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In the News

Editor's Holiday Notice - Please note that our Editor is now off to enjoy a well earned break and the next WGPlus newsletter will be published on Monday, 8th September.

IoD - Newswire
: Could and Must do better - Just prior to the publication of A level and GCSE results, the Institute of Directors (IoD) published its 2008 Education Briefing Book, highlighting a wide disparity between official statistics on education performance and the perceptions of employers. Other research included in the Briefing Book also casts doubt on the extent of improvement suggested by official figures.

Produced in association with the Curriculum, Evaluation and Management (CEM) Centre at Durham University, it presents official data on results in primary, secondary & higher education together with 3 alternative perspectives:
* the business view, based on a new survey of IoD members
* a view from university admissions tutors and
* a summary of academic research into changes in education standards

Key findings from the IoD survey include:
*Only 12% of IoD members feel the Government’s performance on education & skills has been favourable to business over the last 10 years.
* Employers consider young people’s proficiency in a range of skills has weakened over the last decade - particularly in writing and mathematics
CBI - Newswire: Good education should stretch minds rather than settle for easy options - The CBI wants many more young people to fulfil their science potential by taking Triple science GCSE, which is currently only taken by just 7% of 16-year-olds. It provides a better preparation for science at A-level, opens doors to new & exciting future career opportunities and will help Britain prosper.

The CBI says bright children should automatically be entered for ‘Triple science’ at GCSE, which covers physics, chemistry & biology and is worth three GCSEs, rather than the less comprehensive Double or Single-GCSE combined science.

The CBI says the policy of ‘opting in’ students for Triple science would require more specialist science teachers and more money for equipment & labs. The Government must also accelerate the pace of its £45bn Building Schools for Future programme to improve buildings and labs. The programme is supposed to be over 20-25 years, but the initial target of 100 BSF schools by 2009 is unlikely to be met as only 13 have opened so far.

The CBI also recommends giving bursaries of £1,000 a year to STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) graduates to help pay tuition fees - at a total cost of around £200m a year - to reflect the importance of these skills to the UK economy:
* Science pays. Over their lifetimes, chemistry and physics graduates can expect to earn at least £60,000 more than the average for a degree holder
* People with science skills are in demand. 92% of firms (across all sectors) employ STEM skilled people, but 59% of firms were experiencing problems recruiting STEM skilled employees
Defra: GM crops are not the only food farming health issue - The Government has published a revision to its strategy for developing a comprehensive surveillance programme for antimicrobial resistance occurring in animals for England & Wales. Antimicrobials are chemicals (such as antibiotics) used in veterinary and human medicine. It has also published a document detailing the successes & outputs to meet the seven objectives of the strategy since 2004.

The emergence of antimicrobial resistance as a serious problem in human & veterinary medicine has led to increasing concern about the use of antibiotics in human medicine, veterinary medicine, animal production, agriculture and horticulture.

The revised Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Strategy outlines a programme of work that will further the Government's knowledge about the mechanisms & transfer of antimicrobial resistance and detecting the emergence & spread of resistant clones.
Press release ~ Strategy for Developing and Implementing a Programme of Surveillance for Antimicrobial Resistance in Animals in England and Wales (revised July 2008) ~ Success and Output from the Surveillance Strategy Document as of July 2008 ~ Veterinary Medicines Directorate ~ Defra - Surveillance and control of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria associated with animals ~ Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) ~ Report on Microbial Antibiotic Resistance in Relation to Food Safety (1999) ~ HPA - Antimicrobial Resistance ~ NeLI Antimicrobial Resistance Website ~ Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection ~ DH - Antibiotic resistance ~ BSAC Resistance Surveillance Project ~ About the Welsh Antimicrobial Resistance Programme ~ Health Protection Scotland - Antimicrobial Resistance

OGC BS: Combining to save - Six NHS collaborative purchasing organisations have put together an IT hardware deal with the support of which is projected to deliver more than £6.5m of savings in the first year alone.

The Collaborative Procurement Hubs (CPHs), which in total represent 220 Trusts across England, together secured the deal for desktop and laptop PCs. The NHS is one of the largest buyers of IT in the UK, procuring, on average, 120,000 such hardware devices a year.

CPHs were established by the DH as a key strand of the Supply Chain Excellence Programme (SCEP) launched in 2004. Their formation has enabled NHS organisations to come together to maximise their collective buying power for a range of goods & services. Up until March 2008, they have delivered £275m of savings, £5m ahead of their SCEP target.
BERR: There is no need to ‘re-invent the wheel’ in every organisation - A campaign to help businesses save time & money on employment costs has been launched by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. The 'Employing People' campaign is part of the department's Employment Law Guidance Programme and follows recent research which showed that businesses were spending unnecessary time & money complying with employment law.

The campaign aims to promote savings by directing businesses to Business Link's online tools, calculators and interactive guides, to help them understand their legal obligations and reduce unnecessary duplication of materials & wasted effort. In the last year over 40,000 firms have benefited from switching to the written statement tool BERR have provided - each of them saving around £120 every time that they do so.

By engaging with key business stakeholders such as the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), British Retail Consortium (BRC) and British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the campaign will reach out to businesses of all sizes, across a variety of sectors, offering simple, practical advice & guidance on the full range of employment issues, from drafting documents to simplifying record-keeping.
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General News

DSA: The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and the Motorcycle Industry Association have teamed up with leading motorcycle insurance companies to offer significant insurance discounts to all qualified bikers who successfully take part in the new 'Enhanced Rider Scheme' (ERS).
A national network of DSA Registered Post test Motorcycle Trainers (RPMT) has been developed to deliver rider skills assessments and training to those people who want to take part in the Enhanced Rider Scheme.  Riders assessed as having no significant weaknesses receive a 'DSA Certificate of Competence - Enhanced Rider Bonus', which entitles them to insurance discounts.
DSA: A new qualification, The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence, (Driver CPC) will be introduced on 10 September 2008 for all professional bus and coach drivers. New drivers wishing to enter the industry will be required to take the Driver CPC initial qualification. In addition, all drivers, both new and existing, will need to complete 35 hours of 'periodic training' every five years in order to maintain their Driver CPC status and continue driving professionally.
Existing drivers will not be required to take the initial qualification.  However, they will be required to complete 35 hours of periodic training by 2013and every five years thereafter if they wish to continue driving professionally. 
The second phase of the Driver CPC scheme which will cover professional drivers of lorries and heavy goods vehicles will be introduced in September 2009.
CD: If you sign a timeshare contract which you later regret, you may have the right to cancel, but you need to act fast advises Consumer Direct. The government advice service has received more than 1,800 timeshare related complaints in the first six months of this year, a 45% rise from the same period last year.  Many were from people who regretted signing up to timeshares during high pressure sales presentations both in the UK and abroad.
Under the Timeshare Act 1992, if you sign a timeshare agreement in the UKlasting three or more years, you have a 14 day 'cooling off' period to cancel the contract and any related credit agreement.  If you sign elsewhere in Europe you have a minimum of 10 days to change your mind.  Cancellation must be made in writing and preferably sent by recorded delivery. Consumers may also seek advice from the Timeshare Consumers Association.
YF: The UK’s leading high end loudspeaker brand is to develop a ‘next generation’ turntable, thanks to a research and development grant from Yorkshire Forward.  Sheffield based Wilson Benesch produces audio products including speakers and turntables, which combine advanced materials technologies with traditional materials to achieve stylish top end products.

With the research and development grant the company will take their current knowledge in the field of advanced composites to a new level exploring the use of carbon allotropes molecules, known as buckyballs, in collaboration with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and the University of Sheffield.
Defra: Defra has issued a Designated Area Order prohibiting the movement of fish in and out of the Royal Horticultural Society Garden Ponds at Hyde Hall, Essex, following the confirmation of Koi Herpesvirus (KHV) Disease.
KHV Disease affects common carp and carp varieties such as Koi.  It can result in high rates of fish mortalities, but there are no implications for human health.
LDA: London’s small businesses are to get help to bring innovative new products to the market following the launch of ‘Knowledge Connect’ – a new business support programme from the London Development Agency (LDA). Knowledge Connect will enable small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to get in touch with universities, further education colleges and private sector specialists to develop new business opportunities.

The £3.5m London-wide programme will provide grants of up to £3,000 for activities such as initial testing, product service development or proof of concept, with grants of up to £10,000 (which require 50% match funding) to support the delivery of in-depth, collaborative projects.
STFC: Government science and innovation investment has received a boost with the announcement of a joint venture that will see the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus develop into one of the world’s principal locations for scientific, academic and business collaboration.

Science and Innovation Minister, Ian Pearson, confirmed the government’s support for the new public-private partnership comprising the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and international property group Goodman.  

Under the agreement:
* UKAEA will provide land at Harwell for development and an existing business base
* STFC will contribute involvement in major public sector science programmes and a proactive approach to ensuring fundamental research can be harnessed & exploited by innovators, entrepreneurs and industry
* Goodman will offer market access to global businesses & expertise in long-term property ownership, development and management, as well as providing working capital for the JV
NSG: The National School of Government has been named a ‘Centre of Excellence’ for its provision of Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) procurement qualification programmes - for the 11th consecutive year.  The award of three stars by CIPS – the highest possible ranking - confirms its position in the top twenty procurement training providers in the UK.
Defra: An invasive non-native insect which could harm woodland areas and garden plants in the UK has been identified in the UK.  The Citrus Longhorn Beetle (Anoplophora chinensis) has been brought in on Acer plants (Acer palmatum or 'Japanese Maple') imported from China via the Netherlands and distributed by mail order.
Citrus Longhorn beetles develop inside plant stems & tree trunks, taking between one and three years to emerge, and are therefore difficult to detect. Prior to emergence, there are no obvious symptoms of infestation or the presence of a larva or pupa within a plant or tree, but examination of the ground at the base of the shrub or tree for signs of wood shavings provides a rapid method of detecting activity of late stage larvae.
These large black beetles grow to between 21-37mm long and have distinct white markings and long "horns" or antennae.  If you see one of these distinctive beetles, please isolate it in a sealed container and contact your local Plant Health and Seeds Inspector (PHSI) or telephone 01904 455174.
PCS: 5,000 PCS members working in central government departments in Scotland are to join Scottish local government workers in a one-day strike on Wednesday 20 August as part of an ongoing dispute over Scottish Ministers pay policy.
Following ‘massive support’ for the first PCS action on 31 July, the union has notified the employers in Scottish Government and Registers of Scotland that members will be taking a second day of strike action in conjunction with over 100,000 Scottish local government members of Unison, Unite and the GMB.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

HO: A crackdown on the illegal sale of knives to under-18s has been called for by Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker. In a letter to Chief Executives of Local Authorities and Chief Police Officers, he emphasised concerns about young people's access to knives and asked for increased activity to tackle the problem.
Knife retailers in the ten police force areas in England and Wales, that are the focus of the Government's Tackling Knives Action Programme, will face 'mystery shopper' visits by underage children, under the supervision of police and Trading Standards officers. These ten areas account for more than 70% of serious violence involving a knife.
ScotGov: A new initiative is set to make studying in Scotland an even more welcoming experience for international students. A one year pilot run by Young Scot, Scotland's national youth information and citizenship agency, will involve all new overseas students under 26 who are studying at AbertayUniversity.

A 'welcome to Scotland' pack will be created, to give students access to advice on arrival that will help them integrate in to their new life in Scotland. The pilot, which will receive £40,000 of funding from the Scottish Government, will provide Abertay's international students with a range of services and benefits supported by Young Scot.  Students will also be issued with a joint university matriculation and Young Scot National Entitlement Card.
DIUS: A new framework document sets out how FE can forge new partnerships to make a stronger contribution to the economic and social health of local communities. Further Education Colleges - Models for Success sets out the range of mechanisms available to colleges to enable them to respond to the needs of learners, employers and the wider community. It also contains a number of case studies and a decision-making toolkit for governors & senior managers.
Ministers want the sector to:
* Develop innovative & collaborative learning routes
* Listen & respond to the needs of employers
* Reach out to those that are least likely to engage in learning and
* Offer a wide range of learning opportunities & resources to their local communities
ScotGov: Scotland's first cardiac assessment programme for young amateur athletes has been officially launched. Based at the Sports Medicine Centre at Hampden Park, Glasgow, the Cardiac Assessment in Young Athletes (CAYA) pilot programme will offer cardiovascular screening on a voluntary basis to young Scots over the age of 16 who take part in any organised amateur sports.

The £200,000 CAYA programme will use ECG and ultrasound screening to identify whether the athletes being tested are at increased risk of Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD). Pre-participation assessment programmes are already offered in the USA and in parts of Italy.
Scotland's CAYA pilot, which will offer voluntary access to testing, will be the first to screen with both ECG and ultrasound. Anyone found, through screening, to be at greater risk will be referred for further investigation and/or treatment. Appropriate counselling will be offered to all candidates to ensure informed consent for screening. 
ScotGov: Announcing the award of funding to 7 successful towns & cities, Transport and Climate Change Minister Stewart Stevenson said the Sustainable Travel Demonstration Communities project would showcase a range of transport initiatives that would be good for people's pockets, their health, their communities and the planet.
Barrhead, Kirkwall, Dumfries, Dundee, Kirkintilloch/Lenzie, Larbert/Stenhousemuir and Glasgow East End will now use £15m of funding to develop a wide range of initiatives such as personalised travel planning, the building of more pedestrianised zones, free trial bus & rail passes and the development of better walking & cycling routes to encourage their residents to use greener forms of travel. Initiatives will include proposals for the first self service bike rental schemes anywhere in the UK as well as more targeted transport advice to commuters.
DCSF Newswire: Schools minister Jim Knight has said that he wants every school to offer their students the opportunity to take an extended project to help prepare them for work or university.  The government claims that universities have welcomed the extended project to be offered as part of A Levels and Diplomas because it gives students the research, critical thinking and evaluation skills they value.  The projects are a compulsory part of the Diploma and an optional extra for A Level students and can even be taken as a stand alone qualification.  They are worth half an A level.

From this September sixth formers and college students across the country will be able to do an extended project as part of their programme of study.  Examples of a possible extended project are:
·         a report with findings from an investigation or study
·         a dissertation presenting an argument, typically around 5,000 words
·         an artefact, for example a work of art or 3D design model, with written explanation of around 1,500 words
·         a project including a short film, use of internet based media or a piece of music
DCSF Newswire: A £100,000 boost to a pioneering project sending school leaders on mini ‘gap-years’ in Africa, has been announced by Schools Minister Andrew Adonis. The extension to the International Extended Placements scheme, funded by the National College of School Leadership (NCSL), will place 14 headteachers, deputy or assistant heads for 3 months from January 2009, to teach & help run schools in Ghana, Nigeria, Namibia and Rwanda.

The scheme, run by international development charity VSO, strengthens heads and senior staff’s professional skills, while improving the effectiveness of the African schools and the lives of the children there.  It also aims to give pupils at their own home schools greater understanding of the wider world and a broader curriculum.

The scheme is open to headteachers, deputy or assistant heads, with at least seven years management experience, who are members of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).

Press release ~ National College of School Leadership (NCSL) ~ VSO – International Extended Placement scheme ~ Enriching Education ~ Evaluation of the impact on UK schools of the VSO/NAHT pilot scheme: ‘International Extended Placements for School Leaders’


Sutherland Inquiry: Stewart Sutherland (Lord Sutherland of Houndwood), has launched a call for written evidence, to inform his independent inquiry into the delivery of Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 National Curriculum tests this year. The call for written evidence, and details on how interested parties can submit evidence to the Sutherland Inquiry, can be found on the inquiry's website.
The deadline for the submission of written evidence is Friday 12 September 2008.
Ofwat: A third new household water supplier is set to enter the water and sewerage sector in England and Wales after Ofwat launched a consultation (closes 9 September 2008) into proposed services for a site at Tidworth, near Andover. 
The regulator is proposing to grant an inset appointment to allow Veolia Water Projects Limited (VWP) to supply water & sewerage services to the site, which comprises 600 civilian household and non-household customers, and 1,200 Ministry of Defence properties.
CRC: The Local Government Minister, John Healey has commissioned a rapid & independent study on the impacts & implications of the ‘Credit Crunch’ on regeneration and economies.  It is important that any action that the government may take is informed by an understanding of the challenges faced by rural communities, as well as those of cities and urban areas.
Accordingly, the CRC have agreed to collate & feed a rural perspective into the study sourced from information & commentary from rural communities and businesses, their representatives and agencies.  The report will be shared with Ministers in late September and October and published. 
To help ensure the rural voice is clearly heard, please send your comments and any supporting evidence, to CRC’s Rural Economies team by 15 September 2008.
ScotGov: A fresh start for Scotland's aquaculture industry has been mapped out by Minister for Environment Michael Russell. The Strategic Framework for Scottish Aquaculture outlines five key areas for development to ensure a sustainable and profitable industry. It aims to achieve:
·         Healthier farmed fish
·         An improved system for new developments
·         Less escapes from farms
·         Better marketing of farmed fish
·         Finance for new developments

Flexible ways of working and a new direction for the Ministerial Working Group on Aquaculture are also being proposed. The Framework has been developed in partnership with the sector and will now be subject to a full public consultation which will run until5 November 2008.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

IfL: The Institute for Learning (IfL) has published its policy statement on professional formation for teachers, trainers and tutors in the further education & skills sector.  Professional formation is the post-qualification process by which a teacher demonstrates, through professional practice:
* the ability to use effectively the skills & knowledge acquired whilst training to be a teacher
* the capacity to meet the occupational standards required

Successful professional formation leads to the conferral of Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) or Associate Teacher Learning and Skills (ATLS) status.  Applications for licensed practitioner status, through QTLS or ATLS, may be made from 1 September 2008, and will be mandatory (when they can sign up on that date) for teachers who joined the sector from 1 September 2007.

Other than the regulatory requirement to achieve QTLS or ATLS status within five years of employment in the sector, professional formation is not time-limited, and the time taken to achieve licensed status will be determined by the circumstances of individual teachers.
MO: Produced by the Met Office in association with the CAA, the latest edition of the pilot weather guide 'GETMET' is now available. Full with essential information on where to get your weather details to enjoy safe low-level flying, both in the UK and the near continent, 'GETMET' is free of charge.
The latest 2009 edition includes information for the Met Office on-line weather briefings, fax & telephone services, weather reports and en route information to help with flight planning. 'GETMET' also includes important information on the forthcoming TAF changes due in November.
LLUKLifelong Learning UK (LLUK) is responsible for the most significant collection of workforce data in the FE college sector in England.  Known as the Staff Individualised Record (SIR) data collection, it provides a comprehensive overview of the profile of all staff working in FE colleges since 2001/02 and contains individualised data on demographics characteristics, qualifications, location, pay and other factors.
LLUK, in collaboration with data partner, Texuna Technologies, has now developed & launched a new, user friendly and interactive online system for collecting this year's SIR data (2007/2008).  The system is now open for colleges to submit their data returns and will remain open until 01 November 2008.

Annual Reports

TfL: Around a third of lorries over 12 tonnes operating in Greater London are significantly cleaner than they were one year ago, according to Transport for London's (TfL's) first monitoring report examining the impact of the Low Emission Zone. The report sets out the conditions prior to the start of the scheme on 4 February 2008 and provides a baseline against which the scheme impacts can be analysed in future.
Using the network of cameras that have been put in place to monitor the scheme, TfL is able to measure changes in the emissions performance of affected vehicles and estimate the impact of the Low Emission Zone on air quality, public health and the economy.
NE: Climate change is causing a number of widespread British birds to lay their eggs much earlier than 40 years ago. That’s just one of the trends revealed in the latest State of the UK’s Birds report – an annual publication produced by a coalition of conservation organisations looking at the fortunes of the UK’s bird populations.
The report, which is produced by a partnership of organisations, also shows that birds are impacted by climate change in other ways too. Information from the British Trust for Ornithology shows that song thrushes rear fewer young during dry summers.  Song thrushes feed their chicks largely on earthworms which are much harder to find in drier ground.

General Reports and Other Publications

STFC: Diamonds from Brazil have provided the answers to a question that Earth scientists have been trying to understand for many years: how is oceanic crust that has been subducted deep into the Earth recycled back into volcanic rocks?
A team of researchers, led by the University of Bristol, working alongside colleagues at the STFC Daresbury Laboratory, have gained a deeper insight into how the Earth recycles itself in the deep earth tectonic cycle way beyond the depths that can be accessed by drilling.
MoD: The Board of Inquiry (BoI) report into the death of Lance Corporal (LCpl) Mathew Ford has been published on the Ministry of Defence website. LCpl Ford died when Zulu Company of 45 Commando Royal Marines was engaged in an operation against a major Taliban fort, south of Garmsir in southern Helmand, Afghanistan on Monday 15 January 2007.
The actual cause of death is for the Coroner to determine.  The BoI was convened to establish the circumstances that led to LCpl Ford's death and identify lessons that can be learned to prevent a similar tragedy in the future. This process is now complete. The BoI was unable to confirm, with certainty, which weapon fired the shots.  However, the Board concluded that the weight of evidence suggests that it is probable that LCpl Ford was killed by 'friendly fire'.
Sixteen BoI recommendations were made.  All of these recommendations have been addressed either in theatre or as part of the 3 Commando Brigade pre-deployment preparation in advance of its forthcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
ScotGov: The Vale of Leven Hospital should continue to offer unscheduled care to local residents and visitors according to an expert report. The independent review team reached the unanimous conclusion that a significant proportion of unscheduled care could continue to be offered safely at the Vale.  NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde had previously announced plans to close the hospital's unscheduled admission unit because of concerns over levels of anaesthetic cover.
LLUKLifelong Learning UK (LLUK) has published a report presenting findings from the Community Learning and Development (CLD) workforce survey in Scotland.  Information was gathered on 16,556 individuals including data on age, gender, ethnicity and levels of qualification of the workforce.  The report summarises the findings and explores the implications for workforce development.
DWP Newswire: The DWP has published Working paper 49: Changing economic circumstances in childhood and their effects on subsequent educational and other outcomes.  Using three data sources, the Millennium Cohort Study, the National Pupil Database and the British Cohort Study 1970 (BCS70), this study explored the link between changes in income (or income-related measures) and child outcomes in early childhood, middle childhood and in adolescence.
MoJ Newswire: Justice Minister Bridget Prentice has announced the publication of a study evaluating some of the measures in the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.  Government figures show the number of domestic violence cases being reported has increased and the success rate on prosecuting domestic violence continues to improve.

Legislation / Legal

MoJ: Motorists who kill whilst avoidably distracted at the wheel will face prison under new careless driving laws which came into force on Monday 18 August. The new offences will, for the first time, allow courts to imprison drivers who cause deaths by not paying due care to the road (or to other road users) for up to 5 years.  The new laws will also penalise uninsured, disqualified or unlicensed drivers who kill (up to 2 years).
Avoidable distractions which courts will consider when sentencing motorists who have killed include:
* using a mobile phone (calling or texting)
* drinking & eating
* applying make-up
* anything else which takes their attention away from the road and which a court judges to have been an avoidable distraction
OFT: The OFT has approved the Ombudsman Service Limited's application to operate an estate agents redress scheme, under the Consumer Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007.  The company will operate the Surveyors Ombudsman Service (SOS) as an approved estate agents redress scheme and is the second to receive OFT approval ahead of 1 October 2008, when it will become compulsory for all estate agents dealing with residential property in the UK to join such a scheme.
Buyers & sellers of residential property will, from October, be able to refer complaints concerning members of the scheme to an ombudsman, which will have the power to make a range of awards, including requiring a member to pay compensation.
The ombudsman's decision is binding on the estate agent, although a complainant can choose to reject the decision and pursue their complaint through the courts.  The SOS approved redress scheme will be a free service to complainants.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

WAG: The impact jelly fish can have on the economy and tourism is to be the focus of a new Welsh – Irish project that has been granted EU funding.  Swansea and Cork Universities are joining forces for the Ecojel project, which will research how factors such as climate change and over-fishing are causing jellyfish to thrive and the repercussions this may have on the cross border economy.

The scheme is the first to be approved under the EU’s Ireland/Wales programme and it will receive £575,000 through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).  Using the latest technology, the project will tag jellyfish to explore the effect increased populations are having on tourism, aquaculture and fisheries.
Defra: Defra has announced that Chinese restrictions on the import of UK livestock and livestock products to China have been lifted.  The foot and mouth disease related restrictions have been in place since the August 2007 outbreak in Surrey.
The Chinese announcement provides an exclusion window of 7 July 2007 to 7 August 2008.  UK products manufactured outside of these dates can be exported to China where agreed export certification exists. Health Certificates are being made available for export to China of breeding pigs, sheep skins, cattle hides, greasy wool and dairy products.
DSA: Legislation regarding the use of heavier vehicles for driving tests has been delayed until September 30, 2013.  British Ministers have decided to take up this option to allow driving test candidates to continue to use vehicles that meet current weight standards until that date.
In 2000 the European Commission introduced revised minimum standards for vehicles used for practical driving tests - commonly known as Minimum Test Vehicles (MTVs).  One requirement is that vehicles used for test must meet a minimum 'real weight' requirement on the day that they present for test.  In some cases this may involve a load being carried on the vehicle to meet the weight requirement.
Member States were originally required to implement this part of the Directive by October 11, 2010. Following representations by Member States, the legislation was amended under the comitology procedure (a form of delegated decision-making) so as to require implementation by 2013.
Defra: Organisations can now apply to become Primary Participants in the UK's auctions for Phase II of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.  Primary Participants can bid directly for allowances and will act as intermediaries in the competitive element of the auctions, collecting and submitting bids on behalf of indirect bidders who wish to take part in the auction.
Any organisation with an EU ETS registry account can apply to become a Primary Participant, providing their organisation can fulfil the eligibility criteria.  Anyone who holds an EU ETS registry account can then bid for carbon allowances in an auction through the Primary Participants.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

BIG: The BIG Lottery Fund has announced £3.5m of bricks & mortar investment in village halls and community centres. Towns from Wigglesworth in Yorkshire to Truro in Cornwall are among the 13 communities securing a slice of the good cause funding for Community Buildings that will enabling enable them to inject a new lease of life into village halls or build new community centres from scratch.
HMRC: Voluntary and community sector organisations will receive £6m in funding for the next 3 years from HM Revenue & Customs to help people get the right benefits and tax. 57 organisations have received awards for 2008/2009, 21 of which received a boost for multi-year funded projects.
Head of HMRCs Third Sector Team, Derek Tilstone said:
"This money will fund organisations that work with the vulnerable in society, helping them claim the right benefits, like tax credits that they are entitled to. These organisations provide a safety net for people who do not normally come to HMRC for help and advice.  Their work is vital because it makes customers aware of our products, provides extra help with tax issues and brings customers back into direct contact with HMRC."

Business and Other Briefings

This Brief announces HMRC’s revised guidance on Charity Challenge Events, including those that qualify for the VAT Charity Fundraising Exemption.

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