In the News
HC: Increased commitment BUT less than 17% compliant! - The Healthcare Commission has praised NHS trusts for showing ‘increasing commitment’ to reducing healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs). But it added that the NHS must maintain the pressure because spot-checks have revealed gaps in many trusts' systems and that comprehensive & consistent systems are needed to ensure infection rates continue to drop.
The Commission’s analysis of unannounced inspections at 51 acute NHS trusts in England (representing about 30% of the acute sector) found that most trusts had improved arrangements to ensure good leadership, appointed staff with clear responsibilities for infection prevention & control and put in place policies to ensure staff uniforms are clean & fit for purpose.
But only five trusts were compliant with all requirements of the hygiene code assessed, with more than half of the remainder being told to ensure a clean and well-maintained environment across all their premises.
PCS / FDA: Unions hold up yellow card to Pre-budget ‘savings’ - Both the PCS and FDA unions have responded to the pre-budget report, with the PCS warning that civil and public services would continue to suffer if further 'efficiency savings' were made at the expense of jobs & services.
80,000 jobs have already gone across the civil and public sector, with tens of thousands more planned by 2011 including; 10,000 in the Ministry of Justice, 12,500 in Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and 10,000 in the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
The PCS union highlighted £21.5bn worth of uncollected tax and £25bn lost through tax evasion that could be ploughed into public services and stimulating the economy. The union urged the government to reverse its programme of job cuts in HMRC which will see over 200 offices close and 25,000 jobs go by 2011.
On average, each member of compliance staff has a tax yield of £640,000 after employment costs each year, leading the union to call on the government to increase resources & jobs in tackling uncollected tax and tax evasion. Highlighting the impact of job cuts on tax yield, the union also pointed to a HMRC local compliance report that calculated whilst cutting 600 staff would save £74m it would lead to a loss of £204m in tax.
Whilst welcoming the halt to Jobcentre closures, the PCS cautioned that the additional 6,000 jobcentre staff announced last week could be at the expense of services in other parts of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), such as pensions and carers. The announcement comes against a backdrop of 30,000 job cuts in the DWP and the closure of hundreds of jobcentres and benefit offices over the last 4 years.
The union called on the department to clarify whether it is still committed to cutting 12,000 jobs across the DWP as part of its 3-year plan (which runs until 2011) which would see 7,000 – 8,000 Jobcentre Plus staff loosing their jobs.
In addition, the FDA warned that the Chancellor's announcement that further savings will be identified in 2009 to be achieved in the next Comprehensive Spending Review period heralds an era of widespread cuts to services and potential damage to the capability of the public services if critical posts are lost.
ESRC: The Best ways to improve education - The Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP), the largest research initiative into education related topics ever undertaken in the UK (funded & managed by the Economic and Social Research Council), presented its major conclusions last week after 9 years of investigations across all sectors of education, from the importance of preschool education to lifelong learning.
Findings cover all sectors of education including preschool, each phase of school, F&H education, workforce development, apprenticeships and lifelong learning. Directed by Professor Andrew Pollard of the Institute of Education, the programme was designed to increase the volume, quality and use of UK education research.
Following the success of this programme, the ESRC and Engineering Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) are funding further projects concentrating on the use of technology to enhance learning.
ScotGov: Limiting the damage done to individuals - A new support service for adults who suffered childhood abuse in care and their families has been launched. The In Care Survivors Service Scotland: A partnership led by Open Secret includes:
* A hub of specialist development workers able to link up with local services across Scotland to offer survivors and their families support, advocacy and confidential counselling
* A national confidential telephone support line - 0800 121 6027 - providing support, guidance and advocacy to those who suffered abuse and their families
* A new website and leaflet campaign highlighting the support available
* Help for survivors to access the Criminal Injuries Compensation scheme and other legal services
CLG: Using Local Knowledge to implement Local Solutions - A new Strategy, with a 5-Point Action Plan, to tackle problems from traffic management to flooding, improved policy formulation and decision making by using better geographical information, has been launched by Baroness Andrews in a report Place Matters: The Location Strategy for the United Kingdom.
Too much crucial information about places in the UK and the public sector activities that occur at them are collected & stored in isolated documents and databases by councils, executive agencies and government, making it difficult to access, share and analyse that information.
The implementation of the UK Location Strategy (UKLS) will enable better risk management and better use of resources by introducing nationwide standards & services for cataloguing information such as crime statistics, animal movements & disease information, air & noise pollution information and traffic congestion statistics. The UKLS aims to simplify finding & using location data so that information can be accessed speedily to enhance decision-making.
Defra will now take this Strategy forward through the UK Location Council, which met for the first time on 28 November 2008 and will continue the work of the GI Panel which has now been disbanded.
FSA: Less need to switch savings - The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has introduced a rule change (temporarily until September 2009), which will enable merging building societies to keep their separate £50,000 compensation limits.
Industry News: Shedding light on alternative energy – Delegates at Kyocera’s recent Green Card Conference were given an insight into how to save & reduce energy within the workplace by an accomplished array of speakers from the nuclear and renewable energy industries:
* Joe Baker of Barking & Dagenham Council - Reducing the Council's Carbon Footprint
* John Gilbert, Head of Carbon Management - Energy from Waste
* Tristram Denton of the Nuclear Industry Assocation - Nuclear - Part of the Solution?
* Daniel Curtis of Oxford University - Implementing Power Management at Oxford University
* Neeta Dalal of Semplice Energy - Clean Technologies and the Benefits of a Hybridised Energy Solution
Green Card is Kyocera Mita’s environmental programme helping their customers to develop eco-efficient document strategies. This is reflected in the Kyocera Corporation business development strategy which supports efforts to create information and communications technologies that take into account environmental preservation and the quality of life.
For other Industry News please click HERE
For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
DfT: Commuters and local people using high speed train services in Stratford will benefit from a new free shuttle bus linking the area's railway stations. The new link will enable rail passengers travelling from Kent to use the new Stratford International Station to join the London transport network at Stratford Regional Station without having to travel into central London.
The new high-speed rail link, run by Southeastern between Kent & St Pancras, and stopping in Stratford, is set to start on the 13 December 2009. The new shuttle bus will provide a free service to Southeastern ticket holders between the new Stratford International station and the existing Regional station.
DH: Sir Michael Parkinson returned to his famous chair to interview 3 people about dignity & respect for those in care and to discuss how ordinary people can inspire others to treat people in care with the dignity they deserve.
At the event in Covent Garden, his interviewees were:
* Barbara Pointon, an Ambassador for the Alzheimer's Society
* Barbara Dearnley, an 80-year-old woman who has been involved in the 'Improving the Care of the Older Person' project at Kings College Hospital
* Amanda Waring, an actress who produced the short film 'What do you see' to raise awareness about how we treat older people
STFC: Scientists have detected an organic sugar molecule that is directly linked to the origin of life, in a region of our galaxy where habitable planets could exist. The discovery, part funded by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), has been published on the Astro-ph website.
The molecule – glycolaldehyde - has previously only been detected towards the centre of our galaxy where conditions are extreme compared to the rest of the galaxy. This new discovery, in an area far from the galactic centre, also suggests that the production of this key ingredient for life could be common throughout the galaxy. This is good news in our search for alien life, as a wide spread of the molecule improves the chances of it existing along side other molecules vital to life and in regions where Earth-like planets may exist.
TfL: Walking journeys around some of the Capital's most visited areas are set to increase, thanks to the expansion of Legible London, a unique system of on-street signs, maps and fingerposts designed to make it quicker & easier to walk around the Capital.
The scheme uses 3D representations to give people a quick sense of their bearings and help them locate shops, parks, hotels, landmarks, toilets, Tube stations and other amenities. It is already successfully guiding visitors around the Bond Street area and will now be extended to cover Regent and Oxford Streets.
As Legible London is introduced, the removal of obsolete signs and their replacement with fewer & more attractive, easy to understand, maps will reduce visual clutter and make life easier for pedestrians.
DCMS: The time has come to begin the search to find a new poet Laureate. The present Laureate, Professor Andrew Motion, was appointed by HM The Queen in May 1999. His 10 year tenure comes to an end in 2009 and DCMS is seeking advicefrom academics, key poetry organisations and others in the poetry sector from the UK and Commonwealth.
Since his appointment, he has written poems to address public events as well as Royal occasions. He has also invested a great deal of time & energy in educational advocacy work, making frequent visits to schools & colleges and also co-founding the Poetry Archive, an online collection of poets reading their work.
The public is welcome to write to the DCMS with their thoughts on the future of the Poet Laureate's role or with suggestions for candidates for the Laureateship. There will not, however, be any kind of public vote to determine the next holder of the post.
LDA: Light London has launched with an invited Visioning Forum – timed to coincide with the period of winter lighting commissions and festivals in the UK & abroad. Light London is a city-wide initiative, developed by Art in the Open and the London Development Agency’s Design for London, asking how creative lighting can transform London’s public realm.
The LDA will publish the outcomes from the Forum in December and the programme will continue over the next 4 months, finishing in spring 2009 with an evening event and the launch of creative principles.
DCMS: Culture Minister Barbara Follett has welcomed the campaign to save the hut of Antarctic explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott and called on all who care about preserving the Antarctic's heritage to give generously to the project. Ms Follett said that the British Government had donated £250,000 towards the £3.5m project and that, following this, a private British trust, the February Foundation, had made a substantial gift and had also pledged to match any further donations up to £1m.
The hut has survived to present times, but is in urgent need of repair. It is still full of over 8,000 artefacts dating from the heroic age of Antarctic exploration, making it a time capsule from that era. The New York-based World Monuments Fund currently identifies Scott's Hut amongst the 100 most endangered sites in the world.
NA: In December, The National Archives will host a number of free events & talks where specialists will share their knowledge and expertise to offer useful advice on research and best practice for using the archives. Subjects range from the Manorial Documents Register to advice on searching for records of births, marriages and deaths at The National Archives and elsewhere.
Other highlights include:
* Child emigration schemes to Canada - an examination of the records & reasons behind the schemes
* The Hearth Tax - a 17th century census? - an overview of how the records were compiled, how to use them and what we can get from them
TfL: Transport for London has now opened the brand new WhiteCity bus station. The Shepherd’s Bush Interchange will also open to buses, making it easier for passengers to switch between bus and Tube services in the area.
The bus station provides a convenient interchange between buses and the new Wood Lane Hammersmith & City line station, and brings several extra bus routes within walking distance for residents of the White City Estate and the BBC Television Centre. Shoppers heading to & from Westfield will also benefit as White City bus station is immediately next to the north western entrance of the shopping centre.
MO: The Met Office is about to deliver the world's first free of charge video on-demand weather service for mobiles. The new service, powered by the mobile TV specialist, Gorillabox, will be available through its own branded mobile portal. Weather forecasts, updated several times a day, will give you access to the very latest weather information direct from the new Met Office television studio in Millbank, London.
LR: Land Registry has extended the 5-year retention period for certain deeds & documents lodged before 13 October 2003. The deadline has been extended to 28 February 2009, after which Land Registry will start destroying these deeds & documents if an electronic copy is also held on its database, unless they have been returned or a request has been made for their return.
Under rule 204 of the Land Registration Rules 2003, certain persons (usually the registered proprietor) were given 5 years in which they could make requests for the return of original documents lodged before 13 October 2003 and on which a register entry is or was founded. Requests should be made in writing to the appropriate local office or using Land Registry form RD1. There is a fee of £8 per document.
DCMS: Seven of London's bridges spanning over a 140 years of Thames crossings have been listed by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, acting upon the advice of English Heritage. Chelsea, Lambeth and Richmond Railway Bridges have all been listed at Grade II, whilst Cremorne, Hammersmith, Twickenham and Vauxhall Bridges have all been listed at, or upgraded to, Grade II*.
DIUS: A European Space Agency (ESA) research centre will be established in the UK following an agreement made by Science and Innovation Minister, Lord Drayson with ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain. It will be based at the Harwell science & innovation campus in Oxfordshire, could be up & running within a year.
Once established, ESA money will be directed to fund new work on climate change modelling that uses space data and the development of technologies for a new era of planetary exploration, including robotics and novel power sources.
HA: The Highways Agency, which is one of the biggest planters of trees in England, is marking National Tree Week (26 November - 7 December) with tree planting events across its network. As well as screening traffic from homes and places of work, trees also provide a noise barrier, stabilise soil on verges, control water run-off onto roads as well as adjoining land and increase biodiversity.
The most widely planted tree is the common oak which can play host to over 280 insect species and is the backbone of the traditional lowland English woodland. The second most used tree is the ash supporting about 40 insect species and with its more open canopy allows a richer ground flora to flourish beneath its leaves.
TDA: The British public has an outdated view of what goes on in the nation's science classes that could threaten future science teacher recruitment, according to a poll released by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA). In response, teachers themselves are hosting science classes on Youtube to show the reality of teaching today.
A video showcase hosted on You Tube shows five real & creative school science classes from 'screaming jelly babies' to fluids dancing to a bass amplifier. The most popular experiment will be carried out on a massive scale at the TDA's Train to Teach recruitment events in 2009.
DfT: Safety ratings for the most popular flip-front motorcycle helmets have been announced by SHARP, the Department for Transport's Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme. The 20 helmets are the first flip-front models to be rated under the scheme and bring the total number of helmets assessed by SHARP - which launched in June 2008 after research showed it could save 50 lives a year - to 96.
All helmets must meet minimum legal safety standards, but the SHARP scheme uses a wider range of tests to provide riders with more information on how much protection a helmet can provide in a crash. The SHARP tests showed that the safety performance of helmets can vary by as much as 70%. Head injuries occur in 80% of all motorcyclist fatalities and in 70% of these the head injury is the most serious.
DfT: Plans to introduce spacious, longer and more comfortable trains, which will provide an extra 14,500 seats for passengers travelling in South-East England, are set to move a step closer Transport Minister Andrew Adonis has announced. Trains will be up to 50% longer and designed to maximise passenger comfort.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DWP: The Government has announced plans for involving disabled people in the implementation & monitoring of the 5-year, cross-government Independent Living Strategy. Launched in March 2008, the Strategy aims to increase choice and promote greater access to housing, transport, health, employment and leisure opportunities for all disabled people.
A consultation exercise asked for views on how best to involve disabled people in measuring progress on the Strategy. The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) not only held public consultation events, but also provided a toolkit to help disabled people's organisations hold their own consultation events.
DH: More people being helped to stay in work rather than drifting into extended sick leave is the focal point of a package of initiatives announced by the government in the report 'Improving health and work: changing lives', in response to Dame Carol Black's report into the health of Britain's working age population.
The new measures include proposals to replace the paper-based 'sick note' with an electronic 'fit note' and pilots for 'Fit for Work' services which will support people on a period of sickness absence to return to work. The government claims that the package will support disabled people, or those who become ill, to return to, or stay in work, by helping them manage their condition and get the right help to keep their jobs.
GEO: The Government Equalities Office has published a call on members of the Women's Institute to check if their local newspaper has adverts for women who may have been trafficked and forced in to prostitution. Adverts in local papers are one of the most common methods of making contact with women for sexual purposes.
Research published earlier this year showed that nearly half the adverts for women in local papers referred to them as ‘being from abroad’. The report 'Women Not for Sale' showed how small ads in newspapers can fuel demand for women trafficked for sexual exploitation.
CLG: Safer furniture and the fact that smoke alarms are now in 80% of homes are just 2 of the reasons for the halving of the numbers of accidental fire deaths in peoples homes. In 1988, there were 731 dwelling fire deaths in the UK, but since then the number has fallen below 350 - the lowest for nearly 50 years.
This reduction in fire deaths is down to a number of factors, most notably the fire furniture regulations, the Government's ongoing media campaign and innovative prevention activity by local Fire & Rescue Services. 2008 marks the twentieth anniversary of the ground-breaking Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations, which were brought in to reduce the rising numbers of deaths & injuries suffered in fires started in upholstered furniture in the home, often through a dropped cigarette.
DfT: An extra £1bn will be invested in major transport projects next year to stimulate the economy by accelerating Government plans to cut congestion and significantly increase rail capacity, Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon has claimed.
The schemes announced form part of a longer-term approach to transport planning outlined by the Government in October last year, in response to the Eddington Study and Stern Review. Delivering a Sustainable Transport System, published last week, explains how the Government is putting its approach into action.
CLG: The Government has announced new powers to tackle the local impacts of the credit crunch. The reforms are intended to make it easier for action to be taken at every level to boost jobs & skills, support businesses and make sure that all areas are making plans for recovery from the economic slowdown.
The announcement follows a public consultation on some of the commitments outlined in the Sub National Review of Economic Development and Regeneration (SNR) in July 2007. Government will legislate on these powers at the earliest opportunity.
WAG: Minister for Social Justice & Local Government Dr. Brian Gibbons has announced funding of over £1.5m to support organisations tackling domestic & sexual abuse. Speaking on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, he explained that the Domestic Abuse Grant Scheme provides capital funding to support organisations that offer advice and support to victims of domestic & sexual abuse.
The grant scheme will fund the development of specialist domestic abuse One-Stop Shops and the enhancement of Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) across Wales, which offer victims a place where they can receive medical care, psychological counselling, legal advice and other support, from professionally trained staff.
HM Treasury: The Government announced a package of support for financial stability on 8 October 2008 and set out how it would apply to individual banks on 13 October and 18 November 2008. It made further announcements in the Pre-Budget Report on arrangements to work with the banking sector. This press statement provides an update on ongoing elements of this work.
NE: More than 100 of England’s most treasured landscapes containing our threatened wildlife and valuable heritage - including Darwin’s back garden, the setting for Brideshead Revisited and Britain’s oldest road - will be the focus of targeted conservation effort delivered through green farming schemes, under a new approach to environmental farm payments announced by Natural England.
Farmers and land managers in 110 different areas across England will be encouraged to co-ordinate conservation work across large areas, by undertaking similar environmental activities on their land through Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) schemes. The target areas across England cover over 4.8m hectares, an area one third of England’s total land area; equivalent to 30 times the size of Greater London.
CLG: The national case for the new linked network of control centres for the Fire and Rescue Service (F&RS) has been laid out by the Government. The Government is also committed to making payments to FRS for net additional costs they incur directly as a result of helping to set up the new network, which will be operational from spring 2012. It will replace 46 standalone control rooms that are unable to automatically back each other up and operate disparate systems.
Following initial discussions with representatives of England’s F&RS, as well as the main contractor and the Firelink radio communications project, the Department has also published a revised timetable for the change over to the new network.
CLG: The Thames Gateway is in a strong position to weather the current economic storm and grow in the long term, Thames Gateway Minister Margaret Beckett has announced in a major speech. At the Thames Gateway Forum in East London, the Minister set out new measures to further boost the region, ‘transforming it into a world-leading eco-region that will make it a showcase for sustainable living’.
A proposed ‘eco-quarter’ is the centrepiece of a new 47-point strategy that ‘will ensure economic development and regeneration creates a greener way of life for residents’. The strategy is being accompanied by up to £35m being awarded to create green and open spaces throughout the Gateway as part of the Parklands programme.
MoJ: Fixed targets for outsourcing work to private companies, voluntary groups and public service organisations by the probation service have been scrapped. All 42 probation areas in England & Wales will now use a Best Value model (as used by local government bodies) when awarding contracts, in order to ensure best value for the taxpayer.
The decision to introduce the ‘Best Value’ model was introduced through parliament in the Offender Management Act last year and the decision of how it would work was decided after a public consultation which ended in July. All probation areas are expected to be applying the model by April 2010.
CLG: Local Government Minister John Healey has published the annual settlement for local government. As part of this, the Government also announced the Supporting People Programmefunding of £1.66bn will continue to be paid as a named grant in 2009-10, but will be unringfenced. Local government is expected to make the same 3% annual efficiency improvements as the rest of the public sector.
Many local authorities were among those affected by the failure of Icelandic banks in October. Mr Healey has announced an exceptional practical measure so that authorities will not need to make provision in their budgets for 2009-10 for any possible loss on these investments. This will give them time to adjust their medium term financial plans and be clearer about recovering their money before making decisions which affect their budgets or council tax.
DECC: As three new Acts of Parliament go on the statute book (Climate Change, Energy and Planning Bills), householders & drivers are being challenged to save energy and cut their carbon emissions under the Government's ACTON CO2 People Power challenge.
The challenge will follow volunteers from Newcastle, Portsmouth and Birmingham as they attempt to reduce the energy they use in their daily lives, with a dedicated website tracking their progress, sharing their tips and comparing success between the three cities.
Cabinet Office: The UK Government and the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have reached agreement on a UK-wide approach to marine planning, following discussions in the Joint Ministerial Committee and the further negotiations it put in place. As part of the agreement, more functions will be devolved to Scottish and Welsh ministers.
Marine planning and nature conservation zone powers will be devolved for the offshore area adjacent to Scotland. In addition the Bill will provide for the creation of a Welsh zone for fisheries and ensure that the National Assembly for Wales has the competence to legislate for the establishment of a route around the Welsh coast and for public access to land at or near the coast for recreational purposes.
HO: The next phase in a billboard campaign in London featuring young people standing together against knife crime has been unveiled. The interactive campaign will run throughout the next 3 months in urban & residential areas across England & Wales, including the ten areas involved in the Tackling Knives Action Programme.
Young people are being encouraged to show their support by adding their own anti-knife photo pledges to the Bebo website. Their images have been included on the latest versions of the posters in the series.
HO: Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, has claimed that the responses to the Policing Green Paper revealed the police and public have strongly backed new Government measures to cut red tape, introduce a new national Policing Pledge and give local people a greater voice in how crime is tackled in their neighbourhoods. They also showed a strong endorsement for high quality customer service from police.
DSA: Proposals to improve the way motorcyclists are tested have been published by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA). The consultation (closes 9 January 2009) asks for views on proposals to split the current single-event motorcycling test into two parts.
* Module 1 would contain the specified manoeuvres element of the test including exercises designed to assess the rider's ability to control their machine safely, including avoidance and emergency stop exercises carried out at a minimum speed of 50 kph.
* Module 2 would include an eyesight test and up to 35 minutes of in-traffic riding assessing the rider's ability to safely interact with other road users.
The motorcycle test fee will remain unchanged in March 2009. The price would be split across both modules - so candidates only have to pay for each section of the test as they take it. The proposed fee split is: £10 for Module 1 and £70 for Module 2.
DH: The next phase of the UK-wide proposals to modernise scientific careers in the NHS was launched at the recent annual conference of the Department of Health's Chief Scientific Officer, Professor Sue Hill.
The 4 UK Health Departments have published a consultative document (closes 27 February 2009) setting out proposals that will ‘transform & develop the healthcare scientist workforce so that it can realise its full potential in contributing to world-class healthcare in the 21st century’. In England, this follows a commitment in High Quality Care for All to modernise the career pathway for healthcare scientists.
MoJ: The Government is asking people for their views (by 28 January 2009) on whether the addresses of candidates standing at Parliamentary Elections should be published on nomination and ballot papers. The consultation paper follows recent concerns raised in Parliament that the current requirements for candidates’ addresses to appear on nomination and ballot papers may put the security of MPs and their families at risk.
CLG: Councils should be given greater responsibility for co-ordinating efforts to tackle rising unemployment in their local areas, an independent review has proposed. In the interim report,which has been published for consultation (closes on 9 January 2009), the review team recommends that upper tier councils be responsible for conducting analyses of the causes of worklessness in their local communities, as part of the Government's proposals for local authorities to undertake economic assessments.
The report also proposes that the Government should require public sector employers in deprived areas to do more to support their local communities. This includes offering apprenticeship places, advertising all vacancies with JobCentre Plus offices and encouraging all bidders for contracts and local suppliers to provide job opportunities to local people.
ScotGov: A new approach to encourage more young people to stay in learning after they turn sixteen- 16+ Learning Choices - has been launched. The approach - an alternative to England's plan to compel all young people to stay in education until they turn 18 - follows a commitment in the skills strategy to encourage young people to stay in learning post-16 to ensure their employability & contribution to Scotland's economic future.
It also follows the publication of Building the Curriculum 3, which entitles young people, wherever they learn, to a coherent curriculum up to the age of 18 and a senior phase of learning where they can continue to develop their skills. 16+ Learning Choices is expected to be implemented nationally by December 2010.
To support the approach, a consultation (closes on 20 February 2009) is also being launched, which proposes big improvements to the way the most vulnerable young people - learning in a community setting or with a third sector provider - are supported. The consultation also proposes refocusing the support available to young people in school, college and work based learning towards those most in need.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published a consultation paper (closes on 31 March 2009) setting out proposed improvements to prudential requirements for Personal investment firms (PIFs) designed to help reduce the impact of market failures in the sector.
The prudential proposals are closely linked to the wider issues covered in the Feedback statement to the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) published last week and, subject to consultation, will be fully implemented by December 2012 in line with the RDR timetable.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
IS: All the bodies that authorise & regulate insolvency practitioners have agreed a new ethical code for their practitioners, which will come into force in January 2009. The 'Insolvency Ethical Code' (the Code) published by The Insolvency Service, has been designed to assist insolvency practitioners and their staff to undertake their work to high professional and ethical standards.
Based on the five fundamental principles of: integrity, objectivity, professional competence & due care, confidentiality and professional behaviour the Code provides a framework which applies to all aspects of an insolvency practitioner's professional work relating to, or that may lead to, an insolvency appointment.
The Code also provides specific guidance regarding pre-packaged administrations; the means of obtaining work; the use of specialist agents; and referral fees. Most insolvency practitioners are qualified accountants and the Code is aligned to a model Ethical Code adopted by the International Federation of Accountants.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published final guidance on the use of erlotinib for the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The guidance recommends erlotinib as an alternative to docetaxel for people who have already tried one chemotherapy regimen, but it has not worked.
Erlotinib should be used only when it is provided by the manufacturer on the basis that the overall treatment costs of the drug are the same as those of docetaxel. Treatment costs include administration, treating side effects and monitoring.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published a clinical guideline on the diagnosis and management of adults at risk of and with metastatic spinal cord compression.
Metastatic spinal cord compression is a rare complication of cancer. People who have cancer are at risk of it spreading (metastasising) to other parts of their body including the liver, lungs or bones. Spinal metastases can be painful and, if not treated, can lead to metastatic spinal cord compression (MSCC) which, if it isn’t treated quickly, can lead to serious disability, including permanent paralysis and early death.
CompC: The Competition Commission has published new guidelines which explain its approach to remedies, such as divestiture, prohibition and behavioural measures, where it decides that mergers are likely to lead to a substantial lessening of competition (SLC).
The guidelines provide a single source of guidance on merger remedies and emphasize measures that are effective and yet minimize burdens on customers, suppliers & merger parties. The new guidelines also cover areas such as intellectual property remedies and behavioural remedies which were not covered in detail in existing guidance.
OFT: The OFT has published a new quick guide for businesses on how to comply with competition and consumer laws. The updated, comprehensive guide is aimed particularly at smaller businesses, but is relevant to firms of all sizes. It includes advice on what constitutes illegal cartel activity, what rules apply when selling at a distance and how to ensure contracts are not unfair. It also highlights recent changes to the law.
Cabinet Office: Kevin Brennan, Minister for the Third Sector, has published a practical handbookto help public servants open up the consultation process, to reach third sector workers on the ground and to use their experience to influence policy outcomes.
The handbook accompanies new research by Involve on effective & innovative ways of consulting with the third sector. The research illustrates how third sector organisations can influence the debate about local needs and can provide unique perspectives and insights as to how those needs are addressed.
ScotGov: Updated road accident statistics for 2007 have been released by Scotland's Chief Statistician. The web-tables update figures published in June 2008 and provide more detailed analysis, including comparisons with other countries, drink-drive estimates and analysis of factors which may have contributed to road accidents.
CLG: The latest fire statistics for the UK covering the 12-month period up to 31 December 2007 show a fall in the total number of fires (384,000) in the UK - down 12%. The Fire Statistics Monitor is published quarterly by Communities & Local Government and includes provisional figures on fires, fire deaths & injuries and false alarm calls.
Also available is the latest annual statistical bulletin, Fire Statistics United Kingdom, 2006, which contains trends and analysis for the years 1996-2006.
HO: Police officers, clubs and fans have been praised by Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker for tackling football-related violence last season. The 'Statistics on Football-Related Arrests and Banning Orders' Season 2007-08' reveal there were 3,842 arrests last season at all international & domestic games, with no arrests at 67% of matches. The new figures mean just 0.01% of 37m supporters attending matches in England & Wales in the last year were arrested for football-related violence.
Defra: A report claims that Britain's hospital patients, civil servants, armed forces personnel and others eating in government establishments are being treated to menus that increasingly feature seasonal, home-grown food. Public procurement of food & catering accounts for £2bn in England.
The report is part of the monitoring of the Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative (PSFPI), one of the key aims of which is to increase tendering opportunities for small & local food producers to help them win contracts to supply government departments and other public bodies.
General Reports and Other Publications
NAO: Each year around half a million people die in England, three quarters of whom do so following a period of chronic illness, such as cancer or heart disease. A report by the National Audit Office found that some people approaching the end of their life receive a high quality service, but that there is room for improved co-ordination between health and social care services in planning & delivering end of life care.
The provision of end of life care is becoming increasingly complex, with people living longer and the incidence of frailty & multiple conditions in older people rising. Information on peoples’ wishes is often not captured or shared and a lack of services to support them at home may lead to unplanned and unwanted admissions to hospital.
Frontline staff often lack training in delivering basic end of life care. Only 29% of doctors and 18% of nurses received pre-registration training in end of life care, and there is a lack of formal training for staff working in care homes. Positive experiences of care were often linked to being treated by staff who understood, appreciated and empathised with the end of life situation.
ESRC: Official professional standards in both Scotland & England, which aim to nurture the development of new teachers, pay too little attention to what ‘becoming’ a teacher is really like. New research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), finds that existing standards ignore the emotional, relationship and personal issues which are the real challenge for teachers starting out in their careers, focussing instead on the acquisition of skills & knowledge.
Resulting from the study, researchers propose a new model which aims to improve existing standards by capturing the multi-dimensional experience of new teachers. The current Standard for Full Registration (SFR) in Scotland and Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in England & Wales are a useful, yet incomplete, innovation.
The research identified 7 dimensions of early professional learning (EPL), which helped researchers to discover that the ‘emotional & relational aspects’ are more important than the ‘cognitive’ in the first few months of induction and that the multidimensional nature of early professional development is key to understanding how new teachers develop their identities in the profession.
CLG: The Government has welcomed proposals to help small businesses & councils save up to £300m a year through a ‘root & branch’ overhaul of the bureaucratic planning application process recommended by the Killian Pretty review.
The Government has signalled it supports the broad thrust of the report and that it intends to publish an implementation plan early in the New Year, setting out in more detail how it intends to respond to the proposals that will deliver to the country the benefits of a leaner and less bureaucratic planning application process.
HEFCE: A mid-term review of the Clinical Senior Lectureship Awards (CSLA) scheme shows senior medical school staff are optimistic about the impact the scheme will have on the capacity & sustainability of the clinical academic community.
The CSLA was established in 2005 to build an expert research workforce to support clinical research and education. The awards, funded by HEFCE and the Department of Health, support clinical research staff for 5 years. In the first three rounds of the scheme, 116 posts have been funded. The fourth round has just been launched with a closing date for applications of 2 February 2009.
CRE: The Commission for Rural Communities (CRE) has welcomed the recent Rural Proofing discussion paper by Newcastle University's Centre for Rural Economy. It discusses the future for rural proofing within the context of the Government’s mainstreaming agenda, echoing many of the CRE’s own review's findings.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published its Retail Distribution Review (RDR) feedback statement outlining proposals to give more consumers confidence & trust in the retail investment market, at a time when consumers need real help and advice with their retirement and savings planning.
The proposals also reform the investment market, preparing both consumers and the industry for the future.
The key proposals in the feedback statement include distinguishing between independent advice and sales to create better clarity for consumers about the investment services available.
The FSA will be consulting on policy proposals for the RDR during the first half of 2009 with the intention that all firms will have implemented the changes by the end of 2012. In parallel with the RDR, the FSA has been reviewing the prudential requirements for personal investment firms (PIFs) and will publish a consultation paper on raising the minimum standard and improving the quality of capital and making it consistent for all firms.
DIUS: Moves towards sustainable energy in the UK are being hampered by old ways of thinking according to a major new report published by Foresight, the Government's futures think tank. The study 'Powering Our Lives: Sustainable Energy Management and the Built Environment' looks at how the country's buildings and spaces will need to evolve to help cut carbon emissions.
The report concludes that the UK is 'locked-in' to using certain forms of energy, not because they are better, but because they have historically dominated over other options. This has created significant inertia because using a new form of energy also means changes in the infrastructure and the regulations to support it.
The report concludes that there is no 'magic bullet' to reduce carbon emissions or 'decarbonise' the energy we use. However, it does propose behavioural and regulatory changes which could be introduced over the next 50 years, to overcome this inertia.
Ofsted: According to the findings of a report, ‘Developing young people’s economic and business understanding’, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) found that, although there was much to celebrate in business education, around a third of lessons were thorough but uninspiring. There was too much ‘talking-at’ pupils, and an over-dependence on worksheets.
In around half the 118 schools & colleges visited, students complained that they had insufficient direct contact with businesses and ‘hands-on’ experiences, such as running mini enterprises. They were also disappointed that they could not make more use of the knowledge & understanding they gained through work experience placements and part-time jobs in their assessed work.
Defra: Defra has published two reports that build on the evidence base on bovine TB in deer. The first is the final report from the South West England and Cotswolds Survey of Tuberculosis in Deer, the second is a related quantitative risk assessment of the risk posed to cattle by wild deer.
While TB is not currently a significant risk in wild deer, deer stalkers & managers should take the disease risk into account when establishing any management programmes. Defra will be working with the Deer Initiative to share this information with the industry and to help inform future plans.
HC: The Healthcare Commission (HC) has welcomed the findings of the independent review of heart transplant services at Harefield hospital, which identified no common factors that caused the recent rise in the number of deaths. The review was triggered in October when the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Trust notified authorities that 4 consecutive patients had died within 30 days of undergoing heart transplants at the hospital.
The Harefield review makes important recommendations for the hospital to further tighten its procedures, particularly around better assessments of whether a patient is well enough to undergo such major surgery. The HC will continue to monitor the hospital to ensure that these important changes are implemented in full and as swiftly as possible.
RCPO: David Green QC, Director of the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office, has welcomed the publication of a report on RCPO's prosecutor charging arrangements. The report followed an inspection by Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) and it makes two recommendations for improvement. Overall it concludes that ‘the scheme has been implemented effectively’ and has been ‘well received by both prosecutors and investigators’.
MCA: The Maritime & Coastguard Agency has welcomed the publication of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) Fishing Vessel Safety Analysis 1992 to 2006, which will provide a major contribution to improving the safety of fishermen and reducing the toll of accidents & deaths.
The MAIB Analysis, reviews many accidents and brings together lessons learnt over a fairly long period which MCA support as a sound basis for making recommendations based on trends, which is a necessary complement to, and improves upon, the work done in responding to the findings of individual accidents. The MAIB report makes a number of further recommendations which MCA will consider over the coming months and take forward with the aim of improving safety.
HO / HMIC: Neighbourhood Policing is now a core part of policing across England & Wales, but progress varies considerably between forces, a new report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary states. The report followed an inspection of all 43 police forces to assess the progress made in embedding the Neighbourhood Policing programme since it began in 2005, until its full roll-out in March 2008.
The report also looked at the development of Citizen Focus Policing - a newer approach designed to take the needs of the citizen into account when designing & delivering policing services. It said that Citizen Focus Policing had led to improvements in satisfaction with the overall policing service but that there was potential for higher satisfaction levels.
Legislation / Legal
MoJ: The Information Commissioner is to be given tougher powers to regulate the Data Protection Act 1998 under proposals put forward by Justice Secretary Jack Straw. The proposals will enable the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) to:
* impose monetary penalties on data controllers for deliberate or reckless loss of data
* inspect central Government Departments and public authorities' compliance with the DPA without always requiring prior consent
* require any person, where a warrant is being served, to provide information required to determine compliance with the DPA
* impose a deadline & location for the provision of information necessary to assess compliance
* publish guidance on when organisations should notify the ICO of breaches of the data protection principles
* publish a statutory data sharing Code of Practice to provide practical guidance on sharing personal data.
ScotGov: Ministers have taken the first step towards outlawing mobiles in prisons with the aim of preventing their use for drug dealing or the orchestration of criminal activities outside prison. From December 2008, possession of a mobile phone or SIM card will become an offence, as will attempting to pass these items to offenders in prison.
Intelligence information shows that, as well as leading to bullying around their use, mobile phones are commonly used within prisons:
* for the continuation of criminal activities within the prison
* to intimidate witnesses
* to facilitate the supply of, and payment for, illegal drugs
Alongside these moves, SPS also intends to introduce the use of signal blocking devices (mobile phone blockers) in prison grounds and the amendment to the rules will help the introduction of these devices. There are also plans to use the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill to insert a provision into the Prisons (Scotland) Act 1989 to create additional specific offences in relation to the introduction & use of personal communication devices in prisons.
MoJ: New legislation to protect victims of forced marriage and prevent others from the same fate came into force last week. The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 will enable courts to prevent forced marriages and order those responsible for forcing another into marriage to change their behaviour or face jail. It also provides recourse for those already forced into marriage.
Following public consultation, the Government is also publishing statutory guidance setting out the strategic responsibilities of agencies in England & Wales who may be involved with handling cases of forced marriage.
The Act supports and has been made possible by the work of the Home Office and Foreign Office's joint 'Forced Marriage Unit' and the many voluntary and charitable organisations that provide support.
OFT: Following concerns raised by the OFT, Fitness First, the UK's largest health club operator, has provided assurances and improved its membership agreements so that they are much clearer for consumers. The OFT has worked closely with Fitness First after receiving complaints regarding a number of potentially unfair terms within its membership agreement.
ScotParl: A new register detailing the employment by MSPs of close family members has been published on the Scottish Parliament's website. The move follows an independent review and a parliamentary debate earlier this year at Holyrood.
For the purposes of the scheme and the new register, a close family member is defined as:
* a spouse, civil partner or co-habiting partner of the Member or
* a parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece of the Member or of the spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner of the Member
DfT: Bus passengers will have a new champion fighting their corner thanks to the Local Transport Act 2008, Transport Minister Paul Clark has claimed. Royal Assent for the Bill paves the way for Passenger Focus to represent bus users in England, who make over 4 billion journeys a year.
From April 2009 the watchdog, which currently represents rail users, will begin to take on its new role as ‘bus passenger champion’. One of its first tasks will be to conduct a review into how bus passengers' complaints are handled.
CLG: Ministers claim that the Planning and Energy Act 2008 show that the Government is making the tough decisions needed for this country's future. They believe that, during challenging economic times, a quick, predictable and fair planning system for major infrastructure that can deliver new renewable energy supplies, public transport and clean water is vital.
Ministers will set out National Policy Statements (11 currently planned) detailing national infrastructure priorities for the country in areas such as energy, aviation, road & rail transport, water & waste. The decisions as to whether to allow individual projects to go ahead will then be taken independently by a new (un-elected) Infrastructure Planning Commission, operating within the framework set by ministers.
DIUS: Sir Alan Sugar will be the face of apprenticeships in England in a new TV advertising campaign, ministers have announced. The self-made business leader and star of TV's The Apprentice will front a high-profile advertising campaign being aired from February 2009 promoting the benefits of taking on apprentices to employers and championing work-based qualifications.
The announcement comes as the Education and Skills Bill received Royal Assent and became law. This will mean that all young people will stay in education or training until the age of 18 from 2015 and more adults across England will be given the legal right to free training.
DWP: Up to 9m people, many of them on low & middle incomes, will get access to a workplace pension, or will be able to save more, as the Pension Act 2008 received Royal Assent last week. From 2012 workers will either be automatically enrolled into their employer's workplace pension scheme or entered into the new Personal Accounts scheme, ensuring those who in the past have not had the opportunity build up any savings for retirement can now do so.
This legislation represents a key element of Lord Turner's Pension Commission's recommendations to help more people save for retirement. 14 Key Facts about the Act are included at the bottom of the press release.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
DfT: Disqualified drivers will be kept off UK and Irish roads by new regulations laid before Parliament last week andwhich should be in place by Spring 2009. The move will mean that UK drivers disqualified for an offence in the Republic of Ireland will no longer escape that punishment when they return home. Likewise, disqualifications earned by Irish drivers while in the UK will be recognised & enforced when they return to Ireland.
The measures are the result of a deal agreed between the British, Irish and Northern Ireland Ministers in Belfast in June 2008 and represent the first practical step of its kind in Europe. The agreement was the first to be drawn up under the terms of the 1998 European Convention on driving disqualifications.
Defra: Defra has announced the detection of Bluetongue (Serotype 1) (BTV1) in five imported cattle on a premises near Blackpool in Lancashire. The animals originated from within the BTV1 and 8 Restricted Zone in the south west of France and were detected as a result of post-import testing carried out by Defra on all Bluetongue susceptible animals arriving from continental Europe.
This is the first case of BTV1 infection in the UK and the five animals have been culled as they may pose a disease threat to other animals. One further animal from the same consignment has also been culled. Test results for that animal were positive for bluetongue although it was not possible to determine the serotype. There is no evidence that BTV1 is circulating in the UK and no additional control zones have been declared.
ScotGov: Almost 14,000 producers received their Single Farm Payments (SFP) by Monday, 1 December 2008, injecting over £200m into the rural economy. Monday is the first day payments are permitted by European regulations and by the end of the year, 95% of producers - 20,200 businesses - will receive £427m.
The SFP is the replacement for historic arable & livestock direct support schemes in Scotland and this is the third year of operation. Farmers applied for the scheme in May 2008. The payments farmers will receive are net of a 13% reduction for modulation (EC modulation 5%, Scottish modulation 8%).
Emphasis is now shifting to making Less Favoured Area Support Scheme payments. Validation, inspections and other pre-payment activity, to meet regulatory requirement, are underway to allow payments - worth £61m to more than 13,000 producers - to begin as soon as possible
Charity and Voluntary Sector
Cabinet Office: The Government has announced £1.5m to support third sector regional networks in delivering many of the Government's policies and programmes at the regional level. The Office of the Third Sector will provide £1m over two years, whilst Capacitybuilders has identified a further £500,000 for 2009-10.
Currently funding is delivered through the Regional Infrastructure Programme, established in 2005 for three years. From April 2009 Capacitybuilders will be delivering the fund. Over the coming months they will work with the networks and other stakeholders to shape the investment for the next year.
Business and Other Briefings
HMRC: A new dedicated Business Payment Support Service, designed to meet the needs of businesses affected by the current economic conditions has been launched by the Chancellor in the Pre-Budget Report. This targeted support will give businesses a fast & streamlined service for arranging to pay their HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) tax bill to a timetable they can afford.
In addition to this, HMRC will offer further practical help by not imposing additional penalties or surcharges on the tax within a time to pay arrangement.
HM Treasury: In the Pre-Budget Report on Monday 24 November, the Government announced that it would increase duties on tax paid on tobacco, alcohol and petrol to offset the temporary cut in VAT to 15% so that prices remained broadly unchanged.
The Government has made an order to amend the previously announced increase in the rate for spirits to leave spirits in broadly the same position as other alcoholic products. Orders giving effect to these changes have been laid before Parliament.
BERR: At a Credit Card Industry Summit at the Department for Business last week, the Government and industry agreed proposals that will give extra breathing space to struggling borrowers. It was agreed that the credit card industry would report back in two weeks time on a set of fair principles to help card borrowers to manage their debts.
OFT: The OFT has published a new quick guide for businesses on how to comply with competition and consumer laws – See ‘Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides’ section for more information.
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