In the News
NAO: Delivery of anticipated benefits not so simple to achieve - According to a National Audit Office report, the NHS has successfully transferred 1.1m NHS employees on to a new simplified pay system. This was a substantial task which the NHS, in partnership with the trade unions, achieved in a short timescale.
There are some examples of NHS trusts using Agenda for Change to help introduce new roles. But the DH did not put enough emphasis on getting trusts to develop these new ways of working to secure the full benefits from the new pay system, so the programme is not yet achieving the intended value for money.
The Department predicted that Agenda for Change would save at least £1.3bn by 2008-09 and productivity would increase. It did not, however, put in place any comprehensive central monitoring arrangements to show what impact the new contract has had on productivity and it appears that overall productivity may be continuing to fall (though at a slower pace).
A key element of Agenda for Change, the Knowledge and Skills Framework, which defines the skills needed for a certain role and provides a tool for reviewing their use in the workplace, has not yet been fully implemented by many trusts. Effective use of the Framework is fundamental to achieving the full benefits of Agenda for Change, but initial take-up was limited and the Framework had to be re-launched in 2007.
Newswire – AC: Policy makers fail maths test - It costs 4 times as much to put a young person through the criminal justice system as it does to keep them out of it, but sport & leisure projects designed to help keep teens on the straight and narrow struggle with a funding system that is wasteful, inefficient and bureaucratic.
Michael O'Higgins, chairman of the Audit Commission, called the grants system 'a dog's breakfast', saying: “It's ludicrous that funding schemes for young people in trouble with the law should be so complicated. Major opportunities to save public money are going begging."
A young person in the criminal justice system costs the taxpayer £200,000 by the age of 16, but one needing support to stay out costs less than £50,000. Over £113m would be saved if just one in ten young offenders was kept out of further trouble.
These findings are published in an Audit Commission report, Tired of Hanging Around, which shows that sport & leisure activities can help stop young people aged between 8 and 19 from drifting into anti-social behaviour and highlights the problems that threaten the success of projects.
Youth workers, who should be devoting their attention to young people, can spend a third of their time managing budgets and chasing new funding. On average, projects are funded from 3 different sources, each with its own application system & monitoring criteria. In some cases, the administrative cost of bidding for grants exceeds the amount of funding applicants are hoping to receive.
BGS: This technology just has to work to make any impact on global warming - China's potential for carbon capture & storage (CCS), an essential technology to achieve low global emissions, will be examined this week at a conference of senior scientific experts from China and the EU. It will be hosted by the British Geological Survey (BGS) in Nottingham on February 10-12 2009.
The conference will highlight how British science is supporting China in developing their capabilities to bury CO2 from power stations in rock formations deep below the surface. The experts will discuss technical assessments of storage potential from ongoing research on the COACH (Cooperation Action within Carbon Capture and Storage China-EU) and NZEC (Near Zero Emissions from Coal) projects, as well as other European projects.
The lowering of CO2 emissions in China is vital to the global goal of avoiding a catastrophic temperature rise of 2C before 2100, and it could be argued that CO2 emission reductions elsewhere are irrelevant without China's involvement. China is committed to using its vast coal resources in electricity generation as it will be a long time before other energy sources such as renewables are able to meet their energy demands.
It is thought that China builds around one coal power station per week and CO2 storage will allow it to maintain energy supplies at the same time as reducing emissions. Thus projects like COACH & NZEC, which foster technology transfer are very important in achieving low global emissions.
DWP: Grey power recognised by politicians - Older people are to have a bigger say in developing central, regional and local Government policies announced Rosie Winterton, Minister for Pensions and the Ageing Society, in response to John Elbourne's review of older people's engagement with Government.
A new national UK Advisory Forum on Ageing will give older people a direct line to Government to comment on new policy ideas, services, legislation and what areas they feel the Government needs to address. A designated lead regional coordinator will support local older people's forums, who will work with them to set up Regional Forums play a vital role in addressing regional issues and provide a channel of communication between local and national Government.
HO: Government gets tough on tough neighbourhoods - A new power to prevent gang-related violence will be introduced in the Policing and Crime Bill, the Home Secretary has announced. The proposed new injunction would enable a court to impose a range of restrictions or requirements on an individual such as:
* Not entering a specified place, for example, the neighbourhood that the gang regards as 'its' territory
* Not being with named members of a gang
* Not using or threatening to use violence
* Not wearing particular items of clothing such as gang colours or balaclavas which prevent identification
Alongside this, the Government is proposing that the court should have the power to require those given an injunction to take part in positive activities such as community outreach programmes or mediation sessions between rival gangs to ensure that they are provided with alternatives to their gang lifestyle.
Similar injunctions were used successfully by Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police in 2007 to deliver a reduction in firearms offences, woundings and robberies in key gang-affected areas while they were in place. The first opportunity after the Bill is passed to amend the rules would result in injunctions becoming operational in April 2010.
DIUS: It’s difficult to tackle global warming when many in the world are starving - A new project that will examine how the world can feed a rapidly expanding population has been launched by Foresight, the Government Future's think tank. By 2050 we will need food for a world population of up to 9bn - significantly up from current levels of around 6.5bn.
The 'Food and Farming Futures' project will ask how this many people can be fed healthily & sustainably as we adapt to a warming and less predictable climate. It will analyse the global food system including changing demand, production and supply. It will also consider food & farming in oceans and freshwater environments as well as on the land. The findings will be launched in late 2010.
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OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has launched its 2009 Scams Awareness Month to raise awareness of mass marketed scams, which cost the UK public £3.5bn a year. Every year an estimated three million UK consumers fall victim to scams sent by post, email, text, the phone and internet.
This year's Awareness Month in February kicks off with a nationwide 'Scamnesty', run in partnership with nearly 90 Local Authority Trading Standards Services, which calls on consumers to ‘drop’ scam mailings they have received into designated 'Scamnesty' bins or boxes at local libraries and public areas across the country.
The information collected will help the OFT and enforcement partners to identify & develop strategies to combat the worst scammers. A similar campaign was a great success last year, collecting more than 15,000 mailings.
CD: Consumer Direct is advising people how to recognise if friends & relatives are falling victim to scams such as bogus lotteries, deceptive prize draws and fake psychic mailings as part of Scams Awareness Month which kicked off this week. A new OFT DVD called 'Scams, Don't Let Them Con You' which features Angela Rippon is available free of charge by calling 0800 389 3158 and quoting reference OFT 1053
Although people from all age groups can become victims, research shows that older people are the most likely to be targeted and lose the most money. Someone regularly falling for mass market scams may:
* receive a lot of junk mail
* have a house full of cheap-looking goods such as jewellery and health products
* receive regular phone calls from strangers
* become secretive when discussing finances with family and friends
OS: Lord David Puttnam, the film maker and Labour peer, is calling for the use of serious video games and location-based information in the battle against climate change. Speaking ahead of his keynote speech at Ordnance Survey’s Terra future conference, Lord Puttnam said: “Serious games based upon real-life geography should be vital tools in our fight against climate change. Educating people about the impact of prolonged changes to our climate in an accessible way is the best catalyst for action I know.”
The Terra future conference, to be held at the Royal Geographical Society on 24 and 25 February, is aimed at business leaders, government policy and decision makers, community groups and academics. It will explore the role of geography and mass collaboration in tackling sustainability, climate change and transportation. The Terra future initiative and its cross-sector participants will help generate and develop ideas and actions aimed at tackling these grand challenges.
DWP: Disabled people will have the opportunity to take their case to the UN if they feel their rights have been breached according to, Jonathan Shaw, Minister for Disabled People, when he announced that the UK Government has committed to signing the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on Rights of Disabled People.
The Convention itself reaffirms that disabled people have - and should be able to enjoy - their human rights on an equal basis with non-disabled people. The Optional Protocol builds on this by establishing two additional procedures in respect of implementation and monitoring of the Convention. This includes an avenue that will enable individuals, who feel their rights have been breached, to bring petitions to the UN Committee set up to monitor implementation of the Convention.
NE: Natural England has heralded the launch of ‘Ocean in Google Earth’, part ofthe newest version of Google Earth. Dr Helen Phillips, Chief Executive of Natural England, said: “We are excited at the potential that ‘Ocean in Google Earth’ has to raise the profile of the state of our seas, as it will encourage people to discover an amazing 3-D underwater world from their computers.
The companion website – ProtectPlanetOcean - portal for ocean conservation was developed by IUCN and its partners to complement the Marine Protected Area layer in ‘Ocean in Google Earth’. It provides an easy-to-use interface for people from around the world to upload their own photos, videos and stories about our oceans.
The content uploaded will be included in the Google Earth Marine Protected Area layer, meaning that users can directly contribute to the world’s first multimedia map of our oceans. Additional layers (e.g. fisheries) and ‘virtual tours’ of different types of MPAs will be made available on the web site following the launch by Google.
ScotGov: A new £1m annual prize fund to inspire innovative ways of improving the energy efficiency of Scotland's housing sector has been launched. The Scottish Energy Efficiency Design Awards will be open to applications from April 2009 and the Energy Saving Trust will manage the Design Awards.
The awards will focus on innovation and design solutions to encourage the development of low carbon buildings, with a particular emphasis on housing. Applicants to the Awards should contact Jennie Devlin at the Energy Saving Trust on 0131 555 7900.
Monitor: Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts has recently confirmed that Sandwell Mental Health & Social Care NHS Foundation Trust was authorised from 1 February 2009. The announcement means there are now 114 NHS foundation trusts in total, of which 32 are mental health NHS foundation trusts.
TfL: Work began last weekend on a £326m upgrade of Transport for London’s (TfL) Overground network. When complete, passengers will see longer trains, more frequent services and benefit from reliable connections to the main London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Park in Stratford.
London Overground will run up to 8 trains an hour during peak times on parts of the network when the upgrade is complete, double the current number and with a more reliable timetable for those trains. New & longer platforms at some stations will also allow more carriages per train, which will increase capacity and reduce overcrowding. Work has been fast-tracked to ensure completion before 2012.
DECC: Consent has been granted for 3 new gas fired power stations capable of providing approximately 4m homes with electricity to be constructed at Pembroke, King's Lynn and Hatfield. The approvals are subject to the design of each power station including the capacity to extract high pressure steam to supply nearby industries, should the demand materialise.
Consent was also given to build a second phase at Hatfield consisting of an integrated coal gasification combined cycle power station, which will use coal to produce hydrogen to fuel the station. As part of the phase two process of producing the gas, the company has applied to capture and remove the carbon. This might involve piping it off-shore for long-term storage and possibly using a small volume for commercial purposes.
STFC: Know a young scientist who is a gifted presenter? The Award Lectures are prestigious awards presented to young scientists who are particularly gifted at presenting their research to a non-specialist audience. The selected Award Lecturers will be invited to present at the British Science Festival, in Surrey between 5 - 10 September 2009. Deadline for nominations is 27 February 2009.
The British Science Festival attracts tens of thousands of people and generates thousands of column inches in the national, regional and international press. The Award Lectures tend to receive excellent publicity and are also a very popular component of the programme among a wide audience.
MoJ: Nottingham residents are being urged to have their say about local & global issues by Justice Secretary Jack Straw, who opened Nottingham's permanent Speakers' Corner last week on the edge of Nottingham's historic Market Square (junction of King Street & Queen Street).
The project, run by the Nottingham Speakers' Corner Committee, follows on from a highly successful Speakers' Corner Trust pilot in the city, which was sponsored by the Ministry of Justice's Innovation Fund. Nottingham's Speakers' Corner - thought to be only the second permanent Speakers' Corner in the UK - will be used to promote democratic engagement and public discussion.
MoD: Traditional biscuits brown and corned beef hash are to be replaced with new products in ration packs distributed to front-line troops this summer. The forces will ‘feast’ on more suitable pasta lunchtime pouches, cookies and energy bars that replace some of the more traditional components of ration packs. The MCR trial will also include the introduction of 20 new menus for general use, plus six new menus for vegetarian, Halal, and Sikh/Hindu dietary requirements.
Over 300,000 of the new 24-hour Multi-Climate Rations (MCR) will roll off Vestey Food's UK production line to be trialled by deployed troops. The MCR trial will run from May - October 2009 and follow on from the Hot Climate supplements currently in-theatre from May this year
Defra: Defra has added its approval to that of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Department of Health's Gene Therapy Advisory Committee to allow MedImmune Inc to conduct a research trial for a GM vaccine against two respiratory tract infections, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and Parainfluenza Virus Type 3
Last year the arrangements for the clinical trial were approved by the MHRA and the ethical aspects were approved by the Department of Health's Gene Therapy Advisory Committee. However, before the trial could proceed, approval was required from Defra for the release of the live GMO into the environment.
OS: Contracts for supplying a range of geographic information to central government for the next 4 years have been awarded to Ordnance Survey and its business partner, Landmark. The Pan Government Agreement (PGA), managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government, provides almost 100 national bodies with access to core geographic information at an affordable price and under consistent licensing terms.
PGA data supports a diverse range of applications, including monitoring agricultural payments, planning the digital television switch over, estate management and habitat mapping.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
WAG: A £25m project designed to support the growth of Welsh businesses has been announced by Ieuan Wyn Jones, Deputy First Minister. Enterprise Networks which has received £12m from the Convergence European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Assembly Government is geared to help 4,200 businesses and 155 social enterprises over the next 7 years. It could also lead to the creation of up to 1,200 jobs.
The project will have a specific focus on creating, developing & supporting strategic supply chains in key sectors of industry to help them identify new buyers for their products and help them bid for more public sector tenders.
WAG: The first credit union current account in Wales has been launched by Minister for Social Justice, Dr Brian Gibbons, at Llandudno & District Credit Union. The Welsh Assembly Government has provided £100,000 of funding to assist the credit union in setting up the current account, which will allow account holders to withdraw money from ATMs, access Visa debit facilities and make standing order & direct debit payments. In addition, account holders can have their benefits or salary paid directly into their account.
This is the next step in developing the credit union network, in which the WAG has invested £1.75m since 2000. They have also promised another £1.75m to deliver the One Wales commitments on credit unions, including all-Wales coverage, establishing access for secondary pupils and helping more to offer child trust fund accounts.
DH: Care for people with dementia will be ‘transformed’ with the appointment of dementia advisers, better training for GP's and the establishment of memory services staffed by specialists to provide early diagnosis and treatment, Health Secretary Alan Johnson has claimed.
The first National Dementia Strategy, backed by £150m over the first two years, will hopefully increase awareness of dementia, ensure early diagnosis & intervention and radically improve the quality of care that people with the condition receive.
The strategy calls for specialist memory services to be established throughout the country, which will ‘allow people with dementia to have their diagnosis made accurately and early in the course of the illness as well as get access to treatment and intervention that can help them live well with the condition’.
CLG: A new scheme to provide safe accommodation for people at serious risk of violence associated with gang or weapon crime will begin this month in Southwark. Southwark Council's new initiative 'SERVE' - Southwark Rehousing Victims of Violence Enterprise - will provide properties across London and the South East through an innovative agreement between the Council and a number of registered social landlords.
SERVE will mean people who are in danger in and around their home can move into a safe property in a different area for up to 12 weeks. During their stay the Council and its partners will help them to plan their next steps and secure long term housing.
Defra: The Government has accepted all 26 of the main recommendations made by Sir Iain Anderson on the response to the 2007 outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). The Government's response also comments on Sir Iain's personal recommendation to reposition the Institute for Animal Health (IAH), based at Pirbright, as a new nationalInstitute of Infectious Diseases.
HO: Representatives from charities, public and private sector organisations including the police, Association of British Insurers, Age Concern, Citizens Advice Bureau and Norwich Union have met with Home Secretary Jacqui Smith at a special crime prevention summit to discuss practical measures to help keep crime down.
DfT: Passengers in many parts country could benefit from a new approach to Government funding of new local and regional train services. The Department for Transport could take over long-term financial support for new or enhanced rail services that are promoted successfully by local authorities and Passenger Transport Authorities.
Many local authorities have found it difficult to take forward improved services because of the potentially high running costs involved. Under this new approach, after a successful trial period, local authorities could ask the DfT to consider supporting the services through a franchise agreement.
DfT: New proposals to improve access to taxis for disabled people have been launched by Transport Minister Paul Clark. The consultation (closes on 24 April 2009) asks for feedback on improvements that could be made to the design of vehicles and how taxi companies can offer a better service to people with mobility issues.
Under the Disability Discrimination Act it is already unlawful for taxi drivers to discriminate against disabled people and they have a responsibility to provide a full service to all passengers. However, this is currently difficult to enforce by law and there is no universal standard for what constitutes an accessible taxi.
STFC: On the 14 July 2008 the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) announced a £397m investment portfolio in new scientific infrastructure. This announcement included the earmarking of £24m for a new Imaging Solutions Centre to be built at the Rutherford Appleton laboratory, on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.
As part of the process of planning for the new Imaging Solutions Centre (ISC), the STFC now invites researchers in UK universities and industry to comment on the composition of this new Centre.
OFT: The OFT is appealing for complaints from timeshare owners who have received unsolicited approaches by scammers claiming to be resale agents and promising a 'guaranteed buyer' and a high price for their unwanted timeshare.
Any consumers with a complaint about timeshare resale scammers or bogus holiday club operators should write to the OFT at: ScamBusters, Bogus Holiday Club Project, OFT, Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square, London EC4Y 8JX. They will acknowledge all receipts and will contact consumers again should they require further details.
Genuine avenues for timeshare resale do exist but the OFT advises owners to always take advice first, do some research on the company making the offer and to check out the truthfulness of any promises made before making a decision.
HM Treasury: The Government has launched a consultation document on strengthening protection for vulnerable homeowners. The Government is proposing that companies offering sale & rent back agreements, which may target homeowners facing repossession, should be brought within the scope of Financial Services Authority (FSA) regulation.
The consultation sets out the details of the proposed legislation and will close on 1 May 2009. The FSA has published a separate consultation alongside on the detail of its proposed new regime.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
ScotGov: Promoting responsible drinking and ensuring young people are not targeted will be at the heart of sponsorship by drinks firms under new guidelines. The guidelines have been drawn up by the Scottish Government and Alcohol Industry Partnership, which brings together representatives from government and the major drinks firms.
Alcohol misuse is estimated to cost Scotland at least £2.25bn every year. According to the most recent survey on adolescent drinking habits in Scotland, over a third of 15-year-old girls & boys drank alcohol in the previous week, often consuming above weekly adult sensible drinking guidelines.
ScotGov: The first ever Code of Practice for Treasure Trove in Scotland is designed to ensure everyone involved with found objects of archaeological, historical or cultural significance understands the procedures which enable them to be claimed on behalf of the public.
However, the Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer (QLTR) recognises the contribution of members of the public who make chance finds and will, in most cases, make an ex-gratia payment to the finder.
OFGEM: Energy regulator Ofgem has published the final set of revised guidelines on how suppliers should market green electricity tariffs to make it clear to customers whether these tariffs are truly ‘green’. The guidelines will form the basis for an independent accreditation scheme for green tariffs, which will (hopefully) help to reduce customer confusion and rebuild their trust.
Under the accreditation scheme, a tariff will only be regarded as green if it brings additional environmental benefits beyond the suppliers’ existing Government environmental obligations.
DH: New guidance that will support the NHS to collect patient feedback on the success of their operations has been published by the Department of Health. Lord Darzi first set out proposals for the routine collection of Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) in his report High Quality Care for All in June 2008.
From April 2009, all licensed providers of hip replacements, knee replacements, groin hernia surgery and varicose vein surgery will be expected to invite patients undergoing one of these procedures to complete a pre-operative PROMs questionnaire. A contractor will then be responsible for collecting the pre-operative data and administering post-operative questionnaires.
DECC: The Department for Energy and Climate Change has published final 2007 estimates of UK greenhouse gas emissions.
HO: The draft Order to renew control orders legislation has been laid before Parliament by the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith. The annual report on the operation of control orders legislation by the independent reviewer Lord Carlile has also been published.
In it he analyses the operation of the control order system in 2008 and concludes that he 'would have reached the same decision as the Secretary of State in each case in which a control order has been made in 2008'.
In the report Lord Carlile also stated: "The control order system as operated currently is a justifiable and proportional safety valve for the proper protection of civil society, but prosecution and conviction by a jury of criminal offences is a far more wholesome and satisfactory way of dealing with suspected terrorists."
General Reports and Other Publications
NAO: A National Audit Office report has found that scrutiny of proposed legislation by the government is strengthening and that the standard is better than it was, but one fifth of assessments still did not include any quantified data to assess costs or benefits.
The Better Regulation Executive (BRE) has introduced new guidance, templates and training to improve the quality of impact assessments and, as a result, impact assessments have clearer presentation of results, better planning for implementation, and more quantification of costs and benefits.
But wide variation remains between the best & worst impact assessments. Many impact assessments did not pay enough attention to compliance and enforcement issues. For example, only one third of assessments assessed the cost of enforcement for the preferred option.
ScotGov: The Inspectorate of Prosecution has published an inspection report on the Highlands and Islands Area of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
The Inspectorate of Prosecution, in accordance with its Business Plan, is conducting inspections of the 11 Areas of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and of Crown Office (headquarters functions). These inspections are wide ranging including reviews of individual cases, considerations of bail, management issues, service to victims and witnesses, disclosure issues and equality issues etc.
HEFCE: A new plan to put higher education (HE) at the forefront of society's efforts to achieve sustainability has been published by HEFCE. Its sustainable development strategy and action plan recognises that the HE sector can make a substantial & exemplary contribution to the challenge of sustainable development.
This can be achieved through the skills & knowledge that its graduates learn and put into practice, its research & exchange of knowledge through business, community and public policy engagement and through its own strategies & operations.
HMIC: A review by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary shows that only half of the 43 forces in England & Wales had sufficiently detailed plans for improvement in major areas of policing, including organised crime and the investigation of complex murders. However, it is claimed that this deficiency in planning does not necessarily reflect the quality of delivery of these key services on the ground.
The report recommends focussed intervention in some forces to bring up their planning and the public account of plans up to standard, with greater collaboration and consistency across the police service as a whole.
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities have submitted their evidence to the Business and Enterprise Select Committee's 'Post Offices: Securing their future' inquiry. It concentrates on issues of particular concern and relevance to rural areas of England including:
* Financial inclusion
* Rural economies
* Local Authority initiatives
* Outreach services
The Committee have now launched an online forum to listen to the views of individuals & businesses who use post offices. The posts they receive, with the written & oral evidence gathered during their inquiry, will help shape the recommendations the Committee makes to the Government in their report.
NAO: The Department of Energy and Climate Change’s Warm Front Scheme to tackle fuel poverty in England helped to improve the energy efficiency of over 635,000 households between June 2005 and March 2008. According to a report by the National Audit Office there were, however, 1.9m vulnerable households in 2006, so this rate of progress will still leave many in fuel poverty in 2010.
Satisfaction is high, with 86% of assisted households either highly satisfied or satisfied with the work done. The report concludes that delivery of the Scheme has been largely effective and to that extent offers value for money, but it has been impaired by problems in Scheme design.
The Government’s use of proxy measures, such as benefit entitlement, to determine who is eligible for Scheme grants is a pragmatic approach, but it has resulted in inefficient targeting of resources. 57% of vulnerable households in fuel poverty do not claim the relevant benefits to qualify for the Scheme and nearly 75% of households who would qualify are not necessarily in fuel poverty.
IfL: Following a period of consultation with its members, the Council of the Institute for Learning (IfL) has published its first 5-year strategy. As the professional body for teachers, trainers and assessors throughout the further education & skills sector IfL now has over 180,000 members and its strategy sets out how it will work with members to make a difference.
DWP: Most people who save for their future can expect to benefit from saving under the Government's pension reform according to research published by the Department for Work and Pensions, which looked at the impact on those making savings into a defined contribution pension after 2012 with an employer contribution.
The report, ‘Saving for Retirement: Implications of Pensions Reforms on Financial Incentives to Save for Retirement’ shows that, given reasonable assumptions about the future, most people can expect to be better off in retirement by saving, with the majority getting back more than double what they save.
Legislation / Legal
CompC: The Competition Commission (CC) has decided to block the proposed video on demand (VOD) joint venture between the BBC through BBC Worldwide Limited (BBCW), ITV plc (ITV) and Channel Four Television Corporation (C4)-UKVOD, also known as 'Project Kangaroo'. It has concluded that none of the other remedies proposed could remove the threat to competition in the VOD market.
In its final report, the CC has confirmed its provisional finding that the joint venture is likely to result in a substantial lessening of competition (SLC) in the supply of UK TV VOD content at the wholesale & retail levels.
ScotGov: A Bill that will lead to local government elections being held on a separate day from Scottish Parliamentary elections has been published. The decision to decouple the elections was taken by the Scottish Government following a recommendation from the Independent Review of the Scottish Parliamentary and Local Government Elections (the Gould Report).
As a result of the change proposed in the Bill, the next local government elections in Scotland will take place in 2012. The dates of future Scottish Parliamentary elections will be unaffected.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
SE: Nominations are now open for the 2009 National Lottery Awards - a chance to celebrate & raise the profile of Lottery-funded sports projects. All Lottery-funded projects - large or small - can be nominated by the public or can enter themselves (by Friday 13 March 2009).
The awards have seven categories, each reflecting an area of Lottery funding. Sport England invested in two of last year’s three finalists in the sports category - with the Sunderland Aquatics Centre joining Get Active in the Forest in the last three.
Projects will compete in two rounds of public voting and the short-listed projects will go through to the finals, where the winning projects will be announced in a live BBC1 TV show. Each winner will receive a £2,000 prize to spend on their project. The first round of public voting will open on 22 June and close on 10 July 2009. The second round will take place between 3 August and 14 August 2009.
Business and Other Briefings
IPO: The UK and China have signed two Intellectual Property agreements as part of last week’s summit meeting between the two countries. The agreements which cover patents & trade marks aim to encourage and make it easier for UK & Chinese business to develop products and services from new ideas & innovation.
Chinese companies now file four times more patents than five years ago. By 2012 China is forecast to become the largest patenting nation in the world. However the global patent system faces a growing crisis with huge backlogs of unprocessed applications and delays. In some countries it can take over 10 years to get a patent. Much of this backlog is due to duplicate processing of similar patent applications in different states.
UK OC: Leading lights from the world of digital inclusion are being invited to take their places at the fourth national Digital Inclusion Conference - 27 to 28 April 2009.
The Conference, hosted by Civic Agenda in association with UK online centres and DC10 Plus, has become the place for those with an interest in digital inclusion to meet, mingle and masticate over the latest in policy developments, technological advances, and ground level best practice.
As well as plenary sessions there will be several workshops discussing Health & Well Being, 21st Century Learning, e-Democracy and Community. Outputs will be amalgamated into a 'manifesto' for digital inclusion, to be presented to the new Digital Champion.
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