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In the News

DFID:  The route to prosperity for Africa? - The UK Government committed £100m to ‘transform regional infrastructure and increase trade across Africa’ at a recent gathering in Lusaka, Zambia, as part of the launch of the North South Corridor initiative, which will hopefully improve key trade routes across 8 African countries.

At the conference it was also announced that development partners have agreed to over $1bn of funding to upgrade road, rail & port infrastructure and to support trade facilitation in the region. 

The scheme will upgrade 8,000kms of road - the equivalent to the road distance between Paris & Bejing - and rehabilitate 600kms of rail track.  It will also work with governments to remove red tape to allow trade between countries to increase and products to be transported more quickly.
BSA simplification of Brand name gets the message across -, the national procurement partner for UK public services, has announced that it is changing its name to Buying Solutions, with effect from 6 April 2009.  It is also withdrawing the Catalist and Managed Services sub-brands in order to focus on developing Buying Solutions as a single, unified brand.

The name change is intended to clarify the difference between the respective roles of Buying Solutions and the Office of Government Commerce (OGC).  Buying Solutions remains an Executive Agency of the OGC and will continue to work closely with them. Buying Solutions' aim to achieve savings for the taxpayer of £1bn a year by 2010/11, through EU-compliant, benchmarked framework agreements and other procurement arrangements.

In addition, Buying Solutions and the NHS London Procurement Programme (LPP) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will outline further opportunities for joint working & collaboration, which will provide increased value and significant cost benefits to London's 71 NHS Trusts.

Around 20% of all NHS spend occurs in London, which is an approximate spend of £5bn on goods & services each year.  The LPP aims to deliver £80m of savings back to the NHS by April 2009, and this MoU is a vital step towards meeting this challenge. 

The LPP has already worked with Buying Solutions procuring IT hardware, software & mobile telephony with planned areas for future collaboration including; Courier Services, Learning & Development, Consultancy, Interim Staffing and Face to Face Interpretation
CLGYou don’t know what you can achieve until you try -  Young people will get extra encouragement to unlock their talents as part of a £10m Inspiring Communities initiative.  The Government's New Opportunities White Paper argued that social mobility has improved in recent years with (for example) the proportion of young people from lower income families going to university rising.

However, the White Paper also recognised that in some deprived areas, young people are less likely to aim high.  They do not always make the link between doing well in education and doing well in life.  In addition, what happens in schools is crucial to addressing underachievement, but a child's sense of what they can achieve is influenced by factors beyond the school gate.  Lack of inspiration or support from friends, families or peers can all play a part.

Inspiring Communities is about investing in locally conceived, locally delivered projects that will get whole communities standing behind the talented young people in their midst and make sure that communities play a bigger part in fostering and investing in that talent.

Only deprived neighbourhoods within 64 local authorities will be eligible to apply for funding, with the final 15 Inspiring Communities selected from applications which must be on behalf of neighbourhood partnerships.  As a minimum, partnerships must feature the local authority, local secondary school(s) and local third sector organisations.  The deadline for applications is 3 June 2009.  
DWPLinked up services facilitate easier access – Reports published by the Department of Work and Pensions have demonstrated that the LinkAge Plus pilot programme has brought local authorities together with their partners in health, voluntary and community sectors, to find innovative ways to break down traditional barriers and to join up services.  

Avoiding duplication of work and improving provision has meant that older people are able to access several services through a single access point.

The pilots have developed the capacity of individuals & organisations to promote social inclusion and tackle isolation among older people, as well as improving access to services that promote independence & well being.  The final evaluation reports, including an assessment of the cost effectiveness of Link Age Plus, will be published in summer 2009.
HOHow good is your home security? - Free burglary prevention advice and a crack down on repeat burglars are part of a new package of support, announced by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, to help the public to protect themselves from burglary and help keep crime down.  Burglary prevention advice packs can be requested by phoning: 0800 456 1213.

It follows a burglary summit hosted by the Home Secretary in February which brought together representatives from charities, public and private sector organisations to discuss practical measures to keep crime down, backed up by £20m in funding.

The web pages include a new online personalised home security self assessment, 'How secure is your home?' that allows people to grade the security of their home in a few minutes.  It then provides simple advice about how they can improve it and who they can contact for help. 
OfstedWell trained & resourced staff are the key to happiness - Four new reports produced by the Children’s Rights Director for England (and published by Ofsted) give an insight into children and young people’s views & experiences of life in various residential settings.  A key finding in all four reports was the positive difference that good staff make to the quality of life of children and young people in their care.

The 4 reports asked children and young people a wide range of questions covering:
* what they most & least liked about living in their setting
* their advice on the nature of future settings
* their perceptions of safety & dangers

In secure care, the most common negative mention was the loss of freedom and being locked up.  Surprisingly, however, most young people said that secure unit was a safe place for them to be as it kept them out of trouble and helped them to sort themselves out.  
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General News

LRLand Registry celebrated a milestone in its history when it registered the first mortgage to be signed electronically. The mortgage, or ‘e-charge’, in favour of Coventry Building Society, was signed electronically by the borrower and registered at 11:20 on 24 March 2009.
This landmark occasion marks an important step in Land Registry's programme of introducing new electronic services and helps to make property transactions easier for all.
PCS: Private sector prisons are failing warned PCS, as it responded to the latest quarterly performance ratings for prisons in England & Wales. The latest figures which mark prisons on a score from 1 to 4, with 4 denoting ‘exceptional performance’, gave four of the eleven private prisons the low rating of 2.
A 2 rating denotes that they require development and significantly no private sector prison scored the top rating of 4. This contrasts with 15 public sector prisons achieving the exceptional performance rating of 4.
With England and Wales having the most privatised prison system in Europe, the union expressed concerns over plans for three new Titan super prisons, which the union fears will be given to the private sector.
ScotGov: A new NHSScotland fund to help support the wellbeing of NHS employees and provide initiatives to combat violence against staff is now open for business. The £1.5m ring-fenced Working Well Challenge Fund - of which £0.5m is specifically set aside for work to address & reduce aggression and violence against healthcare staff - is open to all NHS Boards who wish to apply for additional funds to undertake new work to promote and enhance the wellbeing of their staff.
The Fund aims to prioritise projects which seek to focus on those issues raised by the 2008 Staff Survey. Applications can be submitted by NHS Scotland Boards(who have been sent scheme details), or by a NHSScotland Board working with other partners.  
For collaborative bids, the lead applicant must be an NHSScotland Board. The closing date for applications is 15 May 2009.  Awards will be announced in June 2009.
DfT: An extra 28 motorcycle helmets have been rated by SHARP - the Department for Transport's Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme - taking the total number of ratings published to 125.
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 - which award ratings of between 1 and 5 stars - 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.
TfLLondon Underground (LU) has launched the revamped LU Film Office website that will make filming on the Tube more accessible to professional & amateur filmmakers and photographers alike.  
The website now includes a short film about how to film on the Tube, as well as a location guide showcasing the wealth of choice that you only get from the world’s oldest metro system including the grandeur of the 1930s art deco stations and the futuristic stations on the Jubilee line.
HA: The Highways Agency website has launched a new service that allows live traffic information to be accessed via a mobile phone and other portable devices, as well as from the standard website. 
The website, which provides constant live updates from the Agency's National Traffic Control Centre, proved a real hit with road-users during February's period of severe weather.  More than a million visitors were able to check the state of the roads and plan their journey accordingly.
When drivers stop for a break as they head for their holiday destination keying on their mobile will allow them to check that the road is clear ahead.  For those without a laptop or PC at the hotel, cottage, tent or caravan, they can now check for updates before heading for home too.
DCMS: Green-fingered Brits will have the chance to help design a GreatBritishGarden on the London 2012 Olympic Park thanks to a nation-wide competition. Run in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), 'The RHS Olympic ParkGreatBritishGarden Competition' is designed to showcase one of the nation's favourite pastimes of gardening, whilst commemorating the Much Wenlock Olympian Society in Shropshire, whose games inspired Pierre de Coubertin to found the modern Olympic movement.
Amateur gardeners from across the country will be asked to submit ideas (by 31 July 2009) for a quarter acre site expressing the unique qualities of a British domestic garden within contemporary parkland, so that visitors feel like they are wandering through someone's garden.
Six finalists will be shortlisted by a panel of experts before being put to a public vote in September 2009.  Winners will be chosen from two categories, one ‘16 or under’ and one ‘17 and over’. The winners will work with the team of world-class landscape architects and garden designers on the Olympic park to design a great British Garden that will be in bloom during the London 2012 games and remain in legacy.
SOCA: Nearly 22,000 victims of a mass marketing fraud will have their lost cash returned to them by the Serious Organised Crime Agency. Letters responding to international lottery scams and bogus offers were intercepted by SOCA during a raid in Somerset last June, before they could reach their final destinations overseas.
They typically contained £20 cash, with an estimated total value from the single haul of nearly £500,000.  SOCA believes the fraud could have yielded over £35m in a year had it continued. Every individual will receive a letter from SOCA returning their money and explaining that they have been victim of an attempted crime.
HEFCE: More than 70 universities & colleges will be offering real help to individuals & businesses during the downturn after winning a share of £27m in Government funding, it has been announced by HEFCE and DIUS. 
The £50m Economic Challenge Investment Fund will offer practical help to 50,000 people and 11,700 businesses whether in the form of:
* over 2,000 internships & work placements for new graduates
* short targeted courses
* vouchers for the unemployed for training and help with looking for work
Businesses will also benefit from a range of initiatives, including:
* courses for workers on reduced working hours in key managerial and financial skills
* placements of graduates with research expertise to support new product & process design
MoD: A fleet (75) of new all terrain Springer vehicles has been ordered by the Ministry of Defence to move vital equipment to troops on the frontline in Afghanistan.  The MOD is expecting to take delivery this summer fromEnhanced Protection Systems Ltd (EPS)
Springer will have a crew of two and the ability to carry a combat load of 1 tonne.  Its role is specifically focused on moving combat supplies from helicopter landing sites into the forward operating bases.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

Defra: Shoppers in the UK each get through 13,000 carrier bags in their lifetimes, new research shows as the Government launches a new campaign on reusing bags. In 2008 alone, 9.9bn carrier bags were distributed - enough to fill 188 Olympic swimming pools - and if laid end to end they would reach to the moon and back 7 times.
The ‘Get a bag habit’ campaign, launched with the British Retail Consortium, aims to encourage the reuse of carrier bags and follows a commitment by 7 leading supermarkets to reach a 50% cut in the number of bags given out by the end of May 2009.  Since 2006 retailers have reduced the amount of bags by 26%.
CLG: Chapter 3 of the 2008 White Paper, Communities in Control: Real People, Real Power (July 2008), set out how the government would help local authorities to provide better information to their citizens on local services, performance and opportunities to get involved in their local areas.  The Timely Information to Citizens project was set up to take this forward.
A mix of councils in rural & urban areas are sharing £620,000 to pilot schemes that provide better local information for an estimated 1m people, ranging from crime maps in Gloucestershire, to a website for parents & carers of disabled children in Cambridgeshire.  There will be a second round of pilots in Spring 2009.
HO: Working restrictions for Eastern Europeans will not be scrapped, the Government has announced, following independent, expert advice from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on the benefits of the scheme to the British labour market. The European Treaty of Accession means that the Worker Registration Scheme (WRS) will automatically come to an end in 2011, but had to be reviewed after five years.
The WRSenables the Government to monitor the work A8 nationals do, and where in the country they do it - and so better plan for local services and ensure migration is working for the British labour market and the country as a whole. Maintaining the restrictions also means A8 nationals will not have full access to benefits until they have been working and paying tax for at least 12 consecutive months.


OFT: The OFT has launched a consultation (closes on 12 June 2009) on its proposed financial services strategy which sets out its approach to the sector in response to the current economic crisis.  The OFT is asking ‘interested parties’ to comment on its proposal to focus on two inter-related themes:
* The prioritisation, in the short term, of promoting fairness & responsibility between the credit industry & consumers
* advocating choice & competition to ensure that public decisions made to deal with the current crisis do not harm competition in the long term to the detriment of consumers
The strategy also announces that the OFT is to conduct a review of the unsecured credit market.  The financial crisis has led to significant changes in this market and the review will focus on the fair treatment of consumers and on ensuring that this key driver of economic growth works effectively.
BERR/RCIC: As the 4th anniversary of the Community Interest Company (CIC) approaches, the Regulator has decided the time is now right for a review of the limits on the dividends CICs can pay to their investors (closing on 19 June 2009).  
The review aims to ensure the limits strike the right balance between promoting opportunities for investment and growth and maximising benefits for local communities.
CICs enable social enterprises to attract investment by issuing shares and paying returns to investors, while a limit is set on those returns to guarantee the majority of profits are put back into the community. There are now more than 2,600 CICs in the UK, offering a wide range of goods & services.
DCMS: Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has appointed ex-FA Chief David Davies to review the list of events that are protected for free broadcast coverage.  The list was last revised in 1998 and currently includes only major sports events, although legislation does allow the inclusion of non-sporting events.
Mr Davies and a panel of sport, broadcast & business experts are now seeking public views (comments by 3 July 2009) on which events should be included on the list, which currently includes the Wimbledon tennis finals, the Grand National and other major sporting events.
David Davies will be taking part in a live Downing Street webchat on listed events at 3.15pm on Tuesday 21 April.
IPO: The Intellectual Property Office has announced a review of the Copyright Tribunal rules which is intended to make the Tribunal quicker & cheaper to use, particularly for individuals & small businesses. The consultation (closes 1 July 2009) includes the following key proposals:
* Streamlining of cases for large-scale litigation in order to reduce costs for parties
* Introduction of a small applications fast track system for cases of low financial value in order to improve accessibility for small business and individuals
* Modernisation of the rules, in particular by incorporating case management techniques from the Civil Procedure Rules
The draft proposals take into account the recommendations of the Innovation, Universities and Skills Select Committee in the March 2008 report on the work & operation of the Copyright Tribunal and stakeholder comments received in that context.  The proposals form part of a wider package of reforms of the Tribunal.
DHDentists and their teams from across the country are being asked to share their views on how to improve access & quality of NHS dentistry at 5 engagement events being held in Newcastle, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and London during April and May. The results of the study, 'A Review of NHS Dentistry in England' will be published this summer.
Alternatively they can contribute to the NHS dentistry review in writing by sending their views & recommendations (by Thursday 30 April) ) to or Professor of Oral Health Research School of Dental Sciences Newcastle University Framlington Place Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4BW
LDA: The London Development Agency (LDA) has launched a consultation (closes 19 May 2009) on the London Tourism Action Plan 2009-13 which covers everything from international promotion of London as a world city to improving visitor information, accommodation and workforce development.
This is the second Action Plan that supports the realisation of the London Tourism Vision 2006-16 to be recognised as the leading global city for tourism.
BERR: The Department for Business has published a consultation (closes on 13 May 2009) on European Commission proposals to recast the Directives on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and the Restriction on the use of certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS) in electrical and electronic equipment.
The proposals follow the Commission's review of both the Directives:
* On WEEE, a major proposal is to increase the amounts of electric & electronic waste that are separately collected & recycled
* While the proposals on RoHS aim for a higher level of environmental protection by revising the scope of the restrictions and the substances they apply to
WAG: A new consultation (closes on the 30 July 2009) on plans to strengthen lymphoedema services in Wales has been launched by Health Minister Edwina Hart.  Lymphoedema is a chronic swelling due to lymphatic system failure.  
It can affect people of all ages and can occur in a limb, limbs, in the head and neck, trunk or genital area.  Whilst not life threatening, lymphoedema affects individuals physically, psychologically and socially.  
Currently there is wide variation in the organisation and delivery of lymphoedema services in Wales.  The proposed strategy aims to improve health & well being, minimise the risks associated with lymphoedema, ensuring that patients can access the right services, while also supporting & empowering people to maximise their own independence in all areas of life.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

CLG: Housing Minister, Iain Wright, has announced that ex-servicemen & women, who are seriously injured, are to be given priority for specially adapted social homes. Councils are being instructed to treat seriously injured service personnel as a priority when allocating modified housing, under new guidance just issued.
It will help to ensure better availability of specially adapted housing with features like walk-in bathrooms, wider door frames, lowered light switches, and entry slopes rather than steps, for service personnel as part of the Government's commitment to support those injured in the service of their country.
The guidance will also reinforce changes to help make sure all members of the Armed Forces can also apply for social housing in areas in which they were based during their service.  Previously, service personnel were restricted by the need to demonstrate a local connection beyond having served there.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has confirmed Industry Guidance which will facilitate paper-free electronic transfer of ownership of units held in an authorised investment fund (an authorised unit trust or an open-ended investment company).
Investors who sell or transfer units they hold have until now been required to give the necessary authority in writing.  Government regulations & FSA rules which recently came into force allow fund managers to accept the unit holder’s authorisation by electronic means such as e-mail or through the internet site of the fund manager.  
The Government estimates that these provisions could bring annual administrative savings for UK fund managers of between £70m and £290m. The guidance explains what fund managers should do to satisfy themselves that instructions given by electronic means are genuine.

Annual Reports

CompC: The Competition Commission (CC) has published its corporate plan for 2009/10, which sets out its objectives over the next 12 months & beyond. The CC has discussed its plan with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), as the two bodies work together closely to deliver an effective & efficient competition regime, minimising duplication of effort between the two bodies and minimising the burden on business.
The OFT has itself committed to a 6 month target for consulting on decisions whether to refer a market to the CC in cases where this may be the most appropriate and proportionate outcome.

General Reports and Other Publications

Ofgem: Affordability remains the key barrier to preventing householders from making changes to their behaviour to save energy despite high expectations that the environment is to figure strongly in the future of energy.  This was a key finding from discussions with Ofgem’s recently formed Consumer First Panel – a group of about 100 domestic energy users recruited from across Great Britain to help inform Ofgem’s policy decisions.
Most of the panel members found it hard to imagine themselves making large changes such as taking on domestic-scale electricity generation without significant support from the Government, even though most expected that ‘how we do things’ in energy will change.

The discussions were based around Ofgem’s Long Term Electricity Networks Scenarios which look at possibilities for the power industry out to 2050, ranging from proliferation of kitchen cupboard generators to a nuclear-dominated industry.
WO: Secretary of State for Wales Paul Murphy launched the Government’s new Real Help for Wales document at the 5th All-Wales Economic Summit at Swansea last week, which brought together business leaders and representatives of key sectors at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium to review progress on tackling the recession.
Ofsted: An independent survey of teachers’ views on Ofsted’s inspections of schools has found that almost 90% of teachers think that inspection helps their schools set new priorities for the future.  84% think it is important that their lessons are observed by inspectors.

Legislation / Legal

ISA: A year after the Darlington-based Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) began advising Government Ministers on who should be barred from working with children & vulnerable adults, the organisation is gearing itself up for its pivotal role in the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS).  The Scheme covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
On 12 October 2009 - the ISA's responsibilities for barring individuals who pose a known risk from working or volunteering with children and vulnerable adults will be further strengthened as more sectors - such as the NHS and the Prison Service - will come under the Scheme and new criminal offences will come into force.
While the ISA is presently making decisions based on the current legislation, it is also ensuring that both the right people & systems are in place for all phases of the Scheme: the October roll-out, July 2010 when those covered by the Scheme can apply and the November 2010 date when those covered by the Scheme must apply.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

Defra: The UK recycled almost two-thirds of all packaging produced in 2008, according to the latest figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Environment Agency. All EU Member States have targets set by the EU on packaging recycling and recovery.  The 2008 targets were recycling 55% and recovering 60% of packaging across the year.
BERR: The Department for Business has published a consultation (closes on 13 May 2009) on European Commission proposals to recast the Directives on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and the Restriction on the use of certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS) in electrical and electronic equipment – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.

Business and Other Briefings

DWP: From last week businesses are able to take advantage of up to £2,500 recruitment and 'on the job' training subsidies, as an incentive to take on people who've been looking for work for 6 months or more.  The subsidy is worth £1,000 and the company can, depending on location, access up to £1,500 worth of in-work training.
This Brief Announces changes in the Tour Operators' Margin Scheme (TOMS).
This brief is about the application of the transfer pricing rules where the government provides debt funding for PFI projects.

Forthcoming Event

LSN: At a FREE training event (30 April 2009), staff working in post-16 education & training will have an opportunity to experience the new Listening to Learners? Citizenship and learner voice DVD and associated materials.
What are some of the benefits of attending?
* take away your own copy of the new resources
* experience the activities & understand how to use them effectively in your organisation
* understand how the materials fit in the wider context of new policies on learner involvement strategies and citizenship education
About the new resources
The 13 clips & activities in the pack explore a range of key issues including developing a whole organisational approach to learner voice; involving learners - how far do you go? and ensuring staff have an effective voice.  Four case studies of practice as well as recent winning entries of the ‘Look at it this way-citizenship short film competition’ are also included.

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