You are viewing our public content
You can sign in or register for additional services

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

In the News

CO:  What a surprise, the government doesn’t always know best - The Cabinet Office claims that recycling will become much easier for millions of people, thanks to the winner of the Government's Show Us A Better Way competition, which asked people to invent a website that provides a useful public service, using information already held by the Government.

The winning idea, Can I Recycle It, will tell people what the recycling facilities are in their area, based on their postcode.  The idea will now be taken forward by a team of developers funded from part of a £60,000 prize fund. Four runners-up ideas to; plan cycling routes, show the boundaries of school catchment areas and find the nearest postbox and public toilets, will also be built.

Five other entries will be given help developing their ideas and making a website, with funding supplied by Communities and Local Government. Four other ideas will share £20,000 for not only coming up with an innovative website, but also for building it themselves.
CSPLWhat about holidaying Ministers? - The Committee on Standards in Public Life has announced that the subject of its twelfth inquiry is to be 'Local Leadership and Public Trust: Accountability and Transparency in London and Local Government'.

The inquiry will look at structures & models within local government across the UK and in London, to examine the way in which decisions are made & scrutinised, how office holders are held to account and whether the different models of local government command public trust.

The Committee will be publishing an issues & questions paper in the next few weeks and will call for written evidence from interested parties before holding a series of hearings across the UK in the New Year.  The Committee intends to publish their report in Autumn 2009.
WAG:  A problem that will face us all in time - The Welsh Assembly Government has launched a consultation that will explore how care will be best paid for across Wales in the future.  The consultation & engagement process - ‘Paying for Care in Wales: creating a fair and sustainable system’, will take place between November 2008 and March 2009 and will focus on how the current system of paying for care will need to change in order to meet future needs in addition to examining the balance of responsibility that lies between the state, the individual & their families.

A series of events will be arranged throughout Wales to give stakeholders an opportunity to voice their opinions. Events will take place on 10 December in Cardiff and 15 January in Llandudno.

In addition, an advisory group of key stakeholders will be established to help shape the consultation process in order to ensure that effective & appropriate input is obtained from wider stakeholders and citizens and to represent their views.  An interactive website - Paying for Care in Wales - has also been established that will enable people to respond directly to key questions online.

Given that a number of issues, both devolved & non-devolved, will be discussed as part of the consultation it will run parallel to the consultation that is taking place in England. Plans will be set out in Green papers for Wales and for England in 2009.
DfTShocking Road Safety campaign - The Government is taking a new approach to warning children about the dangers they can face on our roads (around 9,000 children were killed or hurt on British roads last year), following new research that shows today's 6-11-year-olds need bolder & more forthright communication about road safety than ever before.

A new £1.5m THINK! campaign graphically spells out the dangers of not crossing the road safely and highlights the need to 'stop, look and listen' every time.  'Tales of the Road' was devised following in-depth research with both parents and children who felt that a forthright campaign showing the consequences of both good and bad road safety behaviour was needed to make an impression on today's children.

The campaign will use animated characters to tell a series of cautionary tales each focusing on a different aspect of road safety.  The first advert, 'The Boy Who Did Not Stop, Look and Listen', will air from Monday 17 November and aims to demonstrate to children the importance of taking care when crossing or playing near roads.  The next adverts for the 'Tales of the Road' are scheduled to appear from 5 January 2009.

The television adverts will be accompanied by a new website with interactive games for children and educational material for teachers & parents.  The Government is also investing £140m in the Travelling to School project and another £140m in cycling, which includes funding for an extra 500,000 10 year-olds across England to take part in Bikeability cycle training, while the THINK! Copycat campaign reminds parents of the need to set a good example to their children on road safety.
HMRCJust in time for Christmas - Customs duty is currently payable on goods bought online from non-EU countries worth £18 or more. But from 1 December 2008, a new £105 limit will apply.  VAT will still be charged (at the appropriate rate that applies to identical goods sold in the UK) on goods over £18, and is not affected by the changes.

A new HMRC 'internet shopping' podcast explains the changes in more detail. As well as duty and VAT, the podcast discusses handling fees, which mail carriers are entitled to charge & collect from you on delivery, where duty or VAT is payable.

Forthcoming Event:  Without standards future problems are certain - The increasing prevalence of digitally-created documents, emails and rich media is presenting records managers and information officers with new issues & challenges as they seek to ensure long-term validity of their organisations' records and information assets.

MoReq2 - the Model Requirements Specification for the Management of Electronic Records - is set to become the de-facto international resource for managers of existing and proposed records management systems.  Published in March 2008, and supported by the EU & the UK National Archives, the revised MoReq guidelines are applicable to the all public sector and regulated private sector organisations.

The revised MoReq standard sets out more clearly the ‘essential’ and the ‘desirable’ functionalities of a records management system, whilst encompassing the latest technologies, including XML, electronic signatures, email attachments and distributed access.  It is also designed as a testable standard for product certification.

It is written in a ‘the system must…the system should…’ style allowing core requirements to be separated from desirable elements.  It is also modular, allowing optional modules such as Workflow or Digital Rights Management to be evaluated in their own right. 

A one-day workshop (Copthorne Hotel, Slough -  27 November 2008)  organised by AIIM sets out to improve the understanding of the document, highlight additions & changes from the earlier standard and provide guidance on how to use it as part of a new procurement or to update an existing roll-out.  The programme is based on independent educational sessions from AIIM , Serco and the UK National Archives.

MoReq2 is a very wide-ranging and comprehensive standard and best advice is to use it selectively to match the priorities & strategies of your own organisation.  This event will help you to set those strategies and understand how to apply MoReq2 to achieve them. 
Full details ~ AIIM ~ Serco - MoReq2 website ~ EC: Update and extension of the Model Requirements for the Management of Electronic Records ~ UK National Archives ~ ISO 15489 - Records Management ~ Society of Archivists ~ Records Management Society ~ DigitalPreservationEurope ~ Scientific Archivist Group ~ Document@work ~ European Commission on Preservation and Access ~ International Council on Archives ~ International Records Management Trust 

For information on other forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar

For Industry News please click HERE

General News

DH: The first ever award which recognises people who treat patients with dignity & respect and who provide outstanding care has been launched by Sir Michael Parkinson and Care Services Minister Phil Hope. The People's Award for Dignity in Care is open to everyone.  Anyone can nominate individuals or teams who have gone above & beyond the call of duty to improve patient dignity in care.
Nominations for the 2009 Dignity Awards open soon and close 6 March 2009.  
Defra: UK and Chinese governments have signed a 3-year commitment to strengthen their growing partnership on sustainable agriculture. The Ministers also launched the Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Network (SAIN) which will help address the link between agriculture and climate change.  This new network will hopefully provide a clear plan for the development & implementation of China-UK collaboration on environmentally sustainable agriculture.
NA: The National Archives´ season of podcasts to mark the 90th anniversary of the Armistice, continues (until 21 November) with extracts from Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig´s War Diary. As well as giving insights into the diplomatic proceedings leading up to the 11 November 1918, the four extracts offer personal observations by Haig, the Commander in Chief of the British armies in France and Flanders, on the state of the German army and what he believed should be the terms of the Armistice.
NA: The National Archives has released unique audio-visual records from the 1997 investigation into the tragic sinking of the Motor Vessel Derbyshire, following its most significant digital preservation project to date.
The Derbyshire sank in 1980 during a typhoon in the South China Sea with the loss of its entire crew.  Following an inconclusive initial formal inquiry, the Derbyshire Family Association campaigned for a more detailed investigation into the tragedy.  The subsequent lessons learned have led to widespread safety improvements that have contributed to a dramatic reduction in loss of life at sea.
The release of the extensive records is a major step towards the future of archives, as official records move from paper-based to digital.  These records have been loaded into The National Archives´ Digital Object Store for permanent preservation and some key material has been made freely available online.
PCS: 500 age discrimination claims over pay have been lodged by the PCS (Public and Commercial Services Union) in the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Courts Service it has been announced. The move is part of the union’s campaign for fair pay in civil & public services and against the government’s policy of capping public sector pay, which is leading to pay cuts and pay freezes.
The MoJ imposed a pay system last year which the union maintains discriminates against younger members of the workforce as it can take over 10 years for staff members to reach the top of their pay scale. The union believes this amount of time breaches age discrimination law and drives down wages & morale, especially as, unlike other parts of the public sector, ‘progression’, or moving from the bottom to the top of a pay scale is included in the government’s pay cap along with cost of living increases.
Elsewhere in the civil service this double disadvantage has led to 40,000 long serving staff working in Jobcentres, benefits and pension receiving no pay rise whatsoever because they are at the top of their pay scale, the same is happening to a third of staff working for the Identity and Passport Service.
LR: Two new triggers will help Land Registry to achieve its strategic objective to create a comprehensive land register when they come into force next year.  The new triggers are:
* the appointment of a new trustee of unregistered land held in trust where the land vests in the new trustee by deed or by a vesting order under section 44 of the Trustee Act 1925
* the partitioning of unregistered land held in trust amongst the beneficiaries of the trust
The Land Registration Act 2002 (Amendment) Order 2008, which adds these events to the number of triggers for compulsory first registration of title, was laid in Parliament last week and comes into force on 6 April 2009.
NSG: Government Departments must invest in their Private Office staff if they are to give Ministers the support they need according to Darryl Howe of the National School of Government, which has launched Private Office Community – designed to help officials meet exacting requirements and make the most of this great career opportunity.

Part of the National School’s Centre for Working with Ministers and Parliament (CWMP), which recently celebrated its first anniversary, Private Office Community caters for staff in all roles and at all levels.  It helps to provide officials with an understanding of the ministerial & parliamentary environment, trains officials in briefing & drafting and helps officials prepare for Select Committee appearances.
Aquarius: Any book giving personal experiences & information regarding substance misuse is of interest to workers in that field, but a newly published book has an added dimension, as it exposes the unexplored problem of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders using alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with everyday life.
Matt's story is interspersed with factual information on the link between alcohol and autism, taking it from childhood to the problems adults can experience in friendships, marriage and the workplace.  It also looks at the types of help available and what life can be like following treatment.
NA: As Britain marks the 90th anniversary of the First World War Armistice, The National Archives brings to life a fascinating, unofficial account of the negotiations that ended the Great War. From the bottle of port & biscuits produced upon the signing of the armistice agreement, to the shouts of "La Victoire! La Victoire!" on the streets of Paris, this first-hand account gives a detailed insight behind the scenes of one of the most important meetings in history.
Commander Bagot was a qualified German interpreter who accompanied the British negotiating team to France in November 1918.  While he may not have been a key player at the talks, Commander Bagot´s first hand account of events puts the listener right in the middle of the action.
ScotGov: The first university degree for nursery and childcare workers (BA Childhood Practice) based on new professional standards is being offered in universities this year. The Standard for Childhood Practice aims to support early years & childcare workers to follow a skilled career path within the sector and help workers to be recognised as professionals.  Longer term, all early years & child care managers will be required to gain new awards of 360 credits and SCQF level 9 for registration with the SSSC.
OFT:   The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) took part in a Europe-wide day of action last week to warn holidaymakers about Spanish bogus holiday clubs that cost tourists £ms every year. The OFT Scambusters Team, trading standards officers from across the UK and advisers from Consumer Direct handed out information & fake holiday club scratchcards at UK airports.
Scratchcards given out by touts for bogus holiday clubs are all 'winners', but the prize turns out to be 'a trip to a lengthy sales presentation and a chance to pay thousands of pounds for membership to a bogus holiday club' - according to the OFT warning.
In most cases, consumers find they have bought little more than access to an internet booking site offering the same service they could get at a travel agent for free.  OFT research shows that 78% of bogus holiday club victims are aged between 35 and 64.  The average loss per victim is £3,030.
UK IPO: School children who designed a machine to make stacking chairs easier have been hailed as the UK's brightest young inventors. The device, called 'Charlie the Chair Stacker', was designed by nine and ten-year-old pupils at Great Arley School in Lancashire and has been named as the National winner of the 2008 Cracking Ideas competition.
LDA: Children from the Olympic boroughs have been helping to develop legacy plans for the 2012 site during half term activities organised by the London Development Agency (LDA). The 4 – 12 year-olds learned about how their area would will be transformed after the 2012 Games and were asked to share ideas about what they would like to see created.
The children also had a chance to meet LDA master planners EDAW, Allies and Morisson and KCAP who are leading work on the Legacy Masterplan Framework (LMF) – a spatial plan for homes, parkland, schools, workspace, health & sporting facilities to be developed on the Olympic site after the 2012 Games.
STFC: An infrared camera aboard NASA's Cassini spacecraft has discovered a unique aurora lighting up Saturn’s polar cap.  The mysterious new aurora is unlike any other known in our solar system.
The new infrared aurora appears in a region hidden from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which has provided views of Saturn’s ultraviolet aurora.  Cassini observed it when the spacecraft flew near Saturn’s polar region.  In infrared light, the aurora sometimes fills the region from around 82 degrees north all the way over the pole.  This new aurora is also constantly changing, even disappearing within a 45 minute-period.
OS: London-based architects, Amenity Space, have received international praise for their unique recycled building blocks made entirely out of disused maps.  The Map Compression Block – which stacks Ordnance Survey maps on top of each other to create a heat efficient & strong building brick – was honoured recently at the San Francisco Urban Re:Vision Awards.
The award recognised the project’s innovative approach to producing an eco-friendly and sustainable building material. The project works by drilling holes through the centre of each map, which is then placed over a series of steel rods fixed to a timber rail.  The sides are then clad with a fire & waterproof layer and the maps compressed until they make up a solid panel.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

ScotParl: In what is believed to be the first Parliamentary project of its kind, the Scottish Parliament Community Partnerships Project will work with blind & partially sighted young people, difficult to reach young people, and people from black & minority ethnic backgrounds to help them get involved with & influence the activities of the Parliament.
The first phase of the project will begin during the next few weeks.  Parliament staff will visit public sessions organised by the partners.  They will talk about how the Parliament works and how people can interact & influence policy development and legislation.
CLG: Councils will get over a hundred million pounds to help maintain the building of the family and first-time buyer homes still desperately needed Housing Minister Margaret Beckett has announced. The 2008-09 Housing and Planning Delivery Grant will provide additional direct funding top up for councils to ensure that new homes are built where families need them.
DHWe all need to be more active and eat more healthily to halt the rising tide of obesity. If we do nothing, by 2050 90% of today's children will be overweight and at risk from serious diseases - that's the latest message issued by Health Secretary Alan Johnson as he launched the Change4Life coalition.
Change4Life is a lifestyle revolution involving thousands of local organisations and charities which will help mums, dads & families eat well, move more and live longer.  Under the banner Change4Life, the Government is aiming to galvanise support from everyone in the country from grass roots organisations to leading supermarkets and charities.
Through Change4Life, the Government is aiming to reduce the number of people who are obese or overweight and prevent the problem escalating to a point where the experts say it is likely to cost the NHS an estimated £50bn by 2050.
Press release ~ Change4Life ~ Healthy Weight, Health Lives: A Cross-Government Strategy for England ~ 'Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives toolkit: A Toolkit for Developing Local Strategies' ~ DH - Obesity ~ Foresight Tackling Obesities: Future Choices Project ~ Obesity: defusing a health time bomb ~ National Heart Forum ~ Healthy Eating, Active Living: An action plan to improve diet, increase physical activity and tackle obesity (2008-2011) ~ The National Child Measurement Programme: guidance and resources ~ Tackling Child Obesity - First Steps ~ Information Centre for Health and Social Care - Obesity ~ Obesity: guidance on the prevention, identification, assessment and management of overweight and obesity in adults and children ~ Health of Scotland’s population - Obesity ~ Child Health - obesity ~ Useful publications
DH: Corner shops in the North East will be the first in England to pilot an £800,000 scheme to get the country eating more fruit & veg. and reduce obesity. 12 stores have already signed up to the pilot with the aim of 120 coming on board by next May. Shops involved in the pilot will sell a wider range of fruit & vegetables and display them prominently within their stores.  
In return, the DH will assign a project co-ordinator to work with each store and offer advice on maximising profits, minimising waste and displaying & promoting the new fresh produce to the local community.  Shop keepers will also be able to link up with local initiatives, such as cooking clubs, in a bid to help their customers learn how to build fruit and vegetables into their diet. A similar scheme is already up and running in Scotland, where corner shops have seen an increase in profits ranging from 2% up to as much as 400%.
HO: The number of jobs available to foreign workers through the shortage occupation route will be reduced, the Home Office has announced. The shortage occupation list sets out those jobs for which there are not enough resident workers, and will be used as part of the skilled worker tier (Tier 2) of the Australian-style points system, which will be launched on 27 November 2008.
Under Tier 2 companies must pass the Resident Labour Market test by proving they cannot fill the post with a resident worker before they can bring in someone from outside the EEA.  If the job is on the shortage list the company will not need to pass the test. The number of positions available to migrants has been reduced from one million to just fewer than 800,000.  The previous shortage occupation list covered 1 million jobs.
WAG: A major new campaign to encourage boys to embrace the joy of reading has been launched by the Deputy Minister for Skills John Griffiths.  Drawing on research into boys’ literacy and targeting boys aged 9 to 14 who are reluctant readers, the campaign - Read A Million Words Together - encourages boys to read with other boys and with male family members, such as fathers, brothers, uncles, grand fathers and others in a caring capacity.

A copy of ‘Me Read No Way!’ has been sent to all schools in Wales.  The book promotes teaching methods which have already been proven to work with boys.  The guide focuses on thirteen key strategies to encourage boys to become readers and to motivate them to read inside & outside of the classroom.
ScotGov: Grants worth £4m have been awarded to a range of international development programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa. The funding, from the Scottish Government's International Development Fund, will be allocated over three years to Scottish-based organisations working with partners in Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia and the Darfur region of Sudan.  The grants amount to £1m per country over three years.
ScotGov: A new forum to support individuals to protect themselves against flooding has been launched. The Scottish Flood Forum - funded by the Government, set up by the National Flood Forum and supported by SEPA - will raise awareness of flood warnings & self-help measures, while providing an independent voice for flood victims.
The forum will also promote a more sustainable approach to flood risk management through awareness, avoidance, alleviation and assistance.  A commitment to sustainable flood risk management is a key element of the new Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Bill currently going through the Scottish Parliament.
WAG: The Welsh Assembly Government has announced that it has signed an international deal to help tackle the effects of climate change.  The agreement, between the WAG and the UN Development Programme, will help regional governments in Africa to create their own climate change action plans – and gain the expertise to bid for the funds to deliver them.

The Mbale region of Uganda has been chosen by the UN as one of the first regions to benefit from the scheme, but it is hoped that regions in Zambia, Mali and the Gambia, which have links with Wales, will also benefit.
DECC: As part of the Department of Energy and Climate Change's 25th offshore oil & gas licensing round, 171 new licences are being offered to 100 companies covering 257 blocks of the North Sea.
Following a screening exercise, it has been decided that 46 of the blocks applied for should be subject to more detailed assessments of the likely effects of oil & gas activities on certain protected nature conservation areas. A decision on whether to grant licences for these blocks will be subject to the results of the environmental assessments.
The UK's Oil and Gas sector currently provides 70% of the country's energy and benefits the UK balance of payments to the tune of £45bn a year.  It is by far the largest single industrial UK investor and supports over 450,000 jobs though out the economy.
WAG: More than 40 leading organisations representing the construction sector in Wales have teamed up to sign the first green building charter of its kind in the UK.  They are committing themselves to support progress towards a built environment that contributes low or zero net carbon emissions as quickly as practically possible.

The coalition will play a major role in the development of low/zero carbon buildings ahead of the UK Government’s target of achieving zero carbon new homes by 2016 and achieve a major step change in Wales by 2011.  It will also work towards significantly increasing the energy efficiency of the existing building stock in Wales, contributing towards the WAG target of 3% annual reductions in emission reductions from 2011 onwards.

Cabinet Office:    Harriet Harman, Leader of the House of Commons and Minister for Women and Equality, has claimed that Parliament has acknowledged it is not representative of society and that it needs to change. She was opening a debate in the House of Commons on a motion to establish a Speaker's Conference, which will consider & make recommendations on how to improve representation of women, disabled and minority ethnic people in the House of Commons, so that it better reflects society.
The Government expects the Conference to consider other issues such as Sexual Orientation as part of their discussions.  It will operate like a Select Committee and consist of 17 MPs from across the political parties.
The Conference was requested by the Prime Minister as part of the 'Governance of Britain' agenda.  The last Speaker's Conference was in 1977.  There have only been five in the last century. In 1916-17 the Speaker's Conference secured cross-party agreement on the principle that women should have the right to vote, which led to the Representation of the People Act 1918, which extended the right to vote to women over 30 years old.
ScotGov: Bread which can help control diabetes, a tomato extract that may reduce heart disease and super berries containing high doses of vitamins are some of the developments being produced by Scottish Government supported scientists, working across the food chain to help to improve our health and boost the food & drink industry.
Scientists from the University of Aberdeen's Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, Macaulay Institute, Moredun Research Institute, Scottish Agricultural College and the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI) are working across the whole supply chain to improve methods of production, processing & supply and help develop healthy food & drink choices to improve the Scots diet.
HO: Binge drinkers arrested for alcohol related offences in nine police force areas across the country will be compelled to face up to the consequences of their drinking. The Home Office is providing an additional £1m to police & drug alcohol teams for the roll-out of nine new alcohol arrest referral projects.
Under the scheme, offenders arrested for alcohol-related offences are referred to alcohol specialists who, over one or two sessions, assess the offender's drinking behaviour, the health risks to the individual and provide help & advice on reducing their alcohol consumption.  Those with more complex alcohol misuse problems, and who are given a conditional caution, can be referred to more in-depth advice sessions.  If they do not attend these advice sessions, they can be prosecuted for the original offence.
DWP: Good progress has been made in implementing the recommendations from the Major Incident Investigation Board (MIIB), the Government has claimed as it responds in detail to the MIIB's work. The Board has produced four substantive reports stating findings & recommendations (together with a further four progress reports) and the government has responded to those concerning the 'Design and operation of fuel storage sites' and 'Emergency preparedness for, response to and recovery from incidents'.  
With regard to the remaining two substantive reports, one - The explosion mechanism advisory group report - is being progressed by a specialist group of regulators, academics, and industry representatives.  For the other - Recommendations on land use planning and the control of societal risk around major hazard sites - Government consideration will be led by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government who will respond substantively in due course, once the recommendations have been fully considered.
DIUS: Learners will be more able to study in 'bite-sized chunks', building up a portfolio of accredited training which suits their individual needs under a new system approved by FE Minister Sion Simon.  By 2010 all key vocational qualifications will be approved by Sector Skills Councils and readily available to learners in small, credit-based units of learning.
The new Qualifications and Credit Framework will enable people to gain qualifications at their own pace, from a number of sources, in a way that suits them - and to carry the modules with them if, for example, they change jobs.  Employers will find it easier to find or develop employees with the skills they need for business success.
HO: The next generation of architects are being encouraged to consider & include innovative counter terrorism measures in their designs as part of a new Home Office competition. Students from across the country are invited to take part in the 'Public Spaces, Safer Places' initiative which asks them to think about security features and safety issues when designing a fictional public space.
The competition is a response to one of the recommendations Home Office Security Minister Lord West made last year in his review of how best to protect crowded places from terrorism.  In particular, the need to do more to raise awareness of counter terrorism measures among professional bodies, such as architects and designers.  The competition will close at the end of December 2008 and an award ceremony will be hosted by the Home Office in March 2009.
ScotGov: First Minister Alex Salmond has welcomed the publication of the European Commission's Strategic Energy Review which identifies a North Sea Offshore Grid as an infrastructure priority, saying:
"Never before have we been so well placed to become the green energy capital of Europe.  The Commission's report designates the Blueprint for a North Sea Offshore Grid one of the six proposed infrastructure priorities……
This move is of great importance and significance to Scotland with our potential to generate up to 25 per cent of wave, wind and tidal power for the whole of Europe.  Only yesterday, we published our pre-scoping study to define the potential of a full study for the North Sea grid”.
ScotGov: A company developing a system to balance electricity supply & demand is one of 22 research projects to receive a share of £2.4m Scottish Government funding. Edinburgh-based Flexitricity Limited will receive £163,748 from the SMART:SCOTLAND awards scheme to help develop a system which enables electricity suppliers to accurately match electricity supply to demand, helping the National Grid to access electricity securely and avoid waste.
SMART:SCOTLAND provides grant assistance to support technical & commercial feasibility studies and research & development projects to develop a pre-production prototype of a new product or process.


Defra: Defra has launched a consultation (closes 10 February 2009) to revise the existing equine identification legislation.  The main requirement for the new Horse Identification legislation is the compulsory microchipping of foals born after 1 July 2009.  This requirement will not be retrospective for older horses.
The purpose of the consultation is to seek views on draft Regulations intended to apply Commission Regulation (EC) No 504/2008 in England.  The consultation document is confined to the application of a number of derogations provided for in the Regulation, along with new offences created and penalties for non compliance.
BERR: The Government has opened a consultation (closes on2 February 2009) on European plans to create a uniform set of consumer rights across Europe. The new Consumer Rights Directive sets out proposals for harmonised rules on several key consumer areas, including protection against unfair contract terms & rules on faulty goods.
New rules on shopping over the Internet are also proposed, as well as an extension of rights for consumers who use door-step sellers.  The European Commission's plans incorporate proposals put forward by the UK for doorstep-selling.
ScotGov: A stringent independent inspection regime and more single rooms are part of the Scottish Government's continuing drive to crackdown on superbugs in hospitals. A consultation (closes on Friday, 12 December 2008 but only aimed at NHS Boards and the Scottish Consumer Council) on the detail of the inspection arrangements has begun and the key proposals include:
* Establishing the Care Environment Inspectorate which will make unannounced visits, focusing on risks identified in each hospital's self assessment
* Reports for each board plus a national overview for Ministers and the Scottish Parliament
* Each board to publish an improvement plan based on findings of inspectorate visits to drive forward continuous improvements
* Follow-up visits from the inspectorate to review progress against improvement plans
Also published is an independent audit report on boards' compliance with the National Cleaning Specification Monitoring Framework, commissioned by Health Facilities Scotland.
CompC: The Competition Commission (CC) has published for consultation (closes on 4 December 2008) its proposed remedies designed to increase competition in the Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) market.
Following a series of hearings and a considerable amount of analysis, the CC is now proposing a package of measures which it considers will be practical & effective in increasing competition in the market to the benefit of customers.
Defra: The independent Review of Household Charging and Metering for Water and Sewerage Services, led by Anna Walker, has published its call for evidence. Responses are required by 19 December 2008.
The call for evidence will be used to develop a body of knowledge which the review will use to develop options & recommendations to Government.  Evidence is welcomed from the water industry, water customers, environmental organisations, and any other individuals or relevant sectors.
The review intends to publish its emerging findings for consultation in spring 2009, with a final report later in the year.  A series of stakeholder workshops will be held across England and Wales in December and January.
Press release ~ Walker review - Call for evidence (Also: Scroll down for Stakeholder workshops info.) ~ Defra's water strategy - Future Water
WAG: The Welsh Assembly Government has unveiled its 10-year plan to reduce homelessness in Wales for consultation (closes on 25 February 2009), which aims to prevent people from becoming homeless and to improve the accommodation & services provided for people who lose their homes.
After the consultation an Action Plan will be launched in 2009 which will set out how the vision of the plan will be delivered. Rough sleeping will be tackled through a range of outreach, drop-in and accommodation based services being delivered by housing, healthcare, employment and support service providers. The Assembly Government will also review the effectiveness of the existing legal framework in order to meet the needs of the people at risk of homelessness.
QCA: The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority are currently developing curriculum guidance for practitioners in schools & colleges for lines of learning in public services, retail business, sport & active leisure and travel & tourism. They are consulting on guidance for each level of these four lines of learning up to 1 December 2008 and are keen to get as much input from practitioners as possible.  
The questionnaire should take about 10-15 minutes to complete.  Before completing the questionnaire you will need to download and read the draft curriculum guidance materials for the relevant line(s) of learning from the 'Related documents' section on this web page.

WAGThe Welsh Assembly Government has launched a consultation that will explore how care will be best paid for across Wales in the future.  The consultation & engagement process - ‘Paying for Care in Wales: creating a fair and sustainable system’, will take place between November 2008 and March 2009, and will focus on how the current system of paying for care will need to change in order to meet future needs in addition to examining the balance of responsibility that lies between the state, the individual & their families – See ‘In the News’ section for more information

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

LLUK: The Scottish Government has released a new web publication designed to promote ways of using the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) in Community Learning and Development (CLD), which sets out to help CLD practitioners to understand how the SCQF might be useful in a community learning and development context.
HEFCE:  Professor David Eastwood, Chief Executive of HEFCE, has issued advice to universities & colleges on the implications of the recent parliamentary statement on student support by John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills.
DH: Patients looking for information about the choices available for their healthcare will now be able to find it all on one NHS website. From last week, whether you are considering which hospital to choose (NHS Choices), or checking what your symptoms (NHS Direct) might mean, all of the NHS's knowledge & expertise will be available from a single website (NHS Choices).
Now NHS Choices offers the public access to: self-help guides, comparative information on hospitals, guides to long-term conditions, practice profiles to help find GPs and much more.
LLUKLifelong Learning UK is working in partnership with the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) to provide professional development support for those involved in delivering the new 14-19 Diploma.
An updated guide to assist with the planning of professional development is now available.  'A Guide to Support the Professional Development of Diploma Teachers' (2008) identifies & explains the specific areas of teaching in which practitioners can enhance their knowledge, skills and understanding for Diploma delivery.

Annual Reports

DfT: The number of rogue drivers on Britain's roads has dropped significantly, the results of a joint police and Government operation has indicated. Compared with a similar operation in 2006, fewer motorists were found to be driving without a valid licence, insurance or MOT.
52 police forces participated in Operation V79, in which 6,689 vehicles were stopped randomly over a 24-hour period on 18 March 2008.
CSPL: The Committee on Standards in Public Life has published the results from their third biennial national survey of public attitudes on standards of conduct in public life. The research uses information gathered from face-to-face interviews with a random sample of over 2,000 people across the UK.  It offers an opportunity to assess public attitudes, expectations & perceptions about the behaviour of those in public life against the previous surveys conducted in 2004 and 2006.
Commenting on the new research, Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Sir Christopher Kelly said: "As in previous years, the public continue to show high levels of confidence in front line professionals such as doctors and teachers.  National politicians whether MPs or Ministers continue to languish near the bottom of the league tables, ranked alongside estate agents and tabloid journalists”.
DH / NCJDSU: The Sixteenth Annual Report of the National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance Unit (NCJDSU) has been published.  The report looks back over the period from May 1990 (when the Unit was set up) to 31 December 2007. The report outlines the Unit's work in the clinical surveillance of variant (vCJD), sporadic and iatrogenic CJD.
In addition, the Unit's scientific report has been published, which provides details of the current & planned future scientific research being undertaken by staff at the NCJDSU, in the context of the Unit's previous research and its on-going background surveillance.

General Reports and Other Publications

CLG: Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has published a report from the Audit Commission and Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary which assesses the progress that has been made on Preventing Violent Extremism to date.
The report - Preventing Violent Extremism: Learning and Development Exercise - highlights some of the work underway across the country.  Researchers were looking to learn from those sites with experience of violent extremism and identified key learning points for central & local government, police, security services and community groups about how work in a number of areas could be improved.
The CLG will hold a national conference in December, with up to 1,000 attendees, which will seek to share best practice within the UK and learn from other international programmes.
LBRO: Council services providing vital consumer protection and regulatory advice to business are delivered amid enormous complexity, the first ever ‘map' of the UK's local regulatory regime reveals. Local inspectors must enforce some 200 pieces of domestic legislation as well as EU directives. They must also implement policies set by up to a dozen central government departments and 10 national regulators - and in some cases enforce rules alongside them.
The Mapping the Local Authority Regulatory Services Landscape report, published by the Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO), found that responsibility for providing trading standards, environmental health, licensing and fire safety services is divided between more than 500 local bodies across England, Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland.  Depending on the type of council in an area, inspections alone can be carried out by up to three different local authorities.
Defra / FAWC: The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) has published its Opinion on the Welfare of Farmed Gamebirds. Approximately 40m gamebirds (30 to 35m pheasants and 5 to 10m partridges) are reared & released each year in Great Britain.  Gamebirds have traditionally been bred & reared using simple systems of husbandry, though increasingly more intensive methods are used.
ScotGov: Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop has responded to the HMIE report on inspection of services to protect children and young people in Aberdeen, saying: “Scottish Government officials are offering advice and support to Aberdeen as needed, and are highlighting examples of best practice from local authorities doing well in the areas that Aberdeen have been struggling with.
We will closely monitor how the action plan to meet the recommendations in this report is taken forward as well as continuing to work with Aberdeen City Council, Grampian Police and NHS Grampian to help ensure that children in Aberdeen are protected."
NAO: A report from the National Audit Office finds The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), the body with responsibility for the police complaints system, has improved its performance against targets, in spite of a significant increase in its workload. However, the IPCC needs to do more to get feedback from complainants on how their complaints have been handled and to improve its quality control procedures.
The IPCC has a remit to identify & disseminate the wider lessons arising from its work.  Since 2007, it has issued Learning the Lessons bulletins that summarise recommendations for improving police practice, which have been widely welcomed by the police and others.

Legislation / Legal

FSA:  A further Financial Services Authority (FSA) review of insurance comparison websites has found that many sites have made significant improvements and are consistently providing clear, fair and not misleading information, but some firms need to go further to address a few specific concerns.
The FSA visited a sample of the firms responsible for the 17 websites that were assessed during the initial review and found that many of them had made improvements to their websites and processes.  However, the FSA has identified two specific areas where some firms need to make further improvements:
* Obtaining better information from insurers about the level of excesses that apply to insurance policies
* Making more clear the assumptions about consumers' needs & circumstances that some websites use to obtain quotes
OFT:  A Dutch-based company has been stopped from publishing misleading 'psychic' advertisements in the UK, following action by the OFT. Sky Connection BV, a Dutch company, placed advertisements in a number of national newspapers and magazines claiming that 'experts' at an organisation named as the 'Institute of Wellbeing' were launching a major appeal to identify individuals born between 1932 and 1969.  
The OFT estimates that 170,000 UK consumers fall victim to deceptive psychic mailings every year and lose an estimated £40m.
DH: New laws that will help maintain the UK's position as a world leader in embryo research, enable scientists to investigate cures for serious illnesses such as Parkinson's disease and regulate assisted reproductive treatments, have received Royal Assent.
The new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act updates the 1990 law to ensure that it is fit for purpose in the 21st Century and keeps the UK at the forefront of developments in treatment and research. The Government undertook a review of the law primarily in response to technological developments, such as new ways of creating embryos that have arisen since 1990, and changes in society.
OFT:  The Office of Fair Trading has launched a campaign to ensure minicab operators across the UK understand competition rules, as it is concerned there may be a particular lack of awareness among private hire vehicle operators of the stringent civil & criminal laws against price fixing, following a number of reports of minicab operators entering into agreements with their competitors to set prices.
Minicab operators are being warned that individuals may face criminal liability for price-fixing, including fines and even the possibility of imprisonment.  In addition businesses could be fined up to 10% of their total turnover.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

Defra: There are only 2 weeks to go before businesses face a mandatory obligation to register their use of chemicals. Legislation for enforcing REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) has been laid before Parliament, which will come into force when the pre-registration period ends and businesses must register their chemicals.
Pre-registering the chemical substances they manufacture or import allows businesses to take advantage of the phased registration deadlines in REACH, which could mean not having to register in full until June 2018.  Pre-registration also offers a chance to reduce registration costs.  If a business has not pre-registered their chemicals by 1 December, they will be forced to stop importing or manufacturing that until they have completed full registrations for them.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has called on regulators & law enforcement agencies from around the world, including the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Spanish and German regulators, to help tackle a fraud that reaps about £300m yearly, from the UK public, for criminals.
Each year, around 30,000 people fall victim to ‘boiler rooms’ in the UK alone.  Typically, victims can be 'groomed’ over weeks or months by fraudsters who call them regularly, eventually persuading them to buy worthless shares.
Around 20 countries were represented at the FSA organised first international boiler room conference, which aimed to encourage a global response to this problem with boiler rooms based overseas - often in Spain, Hong Kong or North America.  But their victims tend to be in the UK, Germany, United States and Scandinavia.
Defra:  A review of all Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) and Organic ELS option points, as well as some Higher Level Stewardship (HLS), Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) and Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) payment rates under Defra's agri-environment schemes is to be carried out.  There are more than 33,000 Environmental Stewardship agreements in England, covering more than 4.8m hectares.
A progress report earlier this year recommended that payment rates be reviewed in the light of market changes since the last review in 2004. Defra wants to ensure that payment and points rates continue to compensate fairly for income that farmers forego when signing up to the scheme.  Rates could go up or down.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has joined Alyn Smith MEP in calling on the European Union to ensure that a 'valuable weapon' in the fight against wildlife crime is not lost. At present landowners & farmers must comply with Article 8 of the Birds Directive, which bans the use of poisons on birds if they wish to receive funding under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The EU are proposing to end the link between Article 8 and CAP payments.
Bob Elliot, Head of Investigations at the RSPB Scotland, said: "The loss of this option from cross compliance would be a blow for wildlife protection in the UK. It is a major deterrent in the armoury of the authorities. Deliberate poisoning is a major threat to birds of prey; we had 37 reports confirmed by the Scottish Agricultural Science Agency of raptors being poisoned last year. In Scotland a mixture of illegal pesticides killed a white-tailed eagle found on a Scottish estate this May."
Defra: 96% of England's bathing waters met the minimum water quality standards set by the European Bathing Water Directive this year and 65.7% met the highest guideline standards according to tests carried out by the Environment Agency.  Other results this year show:
* Of the 414 bathing waters in England, 398 met the mandatory standards
* Only 16 failed the standards, meaning there was a compliance rate of 96.1%
* A total of 272 waters met the UK's much tighter guideline standard
Exceptionally wet weather in July, August and September has resulted in the slightly lower standard of the water this year.  10 of the 16 failing bathing waters are in the South West, which was hit hard by heavy rainfall during the summer.  Rainfall causes pollutants from agriculture & urban areas to run off, with negative impacts on the quality of bathing waters.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

BIG‘Postcards from the Park’, the UK-wide photography competition celebrating what we love most about our local parks was launched by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund (BIG), in partnership with parks charity, GreenSpace.  The competition which encouraged hundreds of people across the UK to capture what they love about their local park has published details of the winners.  
More than 2.5bn visits are made to Britain’s parks each year and HLF & BIG are investing up to £160m to help revitalise these essential green spaces and put them back at the heart of community life.  Since 1997, HLF has awarded over £400m to improving parks, while BIG has spent more than £700m on environmental initiatives since 2004.

Business and Other Briefings

BERR: Business Secretary Peter Mandelson has announced the creation of a new panel to monitor how banks are lending to small businesses. The five major high street banks reached an agreement with the government to provide data on the availability, risk and overall cost of lending to small & medium sized businesses at the first meeting of the Small Business Finance Forum.
The Forum also secured an agreement from the British Bankers' Association to work with Small Business organisations to fundamentally revise the Statement of Principles which set out how banks and businesses work together.
Consultations with business and finance organisations have revealed a number of companies feel they do not have access to the right advice they need on financial management. The Government, in partnership with the Institute of Credit Management, has produced a series of quick, user-friendly guides designed to provide this support direct to businesses.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has announced that it will accelerate the full integration of Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) into core supervisory work.  TCF remains central to the FSA's retail strategy, and firms are expected to meet the December 2008 deadline.  As from January, delivery of TCF will be tested as part of firms’ usual supervision.
The FSA has also published a TCF update reminding firms what is required of them and explaining how firms will be assessed. 
This Brief announces a change of HMRC interpretation which will apply where a company's SME status alters on or after 1 December 2008.
This brief is about a change to the treatment of chargeable event gains arising on life insurance policies held on bare trusts for minors.

Forthcoming Event

MoD: Budding 'Qs' who think they could supply the armed forces of the future with high-tech gadgets and gizmos should attend a forthcoming innovation day at GlasgowUniversity (19 November 2009). The Ministry of Defence is eager to engage with Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs), as well as individuals or academics who think they can provide a solution to future defence technology needs.
Armed Forces personnel who have recently returned from operations will also be attending to give a first hand view of the challenges they face. Five similar, successful seminars have already been held, which were attended by more than 600 people representing over 200 different organisations.

Editorial Content Statement

WGPlus would like to make it clear that the commentary & links provided, in respect of any particular item, are published in its capacity as an independent non-government funded organisation and reflect the editorial team’s need to both précis & re‑format the content of news releases. 
Any views expressed are therefore entirely those of the WGPlus editorial team and independent of any sponsor, government organisation or political party.
For the official view of a source organisation, readers should click on the ‘press release’ that is the first link attached to each item.
Speed of download - Readers are reminded that some documents linked to can be large (VL) or even very, very large (VVL) and may take some time to download, even with a broadband link. Readers are encouraged to be patient.
While every care is taken to ensure that all links ’work’ in the newsletter (including checking just before publication), WGPlus cannot guarantee that websites will not make changes that will nullify individual links, especially over a period of time.
WGPlus is not responsible for the content of external websites
Business IT Support by: Trusted IT