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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

HC: Is Deep Cleaning working? - The Healthcare Commission has launched the biggest inspection programme ever carried out in NHS acute trusts to check whether they are meeting standards on infection control. It will inspect all 172 acute trusts annually as part of a drive to:
* reduce death & illness from healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs)
* improve the experience of patients in hospital, and
* increase public confidence in the NHS

The Commission has written to all acute trusts, calling on them to ensure that they have the necessary systems in place to minimise the risk to patients of catching a HCAI such as MRSA or Clostridium difficile. In particular, trusts should check they are meeting the 11 mandatory duties outlined in the government’s hygiene code, which came into force as part of the Health Act 2006.
SE: Being unfit is not a requirement for being disabled - Sport England is highlighting that the period 24-30 April 2008 which sees the first Inclusive Fitness Week placing the inclusive physical activity agenda firmly at the forefront of both fitness providers’ and disabled people’s minds, providing as many people as possible with the opportunity to try a new activity, embark upon a new fitness goal or simply to understand that exercise really can and should be for everyone.

Inclusive Fitness Week 2008, brings together Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) Accredited Facilities and the fitness industry as a whole to ask the question; Why aren’t more disabled people participating in physical activity than do so at present?

The IFI has been working with the fitness sector since 2001, supporting facilities to offer an inclusive provision, addressing issues related to building access, the provision of inclusive fitness equipment, staff training and the marketing message delivered by the fitness industry. In doing so, the IFI has accredited 183 facilities across England to date with a further 200 to be in place in the next 12 months.
WAG: Devolved governments lead the way yet again - The Welsh Assembly Government launched its new Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Strategic Action Plan at the 3rd Wales International Autism Conference organised by Autism Cymru in Cardiff. Funding for the next 3 years has been identified with the first years funding of £1.8m being announced to drive forward key actions for the first years.

The Plan is intended to drive improvements across both children, young people’s & adult services in health, social services and education services – and also expand into areas of housing, leisure and society in general.

Wales has appointed Hugh Morgan OBE, Chief Executive of Autism Cymru, to the post of Implementation Manager to drive forward the critical first 12 months’ developments in the mapping of needs & services which has to be undertaken by every Local Authority in Wales.
Press release ~ Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Strategic Action Plan ~ WAG - Health and social care ~ Autism Cymru ~ The National Autistic Society - Wales ~ AWARES, the All Wales Autism Resource ~ Autism Connect ~ 3rd Wales International Autism Conference ~ Autism Independent UK (SFTAH) ~ Autism Hub: Autism Related Blogs ~ Scottish Society for Autism ~ Autism Speaks - raising money for research into autism spectrum disorders ~ Welcome to the Autism Awareness Website ~ ~ Autism Research Centre (ARC) ~ Commissioning Services for People on the Autism Spectrum: Policy and Practice Guidance ~ World Autism Awareness Day ~ Scottish Autism Service Network ~ Educational Provision for Children with Autism in Scotland ~ NAS - make school make sense in Scotland ~ NES - Autism Learning Resource ~ Autism Alliance UK ~ Bercow Review website and Interim report

ScotParl: Please Sir, when will this issue finally be resolved? - An inquiry into child poverty in Scotland has been launched with a call for evidence by the Local Government and Communities Committee. With an estimated 90,000 children living in severe & persistent poverty in Scotland, the committee inquiry will focus on identifying solutions and scrutinising child poverty targets.

The Committee decided to launch its inquiry after hearing evidence from a number of organisations at a round-table event in Glasgow in March. Among those who contributed to the child poverty event were representatives from Save the Children, Barnardo's Scotland, One Parent Families, Poverty Alliance Scotland, National Children's Homes, Working for Families Fund and Child Poverty Action Group.
DH: At last some statistics that can be taken at face value - The Government's national immunisation programme has prevented well over 3,000 cases of death or serious illness and has ensured that young people are not at risk from Meningitis. The Director of Immunisation's report reveals that, for the first time, there were no deaths in the under 19's from MenC (Meningococcal C/meningitis) last year.

Previously MenC has killed up to 78 people a year and left serious complications such as brain damage and amputations in survivors. A fact sheet, also just published, sets out the picture since immunisation was introduced in the 1950's showing that:
* there are NO cases of paralysis from polio today – (previously 8,000 people a year)
* there are NO cases of diphtheria today - this previously killed 3,000 people a year, and
* since the year 2000 the MenC vaccine has prevented over 500 deaths
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General News

BERR: The annual winners and recipients of The Queen's Awards for Enterprise were announced on 21 April - The Queen's birthday.  They are the UK's most prestigious accolades for business-related achievement and a total of 139 business Awards and 11 individual Awards have been conferred this year.
This is the fourth year of The Queen's Award for Enterprise Promotion (QAEP), an Award for individuals who have played an outstanding and significant role in promoting the growth of business enterprise and entrepreneurial skills and attitudes in others.  There are ten standard Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award. The deadline for applications for the 2009 Awards is 31 October 2008.  
FAFellows’ Associates reports that Northgate Information Solutions claimed recently that ‘meeting the needs of consumers for high-quality property search services requires a level playing field for the public and private sectors’.
In a response to the Ministry of Justice consultation on local authority property search services, Northgate welcomed the proposals to charge for access to ‘unrefined’ data on a cost recovery basis as a means of delivering a fair and competitive market.

However, it voiced concern that fees based solely on cost recovery may disadvantage local authorities that want to offer ‘refined’ searches to the market and called on the government to produce guidance for those wishing to group together to develop these services.
MCA: From February 2009, only 406 MHz and not 121.5/243 MHz emergency beacons will be processed within the international satellite-aided search and rescue system called COSPAS-SARSAT.  This affects all maritime beacons (EPIRBS), all aviation emergency locator transponders (ELTs) and all personal locator beacons (PLBs) operating on the 121.5/243 MHz bands.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, along with partner organisations, is therefore encouraging all seafarers to begin taking steps to ensure they have an initial emergency alerting alternative such as a 406MHz beacon system.
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities recently ran a ‘Quids In’ Symposium, which brought together representatives from government and the financial sector to hear about financial inclusion projects which are already changing people's lives in rural areas.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DCMS: Event organisers need to do much more to ensure that tickets get to real fans instead of expensive resale websites, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has said. The Government is looking to event organisers, promoters and their ticket agents to work together to find new ways of making sure that tickets are properly distributed without fans routinely paying over-the-odds.
The Government will now:
* push for a voluntary agreement that tickets for 'crown jewel' events will not be sold on the secondary market
* work with the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) to deliver a new code of principles.
DIUS: The next steps in developing the system for allocating more than £1.4bn in funding to universities for research have been announced by John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills.
The current system for assessing research, the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), depends on universities submitting research outputs to subject panels for peer review.  The Research Excellence Framework (REF), which will come fully into effect in 2014, is intended to make this exercise more statistically based and less cumbersome for academics.
WAG: Wales could have a larger fisheries zone, with more of the seas around Wales under the authority of the Welsh Assembly Government, Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones announced recently.  Currently the Welsh Assembly Government is responsible for fisheries up to 12 nautical miles from the shore.  
The proposal by the Minister is for a Welsh Fisheries Zone that will give responsibility for fisheries management and enforcement functions off the Welsh coast, up to the median lines between Wales, Northern Ireland, England, Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland.  Median line is the half way point between two coastlines, for example between Wales and Ireland.  This area is currently the responsibility of Defra.  
ScotParl: An inquiry into child poverty in Scotland has been launched with a call for evidence by the Local Government and Communities Committee.  With an estimated 90,000 children living in severe & persistent poverty in Scotland, the committee inquiry will focus on identifying solutions and scrutinising child poverty targets – See ‘In the News Section’ for more information
WAG: The Welsh Assembly Government launched its new Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Strategic Action Plan at the 3rd Wales International Autism Conference organised by Autism Cymru in Cardiff – See ‘In the News’ Section for more information.


HM Treasury: A discussion paper on the UK's proposals to reduce the administrative burden on insurance groups operating in the EU has been launched for consultation by the Treasury and the Financial Services Authority (FSA).
The proposals aim to encourage more effective group supervision across EU insurers and ultimately provide better value for consumers.  They represent the UK's contribution to the development of prudential regulation of the EU insurance sector through the Solvency II process.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the National Collaborating Centre for Nursing and Supportive Care (NCC NSC) have issued guidance to the NHS in England & Wales on preventing hypothermia in patients before, during and up to 24 hours after surgery (known as perioperative hypothermia).

Hypothermia – defined as a core body temperature of less than 36°C - is a recognised and common occurrence during surgery, with estimates suggesting that up to 70% of unwarmed patients may be hypothermic on admission to the recovery room.
Patients who develop perioperative hypothermia can experience a number of complications, including a greater chance of heart problems, higher rates of infection and increased blood loss.  Patients experiencing perioperative hypothermia may need a longer stay in hospital.
SESport England has announced that Sports coach UK has unveiled the industry blueprint to create a world-leading coaching system in the UK by 2016. The vision outlined in the UK Coaching Framework is to create a cohesive, ethical, inclusive and valued coaching system where skilled coaches support children, adults, players and athletes at all stages of their development in sport, and that is world-leading by 2016.

The objective is to help coaches play a key role in increasing sport participation, improving sporting performances and in building a clear career structure for coaches within a professionally regulated vocation. In the document disabled people are included in all references to children, players, athletes and participants.  Where specific actions relate to disabled people or their coaches only, the term disabled people will be employed.

Annual Reports

CEOP: 2nd year results from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre - the UK's dedicated organisation for tackling the sexual abuse of children - shows the battle against child sex offenders continues to gathers pace.
The CEOP Centre’s activities have led to the safeguarding of 131 children and the arrest of 297 offenders during the last twelve months, with the arrest figures alone being a three-fold increase on the organisation's first year results.
During the last year the organisation has processed almost 1 million images of child sex abuse - using each unique image to help either build up intelligence, track and bring offenders to account, or as vital parts of an investigative jigsaw leading to 18 young victims being identified from this area of work alone. Offenders have been targeted not only individually, but also where they have formed intricate paedophile networks with 6 such groups infiltrated & dismantled throughout the year - all with international footprints.
DH: The Government's national immunisation programme has prevented well over 3,000 cases of death or serious illness and has ensured that young people are not at risk from Meningitis, according to a new report. The Director of Immunisation's report reveals that, for the first time, there were no deaths in the under 19's from MenC (Meningococcal C/meningitis) last year – See ‘In the News’ for more information.

General Reports and Other Publications

DfT: The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has published a report following the completion of their investigation into the structural failure of the hull of the MSC Napoli.  The MAIB found that the failure to the hull in the region of the ship's engine room was due to the vessel's design rather than her material condition or construction.
The MAIB concluded that this, along with the ship's speed and her loading, had caused the vessel to break her back as she headed directly into high seas.  It has therefore recommended a review of the technical rules used in container ship design.
As part of the on-going investigation the MAIB identified that container ships of similar design could potentially have the same design flaw and have identified that out of 1,500 vessels screened, 12 require work to bring them up to acceptable safety standards.
LSN:  A staff survey of further education colleges in England (commissioned by the University and College Union (UCU) and delivered by LSN) has gathered responses from over 3,000 FE staff regarding job satisfaction.
The report outlines the key findings of the research – representing a collective voice of the FE workforce, voicing their thoughts and the concerns & issues they face in the sector today.
ScotGov: Inverness is regularly one of the most overcrowded prisons in Scotland, and from time to time prisoners have to sleep on mattresses on the floors of cells according to HM Chief Inspector of Prisons.  Dr Andrew McLellan's latest report follows a full, unannounced inspection last November.
Findings include:
* There are sometimes three prisoners sharing a cell
* It is not possible for the prison to provide decent living conditions when it is required to hold so many prisoners
* Very few prisoners have any useful work to do
* The visits room is poor; booking arrangements are patchy; there is very little information for visitors
* The prison is safe; relationships are good; anti suicide measures are good; there are few drugs; and there is no obvious evidence of bullying
* The food is amongst the best in the SPS, the prisoners' shop is very good, as are the laundry arrangements
Defra: A review of the British Wool Marketing Board has concluded that the Board continues to provide an effective mechanism for the marketing of wool in the UK.  The review was commissioned jointly by Defra, the Scottish Government, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland, and the Welsh Assembly Government.  The report's conclusions & recommendations have been endorsed by Ministers from all four administrations.
The BWMB was established in 1950 and it is the last remaining Marketing Board covered by the Agricultural Marketing Act 1958, operating a statutory monopoly on the marketing of the majority of UK fleece wool. It arranges the collection, storage, grading and the sale at auction of this fleece wool.

Legislation / Legal

CC:  BAA's common ownership of seven airports in the UK may not be serving well the interests of either airlines or passengers, the Competition Commission (CC) has suggested in its interim report on its investigation into the market for the supply of airport services by BAA in the UK.
The report on its 'emerging thinking' sets out the CC's current view on competition in the relevant UK airports markets on the basis of the evidence to date, identifies areas where it is seeking further evidence and outlines its next steps.
No conclusions have been reached at this stage but the CC expects to publish its provisional findings in August and, if competition problems are identified, it intends to set out its possible remedies at the same time, whether requiring the sale of one or more of BAA's airports or otherwise.
OFT:  The High Court has confirmed the Office of Fair Trading's view that personal current account unarranged overdraft charges can be assessed for fairness and the OFT are now analysing the implications of the judgment for their overall investigation into the fairness of the terms.  
There may need to be further hearings to determine any outstanding issues arising from the judgment.  The timetable for next steps will be decided by the court at a hearing before the end of May.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

Defra: The UK has confirmed that it will cancel the remaining allowances in the Phase I New Entrant Reserve.  The total number of allowances remaining, after all applications had been received, was approximately £5.9m allowances.
The UK is committed to building on the EU ETS as its main way of pricing carbon in the economy, to ensure emissions are effectively limited and combat the serious threat of climate change.  The first phase ran from 2005-2007.  The second five year phase started on 1 January 2008 and runs until the end of 2012.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

JRF: According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's (JRF) consultation on modern-day social evils, respondents said that they felt our society has become more greedy & selfish, at a cost to our sense of community.  Over 100 years after Joseph Rowntree named his evils as poverty, war, slavery, intemperance, the opium trade, impurity and gambling.
The JRF found people are concerned about how we seem to live our lives.  Individualism, greed, a decline of community and a decline of values were among the social evils that worried them the most.  In addition to these concerns, people identified more concrete social evils, some of which were identified by Joseph Rowntree, although they have taken on new forms.

Business and Other Briefings

FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is urging firms to change their attitude to data security and do more to help prevent their customers falling victim to identity fraud and other types of financial crime.  The warning follows an FSA review of systems and controls for data security at 39 firms including banks, building societies, insurance companies and financial advisers.
There were examples of good practice across the industry, however many firms still underestimate the risk of data loss and fraud to their businesses, and especially to their customers. This includes senior management at firms not recognising the value of their customers' data to fraudsters or that staff could pose a similar threat to data security as that posed by computer hackers and burglars.
The FSA is addressing data security risks with firms through ongoing supervision and is increasing its visits to small firms to review their systems and controls.  It is also publishing a factsheet to help senior management at small firms understand their data security responsibilities.
HMRC: The latest edition of HMRC's 'Agent Update' newsletter is now available for download. The April issue includes links to new HMRC guidance on changes to self assessment, a new compliance handbook on penalties for incorrect returns, and the latest HMRC podcasts for agents.
This Brief gives details of an article: VAT: Land & buildings - New Schedule 10 of the VAT Act 1994 including changes to the option to tax.

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