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In the News

ScotParl: Treating them as patients and not just criminals - Scotland's Futures Forum has published a report that sets out to establish how Scotland can halve the damage caused to its population through alcohol and drugs by 2025. It is the culmination of a year-long investigation of evidence gathered from some of the world's leading experts in tackling drug and alcohol misuse.

The report conclusions include:
* The current heavy bias of resources allocated to enforcement is questionable and a counterbalancing of resources towards prevention treatment is necessary
* There should be a new approach to regulation in Scotland whereby the regulation of all psychoactive substances - including alcohol, tobacco, prescribed medicines and other legal drugs - should be governed by a single framework that takes into account the harm they can cause
* Alcohol and drug misuse should be seen predominantly as a health, lifestyle & social issue, rather than a criminal justice issue
* All parties should seek to end irresponsible alcohol promotions in all licensed premises
* A greater proportion of resources should be allocated to research, monitoring and evaluation
* The narrowing of inequality in Scotland should be a major plank of alcohol & drug damage prevention policy
* Greater investment in early years' education is required
* Programmes that support recovery within community settings must be supported & expanded
* Young people must be given more credible & truthful information about alcohol & drugs to enable them to make better choices
CSPL: Is it any wonder public trust is at such a low ebb? - The Committee on Standards in Public Life has published its annual report for 2007 - 2008. Launching the report, Sir Christopher Kelly, Committee Chairman said:
"It is very clear that there are major areas of unfinished business which continue to give us concern. The first is MPs' expenses and allowances……………………. If the opportunity is missed to undertake a truly fundamental review of the systems for reimbursing Members of Parliament, the outcome may simply give rise to greater distrust of the political class…………….

Secondly, party political funding. Few things have been more corrosive in recent years to public trust in politicians and the political process than the perception that financial support to a political party can buy influence or personal advancement. It is deeply disappointing that independent attempts to bring about all-party agreement on much needed reform of party funding have clearly broken down……………….. If the current stalemate persists, my Committee may wish to take its own look at the issues, which fall directly within its terms of reference.

The third area which continues to give us concern is electoral registration. Our 11th report highlighted problems with the vulnerability to fraud of our electoral system because of the combination of household registration and the introduction of postal voting on demand…………. . And the Council of Europe has come close to triggering its special monitoring processes for United Kingdom elections - a process more usually employed for parts of the former Soviet Union or African states. We put forward a strong case and a sensible timetable for the introduction of individual voter registration, but no progress has been made”.
PHSO: Mistakes will (unfortunately) happen, but it’s how you correct them that is important - Ann Abraham, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has urged the NHS to improve the way it handles complaints. In a new report - Remedy in the NHS - Ms Abraham summarises 12 NHS cases previously investigated by her Office, highlighting examples of both good and bad practice in dealing with complaints.

She concludes that "the cases speak powerfully for themselves about the individual and public benefit of effectively resolved complaints." Some of them identify failings in the service provision - from poor record keeping & poor communication with patients, relatives & carers to more serious clinical failings and, in one case, an avoidable death. Others involve failings in complaint handling.

When putting things right NHS organisations should keep in mind the following basic principles:
* If possible, returning the complainant and, where appropriate, others who have suffered similar injustice or hardship to the position they would have been in if the maladministration or poor service had not occurred
* If that is not possible, compensating the complainant and such others appropriately
* Considering fully & seriously all forms of remedy (such as an apology, an explanation, remedial action to prevent a recurrence, or financial compensation)
* Providing the appropriate remedy in each case
DIUS: Benefits should not be a long term necessity - Benefit claimants who need to improve their skills in order to get a job will have to attend compulsory training. Under the plans, published in a Government welfare & skills paper - Work Skills - people claiming Jobseekers Allowance, who have gaps in their skills, will have to attend training to help them find a job.

The Government has also announced that it intends to consult on making it compulsory for lone parents and people on Employment and Support Allowance to attend skills training. The government says that the paper is published in recognition that increasingly it will not be the lack of jobs that will be the biggest barrier to full employment, but the shortage of skills and that they are backing it with ‘ambitious plans’ to overhaul the training system.

From this Autumn:
* all 19-25 years who do not have at least level 3 (A level) qualifications will be entitled to free training worth typically £7,000 to fund training to level 3, and
* the current limited offer for college based students studying in their own time will be extended to all 19-25 year olds including those being trained at work.
* they will also be entitled to an Apprenticeship Credit - a voucher for training that they can use to approach employers who may offer them an apprenticeship.
From 2010 the new scheme will form part of personal skills accounts that will be available to all adults and will guarantee free training for older people up to at least level 2 (GCSE equivalent).
Press release ~ Work Skills – Podcast and link to document ~ Jobseekers Allowance ~ World Class Skills: Implementing the Leitch Review ~ UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) ~ Train to Gain ~ Lifelong Learning UK ~ Raising Expectations: enabling the system to deliver (Joint DCSF/DIUS consultation) (closing date 10 June 2008) ~ DIUS – Further education ~ Learning and Skills Council (LSC) ~ National Diplomas ~ Activity Agreements ~ White paper - Further Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances ~ DfES 14 – 19 Gateway ~ Get set for life website ~ Apprenticeships review report ~ Command paper 'Ready to Work, Skilled for Work: Unlocking Britain's Talent' ~ Unlocking Talent leaflet ~ Leitch Review ~ LSC: Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Lives, Our statement of Priorities ~ Skills Investing in the first steps ~ Connexions services ~ Entry to Employment programmes ~ Care to Learn scheme ~ SQA – Skills for Work

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General News

BERR: The ‘12 most enterprising places in the country’ have been announced as the finalists of this year's Enterprising Britain competition, by the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. They include a centre using carnival arts to transform lives; one of the largest, most successful bioscience business incubators in Europe; and a charity tackling deprivation in one of Northern Ireland's most divided areas.
The 12 projects that have been short listed were nominated by each of the nine Regional Development Agencies and three Devolved Administrations, and will compete against each other at the UK final in October to be crowned the national winner of Enterprising Britain 2008.  The winner will then represent the UK in the European Enterprise Awards later this year.
FDA: An attack by Northern Ireland Culture, Arts and Leisure minister Edwin Poots accusing Stormont civil servants of working to block the building of a sports stadium at the Maze has been condemned as ‘cowardly & unacceptable’ by the FDA, representing civil servants in the Northern Ireland Civil Service.
Jonathan Baume, general secretary of the FDA, said:  “Mr Poots’ attack on his civil servants is cowardly and unacceptable.  This is a sensitive and expensive project, and ministers – and the public - must be satisfied about the business case and value for money before proceeding.  The role of civil servants is to provide advice to ministers and to ensure that they are fully aware of all of the realities.  We recognise that Mr Poots has a strong constituency interest in pursuing this project, but this attack seems more about internal politics within the DUP”.
CIOB: The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) is set to finalise an agreement with the Institute of International Engineering Project Management (IIEPM) at Tsinghua University Beijing, and The Research Centre for International Construction Economics and Management (RCICEM) in ChongqingUniversity, to deliver training programmes aimed at giving experienced construction professionals in China the necessary skills & training to develop as a modern construction or project management professional operating in China at national & international levels.
CEL: A new improvement body dedicated to the development of the further education & skills sector was officially named on Tuesday 10 June 2008.  The new organisation will be known as the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS).

The name was announced at the first summer conference being hosted jointly by the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) and the Quality Improvement Agency for Lifelong Learning (QIA).  LSIS will bring together the work of CEL and QIA to support leadership development and excellence in the sector.
SESport England has published a new strategy to get more people playing & enjoying sport and to help those with talent get to the very top.  It will also reduce bureaucracy by combining its multiple funding streams into a single pot of funding for NGBs and will be consulting on a new & more streamlined method of funding wider community projects.
The strategy commits Sport England to deliver on a series of targets by 2012/13:
* one million more people doing more sport
* a 25% reduction in the number of 16 year olds who drop out of five key sports
* improved talent development systems in at least 25 sports
* a measurable increase in people’s satisfaction with their experience of sport
* a major contribution to the delivery of the five hour sports offer for children and young people
MoD: The Ministry of Defence has announced plans for a new form of national recognition to honour the families of troops who die on operations or as a result of terrorism. The decision to commission a memorial scroll and an emblem to wear has been taken by the Chiefs of Staff to recognise families' losses and honour the sacrifice of their loved ones.
Detailed consideration will now be given to the design & production of the scroll and emblem.  The views of loved ones will be considered as a part of this process and further details will be announced later this year. All Service Personnel killed on duty or as a result of terrorist action since the Second World War are honoured at the new Armed Forces Memorial at the National Arboretum Staffordshire.
NSG: The National School of Government and the University of Warwick are inviting applications (closing date Monday June 30)for a funded ESRC CASE PhD studentship concerned with the development of national political leadership in the UK.
Part of a wider strategic collaboration between the Institute of Governance and Public Management at Warwick and the National School, it will involve a ‘mapping’ of the kinds of leadership development interventions & experiences considered valuable, as perceived by politicians & other informed commentators and as shown in relevant data.
WAG: At the international 4th annual e-Crime Wales summit last week, Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said that small businesses in Wales are particularly vulnerable to internet fraud.  The latest research from the Welsh Assembly Government shows that 1 in 10 Welsh businesses have been affected by e-Crime.  It also revealed that two out of every three SMEs do not have an IT policy.

WAG actions include:
* The creation of an e-Crime Wales Manifesto and Action Plan for Wales.
* The development of an e-Crime support programme, which will provide access to resources & guidance.
* A dedicated Welsh Assembly Government e-Crime Unit.
* Cross agency collaboration, with a central coordinating Sergeant with a dedicated officer in each police force.
DfT: 50 lives a year could be saved by new motorcycle helmet safety ratings for 56 of the most popular full face helmets on the market, after testing & publication by SHARP - the Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme. Head injuries occur in 80% of all motorcyclist fatalities and in 70% of these the head injury is the most serious.
The SHARP tests - which award ratings of between one and five stars - showed that the safety performance of helmets can vary by as much as 70%.  All helmets must meet minimum legal safety standards, but the SHARP scheme uses a wider range of tests to provide riders with more information on how much protection a helmet can provide in a crash.  The objective advice will help riders to choose the safest helmet suitable for them.
HO: The City of Cambridge has played host to the second in a series of road shows organised by the Home office to help tackle honour-based violence. The Government already supports victims of honour-based violence through a new national helpline for victims, partly funded by the Government and run by charity Karma NirvanaFurther road shows will take place in coming weeks & months in Birmingham, Manchester, York, Cardiff and London.
DfT: Residents of Dartford and Thurrock will benefit from discounts at the Dartford Crossing. Under the discount scheme local residents will be entitled to 50 free crossings per year on payment of a £10 annual administration fee.  Thereafter crossings will cost 20p each.  
Separate discounts are available to anyone who chooses to pay using a "DART-Tag".  Car drivers with a "DART-Tag" will be able to use the crossing for £1, whereas those paying cash will in future pay £1.50.
OS: Leading representatives from across the public sector have met recently to discuss how the Atlantis Initiative is helping Britain combat flood risk in the 21st century.  High on the agenda was the emergence of the Environment Agency’s Detailed River Network and the availability of Ordnance Survey topography & height data which is critical for flood planning.

Run jointly by Ordnance Survey, British Geological Survey, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Environment Agency, Met Office and UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO), Atlantis seeks to provide a consistent and joined-up approach to tackling flooding.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DH: As part of a £30m Healthy Communities Challenge Fund, English towns will be invited to come up with innovative new ways to improve the health of their inhabitants and bid for a £5m matching fund grant.  Ideas could include increasing the number of cycle lanes, walking promotion schemes and providing local healthy food initiatives
There will be a two stage selection process for deciding which areas will become 'Healthy Towns:
* In the first stage, they will outline their top level plans to be submitted by the 11 July 2008
* In stage 2, local areas that are successful will be invited to submit a full bid for funding, by September 2008
DH: The Government's commitment to tackling health inequalities and helping the most deprived communities has been set out by Health Secretary Alan Johnson in Progress and Next Steps, together with details of £34m to fund programmes to support local communities. The document also identifies how the PSA target for Health Inequalities can be met by 2010, with spending in the NHS in England increasing from just over £90bn in 2007-08 to almost £110bn in 2010-11.
DfTGreater Manchester has been given the green light to proceed with its £2.8bn bid to the Government's Transport Innovation Fund (TIF).  Their proposals combine investment in public transport with a local congestion charging scheme.
Greater Manchester's proposed congestion charge is designed around a 'twin cordon' system which will operate at peak times only, when congestion is at its worst.  The scheme will use tag & beacon technology supported by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR).  To ensure that people have real choices over how & when they travel, the majority of these improvements are planned to be delivered before the introduction of the local congestion charge in mid-2013.  
They will conduct a full public consultation on their proposals to ensure that as many people as possible have the chance to have their say.  Subject to the outcome of the public consultation, the government expect an application for Conditional approval in the autumn.
WAG: The Welsh Assembly Government is providing up to £5m extra for their mortgage rescue scheme to stop homeowners who face repossession from being made homeless.  Under the scheme, grants can be used by Housing Associations to buy a share of the mortgage or buy properties outright and then rent them back to the former owner.

The funding is intended as a ‘last resort’ measure and will deal with the most urgent cases which would otherwise result in homelessness, giving rise to additional pressures on social housing waiting lists and use of temporary accommodation.
DCSF: Ed Balls has set out the yet another phase of the Government's School Improvement Strategy - National Challenge – with yet more promises to transform schools, raise results in English & maths and tackle underachievement by young people.
The Children's Plan sets out that by 2020 at least 90% of children will achieve the equivalent of five higher level GCSEs by age 19. National Challenge is intended to help the government to meet the goal that in every secondary school - at least 30% of its pupils will achieve five good GCSEs including English and maths by 2011.
Ed Balls announced that he would double the £200m previously announced in the budget to £400m to help local authorities and schools. To kick-start the National Challenge, he asked local authorities to set out by the end of the school summer term, individual action plans for how they will transform results in each National Challenge school from now until 2011. He also asked governing bodies to hold meetings as soon as possible to review how they would need to support their Heads and teachers in improving results.
DH: The government has launched a new multi-million pound Carers Strategy to improve the lives of Britain's army of carers.  It is supported by £255m of new investment to implement some immediate steps. There are currently about 5.2 million carers in England and Wales, and nearly half of them provide more than 20 hours care a week and over a million provide more than 50 hours care per week.  
The demand for care is expected to rise in the future, with the number of people over 85 (those most in need of care) rising by over 50% in the next ten years.
BERR: New targets to improve the productivity, efficiency & sustainability of the UK's construction sector have been unveiled by the Government and industry with the launch of the joint industry-Government Strategy for Sustainable Construction which sets out challenging, but achievable, targets to be delivered by industry.  These include commitments to:
* Recruit 230,000 additional trained construction workers by 2010
* Cut the number of work-related deaths by 10% year on year
* Supply an extra 13,500 apprenticeship placements by 2010
* Achieve a 50% reduction in the amount of construction, demolition & excavation waste to landfill
* Ensure 25% of materials used in construction projects are responsibly sourced by 2012
* Ensure all construction projects over £1m have biodiversity surveys carried out & instigate the necessary actions by 2012
The Strategic Forum for Construction has also published its 'Construction Commitments' to promote best practice across the industry, along with its latest four-year targets to ensure their delivery.  These commitments support the Strategy for Sustainable Construction.
Defra: Communities interested in finding out more about hosting an underground disposal facility for radioactive waste have been invited to open no-commitment discussions with the Government. The government claims that a geological disposal facility will provide a permanent solution for our higher activity radioactive waste.  Some of this waste is currently in storage, but most will only become waste over the next century as nuclear facilities are decommissioned.
The invitation was part of the Government's Managing Radioactive Waste Safely White Paper published last week, and follows a consultation in June 2007 about how a community voluntarism & partnership approach to siting a facility could work.  This followed from the recommendations of the independent Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) who carried out extensive expert, public and stakeholder consultation on the best long term management option for protecting the public and the environment.
CLG: In an attempt to illustrate the ‘full breadth of its work’ the government is publishing - Managing the Impacts of Migration: a Cross Government Approach – which looks at the national context for migration to the UK and the benefits it brings.  
It then examines the local impacts of migration on our communities & services and sets out the Government's programme of current & future work to support local government and its partners in maximising the benefits of migration. The Government's commitments to managing migration focus on five key areas:
* Strengthening our borders
* Improving population data
* Providing funding where needed to help manage the transitional impacts of migration from April
* Protecting workers
* Promoting integration
ScotGov: Projects ranging from a skate park in Buckie to a Friday night music & film making project in Glenrothes are among 110 youth projects the length & breadth of Scotland that are to receive a share of almost £1.2m. The money comes from the proceeds of crime and is to be used in the latest strand of the Government's CashBack for Communities scheme to make a real difference to the lives of young people.
YouthLink Scotland will be running a second round application process to allow those organisations who did not have enough time to submit applications to round one the opportunity to do so.  The deadline for the second round of applications has been agreed as Friday 29 August 2008.


HEFCE: The Higher Education Funding Council for England has published a consultation on its next three-year strategy to drive sustainable development in the higher education (HE) sector.  It identifies the HE sector as a potential beacon of progress, but acknowledges that the momentum for change needs to increase.
In this context, HEFCE aims to consolidate the facilitative approach it developed in its 2005 sustainable development strategy and is running a series of sustainable development seminars as part of the consultation process. This approach is built around four distinctive roles:
* engaging with stakeholders to bring about policy synergies on sustainable development
* building the capacity to achieve sustainable development
* sharing good practice, or supporting its development where none exists
* rewarding more sustainable behaviour.
Ofgem: Energy regulator Ofgem has published National Grid’s preliminary consultation on the availability of gas & electricity supplies for winter 2008-2009.  National Grid produces the report to help major industrial users, suppliers and other large customers plan ahead for each coming winter.
Industry stakeholders are encouraged to respond to either National Grid or Ofgem with their views on the consultation.  A seminar on the winter outlook will be staged on September 10 and the final report will be published in the last week of September.
Defra: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has launched a consultation (closes on 1 September 2008) on the European Commission's proposals for the ‘Health Check’ of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The Health Check is a scheduled review of the major CAP reforms of 2003, which could have potentially significant implications for farmers across the EU, for the environment and for cutting prices for consumers.  As well as reviewing the 2003 reforms, the Health Check is intended to prepare the way for longer-term reform of the CAP following the EU budget review in 2009/10.
DCSF: New measures making the admissions system easier for parents to navigate have been published for consultation by Schools Minister Jim Knight, who said that he wanted to:
* make the admissions process clearer, particularly to primary schools
* give parents better quality information to get the most out of the system and
* give them more say over setting local admissions arrangements
The key proposal is that all parents' applications for primary or secondary schools will be coordinated by the local authority where they live - whenever they are made and whatever the age of the child.  This will give them a single point of enquiry for all school applications.
A new revised School Admissions Code, School Admission Appeals Code and regulations have been published for a four-month consultation (closes on 2 October 2008), with three major regional conferences over the summer to discuss them with key stakeholders, including local authorities, headteachers and faith groups.
Defra:  Defra has launched a consultation (closes on 8 September 2008) on how to target criminals who profit from polluting the environment by illegally dumping waste. Removing the waste costs individuals and local authorities large sums of money and - depending on the type of waste - can be hazardous to clear up.
The proposals will give local authorities and the Environment Agency new powers to stop, search & instantly seize vehicles suspected of being involved in fly-tipping and other waste offences.  Offenders who do not come forward risk their vehicles being crushed.
BERR: An agreement has been reached between Government and industry which aims to remove aviation & radar barriers to the major expansion of wind energy. In addition, BERR and Ofgem have published the next consultation document on the new offshore electricity transmission regime.  This is a further step forward in the expansion of renewable energy to offshore wind farms.  The consultation seeks views on the detailed changes needed to license the offshore grid.
BERR: Anne Glover's committee, announced as part of the Enterprise Strategy and Budget 2008, has invited small firms, public purchasers and industry groups to share their experiences of doing business across both central government and local authorities by 8 August 2008 – See ‘Business and other Briefings’ below for more information.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

CLG: New guidance gives councils five clear steps for maximising the planning rules to better manage flood risks in their area. It is now compulsory to consult with the Environment Agency on planning applications in flood risk areas and where councils ignore their advice on major developments the Government will intervene.  Six regional workshops have been organised in partnership with the Environment Agency and members of the insurance industry, to reinforce this message to local councils.
The five steps set out in the planning guidance that councils should follow for deciding new development are:
* Identify what the flood risks are including river/sea breaches, inadequate drainage & surface water run off or sewer problems
* Avoid risk by prioritising non-flood areas first for new development
* Critically assess if the need for a new development outweighs flood risk, including following EA advice
* Control flooding using sustainable drainage & good design
* Ensure all new buildings that have to be in areas that might flood are resilient & safe

Press release ~ Planning Policy Statement 25: Development and Flood Risk - Practice Guide ~ CLG – Development and Flood Risk ~ 2004 Foresight Future flooding report ~ Defra – Flood management ~ Environment Agency - 2007 summer floods ~ The interim conclusions of The Pitt Review - Learning Lessons from the 2007 Floods ~ Hilary Benn’s statement ~ Pitt Review ~ Climate Change Bill ~ Preparing for emergencies ~ Local Resilience Forums ~ UK Resilience ~ Environment Agency Report: Building and maintaining river and coastal flood defences in England

Annual Reports

DIUS: The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills 2008 Value Added Scoreboard, claims to show that the top 185 UK companies continue to be more efficient at creating value, or wealth, than their European peers. The Scoreboard lists the value added, or wealth created, by the top 750 European Companies and the top 800 UK companies.  It provides a broader perspective on a company's economic contribution than operating profit.
ScotGov: The third Scottish Survey of Achievement (SSA) has highlighted the challenge Scotland faces to improve young people's knowledge & understanding of science.  Key findings of the 2007 survey include:
* Too few pupils (6% at P7 & 17% at S2) are achieving expected levels of science knowledge & understanding
* Early primary pupils are doing better, with almost 55% of P3 pupils achieving their expected level
* At all stages & levels, achievement in science literacy is stronger than science knowledge & understanding
* The least deprived children are outperforming the most deprived pupils at all stages & levels
* There has been no improvement in science knowledge & understanding achievement between 2003 and 2007

General Reports and Other Publications

ESRC: Many people struggle to understand the complexities of genetic problems in pregnancy and find medical language difficult to understand, particularly when faced with major decisions, such as whether to terminate a pregnancy.  A recent study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), investigated how Britain’s Bangladeshi community understand the disorders and make decisions about testing & screening in the light of health care and religious opinion.

Problems linked to use of interpreters are compounded by the fact that there may be medical terms for which there is no appropriate translation. Confusion can also occur, for example, over such phrases as ‘a 75% chance of a having a child that is not being affected by a particular condition’, which can be interpreted as ‘having a child that is 75% normal’.
MoD: The Public Accounts Committee has published a report into the successful privatisation of QinetiQ. Minister for Defence Equipment and Support Baroness Taylor said: "I welcome the Committee's recognition that the privatisation of QinetiQ succeeded in generating £800M of proceeds for the taxpayer, and created a successful British-based technology business providing a sustainable future for 13,000 staff.
I do not accept the PAC's conclusion that a further £90M could have been achieved from the sale.  This is pure speculation, and fails to take into account the realities of what could be achieved in negotiation…………. The rewards earned by senior management have already been the subject of much press comment.  But the key point is that the Department and its partner Carlyle agreed a scheme in which the gains made by senior managers were linked directly to achieving growth in the value of the business."
ScotParlBallot papers cast in the May 2007 local government elections should be examined, according to a new report published by the Local Government and Communities Committee.  The recommended research should establish what the proportion of single ‘X’ ballot papers was and whether this indicates any issue with the first roll out of STV in Scottish local government elections.
Committee Convener Duncan McNeil MSP said: "The committee is concerned that the system of numbering preferences required by the Single Transferable Vote (STV) in the local government elections of 2007 was not the success it has been claimed.  While the rate of rejected ballots was lower than that of the Scottish Parliament elections, it was still unnecessarily high.  There were also issues around ballot design, electronic counting and the fact that the elections took place on the same day as the Scottish Parliament's 'first past the post,' elections”.
DWP: Migrants coming to the UK from Eastern Europe have not caused unemployment or stopped UK workers from finding jobs, according to new research - 'The impact of migration from the new European Union Member States on native workers' – which concludes that new migrants have not had an impact on the numbers claiming unemployment benefits in the UK, or had a significant impact on wages.
As well as this research paper from the DWP, the Home Office has published the Government's response to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee's report into the economic benefits of migration.
NAO: According to a new report from the National Audit Office, the British Council has been flexible in moving its attention and resources to match new UK priorities, particularly in the Islamic World and the Far East.  It also continues to implement numerous and extensive internal changes aimed at increasing its effectiveness & efficiency, though delivery of projects and change has been uneven across its global network.

The Council has recognised the importance of good customer service, but it is not yet meeting the standards it sets for itself across the whole network.  It also needs to implement a customer database to enable it to track customer contacts and better understand its audiences.  In addition, its teaching business has a high cost base, charges premium prices and has limited reach outside overseas capital cities.
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities has responded to the Government’s latest Households Below Average Income (HBAI) statistics release, which shows poverty levels have stopped declining and, in some cases, have started to increase.
They also highlight the prevalence of poverty in employment.  This is particularly prominent in rural areas where the proportion of working poor in significant rural areas was recorded as 16% in 2005/06. Rural analysis of the HBAI figures will be included with other analysis & research in their forthcoming publication 'Rural Financial Poverty', which will be published in July.
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities has welcomed the Government’s intention to publish a Participatory Budgeting National Strategy and its ambition to see all Local Authorities using participatory budgeting by 2012. 
They have responded to the Communities and Local Government consultation on Participatory Budgeting - a draft national strategy and believe that participatory budgeting principles have good potential to help local communities and their elected representatives have more influence over how their local taxes are being spent and become more active in local decision making & service delivery.
MoD: The MoD has published the Board of Inquiry (BOI) report into the tragic loss of two Royal Naval Submariners, and the injury of a third, following an explosion onboard HMS Tireless on 21 March 2007.  The BOI concluded that the explosion onboard the submarine was caused by a faulty self-contained oxygen generator (SCOG) - part of the back-up oxygen generation system - which was lit during a routine drill.
The BOI has subsequently made 35 recommendations to ensure safety measures are incorporated.  Implementation of these recommendations is underway and progress has been made.
HC: NHS system reforms have improved management of the health service, but need more time to deliver significant benefits for patients.  This is the main finding of a report Is the treatment working? Progress with the NHS system reform programme published jointly by the Audit Commission and the Healthcare Commission.
The study looks at the programme of market-style reforms that aim to improve efficiency & effectiveness and were first set out in the NHS Plan of 2000.  It also reviewed the impact of major changes to employment contracts with NHS staff.
The research found that some of the reforms are beginning to work, particularly those focused on encouraging better financial management and a more business-like approach among NHS organisations providing care, through Payment by Results and setting up foundation trusts.  But the report also found that some of the changes, particularly those most noticeable to patients such as choice, need more time to deliver significant results.
The report recommends that further nationally imposed structural changes should be avoided, as progress to date has been hampered by two major reorganisations since the reforms were introduced.  Other factors include an under-developed capacity to commission patient services and weaknesses in the systems to support & monitor improvements.
Ofsted: Strong leadership, self-knowledge and a strong school identity are key to a successful journey out of special measures according to a new report published by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), which draws on the results of visits over the last year by inspectors to 14 formerly inadequate schools which had made particularly successful journeys out of special measures.

‘Sustaining improvement: the journey from special measures’ identifies the most important actions that lead to sustained improvement in such schools.  In all the schools developing inclusion was fundamental to raising standards.

Legislation / Legal

ScotGov: The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Bill has been granted Royal Assent and will now become an Act of Parliament. It puts in place measures to help protect the Games from ticket touts and 'ambush' marketing, while providing powers to address matters such as land purchase and transport.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

BERR: The government have announced that the right for UK workers to choose to work longer than 48 hours a week has been secured, after ministers reached a new agreement in Europe. The agreement on both the Working Time Directive and the Agency Workers Directive at the EU Employment Council is claimed to allow the UK's vital labour market flexibility to continue, while ensuring workers are treated fairly. 
The deal on agency workers comes after the CBI and TUC signed a joint declaration last month agreeing to a 12-week qualifying period for agency workers to be given equal treatment in a given job.
Defra: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has launched a consultation (closes on 1 September 2008) on the European Commission's proposals for the ‘Health Check’ of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) – See ‘Consultations’ for more information.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

BIG: A diverse range of learning projects that will bring families across England together and help to improve their skills & knowledge are celebrating awards from the Big Lottery Fund.  The money comes from BIG’s Family Learning programme, which helps parents understand more about how their children learn and encourages adults & children to learn as a family.
CLG: Getting back to nature on the farm, increased pedal power and catering for hundreds of people were just some of the winning ideas from homeless organisations that won part of a £500,000 prize to make their business ideas a reality. 
Fifteen organisations from around the country will be able to start up or develop new social enterprises after winning the funding through the Spark initiative. The competition involved homeless organisations pitching their ideas to a panel of experts from the business and voluntary sector, in a "Dragons' Den" style event.

BIG:  Children and adults affected by abuse, maltreatment or neglect could be offered fresh hope with the announcement of an investment of more than £1.1m, by the BIG Lottery Fund, which is going to help those who have been experiencing domestic violence (often at the hands of someone close), or living with the repercussions of substance abuse in the family.
BIG:  The Al-Aman Domestic Violence Intervention Project is being awarded £488,843 by the BIG Lottery good cause fund to provide a confidential support and advocacy outreach service that addresses the specific cultural, linguistic and legal needs of women from Arabic backgrounds living in London.  Along with emotional support, the project also provides practical help including advocacy for women needing to obtain an Islamic divorce, and supporting women living under the fear of child abduction.

Press release ~ Al-Aman Domestic Violence Intervention Project

Business and Other Briefings

BERR: Anne Glover's committee, announced as part of the Enterprise Strategy and Budget 2008, has issued an online call for evidence as part of its work to help more small & medium sized businesses win public sector contracts.  The committee is considering ways to increase opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the practicality of a goal of such firms winning 30% of all public sector contracts.
Small firms, public purchasers and industry groups are invited to share their experiences of doing business across both central government and local authorities using the portal below by 8 August 2008.
HM Treasury: Ahead of the G8 Finance Ministers meeting in Japan this week, the Treasury has published an analysis of the trend & drivers in the commodity markets that have led to recent price increases: ‘Global Commodities: long-term vision for stable, secure and sustainable global markets’.
The document sets out a framework of six key principles which the UK propose should guide policy on international, regional & national levels, and in the short, medium & long term.

Forthcoming Event

NHS National Workforce Projects (NWP) is holding their annual WTD event - Working Time Directive 2009 Exhibition: The Final Countdown - on the 2 July 2008 at the ExCel, London.  With less than 15 months to go until the maximum working hours for junior medical staff is reduced from 56 to 48 hours per week, it is crucial that trusts continue to move towards meeting the requirements of Working Time Directive 2009 (WTD).

This one day event will enable delegates to join the discussion & debate and gain practical guidance & support on reaching the 48 hour requirement. The event will help trusts to diagnose compliance and provide information on the national support & best practice available.  This event is free to NHS colleagues, although a cancellation fee will be applied if sufficient notice is not given (*72 hours).

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