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In the News

DCMSEmotional Child’s Play - A teaching resource to help children with autism make sense of the world around them is to be marketed internationally, following great success in the UK.  The Transporters, a DVD that uses a unique combination of real actors' faces and 3D computer-generated settings, was originally available free to parents in the UK as part of the DCMS funded Culture Online programme.
But its runaway success, with 40,000 copies already distributed, means it can now go on sale across the English-speaking world, with the prospect of translation into other languages in the future.  A substantial share of profits from sales will go to autism charities and to research other scientifically validated ways to help children with autism spectrum conditions.
The DVD Pack, which is narrated by Stephen Fry, consists of 15 five minute animated stories, 30 interactive quizzes and a booklet to help parents and carers get the most out of the series.  It aims to help children with autism recognise & understand different facial expressions by superimposing real faces (which the children normally find confusing because of their unpredictability) on vehicles such as trains, trams and cable cars which all have highly predictable movement.  This predictability appeals to children with autism.
The DVD provides children with autism a setting that is designed to appeal to them, in which to learn about simple emotions such as happy, sad, angry and afraid, as well as more complex ones like sorry, tired, joking and unfriendly.
Press release ~ The Transporters ~ Culture Online ~ National Autistic Society UK ~ Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University ~ International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) ~ Adults with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) ~ Welsh Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Strategic Action Plan ~ Autism Cymru ~ AWARES, the All Wales Autism Resource ~ Autism Connect ~ Autism Independent UK (SFTAH) ~ Scottish Society for Autism ~ Autism Speaks - raising money for research into autism spectrum disorders ~ Welcome to the Autism Awareness Website ~ Commissioning Services for People on the Autism Spectrum: Policy and Practice Guidance ~ World Autism Awareness Day ~ Scottish Autism Service Network ~ Educational Provision for Children with Autism in Scotland ~ NAS - make school make sense in Scotland ~ NES - Autism Learning Resource ~ Autism Alliance UK ~ Bercow Review website ~ DH - Autism ~ Bercow Review website and Interim report
SEBut have 2012 ‘building’ requirements swallowed most of the ‘pot’ - Sport England recently announced a £36m investment in ‘Sport Unlimited’ - a nationwide initiative to get more children and young people taking part in sports that interest them most outside of school.  The 3-year programme will enable 900,000 more 11-19 year olds to choose from a range of sports including several in which Team GB has excelled at the 2008 Olympics such as sailing & cycling, as well as less traditional sports like dodgeball, snowboarding and American football.

Sport Unlimited offers young people 10-week taster sessions in sports which they have requested and aims to get 300,000 participants to join clubs and continue with sport when the 10 weeks are up.

The programme, run by Sport England in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust and County Sports Partnerships across England, has already been successfully trailblazed in 12 areas and will now be fully rolled out across the country, resulting in 4,000 new sporting projects being set up. 
TfLA handy sum in times of rising prices - Families in London are being reminded to take advantage of free bus and tram travel for their children with the new school year about to begin.  While take up of free travel among eligible 11-15-year-olds is at around 80%, there are still thousands of eligible young people yet to take advantage of this scheme.

Free travel concessions have now been grouped under the umbrella name 'Zip'.  The Zip Oyster photocard gives 11-15 year-olds free travel on London's buses and trams.  This could save families over £300 a year.
In addition, it is estimated that around 140,000 young Londoners in full-time education or work based learning are eligible for the 16+ free bus and tram travel concession.  All 16+ Oyster photocard holders can buy 7 Day, monthly or longer period Travelcards at child-rate and pay as you go at half the adult-rate, even if they don't qualify for free bus and tram travel. 
Zip Oyster photocard application forms are available from Post Offices within London. It may take up to two weeks to process your application.  11-18 year olds who do not have a valid Oyster photocard must pay the full adult cash fare.  Proof of application will not be accepted by bus drivers as a valid ticket for travel.
ScotGovOut of the mouths of children - A Youth Commission on Alcohol is to be set up by the ScotGov so that young people can play an active role in tackling Scotland's £2.25bn alcohol misuse problem, as young people themselves are the key to getting to grips with underage drinking.  The forum will allow young people to give direct feedback to Ministers.
A series of audits on the impact of alcohol on A & E departments found that nearly 650 children - including 15 children under twelve and one as young as eight years old - were treated for alcohol-related health problems during the six-week audit period.
65,000 Scottish children are estimated to live with a parent whose drinking is problematic and a quarter of children on the Child Protection Register are estimated to be there due to parental alcohol or drug misuse.
CLGBut just how ‘real’ are these savings? - Local Government Minister John Healey has launched a consultation (closes 16 October 2008) on giving the public greater access to information on how efficiently their council is being run.  Under these proposals, all council tax bills would include details of the efficiency savings the local authority has made.
Information accompanying the bill would show the average level of efficiency savings achieved by similar councils over the same time period so people can see how well their council is performing compared to others.
Press release ~ Inclusion of Efficiency Information with Council Tax Demand Notices: Consultation ~ Funding for Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships ~ Operation Efficiency Programme prospectus ~ Gershon Review ~ OGC – Collaborative procurement ~ CPA press release ~ Committee of Public Accounts - The Efficiency Programme: A Second Review of Progress ~ NAO - The Efficiency Programme: A Second Review of Progress ~ PCS press release ~ OGC - The Efficiency Team and What We Do ~ Value For Money in public sector corporate services - A joint project by the UK Public Sector Audit Agencies ~ Audit Commission ~ Audit Scotland ~ National Audit Office ~ Northern Ireland Audit Office ~ Wales Audit Office ~ ESRC – The Management of Second Best ~ Public Sector Performance: Efficiency or Quality? ~ Public service reform in Scotland ~ NHS Better care, better value indicators ~ NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement
WAGThere could be ‘gold’ in those ideas - Delegates from around the world will be heading for Cardiff this month for the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s annual two-day Forum which is hosted by the Welsh Assembly Government.  The forum, which will be held on September 10-11 at the Millennium Stadium, is a prestigious globally acknowledged gathering of leaders in the field of intellectual property, its promotion and protection.

 The Forum is one of several activities held by the WIPO SME Division each year and has a specific focus on encouraging greater use of the IP system by micro-enterprises and SMEs.  It has only been organised outside Geneva on two previous occasions and it is the first time it has been held in Wales. 
LDAre property searches fit for the 21st century? - Land Data cic, has been commissioned by Communities and Local Government (CLG) department to conduct a survey of all Local Authority Local Land Charges Departments across England & Wales, to establish their ‘state of readiness’ with regard to Government’s access guidelines, issued in January this year, which seek to deliver open access to local authority held property information. 
Land Data’s survey is being undertaken over a four month period and will cover the five or six departments where the relevant data is held within each of the 410 Local Authorities.   The survey will conclude at the end of October 2008 and it will identify current access procedures, any access constraints, the current data format (electronic or paper) and any planned moves to electronic delivery.
For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
For Industry News please click HERE

General News

NAThe National Archives talks in September offer practical advice, ‘juicy’ stories from the archives and new research ideas. All events are free of charge and take place in the ‘Talks room’ on the first floor at The National Archives.
Highlights include:
* Scandals in the family - the misdeeds of one family, with fraud, extortion, adultery and more
* Introduction to family history - get started with researching your ancestors
* The National Archives catalogue - how to search it, and understanding the results
OGC: A new set of courier services launched on 1 September 2008, will provide buyers across the public sector with swift & easy access to an extensive range of collection, delivery and logistics solutions. The Logistics and Courier Services framework agreements, from OGC Buying Solutions, were developed following a detailed collaborative exercise involving government departments and agencies to ensure that a wide cross section of public sector requirements and circumstances were considered.
The package that has emerged includes ad hoc and scheduled collections & deliveries locally and nationally, both same day & next day, together with international services too. Among the suppliers are organisations expert in the secure movement of cash and other valuable items, together with potentially hazardous goods, such as medical or veterinary material.
QCA: Ofqual, in conjunction with their regulator partners in Wales (DCELLS) and Northern Ireland (CCEA), has recently accredited the GCSE specifications for first teaching in September 2009.  181 GCSE specifications, covering 60 subjects were accredited.
The qualifications have been reviewed to ensure that content supports the revised secondary curriculum and assessment continues to stimulate good teaching and learning.  The changes include:
* the introduction of controlled assessment to replace coursework
* more varied question types
The specifications can be seen on the relevant awarding body websites and details of all the qualifications appear on the National Database of Accredited Qualifications.  All qualifications were accredited in line with the GCSE regulatory criteria.
QCAOfqual, the qualifications regulator for England, has announced the accreditation of new principal learning qualifications and the overarching structure for Diplomas in business, administration & finance; environmental & land-based studies; hair & beauty studies; hospitality; and manufacturing & product design.  These will be available for first teaching from September 2009
Ofqual has also published a report called Arrangements for awarding & setting standards in the Diploma and the Regulatory arrangements for component and Diploma awarding bodies.
LDA:   CompeteFor - an online service developed by the London Development Agency (LDA) to tender contracts linked to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games – has been rolled out across the LDA.  The 'business dating agency' allows companies to register as potential suppliers and they will in turn be notified of contracts that match their field of work as they go out to tender.
Originally designed to open up the London 2012 supply chain by giving small and medium sized businesses a greater chance benefit from the Games, CompeteFor will now be used to tender LDA contracts worth an estimated £170m each year.
PCS: PCS members have massively endorsed a national agreement over job security and privatisation, the union announced last week.  97.5% taking part in the ballot voted to endorse a major national agreement with the government over job security and privatisation in the civil service & related bodies, which strengthens the protection of staff from compulsory redundancy.
Members supported the agreement with the Cabinet Office which sets out in detail measures to ensure staff who are declared surplus, but who wish to continue to work in the civil service or associated areas, will be made an alternative job offer.
Whilst the union remains implacably opposed to privatisation and outsourcing, the agreement also covers national guidance on good practice for dealing with staff where their functions are outsourced or privatised.
TfL: From 5 September customers on the London Underground have been be able to see the first of one hundred brand new artworks specially commissioned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the iconic Tube logo, the Roundel.  
To mark the centenary of one of the world’s most recognised brands one hundred artists, including Yinka Shonibare, Bob & Roberta Smith, Cornelia Parker, Thomas Helbig, Jeremy Deller, Catherine Yass, Pae White, Roger Hiorns and Matthew Higgs, have been invited by Art on the Underground to produce an artwork inspired by the Roundel for a unique public exhibition, which will run from 8-30 October 2008 at Rochelle School in Shoreditch. 
Defra: Movements of fish in and out of Earlswood Lakes, Norton Lane, Earlswood, Solihull, West Midlands have been restricted, following the confirmation of Koi Herpesvirus (KHV) Disease.  Movements of fish in and out of the adjacent waters, known as Mereside Pools have also been restricted.
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.
ScotGov: £300,000 is to be provided (for 2008-09) to the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland to support the dedicated teams of volunteers who participate in the various mountain rescue teams across Scotland. This involves every team/organisation receiving the same minimum amount of funding and the remainder distributed based on the number of call-outs each team/organisation dealt with over the preceding 5 year period.
2008 is a particularly notable year in mountain rescue, as it is the 75th anniversary of the formation of the service in the British Isles.  
PCSPCS, UNISON and the FDA have condemned plans by Ofsted to privatise early education & childcare inspections and have called for a re-think.  The privatisation plans come at the same time as a long running pay dispute in Ofsted over the imposition of a divisive new pay structure and a below inflation pay settlement.  Some members of staff have been asked to take a three-year pay freeze.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

ScotGov: The Scottish Government has laid out its programme for the year ahead. In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, First Minister Alex Salmond set out the priorities - both legislative and non-legislative - contained in a document Moving Scotland Forward.
This comprises 15 Bills including proposals for
* Council Tax Abolition
* tackling Climate Change and
* strengthening the Criminal Justice system
CLG: A £1bn housing package has been announced by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears to help first time buyers struggling to get onto the housing ladder, support vulnerable homeowners at risk of repossession and support the house-building industry.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has also announced that stamp duty land tax will not apply to purchases of residential property of £175,000 or less.
In a third step, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced new support measures to help vulnerable homeowners meet their mortgage interest payments.  It is reforming Income Support for Mortgage Interest by shortening the waiting period before SMI is paid from 39 weeks to 13 weeks for new working age claims from April 2009.  The capital limit for new working age claims will also be increased to £175,000 from April 2009.
ScotGov: Adults across Scotland are being urged to help improve the outlook for children who have been neglected or abused by getting involved in children's panels. Children's Minister Adam Ingram ‘kickstarted’ this year's call for more children's panel volunteers - with top Scots actress Daniela Nardini backing the drive as the voice of a national radio campaign.
The four week recruitment campaign for the children's panel will include radio, print and digital advertisements. Around 550 volunteers are needed across Scotland.
The children's panel is unique to Scotland and was established in 1971 to address the needs & behaviour of children and young people who face serious problems in their lives.  These problems can include, for example, a child being abused, a child failing to attend school, the child's parents having difficulty looking after them, or a child committing an offence.
ScotGov: Car parking charges are to be abolished at NHS hospitals across Scotland, following a review of NHS Boards' car park charging policies. An interim cap of £3 per day has been in place since January 2008. Although many hospital car parks in Scotland are already free, this announcement will apply to 14 hospitals where charges operate. The abolition of charges will take effect from 31 December 2008.
In the meantime, NHS Boards are being asked to submit their plans on how they will address potential increases in demand, promotion of greener forms of transport and the potential use of spaces by commuters, shoppers or others.
The only exceptions to the axe will be car parks at three hospitals provided under Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) contracts (Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Glasgow Royal Infirmary and Ninewells Hospital, Dundee), as the costs of early termination would be prohibitive.  
DFID: A GLOBAL initiative to make overseas aid work better in helping poor people and to make it easier for them and their governments to track how aid is spent has been unveiled by International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander. 
The International Aid Transparency Initiative would also allow the governments of poor countries to plan more effectively by guaranteeing when aid would be delivered to them.
Press release ~ Department for International Development - Providing budget support to developing countries ~ Executive Summary  ~ Results from survey of DFID country teams ~ DFID: Poverty Reduction Budget Support ~ Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education ~ DFID – MDG - Education ~ DFID Global School Partnerships ~ NAO: Tackling Rural Poverty in developing countries ~ Supporting paper:Staff survey results (64 KB) ~ Supporting paper: DFID - Study on Rural Poverty in Developing Countries (LF 2Mb) ~ DFID - eliminating world poverty ~ DFID - Millennium Development Goals - Poverty and Hunger ~ Better livelihoods for poor people: The role of Agriculture ~ Can Microfinance ‘Halve’Poverty By 2015: A Review By Sirajul Islam ~ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) ~ Overseas Development Institute - Rural Policy and Governance Group ~ BBC NEWS - Is India's rural poverty plan working?


FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has issued a consultation paper proposing Handbook changes that are required to implement aspects of the Payment Services Directive (PSD).  The PSD requires countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) to regulate payment services, including for example card payments, direct debits and money transfer. 
It will impact all firms providing payment services, including banks, building societies, e-money issuers, money transfer operators and non-bank credit card issuers.  HM Treasury is currently consulting on the text of the Payment Services Regulations 2008, which will implement the directive in the UK on 1 November 2009.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has published proposals for a new system of sentencing guidelines and a judicially-led Scottish Sentencing Council to oversee that system. The proposals, which are out to consultation (closes 21 November 2008), are intended to create a broad, understandable framework within which sentencers will be expected to operate, but without removing their discretion to pass sentence in individual cases as they see fit, based on the facts and circumstances of the case before them.
The document also includes proposals aimed at giving the public the opportunity to contribute to the development of draft sentencing guidelines before they are finalised.
ACE: After sharing the Architecture Week review with its partners the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Architecture Centre Network, the Arts Council England (ACE) will now carry out wider consultation with the sector, including the Architecture Foundation, IGNITE and local authorities, to help decide the most effective way of engaging the public with art and architecture.

Discussions between ACE, RIBA and Architecture Centre Network resulted in 3 of the review’s original 7 options being taken forward for further consultation.  Consultation will close on Monday 29 September 2008 and ACE hopes to make a final decision about the future of Architecture Week later this autumn.
CLG: Local Government Minister John Healey has launched a consultation (closes 16 October 2008) on giving the public greater access to information on how efficiently their council is being run. Under these proposals, all council tax bills would include the efficiency savings the local authority has made – See ‘In the News’ for more information.
Defra: Views on how noise from airports can be managed effectively have been called for (closes Friday 28 November 2008) by Environment Minister Jonathan Shaw. He made the call as Defra published draft guidance for comment that will be used to develop action plans to address noise from airports.
In line with the Environmental Noise Directive, airport operators must draft action plans that outline the measures they will take to manage and, where appropriate, reduce the level of environmental noise around airports. The plans will be informed by new noise maps that were published last year.  

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

AcasAcas has launched a new guide to help make businesses less vulnerable to equal pay claims through the use of job evaluation.  The guide, which considers the benefits & risks of undertaking job evaluation, explains how a job evaluation risk analysis should be established and implemented.
Job evaluation - which determines the relative importance of a number of different jobs whilst avoiding prejudice or discrimination - can be a complex process.  This guide will help managers and employee representatives decide whether introducing a job evaluation structure is feasible and appropriate for their business.
HEFCE: A national credit framework and associated guidance for its implementation across higher education in England has been published.  It establishes an agreed set of specifications for describing and comparing learning achievement using credit.
Using the guidance, higher education institutions are encouraged to engage with the framework and to include a description of the credits associated with their programmes by the start of the 2009-10 academic year.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), in collaboration with the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA), has issued guidance to improve the safety of patients in the NHS in England & Wales by reducing the risk of pneumonia in patients aged 16 years and older who are on a ventilator.

Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) can occur as a complication of mechanical ventilation, particularly when ventilation is required for a prolonged period of time and in patients who are critically ill.  VAP is a significant problem - data from the USA suggests that it represents 31% of all intensive care unit (ICU)-acquired infections and that it occurs in 9–27% of all intubated patients.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recently published final guidance on the use of Entecavir and Telbivudine for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B.  This guidance does not apply to people with chronic hepatitis B who also have hepatitis C, hepatitis D or HIV.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recently published guidance on the use of routine antenatal anti-D prophylaxis for rhesus D negative women in the NHS in England and Wales.
Women who are rhesus negative are missing a substance called D antigen on their red blood cells.  Most of the time this is not an issue, but if they become pregnant and their baby is rhesus positive (has the D antigen on their blood cells) it may cause problems.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recently published its final guidance on the use of ranibizumab (Lucentis) and pegaptanib (Macugen) for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Ranibizumab is given by injection into the eye and works by blocking a substance that causes new blood vessels to grow in the eye (known as vascular endothelial growth factor or VEGF), thereby stopping the bleeding at the back of the eye which causes the wet form of AMD.
Pegaptanib is not recommended for people with wet AMD.  Healthcare professionals should not immediately stop prescribing pegaptanib for people who were already taking it when the guidance was issued.  These people should be able to carry on taking pegaptanib until they and their healthcare professionals decide that it is the right time to stop treatment.
Lucentis is an expensive drug, costing more than £10,000 for each eye treated, but it has been estimated that the costs related to sight impairment for patients treated with Lucentis are around £8,000 cheaper than for patients who receive best supportive care over a 10 year period.
As part of its interventional procedures (IP) work programme NICE has also issued guidance on the implantation of miniature lens systems for advanced age-related macular degeneration this month.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care have recently  published a guideline on the care & treatment of adults and children/young people with familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), a type of high cholesterol that is caused by an inherited genetic mutation.
The condition is estimated to effect 1 in 500 people – as common as type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes - and the severely raised cholesterol levels, if undetected, often result in unnecessary illness and early death from coronary heart disease.  The use of DNA testing and cholesterol testing will help to ensure that children, young people and adults with this condition are identified and offered timely advice and treatment.
HO: New advice for parents on preventing their children from becoming involved in gangs has been published by the Home Office. The 8-page booklet - Gangs: You and Your Child - details practical steps parents and carers can take if they suspect their child may be involved with gangs and who to contact for help & support.
It was developed with the help of the Association of Chief Police Officers, local authorities, parenting organisations like the Family and Parenting Institute and community groups such as Mothers Against Violence.

Annual Reports

ScotGovRural Scotland Key Facts 2008 has been published by Scotland's Chief Statistician. This is the fifth edition of an annual publication presenting statistics, drawn from a variety of sources, in one pocket-sized book (and web publication).
It contains key data with an emphasis on comparisons between remote rural, accessible rural and the rest of Scotland.  Topics covered include demographics; household composition; housing; neighbourhoods & communities; transport; internet & broadband; health; local services; business characteristics; and employment.
Also published are new figures that present various poverty measures by urban/rural areas and areas of multiple deprivation.  These are additional to ‘Scottish Households Below Average Income, 2006/07’ which was released in June 2008. The figures show that the percentage of individuals living in poverty is slightly lower in rural than in urban areas.
MO:  2007/08 has been another successful year for the Met Office, achieving all its Key Performance Targets and making £4.4m business profit which will be invested in further improvements to weather & climate services according to its Annual Report and Accounts.
Cabinet OfficeSex and Power, the Equality and Human Rights Commission's annual report looking at women in top positions of power & influence finds that more progress is needed for women to achieve equality in public life and the public & private sectors – See ‘General Reports and Other Publications’ for more information.

General Reports and Other Publications

CRC: Jo Lavis, of the Commission for Rural Communities, has written an article for the September issue of Shelter’s Roof magazine, which explores the growing lack of affordable rural housing and the ideas & opportunities to improve the availability of affordable housing in the future.
ESRC: The British government has invested more money in Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) in its schools than any other government in the world, but is this huge investment worth it?  Have the new data projection technologies allowed students to learn more effectively?  This is the subject of recent research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

The system consists of a computer linked to a data projector and a large touch-sensitive board, which displays images, graphics, animations and videos.  You can write captions directly onto the board and instantly convert your handwriting to type.  A unique strength of IWB technology is that it allows teachers and students to revisit previous sessions of saved activity, which helps to reignite and build on earlier learning.
A series of 5 interactive CD-ROMs have been developed for teachers.  These are designed to stimulate debate around key issues rather than offering models of ‘best practice’.
Cabinet Office: A new report highlights what needs to be done to get more under-represented groups of women to play an active role in civic & civil life. Women from all walks of life remain underrepresented in decision making roles and this is particularly true of women from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
Closing the Gap is a report on the findings of The Women Take Part project announced in 2007, by Government Equalities Office and the Department for Communities and Local Government, which aimed to identify the key ingredients to supporting women from underrepresented groups to become active in public life and deliver change - what works & why; and the key elements likely to have a long term & sustainable impact.
Also published is Sex and Power, the Equality and Human Rights Commission's annual report looking at women in top positions of power and influence which finds that more progress is needed for women to achieve equality in public life, and the public and private sectors.
Cabinet Office: New survey findings show that 58% of men & women support making it illegal to pay for sex if it will help reduce women & children trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation.
The Home Office is conducting a wide ranging review looking at what more the Government can do to tackle demand for prostitution, exploring both the legislative and non-legislative options and is due to report later this year.  As part of this Ministers have visited Sweden and The Netherlands to look at how trafficking is being tackled internationally.
TfL: Are you sitting comfortably?  According to new research from Transport for London (TfL) 71% of London‘s cyclists are riding badly-fitting bikes.  A snapshot survey, conducted for TfL by cycling ergonomics specialist CycleFit, found that having the wrong saddle height is the most common mistake.  
Only one in five cyclists’ saddles were found to be at the correct height; with 43% of people positioning their seat too low.  Women are twice as likely as men to make this mistake, which can lead to fatigued thigh muscles and sore knees.

The Tour of Britain is the next event in the Mayor’s Summer of Cycling campaign, which culminates on 21 September with the Sky Sports London Freewheel.

Legislation / Legal

MoJ: Steps to toughen up the physical work offenders carry out on community payback have been outlined by Justice Minister David Hanson. From 1 September anyone convicted of a knife-related offence who is unemployed and sentenced to the maximum 300 hours of community payback from the courts will complete their sentence in intensive blocks of up to five days a week.  This will mean more intensive labour for all those knife offenders who are not in work across all 42 Probation Areas.
A pilot will also run to see if this sort of intense work could be rolled out to all types of offenders given community payback.  West Yorkshire will trial a programme for all offenders receiving 200 hours of work from the courts doing this intensively in 6 weeks.  The government claims that this will represent a significant loss of liberty and free time for many people with work taking place five days per week and continued ‘tough consequences’ for not turning up.
Mr Hanson also highlighted that more offenders are currently 'paying back' the community through work at weekends when they expect to have free time, with 74% of community payback programmes running on either Saturday or Sunday.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

WAG: Figures announced this week reveal that every local authority in Wales has met strict limits, set by the Assembly Government, on the amount of biodegradable waste it can send to landfill sites.  Wales, as a whole is also currently within its 2009/10 target set by Europe.
The Landfill Allowances Scheme (LAS) limits the amount of biodegradable municipal waste (such as paper, cardboard, kitchen scraps and garden cuttings) councils are allowed to send to landfill, instead encouraging the recycling, composting and treatment of this waste.  This reduces the negative environmental effects of landfilled waste, including carbon emissions produced by these sites.

2009/2010 is the first Landfill Directive Target year when Wales will need to report to the EU on its LAS performance.  Any Local Authorities who exceed their targets will incur severe financial penalties.
Defra: From January 2009 farmers will have to step up action to cut the amount of nitrates from fertiliser that gets into rivers.  This will include restricting the times of year that fertiliser can be spread on land and storing excess manure outside these times.
Treating the manure in on-farm anaerobic digestion plants while it is being stored could produce biogas, which farmers could use as a source of energy.  The treated manure can be returned to the soil as fertiliser.
Defra: Defra has published regulations extending the areas of England designated as Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) from 55% to around 70%. This reflects the Government's decision to continue designating the zones on a selective basis rather than adopt the whole territory approach of some Member States.
The Regulations also make changes to the Action Programme specifying actions which farmers in NVZs must take to reduce and prevent nitrate leaching and run-off to waters from manures and fertilisers.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

ACE: Young people in Bromley will have the opportunity to get involved in music technology as part of the ‘Arts Train’ project, after the Arts Council England awarded £25,000 of Lottery funds to Bromley Mytime for the new scheme.

The Arts Train programme will run from September 2008 until July 2009 and offer young people drop in sessions in DJing and music production skills in North Bromley, the Crays in Orpington and at Marjorie McClure School.  There will also be an opportunity for young people to develop their talents further on an accredited course and produce a final showcase event.
BIG: Celebrations went underway last week for the over 50s in Aberdeen with the news that the ‘Seize the Day!’ project has won the public vote and a slice of Lottery good cause cash from the Big Lottery Fund through the BBC’s Primetime programme.  Each week three groups from one of six regional areas across the country will go to the public vote with the opportunity to clinch up to £500,000 of Lottery funding for their project.
Seize the Day! won the hearts & minds of viewers across Scotland with their pitch to spend the winning cash on providing information, support and practical help for people across Aberdeenshire who have just been diagnosed with dementia (and their carers), especially in the early stages.
Cabinet Office: The Government's £130m Grassroots Grants scheme declared itself open for business last week and called on small local voluntary & community groups to come forward and get their hands on essential funding.
The programme, funded by the Office of The Third Sector in the Cabinet Office and administered by the Community Development Foundation, offers grants of between £250 and £5,000 to support activities that lie right at the heart of our local communities.

Business and Other Briefings

HMRC: HMRC has launched its latest podcasts for agents, on the new penalty regime and HMRC's services for agents. In the podcast, Brian Redford, Director of HMRC's Agents & Employers Service Improvement Programme (AESIP) discusses 'reasonable care' and what practical help is available for agents on the new penalty regime for incorrect returns.
HMRC: HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has issued a reminder about this month's change to the 2008/09 basic personal income tax allowance. The new tax codes must be applied by employers on the first pay day on or after 7 September 2008.
The change will mean most people under 65 who pay tax at the basic rate will see an extra £60 in their first pay packet on or after 7 September, and a £10 increase in their take-home pay each month after that until next April.  Those paid weekly will get £53 the first time the increased allowance is used, and then receive £2.30 extra a week until April.  The exact increases depend on how much tax they have already paid in 2008/09.
Anyone who only pays tax through Self Assessment, such as the self-employed, will have the new allowance taken into account in their tax calculation for 2008/09
HMRCRevenue & Customs Brief 39/08
Provides details of the revised procedures for overseas insurers who are required to register and account for Insurance Premium Tax (IPT).
This is an update to the Investment Management industry and to HMRC of progress on this centralsiation project.

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