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

In the News

HO: But will the data on which they are based include all crimes or just those recorded by the police? - Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has announced that every neighbourhood in England & Wales will have access to the latest local crime information through new interactive crime maps. By the end of 2008 every police force area should be producing crime maps which will allow the public to:
* see where & when crime has happened - down to street level for some crimes
* make comparisons with other areas
* learn how crime is being tackled by their local neighbourhood policing team

The new maps are intended to give the public the information they need to hold their local police force to account and will communicate to the public how they can get involved in setting local policing priorities to reduce the crime that matters to them in their area. Hampshire, Lancashire and West Yorkshire (along with the West Midlands) are currently the leading forces on crime maps.
MoJ: An equally balanced law or assumption of male guilt? - A new Government consultation (closes on 20 October 2008) paper - 'Murder and Manslaughter: Proposals for Reform of the Law' - proposes the abolition of the existing partial defence of provocation and its replacement with two new partial defences:
* Killing in response to a fear of serious violence and
* In exceptional circumstances only, killing in response to words & conduct which caused the defendant to have a justifiable sense of being seriously wronged

Currently, defendants who successfully plead provocation can avoid the mandatory life sentence that a murder charge carries, instead receiving the lesser sentence of manslaughter.

The proposed change comes in response to long-standing concerns that the centuries-old partial defence impacts differently on men & women, being is too generous to those who kill out of anger and too hard on those who kill out of fear of serious violence. The consultation paper makes clear that a manslaughter conviction should be justified for killings carried out in anger only in exceptional circumstances - which do not include sexual infidelity on the part of the victim.

The consultation paper also proposes:
* Streamlining the law of complicity to homicide to make it easier for courts to determine liability in cases where more than one person is involved in a killing
* Clarifying the law on diminished responsibility
* Clarifying the law on the handful of infanticide cases that are tried each year
ScotGov: Planning the way out of a housing slump - Scotland will see land for housing brought forward more effectively in future with the publication of the revised planning policy - Scottish Planning Policy 3 (SPP 3) – which is intended to ‘enhance the modernisation of the planning system and provide a platform for the industry to build upon in the year ahead, so as to help to ensure the long-term national ambition to increase housing supply in Scotland to 35,000 a year by the middle of next decade is met’.

The Scottish Government claims to recognise the impact that the current economic climate is having on the development of new housing and on the housing market in general and is committed to several key measures to help alleviate the current challenges in the housing market.

Those include £250m to help first time buyers (in particular through shared equity schemes) and a £25m Homeowners Support Fund to assist those in extreme difficulties with their mortgages. ScotGov has also published local housing strategy guidance and housing need & demand assessment guidance, which should assist in shaping local authorities' housing strategies and identifying the housing requirement.
DWP: Helping or forcing people back into work? – The government has announced that a review of conditionality will look at how more people can be helped off benefits and into work. The DWP's recent Green Paper on welfare reform set out how Government will deliver individualised back-to-work programmes.

The review, which will run alongside the green paper consultation, will look at what we should expect people to do and the role sanctions can & should play in motivating individuals to engage in the back-to-work support provided. The aim of the review is to ‘develop a challenging, appropriate & effective sanction regime tailored to the individual's needs and that motivates people to do the right thing’.

The announcement of the review takes place alongside the publication of More Support, higher expectations - the role of conditionality in improving employment outcomes, a background paper reviewing the current conditionality regime and the evidence of its effectiveness.
OS: Information can overcome need for caution - British insurance companies are missing out on revenue from properties in flood‑risk areas, according to new research from Ordnance Survey. Its study highlights potential lost profits reaching millions of pounds because properties are inaccurately classified.

Following last year’s floods, which cost the insurance industry an estimated £3bn, OS conducted analysis of more than 270,000 addresses located in Peterborough, Kingston upon Thames and Carlisle. Using OS MasterMap and detailed historic data on flooding from the Environment Agency, Ordnance Survey has established that more than a quarter (26.7%) of properties could be inaccurately classified as being at risk of flooding.

When looking at flood risk, height and the distance from the nearest body of water are among of the primary factors. A detailed map gives the insurers the opportunity to ‘see’ the location of the property in detail and make a better informed decision as to the risk that particular property affords.
Industry News: Last call to win £1,000 worth of Learning & Development - Wired-Gov has been asked to assist a government led research exercise on the learning & development needs of the public sector. Managers and Senior Managers in all sectors involved in delivering public services are encouraged to complete the survey (closing date Friday 8 August 2008), which is being co-ordinated by a leading provider of training to government and the public sector.

Research agency So What Do You Think has been commissioned to conduct the online survey – click HERE to respond. As extra incentive, one lucky respondent will be offered a £1,000 voucher which can be redeemed for training, consultancy, coaching or books. A copy of the research results will also be offered.
Forthcoming Event(s): Have you registered? - Following the introduction of government reforms in 2007 learning providers that deliver further education provision through a contract or funding agreement with the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) are required to ensure that all their trainers, tutors and teachers:
* register as members of the Institute for Learning (IfL) by 30 September 2008
* undertake at least 30 hours' CPD each year (prorated for part-time trainers)
* abide by IfL's Code of Professional Practice

In early September, IfL will be hosting three events around the country aimed at helping HR and staff development managers & senior leaders understand the impact of the new regulations on their organisations, and the opportunities for staff development. There is no charge for attending the briefings, but places are limited and must be booked in advance. There will be two sessions at each of the locations:
* London: 2 September 2008
* Birmingham: 3 September 2008
* Leeds: 4 September 2008
For information on other forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar

For other Industry News please click HERE

General News

BERR: A fully-fledged quality mark scheme has been established to give consumers confidence in the standards they can expect from green energy products and installers. Building on a 2-year development phase the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) will be opened up to a number of certification providers to give the industry more options when seeking approval for products and services.
Plans have also been approved to appoint a new administrator for the MCS.  The initial 2-year contract with the Building Research Establishment (BRE) comes to an end this September. The MCS aims to build a sustainable microgeneration industry based on quality & reliability, to provide consumer confidence that products & installers meet and continue to meet robust standards. Nearly 450 installer companies and over 30 product manufacturers have already registered under the development phase of the scheme.
YFYorkshire Forward is investing £165k in Leeds based Nonwovens Innovation & Research Institute (NIRI) to develop a fabric that will have many commercial uses ranging from medical to protective clothing.  Hydrospace is a new & unique non-woven fabric which has channels running throughout, that can be filled with liquids, gels or solid particles.
Hydrospace fabrics are made using a process called ‘hydroentanglement’ which involves fibres being blasted with high pressure water jets which bonds them together.  Hydrospace’s novelty lies in the ability to create & fill channels inside the fabric.
The commercial potential of this new fabric is vast with applications in numerous fields including:
* Wipes – for, household, medical, cosmetic, baby, industrial and domestic use
* Filters – for the filtration of blood, air, gas, petrol, chemical, etc.
* Protective – clothing, shields and blinds
* Insulation - acoustic and thermal
Socitm: Local authorities will be able to identify the costs of providing access to services through their web, phone & face-to-face channels and identify potential savings from shifting customers to ‘self-service’ via the web, thanks to a new service from the Society of IT Management.

The Channel Value Benchmarking Service, which will launch formally with a workshop in London on 17 September, will enable councils to see whether their ‘costs-to-serve’ are in line with those experienced by other similar councils and to assess whether active channel management – for example encouraging customers to ‘self-serve’ via the web – could save them money.
QCA: Further to previous statements and ongoing discussions, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) has announced that the National Assessment Agency (NAA) is to take over the management of the reviews process for this year's key stage tests with immediate effect.
Where schools were unable to submit review applications before the end of the summer term they should be submitted by 10 September 2008 and, at the latest, 10 days after the start of your term, or after receipt of both scripts & results, whichever is the later.  It is important that schools wait for both results and a complete set of scripts before applying for a review.
TfL: As the Tour de France finished in Paris at the weekend, excitement has begun to build around the return of the Tour of Britain to the streets of central London on Sunday, 7 September 2008.  This year’s Tour of Britain, which is part of the Mayor’s Summer of Cycling, promises to be a vintage race, with many of Britain’s top cycling stars, such as Mark Cavendish - who has just put in the most successful British Tour de France performance in history - expected to take part.

This year the Tour of Britain is starting in the Capital, and will see 96 professional cyclists racing 86 kilometres on a 8.6 kilometre circuit that takes in some of London’s most iconic sites – including Big Ben, Cleopatra’s Needle, Somerset House and the Tower of London.  A free to view event, the London stage of the Tour of Britain will be a fantastic day out for all Londoners.
WAG: A £6m package to help bring contaminated land back into use has been announced by Environment, Sustainability and Housing Minister, Jane Davidson. The available funding - £2m a year over three years - will go to Local Authorities and the Environment Agency for projects across Wales that investigate and take remedial action on contaminated land.

Jane Davidson said:  “The Assembly Government has made available the funding in recognition of the statutory duty; namely Part 2A of the ContaminatedLand Regime placed primarily upon local authorities to deal with contaminated land that is not picked up through regeneration schemes”.
TfL: The Transport for London (TfL) Board has announced that if diesel prices hit 154p per litre between now & February 2009, taxi fares in London will go up by 50p per trip to help drivers meet the increased costs of running a taxi.  The cost of fuel has risen by 27% since TfL determined 2008 taxi tariffs, following its annual review of fares.
If fuel prices don’t hit the 154p litre mark before February, the increased cost of fuel over the course of 2008 and the financial burden taxi drivers have faced as a result will be reflected in the April 2009 fares revision.
BGS: Have you ever wondered what our world would look like stripped bare of all plants, soils, water and man-made structures?  Well wonder no longer; images of the Earth as never seen before have been unveiled in what is the world's biggest geological mapping project ever.
Earth and computer scientists from 79 nations are working together on a global project called OneGeology to produce the first digital geological map of the world.  This project is doing the same for the rocks beneath our feet that Google does for maps of the Earth's surface.  OneGeology is supported by UNESCO and six other international umbrella bodies and is the flagship project for UN International Year of Planet Earth 2008.
STFC: Production and quality control of medicines could soon be quicker, more accurate & cost effective than previously possible.  Pharmaceutical companies are one step closer to being able to peer inside a capsule or tablet and analyse its exact composition, at high speed and whilst still in the packaging.
LiteThru Ltd, a spin out company of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), has successfully secured a £750k investment, enabling the company to commercialise the patented technology, which enables non-invasive, accurate analysis of capsules, tablets, powders and solutions in less than one second.
TDA: 70% of people responsible for the professional development of staff in schools lack awareness of the range of continuing professional development options available, according to new research from the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA).
The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) carried out research among over 1,500 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) leaders to better understand their role and what they need to carry out effective CPD in schools.  When questioned, 35% of those surveyed suggested they would find toolkits for training & development the most helpful to support them.
DfT: Young Londoners have got just a few days left to get creative online and enter the Transport for London (TfL) and Bebo competition to find the next generation of cutting edge talent. Closing on the 14 August, ‘Talent Lives’ can be found at the Bebo website which houses TfL’s digital television show ‘Debutantes’.
Users are invited to upload their own creative work – from music and photographs to writing, fashion design – or anything!  Over 35,000 people have visited the page, part of TfL’s ongoing ‘Don’t Die Before You’ve Lived’ teen road safety campaign, since its launch at the beginning of the summer holidays.
WAG: The culture and traditions of Wales will be celebrated for the next 10 days at the International Celtic Festival.  It is officially the ‘Year of Wales at the Lorient Interceltic Festival 2008 in Brittany, with Welsh art, music & dance set to gain international recognition.  The event runs from 1st to 10 August.
In total 200 Welsh artists will be performing at venues across the city during the festival, ranging from the traditional to the very contemporary.  These include Catrin Finch, Crasdant, Meinir Heulyn and Dowlais Male Choir.
Monitor: There are now 105 NHS foundation trusts in total, of which 31 are mental health NHS foundation trusts.  The new total follows an announcement from Monitor, the independent regulator for NHS foundation trusts, which has confirmed the following foundation trusts have been authorised from 1 August 2008:
* Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
* Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
DSA: Improving standards for professional drivers and increasing road safety measures mean that bus, coach & lorry drivers will, from 4 August 2008, be tested on 100 questions and need to correctly answer 85 of the100 to pass the multiple choice part of the test.  Currently drivers get 60 questions and need to score 51 out of 60 to pass.  The number of hazard perception clips will also increase from 14 to 19 and the pass mark will increase from 50 out of 75, to 67 out of 100.
The other theory test change, which is being made at the request of the industry, is to split the test into two parts.  This will allow candidates to take the multiple choice element separately from the hazard perception element; and in either order.  This change aims to avoid potential recruits being put off entering the industry due to the length of the test as a single event.
This theory test upgrade comes in preparation for the introduction of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) which is a qualification aimed at raising the standard of drivers entering the industry.  Driver CPC will be implemented on 10 September 2008 for the bus & coach industry, and 10 September 2009 for the lorry industry.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

BERR: The Government has published its response to the Competition Commission's (CC) inquiry into UK groceries retailing, which concluded that in many respects UK retailers are delivering a good deal for consumers, but action was needed to improve competition in local markets and to improve relationships between retailers and their suppliers.
Consumer Affairs Minister, Gareth Thomas said: “I thank the Competition Commission for such an extensive and thorough investigation.  Many of the measures they have identified will benefit consumers and I hope that they can implement them quickly. Further work, dialogue and consultation will take place on the recommendations put to Government."
HO: The Home Office has published proposals for much tighter rules for foreign students. Under the student tier of its new Points Based System, all colleges & universities that want to recruit foreign students will now need a licence to do so and face a ban on bringing if they fail to follow the new rules - including alerting the UK Border Agency (UKBA) if students fail to enrol.
Before they can study here, foreign students must:
* be sponsored by a UKBA-licensed education institution
* prove that they have the means to support themselves and their families while studying here
* supply their fingerprints
In recognition of the many economic and cultural benefits that these students bring to the UK, earlier this year the Government announced a special visa category allowing successful international students who have graduated from a British university to work in the UK for up to two years.
DIUS: The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Department for Children, Schools and Families have published two documents:
* The first, Raising Expectations: Enabling the System to Deliver - Summary of the Events and Written Responses summarises the responses to the recent consultation on the proposed Machinery of Government reforms.
* The second, Raising Expectations: Enabling the System to Deliver - Update and Next Steps lays out the next steps following the consultation and answers some of the most FAQs about the proposed new arrangements, including how the new Skills Funding Agency and Young People's Learning Agency will work together. The national offices of both will be based in Coventry.
These reforms will require legislation, which will be included in the Education and Skills Bill (session four) due to be published in draft later this year.
Cabinet Office: Phil Hope, Minister for the Third Sector, has welcomed the positive contributions to the Government's consultation on establishing a £10m fund for risk capital investment in social enterprises.
The consultation raised a number of issues that the Government has considered & addressed in its published response.  As a result, improvements have been made to the proposals for appointing and reimbursing the fund manager or managers.
DCMS: A new 20,000 capacity performance space, a revitalised Napoleonic fort and improved facilities at a world class heritage site will all go ahead in England's coastal towns following the award of over £10m from the Government's Sea Change programme.
These are the first grants to be awarded in the three year programme, which will give £45m to coastal resorts and is being led by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE).
WAG: Preparations are well underway in the 4 Local Authorities - Wrexham, Ceredigion, Merthyr Tydfil and Torfaen - selected to take part in the two year Appetite for Life Action Research Project, which will be overseen by the Centre for Action Research in Professional Practice at the University of Bath, who will develop & test the guidelines for implementing the new food and nutritional standards outlined in the Welsh Assembly Government’s Appetite for Life Action Plan.

Local authorities not involved in the project will be able to apply for a specific grant scheme to support their progression towards the new standards contained in the Appetite for Life Action Plan.  A total of £6.6m has been made available over the two years to support this work and the action research project.


HM Treasury: Enhancing the competitiveness of the UK's asset management industry is the focus of three new consultation papers (all closing on22 October 2008).  These consultations follow a package of measures announced in Budget 2008, designed to make the UK a more competitive location for asset management and to advance the Government's City competitiveness agenda.
The consultation papers propose the:
* introduction of a direct tax exemption regime for UK Authorised Investment Funds
* removal of the tax as a barrier to Qualified Investor Schemes by replacing the substantial holding rule, and
* adaptation of the tax rules for Investment Trust Companies to deliver tax efficient investment into interest bearing assets
DfT: Plans to help Councils tackle inconsiderate parking have been outlined in a consultation (closes on 21 October 2008). A new parking framework, introduced by the Department for Transport in March, gave councils in England the power to issue Penalty Charge Notices to motorists who park at dropped footways or double park.
To make the power more effective, DfT has now launched a consultation on plans to allow authorities outside London to enforce against these specific offences without having to indicate the restrictions with traffic signs or roads markings. The DfT expect the change to come into force in Spring 2009.
ScotGov: A number of innovative proposals on how to further reduce waste and increase recycling in Scotland have been published. Among the ideas being considered are increased recycling facilities at sports grounds, shopping centres, beaches and cinemas. The proposals form part of the Scottish Government's ambition for a 'Zero Waste' Scotland.

The consultation (closes 3 October 2008) is broken down into seven areas:
* Duties on public bodies and business to provide recycling facilities
* Packaging
* Specifying recyclate
* Waste prevention plans
* Deposit and return
* Mandatory waste data returns from business
* Other measures to encourage waste prevention, including action on carrier bags
HM Treasury: The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the Rt Hon Yvette Cooper MP, has launched a new programme of regional engagement, consulting on how various agencies can work together to provide a strong regional response to the changing economic circumstances and provide support for regional business & households.
The launch also provided the opportunity to seek advice from regional and local partners on the investment priorities for over £22bn of regional economic development to be spent across England over the coming years.
DefraThe Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has set out plans to contribute £5m to a scheme to support households in England which face a particularly high risk of flooding, but which are not protected by traditional community level defences. A consultation (closes on 31 October 2008) inviting views on how best the money can be spent has been published and looks at the possibility of:
* providing a free home flood survey and
* offering a grant to cover some of the costs of the measures themselves
Defra has also published an outline of a proposed new National Flood Emergency Framework.  In line with Sir Michael Pitt’s recommendations, the proposed framework, on which there will be public consultation, will bring together information, guidance and key policies in a single strand of planning.
DCMC: The government is consulting on (closes on 20 November 2008) a new, legally enforceable system of age classification will help to make sure that video games are played by the appropriate age group, giving parents, retailers and consumers the guidance they need to make informed choices.
Clinical psychologist Dr Tanya Byron, in her report Safer Children in a Digital World, recognised the potential for learning, development and enjoyment that has come with the growth of video games, but also identified a need to protect children and young people from harmful or inappropriate material. The Government is now seeking views on four options for video games classification:
* a hybrid of the current BBFC and PEGI systems, with a legal requirement for the BBFC to rate all games suitable for players over the age of 12
* a system based solely on PEGI ratings, but enforceable by law
* a system using only BBFC ratings
* a continuation of the current arrangement, backed up by a code of practice to ensure that retailers and suppliers comply with the system
ScotGov: Records of how a customer's age & identity were verified, full descriptions of knives sold and a ban on displays visible from the street or public entrance are among the conditions proposed in a consultation (closes on 22 October 2008) for those who sell non-domestic knives.
The new scheme (which can be introduced under Ministerial powers from the Custodial Sentences and Weapons (Scotland) Act 2007) would mean that dealers of non-domestic knives would need to be licensed by the local authority and comply with certain mandatory conditions set out by the ScotGov to help make sure such weapons don't find their way into the wrong hands.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has launched a consultation (closes onOctober 24 2008) on tackling two of Scotland's biggest killer diseases - Coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke, which still claim the lives of thousands of Scots every year, despite significant progress to cut death rates in recent years.
Between 1997 and 2006, CHD deaths fell by 32% from 14,012 to 9,532, while stroke deaths fell by 45%, from 9,959 to 5,479. But progress among younger age groups and in the most deprived parts of Scotland has been less rapid, prompting the need for renewed action.
Defra: Proposed changes to the system of environmental permit exemptions will increase waste recovery & recycling, whilst maintaining high levels of environmental protection and saving businesses money, Environment Minister Joan Ruddock claimed last week when launching a consultation (closes on 23 October 2008) as part of a review of which waste handling businesses can operate under exemptions and which require a permit.
The review will be of interest to any business recycling, re-using or disposing of any kind of waste.  Most businesses currently operating under an exemption will continue to do so, but under the new proposals businesses may need to renew & re-register their exemptions more frequently.
Some businesses that have previously operated under a waste exemption may now need to apply for a permit, while those with an Environmental Permit may be able to register an exemption.  It is proposed that the cost to the Environment Agency of regulating the system will be met through a charge for the registration of all exempt waste operations.
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has launched a public consultation (closes on 24 October 2008) on the scope of its project looking at irresponsible lending in UK consumer credit markets. The consultation follows major changes to the Consumer Credit Act, which include the identification of irresponsible lending as a matter to which the OFT must have regard when it considers businesses' fitness to hold a consumer credit licence.
One of the key outcomes of the project is expected to be clear guidance on lending behaviours and practices which the OFT considers to be irresponsible. The study will consider all forms of consumer credit lending which the OFT licences and all participants in the market, including lenders, brokers and other intermediaries.
MoJ: A new Government consultation (closes on 20 October 2008) paper - 'Murder and Manslaughter: Proposals for Reform of the Law' - proposes the abolition of the existing partial defence of provocation and its replacement with two new partial defences:
* Killing in response to a fear of serious violence and
* In exceptional circumstances only, killing in response to words & conduct which caused the defendant to have a justifiable sense of being seriously wronged
See ‘In the News’ for more information.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

Ofwat: The Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) has published a comprehensive policy statement on climate change and the water sector in England and Wales.  ‘Preparing for the future: Ofwat's climate change policy’ gathers together in one document all of Ofwat's policies in relation to climate change.
The policy statement is intended to help water & waste water companies to look comprehensively at impacts of climate change and make the right changes to their operations at an appropriate pace to benefit both consumers and environment.
HMRC: New guidance on registering under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 has been published by HM Revenue & Customs. Guidance for Trust or Company Service Providers (TCSPs) and Accountancy Service Providers (ASPs) has been updated and is available on HMRC's website to reflect feedback from businesses in their discussions with HM Treasury.
TCSPs and ASPs, who have not yet applied, will have to submit their applications to register with HMRC by the new date of 30 September 2008.  In addition, TCSPs will need to send in their fit & proper application forms by the same date. HMRC will be writing to TCSPs and ASPs who have already applied to register and who may be affected by the updated guidance.  Businesses that confirm they no longer need to register will have their fees refunded.
UK-IPO: A new booklet has been launched by the UK Intellectual Property Office that is designed to help small businesses exploit their intellectual property. The booklet - How Licensing Intellectual Property Can Help Your Business - provides a wide range of information on IP licensing, which includes advice on how to approach & conduct a productive IP licensing deal.
DH: A NHS online maternity guide, offering a wealth of information on pregnancy and birth, at just the click of a mouse, has been launched. The new Pregnancy Care Planner gives the latest & most comprehensive advice on all aspects of pregnancy, from getting pregnant, early pregnancy, the scans, to the birth and the most up to date comparative guides to what is on offer at local maternity units.

Annual Reports

AcasAcas  has released new figures showing that employment tribunals and potential employment tribunal claims passed to Acas for conciliation rose 24.9% on last year.  Despite the statistics, Acas - in its 2007/8 annual report - also revealed that it exceeded its performance targets for the year, demonstrating key contributions made to improving organisations and working life through better employment relations.
Looking ahead to 2009, Acas will be preparing for the implementation of the new dispute resolution system, following the Gibbons review and announcement in February that Acas will receive up to £37m extra funding over the next three years.
BERR: A National Statistics publication, 'Trade Union Membership 2007' has been published by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR).  The report, which uses information taken from the Labour Force Survey for the fourth quarter 2007, includes the following key findings:
* The rate of union membership (union density) for employees in the UK fell by 0.3% in 2007 to 28%
* Trade union density in the UK has now fallen 4.5 percentage points since 1995
* Private sector union density fell by 0.5 percentage points to 16.1% in 2007
* Public sector union density rose 0.3 percentage points in 2007 to 59.0%
Defra: A free little book published by Defra - Sustainable development indicators in your pocket 2008 - provides a statistical overview of the country's progress in tackling key economic, social & environmental issues, by bringing together an extensive range of indicators that can literally ‘fit in your pocket’.  They cover a wide range of topics of everyday concern such as health, housing, jobs, crime, education, and our environment, all of which may affect whether we can live more sustainably in the future.
BERR: The Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics 2008 has been published by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.  With detailed tables, supported by charts & commentary, it provides comprehensive data for 2007 and an account of trends in energy supply & demand in the UK.
MoJ/OPG: Figures published in the Office of the Public Guardian's first Annual Report and Accounts show that more people are taking steps to ensure their rights (and those of their loved ones) are respected by registering plans setting out what should happen to their financial & health matters should they lose mental capacity,.
DH: The national suicide rate is at its lowest ever level according to the latest progress report from the National Institute for Mental Health in England.  The report also expressed continued concern about the dangers of insensitive media reporting following events in Bridgend.
The 2007 Annual Report of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England highlights progress made over the last year. However it also points out that:
* There were 82 self inflicted deaths in prisons in 2007/08 compared with 71 in 06/07
* While much progress has been made in the reporting of suicide by the media, many journalists & editors remain unaware of either general or in-house reporting guidelines on suicide

General Reports and Other Publications

MoD:  Defence Minister, Derek Twigg, has responded to Defence Select Committee report on the recruitment and retention of the Armed Forces, saying: “We face strong competition from other employers and our personnel are very much in demand owing to the skills and experience they acquire during service life……………. The recently published Service Personnel Command Paper sets out a range of new initiatives to address some of the disadvantages which have previously affected our service personnel, their families and veterans.
To quote the concluding paragraph from the report’s summary:
We conclude that the MoD is not responding with sufficient flexibility and imagination to some of the problems it encounters.  Educational incentives could be used much more effectively as a recruiting incentive, and the MoD could aid retention by reviewing the inequalities of its retirement policies.  The Armed Forces should encourage transfers between and within the Services, and smooth the inconsistencies in pay and conditions between the Services.
ScotGov: Scotland's Chief Statistician and the Registrar General for Scotland has published a report onScotland's new official ethnicity classification, which will:
* extend the number of ethnic groups we collect information on from 14 to 21
* build a more accurate picture of Scotland's population
* identify discrimination when used with other census and survey questions
A national identity question is also being tested & developed for the census and relevant Scottish Official Statistics.  This will let people express their national identity fully - be that 'Scottish', 'British' or any other national identity - before expressing their ethnicity.  The Registrar General is developing a question for publication in autumn 2008.
At this stage, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have endorsed the process by which the new classification was developed and will make a full public statement about the new classification after the publication, in the autumn, of a policy statement about all aspects of Scotland's next Census.
GLS: Progress has been made in the proposals for eco-towns, according to a report published last week by the Eco-Town Challenge Panel, an independent group of experts in sustainability and urban development set up by Housing Minister Caroline Flint.
The Panel found that many of the bidders had responded positively to the first set of recommendations, published last May, but it still wants to see further improvements to the transport and employment strategies for a number of the proposed eco-towns.
Ofsted: A new Ofsted report published examines the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services (Cafcass) in South Yorkshire. Based on a joint inspection in February this year by Ofsted and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Court Administration (HMICA), the views of people who used the court services in South Yorkshire reveal that despite some examples of good work, important aspects of the service are inadequate.
These findings are similar to those of previous Ofsted inspections of Cafcass in the East Midlands and the South East.

Legislation / Legal

LR: New land registration rules were made on 17 July 2008 which amend the Land Registration Rules 2003 and come into force on 10 November 2008.  The Land Registration (Amendment) Rules 2008 aim, in particular, to reduce the administrative burden on customers and to reduce the risk of fraud.  Most of the new rules amend existing rules but some introduce new practice such as:
* the use of statements of truth as an alternative to statutory declarations
* the removal of additional documents from the general right of inspection.
All the forms prescribed by the Land Registration Rules 2003 will change.  However, it will be possible to use many of the old forms for a transitionary period of three months until 10 February 2009.  Most of Land Registry's practice guides will be amended as a result of the amendment rules.
Other statutory instruments also coming into force on 10 November 2008 make minor consequential amendments to the Commonhold (Land Registration) Rules 2004 and the Land Registration (Proper Office) Order 2007.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

MoJ: Proposals which the government claims will better protect UK businesses trading in Europe have been agreed by Ministers. The Government undertook a consultation on whether to opt-in to Rome I Regulation - which provides clarity over which law applies if a dispute arises over a contract made between people or businesses from different countries, allowing cross border-trade to continue with confidence.  The overwhelming response to the consultation was ‘yes’.
When the European Commission first announced the proposals in 2005, the UK Government took the unusual step of opting out of the proposals, as they would not have been in the interests of UK businesses.  However, following intense negotiations, a substantially revised & improved version has now been agreed and the Regulation is now likely to come into force on 17 December 2009.
Defra: The Community Emissions Trading Scheme (Allocation of Allowances) Scheme ("The Scheme") setting out the conduct & terms of allocation of allowances in the UK's auctions in Phase II of the EU ETS has been published by HM Treasury.
The Scheme sits below the Regulations governing auctions and sets out the conduct & terms of allocation, along with the detailed design of the auctions, and the requirements in order to participate. The government aims to hold the first auction before the end of the year with confirmation of the date at least two months in advance.
WAG: Fruit and vegetable producers in Wales will, from 2010, be eligible to apply for Single Payment Scheme (SPS) entitlement for the first time.  Potential claimants will need to satisfy eligibility requirements as well as meeting the CAP cross compliance standards including keeping land in good environmental and agricultural condition.

The direct payments to fruit and vegetable producers will at the average level per hectare of the SPS in Wales and will be based on production hectarage in 2007.  Applications will need to be lodged in May 2010 with payments due from the following December.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

ScotGov: An investment package of over £250,000 for Scottish Disability Sport (SDS) has been announced. 
Sportscotland Chair, Louise Martin CBE, supported by Sports Minister, Stewart Maxwell, made the announcement during a visit to an SDS summer camp at the sportscotland National Centre Inverclyde.  The funding from the sportscotland Lottery Fund will support the work of Scottish Disability Sport as they build towards the 2012 Paralympics in London.

For SDS, initiatives such as the summer camp provide talented young Scottish athletes with the opportunity to develop their skills by working with coaches and established athletes. Over thirty young Scottish athletes aged between 12 and 18 years of age took part in the 3 day camp, from July 28 to July 30, giving them access to top coaches and an opportunity to try out new sports.
MoJ: Fresh ideas for encouraging people to become involved in democracy will be rewarded with grants under a £150,000 government scheme aimed at charities, community groups and non-government organisations. The Innovation Fund will support projects developing new ways to help people participate in public discussions and influence government policy. Applications close on 26 September 2008.
This is the third time grants of up to £15,000 will be available for up to 10 of the best proposals for using online tools, face-to-face events or a combination of approaches. Previous winners have included Speakers' Corner Trust, which established a speakers' corner and the South Kesteven District Council, which developed a process for online citizens' juries.

Business and Other Briefings

HMRC: New guidance on registering under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 has been published by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Guidance for Trust or Company Service Providers (TCSPs) and Accountancy Service Providers (ASPs) has been updated and is available on HMRC's website to reflect feedback from businesses in their discussions with HM Treasury - See ‘Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides’ for more information
This Brief advises businesses of the withdrawal of a current default interest practice with effect from 1st September 2008.  Issue of the brief allows a resonable run in time for businesses.
This Brief explains our approach to the application of paragraph 2 of Schedule 9 Finance Act (FA) 1996 in cases involving late-paid interest between connected companies.       

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