In the News
CRC: Spotlight on Rural Travel - The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) has published 5 studies putting the spotlight on transport challenges facing rural areas, ranging from accessibility to key services, the effects of technological change and implications of road pricing.
Rural people travel around 10,000 miles each year compared with around 7,000 nationally and use of cars is significantly higher in rural areas. Graham Russell, Director of Practice at the CRC said: “Transport is a key concern for rural communities. With a continuing decline in local services, rural residents need to travel greater distances, and because of significant gaps in public transport much more of their travel is by car.
What’s more, rising fuel prices are hitting rural areas hardest, especially less well-off households where a higher proportion of income goes on essentials including transport costs………………... More efficient and environmentally beneficial ways for rural people to move around in our rural areas now need to be found. Community collaboration must play a crucial part, and there are already excellent examples of initiatives taking place around the country some of which are highlighted in the studies".
A special seminar (for details email: Malcolm.email@example.com) is being held in London on Friday 26 September bringing together experts from transport, environmental and rural affairs backgrounds.
BERR: A reminder that we also have national energy as well as financial problems - John Hutton has pledged his support for new nuclear power stations in the UK, at the first meeting of the Government's new Nuclear Development Forum, claiming that energy from new nuclear generators is absolutely indispensable for keeping the UK's lights on, reducing our dependency on foreign oil and gas and cutting carbon emissions.
The Forum supports & advises the new Office for Nuclear Development in creating the right conditions for new nuclear power stations to be built in the UK as soon as possible.
He also claimed that the 100,000 jobs that could be created, saying that, with strong competition from such countries as China - which has plans for 24 nuclear plants and outline proposals for another 76 - a strong British supply chain will be ideally positioned to benefit and provide the valuable equipment & skills necessary.
The Government has also published its response to the consultation on the Funded Decommissioning Programme guidance. The new guidance, to be finalised following the Royal Assent of the Energy Bill, reiterates the Government's policy that nuclear operators - not taxpayers - will have to meet the full cost of decommissioning and their full share of waste management and disposal costs.
DH: It’s now statistically safer to go into hospital - The latest quarterly figures on MRSA bloodstream infections, published by the Health Protection Agency, show that the number of MRSA infections has fallen by 57% compared to the base level in 2003/4 when the target was set.
Run by the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency, the Showcase Hospitals programme consists of 7 hospitals that will trial new & innovative products to further reduce & prevent healthcare associated infections.
The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency are also launching the Design Bugs Out project. Top designers have been challenged to design new furniture, equipment and services for hospital wards that will enhance cleanliness and help to reduce healthcare associated infections.
The Government will now work with the NHS to sustain this reduction in MRSA infections, as well as hopefully delivering a 30% reduction in C. difficile in the next three years.
WAG: Can one just ‘click’ to solve the problem of child poverty? - An new website to help councils lift children out of poverty has been launched Minister for Social Justice and Local Government, Dr Brian Gibbons.
The ‘Child Poverty Solutions Wales’ website offers support & advice services to councils and their partners ranging from a self assessment toolkit for monitoring success in tackling child poverty to guidance in developing statutory children and young people plans.
Training modules for elected members will also help them understand the causes & effects of child poverty and how local authorities can work with other organisations to tackle the issues. The bilingual site is the first of its kind in Wales and has been developed by Save the Children in Wales and the Welsh Local Government Association and funded by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Forthcoming Event: How to register and maintain your teaching professionalism - If you are a trainer, tutor or teacher working in LSC-funded FE & skills provision, you are required to register as a member of the Institute for Learning (IfL), to demonstrate that you maintain your teaching professionalism. You are also required to undertake at least 30 hours' continuing professional development (CPD) each year (prorated for part-time teachers) and abide by IfL's Code of Professional Practice.
Teachers in FE or specialist independent colleges should have registered by 31 March 2008, while trainers, tutors and teachers delivering other LSC-funded further education provision – including those in adult and community, work-based learning, offender and voluntary sector settings – need to register with IfL by 30 September 2008.
Teachers new to the sector from September 2007 need to register within six months of starting to teach and will have to become licensed practitioners. The government has agreed to meet the full cost of standard registration with IfL for teachers in LSC-funded institutions who register online, even if you are an FE college teacher and missed the original 31 March 2008 deadline.
The IfL are hosting another series of FREE registration briefings during September designed to to ensure that HR and senior managers understand the reforms and how they apply to teaching professionals delivering LSC-funded FE provision.
For information on other forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
For Industry News please click HERE
DH: An online advertising service that will help 'hook up' NHS providers with healthcare suppliers has been announced by Health Minister Ben Bradshaw.
Speaking at the Laing and Buisson Independent Healthcare Convention, he set out how the new website, NHS Supply2Healthwill make it easier for Primary Care Trust (PCT) commissioners to advertise health & social care services they require and for suppliers to identify business opportunities within the NHS.
From Wednesday 1 October 2008, all NHS commissioners will be required to post information about tendering opportunities & contract awards on the site, making it easier for suppliers to track down single opportunities and understand exactly what PCTs want.
For commissioners, Supply2Health will help meet their legal requirements to advertise and potentially increase the number of suppliers responding to their adverts by reaching a wider audience. It will also offer services, including emailing subscribers where new opportunities are posted that match the health and social care services they provide.
WAG: The first company in the UK capable of recycling waste plastic bottles back into useful food packaging material is investing nearly £12m to open a new plant in North Wales. Closed Loop Recycling opened its first plant in London in June and now, backed by private equity investment from the Foresight Group and backing from the Assembly Government, the company intends to open its second plant - which will be located in the Deeside area.
The new recycling plant, which will employ 50 people, will take an annual total of 50,000 tonnes of water, milk and other soft drinks bottles which would otherwise end up in landfill sites and turn them back into recycled raw material for new food and drink packaging.
CO: The Prime Minister has invited the Rt Hon Sir Peter Gibson, the Intelligence Services Commissioner to review the intercepted intelligence material available to the security and intelligence agencies in relation to the Omagh bombing and how it was shared. The PM has invited Sir Peter Gibson to report his findings to him within three months.
OGC BS: Organisations across the public sector striving to manage their estates more efficiently & sustainably are to be assisted by new & improved procurement arrangements launched by OGCbuying.solutions.
The new Estates Professional Services framework agreement builds on the successful performance of previous arrangements by adding additional features and incorporating detailed feedback from customers and other stakeholders. The comprehensive service set ranges from a full appraisal of an organisation's business needs and existing holdings in an estate strategy, through to individual rent reviews or disposals.
PB: The recently re-designed Parole Board website, which was launched in January 2008, has won the website or microsite of the year category in the prestigious Chartered Institute of Public Relations Excellence Awards for 2008.
The CIPR team of judges said: "This is a very clearly designed site that succeeds in delivering expert advice for victims of crime, offenders and industry professionals. The language is clear and the signposting on the site is simple and easy to follow. Difficult issues are handled sensitively and the site is extremely informative, using a question and answer format to deliver its messages in a style that is open and welcoming.
The site features a new section aimed at victims of crime and their families, including advice on how to make a victim impact statement for consideration by the Parole Board and how to attend a Parole Board hearing to present that statement in person.
IS: The Insolvency Service has written to all those who it believes may be affected by the theft of four laptop computers from its Manchester offices. Three of the computers contained no data. The fourth laptop computer contained personal information about the former directors of 122 companies which had become insolvent. It also contains some information about other persons who had had some connection with these companies.
The information consisted of documents sent to The Insolvency Service by insolvency practitioners who act as administrators, receivers or liquidators of insolvent companies. The documents, which are required to be sent by law, included information about the activities of company directors which the insolvency practitioner considers may give cause for concern.
PCS: PCS, the largest UK union in the IT company EDS, has expressed fears that over 3,000 jobs could be cut in Britain as a result of the takeover of the company by Hewlett Packard (HP). The fears follow an announcement by HP to cut 24,600 jobs globally, leading the union to warn that it would vigorously oppose any moves to impose compulsory redundancies.
Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “One of the dangers of privatisation is that government contracts can be bought and sold without any say from MPs. It’s not just former civil servants’ jobs that are at risk, but the delivery of public services that rely on IT services provided by the former EDS. HP are getting massive DWP and defence contracts without having to go through a tendering process”.
ACE: Arts Council England has announced its vision for the arts over the next 3 years, setting out its priorities for the future in the Arts Council Plan 2008-2011. The mission & priorities have been shaped by the Arts Debate, the largest programme of consultation & research ever carried out by the Arts Council and also by the:
* McMaster Review of excellence in the arts
* Government's Creative Britain strategy
* McIntosh review of the Arts Council's latest investment strategy
The Plan also identifies 4 development priorities for the next three years, which are to:
* use digital technology to connect with audiences in new & exciting ways
* improve the reach & effectiveness of visual arts provision
* make sure children & young people grow up with a strong sense of the possibilities the arts give them
* realise the opportunity offered by the London 2012 Olympics to enrich the artistic life of the nation
In order to achieve the target set by the DCMS of reducing administrative costs by 15% ACE will conduct a major review of its organisational structure, management & operations. Decisions will be announced in June 2009 and implemented by April 2010.
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities has launched a pilot project to promote and test Participatory Budgeting in rural areas. They are launching this project in partnership with the Participatory Budgeting Unit and National Association of Local Councils (NALC). They hope to be joined by local authorities and parish and town councils
Participatory Budgeting is a way of letting local people, rather than officials, decide directly how some local public expenditure is spent within their communities. The Government's National Strategy on Participatory Budgeting makes clear that it's as relevant for rural areas as for urban areas.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
ScotGov: 8 pharmacies across Scotland are taking part in a walk-in pilot scheme. Pharmacies in Glasgow, Dundee, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Airdrie will operate extended hours and offer a selection of additional services.
These will include nurse-led minor injury and illness clinics, sexual health treatment & testing, smoking cessation, immunisation and access to simple diagnostic services such as checks to determine heart disease risk. Some services are already up and running with others due to come online between now and the end of the year.
Defra: Around £1.5m of funding for a 3-year research project to examine the feasibility of short rotation forestry as a viable renewable energy source has been announced by Defra. The species being planted will include both native and naturalised broadleaved trees along with other species with the potential to be used for biomass, such as eucalyptus.
Forestry Commission England will work closely with Defra to set up the project which will provide ongoing monitoring and scientific data on hydrology, carbon balance, economic viability, biodiversity and possible environmental risks such as the impact of the project on landscape and biodiversity.
Monitoring & evaluation will also be linked to the results of short rotation forestry trials in Scotland which are currently being established.
ScotGov: New plans for a fairer, simpler and more transparent transmission charging regime for Scotland's power companies have been announced by the Scottish Government. Jim Mather outlined the ScotGov’s plans for reform when he addressed delegates at the Ofgem Sustainability and Energy Networks event in Edinburgh.
The new model proposes a uniform charge for each unit of energy that enters the system, regardless of location or capacity of the generating facility. The amount paid is directly related to the amount produced.
DfT: The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced the allocation of an additional £15m for a new strategic research programme to be managed by Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), offering a substantial boost to the rail industry's research & development capacity.
The new Strategic Research Programme will help the industry achieve the challenging long term goals set out in the 2007 Rail Technical Strategy and support the rail industry & its stakeholders in the delivery of 'step changes' on the rail network over the next 30 years.
HO: Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker has published a consultation (closes on 8 December 2008)that seeks views on increasing the fixed penalty from £30 to £60 for failure to comply with seat belt legislation. Whilst educational campaigns and publicity have made considerable differences in behaviour, some drivers & passengers are still ignoring the risks. In a crash from 30 to 0 mph, seat belts reduce the risk of dying by 60%.
Views are also being sought on increasing the fixed penalty for the misrepresentation of vehicle registration marks from £30 to £60. The use of illegal number plates can have a significant impact on criminal investigations and crime detection - in particular the effective use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras in helping the police fight crime.
Defra: The Government is seeking further views (by 14 November 2008) on draft guidance for local authorities wishing to pilot schemes to cut household waste through financial incentives. Defra consulted informally on six pieces of guidance in June this year, covering application & designation, technical issues, finance, coverage & disadvantaged groups, fly tipping prevention and recycling service.
Further formal consultation is now taking place on the recycling service guidance. This has a different legal status to the other guidance, since the legislation makes it a precondition that any authority running an incentive pilot has a ‘good recycling service’ in place.
DfT: The Department for Transport (DfT) has begun a consultation (closes on 9 November 2008) on how airport development at Heathrow might affect different demographic groups living near to the airport. The Equalities Impact Assessment (EqIA) forms part of the Impact Assessment underpinning the 'Adding Capacity at HeathrowAirport' consultation document and seeks to establish the impact of airport development on different groups in terms of race, disability, age and social deprivation.
Almost 70,000 individuals and organisations, from all sides of the debate, responded to the Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport consultation, which the DfT is currently analysing. The Equalities Impact Assessment will form part of the final Heathrow Impact Assessment, which will be published alongside final Ministerial decisions on Heathrow later this year.
WAG: The Welsh Assembly Government are holding exhibitions to seek the public’s views on the problems and issues that should be addressed when looking at improving transport in the Builth Wells area of mid Wales.
The exhibitions are being held at the Antur Gwy Centre, Builth Wells on the following dates:
Thursday 25th September – 10am to 8pm
Friday 26th September – 10am to 6pm
Defra: The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) has set up a Working Group to examine how education and communication can positively affect the welfare of farmed animals. This working group will identify & critically review mechanisms for:
* Promoting responsible attitudes amongst schoolchildren & students in higher education
* Better informing consumers & policy makers about welfare issues
* Promoting application of existing knowledge amongst producers
Comments are now being sought (by 24 October 2008) from interested parties.
ScotGov: The Scottish government has launched a public consultation (closes 11 December 2008) on options for modernising Scotland's jury system – See ‘Legislation / Legal’ section for more information.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
LLUK: The General Professional Recognition Learning and Skills (GPRLS) B4 has been launched. GPRLS B4 is a new route to Recognition for those teachers, tutors, and trainers who are not required to comply with the regulations, but who may be expected to gain QTLS or ATLS status by their employer, or who seek to do so voluntarily.
The B4 route has been designed to take in to account the experience gained by long standing members of the workforce and so is open to those teachers, tutors and trainers who entered the sector prior to the introduction of the regulations.
Those who are successful in achieving generic Recognition through Lifelong Learning UK on behalf of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS), are then able to commence the process of professional formation and subsequently go on to apply for the status of Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) or Associate Teacher Learning and Skills (ATLS) depending on their role.
To request a GPRLS B4 pack, please telephone 0113 241 0433, or email the recognition team at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Defra: Defra Ministers have welcomed the news from the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales that it is to take forward work to put the Agricultural Wages Order into a more user friendly format. This will make it easier for both workers and agricultural employers to understand their rights and obligations.
The AWB was originally set up to protect an isolated and scattered workforce, with little scope for collective bargaining. These conditions still exist today for many workers, as well as new problems arising from the use of seasonal migrant labour. The Government supports the continuing work of the AWB in protecting agricultural workers, regardless of their status.
ScotGov - Catering staff across Scotland will be able to calculate the healthiness of the meals they are making for Scotland's school pupils with the help of new guidance from the Government, which has been written for catering providers and staff who are responsible for menu planning, food purchasing, preparation & service of food in schools and staff recruitment & training.
It gives a full explanation of the requirements, as well as advice for caterers to calculate the necessary vitamin, fat and sugar content of food. It also recommends providing extra bread to pupils at no additional charge as a meal accompaniment; promoting wholegrain & wholemeal bread and putting a bread basket where children can help themselves.
DH: Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, has announced the publication of a risk assessment for venous thromboembolism (VTE), recommended for all patients admitted to hospital in England, to help hospital staff identify patients at risk. VTE in hospitalised patients is responsible for around 25,000 deaths in England each year.
WAG: An innovative new website to help councils lift children out of poverty has been launched Minister for Social Justice and Local Government, Dr Brian Gibbons. The ‘Child Poverty Solutions Wales’ website offers support & advice services to councils and their partners ranging from a self assessment toolkit for monitoring success in tackling child poverty to guidance in developing statutory children and young people plans – See ‘In the News’ for more information
ScotGov: Data published last week in the Greenhouse Gas Inventories for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland: 1990-2006 shows the challenge facing Scotland as it strives to reduce its long term emissions.
While the figures show Scottish emissions of greenhouse gases have fallen by 13.4% against a 1990/1995 baseline there was a 5.4% increase in emissions between 2005 and 2006. The increase is principally due to a shift to more coal-fired electricity production during this period as a result of fluctuating gas prices.
As a party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UK is required to submit to the UNFCCC an annual inventory of greenhouse gas emissions. UK inventories produced for 1998 and subsequent years have been disaggregated to provide estimated emissions data for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
General Reports and Other Publications
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities has highlighted that the The Observer has used their research to show how villages in rural England are changing.
A recent CRC report to the Prime Minister - 'England's rural areas: steps to release their economic potential' - set out a package of practical proposals to improve support for people and enterprises in the rural business sector to help them realise their potential. However, the loss of services such as post offices, schools, GP surgeries, banks and shops can have a devastating effect on rural communities.
Defra: The final part of a 2-year survey that assesses the quality of the local environment across England has been published. The Extended Local Environment Quality Survey of England provides in-depth information for each local authority on their performance in managing key street-level environmental problems in their area, including litter, fly-posting and graffiti.
The survey was carried out to provide local authorities with the detailed information they need to target their resources effectively in tackling these issues. Headline information from the survey is available on the Defra website so local residents can see how their area is shaping up.
Results from 175 local authority surveys were published and follow the 174 that were carried out last year.
This local level survey builds on the existing national survey, which is carried out for Defra annually by ENCAMS.
Ofsted: An Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) survey has found that Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities (NLDC) projects are bringing communities together and boosting educational, training & job opportunities for those most in need.
The survey - The role of adult learning in community renewal: Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities programmes - finds that two-thirds of adult learning providers surveyed have established strong links with local partner organisations to ensure Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities funding is meeting a diverse range of needs.
Ofsted: Pupils should be taught to make sense of mathematics - so that they can use it confidently in their everyday lives and are prepared for further study and the world of work - according to a new report by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.
The report, ‘Mathematics: Understanding the score’, reveals that there has been a steady improvement in test & examination results and mathematics is good in around half of schools. However, many schools - particularly secondary - are not teaching mathematics well enough because they place too much emphasis on routine exercises and on ‘teaching to the test’.
The report contains examples of high-quality teaching, so that schools can learn from the best available practice. It also highlights the need to shift from a narrow emphasis on disparate skills towards a focus on pupils’ mathematical understanding. Teachers need encouragement to invest in such approaches to teaching, adds the report.
Legislation / Legal
ScotGov: The Scottish government has launched a public consultation (closes 11 December 2008) on options for modernising Scotland's jury system. The consultation document outlines Scottish Government plans which include:
* Allowing Scots aged 65-70 to serve on trial juries
* Reducing jury service exemption period from 5 to 2 years for those called to attend court as potential jurors but who are not subsequently balloted to serve on a trial jury
The jury in Scottish criminal trials is distinguished from systems elsewhere in the world by its size (using a panel of 15) and by its mandate to return verdicts by simple majority.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
ScotGov: The new European Fisheries Fund (EFF) will support investment in sustainable fisheries for the next six years in Scotland and is now open for business. Under the programme, between now and 2013 fisheries business, including vessel owners, aquaculture business, port operators and processors in Scotland will benefit from £43m worth of investment of European funding.
Of the £43m, £19m has already been allocated for a 3-year plan to help the fishing industry adapt to an era of high fuel prices. In addition Ministers last month pledged a further £9m towards this industry wide initiative. Together with additional support from Sea Fish this makes a total of £29m of support available through the Fishing Industry Plan.
The Scottish Government has also published guidance on how to apply for EFF funding now that the programme is open to applications. An information leaflet detailing application procedures will also be published alongside a rolling programme of regional information workshops.
HM Treasury: The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Angela Eagle MP, has announced that the UK's first auction of carbon trading allowances - under the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) - will be held on the 19 November, 2008.
The EU ETS sets a cap on the total emissions from the main industrial sectors across Europe, covering more than 10,000 installations in the energy and industrial sectors. The UK is one of the Member States going furthest on auctioning in Phase II, within the limits set by the EU Directive.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: Radio 2 regular and gardening expert, Terry Walton, rolled up his sleeves last week to launch a new horticultural centre to support people with learning disabilities in Rhondda Cynon Taff.
Thanks to a £150,184 grant from the Big Lottery Fund in 2005, ‘Drive’, an organisation that provides support services to people with learning disabilities, has been able to realise its dream of constructing a purpose built horticultural centre that will have tremendous benefits for people with learning disabilities in the county.
In a long-standing partnership with Rhondda Cynon Taff Social Services Department, ‘Drive’ has delivered important employment training activities. The completion of the horticultural project will provide a permanent training facility with enhanced access that will offer opportunities to an increased range of people.
Press release ~ ‘Drive’ ~ Big Lottery Fund ~ Rhondda Cynon Taff
Business and Other Briefings
HMRC: International action against tax avoidance is taking an important step forward with the arrival of a representative of the State Administration of Taxation (SAT) of China at the Joint International Tax Shelter Information Centre’s (JITSIC) London office.
JITSIC is an international initiative to identify and curb tax avoidance & shelters and those who promote & invest in them. Tax avoidance has a detrimental effect on the economies of all countries, depriving them of vital resources whilst promoting complexity and inequity within the tax system.
The State Administration of Taxation (SAT) of China is sending a representative to JITSIC's London office, hosted by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), to observe the activities and improve international co-operation.
HMRC: Businesses required under new regulations to identify & prevent money laundering and terrorist financing have until 30 September 2008 to apply to register. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is reminding Trust or Company Service Providers (TCSPs) and Accountancy Service Providers (ASPs) that they must send in application forms.
There is a registration fee of £95 per premise for businesses registering with HMRC and a £50 fee per person for applicants for the fit and proper test (MSBs and TCSPs only).
WAG: Local Government Minister, Dr Brian Gibbons has announced a £7m package of rate relief that will support around 10,600 smaller businesses across Wales. The package of additional support is in line with the Assembly Government’s commitment to increase the number of businesses that benefit from the small business rate relief scheme that was introduced in April 2007.
Around 37,000 businesses across Wales already get help from the small business rate relief scheme and 10,600 more small businesses could benefit from a significant reduction in their rates under this latest package.
This brief details our position in the case of Loyalty Management (UK) Ltd (LMUK) and provides interim guidance, pending the outcome of HMRC's appeal, for those businesses affected by the Court of Appeal decision.
Guidance about duty becoming due from 1 November 2008 on waste oil reused as fuel for heating or in an engine, and what you have to do to account for it.
This Brief provides guidance including worked examples, on the VAT implications when house builders decide to temporarily let their dwellings before selling them.
This Brief contains information about the amended MLR 8 Guide.
This Brief gives details of an article: Use of rebated fuel in grass cutting vehicles.
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) has published 5 studies putting the spotlight on transport challenges facing rural areas, ranging from accessibility to key services, the effects of technological change and implications of road pricing.
A special seminar (for details email: Malcolm.email@example.com) is being held in London on Friday 26 September bringing together experts from transport, environmental and rural affairs backgrounds – See ‘In the News’ for more information on the studies.
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