In the News
DH: Worldwide Healthcare will help prevent worldwide migration - A new strategy which sets out the way that the UK Government will work with the World Health Organisation, the EU and a number of other partners to improve the health of the world's population has been launched by the Health Secretary Alan Johnson.
'Health is Global: a UK Government Strategy' is underpinned by £12m over the next five years. It highlights the critical global health challenges that the world faces and provides a clear set of actions to respond to them.
The strategy contains ten principles and five areas for action, which are:
* health security
* strong & fair systems for health
* more effective international health organisations
* freer & fairer trade
* strengthening the way we develop & use evidence to improve policy and practice
LSIS: Merged support for FE and Skills Sector - On 1 October 2008, the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) and the Quality Improvement Agency (QIA) completed the transfer of their businesses & contracts to the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS), the new sector-led organisation dedicated to the development of the further education and skills sector.
CEL and QIA staff have been working together for the past 6 months, and LSIS will continue to provide existing CEL and QIA programmes & activities and honour existing contracts, until the end of July 2009. Programme information and booking forms will remain on the CEL and QIA websites for the time being.
LSIS will be consulting with the sector during autumn 2008 and spring 2009 about its priorities and remit. While this is taking place, the activities & services of CEL and QIA will continue under joint branding. Corporate news & information about LSIS may be found on its interim-branded website
ScotParl: SMPs raise the Honesty stakes - A new system for reimbursing MSPs for the costs they incur in carrying out their parliamentary duties came into effect on 1 October 2008. Following an independent review and a parliamentary debate earlier this year, MSPs agreed the terms of the new scheme, which will see:
* an end to mortgage interest payments on Edinburgh accommodation
* a new register for declaring the employment of relatives and
* a separate provision to meet the salary costs of staff who support Members in carrying out their duties
Defra: Countering the concreting of Flood Plains - Environment Minister Phil Woolas has announced £300,000 for pilot schemes which will develop new guidance on surface water management plans to cope with anticipated extreme rainfall in the future. The Environment Agency estimated that two-thirds of the 57,000 homes affected in the 2007 floods were flooded from surface water runoff.
Defra is now seeking expressions of interest from pilot organisations which will need to demonstrate a specific & significant surface water flooding issue and provide evidence that they can test a good proportion of the guidance this financial year. Such Organisations are invited to submit a proposal by 24 October 2008.
DH: Joined-up care for children - The Department of Health has outlined proposals to improve the quality of care for children with complex, long term health needs, as they launched the consultation (closes on 31 December 2008) on the National Framework for Assessing Children's Continuing Care.
The National Framework is intended to assist Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and Local Authorities to obtain a complete picture of a child's health needs so that decisions on funding care packages can be made according to the same set of criteria across the country.
The Children's Continuing Care Framework proposes to create a tailor made package of care for each child or young person who will need care over an extended period of time due to disability, accident or illness. It will support the child's parents or carers to manage their care at home or in other settings such as school and will include support from the NHS, Education and Social Services.
Newswire AC: NHS financial controls improving - The 3rd annual Auditors’ Local Evaluation (ALE) report from the Audit Commission shows an overall picture of financial improvement for many NHS organisations in 2007/08. Half of the 302 NHS trusts and primary care trusts (PCTs) assessed in England have performed well or strongly in the way that they have used their resources and only 3% have failed to balance their books.
In judging the financial performance of organisations the auditors asked five key questions:
* How good are the organisation’s financial accounting and reporting arrangements?
* How well does the organisation plan and manage its finances?
* How well does the organisation safeguard its financial standing?
* How well does the organisation’s internal controls enable it to manage its significant business risks?
* How good are the organisation’s arrangements for managing & improving value for money?
The 2007/08 report includes examples of notable practice in case studies which show how some NHS bodies are performing well. These are aimed at helping organisations learn from each others successes.
A new detailed report, Financial Management in the NHS 2007/08, which also examines the financial environment in which NHS bodies were operating in over the most recent financial year, will be published jointly by the Audit Commission and the National Audit Office in November 2008.
HSE: Urgent Gas safety warning - The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a safety alert aimed at builders & developers, managing agents, landlords and occupiers of residential properties with gas central heating boilers sited on internal walls. The purpose of the alert is to raise awareness of a potential poisoning risk arising from a particular arrangement of flues for gas boilers, most commonly found in multi-storey flats and apartments built since 2000.
HSE has become aware that some flues may not have been installed properly, or may have fallen into disrepair. If the flue is not in good condition, this could affect the performance of the boiler which, if not working efficiently, may produce high levels of carbon monoxide (CO).
The possibility that flues in some properties might be defective came to HSE's attention as a result of an ongoing investigation into a CO poisoning case at a 3 or 4 months old development of apartments. One person died and a second remains in a coma.
BNSC: Clever things can come in small packages - The Space Experiment Competition for UK schools, which will see the winning team flying their entry on board a British-built satellite, has been won by Shrewsbury School. The experiment is expected to measure variations in the ionosphere, which can affect the accuracy & safety of satellite navigation systems and might also help to provide indications of impending earthquakes.
The experiment had to be designed within the tight constraints. Their instrument could be: no larger than the size of a lunch box, weigh no more than one kilogram and operate on less than one Watt of power
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HEFCE: The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has confirmed the distribution of nearly £400m from the Higher Education Innovation Fund round four (HEIF 4) to universities following approval of their strategies.
At the same time as announcing the distribution of funding for HEIF 4, HEFCE is publishing an overview report highlighting the significant progress that the HE sector has made in supporting economic and social development:
HEFCE is working with Cambridge-MIT partnership to support a series of seminars on new approaches to assessing the value created by HE in businesses, public services and the community & cultural sectors. These events will showcase best practices from universities & colleges, home & overseas and private & public sectors.
HEFCE is also working with the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement to analyse the community and public-engagement aspects of strategies.
Monitor: Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts has confirmed the following foundation trusts were authorised from 1 October 2008:
* Royal Bolton Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
* The Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
The announcement means there are now 107 NHS foundation trusts in total, of which 31 are mental health.
HO: A new £7m police unit dedicated to tackling cyber crime and clamping down on internet fraud has been announced by Home Office e-crime Minister Vernon Coaker. The new Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU) will provide specialist officer training and co-ordinate cross-force initiatives to crack down on on-line offences.
E-crime is a global menace and, with an estimated 80-90% of crime on the internet (excluding crime relating to children or images of child sexual abuse) believed to be fraud-related, the unit will focus on supporting the new National Fraud Reporting Centre (NFRC) when it comes into operation in 2009. It will also work closely with other crime fighting agencies to tackle international & serious organised crime groups operating on the internet.
CRC: Are you passionate about the welfare of rural communities? Can you help ensure that the rural voice is heard across the country? Become a Commissioner and help ensure the rural voice is heard. Commissioners for the Commission for Rural Communities have non-executive responsibility for the governance of the organisation, including determining its strategic direction and also providing impartial input & advice into reports to Government Ministers and to Parliament.
Defra are seeking to appoint 3 new Commissioners, who must be able to demonstrate knowledge & interest in economic and social issues affecting rural communities. The posts are remunerated up to 3.5 days per month. Legitimate travel and other expenses are fully reimbursed.
LLUK: Lifelong Learning UK and The Single Voice have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which sets out an agenda for collaboration between the organisations over the coming three years (2008 to 2011) and beyond.
The MoU outlines three areas for action. These are matters affecting regulation in the sector; information, data, research & planning; and employer engagement.
OGC.bs: OGCbuying.solutions, an executive agency of the Office of Government Commerce in HM Treasury, has announced the launch of its enhanced Furniture framework agreement, which will come into effect on the 1 October 2008 for a period of 4 years.
Available to the public sector, the framework offers departments Quick Wins to comply with sustainability, environmental & workspace efficiency best practice and waste management legislation. Suppliers will undertake site surveys, space planning, design, reconfiguration and installation work.
Ofgem: New standards set by regulator Ofgem for energy companies dealing with customer complaints came into force on 1 October 2008. The standards are part of new consumer redress & representation arrangements in energy following the closure of energywatch.
These also see the creation of Consumer Focus (a new consumer advocacy body) and a new role for Consumer Direct to handle enquiries at the first port of call. As well as the new complaints standards, customers can seek redress (including compensation) from an independent ombudsman if they don’t get satisfaction from their energy company.
DWP: Faster payments for all people diagnosed with Diffuse Mesothelioma have come a step closer with the new Mesothelioma Scheme 2008 starting to accept claims. The payment package will provide up-front financial support within six weeks to people who were previously not eligible, including those who were:
* exposed to asbestos from a relative (e.g. from their overalls)
* exposed to asbestos environmentally (e.g. lived near a factory using asbestos)
* those who can't trace their exposure to asbestos
Currently only people who contract the disease from exposure to asbestos at work are eligible to claim a lump sum from the state. The legislation for lump-sum payments forms part of The Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act, which received Royal Assent on 5 June 2008.
NA: In October The National Archives hosts a number of fascinating free events & talks, where specialists will share their knowledge and offer useful advice on research & best practice for using the archives. With subjects as diverse as Magna Carta and King John to Britain's changing relationship with the European Community, these talks provide a valuable insight into key historical events and issues.
There are also FREE daily drop-in sessions to introduce first-time visitors to the range of services available at The National Archives and to show you how to make the most of their resources.
Ofgem: Electricity supplies will be sufficient to meet demand even in harsh weather conditions this winter according to a report by system operator National Grid, published by regulator Ofgem.
In its Winter Outlook report for 2008-2009, National Grid says that North Sea gas deliveries are likely be around 10% lower than last winter, but that this should be offset by higher gas imports from diverse sources. Electricity supplies will be sufficient to meet demand this winter. However, it is still unclear when certain nuclear power stations will return from maintenance to begin generating. The spare generating capacity margin for the winter is expected to be 25.4% above demand.
DH: A directory listing 100 of the most prestigious health & social care researchers has been published by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). It lists Senior Investigators who have been chosen to support the people making the most outstanding contribution to patient & people-focused health research.
In addition to their research, Senior Investigators will:
* give new leadership to the NIHR Faculty
* give expert advice to the Director of the NIHR
* act as NIHR ambassadors and
* promote clinical & applied people-focused research in health & social care
STFC: Rare samples of moon rock and lunar dust landed at Sandfields Comprehensive School, Port Talbot last week. Meteorites of different kinds formed part of the display and students were able to handle & study them, seeing the obvious differences in the materials they are made from.
The lunar samples, provided by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council were collected during NASA’s manned space missions to the Moon in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. During these missions the Apollo astronauts brought back to Earth 382 kilograms of lunar material.
Most of this material is used by scientists to study the Moon, but NASA decided to use a small proportion of the rock & soil to develop lunar and planetary sciences educational packages. The Council offers a free of charge, short-term loan system of the lunar samples to educational & scientific organisations within the UK.
LDcic: When Home Information Packs (HIPs) were introduced last year, the Government put in place a temporary insurance arrangement in relation to property searches, which allows private search firms to use insurance as a substitute where specific data is not readily accessible from the Local Authority.
The Birmingham investigation, where Trading Standards Officers found inaccurate and incomplete searches in 5 out of 6 randomly selected HIPs, shows there is abuse of these unsatisfactory temporary arrangements and that corners are being cut.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
ScotGov: First Minister, Alex Salmond, spoke at the Caithness Regeneration Conference in Thurso last week, where he outlined Scottish Power’s plans to set up a new energy company, as well as identifying Isla and the Pentland Firth as the first sites for commercial tidal farms, saying: “The Pentland Firth is the Saudi Arabia of marine power. Our seas alone could provide 25% of Europe’s tidal power and 10% of wave power”.
The First Minister also announced the Crown Estates decision to open the Pentland Firth seabed for applications for commercial marine energy projects to generate more than 700MW of energy by 2020.
CLG: A new regional strategy that directs long-term housing, economic growth and environmental protection in the North West has been announced by Communities Minister Baroness Andrews. A vision for sustainable social and economic development in the North West up to 2021 is unveiled in the North West of England Plan.
The Plan aims to raise the economic performance in the North West by supporting the provision of new job opportunities and reducing local inequalities, while also protecting the North West's environment.
Defra: The number of cases of BSE and scrapie, included in a family of brain diseases called Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs), in Great Britain has continued to fall. Following consultation on TSE responsibility and cost-sharing proposals which ended earlier this year, Defra has announced how testing for TSEs will be managed in future.
In 2007 there were 53 confirmed cases of BSE compared to 37,000 in 1992 and 82 confirmed cases of scrapie, compared to 597 in 1999. Further reductions are expected in 2008. Defra has therefore decided that industry will now take control of the cost of collecting & disposing of fallen adult cattle. From mid-January 2009, the free collection & disposal service for adult cattle that have died or been killed on farm will end.
ScotGov: There will be a review of the guidance governing co-payments - the ability of a patient to access treatments not available in the NHS in the private sector, while concurrently receiving the rest of their treatment on the NHS.
Speaking ahead of a Public Petitions Committee sponsored debate in the Scottish Parliament, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon acknowledged that the issue was difficult & controversial, but pledged that new guidance would seek to combine the rights of the individual with robust clinical governance and the founding NHS principle that treatment should be based on clinical need not on the ability to pay.
ScotGov: Employers, trade unions and individuals in Scotland are being asked for their views on whether employees should be given the right to request time off to train. The targeted consultation closes on 31 October 2008.
The UK Government has recently consulted on whether the Employment Rights Act - legislation which is reserved to Westminster - should be amended for employees in England to give them the right to ask for time off to undertake training which would support business needs, as well as helping to develop the individual. There will be no obligation on employers to approve such requests.
Subject to the outcome of the Scottish Government's consultation, that legislation would also be amended to cover employees in Scotland. The practical arrangements which employers would follow would be based on the existing right to request flexible working, which many employers are already familiar.
WAG: Farmers and land managers across Wales are being encouraged to take part in a consultation (closes on 19 December 2008) on a wide-ranging review on the future of land management in Wales. The consultation - Sustaining the Land - meets the commitment in the Wales Rural Development Plan to undertake a review of programmes under Axis II of the Plan.
Axis II covers all land management programmes, agri-environmental schemes including Tir Gofal, woodland grants and Tir Mynydd. In order to encourage participation the Welsh Assembly Government will hold discussion meetings with farmers and other stakeholders throughout Wales, as part of the process.
DH: The Department of Health has outlined proposals to improve the quality of care for children with complex, long term health needs, as they launched the consultation (closes on 31 December 2008) on the National Framework for Assessing Children's Continuing Care – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
Defra: Defra has announced changes to the way it identifies wild birds that may be carrying avian influenza. The GB surveillance strategy for 2008-2009 will help identify any change in risk to poultry and other kept birds from avian influenza (AI) in wild birds. The changes, which come into immediate effect, are being brought in as a result of increased scientific knowledge and practical experience in handling incidents of avian influenza.
Under the changes, which have been recommended by epidemiologists, discussed with expert ornithologists and endorsed by the Animal Disease Policy Group, skilled wild bird ecologists and wardens will make year-round patrols in designated reserves. They will screen & assess both live and dead wild birds, in particular gulls, ducks, geese, swans and waders, for avian influenza testing.
In addition, members of the public are from now on being asked to report incidents only where they find 10 or more dead birds in the same place and at the same time.
OS: Every Year 7 pupil in England, Scotland and Wales can receive a FREE 1:25 000 scale OS Explorer Map of their local areaunder Ordnance Survey’s 'Free-Maps-for-11-year-olds' scheme, which distributes over 700,000 maps to pupils through their schools.
This year Ordnance Survey is offering a special prize for the school that orders the five millionth map - the winners will receive a commemorative map site-centred on their school. In addition Tony Robinson and the Time Team will host a day out for the eight pupils who win the annual free maps competition.
Teachers across Britain are invited to order the free maps on behalf of their pupils by 30 November 2008, on the Ordnance Survey free maps website. Teachers of children with visual impairment are being encouraged to download free extracts from the Get-a-map service on Ordnance Survey's website. It is easy to save and enlarge the extracts for teaching purposes.
Ordnance Survey's website for children offers interactive games and educational activities online. In addition, the online explore portal is a new resource that teachers are taking advantage of, as it allows users to plot, share and search for routes on mapping for all of Britain. Teachers are using the site, which is free to use, to highlight different map symbols to their pupils - something which is a Key Stage 2 requirement.
ScotGov: There will be a review of the guidance governing co-payments - the ability of a patient to access treatments not available in the NHS in the private sector, while concurrently receiving the rest of their treatment on the NHS - See ‘Policy Statements and Initiatives’ section for more information.
HoL AC: The current House of Lords Appointments Commission has published its final annual report and also the names of two new non-party-political peers who will sit on the crossbenches in the Upper House:
* Miss Susan Campbell CBE, Chair of UK Sport, a body that works in partnership with the home country sports councils and other agencies to lead sport in the UK to world-class success
* Mr David Pannick QC, a practising barrister who specialises in public law, human rights law and sports law.
A total of 49 non-party-political peers have now been recommended by the House of Lords Appointments Commission. The Commission's annual report for 2007-08 details their work in selecting & recommending non-party-political peers and vetting all nominees to the House of Lords.
Newswire AC: The third annual Auditors’ Local Evaluation (ALE) report from the Audit Commission shows an overall picture of financial improvement for many NHS organisations in 2007/08 – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
General Reports and Other Publications
CIOB: Results from research by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) have exposed a lack of leadership within the construction industry. Over 650 directors & managers in the construction industry, many of whom work for companies employing more than 500 people, were unable to name any influential leaders in the industry. Of those individual leaders mentioned only one in the top five highest returns was a practicing construction industry professional.
The research suggests that construction companies are failing to provide adequate development of leadership potential. In particular, within larger companies, 18% are not progressing their leaders in any way and 45% do not have a formal succession plan or leadership strategy. Communication skills, strategic vision, understanding of the business, integrity and decisiveness were all regarded as the most important qualities for a leader to be successful in the construction industry.
TDA: Male primary school teachers have acted as fundamental role models to one in two men (48%), reveals new research from the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA). Over 800 men were surveyed in a study to uncover the impact of male primary school teachers in boys' development.
The research revealed that 35% of men felt that having a male primary teacher challenged them to work harder at school and 22% believed that male primary teachers helped build their confidence while they were young. In addition, the men surveyed reported that they were more likely to approach male teachers with issues of bullying (50%), problems at home (29%) and questions about puberty (24%).
The news comes as the deadline for applications for primary school teacher training looms, with jobseekers having less than 9 weeks to apply for postgraduate training courses next year.
ScotGov: Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons, Dr Andrew McLellan has published his latest report which follows a short, focused, inspection of HMP Peterhead in June 2008. It relates to a short follow-up inspection of the prison, with a focus on the conditions in which prisoners live and on the way prisoners are treated.
During this short inspection the announcement was made of the building of a new prison, HMP Grampian, on the site of Peterhead. Uncertainty about the future of the prison has thus been ended, although building will not start for some time.
CRC: The Commission for Rural, Communities has been asking "Is the 'Credit Crunch’ impacting on your economy?" to find out how rural communities are being affected. The issues raised have helped feed a rural perspective into a study on the impacts & implications of the ‘Credit Crunch’ on regeneration and economies.
The interim report of the study, commissioned by Local Government Minister John Healey, is now available to download and the final report will be ready shortly.
Cabinet Office: Deputy Minister for Women Barbara Follett has called on FTSE companies to appoint more women to their boards, highlighting the increased profitability which can result. New figures show that only 12% of FTSE board directors are female, but evidence shows that companies with a female chief executive or board director achieve a 10% higher return on capital.
The critical mass, or 'tipping point', has been identified as having three or more women on a company's board, but last year, only 11 of the FTSE 100 companies had three or more women on their board.
ScotParl: The delivery of community policing in Scotland is inconsistent, according to a report from the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee. Publishing the report of its Inquiry into Community Policing, the committee concludes that despite good work being done in Scotland, the majority of Scottish police forces do not have clear community policing strategies.
Legislation / Legal
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading is launching a new awareness campaign to inform consumers that from 1 October 2008, if they buy from salespeople who visit them in their own homes, they will have 7 days to cancel the agreement. The Doorstep Selling Regulations cover all salespeople who visit consumers in their homes to sell any goods & services such as conservatories, double glazing, orthopaedic furniture and utility contracts.
The law has always provided a one week cooling off period when buying from salespeople whose visit has not been sought out by the homeowner. However, changes to the regulations mean that provided the transaction is for more than £35, consumers will now have a 7 day period in which to cancel any agreement they enter into, regardless of whether they initiated the visit or not. The new regulations also mean that doorstep sellers are required to inform customers in writing of their right to cancel.
MoD: A new harmonised system of military inquiries has been introduced by the Ministry of Defence, replacing the existing system of single service Boards of Inquiry (BOI). A new tri-Service system of Service Inquiries will take their place. This will mean each of the three Services convenes Inquiries on the same statutory basis, which has not been the case previously.
BOIs which have already been convened will continue under their current arrangements but, from 1 October 2008, inquiries must be convened under the new arrangements irrespective of whether the incident occurred before or after 1 October.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
ScotGov: Legal professionals from around Europe travelled to Edinburgh last week when the city and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service - Scotland's Prosecution Service - plays host to the annual Eurojustice conference (the 2009 conference will be hosted by Estonia).
The 11th annual conference focused on two themes:
* prosecutors' roles in securing public confidence in the criminal justice system
* development of Information Communications Technology
Defra: A new web service detailing payments made to beneficiaries under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has gone live. Details of all payments made via rural development schemes in the UK from 1 January 2007 to 15 October 2007 will be available on the internet.
From 30 April 2009 details will be added for beneficiaries of all CAP schemes, including the Single Payment Scheme, during the year from 16 October 2007 to 15 October 2008. Thereafter information will be published annually for the preceding CAP financial year (i.e. the year ended 15 October).
In line with guidance from the European Data Protection Supervisor, the information shown will include the name, the local town and the first part of the postcode for each recipient, together with the total payments received by that beneficiary.
ScotGov: Scotland's determination to radically reduce the amount of fish dumped in Europe's seas has received a positive response in Brussels. The Scottish Government is making the issue of discards a key part of this year's autumn negotiations on fish stocks and quotas.
There will be further talks in the run-up to the Fisheries Council in December, where decisions on quotas are made for 2009, and Mr Lochhead will also meet European Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg when he visits Scotland in mid-October.
Defra: The UK Government plans to issue EU ETS Phase II carbon allowances once European and Global registry systems are linked & operational. The European Commission and UNFCCC have confirmed that the work required to establish this connection will start on Monday 6th October and will take at least ten days.
All EU registry systems will need to be taken off-line for a period of time during this process. Once this work has been completed the UK registry will remain off-line for a number of additional days while the process of allocating 2008 allowances to operator holding accounts takes place.
Once the UK registry is brought back on-line, all 2008 allowances will be available in operator accounts. This is likely to be in early November 2008. A further information note will be issued at this time.
The UK's first auction of allowances is scheduled for Wednesday 19th November 2008 and the number of allowances available at the auction will be announced at least one month beforehand. The application window to become a Primary Participant for participation in the auction is open to the end of October.
Defra: Following a request from farming representatives, Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, has granted a further temporary exemption from the cross compliance standard for farmers who need to use mechanical equipment & vehicles on waterlogged soil to harvest their cereals, oilseeds and protein crops in England (GAEC 3).
On 10 September 2008 he announced an exemption until 4 October. In view of the persistent wet weather conditions and its adverse effect on harvesting, Hilary Benn has now reviewed the situation and given a further temporary exemption from the requirement until 25 October 2008 (subject to review).
Business and Other Briefings
LDA: Over ten thousand businesses in London have now signed up to CompeteFor – the online service designed to open up the London 2012 supply chain and give small & medium sized businesses a greater chance benefit from the Games.
Developed by the London Development Agency (LDA), working closely with the London Business Network and London 2012, the 'business dating agency' allows companies to register as potential suppliers online. CompeteFor then notifies them of 2012 contracts as they are put out to tender and businesses are then able to apply for these contracts quickly & easily online.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has set out its expectation that firms give suitable advice to help customers make informed decisions about transferring built-up National Insurance rebates into Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs).
From 1 October 2008, people will be able to contract out of the State Second Pension into a SIPP and transfer existing National Insurance rebates (‘protected rights’) from a personal pension into a SIPP. As with all advised transactions, the FSA expects firms to ensure that any advice around these decisions is suitable and based on an assessment of customer need in order to help consumers make decisions that are right for them.
In addition, following consultation, the FSA has published a policy statement confirming that when advising on contracting out into a SIPP, firms will also need to provide a comparison of projected retirement income from the SIPP versus potential benefits from the State Second Pension. This requirement already exists in relation to contracting out into ordinary personal pensions.
LBRO: A major new business survey found that 71% of businesses feel that council enforced regulations can be as big or a bigger burden than tax and employment law - setting out the challenge for the Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) which marked its formal launch last week.
Other results from the independent survey included:
* Of those firms trading across three or more council boundaries, one third said that they had received inconsistent compliance advice from different local authorities
* Most interviewed companies said they valued council support
* 90% of businesses said they had never been consulted by local authorities about the enforcement of trading laws covering key areas like consumer protection and health and safety
LBRO is responsible for running the new Primary Authority scheme, which hopefully will help reduce inconsistent advice across council boundaries.
FSA: In an update on its thematic review of thesale of Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has set out that, due to the poor findings from its recent work, it is escalating its regulatory intervention.
The FSA will consider the action it will take to deal with ongoing non-compliant sales practices and consider actions to identify & remedy non-compliant past sales, using a range of regulatory powers at its disposal.
OFT: Action to make the supply of extended warranties on domestic electrical goods more competitive has saved consumers money, but there is evidence that some stores are still not fully complying with legislation, according to an Office of Fair Trading report.
As a result of these findings, the OFT has written to stores that do not comply with the Order, and is working closely with the Radio, Electrical, and Television Retailers' Association (RETRA) and the British Retail Consortium (BRC), to ensure that stores that sell domestic electrical goods are aware of their obligations.
This brief provides updated draft guidance on changes to the exemption for fund management services from 1st October 2008. Amendment to the legislation effecting these changes.
Repositioning of the UK duty paid fiscal mark on packets of hand-rolling tobacco.
LSN: Catch the Learning and Skills Network at the NIACE Employability and Young Adults Conference (Thursday 6 November 2008), which is designed to help you reflect on the current policy and practice regarding young adults transition into work. Hear new and critical perspectives and have the opportunity to shape the emerging debate and agenda.
Head of Special Projects Frank Villeneuve-Smith discusses research findings and there implications for employability and young adults. Director of Operations Jill Lanning outlines early results from on-the-ground research that LSN has carried out in collaboration with UKCES, into what learning providers have done to improve employability skills.
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