In the News
DH: But will the staffing requirements be properly resourced? - The Government has published its vision of a 21st Century children's health service aimed at ‘improving the health & wellbeing of all children, including £340m to support children with disabilities and their families’.
The joint strategy Healthy lives, brighter future: the strategy for children and young people's health - published by Children's Secretary Ed Balls and Health Secretary Alan Johnson - sets out what children and their families can expect from child health services in their areas from birth through to the age of 19.
The strategy includes new packages of support for all children & young people, including:
* Stronger & better joined up support during the crucial early years of life, including more health visitors
* A strengthened role for Sure Start Children's Centres with each Children's Centre having access to a named health visitor
* Expansion of the Family Nurse Partnerships programme to support first time mothers from 30 to 70 sites by 2011, with a view to rolling it out across England over the next decade
* The development & testing of a new antenatal programme and preparation for parenthood package for mothers & fathers
* Free School Meal pilots looking at the health & educational benefits of universal access
ScotGov: But will the additional central funding for Scotland continue? - No council in Scotland will be able to charge pensioners for help with food preparation thanks to regulations to be laid before the Scottish Parliament. Following Lord Sutherland's Independent Review of Free Personal and Nursing Care last year, the Scottish Government agreed that the existing legislation on food preparation lacked clarity. Working with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA), these regulations will clearly outlaw charging for food preparation.
Separate regulations brought forward by the Scottish Government will increase free personal & nursing care payments in line with inflation. If passed by Parliament, weekly payments to eligible residents in care homes will increase from April from £149 to £153 per week for personal care, with weekly nursing care payments rising from £67 to £69.
HL: The problem is that it is ‘outsiders’ competing with ‘locals’ for ever scarcer community funds - Homeless Link (HL) has released the results of a survey that indicates that destitution amongst Central and Eastern Europeans is increasing in the capital. Following a baseline survey in November 2007, current research records an increase in the percentage of rough sleepers from the 8 accession countries from 18% to 25% of people sleeping on London’s streets.
More detailed analysis of the information suggests that, while the number of Central and Eastern European rough sleepers has reduced in several of the inner London boroughs that have had long standing issues with this population and taken action to address the issue, numbers have increased significantly in some outer London areas.
Results from other studies across Europe indicate a growing problem in other European cities and HL are calling on the European Union to ensure that all national governments across Europe rapidly commit to ensuring a safety net of protection that ensures everyone has the basic human right of:
* a roof over their head
* a meal on the table and
* the ability to return home
DSA: A well target campaign aimed at the highest risk group - Schools & colleges are being urged to think about booking a road safety presentation aimed at preparing would-be drivers for the learning to drive process. In 2007, 136 drivers aged 16-19 died in crashes. Another 130 were fatally injured in crashes involving vehicles in which they were passengers.
The Driving Standards Agency wants to put their Arrive Alive Road Safety Programme at the forefront of people's mind. It involves an experienced driving examiner giving a free 50-minute presentation to young people in the 16-19 age group. Topics include learning to drive safely, information on the theory & practical driving tests and adopting the right attitudes towards the responsibilities of a driver after passing the test.
The presentation can be given at a range of locations such as youth clubs & Armed Forces centres and is most popular in schools & colleges. Teachers can set up an Arrive Alive session by booking directly with DSA.
LR: Anything that speeds up a stressful process is welcome - In an important development for the long term future of the property market, Land Registry is offering to support developers and commercial enterprises that want to develop Chain Matrix TM and Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) type services.
Land Registry will support developers and commercial enterprises who wish to market their own commercial Chain Matrix and EFT-type products by:
* working with them in a consultancy capacity
* defining the requirements for the provision of Land Registry data to commercially offered solutions
* acting as an information component provider by making commercially available details of the technical design and architecture of Land Registry's Chain Matrix service
Land Registry will continue to develop electronic services through the launch of e-discharges, e-charges and cross-government collaboration with the Legal Services Commission. Later in 2009, Land Registry is introducing the Business Gateway service that will permit conveyancers to use their case management software to lodge applications directly to Land Registry. Commercial enterprises and developers requiring further information should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
CRC: Helping others to help themselves - Can you help the Commission for Rural Communities identify examples of sustainable economic wellbeing? They want your examples of projects which have contributed to improved sustainable economic wellbeing, as they are developing a set of case studies to share good practice with local authorities across England and encourage the understanding & delivery of it.
They believe work to improve an area should impact on the economic wellbeing of local communities and the individuals that live in them, as well as the traditional targets of economic & productivity growth. Many smaller, often rural, authorities are already pursuing economic wellbeing and the CRC want to identify & promote these projects in order to encourage the understanding & delivery of economic wellbeing.
An example is Healthy Boxes in Penwith: a locally sourced food box scheme which has established a new supply chain for farmers, provides employment for individuals with learning difficulties and healthy eating options to individuals within deprived neighbourhoods.
OFT: A welcome boost to some home owners in a depressing time - The Office of Fair Trading has published a study into the Scottish property management market which has found that the market is not working well for consumers in Scotland. Scottish property managers, also known as 'factors', manage common shared property such as roofs, staircases & gardens within tenements and other residential properties with a shared common space.
The OFT found that whilst the majority of people were happy with their property manager, around one in three said they were not. Two-thirds of consumers who had made a complaint about their management firm were dissatisfied with the way their complaint was handled.
Following discussion with the OFT, Consumer Focus Scotland has agreed in principle to support home owners to bring forward a test case applying legislation which may allow owners to switch land maintenance company. If this proves to be an impractical option for home owners, then the OFT recommends that the Scottish Government should review the legislation. The OFT's recommendations have now been submitted to the Scottish Government which has agreed to respond within 90 days.
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Defra: Small businesses can save cash, carbon & water by adopting the advice of 10 simple tips from Defra and DECC. As part of the 'Real Help for Businesses Now' campaign, the Government has collated easy guidance for small businesses, helping them to save money. The top ten tips include:
* switching off computers & monitors - a single computer and monitor left on 24/7 will cost over £50p.a.
* heating costs can go up by 8% each time you increase the temperature by just one degree
* using refillable printer, fax and photocopier cartridges which cost about half the price of a new one
DH: Stroke is the third most common cause of death in the UK. Each year, 150,000 people have a stroke and of those, 67,000 people die. Stroke can happen to anyone, young or old, at any time. In fact, 25% of people who have a stroke are under retirement age.
The Department of Health has launched a 3-year £12m awareness campaign to help the public to recognise the signs of stroke, using a simple test called FAST:
* Facial weakness - can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
* Arm weakness - can the person raise both arms?
* Speech problems - can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
* Time to call 999 - if the person shows any one of these signs, call an ambulance
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading and Get Safe Online have joined forces to urge internet users to be vigilant against online fraudsters as recent research shows that online scams are on the increase. The warning comes as part of the OFT's Scams Awareness Month.
The second week of this year's campaign focused on internet scams and is being supported by Get Safe Online, the UK's national internet security awareness initiative. Three of the most common e-mail scams which consumers should look out for are:
* Bogus foreign lotteries
* Advance fee scams
NA: Important unpublished records of the Hundred Years War are to be made available online in an innovative new 3-year project led by the University of Oxford and assisted by The National Archives. The Arts and Humanities Research Council has awarded almost £750k to the Universities of Oxford and Liverpoolto digitise & edit the Gascon Rolls, which consist of 113 unpublished manuscripts covering the era 1317 to 1468 (which includes the ‘Hundred Years War’).
ScotGov: More than 11,000 young people throughout Scotland are to benefit from improved sports facilities, including new 3G synthetic pitches, as part of the latest element of the Scottish Government's CashBack for Communities scheme.
The first 19 projects, part of the sports facilities strand of the scheme will also include a new sports pavilion, changing facilities, floodlights and drainage systems. They are to receive a share of over £1.3m, with a further £700k being allocated later.
MoD: The RAF's latest 'eye in the sky' has recently returned from its successful trials in Afghanistan. The ASTOR system (Airborne Stand-Off Radar) on the Sentinel R1 aircraft was used to gather vital information for forces in the fight against the Taleban. These aircraft are capable of operating for over 9 hours at a time.
The radar on RAF Sentinels works by looking down to the ground and ‘staring’ at the target area while the aircraft flies in a straight line. The radar transmits pulses and receives target information as it moves, while building up a ‘picture’ of the target area. State-of-the-art computers & software allow rapid processing of the information. Data is transmitted to mobile or static ground stations for immediate use by commanders on the ground.
MoD: The new Sea Viper air defence missile system has demonstrated its ability to protect air, land and sea forces during a second, successful test firing. Sea Viper is a highly sophisticated system that has been designed to allow the new Type 45 Destroyer to protect forces, both at sea & over land, against attack by enemy aircraft, as well as defending the fleet against anti-ship missiles approaching from any direction and at supersonic speeds.
The missile system was successfully test-fired from the 12,000 tonne trials barge Longbow, near the Ile du Levant off the French coast. The Longbow barge has a full replica of the air defence equipment the new Type 45 destroyers will carry, including long-range & missile directing radars, a combat control centre and missiles in their vertical launcher silos.
STFC: Astronomers have made an unexpected find using a polarimeter (an instrument used to measure the wave properties of light) funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), that has the potential to affect future climate models.
University of Hertfordshire astronomers were making observations of the stars in search of new planets after mounting the ‘PlanetPol’ (polarimeter they designed & constructed to take extremely sensitive readings) on the William Herschel Telescope (part of the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes) in La Palma in the Canary Islands, when their measurements became affected by a layer of dust. Their observations might explain why large Saharan dust grains can travel as far as the UK instead of falling to the ground long before.
NE: Dinosaurs, booming bitterns and other wetland birds are at the heart of the decision made by Natural England to designate Ely Pits and Meadows in Cambridgeshire as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, making it the first SSSI to be notified and then designated by Natural England since the government’s wildlife advisor was formed in October 2006.
Ely Pits and Meadows SSSI is a nationally important site for bitterns in both the breeding and winter seasons and now becomes one of only eight sites in England to be designated as a SSSI on account of their bittern population. The designation marks an extension of the area of ‘Kimmeridge Clay’ deposits in the area that now have SSSI status. These deposits have yielded a number of exciting fossil finds, including turtles, crocodiles, plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs and sauropod dinosaurs.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
Cabinet Office: The Government has pledged £42.5m to help volunteers, charities and social enterprises deliver extra real help to those that need it most, during the global economic downturn. The action plan for the third sector sets out a package of support that includes measures to help hundreds of voluntary organisations, charities, and social enterprises step up advice, support and volunteering in the areas that need it most across the country.
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities has highlighted the government’s response to the Rural Advocate's report on releasing the economic potential of rural areas. The Secretary of State spoke at the CRC summit on how innovation in rural areas can be encouraged to help drive stronger rural economies, which was jointly hosted with The Northern Way and the northern RDAs.
DFID: The UK is providing a further £1.8m for life-saving support to vulnerable groups including children and old people living in Gaza, International Development Secretary, Douglas Alexander, has announced. The money is part of the Government's £27m humanitarian support package and will help 4 aid agencies assist in meeting the urgent needs of the men, women and children who have been injured, made homeless or otherwise affected by the recent fighting.
The agencies will provide medical aid, food and water, as well as help to rebuild the region. This will include reconstruction of water supplies and destroyed buildings, counselling for people suffering from trauma and help for vulnerable groups such as the disabled and elderly.
Defra / PCS: Tyneside will be the home of the headquarters of a new body – the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) - to regulate and manage the sea around England. The MMO, part of the government's Marine and Coastal Access Bill, will be a centre of expertise that will contribute to sustainable development, streamline regulation and improve enforcement.
The Marine and Fisheries Agency currently has around 200 staff in its London HQ and 18 coastal offices. The new HQ will create more than 40 new posts. It is not yet known how many existing MFA HQ staff will relocate to the new location. The MMO is expected to be vested on 1 April 2010.
PCS, who represent staff working for the Marine and Fisheries Agency (MFA), criticised the plans to relocate the organisation out of London to Tyneside. Expressing concerns over the business plan supporting the MFA proposals, the union highlighted the recent relocation of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to Newport.
The move cost an estimated £100,000 per post to relocate, leading the union to warn that the relocation of MFA to Tyneside could end up costing the taxpayer more than any projected savings. With many staff in the MFA unwilling to uproot their families to relocate the union went on to warn that people would effectively be forced out of a job, resulting in an organisational brain drain.
WAG: Environment Minister Jane Davidson has asked Welsh Assembly Government officials to start work on legislation to put an end to the use of free one-trip plastic bags in Wales. Officials will be undertaking the necessary work for possible regulation under the provisions of the Climate Change Act.
WAG: A new plan to strengthen the social enterprise sector in Wales has been launched recently by Deputy Minister for Regeneration, Leighton Andrews. The Social Enterprise Action Plan sets out how the Welsh Assembly Government will work with partner organisations to promote social enterprises in Wales to create a thriving sector that will support community & economic regeneration and create local jobs.
The plan contains 20 key actions to help the sector expand, to grow existing ventures and help new social enterprises to become established. A new organisation to champion social enterprise and deliver key parts of the plan will be established. Social Enterprise Coalition Cymru will run a major awareness raising campaign, recruit pathfinder enterprises to help other organisations develop, encourage young social entrepreneurs and host key conferences on social enterprise.
DfT: Alcohol rules for leisure mariners moved a step closer with Transport Minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, launching a consultation (closes on 6 May 2009) on draft Regulations that will govern which vessels will come under the scope of the offence of ‘being over the limit’.
Following an extensive consultation, the Government announced in 2007 that it would introduce similar alcohol restrictions for leisure mariners to those in place for professional seafarers. The alcohol limit being introduced for leisure mariners is the same as the drink drive limit: 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood and will apply to those persons involved in the navigation of a vessel.
The Government proposes that the offence should affect larger, faster vessels while providing an exemption for a limited number of smaller, slower craft. This consultation seeks views on the draft Regulations that would exempt non-professional mariners on ships which are less than 7m and a design speed of 7 knots or less.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) recently published a consultation paper (closes on 1 May 2009) setting out proposals for the regulation of sale & rent back (SRB) schemes designed to reduce consumer detriment in this growing area of the housing market.
This consultation paper (CP) proposes a two-stage approach: an interim regime to be brought in from July 2009 to address the most significant problems consumers face as soon as possible, followed by a full regime which is likely to be implemented in the second quarter of 2010.
FSA: In a discussion paper (DP) issued recently for consultation (closes on 8 May 2009), the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has proposed a general short selling disclosure requirement for all UK listed stocks. The proposals follow a comprehensive review of short selling undertaken since the FSA introduced its temporary ban in September 2008.
The DP looks at the arguments for & against short selling, examines possible regulatory constraints on short selling and then examines options for enhanced transparency. The paper poses a number of questions on each of these areas and asks for responses to assist the FSA in formulating a regulatory response.
The FSA believes that the benefits of short selling such as price efficiency & liquidity, normally outweigh the disadvantages and proposes that there should be no direct restrictions on short selling. However, the FSA sees advantages in having enhanced transparency of short selling and so proposes that disclosure requirements for significant short positions should be introduced for all UK listed stocks.
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has launched a consultation (closes 8 May 2009) on draft guidance for businesses engaged in second charge lending. Second charge loans, or 'homeowner loans', involve consumers with an existing mortgage taking out further personal borrowing secured against their home. Defaulting on a second charge loan can ultimately lead to repossession. Firms offering such loans must be licensed by the OFT.
The draft guidance covers a range of issues such as customer care, advertising & selling techniques, contractual terms & conditions and practices around managing arrears or defaults. It sets out the standards of behaviour that the OFT expects from those businesses engaged in second charge lending.
The guidance is designed to complement existing OFT guidance for lenders. Responses to the consultation on this guidance will also be taken into account as part of the wider irresponsible lending project being undertaken by the OFT. Guidance on irresponsible lending is to be published in autumn 2009.
CRC: An official inquiry into the challenges & opportunities facing England's upland communities advanced a stage further last week, when Dr. Stuart Burgess, the Government's Rural Advocate and Chairman of the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) announced a 'call for evidence' (Comments can be made any time up to 30 April 2009).
The call delivers on a commitment made last year, to draw attention to the current harsh realities of upland life and highlight what these significant parts of England will need if they are to carry on serving the rest of the country as food producers; landscape, wildlife and heritage protectors; a tourism and recreational resource; and stewards of biodiversity, water and soil.
LLUK: LLUK NI's operational plan for 2009-2010 is now available for consultation until Wednesday 25 February 2009. It covers the period 2008 to 2011 and outlines how they will meet their strategic objectives for the period from 01 April 2009 until 31 March 2010, with draft plans for 2010-2011. It also outlines how they will engage with our employers and stakeholders. Comments & feedback can be sent directly to the Northern Ireland team at email@example.com or by ringing them on 0870 050 2570.
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading is seeking views from interested stakeholders on the main scope of its review into the local and regional media sector. In its recent Digital Britain Interim Report, the Government invited the OFT, together with Ofcom and other interested parties, to look into whether any change is needed in the merger regime regarding local and regional media - with a particular focus on print media.
All stakeholders wishing to submit initial comments on the key issues relevant to the scope of the review should respond by the 28 February 2009 to: Ian Windle, 9C/12, Office of Fair Trading, Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square, LONDON EC4Y 8JX. Tel: (020) 7211 5864 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Following this, interested parties will also have the chance to respond to a full discussion document on the Review, which will be issued in mid-March. The OFT plans to complete the review by mid-April, and submit findings to Government to fit the timescale for the publication of the final Digital Britain Report which is due early summer 2009.
DECC: A proposed new licensing scheme will open up an area of up to 200 miles around the UK for offshore gas storage and importation projects. The scheme will create a regulatory environment that will encourage investment in new gas supply infrastructure, including gas storage.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published a consultation paper (closes for part on 9 March 2009 and for other bits by 6 April 2009) on regulatory fees & levies which explains how the FSA proposes to raise the annual funding requirement from fee payers and provides an opportunity for comment – See ‘Annual Reports, etc.’ for more information.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
HO: A new guide aimed at helping victims of domestic violence has been launched. The purse-sized guide shows how friends & family-members can recognise if someone is suffering from domestic violence and sets out what practical support is available.
In order that victims don't feel trapped by an abuser's control over family finances, the Home Office has been working closely with the British Bankers' Association to agree additional banking support for victims. This means, for example, that victims can open new independent accounts with a letter from a refuge manager confirming their circumstances, as opposed to the usual multiple proofs of identification which may be in the possession of, or access- controlled by the abuser.
Victims can also open a new bank account giving just a PO box as their new address - thus protecting them and their independence. All this information and the guide will be available on a new Home Office webpage, at branches of Jobcentre Plus, GP surgeries and local crime fighting agencies.
ScotGov: On the same day that new figures showed further improvements in Scotland's recycling performance, a new website to aid local authorities do even better, has been launched. The Waste Aware Partners website, being run by Waste Aware Scotland, can also be accessed by businesses, community groups and other organisations, and will enable local authorities to share campaign materials, ideas and best practice.
Figures published by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) show that Scottish local authorities are now collectively recycling & composting 32.9% of municipal waste.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published its Business Plan for 2009/10. The plan sets out the FSA's programme of work for the year ahead to address the risks highlighted by the Financial Risk Outlook, published on 9 February 2009.
The FSA will focus on ensuring firms are soundly run and, in particular, that they adjust their business models to ensure they can remain well capitalised & securely funded. As well as addressing current risks, the FSA will play a full role in modernising the global regulatory framework. This will involve taking forward the agenda that will be laid out in an FSA Discussion Paper in March 2009. Finally & crucially the FSA will complete the planned programme of improvements to its supervisory processes.
Published alongside the Business Plan, the 2009/10 consultation paper on regulatory fees and levies explains how the FSA proposes to raise the annual funding requirement from fee payers, and provides an opportunity for comment. Closes for part on 9 March 2009 and for other bits by 6 April 2009
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) recently published its Financial Risk Outlook (FRO) outlining the main risks facing firms, consumers and the regulatory system in the economic downturn, in particular the challenges created by banking sector and real economy deleveraging.
These challenges include banks adjusting their business models to operate successfully in difficult conditions in financial markets and in the real economy. Firms are also reminded of the importance of treating customers facing difficulties with fairness. Consumers will need to be able to identify warning signs that might suggest they are getting into financial difficulty, should be cautious of financial deals which seem too good to be true and know where to go for impartial finance advice.
General Reports and Other Publications
NAO: A National Audit Office report has concluded that two programmes aimed at building capacity in the Third Sector have had a positive impact on frontline third sector organisations, but have not yet demonstrated value for money.
Both have suffered from administrative weaknesses and a lack of initial targets against which the effectiveness of the programmes could be measured. ChangeUp and Futurebuilders were launched in 2004 and together will cost £446m. Responsibility for both of the programmes passed to the Cabinet Office in 2006.
NAO: The BBC Trust recently published an independent report it had commissioned from the National Audit Office on the efficiency of radio production at the BBC. The NAO review looked at what the BBC is doing to maximise the efficiency of radio production across its Network and Nations radio stations.
The NAO found that there was limited documentary evidence that the BBC has systematically assessed the potential impact of savings on its radio output and that it has done limited work to examine significant cost variations.
The NAO concluded that the BBC is not making full use of opportunities to increase the value for money it is achieving in radio production. It is likely that a systematic analysis of the costs & performance of the most expensive programmes would help the BBC to identify areas where it could make further efficiency savings.
NAO: The Cabinet Office’s Capability Review programme aims to assess & improve government departments’ ability to deliver their objectives. The National Audit Office has reported that the programme has led to evidence of greater capability in departments. But departments have yet to show that the programme has had an impact on outcomes in delivering public services.
The Capability Review programme was launched in 2005 to assess & compare systematically individual departments’ organisational capabilities. Action to tackle weaknesses in capability is now a prominent feature of board business and every department has a board member leading its review response. However, there is some uncertainty in departments about whether, or how, the programme will continue, risking a loss of momentum.
BERR: The Department for Business has published an independent research report on street trading and certified pedlary in Great Britain. While the report found no evidence that pedlars pose a problem on a national scale, it suggested that current laws regulating street trading & pedlary could potentially be improved.
The Department commissioned the research partly in response to a number of Local Authorities seeking further powers to regulate trading & pedlary in their streets. In addition, Dr. Brian Iddon MP brought a Private Member's Bill on street trading before Parliament in the 2007-8 Session. Given the number of Private Bills, the Department undertook to examine whether national legislative change is needed.
MCA: The publication from the National Audit Office (NAO) of its Report into the growth of the UK merchant fleet, and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency's (MCA) response to that significant increase, has been welcomed by the Agency's Chief Executive, Peter Cardy.
He said, overall, the Report had identified the Agency's achievement in supporting the growth of the merchant fleet without significant extra resources, an efficient use of taxpayer's money. He also welcomed the NAO's Report as adding to the evidence that the Agency had succeeded in the task set 10 years ago by Government in the maritime plan 'Charting A New Course', and how the United Kingdom Ship Register (UKSR) was now much improved.
ESRC: Learning their community language outside the home enhances minority ethnic children’s development, according to research led from the University of Birmingham. The research, which was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, found that attending language classes at complementary schools has a positive impact on students.
Complementary schools provide out-of-school-hours community language learning for children and young people from minority groups. They aim to develop students’ multilingualism, strengthen the link between home & the community and connect them with wider social networks. The study found that the parents believed that bilingualism had economic benefits for their children as it improved their chances of success in the global jobs market.
HO: Continued credible public health messages, reclassification to a Class B drug and further research into the real harms of MDMA, were among recommendations to the government in a report published by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).
TfL: ‘Lose your license and you’re just a kid again’ is the message of the latest Transport for London (TfL) campaign aimed at young drivers who speed, drive without insurance or drive under the influence of drugs. In 2007, young drivers (17 to 25 year olds) were involved in 555 collisions in London that resulted in a death or serious injury.
Released in support of the campaign, new TfL research shows that 9% of young drivers feel that it is OK to drive under the influence of drugs such as cannabis. Although not widely known, the penalties for drug driving are exactly the same as for drink driving. Offenders face six months in prison, a £5,000 fine and the loss of their licence for at least 12 months. However, while the penalties are identical, the research suggests that drug driving has yet to become as socially unacceptable as drink driving.
CLG: The Fire Minister Sadiq Khan has welcomed the Audit Commission's report that shows that the majority 37 (82%) of the fire and rescue services are rated as improving well or strongly. The Government also agrees that workplace diversity remains a major issue, impacting directly on fire services' ability to carry out fire prevention work.
The Audit Commission has published the results of three assessment processes they have undertaken for Fire and rescue Authorities in 2008-9, which are published in the form of a scorecard for each authority:
* direction of travel - rate of improvement since Fire CPA 2005;
* use of resources
* service assessment - how well the fire service plans to respond to emergencies and prevent incidents and an assessment against key BVPIS.
HC: The Healthcare Commission and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) have joined forces to call on the NHS to provide better healthcare for adults in the prison system. The Commission and HMIP published a joint report on the commissioning of healthcare services in prisons.
The watchdogs said commissioning of healthcare services by primary care trusts (PCTs) was variable and did not always meet the health needs of individual prisoners. The report points to lack of planning and poor assessment of the health needs of prisoners. This meant that PCTs were not always able to provide the right services or ensure the right number or mix of staff.
The also said that many PCTs did not commission court diversion schemes, which may help to divert offenders with mental health problems out of the criminal justice system and into appropriate health services.
Legislation / Legal
DH: The new General Chiropractic Council, the third new council set up this year in a series of reforms to professional regulators, took effect from last week. Reforms are being introduced to healthcare regulators help to ensure that councils act fairly & robustly, and are seen to be independent.
The White Paper: Trust, Assurance and Safety, published in February 2007, put forward proposals that the councils of regulatory bodies who are responsible for setting & promoting standards for health professionals within the UK, should revise their structure and appointment procedures.
Since the start of 2009 new council membership and structures for three healthcare regulatory bodies have been introduced - the Nursing & Midwifery Council, the General Medical Council, both of which came into being on 1 January 09, and now, the General Chiropractic Council.
DWP: The Government has announced its intention to allow a group of Turner and Newall (T&N) workers with asbestos related diseases to keep their full Government compensation alongside that paid by the company. The Government currently recovers the lump-sum amounts paid out under the Pneumoconiosis etc (Workers' Compensation) Act 1979, to those who are suffering from asbestos-related diseases, if they also receive reduced T&N compensation.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
HM Treasury: The Government has laid before Parliament regulations to implement the EU Payment Services Directive (PSD) into UK legislation. These regulations are due to enter into force on 2 March 2009, and the PSD regulatory regime will be in place on 1 November 2009. The Government committed to early implementation in order to help firms consider the incoming requirements and prepare for compliance.
The PSD was agreed unanimously among all EU Member States in 2007. It should deliver greater competition, economic efficiency gains, and further innovation in the payment services market, while ensuring adequate consumer protection across Europe. In the UK, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) will be the regulator for most aspects of the PSD regulatory requirements.
ScotGov: John Swinney has welcomed European approval for Scottish public sector bodies to have greater flexibility in providing support for business during the current downturn. Following a temporary relaxation in State aid rules, the EC has approved a scheme enabling public sector bodies to offer limited amounts of aid, up to a maximum of €500,000 for an individual business.
Ministers were delighted with the Commission's quick response and will work with public sector bodies across Scotland to coordinate the provision of grants under the new rules. Mr Swinney has written to COSLA to start that process.
Business and Other Briefings
HMRC: A new podcast explaining forthcoming PAYE changes for large employers has been launched by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
The 5-minute podcast features HMRC's Stephen Banyard explaining the new online filing requirements, which will affect large employers filing P45s and other in-year PAYE forms from April 2009 onwards. As well as setting out who's affected, the podcast offers help and advice on preparing for the changes.
LDA: The London Development Agency (LDA) is helping the capital’s SMEs compete more effectively in the international market place. As part of its commitment to supporting businesses through the economic downturn the LDA, in partnership with UK Trade & Investment, is offering scholarships for company managers to develop stronger trading links with India through effective marketing.
The offer is open to SMEs based in London that meet selection criteria including the ability to demonstrate an active interest in the Indian market. The scholarship courses will run from 30 March to 3 April 2009 at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. The closing date for applications is 17 February 2009.
Explains the rules to limit claims provisions made by general insurers allowable for tax.
This brief describes the requirement to complete HO34 returns, particularly related to Tax Warehouse keepers.
LSN: The RIBA Learning & Skills Sector Forum, in association with the Learning and Skills Network (LSN), will host its annual conference & award ceremony on 31 March 2009. The Annual Conference provides an opportunity for those leading capital projects and industry professionals to consider how the current investment in FE infrastructure will ensure high quality educational buildings for generations to come.
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broadband link. Readers are encouraged to be patient.
While every care is taken to ensure that all links
’work’ in the newsletter (including checking just before
publication), WGPlus cannot guarantee that websites will not make changes that
will nullify individual links, especially over a period of
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