In the News
IPCC: Hardly likely to inspire confidence in National Identity Cards - The Independent Police Complaints Commission has found that the processes for data handling were woefully inadequate at the HMRC Child Benefit Office in Washington, but individual members of staff were not to blame for losing the missing Child Benefit data CDs.
The IPCC's investigation uncovered failures in institutional practices & procedures concerning the handling of data. It revealed the absence of a coherent strategy for mass data handling and, generally speaking, practices & procedures were less than effective’. Staff found themselves working on a day-to-day basis without adequate support, training or guidance about how to handle sensitive personal data appropriately.
The IPCC found that there was:
* a complete lack of any meaningful systems
* a lack of understanding of the importance of data handling and
*a ‘muddle through' ethos
In addition, Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell has published a review of information security in government, putting in place a new framework for the future to improve the rules, culture, accountability and scrutiny of data handling. The changes announced in the report fall into four groups:
* Core measures: A series of mandatory minimum measures is being put in place across government including encryption and compulsory testing by independent experts of the resilience of systems
* Cultural change: All civil servants dealing with personal data are to undergo mandatory annual training. The Government will also introduce Privacy Impact Assessments, recommended by the Information Commissioner
* Stronger accountability: Data security roles within departments are being standardised & enhanced to ensure clear lines of responsibility
* Increased scrutiny: Departments will report on their performance, the NAO will look at what they say, and the Information Commissioner is already planning his first spot checks
CRC: Rural need is not the same as urban need - The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) has made public its response to the Government's review of the National Health Service.
CRC's recommendations for changes that would have a significant impact include:
* resource allocation formula to give greater recognition to the cost of delivering rural healthcare services and the ageing rural population
* accessible local services - with an emphasis on co-location of a range of services not just healthcare
* improved commissioning for rural areas & greater emphasis on joint commissioning of health & social care
* an increase in the number & range of outreach & mobile services to address access issues
* better emergency response measures for life-threatening conditions and
* improved preventative medicine, targeted at the hidden deprivation & disadvantage in rural areas
HO: What happens if the visitor just ‘runs away’? - In future people will have to become licensed to sponsor family members to visit from abroad under proposed changes to the visa system. Sponsors will have a duty to ensure that their visitors leave before their visa runs out. If sponsors fail in their duties, they face: a ban on bringing anyone else over, penalties of up to £5,000, or a jail sentence.
Further proposals announced include:
* introducing two new business visas for sportspeople and entertainers
* setting the maximum leave for visitors at six months
* introducing an appeal system for those coming in under the family route
* a new short-term, low-cost group travel visa to promote British tourism and
* a visa for people coming to the UK for one-off cultural events such as the Edinburgh Festival
Defra: Still too little and too late? - Sir Michael Pitt called for urgent & fundamental changes in the way the country is adapting to the increased risk of flooding and called on the Government to set out publicly how it will make rapid progress (and be held to account) on improving the country’s flood resilience. Précised comments from his press release include:
* It is unacceptable that one year on thousands of people remain in temporary accommodation
* Research published as part of my report shows that the risk of flooding continues to escalate
* The current lack of clarity & transparency has the potential to put not only people’s homes, but lives in jeopardy
* Our current attitude to reservoir safety is also concerning. Insistence on secrecy ……. puts lives unnecessarily at risk
* Government must act to ensure critical infrastructure is as resilient as possible, whilst essential services providers should become considerably more active in local & national emergency preparedness & response
In response to the report Secretary of State for the Environment, Hilary Benn, has promised:
* a prioritised action plan in the autumn
* development of a Long Term Investment Strategy for flood defence with the Environment Agency
* A planned nationwide programme to improve the resilience of critical infrastructure later on in 2008
* Local emergency planners will be provided with flood maps for reservoirs before the end of 2009
* The Government will produce an outline for the National Flood Emergency Framework by the end of July, with a draft for consultation by the end of the year.
Cabinet Office: But is vision of unions is more concerned with proposed ‘pay cuts’? - The Prime Minister has outlined his vision for transforming England's public services in a Cabinet Office report - ‘Reaching World Class: The next stage in improving public services’. He claims that the paper provides a framework for further improvement and that, using evidence from the best-performing public services around the world it sets out the Government's overall approach to public service reform for the coming years.
The report identifies three key characteristics of world-class public services:
* empowering citizens who use public services
* fostering a new professionalism in the public service workforce
* strong strategic leadership from central government
Forthcoming event: Brain Tumour UK’s annual conference will be held at Edgbaston Cricket Ground, Birmingham on 14 and 15 July 2008 jointly hosted with Professor Garth Cruickshank and his specialist team at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. In light of the new venue they are aiming for ‘a better innings for patients’ bringing together anyone concerned with enhancing the lives of people living with brain tumours, improving treatments and care, and finding a cure.
Who should attend?: Patients and their families, friends and carers; Members of brain tumour and related health charities/patient support groups; Scientific, medical and health professionals; Fundraisers, volunteers and other supporters; and Policy makers.
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TfL: The second phase of the London Low Emission Zone, which will affect diesel engined lorries weighing over 3.5 tonnes, buses and coaches, begins at 00:01am on Monday 7 July 2008. If these vehicles do not meet the required emissions standard, which is Euro III for particulate matter, they will face a daily charge.
A Vehicle compliance checker is available online to help any concerned owner find out whether their vehicle meets the Low Emission Zone emissions standards. Transport for London will give operators of vehicles that do not comply with the emissions standards a 28 day warning period to upgrade their vehicle from the date they are first seen driving within the Zone. During this time they will not be issued with a penalty charge.
DWP: Tim Campbell, winner of the first series of The Apprentice, and founder of the Bright Ideas Trust, is to host the first national Local Employment Partnership awards being held in London on 1 July 2008.
Tesco, Nissan Motors and HSBC are among the 20 UK employers which have made it onto the shortlist for the awards. The finalists are in the running to win one of six awards which recognise outstanding contributions made by employers, employees and partners involved in LEPs - the Government's new partnership approach to help disadvantaged jobseekers back into work.
ACE: Arts Council England is asking everyone to get into the swing of Big Dance 2008 - a weeklong celebration of dance from 5 -13 July 2008. Whether a dance fan, a recent convert or just curious, Big Dance 2008 will have something for you.
You can be part of a record breaking salsa dance on Gateshead Quayside, see a performance of Hofesh Shechter's celebrated work Uprising in the East, or join in with the Big Dance Mat Festival in Derby. To find out how to get involved, host your own Big Dance event or what is happening in your area, just log on..
NICE: Because insufficient evidence was provided by the manufacturers, NICE is unable to recommend the use the following treatments in the NHS:
* bevacizumab in combination with paclitaxel for the first-line treatment of metastatic breast cancer
* cetuximab for the treatment of colorectal cancer following failure of oxaliplatin-containing chemotherapy
* carmustine implants as an adjunct to surgery in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (a type of brain cancer) for whom surgery is appropriate
* bevacizumab in addition to platinum-based chemotherapy for the first-line treatment of patients with inoperable advanced, metastatic or recurrent non-small-cell lung cancer (other than predominantly squamous cell histology)
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has welcomed the announcement that the government is to review the access to information for commercial use by Trading Funds organisations, such as Ordnance Survey and the UK Hydrographic Office. The OFT market study on the commercial use of public information found that more competition in public sector information could benefit the UK economy by around £1bn a year.
NA: The National Archives has officially launched its new reading rooms following a £4m transformation to bring together all of its family history and historical assets into a one-stop-shop of online resources, with practical face-to-face support to help researchers make the most of the wealth of information available.
At the centre sits Domesday, the iconic & oldest public record, dating from the 11th century. Radiating around the centrepiece are stories of how secret documents are made public and tales of spies, conspirators and family history.
In the new open plan reading room visitors can search online sources, microfilm and the world-class library. Experts give lectures (downloadable from the podcast page)
) in the new ‘talks rooms’ on subjects inspired by the records, or simply on how to research their family history.
YF: Yorkshire Forward Chair, Terry Hodgkinson, has announced a new £2.5m scheme and officially launched the ‘Enterprising Yorkshire’ campaign, aimed at ensuring young people in the region have the enterprise skills they need to succeed in the world of work and self employment.
Delivered over a 3 year period the scheme will see the agency working with Young People’s Enterprise Forum (YPEF) – who already work on initiatives like Enterprise Week and the Real Business Challenge – to embed enterprise education across the region’s schools, colleges and universities.
VSO: BAA Communities Trust is cementing its partnership with VSO and the British Council to support the Global Xchange programme for the fifth year in a row. The scheme has also drawn match funding from the youth volunteering organisation v for the third year running.
Global Xchange is a six month programme which gives young people from different countries and different backgrounds an opportunity to work together as volunteers on community projects both in the UK and overseas. Global Xchange is run & managed by international development charity VSO and the British Council.
VSO: Headlined by Hugh Masekela, the legendary South African trumpeter, singer and world-jazz star, Stars Of Africa(Royal Albert Hall - Wednesday 26 November, 7.30pm) celebrates the vibrant musical traditions of the continent where VSO started its work 50 years ago. Funds raised through the concert will support VSO’s education programmes in Africa.
Sharing the bill with Masekela is the hugely charismatic Beninese singer Angelique Kidjo, whose vibrant funk, reggae and pop influenced music makes her one of global music’s biggest stars and saw her hailed by Time Out “as contemporary, stylish and vibrant as it comes”.
In addition, celebrating the rich musical traditions of West Africa is Malian ngoni (African lute) virtuoso Bassekou Kouyate, whose haunting mix of African blues and ethereal beauty saw him win two awards at this year’s BBC Radio 3 Awards For World Music.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
CLG: The 15 experts on the Eco-towns Challenge Panel have set out a series of recommendations for potential eco-town developers, designed to improve their plans to create ‘world-leading sustainable developments’.
Formed of leading experts from the worlds of design, the environment, transport & sustainability, the Panel were tasked with reviewing developers' proposals, providing expert advice on their work and challenging them to meet the highest standards possible.
Fifteen potential sites for eco-towns are currently being consulted on and next month Communities and Local Government will begin consultation on a detailed assessment of each location and the proposed standards that eco-towns will have to meet. A final shortlist of up to 10 potential sites will be decided later this year, after which developers will need to go through the planning process, subject to ‘full public scrutiny’.
DCSF: Last week Schools Minister, Jim Knight, launched a week of national events by visiting a scheme where schools with largely white pupils in rural areas link with those with a majority of Muslim pupils in urban Bradford to develop understanding, appreciation and shared values to overcome tensions and bring people together.
Sir Keith Ajegbo's review of Diversity and Citizenship in the curriculum recommended a week in which schools focus on exploring issues of identity, diversity and shared values. This will mark its first year and with the Olympics around the corner, it will also give young people a chance to explore ideas of national pride, 'Britishness' and international cooperation.
From September 2008, Ofsted will begin to inspect schools on their duty to promote community cohesion. Activities like Who Do We Think We Are? Week and ‘school linking’ are key ways schools can fulfil this duty. It will also help students and teachers prepare for the new 'identity and diversity' strand of the citizenship curriculum - which will be taught from September.
DCSF: The Byron Review Action Plan, published by Children's Minister, Kevin Brennan, sets out key milestones to deliver all of Dr Byron's recommendations as set out in her report ‘Safer Children in a Digital World’.
The recommendations sit under six main groups which are:
* UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS)
* Better Regulation
* Public Information and Awareness Campaign
* Better Education
* Reforming the classification system for video games
* Information and support to parents on video games
DCMS: Hundreds more young people will have the opportunity to be mentored by elite sports stars, musicians and top media players Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has claimed. The youth mentoring programme will receive £3m funding over the next 3 years to help young people in challenging circumstances realise their potential.
Run in conjunction with Youth Music, Media Trust, Sport England and the Youth Sport Trust, the scheme offers one-to-one and group mentoring for young people who most need it. Each strand of the programme (media, music and sport) will receive £1million over three years in order to run the mentoring scheme. Projects are currently being run in London, Liverpool, Bristol, Birmingham and Hull.
WAG: Deputy Minister for Housing, Jocelyn Davies, has welcomed the findings of a report which proposes that the Welsh Assembly Government leads a ‘programme of change’ in order to address the shortage of affordable housing in Wales.
The Essex Report is the work of an independent review of affordable housing which was commissioned by the Deputy Minister in October 2007. Its aim was to explore possible mechanisms for delivering one of the Government’s main priorities – the ‘One Wales’ commitment of creating 6,500 affordable homes in Wales by 2011.
The Review Group has set out a comprehensive package of recommendations that give a clear foundation & direction for everyone involved in delivering the aspirations and targets in the ‘One Wales’ document.
ScotGov: Commenting on the Scotland Office's formal response to Ron Gould's report on last year's elections in Scotland, Minister for Parliamentary Business Bruce Crawford said: "It is extremely disappointing that the UK Government has ignored the central recommendation of Gould - that the responsibilities for elections be transferred to the Scottish Parliament…….
It is staggering the Scotland Office has accepted the opinion of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee that there is no case to change the current legislative arrangements particularly given this committee did not take any evidence from a single member of the Scottish Parliament or the Scottish Government”.
ScotGov: A screening programme which should save the lives of at least 170 men each year is to be introduced in Scotland. Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon announced recently that the screening - for abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) - will be Scotland's first male only screening programme.
Under the programme, which will start in 2011, all 65-year-old men will be offered an ultrasound scan to detect the potentially deadly killer. For most men, only one scan is required. If the initial scan, at 65, is negative, that effectively rules out this life-threatening condition for the rest of that man's life. If an aneurysm is found, the patient will be referred for treatment or further surveillance.
Cabinet Office: Harriet Harman, Minister for Women & Equality, has announced new measures which will be in the Equality Bill that are meant to streamline & strengthen discrimination legislation, including banning age discrimination, to make Britain a fairer place.
Framework for a Fairer Future - the Equality Bill outlines further steps to tackle this inequality, including:
* End of age discrimination
* Increased transparency and ban of 'gagging clauses'
* Positive Action for women and other under-represented groups
* New equality duty on the public sector
A comprehensive paper on the content of the Equality Bill will be published later this summer, which will include the response to the Discrimination Law Review: A Framework for Fairness consultation. The 'Blueprint for a Fairer Future - The Equality Bill' is expected to be introduced in the next Parliamentary session, which starts in December. The details of the new age discrimination banwill be set out in secondary legislation made under the Equality Bill. The Government will set out a timetable for further public consultation.
BERR: A national renewable energy blueprint designed to ‘slash carbon emissions dramatically, reduce the UK's dependency on oil & gas and claim a valuable share of global green business opportunity’ has been set out by Business Secretary John Hutton.
Mr Hutton outlined proposals to enable the UK to meet its proposed 15% renewable energy target by 2020, an increase of 1,000% on current levels. This is likely to include up to a third of electricity coming from renewables as well as significant increases in the use of renewable forms of heat and transport fuels. Responses to the Renewable Energy Strategy consultation are invited by 26 September 2008. A final strategy is expected to be in place by spring 2009.
In addition, draft revised Guidance to Ofgem on social & environmental issues has also been published for consultation by the Department for Business. This includes Guidance on the development of energy networks, and connection to them, in the light of the renewables target.
DIUS: FE providers will soon be able to show how good their organisations are under a new assessment system launched last week by Bill Rammell, Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education. From 2010, a new Framework for Excellence (FfE) will help students & employers choose the learning provider best suited to their needs, while hopefully driving up performance within further education and helping the sector become more self-regulating.
It will apply to colleges and work-based learning providers from September 2008 and will lead to all providers publishing their assessment rating publicly by 2010, allowing prospective students and employers to compare results.
ScotGov: A private tenancy for a minimum of one year is proposed in a consultation (closes 19 September 2008) launched on new approaches to housing homeless people in Scotland. Local authorities will be given more flexibility to use the private rented sector to ease waiting times experienced by thousands of homeless families.
The consultation focuses around changing secondary legislation to allow local authorities to discharge their duty to homeless households by ensuring provision of a short assured tenancy.
Ofsted: A consultation launched by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), seeks views on whether or not Ofsted should publish children’s homes inspection reports.
Ofsted is consulting (closes 16 September 2008) with children & young people and those who look after them, or who have an interest in their welfare, to gain their views on whether children’s homes inspection reports should be made publicly available on the Ofsted website.
MoJ: A consultation (closes 26 September 2008) on whether to move elections to weekends has been launched as part of efforts to boost engagement in the democratic process. Scrapping the traditional Thursday vote is one option under consideration as part of the Government's programme of constitutional renewal, which seeks to ‘forge a new relationship between the citizen and the state’.
The consultation debates moving the day of elections for general, local and European elections from Thursdays to the weekend. Responses will lead to a citizens' summit later this year, at which people will be invited to consider the issue and make a recommendation to the Government on whether election day should be moved.
ScotGov: A major consultation to ensure Scotland is prepared for the unavoidable impacts of climate change was launched recently. The consultation is the first piece of work in building a new Climate Change Adaptation Framework for Scotland.
The consultation will run in two stages. This first stage of consultation (closes on 31 October 2008) will connect the current stakeholder debate on climate change adaptation, while recognising that the final Framework will be informed by several crucial developments occurring in late 2008 and early 2009, including the Scottish Climate Change Bill coming before the Scottish Parliament. The second stage of the consultation will be launched in 2009.
BERR: A national renewable energy blueprint designed to ‘slash carbon emissions dramatically, reduce the UK's dependency on oil & gas and claim a valuable share of global green business opportunity’ has been set out by Business Secretary John Hutton. Responses to the Renewable Energy Strategy consultation are invited by 26 September 2008. A final strategy is expected to be in place by spring 2009 - See ‘Policy Statements and Initiatives’ section for more information
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
MPA: The Metropolitan Police Authority has launched an innovative educational DVD - 'Go Wisely - everything you need to know about stop and search' - about the police use of stop & search as a tactic to combat crime. The DVD will be used as part of an overall training package for the police in how to use S&S appropriately, and inform the public (especially young people) of their rights when they are stopped or searched.
It features serving officers talking about how S&S can help them detect crime and young people talking about their perceptions of S&S, their experiences of being stopped and how they want to be treated with respect by the police if stopped. An accompanying resource pack has been developed by Greater Manchester Police Authority, with support from Manchester City Council, designed to help viewers explore the issues raised within the DVD.
LDA: The Designing Demand programme - which will show business leaders how good design can turn ideas & technologies into profitable products, services and brands - was officially launched in London last week. The £3.5m programme, funded by the London Development Agency (LDA), was developed nationally by the Design Council.
Designing Demand in London aims to have more than 600 London Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) experience at least one element of the programme over the next three years. Workshops for both SMEs and the business advisory community are being rolled out in the coming months in order to generate prospective clients for the various programme streams.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has launched free, impartial comparison tables for payment protection insurance (PPI) on its consumer website, which are designed to help consumers who are thinking about taking out a PPI policy to shop around & identify products that could meet their needs.
Whether the policy is to cover a mortgage, an unsecured personal loan, secured loan or credit card, consumers will be able to compare different products on offer.
DfT: DPTAC has launched its Disability Equality and Awareness Training Framework for Transport Staff. The training framework is a free resource and has been designed for use across all modes of transport.
Despite improvements to the accessibility of transport infrastructure, disabled travellers continue to face daily obstacles. A key element is poor or inadequate disability awareness training and transport staff are often unable to give disabled travellers the support they would like to provide.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has launched its revised appraisals methods guide. The Institute’s ‘Guide to the methods of technology appraisal’ document provides an overview of the principles &methods used by NICE to assess health technologies (drugs and other treatments).
It is a guide both for the independent advisory committees that prepare NICE guidance and for those organisations representing patient groups, health professionals & manufacturers that submit evidence and comment on draft recommendations.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published guidance on the use of adalimumab for the treatment of psoriasis in adults. Adalimumab is recommended as a possible treatment for adults with plaque psoriasis only if their:
* condition is severe and
* condition has not improved with other treatments such as ciclosporin, methotrexate and PUVA (psoralen and long-wave ultraviolet radiation), or they have had side effects with these in the past or there is a medical reason why they should not be given these treatments
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published guidance on the use of cetuximab for the treatment of head and neck cancer. Cetuximab in combination with radiotherapy is recommended as a possible treatment for people with locally advanced squamous cell cancer of the head and neck if:
* they have a Karnofsky performance-status score of 90% or more, and
* all forms of platinum-based chemotherapy are considered inappropriate
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published final guidance on the use of rimonabant for the treatment of overweight and obese patients. The committee also recommend when considering the presence of current or previous depressive disorders/mood alterations, and during regular monitoring for the emergence of such symptoms, clinicians should consult the NICE clinical guidelines on the management of anxiety and depression, noting the need for careful and comprehensive assessment
ScotParl: The Scottish Parliament has published its annual report detailing the work of the Parliament from 9 May 2007 to 8 May 2008. This year saw the 1.5 millionth visitor to the Parliament, as well as visits from over 100 delegations from all over the world.
Three Government bills introduced since 9 May 2007 have completed their parliamentary passage and become Acts of the Scottish Parliament:
* Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Act 2008
* Graduate Endowment Abolition (Scotland) Act 2008
* Budget (Scotland) Act 2008
SGC/SAP: A busy and productive year is highlighted in the 4th joint annual report published by the Sentencing Guidelines Council and the Sentencing Advisory Panel, which are responsible for promoting clear, effective and consistent sentencing.
The report reveals that they are a long way towards achieving the goal of producing a guideline for the majority of offences that are regularly sentenced in the courts in England and Wales, by the summer of 2009.
DH: Health Profiles for every local authority and region across England have been published by the Department of Health and the Association of Public Health Observatories. The Profiles use key health indicators to capture a picture of the nation's health down to local level, providing areas across England with valuable information to improve their population's health. This year's data also includes new information on child health inequalities.
The Association of Public Health Observatories, with the DH, have also published a companion ‘Health inequalities Intervention tool’, that enables every English local authority to model the effect of four high impact interventions on their life expectancy gap:
* smoking cessation
* treating undiagnosed high blood pressure
* statin prescribing to reduce blood cholesterol and
* reducing infant mortality
HC: Updated survival rates for surgery at 37 heart units across the UK have been published by the Healthcare Commission (the national survival rate for all types of heart operations is 96.6%). The data has been adjusted to take into account the age and lifestyle of patients, which affect chances of survival.
Previously, the international EuroSCORE benchmark was used as a way of taking account of the risks involved in the surgery. However, as more people are now expected to survive in the UK than when EuroSCORE was first introduced, the benchmark for the UK introduced last year is a tougher measure. When measured against the UK model, there were no units with survival rates that were ‘worse than expected’. 32 units’ survival rates are ‘as expected’ and 5 are ‘better than expected’.
UK IPO: The UK Intellectual Property Office (UK-IPO) has published its latest Corporate Plan, which this year focuses on the major strategic challenges and on the steps the UK-IPO will take to ensure it is properly equipped to meet those challenges over the next three years.
The plan is in a different form to previous years, reflecting the development of the Government's thinking on IP over the past two years as well as a different approach to planning our activities.
General Reports and Other Publications
MoD: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has published Sir Edmund Burton's report into the laptops containing the personal details of individuals who expressed interest in joining the Armed Forces.
Sir Edmund Burton found MOD policies and procedures are generally fit for purpose and cited examples of good practice by the Department, particularly the measures introduced after the loss which were effective in preventing similar damaging losses. But he identified a number of areas where MOD needs to do better in protecting personal data.
The MOD has accepted all of Sir Edmund's 51 recommendations and has prepared a comprehensive action plan to implement them, which has on the broader findings of the Cabinet Secretary's Review of Data Handling Procedures in Government, whose final report has also just been published.
ScotGov: A review of information security policies and data handling arrangements in Scotland has been published recently by the Scottish Government, which showed that there were generally high standards across the public sector, but the assessment of the review team was that there in a need for further measures to improve the security of sensitive information.
The Scottish government believe that there is a need to have higher levels of oversight & guidance - rather than these bodies devising their own policies, procedures and guidance.
ESRC: To encourage & help teachers become more involved and enthusiastic about ‘inclusive teaching’, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) recently funded an action research based project. Action research can be explained as making changes and studying the impact of those changes in order to bring about an environment where students feel included in their learning process.
As part of the ESRC’s Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP), the project sought to explore how this approach could be used to assist teachers to put into practice the principle of ‘inclusion’ (i.e. to increase the participation and achievement of pupils who may be marginalised as a result of circumstances such as disability, ethnicity, gender and social disadvantage).
DRWG/DCMS: A long term plan should be developed to move all radio services across to digital, according to the Digital Radio Working Group (DRWG), in its interim report. However, in the medium term, the group recommends migrating all national, regional and large local stations to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), with FM continuing to be used by small local and community radio stations.
Government should set out the conditions which must be met before this change could be achieved, and which would trigger migration. Fundamental to this will be an assessment of the extent to which listeners have adopted digital radio, particularly DAB, as well as levels of coverage.
The DRWG does not recommend setting a date for switchover to digital radio now. Instead, it recommends a timetable for migration is set out, which is dependent on progress against the agreed criteria. The group's initial assessment is that migration could be completed by 2020. The DRWG will produce its final report by the end of 2008.
DH: A new report, 60 years of research in the NHS benefiting patients, has been published. It summarises some of the great research discoveries which have been made in the NHS since its birth in 1948, including:
* Professor Sir Richard Doll and Professor Sir Austin Bradford Hill were, in 1950, the first to discover a link between smoking and lung cancer. In 1954 around 80% of UK adults smoked - that figure is now 26%. D oll and Hill's work saved, and continues to save, millions of lives.
* In 1962, Sir John Charnley, an orthopaedic surgeon, was the first to perform a total hip replacement at the Wrightington Hospital in Wigan. Today, more than 62,000 hip replacements, which relieve pain and improve mobility, are carried out by the NHS each year.
Ofsted: New research published recently shows that most parents with a child or children in care think that they are being looked after very well by the local council. But the parents also feel left out of their children’s lives, according to a new report by the Children’s Rights Director for England, Dr Roger Morgan.
‘Parents on Council Care’, is the first report by the Office of the Children’s Rights Director to solely explore the views of parents rather than children. It highlights the very strong emotions conveyed by parents about having their child taken away from them or living away from home.
Although children were in care for different reasons, 59% of parents said that there had been no support from the council to help stop their child going into care in the first place. 76% said that they were getting no or not enough council support including help toward the child being returned to them. Where support was given, it was sometimes the wrong kind, or came too late once a crisis had arrived.
NAO: Some progress is being made in encouraging under-represented groups to continue into higher education, the National Audit Office has reported to Parliament. But particular sections of society remain significantly under-represented and too little is known about the link between measures taken by institutions and any improvements in access.
The attainment of qualifications at secondary school is the principal reason for the difference in participation rates, but social class remains a strong determinant of higher education participation. Women are better represented than men and those from non-white ethnic groups are better represented than white people. The National Audit Office has found that white people from lower socio-economic groups are the most under-represented group in higher education institutions.
Ofsted: A lack of specialist trained Design & Technology teachers in some parts of the country results in equipment in some schools lying unused, according to Ofsted's new report, 'Education for a technologically advanced nation: Design and Technology in schools 2004/07'.
Most pupils enjoy designing and making things, but older students do not always have use of the machinery and the computer aided design & computer aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) equipment already in schools, as some teachers, including newly qualified teachers, are not sufficiently trained to use & teach with them. CAD/CAM equipment is not equally available throughout all secondary schools, and the gap between schools that have up-to-date resources and those that do not is widening.
ESRC: Earlier this year the government announced a new strategy for a more efficient and sustainable use of water, which would involve a reduction in per capita consumption from 150 litres per day to 130 litres per day.
A new Economic and Social Research Council publication, ‘Behavioural Change and Water Efficiency’, which accompanied a seminar organised jointly with UK Water Industry Research Ltd, looks at future water management from a social science perspective.
NAO: Due to a decreasing fleet size and an increasing need for maintenance & upgrades, the Ministry of Defence is unable to meet the requirement for Hercules aircraft to transport military personnel & freight in Iraq and Afghanistan all of the time. Hercules aircraft are only available to fly on planned missions 85% of the time, according to a report released by the National Audit Office.
Increased stress on the aircraft has been caused by landing on unpaved airstrips in Iraq and Afghanistan, additional use of air drops, as well as a change from transporting people & equipment over long distances to making short flights in theatre. More ‘wear & tear’ has resulted, and increased maintenance costs. Fatigue, which decreases the life span of the wings, is accumulating more rapidly than in the past.
The Department has had to retire four aircraft during 2006 and plans to retire a further five C-130Ks during this year, ahead of their planned retirement date of 2010. The Department will also need to address shortened wing life on the newer C-130J.
ScotParl: A long term strategy to deliver a modern, efficient and responsive ferry network must be drawn up by the Scottish Government, according to a report published by the Scottish Parliament's Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee.
The recommendations contained in the 'Ferry Services in Scotland' report also identify a series of short term improvements to ferry services which should be taken forward immediately. The Scottish Government will provide a response to the Committee's report and it is anticipated that it will be the subject of a full Parliamentary debate in September 2008.
Legislation / Legal
MoJ: Further initiatives to support women with particular vulnerabilities in the criminal justice system have been set out by Maria Eagle MP, Ministerial Champion for Women in the Criminal Justice System.
Publishing the Government's six-month progress report on Baroness Corston's independent review of women in the criminal justice system that have specific vulnerabilities, Maria Eagle outlined the progress made and the new commitments being considered.
MoJ: A research based review of no win no fee arrangements in England & Wales has been announced. The study will look at whether no win no fee arrangements are still operating in the best interests of giving people access to justice. The report to ministers (in the autumn) will help determine what specific aspects ought to be pursued in more detail and the feasibility of doing so.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has published a new bill that overrules the decision taken by the House of Lords last October that asymptomatic pleural plaques do not give rise to a cause of action under the law of damages.
The provisions in the bill will mean that people negligently exposed to asbestos who are diagnosed with pleural plaques will continue to be able to raise an action for damages. The provisions of the Bill would take effect from the date of the Judgment (i.e. October 17, 2007). This means that people whose cases have not been settled or determined by a court, before the date the bill comes into force will be covered by the provisions of the bill.
MoJ: New coroners' powers (Coroners Amendment) Rules 2008) to help prevent avoidable deaths have been announced by Justice Minister Bridget Prentice in response to views expressed by bereaved families. From 17 July 2008, a new statutory duty will be placed on organisations to respond to coroners' reports on action that should be taken to prevent future deaths. Reports will then be shared with bereaved families, so that they are aware of the action being taken.
Coroners will also be required to notify Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) of the death of any child reported to them and allow them to supply information (such as reports from post-mortem examinations and documents given in evidence at an inquest) to LSCBs. This will enable LSCBs to meet their statutory obligations, including their responsibility to conduct child death reviews.
Business and Other Briefings
DWP: Encouraging or forcing workers not to save in a workplace pension will become unlawful under proposed changes to the Pensions Bill, Minister for Pensions Reform Mike O'Brien has claimed, as the DWP intends to amend the current Pensions Bill during the Lords stages to prohibit employers from offering ‘inducements - such as higher salaries or one-off bonuses - which encourage workers to opt out.
The amendment will also cover circumstances where employers simply try to force their workers to opt out. This will leave individuals free to decide if they want to be a member of a workplace pension scheme. The ban would come into effect with the introduction of auto-enrolment from 2012.
It is also proposed that there should be a time limit within which complaints have to be made or investigations launched by the Regulator. This will provide certainty for employers and workers and discourage the possibility of frivolous claims. There are differing views among stakeholders on how long that period of time should be. The DWP therefore wishes to consult before setting out the final time limits in regulations.
This Brief gives details of an article: VAT:Set off where right to claim overdeclared tax is transferred.
A new National School of Government event for senior civil servants will use outdoor settings in the Lake District to help them ensure they are well informed & connected to the key issues when ‘sustainability’ lands on their desks.
Designed in conjunction with Forum for the Future and scheduled to run for four days from 29 September 2008, ‘Sustainability UK – science, values and social change’ will help participants explore how mainstream science and ‘green’ thinking lead to similar conclusions, and the importance of moving away from decisions & policies involving taken-for-granted, but unsustainable, trade-offs.
Participants will stay in a rural guest house and spend time both indoors & outdoors participating in dialogues with experts including:
* Jonathan Porritt
* outdoor philosopher Kate Rawles
* zoologist Susan Canney
* public sector future expert Joe Ravetz
* ecological economist Miriam Kennett, and
* sustainable social policy expert Ian Christie
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