In the News
DCSF: But are the parents drunk in charge? - A plan to stop young people drinking in public; help them make the right decisions about alcohol; and provide clear information to parents & young people about the risks of early drinking has been announced in the Government's Youth Alcohol Action Plan.
The Action Plan sets out what the Government will do to address drinking by young people in 3 main ways:
* Working with police & the courts to stop it, making it clear that unsupervised drinking by young people under-18 in public places is unacceptable
* Recognising that drinking by young people in the home is clearly the responsibility of parents & families, but providing clearer health information for parents & young people
* Working with the alcohol industry in marketing & promoting alcohol in a more responsible way
Cabinet Office: But their findings will be non-binding - 60 key public sector appointments will now be subject to increased ‘scrutiny’ by Parliament, the Government has announced. In July 2007 the Governance of Britain Green Paper set out the Government's programme of constitutional renewal, which included a commitment to increase democratic scrutiny of public appointments.
In response to the Liaison's Committee report ‘Pre-appointment Hearings by Select Committees’, the Government has re-affirmed this commitment and published a list of key posts which will be subject to pre-appointment hearings by Parliamentary select committees. The key posts will include:
* HM Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills
* HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary
* HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
* Health Service Commissioner for England
* Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life
* Chair of the Food Standards Agency
* Chairs of the utility regulators
* The Information Commissioner
FSA: Alternatives to Bank of Mum & Dad - The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has launched a new website designed to be a ‘one-stop-money-information-shop’ for young adults and forms part of the watchdog’s National Strategy for Financial Capability.
With FSA research showing that more than two-thirds of young people are not planning ahead and external findings revealing that 80% of young people are in debt by the age of 21, the FSA’s new website has been developed to guide & inform, as well as an aid to breaking down the barriers which may be preventing young adults from considering and learning more about money matters.
The site is broken down into life stages & subjects and provides information on the key challenges that young adults told the FSA they were most interested in. Under the headings getting money, spending money, keeping money and student money, the site provides detailed information on each stage, along with online tools to help with budgeting.
NAO: Not much comfort for those in the field - The NAO has reported on whether the Ministry of Defence has taken appropriate steps to make its fleet of eight Chinook Mk3 helicopters operational. The helicopters were delivered in 2001, but the Mk3’s have not, however, flown on operations, because their avionics software did not meet UK military airworthiness standards. This is despite Boeing fulfilling contractual obligations.
Had the MOD been quicker to progress the ‘Fix to Field’ project (the technical solution to make the Mk3 helicopters operational), the subsequent ‘Reversion’ project (to convert them to the Mk2 standard) would have been unnecessary.
The interim arrangement for special operations requirements in Afghanistan has been achieved by adapting existing Chinook Mk2/2a helicopters with the Night Enhancement Package (which includes items such as navigational units, thermal imagers, moving map displays and night vision goggles), though this has been an imperfect solution.
Newswire - King’s Fund: Now there’s a novelty, another re-organisation of the NHS - A major analysis of the opportunities & risks of developing polyclinics has been published by the King’s Fund. The report draws on original research into facilities similar to the polyclinic models developed both in the UK and abroad. The proposals, which have been discussed as part of Lord Darzi’s NHS Next Stage Review, could bring together family doctors and specialists alongside other services, such as diagnostic testing, minor surgery, blood tests and X-rays.
The term polyclinic has been used to describe a variety of different approaches from very large super surgeries, which involve closing current GP practices and moving their services into the new unit, to the so-called hub-and-spoke model where most existing practices continue, but share access to a set of new services in one facility.
The King’s Fund report concentrates on the ‘big building’ model and examines the impact they would have on patient care. It welcomes the government’s ambition to develop more patient focused and integrated models of care but warns that poor implementation of this model could create significant risks for patient care. Its key findings cover the areas of:
* Quality of care
* Accessibility of services
King’s Fund Chief Executive Niall Dickson said: “The polyclinic approach could be one way to redesign services around the needs of patients but we must not underestimate the amount of time, energy, and resources that would be needed to make it work”.
Forthcoming Event(s): 1+1 will be more than 2 - This week sees the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) and the Quality Improvement Agency for Lifelong Learning (QIA) hosting a (first of four) joint conference in Bristol on Tuesday 10 June 2008. A choice of workshops are offered, covering topics such as developing employer responsive provision, models of good practice in teaching & learning and peer review and its contribution to the move to self-regulation. Registration (at no cost) is now open by clicking on the link below.
The ‘Making a success’ conference programme is interactive and delivers a practical learning experience focusing on what works in quality improvement and leadership development. The remaining 3 regional conferences are:
* Thursday 12 June 2008 – London
* Thursday 19 June 2008 – Nottingham
* Tuesday 24 June 2008 – Newcastle
This first conference will also provide an opportunity to hear about & provide feedback on the early stages of the development of the new sector-owned organisation being formed by bringing together (process started 1 April 2008) the work of CEL & QIA and its planned programmes & services. Delegates in Bristol will be the first to hear an announcement of the new sector-led organisation's official name.
For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
For Industry News please click HERE
ScotGov: With the start of the 2008 bathing season, which officially began on June 1, Minister for Environment Michael Russell announced the number of designated bathing waters has risen by a third to a total of 80. This figure of 20 includes 19 new coastal locations stretching from north of Scotland to the south west and one new freshwater site at Loch Morlich in the Cairngorms.
Sites for inclusion were supported by the independent Bathing Water Review Panel, established by Ministers to advise on Scottish bathing water designation policy. As well as the twenty new sites, the Panel was also asked to consider six existing sites for de-designation on the basis of low usage.
MoD: The government has signed a £635m PFI contract with Ascent, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and VT Group, to work with MoD to deliver the UK Military Flight Training System (UKMFTS) designing, delivering & managing ground and flying training across multiple locations in the UK.
The UKMFTS programme will cater for the different training needs of the entire flying element of the UK front-line, ranging from fast-jet pilots and weapons systems operators, through helicopter and multi-engine pilots to all the rear crew personnel. It will encompass all flying training for students following selection, up to the point they are ready to fly operational aircraft such as Typhoon, Chinook and C17.
CLG: Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears, has announced an expansion of Planning Aid, which works with community groups to develop their understanding of the planning system so that they can communicate their views more effectively. Free advice is available to all callers and more detailed help to eligible individuals & groups.
It specifically helps those on benefits, pensioners, or people whose household income is low and also provides planning advice to small charities, voluntary and community groups, tenants' organisations, social enterprises and other not-for-profit businesses. The full range of planning issues are covered ranging from planning applications, through local authority planning policies, to regional spatial strategies and national consultations.
TfL: Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has announced funding of £1m to trial low carbon technology in London's taxi fleet. The funding is to be provided jointly by Transport for London (TfL), through its Climate Change Fund, and Cenex, the UK's National Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell Technologies.
The funding will be used to introduce a low carbon taxi demonstration project in London and the PCO has issued a Contract Notice to the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) inviting motor manufacturers to register their interest in supplying low carbon taxis.
Suitable low carbon technologies might include stop-start or 'micro-hybrid' technology where the engine cuts out automatically when the vehicle stops and starts up again when the accelerator is pressed. London's taxis spend about 40% of their time waiting at taxi ranks, at traffic signals, or waiting to pick up or drop off passengers. A micro-hybrid taxi is expected to reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide & other emissions by 10 – 15%, as well as producing less noise and fewer harmful air pollutants.
LDA: Hotels & B&Bs in London can now benefit from a new online package which gives practical advice on improving quality of service, making the most of 2012 Games and tapping into new markets. The London Development Agency’s (LDA) Capital Stay ‘e-book’ is part of its commitment to improving the quality of accommodation in the capital.
Capital Stay is a one stop online package of advice, worksheets and video clips to help accommodation businesses in the capital stay a step ahead. It offers advice and useful tips on:
* Getting to know your customer
* London 2012
* Improving your business
* 60 second fact sheets
CEL: The Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) is pleased to announce that ten candidates have successfully completed and achieved the Principals qualifying programme, just 12 months after they started the programme (80 others are progressing through the course). The programme arises from the government’s reform of further education & training and is intended to support principals and chief executives in leading transformational change in the sector.
Offering high quality leadership development on a par with that provided for top executives in other parts of the public & private sectors, the Principals qualifying programme is highly personalised and uses reflective practice & experiential learning to strengthen leadership practice. Its flexible design enables principals to undertake the programme at their own pace.
HMRC: A new free podcast offering advice for travellers on what can, and can't be, brought back into the UK is now available. In the latest audio offering from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), customs expert Mark Fuchter explains what items carry restrictions when bringing them into the UK, or are banned altogether. It covers everything from food, plants and wildlife souvenirs to prescription drugs, counterfeit goods and offensive weapons.
STFC: A prototype exhibit of the ‘From the Earth to the Universe’ project heralds the wide range of events planned in celebration of the UNESCO’s International Year of Astronomy in 2009. The dazzling display of images will take viewers deep into the Universe from 7-29 June 2008 and will be held at the Albert Dock in Liverpool, UK.
This first event displays majestic photographic taking viewers on a colourful visual journey through the wonders of the Universe and allows them to travel more than 13bn light-years into the vast expanse of space.
MCA: A European funded (INTERREG IIIA Programme) project to survey the seabed off the northern coast of Ireland, parts of which have not been surveyed since Victorian times, has started to provide some spectacular results showing underwater cliffs, reefs, caves and what may have been a lagoon. The wreck of a ship which sank in 1918 has also been discovered.
The Joint Irish Bathymetric Survey (JIBS) Project is being led by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in partnership with the Marine Institute of Ireland. Rob Spillard, Hydrographic Manager MCA and leader of the project said: "From the data received, we have developed a 3D 'fly through movie' which enables viewers to 'fly' across the seabed and see all the features."
MoD: The Ministry of Defence is holding an official service to honour members of the UK Forces and civil servants who lost their lives or were injured in Northern Ireland. It will also pay tribute to over 300,000 personnel who served in the Province on Operation Banner, the official title for military operations in Northern Ireland, between 1969 and 2007.
There are 2,000 tickets available for people to attend the event, which is being held on Wednesday 10 September 2008 at St Paul's Cathedral, London. The closing date for ticket applications is 13 August 2008 and the MOD aims to contact all successful applicants by 27 August 2008. Each application will receive two tickets
WAG: A carbon free minibus powered by three different green technologies – the first of its kind in Europe – was unveiled & officially launched in Wales on World Environment Day. The clean, green emission free tribrid bus is the result of an international collaboration, led & co-ordinated in Wales by the University of Glamorgan with funding from the Energy Savings Trust, sponsorship from the Welsh Assembly Government and the support of industry.
The minibus, which will be a commercially available prospect in the near future, benefits from three types of power delivery. A fuel cell system provides the low to medium constant power delivery and a lead acid battery provides medium constant power. Finally ultra-capacitors delivery the massive, instantaneous power demands, which is ideal for high load acceleration and regeneration of braking power.
Intelligent power switching methods then allow the charging strategy to be mapped to the fuel cell’s optimal performance which results in the vehicle automatically using the most appropriate form of power and level. The clean, green and silent vehicle is emission free and has a range of approximately 150 miles based on a city centre drive cycle and a top speed of 55mph.
PCS: Public and Commercial Services (PCS) members working for the National Museum of Science and Industry (NMSI) have overwhelmingly voted for strike action in a dispute over below inflation pay. 71% of those taking part in the ballot voted for strike action whilst 85% indicated that they would be willing to take part in industrial action short of strike.
Staff are ‘furious’ that a below inflation pay offer for 2007/08 and 2008/09 has been imposed on them at a successful time for the museum. The pay offer which was delayed by over a year means that most PCS members will receive less than the headline amount of 3% for both years.
Starting salaries in the NMSI are as low £11,342 and staff employed by the NMSI trading company are on worse terms & conditions than museum staff, including having no access to civil service pensions.
YF: Led by Yorkshire Forward, some of the UK’s largest energy and industrial companies have produced a study showing how a unique Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) network for the region could be developed. Yorkshire & Humber is home to some of the country’s largest power plants and has long held a reputation as the powerhouse of the UK. Up to 60m tonnes of the carbon emissions produced each year by burning fossil fuels could be liquefied & then pumped out to depleted gas fields under the North Sea.
The study shows how a network could evolve using existing & new infrastructure in the region to connect major producers of carbon emissions. These emissions would then be liquefied & pumped out to depleted gas fields in the southern North Sea - where the properties of the rock deep under the sea would prevent the carbon dioxide from escaping.
Newswire – Work Wise: Defra has become the first government department and public sector organisation to be awarded the Work Wise Mark of Excellence. The award recognises Defra’s achievements in introducing smarter working practices, such as home working, flexible working (including condensed hours and nine-day fortnights), mobile & remote working, across the organisation.
The Work Wise Mark of Excellence and the Work Wise Standard provide a framework both for organisations that have already introduced smarter working practices and wish to go further, or those that are just realising the benefits and want to start reforming their working practices.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DWP: Plans to change the law to require fathers as well as mothers to be named on the birth certificate have been announced in a White Paper. The change, which will be implemented in the next session's Welfare Reform Bill, is meant to put parental responsibility centre stage by giving mothers or fathers a right to insist that the other parent acknowledges their responsibilities to their child by registering on the birth certificate. The responsibility to register a new baby for unmarried parents currently lies predominantly with the mother.
This announcement intends to address this through three key changes to the law:
* Requirement to joint register
* Father's obligation to register
* Father's right to register
In addition, the White Paper also proposes other non-legislative ways to increase the number of joint registrations, for example ‘registrar outreach’ making it possible for people to register in their local community at a doctor's surgery or community centre. It also looks at more flexible hours for registration, or the option of a home visit for parents with reduced mobility.
ScotGov: A pilot project to screen patients for MRSA before admission to hospital has been officially launched in Scotland. From this summer, all non-emergency admissions to hospital in the pathfinder areas - NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Western Isles and NHS Grampian - will be screened for MRSA as part of the pre-admission procedures.
An interim report on the MRSA pilot project is due by March 31, 2009. This report will determine the shape of the national programme, which is due to start in 2009-10.
DfT: Proposals to introduce significantly longer & heavier goods vehicles onto British roads have been rejected by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly. This follows the publication of an independent report, highlighting a number of issues making their use in the UK impractical, either on a permanent or trial basis.
The report, commissioned by the Department for Transport from the Transport Research Laboratory, found that super-lorries could lead to an increase in CO2 emissions due to goods shifting from rail to road, create serious implications for the management of the road network - as the vehicles would be unsuitable for many roads and junctions - as well as introducing new safety risks.
Home Office: The City of Leicester has played host to the first in a series of roadshows organised by the Government to help tackle honour-based violence. Attended by police, Crown Prosecution Service, Leicester NHS Trust and local charities, the roadshow aimed to increase participants' understanding of the problem, so that they are more prepared to:
· spot the tell tale signs
· share best practice from across the country and
· help those who suffer from honour-based violence
The Government already supports victims of honour-based violence through a new national helpline for victims (seven days a week from 9.30am to 9pm- on 0800 5999 247), partly funded by the Government and run by East Midlands based charity Karma Nirvana. Further roadshows will take place in coming weeks & months in Cambridge, Birmingham, Manchester, York, Cardiff and London.
DH: Health Minister Ben Bradshaw has set out plans to ‘drive up standards of care and tackle underperformance in our hospitals and primary care trusts’. New measures set out in the vision document 'Developing the NHS Performance Regime' will identify failing trusts, remove poor managers and bring in new management, including from other hospitals or from the private sector.
At the same time the DH has set out insolvency principles for Foundation hospitals & non-Foundation Trusts designed to ensure that borrowing does not put NHS assets or the continuity of services at risk.
CLG: Housing Minister, Caroline Flint, has called for two social housing tenants to come forward to apply for two of the 4 new positions on the board of the new social housing regulator - the Tenant Services Authority (TSA) - the new name for the Office for Social Tenants and Landlords, when it opens for business at the end of 2008.
When created by the Housing and Regeneration Bill currently before Parliament, the regulator will be able to identify which landlords are providing a good service to their tenants and reward them accordingly, by cutting red tape through reducing the number of routine inspections or the amount of paperwork. The regulator will also be able to demand action against landlords who provide a poor service, calling for compensation for tenants suffering poor service, or in extreme cases, change the landlord altogether.
DCMS: A new £140m fund to boost sport & fitness through free swimming for over 60s has been announced as the centre-piece of the Government's plan to ensure a lasting sporting legacy from the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.
The initiative is part of a package of measures in the Legacy Action Plan: Before, During and After: Making the most of the London 2012 Games. The plan, which builds on the five legacy promises made last year, includes new programmes and builds on existing ones which have been enhanced and inspired by the UK's hosting of the Games.
Defra: Ministers have accepted the recommendations of an independent review of the Advisory Committee on Organic Standards (ACOS), which looked at the future development & governance of ACOS, the quality & impact of its advice and its working methods as well as its resources & how they are managed.
The main recommendations following the review are that ACOS continues to be used for securing authoritative advice from the organic sector, but more reliance should be placed on the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) in respect of controlling the organic inspection bodies. The recommendations will now be taken forward with a view to the new control system for the organic inspection bodies coming into place in early 2009.
DCSF: A plan to stop young people drinking in public; help them make the right decisions about alcohol; and provide clear information to parents and young people about the risks of early drinking has been announced by Ed Balls, Jacqui Smith and Alan Johnson in the Government's Youth Alcohol Action Plan – See ‘In the News’ for more information.
DfT: The Department for Transport has begun consulting (closing on 22 August 2008) on new construction requirements to be met by manufacturers of vans, trucks, minibuses, buses, coaches, trailers, motor-homes and other special-purpose vehicles. The consultation reflects the requirements of the EC Whole Vehicle Type Approval Directive (ECWVTA), which already applies to cars.
ECWVTA is designed to ensure that all new vehicles are safe to use and have the lowest possible environment impacts, without the need to inspect each vehicle individually. ECWVTA will be phased in between 2009 and 2014, with different types of vehicles becoming subject to its requirements at different times.
Vehicles made in low volumes for sale in the UK only will not be required to comply with ECWVTA, but instead must meet National Small Series Type Approval or Individual Vehicle Approval requirements. All businesses involved in the manufacture, build, import or sale of new vehicles will need to gain approval certification for their products. No approval - no sale.
DH: Health Secretary Alan Johnson has launched a consultation (closes on 30 September 2008) to improve support for volunteers in the NHS, social care & third sector and to encourage more volunteering opportunities.
The consultation -'Towards a strategy to support volunteering in health and social care' - is intended to lead to a national volunteering strategy next year and its aim & subsequent strategy is to:
* raise the esteem & profile of volunteering;
* help improve management & support for volunteers;
* support more robust evaluation of the outcomes & benefits of volunteering and
* allow more coherent investment to support their involvement.
DfT: Proposals to ensure historically significant artefacts are protected to tell the story of the British railway have been published in a consultation (closes on 5 September 2008) by Rail Minister Tom Harris MP. The consultation asks for views on proposals to extend the scope of the Railway Heritage Committee (RHC), the body responsible for safeguarding Britain's railway legacy.
It would mean that the RHC would, in future, work with all railway organisations to ensure historically significant records & artefacts are secured. At present British Transport Police, Transport for London and Rail Safety and Standards Board are among those excluded from the activities of the RHC.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published a consultation paper (closes on 3 September 2008) which proposes that insurance companies will no longer be permitted to charge compensation for miss-selling to the inherited estates of with-profits funds. The proposals relate specifically to proprietary firms and not mutuals.
FSA rules currently allow firms to pay the costs of compensation & redress from the inherited estates of their with-profits funds. The FSA has re-examined these rules and concluded that there is a case to consult again on whether shareholders alone should meet the cost of compensation & redress as the current rules may not lead to the fair treatment of policyholders.
The FSA confirmed its intention to re-consult on compensation & redress costs in a letter to Ms Clare Spottiswoode, Policyholder Advocate and Mr Mark Hodges, Norwich Union Life chief executive sent on 6 December 2007.
MoJ: A consultation (closes on 28 August 2008) on the development of up to three 2,500-place Titan prisons has been launched by Prisons Minister, David Hanson MP. Plans to build the prisons were announced last year as part of a further 10,500 places recommended in Lord Carter's review of prisons. The current building programme aims to bring overall capacity of the prison estate to over 96,000 by 2014.
DWP: A consultation (closes on 28 August 2008) paper looking at how employers can continue to maintain good occupational pension provision through greater risk sharing has been published. The DWP is asking for views from stakeholders on whether the Government should amend pensions’ law to allow new types of pension schemes which would more evenly share risks between the employer and the individual.
These risks include investment performance and increasing life expectancy which can make pensions more expensive for employers to fund. The department is also seeking views on whether greater risk sharing could be accommodated without major changes to the existing legislative framework.
Mr Purnell also announced that the DWP intends to amend the current Pensions Bill to abolish the protected rights ‘survivor's benefit' rule. It is intended that changes in the rules applying to survivors' benefits would take place in 2012 at the same time as the other changes to protected rights when contracting out on a defined contribution basis is abolished.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
Defra: 'Recycle on the Go' is a new drive to put accessible recycling bins in public places and it's already started with The Royal Parks rolling out a recycling bin pilot in Hyde Park over the next three months. A good practice guide and a code of practice will help those responsible for public places to make recycling easy and accessible.
The Voluntary Code of Practice sets out key principles for managers of public places who want to offer facilities for recycling in public areas. It can apply to locations managed by public & private bodies; and sites that are indoors & outdoors to which the public has access.
The Good Practice Guide contains advice on setting up public place recycling schemes, information about setting up schemes that suit particular circumstances, and guidelines on using the Recycle Now iconography on recycle bins in public places.
Home Office: New guidance to help & support local authorities, schools, community groups and the police to tackle violent extremism and prevent radicalisation in communities has been launched. The new guidance offers advice about how to turn the Government's strategy into practical measures that ‘make a real difference in communities’.
It includes advice about how to work with vulnerable individuals and institutions to counter radicalisation, support mainstream voices and increase the capacity of communities to challenge and resist violent extremists. To support new initiatives, the Home Office is providing an extra £12.5m in 2008/9 to fund projects specifically to support institutions or individuals vulnerable to radicalisation.
DH: Speaking at an Office for Disability Issues consultation event on delivery of the Independent Living Strategy, Minister for Care Services, Ivan Lewis, pledged £900,000 new funding to help create up to 14 user-led organisations become new Action and Learning Sites. These organisations are led & controlled by disabled people and aim to help disabled people lead more independent lives.
Also being launched was the Personalisation Resource Toolkit, part of the early work on the Personalisation Programme. The toolkit is the first product of the programme and is an on-line resource to help councils and their partners set up a change programme. It will provide helpful tools, templates and examples based on early learning from the individual budget pilot and the work of in Control.
CO: The Cabinet Office has published guidance to help organisations that use volunteers to be clear about when they do and don't need to carry out Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks on volunteers. The guidance is intended to help cut unnecessary red tape and responds to concerns voiced by the voluntary sector that potential volunteers can be put off if they are asked to undergo a CRB check without good reason.
People volunteering or working with children or vulnerable adults are sometimes legally required to have a CRB check. The guidance explains how the check works as part of a proper risk management process. Other safeguards such as interviewing, training & taking references from potential volunteers can also be employed.
DWP: A public information film designed to challenge employer assumptions about mental health has been launched and will air across national television over the coming months. The film is set in a busy hospital ward and asks the viewer whether they would employ someone who had mental health issues. It then reveals that Florence Nightingale had a history of mental illness, but despite this made a phenomenal contribution to British medicine.
The film complements wider DWP initiatives to prevent discrimination against disabled people in the workplace and ensure greater opportunities for disabled people to get into work. Employers are already being encouraged to take a more open minded approach to recruitment as part of the Employ ability campaign, which is being widely rolled out, with regional roadshows.
CLG: A new 'ATLAS' guide to speed up planning partnerships between councils and developers has been published. The new 'step by step guide' sets out a logical process for identifying what should be done, when & by whom to reduce problems and speed up new major developments through the planning system.
The voluntary Planning Performance Agreements (PPAs) between a local planning authority and an applicant provide a project management framework for handling large and complex planning applications. All PPAs that meet agreed timetables will be excluded from the standard 13 week decision threshold meaning developers no longer have to worry about target disincentives.
The new guidance also includes good practice examples developed during the pilot study to help achieve successful planning applications.
Defra: Defra's Chief Veterinary Officer's annual report has been published, reviewing developments in animal health and welfare during 2007. The report, by former Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) Fred Landeg, summarises progress & developments in the field of animal health and welfare within Great Britain. It also provides a continuous statistical record of the state of animal disease in Great Britain.
Topics covered in the 2007 report include the outbreaks of Foot & Mouth Disease, Avian Flu and Bluetongue, and progress on the UK's Responsibility and Cost Sharing Programme.
APPSI: The Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information (APPSI) has published its fourth Annual Report. The report highlights:
* the marked increase across government in the level of interest & debate in the re-use of PSI
* the increase of public awareness of the issues surrounding re-use and recent coverage in the press
* APPSI's paper to Ministers in October 2007 which outlined the need for a Government strategy on the re-use of public sector information, with proposals for the short & medium term
* APPSI's responses to important Government studies and consultations
General Reports and Other Publications
ESRC: People use eye contact in a variety of ways every minute of every day but how often do you find yourself staring into space with concentrating on an issue or problem? Psychologists now know that people who are carrying out a complex task tend to look away from anyone else who is nearby. They refer to it as ‘gaze aversion’.
Now they are finding out how to use changes in a child’s gaze aversion to understand their educational progress. A group led by Dr Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon at the University of Stirling, and funded by Economic and Social Research Council, has looked at gaze aversion in both children and adults.
Keeping an eye on gaze aversion is especially valuable for teachers and social workers who are trying to understand the mental state of people with: Autistic spectrum disorders (ASD); Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); or Williams Syndrome, the genetic condition popularly called Cocktail Party Syndrome.
MoJ: Tough community sentences have a real impact on reducing crime and preventing offenders from re-offending said David Hanson MP when launching a new report - Community Sentencing - Reducing Re-offending, Changing Lives - which claims to show how such punishments for less serious offenders work in the battle against crime.
The minister is also commencing a series of regional discussions on sentencing policy and to highlight how community sentences play a key role in cutting re-offending. The piloting of intensive alternatives to custody and the provision of more rigorous non-custodial regimes were recommended in the Carter Review published last year.
Defra: The Government will continue to support the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP), the Government has confirmed, following the report of an independent review of the Commission, conducted by independent consultants and published last July, which concluded that there is a continuing need for the functions provided by the Commission.
The Government has published its response to the review, concluding that the Commission added significant, valuable policy advice to the government and, with some modernisation, should continue to be supported. The value of RCEP to Government is based on its combination of independence and scientific authority. The Government values its reports which are highly influential and deliver significant policy benefits.
The RCEP will this year publish a report on the 'Environmental Effects of Novel Materials and Nanotechnology' and also a short report on 'The Environmental Effects of Artificial Light'. The RCEP's current study is 'Adapting the UK to Climate Change' which will report in 2009.
LSN: New research from Professor Frank Coffield and the Learning and Skills Network argues that teaching & learning should regain its rightful place as the main focus of the post-compulsory education sector. Professor Frank Coffield was asked to explore what might happen if teaching & learning became the number one priority in the sector, as opposed to government priorities & targets.
Monitor: NHS foundation trust governors are making local accountability in the NHS a reality, according to new research recently published, which reveals that the majority of governors are clear about their role, have good relationships with their executive board, and are using their statutory powers to make a difference.
To accompany this research, Monitor has summarised the findings of the survey and incorporated feedback from governors obtained at the regional events it hosted in March 2008. Developing the role of NHS foundation trust governors, also published, identifies where opportunities exist for further improvements, including one area – undertaking statutory duties – where Monitor has committed to playing a leading role.
CRC: Dr. Stuart Burgess, the Government's Rural Advocate and Chairman of the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) has handed the Prime Minister his report on releasing the potential of England's rural economies. The report follows a request from the Prime Minister to the Rural Advocate to investigate ways in which rural economies might be strengthened in the wake of flooding and foot & mouth disease incidents in 2007.
Speaking about his report Dr. Burgess said; “By lifting the performance, especially of medium & larger firms in rural areas, by attracting more investment, by strengthening the capacity to innovate, they could perhaps double their economic contribution; helping reduce worklessness and poverty in rural areas, close the persistent gap between rural and urban wages and make more rural communities resilient against future economic and environmental shocks”.
SOCA: The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has published an unrestricted version of the UK Threat Assessment of Serious Organised Crime 2008/9. The document describes & assesses the threats posed to the UK by serious organised criminals. The assessment is drawn from a fuller, restricted version which is produced annually for law enforcement and wider government use.
Legislation / Legal
ScotParl: Serious concerns as to whether the Creative Scotland Bill will meet its objectives have been expressed by the Scottish Parliament's Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee in its Stage 1 Report published.
The committee believes that the bill lacks clarity in a number of important areas and will require significant amendment at Stage 2 of the parliamentary process to sharpen its focus and clarify a number of issues.
MoJ – OLSCC: The Legal Services Complaints Commissioner, Zahida Manzoor CBE, has announced that she would be imposing a penalty of £275,000 on the Law Society following her decision to declare its complaints handling Plan for the period 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009 inadequate to secure the effective and efficient handling of complaints.
This is the second time in two years that the Commissioner has used her powers to impose a penalty on the Law Society - it previously paid a £220,000 fine for submitting an inadequate Plan for the year 2006/07.
Defra: The Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2008 came into force on 3 June 2008. The 2007 Regulations exempted certain mutilations from the general ban on all mutilation of animals contained in the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Mutilation in this context means the carrying out of a procedure which involves interference with the sensitive tissues or bone structure of an animal.
The 2008 Regulations have the effect of allowing:
* certain artificial insemination techniques in sheep and goats
* the wing & web tagging of non-farmed birds for conservation purposes (including education & captive breeding programmes) and for research.
* the wing & web tagging of farmed birds involved in breed improvement programmes and for identification for disease testing purposes.
* the neck tagging & web notching of farmed ducks involved in breed improvement programmes
Certain drafting changes have also been made in order to ensure compliance with relevant EU Directives on the welfare of pigs and laying hens - these amendments are not intended to affect current farming practice.
ScotParl: A statutory Scottish register of tartans has come one step closer with the publication of the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee’s Stage 1 Report on the Scottish Register of Tartans Bill introduced to the Parliament by Jamie McGrigor MSP.
The Bill proposes to establish a Scottish Register of Tartans and a Keeper of the Register of Tartans to maintain & oversee the register and new registrations. It also sets out the procedures for registering new tartan designs.
As well as registering new tartans, the Register will incorporate the approximately 3,000 tartans held in the Scottish Tartans World Register (STWR) and the 6,000 tartans held in the Scottish Tartans Authority's (STA) register. The historic archive will be kept at Register House under the auspices of the National Archive of Scotland.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
Defra: People who manufacture in or import chemicals from outside Europe in quantities over one tonne are required to register these chemicals as part of the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals programme (REACH).
Under REACH, chemicals will be fully evaluated & controlled to manage risks to people and the environment. Between 1 June and 1 December 2008, businesses can ease the REACH registration process by pre-registering the chemicals they manufacture or import with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki.
Failure to do this may have significant implications because businesses will have to stop manufacturing or importing until they register substances:
* Pre-registration means supplying a few pieces of basic information to the Chemicals Agency in Helsinki.
* Registration requires putting together a comprehensive dossier of data about the substance
DfT: The Department for Transport has begun consulting (closing on 22 August 2008) on new construction requirements to be met by manufacturers of vans, trucks, minibuses, buses, coaches, trailers, motor-homes and other special-purpose vehicles. The consultation reflects the requirements of the EC Whole Vehicle Type Approval Directive (ECWVTA), which already applies to cars – See ‘Consultations’ section for more details.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
MoJ: A new Ministry of Justice strategy looks to build upon its third sector relationships to deliver better public services. The strategy is intended to underpin the department's commitment to engage with third sector groups and recognise the important role the sector plays in developing social partnerships.
Following a public consultation earlier this year, the Third Sector Strategy was built around four common goals:
* Enabling voice and campaigning
* Strengthening communities
* Transforming public services
* Encouraging social enterprise
The National Offender Management Service will also publish a third sector action plan to reduce re-offending shortly, which will feed into the overall strategy.
Business and Other Briefings
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published the final FSA fee rates and Financial Ombudsman Services (FOS) levies for 2008/09. The finalised fee rates, for most firms, are the same level as those consulted on in February 2008.
However, in three fee-blocks actual fee rates will be lower than those proposed: fund managers (A7); operators, trustees and depositaries of collective investment schemes (A9); and firms dealing as principal (A10).
HM Treasury: Economic Secretary and City Minister Kitty Ussher MP, has announced the Government's response to the consultation on a sterling Sukuk issuance, saying the government favoured a 'bill-like' Sukuk programme which could be fully integrated with the conventional Treasury bill programme.
Chairing the third meeting of the Islamic Finance Experts Group, Kitty Usher said that, were the remaining barriers to be surmountable, a rolling programme of up to around £2b of 'bill-like' Sukuk issuance would be achievable over time. She added that the group will publish a UK strategy paper on Islamic Finance within the next year.
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading is warning consumers to be careful before responding to unsolicited mailings which advise them to cancel existing individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) and which suggest they opt for an alternative debt management solution, such as bankruptcy instead. Some such mailings sent out to consumers misleadingly suggest to recipients they may have been miss-sold the IVA and/or that bankruptcy may be more suitable for their circumstances, when this may not be the case.
These mailings are being targeted at vulnerable consumers in IVAs by companies who appear to have accessed their personal contact details from the public register of people in IVAs, which the Insolvency Service is required by law to maintain.
The OFT considers such claims to be in breach of its debt management guidance, not only if they are misleading, but also if they fail to explain the consequences of terminating an IVA agreement and going bankrupt.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published Market Watch 27, an update of the thematic review of controls over inside information, following the publication of Market Watch 21 in July last year. The update includes a set of Principles of Good Practice for the handling of inside information.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published a consultation paper (closes on 3 September 2008) which proposes that insurance companies will no longer be permitted to charge compensation for miss-selling to the inherited estates of with-profits funds. The proposals relate specifically to proprietary firms and not mutuals – See ‘Consultations’ for more information.
DWP: A consultation (closes on 28 August 2008) paper looking at how employers can continue to maintain good occupational pension provision through greater risk sharing has been published. The DWP is asking for views from stakeholders on whether the Government should amend pensions’ law to allow new types of pension schemes which would more evenly share risks between the employer and the individual – See ‘Consultations’ for more information.
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