not allowed to work with children or vulnerable adults - this will incorporate all existing barring lists. If a person is not barred from employment with vulnerable people they will be ISA registered, although it will remain the employer's decision whether to hire them.  The authority will work alongside the Criminal Records Bureau, which will continue to issue criminal records disclosures to help employers make recruitment decisions.
MoD: Cannons were fired in celebration last week in each of the nation's capitals to mark the 100th anniversary of the Territorial Army (TA) and launch TA100 - a major campaign to acknowledge the contribution of Territorial soldiers since 1908.
To celebrate the centenary, HM The Queen - patron of TA100 - has sent a birthday card and message of thanks & congratulation to every member of the Territorial Army.  TA100 will highlight the significant changes to the TA's role & purpose over a century of service.  A series of high profile events and commemorations will take place throughout 2008 in communities across the UK.
MCAHer Majesty's Coastguard and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) will feature in a fifth series of the successful BBC documentary Seaside Rescue starting on Sunday, 6 April on BBC One at 6:30 pm.
In the first episode, the Coastguard rescue helicopter is called to assist in the evacuation of people from the severe flooding that happened in Gloucestershire on the 21st July 2007. The helicopter crew rescued a total of 15 people and 8 dogs from various locations, including a man & woman and their dog from a narrow boat.  Five young people were also rescued from the roof of a pub, and an elderly lady and her pet dog, from her caravan.
TfL: On 7 September, the streets of central London will once again play host to some of the world’s top cyclists, as the Tour of Britain cycle race starts its 8-day UK tour in the capital. Transport for London (TfL) will bring the Tour of Britain to the Capital for the next four years.  It will start in London in 2008, and will finish here in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
PCS: The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has announced that it has reached a national agreement with the Cabinet Office which provides members in the civil service and related bodies with improved protection from compulsory redundancy. 
WYP: West Yorkshire Police has introduced a flagship Capture House programme in burglary hotspots across all force areas after a highly successful introductory run of the initiative in Huddersfield and a successful pilot in Leeds.  In the latest success, three men were arrested & charged after breaking into a Capture House in the Huddersfield area last week.

 They are equipped with the latest detection technology and are stocked with goods which could make them potential targets. Once inside intruders are monitored by concealed CCTV and exposed to a liquid based property marking solution through which they can later be identified.
Press release ~ West Yorkshire Police ~ 999TV (click on Capture House video)
MoD: The latest version of the Royal Navy's Tomahawk land attack missile (TLAM) has been declared operational - three months earlier than planned. Used to arm submarines, the new Tomahawk Block IV missile is considerably more capable than its predecessors.
It has a significantly reduced response time and can fly further, striking land targets from the sea up to one thousand miles away, with even greater precision.  They are able to re-target or safely abort in flight and can relay images en route.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

BERR: An overhaul of the Government's Low Carbon Building Programme (LCBP) will see more generous grants for schools and public buildings, while the £10m support still available to householders will be extended until 2010 for new applications.
In addition, Energy Minister, Malcolm Wicks, announced that there will be no need to get planning permission to install devices like solar panels, ground & water source heat pumps and biomass systems.  Relaxation of the planning rules for micro wind and air source heat pumps is expected to follow shortly, once clearance with the EU Commission is completed
MoJ: Six new probation trusts have started work as part of the Government's drive to further reduce re-offending and increase protection for the public. Trust status, introduced through the Offender Management Act 2007, are intended to allow probation services more independence to focus their work on local communities and reduce re-offending, while providing the same level of service to the courts and oversight of offenders.
As with the government’s system of Best Value for Local Government, Probation Boards & Trusts will need to ensure that services are continuously improved using the provider which delivers the best value for money, whether they are from the public, private or voluntary sector.
As part of the Offender Management Act 2007 the provision of assistance to courts will be retained within the public sector until Parliament agrees otherwise.  There is also a commitment to retain the management of offenders (such as supervising offenders in custody or on licence) in the public sector until 2010.
DH: The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill has come into force, enabling the establishment of Local Involvement Networks (LINks), whichwill replace Patients' Forums as the representatives of patient voices in the NHS.  New LINks will be set-up in 150 Local Authority areas across the country, supported by £84m of central Government funding over the next three years.
The role of each network is to find out what citizens want from local services, to monitor & review the care they provide and to tell care management what the community thinks.  Local Authorities have until September 2008 to ensure that an organisation is in place to set-up and run the LINk for their area. However, if a 'host' is not in place from the 1 April, authorities remain under a legal duty to make sure that LINks activities still take place by other means.
Cabinet Office:  Cabinet Office Minister Tom Watson has announced the creation of the Power of Information Task Force, which is intended to ‘drive forward the Government's pledge to meet rising aspirations of modern communications practice & improve engagement with citizens through social media’.
The Task Force will be chaired by Richard Allen with membership drawn from leading internet practitioners, the civil service and wider public service.  A key goal is to increase innovation and improve the way the Government shares information, so ordinary people can develop online services that benefit their community.
WAG: Education Minister Jane Hutt has announced the publication of the strategy for developing school-based counselling services across Wales, supported by funding of £6.5m over the next 3 years.  The Welsh Assembly Government aims for a counselling service to be available to all pupils so they have someone to turn to if they need help or support.

Developing a universal school-based counselling service for all children and young people in Wales was a recommendation in the Children’s Commissioner for Wales’ Clywch Inquiry Report, which was accepted by WAG. It is also a commitment in the One Wales agreement.
DCMS: Blackpool, Dover and Torbay will be the first towns to benefit from up to £4m each for cultural and heritage projects. The grants are the first to be made as part of Sea Change, a new funding programme which aims to kick start wider economic regeneration in coastal areas through investment in culture & heritage.
The 3 year programme will give £45m to coastal resorts and is being led by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE). The key criterion in choosing the resorts is that they are areas of social & economic deprivation in need of regeneration.  
In addition, the Sea Change programme includes up to 12 smaller grants of £200,000 to £1,000,000 via an open application programme (project leaders must find match funding of at least 100% to qualify for funding).  Any coastal resort with a cultural project that would be a catalyst for regeneration can apply for this funding.  The deadline for applications for 2008 is 30 June 2008.


Defra: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published a consultation (closes 23 June 2008) on protecting England's soils for the future through a new Soil Strategy. Our soils are essential for supporting food production, supporting habitats & biodiversity and providing a platform for built development.
Soils also contain huge amounts of carbon and there is some evidence to suggest that carbon levels are declining in some soils, resulting in the release of CO2 into the atmosphere and contributing to climate change, so one of the key aims of the draft Strategy is to halt the loss of soil carbon.
CLG: Ministers are consulting (closes 20 June 2008) on proposals to support regional economic growth in England following publication of the Sub-National Review of Economic Development and Regeneration in July 2007, which announced ‘new streamlined regional government’ with the phasing out of Regional Assemblies from 2010.
Under proposed new legislation, top tier councils would be given a duty to assess the economic conditions of their area, including employment & skills needs and the infrastructure needed to support sustainable economic growth - including housing and transport investment.
These councils and Regional Development Agencies would then use this as the basis for regional strategies, covering the future for housing, skills, transport & regeneration, to encourage greater economic growth.
HM TreasuryHM Treasury, the Department for Work and Pensions and The Pensions Regulator (TPR), have launched a consultation (closes 23 June 2008) on updating the Myners principles, a voluntary set of 'comply or explain' principles designed to improve trustee investment decision-making and governance of pension funds.
The consultation responds to last year's National Association of Pension Fund (NAPF) review Institutional Investment in the UK: Six Years On, which recommended updating the Myners principles to ensure the continued spread of best practice among pension schemes.
The consultation proposes a set of refreshed & simplified, higher-level principles and the development of a comprehensive suite of authoritative best practice guidance & tools, which will help trustees to improve investment decision-making and governance.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published a consultation document (closes 1 July 2008) on its website outlining proposed changes to the methods & process that underpin NICE’s clinical guidelines work programme.

The consultation document - The guidelines manual – is a detailed resource intended primarily for those involved in the development of guidelines for the Institute, such as the National Collaborating Centres that are commissioned by NICE to develop NICE clinical guidelines and the Guideline Development Groups that produce the individual guidelines.  The draft manual applies to both NICE’s standard clinical guidelines and short clinical guidelines processes and will replace the existing Guidelines manual published in April 2007.
CLG: Housing Minister Caroline Flint has announced the 15 potential locations for eco-towns that will go forward to the next stage. The government claims that the bids will mean that no new homes would be built on Green Belt land and that more than 30% of the overall new houses will be affordable housing.
Shortlisted locations now face further challenges including public consultation (closes 30 June 2008) and a detailed Sustainability Appraisal which will assess the merits & challenges for each one.  A final shortlist of locations will be published later this year, after which each potential eco-town will need to submit a planning application.
WAG: Health Minister Edwina Hart has announced proposals for major changes to the NHS structure in Wales to ‘further reduce bureaucracy, remove the internal market and to improve patient care’.  The proposals, which are out to consultation (closes 25 June 2008), include:
* Abolishing the internal market in NHS Wales
* Three options for establishing a Board for Wales, and
* LHBs reduced from 22 to eight, including Powys LHB
Defra: In accordance with the government’s legislative obligations under section 14a of the Animal Health Act 1981 Defra is inviting comments (by 26 June 2008) on the proposed Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Regulations 2008.
The proposed new regulations would update & replace the existing Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (No.2) Regulations 2006, which would be revoked.  They include changes that have been made in response to several developments including reviews of procedure, changes to European legislation, and certain technical changes.
MoJ: New proposals - 'Rome I - Should the UK Opt in?' - intended to protect the interests of UK businesses operating in Europe have been published for consultation (closes 25 June 2008) by the Government. It is intended to provide clarity over which law applies if a dispute arises over a contract made between people or businesses from different countries, allowing cross border trade to continue with confidence – See ‘EU legislation, initiatives’ section for more details.
UK–IPO: The UK Intellectual Property Office has published the report it commissioned into the impact on Artist's Resale Rights on the UK art market, which examines in detail both the costs & benefits of the right for both the UK art market and its artists – See ‘EU legislation, initiatives’ for more details.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

QCA: Diplomas are a new type of qualification, developed to transform teaching & learning by appealing to different learning preferences and by motivating young people to participate and achieve.  The learning required for each Diploma is based on the Line of Learning statement, which outlines what needs to be included in the curriculum & specifications and how to ensure that the teaching & learning are appropriate and fit for purpose.
To support the delivery of Diploma learning, the QCA have developed guidance for the first ten lines of learning, at levels one, two and three.  
HA: The Highways Agency has published a new policy for the operation & provision of service areas on motorways and major ‘A’ roads, aimed at giving drivers greater choice and raising standards. In the policy, the Agency sets out a range of things it expects operators to provide from parking to toilets, as well as giving them more freedom to innovate & improve services to customers.
The policy will also introduce a new independently-operated ‘quality scheme’, which will review service areas with a means to maintaining or raising standards - similar to the rating of hotels. Some sites offering a smaller range of facilities may also be permitted in certain circumstances between existing service areas.  Operators will also be encouraged to provide or up-grade picnic areas at existing sites.
The Highways Agency will also investigate how service areas can become more sustainable by considering a number of new ideas which could lead to sites being used for conference facilities, coach interchanges or to provide a base for park and ride or park and share.  
ScotGov: New guidance is being made available in Scotland to enhance community health and social care services for people with autism. The publication of the guidance, which coincided with World Autism Awareness Day (2 April), offers best practice examples, as well as recommendations including awareness training for all staff and involving people with autism in the planning of services.

An Autism Toolkit is also being developed (launching later in 2008) to offer guidance to education authorities and schools in identifying and supporting children and young people with autism.
Home Office: Displaying reporting links to agencies including the police, NSPCC and the Samaritans on social networking websites is one of a range of recommendations for industry & users in new guidance - UK Social Networking Guidance - launched by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, alongside new proposals to make it harder for child sex offenders to meet children online.
In addition, the email addresses of registered child sex offenders will be passed by police to social networking websites, enabling these websites to stop offenders using their sites.  Sex offenders would face up to five years in prison if they fail to give police their email addresses or provide a false email address.
The Home Secretary also launched a new Kitemarkto set a standard for filtering software for home computers and strengthen protection of children online, which will hopefully ensure that parents have confidence that the filtering product they use meets an independent standard.

Annual Reports

OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has published its Annual Plan which sets out its priorities for the coming year, and how it plans to address a number of forthcoming new challenges.  Among the new challenges facing the OFT in the coming year are the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations and the commencement of new provisions contained in the Consumer Credit Act.
In addition, the OFT recognises the need to remove unnecessary burdens on business and has published its first Regulatory Simplification Plan which describes the initiatives currently planned for the coming year.
TS: Actions to deliver a national, unified tribunals system with a strong local presence have been outlined in the Tribunals Service's Business Plan, which outlines how the organisation will, over the coming year, drive forward its strategy to reform its 28 tribunals into a more efficient, independent and user-focused service.
Work will also take place during the year to bring eight new & existing tribunals, currently tied to other government departments, into the Tribunals Service family.  They are the Estate Agents Act Appeals, Consumer Credit Appeals Tribunal, Family Health Service Appeals Authority, the Reserve Forces Appeal Tribunal, the Adjudication Panel for England, the Agricultural Lands Tribunal, the Gangmasters Appeal Tribunal and the Agricultural Dwelling Houses Advisory Committee.

General Reports and Other Publications

Defra: The England Implementation Group (EIG) has released its report into the implementation of the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy. The report looks at how stakeholders, industry and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are implementing the Strategy across the board.
This, the second report, introduces the England Implementation Plan, which brings together details of the wide range of actions to which the sector councils and others have committed to help deliver the Strategy.
Ofwat: The Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) has published its new strategy which sets out how it plans to develop economic regulation of the water and sewerage sectors in England & Wales. A key part of Ofwat's work over the next three years will be the price review.  Ofwat recently published its final approach to setting price limits in 2009.
NAOHM Revenue & Customs achieved a return of around £4.50 for every £1 spent on tackling the hidden economy in 2006-07 and recent campaigns to encourage people into the formal economy have achieved much higher returns.  But, according to a report by the National Audit Office, the penalties the Department imposes when it detects people in the hidden economy are relatively low and it obtained little publicity for prosecutions.
HMRC has also encouraged people to come forward voluntarily to pay tax owed using its Offshore Disclosure arrangements, making use of information obtained on around 400,000 overseas bank accounts held by UK residents.  Around 45,000 people came forward in 2007, bringing in £400m in additional tax at a cost of £6m.
ScotGov: The new Scottish Government publication Estimating the Cost of Child Poverty - Approaches and Evidence gives a figure of £500m - £750m for the direct cost of child poverty due to extra spending on services. 
But it also estimates that the annual knock-on cost to the public purse of young people not in employment, education or training could be as high as another £1bn.
The report takes evidence from selected wards and detailed data from a single local authority (Fife) and extrapolates the estimated additional costs associated with child poverty to give a figure for Scotland.
CCWater: The Consumer Council for Water has welcomed the All Party Parliamentary Water Group's (APPWG) report - The Future of the UK Water Sector, and the key proposals put forward to make things better for water consumers.
The APPWG report acknowledges that there are numerous challenges in the water sector including affordability of bills, water saving and efficiency, flooding, and the current regulatory system, and stresses that consumers should be the focal point when possible solutions are considered.

Legislation / Legal

Ofwat: New regulations that have come into force will strengthen the protection for consumers who suffer sewer flooding.  Under the Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS) water and sewerage companies must make automatic payments to customers when their performance falls below a certain standard. The new GSS regulations will extend the rights of customers by:
* Setting a minimum payment of £150 each time their building is flooded by sewage
* Including a new standard for customers materially affected by external sewer flooding of their land & property by sewage and
* Setting external sewer flooding payments at 50% of the annual sewerage charge for each incident (minimum payment of £75)
Under GSS, companies are exempt from making payments when flooding is due to exceptional weather conditions or blockages and other problems with the customer's drain.  Ofwat will be consulting in April on guidance to help customers and companies understand when the weather exemptions are likely to apply.
MoJ: New processes to put the welfare of children at the heart of care proceedings have come into effect. The Public Law Outline replaces the existing Protocol for Judicial Case Management in Public Law Children Act Cases by introducing simpler & more streamlined court procedures and promoting the earlier identification of key issues in the process including;
* Setting court timetables focused on the needs to the child
* Ensuring local authorities are better & more fully prepared before making applications to the courts
* Cutting the current six stages of the court process to four
MoJ: The government has announced the setting up of more than 30 new Specialist Domestic Violence Court (SDVCs) systems across England & Wales, bringing the total number in the national programme to 98.
A multi-agency approach is central to the success of these innovative courts; police, prosecutors court staff, the probation service and specialist support services work together to identify, track & risk assess domestic violence cases, support victims and share information so that more offenders are brought to justice.
DCMS: A draft Heritage Protection Bill to ‘unify heritage protection regimes, allow greater public involvement in decisions and place heritage at the heart of the planning system’, has been published by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham.
Defra: New Environmental Permitting Regulations came into force on 6 April 2008 in England & Wales, intended to reduce red tape whilst protecting the environment and human health. Part of a joint Defra, Environment Agency and Welsh Assembly Government initiative, the regulations streamline & integrate Waste Management Licensing (WML) and Pollution Prevention Control (PPC) into one single regulatory system, replacing over 40 separate sets of regulations.
Additional benefits and cost-savings are expected to be delivered through the second phase of the Environmental Permitting Programme (EPP2): Defra, the Environment Agency and WAG are currently looking to expand the new single system by including further permitting regimes.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

UK–IPO: The UK Intellectual Property Office has published the report it commissioned into the impact on Artist's Resale Rights on the UK art market, which examines in detail both the costs & benefits of the right for both the UK art market and its artists.
The right (introduced in 2006, as the result of a European Directive) currently applies to works created by artists who are living.  From 2010 the right will also apply to works created by artists who have been dead for less than 70 years.  A consultation in the summer will look at the possibility of continuing to exclude deceased artists until 2012
MoJ: New proposals - 'Rome I - Should the UK Opt in?' - intended to protect the interests of UK businesses operating in Europe have been published for consultation (closes 25 June 2008) by the Government. It is intended to provide clarity over which law applies if a dispute arises over a contract made between people or businesses from different countries, allowing cross border trade to continue with confidence.
When the European Commission first announced the proposals in 2005, the UK Government opted out of the proposals, as they would not have been in the interests of UK businesses.  However, following intense negotiations, a revised & improved version has now been agreed.
Defra: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has released details of the strategy for rolling out Bluetongue vaccination across England. Under EU law, vaccination can only be carried out in a Protection Zone.  As vaccine starts to be delivered by Intervet, vaccination will, therefore, commence in the Protection Zone only.
Once vaccination is progressing across the Protection Zone, the intention is to extend or modify the Zone county by county, in order to permit further vaccination.  The strategy is designed to be flexible, taking into account the changing nature of the disease, such as moving zones, the varying levels of disease risk in the zones and the availability of vaccine.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

HM Treasury: New research into the 'Key Barriers to the Adoption of Gift Aid' has been published by Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jane Kennedy MP. The research was co-funded by the Government and the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and involved in-depth interviews with over fifty UK charities, as well as key intermediaries and stakeholders.
Budget 2008 also announced that although the basic rate of tax will be 20%, Gift Aid will be paid at a transitional rate of 22% from 2008-09 to 2010-11; providing charities with additional Gift Aid worth around £300 million over three years.
BIG: Awards announced by the BIG Lottery Fund’s Community Buildings scheme are putting good cause millions into village halls and community hubs. Towns from Yorkshire to Cornwall have secured a slice of the Lottery funding totalling £2,659,018, enabling communities to give their village halls a new lease of life or build new community centres.
Cabinet Office: Phil Hope, Minister for the Third Sector, has made the fourth commencement order of the Charities Act 2006.  It includes the new statutory definition of 'charity' and various accounting & reporting changes to bring the legal framework for charities up to date.  Other changes to charity law, including a requirement for professional fundraisers to state how much they are paid when asking for public donations, also came into effect last week.

Business and Other Briefings

BERR: More than 20,000 high-street accountants and solicitors are set to receive leaflets explaining important changes to company law, which will have a big impact on their professions. The Companies Act 2006 makes sweeping changes intended to improve & simplify company law.  To ensure a smooth transition, it is being phased in over a three-year period, with the next set of measures coming into force on 6 April 2008.
Further changes are set to come in on the 1 October 2008 and the 1 October 2009.
UK-IPO: On the 31 March, UK-IPO enhanced its patent electronic filing services under the epoline(r) and web filing routes. Customers are now be able to file electronically letters, amended or replacement pages of patent specifications, abstracts, claims, translations of priority documents, sequence listings and other search reports.  They will also be able to e-file a wider range of statutory forms (AF1, F7, F9A, F10 and F52) following the filing of their patent applications.
This release also marks the end of a key programme of work which over the last two years has introduced both electronic case working to the Patents Directorate and a variety of electronic services for customers. These include the ability to file a patent application via the UK-IPO website, and requesting & receiving uncertified office copies of GB patent case files electronically.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published feedback to its Discussion Paper on platforms, published in June 2007, which confirms its commitment to the current, principles-based approach to platforms.  
The FSA remains concerned about a number of potential risks it highlighted in the Discussion Paper: that platform adoption may lead to increased complexity & costs for consumers (without new – or valued – services being received in return), and create conflicts of interest for advisers, and the risk that advisers may not always have the appropriate competence to provide the level of investment advice they are offering through a platform.
As a result, the FSA will be looking at platform providers and intermediaries that use platforms to ensure that customers are being treated fairly through the existing regulatory approach.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published the findings of the second stage of its Mortgage Effectiveness Review, which focused on consumer experiences in the sub-prime and lifetime mortgage sectors of the market.
This second stage focused on the more specialised sectors of sub-prime and lifetime mortgages.  While these sectors are modest in size, together accounting for less than 10% of the regulated mortgage market, they were looked at in detail because the risk of consumer detriment may be greater.
UK-IPO: The UK Intellectual Property Office has launched a new patents journal service on its website. The new service has been developed following an internal review and external consultation exercise.  It offers users the ability to search, view or download individual or multiple sections of patents data across a range of publication weeks.  It also offers the user automatic links to the patents register and published documents.
MoJ: New proposals - 'Rome I - Should the UK Opt in?' - intended to protect the interests of UK businesses operating in Europe have been published for consultation (closes 25 June 2008) by the Government. It is intended to provide clarity over which law applies if a dispute arises over a contract made between people or businesses from different countries, allowing cross border trade to continue with confidence – See ‘EU legislation, initiatives’ section for more details.
ScotGov: The reduction & removal of business rates for 150,000 small businesses in Scotland (the Small Business Bonus Scheme) came into force on 1 April 2008.  In the first year it is expected to result in savings of up to £75m - rising to the £165m when the full discounts come into force in future years.

A business with a rateable value of some £5,150, stands to save around £1,200 in 2008-09 and £1,650 in 2009-10 compared with the former Small Business Rate Relief Scheme.
This brief gives details of an article: Extension of non-statutory clearances service for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) business customers.
This brief gives details of an article: New penalties for errors in returns and documents.

Editorial Content Statement

WGPlus would like to make it clear that the commentary & links provided, in respect of any particular item, are published in its capacity as an independent non-government funded organisation and reflect the editorial team’s need to both précis & re‑format the content of news releases. 
Any views expressed are therefore entirely those of the WGPlus editorial team and independent of any sponsor, government organisation or political party.
For the official view of a source organisation, readers should click on the ‘press release’ that is the first link attached to each item.
Speed of download - Readers are reminded that some documents linked to can be large (VL) or even very, very large (VVL) and may take some time to download, even with a broadband link. Readers are encouraged to be patient.
While every care is taken to ensure that all links ’work’ in the newsletter (including checking just before publication), WGPlus cannot guarantee that websites will not make changes that will nullify individual links, especially over a period of time.
WGPlus is not responsible for the content of external websites
Business IT Support by: Trusted IT