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In the News

ESRCThird Sector Providers get personal - Third sector providers of social care services face a host of new challenges (but also opportunities) following the Government’s commitment to expanding personal budgets in social care and the issues are outlined in ‘The impact of personal budgets on third sector providers of social care’.

This new booklet highlights the views of leading experts on social care and the third sector, as presented during a Public Policy Seminar jointly organised by the Economic and Social Council (ESRC) and the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), held in February 2009.

The aim of personal budgets is to enable those who rely on social care services to exercise choice & control over the help they need.  However, choice is only a reality if the services and types of support that people choose are available. Are third sector providers of social care well-placed to help those who use social care services including older people, adults with mental health problems and disabled people to enjoy greater choice and control?

In the booklet, seminar speakers Professor David Challis and Professor Caroline Glendinning draw on recent research findings to highlight the perceived threats, barriers & opportunities posed by increased user choice.  Fears over rising costs and loss of care workers & clients due to the expansion of personal budgets are just a few of the concerns expressed by third sector organisations.
Newswire – DCSFMust try harder - Sir Alan Steer’s report - Learning Behaviour: Lesson Learned - claims that there has been progress in raising the standards of behaviour in schools but that, although most children, teachers & schools do very well to tackle bad behaviour, there is no room for complacency and bad behaviour cannot be left untouched.  Schools with 'satisfactory' standards have the potential to rise to the challenge to do even better.

As well as the publication of the Sir Alan Steer report and the Government response, the Government has also published:
* guidance for teachers on how to tackle cyber bullying
* new guidance to help prevent bullying outside of school on journeys, in youth clubs, sports clubs, playgrounds, after school clubs, Children’s Homes and in Further Education colleges
• a new leaflet, published jointly with NASUWT, to help teachers & schools understand their powers
Newswire – HACKeep politics out of crime - The police should adopt a new protocol setting out the exceptional circumstances under which any politician should be kept informed of developments in an ongoing police operation, says the Home Affairs Committee in a report released last week. 

The Committee says that in such politically sensitive cases all decisions made may be subject to question & interpretation and in such circumstances it concludes that it would ‘be sensible not to keep politicians informed during police operations’.

The Committee noted that the Standards Committees of the Greater London Authority and Metropolitan Police Authority found that the Mayor of London Boris Johnson had not breached their code of conduct, but some of his actions were unwise and his motives ‘could have been misinterpreted’.

The Committee wished to investigate specifically the starting point for the police inquiries and the wider conduct of the investigation by the police.  The Committee expressed concerns about some of the circumstances surrounding the involvement of the police in the investigations.

It says that leaks are corrosive and cannot be condoned, but that growing frustration in the Home Office and Cabinet Office about the leaks may have led officials to give an exaggerated impression of the damage done by them and that it was ‘unhelpful to give the police the impression that the Home Office leaker(s) had already caused considerable damage to national security’.

The Committee recommends that the Cabinet Office review its guidance on leak inquiries so that the police are called in only when there is clear evidence that a criminal offence under the Official Secrets Act has been committed.
ScotGovA welcome bit of help - A new resource to help schools meet the needs of children with autism has been launched.  The Autism Toolbox, which has been sent to every school & education authority in Scotland, draws on practical examples, literature & research to give guidance to councils and support to schools.

It is funded by the Scottish Government and developed by the National Centre for Autism Studies at the University of Strathclyde.  It will help everyone involved in delivering education to those with autism by:
* Giving autism-specific advice aimed at pre-school, primary & secondary school staff to encourage innovative, individualised and creative teaching
* examining how education professionals can work in partnership with parents & families to ensure the best possible outcomes for the child
* Providing schools & education authorities with good practice and exemplars drawn from all over Scotland
* Giving guidance on the different approaches that can be taken to support individuals with autism - both within and out with the educational setting
For Industry News please click HERE

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

General News

DH: A new website to support partnerships between NHS staff & trade unions has been announced by Health Minister, Ann Keen. The Social Partnership Forum (SPF) is a partnership between the Department of Health, NHS Employers and NHS Trade Unions to improve working relationships and involve partners in the workforce implications of NHS policy development.
The website was a key recommendation in a progress report - 'NHS Social Partnership Forum Review - Final Report' - by the Involvement and Participation Association (IPA), on the role & function of the National SPF.  
NA: This week sees the 97th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic; one of the worst passenger ship disasters in history.  In her time, the Titanic was the largest passenger steamship in the world, built using some of the most advanced technology available and was popularly believed to be 'unsinkable'.
The National Archives holds many interesting documents about the doomed ship, including registration documents, passenger lists, crew lists and a telegram sent by the Titanic's wireless operator that captures the desperate circumstances of the crew & passengers alike. There is also a school activity that reveals more about the lives of the passengers and the documents the NA holds, on its educational Learning Curve site.
You can find out more about the Titanic at a FREE TALK at The National Archives: Titanic lives: the officers and crew of RMS Titanic takes place on Tuesday 14 April 2009, 14:00 - 15:00 (should appear on podcast page later on).
NA: As part of the celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's accession to the throne, the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre has launched an online resource looking at his marriage to Wiltshire-born Jane Seymour.
Part of the Archive Awareness Campaign, the blog looks at some of the records relating to their marriage and (in particular) Henry's gifts of land & properties to his third, and 'favourite', wife, who died shortly after giving birth to a son.
CDConsumer Direct is urging new & expectant parents to be aware of their consumer rights when buying baby buggies, prams and pushchairs, as new figures show a significant increase in complaints. Almost half of these complaints were about products costing over £300.
A significant number were about products which were faulty on arrival, or which developed faults soon after their first use.  Customers reported steering faults, wheels falling off and buggies collapsing, as well as problems such as badly fitting hoods and footrests.
Pushchairs bought on the high street or online must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and match their description.  If they are not, shoppers may be able to claim a repair, replacement, or a partial or full refund.
LRLand Registry, the government department responsible for registering land in England & Wales, is proposing to increase its fees.  The increases are due to come into effect on 6 July 2009 and are intended to reduce the current operating loss, caused by the reduction in the number of transactions in the property market.
The increases mean that the fee for registering a property worth £100,000 would increase from £100 to £130.  For a property worth £1m, the fee would go up from £420 to £550.  There will also be increases in fees for providing information, including official searches and official copies with, for example, the fee for a postal official search increasing from £6 to £8.
STFC: Scientists working on NASA’s twin STEREO spacecraft have made a significant breakthrough that could play a major role in protecting satellites from the damage caused by solar explosions, known as Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs).

CMEs are powerful sudden eruptions of plasma and magnetic energy from the Sun’s outer atmosphere that, when directed towards Earth, can have damaging effects.  Protecting satellites from these potential negative consequences is vital for preventing disruption to everything from GPS to power stations.

Now scientists using data from the twin STEREO spacecraft have shown that these unique 3D images enable a CME to be tracked all the way to the Earth and predict its arrival at least 24 hours beforehand.  This allows more time for preventative measures to be put in place to minimise the damage caused to satellites and the resulting disruption to technologies.
HEFCE: 44 higher education institutions (HEIs) have been awarded a share of £25m from the Revolving Green Fund, a partnership fund between the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) and Salix Finance.  The fund enables HEIs to transform their approaches to energy consumption and reduce emissions.
HEIs have applied for funds through two strands: an institutional small projects (ISP) fund and a transformational fund for large, one-off projects.  Over 100 expressions of interest have been received for the two strands, demonstrating a high level of interest.  In total £30m is available for the Revolving Green Fund, of which £10m is allocated for the transformational fund and £20m for the ISP fund.
MO: A new, interactive education sectionAll about the weather - has been launched by the Met Office to support teachers and help pupils learning about weather & climate change. The refreshed web pages have been split into three sections for kids, teens & teachers to match the needs of each group.  They have been designed with the help of teachers and are more engaging, easier to navigate and provide clearer content.
New worksheets and presentations for primary & secondary pupils have been designed to support the National Curriculum for England, which means that teachers will find it easier to incorporate weather and climate change into lesson plans.  Covering elements of the geography, science and maths curriculum, all of the material can be downloaded free of charge.
ScotGov: Britain's last remaining single track trunk road, the A830 'Road to the Isles', has been upgraded to double carriageway standard following a £23m investment. During the A830 project, an additional £239,000 was invested in the construction of two new lay-bys to give road users the opportunity to stop to enjoy the breath-taking views on one of Scotland's most scenic routes.
Some of that scenery meant special consideration had to be given to environmental factors during the design & construction phases.  As the road passes through Glen Beasdale Special Area of Conservation, noted for its ancient oakwood, its otters & its fresh water mussels, significant effort was made to retain the existing character of the area.  Furthermore, a new habitat is currently being developed to maintain & improve oak woodland.
TfL: New research from Transport for London (TfL) has revealed the extent to which young drivers, particularly males, are affected by peer pressure while at the wheel.  The findings are released in support of a campaign, run by TfL and the London Safety Camera Partnership, which urges young drivers (17 to 25 year olds) to consider the consequences of illegal driving.

In total, 32% of males and 20% of females have risked their licences by speeding in order to impress passengers or onlookers.  This is despite the finding that a third of young drivers claimed that they would not be able to maintain their current lifestyle, including their job, if they lost their driving licence.  
Young drivers account for just 8% of all drivers in the Capital, but are involved in 18% of all collisions.

DWP:  Thousands of miners suffering from Osteoarthritis of the knee, commonly known as 'Miners' Knee' will now be able to claim help from the Government. Ministers have decided to act on the recommendation from the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council, that coal miners with the disease (who have worked underground for 10 years or more) should be able to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.
Symptoms of the disease include pain, swelling, stiffness and reduced mobility.  The change is expected to come into force in the summer.
HO: A new electronic application system bringing faster results to its largest customers has been launched by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). Customers who make more than 3,000 checks a year can now use e-Bulk to send multiple applications & receive the results electronically (contact the CRB for more information).
Annually the CRB completes more than 3.5m checks against criminal records and lists of those barred from working with the vulnerable, with 50% of applications coming from just 265 organisations.  Those high-volume customers have been offered use of the e-Bulk system - bringing benefits which include:
* faster results - the e-Bulk service will reduce the average processing time by around five days
* fewer forms to complete - customers can integrate the CRB requirements into their own recruitment processes & application form
* reduced inaccuracy - all information sent via e-Bulk is automatically checked for completeness reducing errors
* electronic results - certificates that do not contain conviction information are returned electronically
DCMSOrdnance Yards and Magazine Depots from the Napoleonic War to the First World War are amongst 48 buildings that have been listed, or upgraded, by Culture Minister, Barbara Follett, following a study by English Heritage.
The buildings, mostly listed at Grade II, include:
* the Mixing house (building 124) at Bull Point, Plymouth, constructed in 1804 and a unique survival from the Napoleonic Wars, where gunpowder from returning warships was recycled
* the Shell Fitting & Packing Workshop (building 65) also at Bull Point, built in 1862 as a specialized workshop for filling & packing shells, and
* a munitions factory at Priddy's Hard, Gosport, where, more than a hundred years ago, women workers used to slip love letters into ammunition boxes they were packing, for lonely sailors to find.
Of the 33 newly listed buildings, 19 are owned by the MOD and managed by Defence Estates (DE). One building, Government Powder Magazine No.5, at Purfleet in Essex, has had its listing upgraded to Grade I, based on new research & findings of the thematic survey.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

ScotGov: The crime campus which will bring together on one site the key law enforcement agencies is on track for occupation in late 2011. It will include the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA), the Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA) Forensic Services (Glasgow), Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
The strategic aim of the project is to improve the efficiency & effectiveness of partner organisations in combating crime and supporting other organisations to do so.  Key project aims focus on building a new facility that will enable the stakeholder agencies to maximise their combined operational effectiveness and efficiency and which demonstrates value for money in terms of quality, cost and time.
WAG: New funding to develop a directory of services that support veterans has been announced by the Welsh Assembly Government.  Cymorth Cymru, the body that represents providers of housing related support & homelessness services, has been awarded £15,000 to develop the directory that will improve access to support for war veterans.
The money will be used to set up a database of services available to veterans to help prevent homelessness, or quickly respond to it when it happens. Supported by the Veterans Agency, the database will map services available across Wales (such as hostels & helplines) and make this information available to organisations working with veterans in Wales.
HO: New measures to improve the investigation & prosecution of rape and to provide support to victims have been announced by Home Office Minister, Vernon Coaker. The new measures follow discussions with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to ensure the best possible support for victims of rape and include  up to £1.8m of new funding for Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) and Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs).
The current consultation - Together We Can End Violence Against Women And Girls (closes 29 May 2009) - sets out the action the Government has taken to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls.  It looks at what more can be done to challenge the attitudes that uphold it in order to help women and girls feel safer.
DFIDWorld Trade Week, the first event of its kind in the UK, will take place this year from 8 to 12 June and will help highlight the importance of global trade in creating jobs & growth in the current economic climate. Through events in the UK & worldwide, starting with an international trade conference in London, the week will help showcase the UK as a trading nation and the importance of global trade to international development.
DfT: Ministers have launched the Government's vision to promote ultra low carbon transport over the next 5 years. Central to the strategy is an initiative to help put electric cars into the reach of ordinary motorists by providing help worth £2,000 - £5,000 towards buying the first electric & plug in hybrid cars when they hit the showrooms (expected from 2011 onwards).
The announcement is intended to promote infrastructure & support technology development and encourage manufacture in the UK, whilst incentivising consumers. The strategy also includes plans to provide £20m for charging points & related infrastructure to help develop a network of 'electric car cities' throughout the UK and an expansion of an electric and ultra-low carbon car demonstration project on the UK's roads.
WAG: The National Library of Wales has been successful in their funding bid to create a new digital resource -  Welsh Newspapers and Magazines Online - providing an insight into Wales’ past and available to all at the click of the mouse.  £2m will be allocated from the Welsh Assembly Government’s Strategic Capital Investment Fund specifically to digitise 2m pages (by 2012) of newspapers & magazines relating to Wales.
The publications date as far back as the eighteenth century and cover up to 300 titles from children’s magazines like Cymru’r Plant to popular newspapers such as the Star of Gwent, Tarian y Gweithiwr and Herald y Rhos. The site will help to address the shortage of on-line learning materials relating to the culture, history & identity of Wales and will create the largest body of Welsh language material yet published on-line.

Press release ~ National Library of Wales ~ Welsh Assembly Government’s Strategic Capital Investment Fund


DECC: A list of 11 sites that could be potential hosts to new nuclear power stations in the UK has been published and members of the public now have until the 14 May 2009to commenton the proposed sites, before the nuclear planning consultation takes place later this year.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change published the list after vetting all applications to ensure that:
* they were credible
* the sites could be operational by 2025
* the nominator had raised public awareness of their intention to nominate
Following the one month public comment window, information from the public will be used alongside the advice of regulators and other specialists.  Sites which are judged to be potentially suitable will be included in the draft National Policy Statement (NPS) on nuclear power which will be published later this year for public consultation.  The NPS will set the policy framework for the new independent Infrastructure Planning Commission's decisions on new nuclear power.
Ofgem: Energy regulator Ofgem has unveiled proposals to give small businesses better protection in the energy market.  The proposals are part of reforms Ofgem will introduce following its energy supply probe.  They are aimed at micro-businesses – companies that have fewer than 10 employees, or one of a number of other characteristics.  
The proposals include a ban on the automatic roll-over of fixed-term contracts which has resulted in some businesses being locked, without being aware, into unfavourable long-term contracts.  Stakeholders will have until the 29 May 2009 to respond to the package of the proposals.  Ofgem aims to have all the rule changes in place for domestic and business customers for this autumn.
HO: Plans to stop investigatory powers being used under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) for trivial purposes have been announced by the Home Secretary.  The plans include a review of which public authorities can use them and proposals to raise the level of authorisation to sign them off in local authorities. 
The consultation (closes on10 July 2009)includes draft Codes of Practice.  These codes will replace the existing Codes of Practice on Covert Surveillance and Covert Human Intelligence Sources.  They make it clear that RIPA should not be used in relation to trivial offences, and they provide examples so everyone can understand how and when these techniques should be used.
BERR:  The Government has launched a consultation (closes on 10 June 2009) on the European Consumer Credit Directive. The Directive aims to protect consumers, offer them new rights and set out common standards across the EU in relation to a range of unsecured credit products.
The provisions to be consulted on include:
* A 14-day right for consumers to cancel any credit agreement without penalty
* Lenders will have to explain their products to help consumers make the right choices
* Lenders will have a responsibility to check consumer's creditworthiness
* A consumer right to make partial early repayment (this is in addition to the existing right to repay early in full)
* A standardised information form setting out important information for consumers before they sign a credit agreement

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

Defra: Guidance to help police & local authorities enforce ‘dangerous dogs’ law more effectively &crack down on irresponsible dog ownership has been published. Written in association with the police, the RSPCA and local authorities, the guidance sets out the current law and provides advice on how the legislation can be used effectively to improve enforcement.
The guidance:
* Provides an outline of the law on dangerous dogs, including an explanation of the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act and the 1871 Dogs Act
* Sets out best practice for the main enforcement authorities; the police & local authorities
* Provides guidance on identifying pit bull terrier-type dogs
* Provides examples of existing local initiatives
DIUS: New guidance, published by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), provides practical advice to those responsible for letting publicly funded contracts on how to embed skills training & apprenticeships in all aspects & stages of the procurement process.  It covers all types of public contracts for products & services from facilities management & IT to construction.
Total public procurement is worth around £175bn a year and offers a unique opportunity to invest in the nation's skills and build a more productive workforce better able to respond to technological changes.  Other benefits include improving public services, getting greater value for money and helping people progress in their careers.
ScotGov: A new resource to help schools meet the needs of children with autism has been launched. The Autism Toolbox, which has been sent to every school & education authority in Scotland, draws on practical examples, literature and research to give guidance to councils and support to schools – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.

Annual Reports

DIUS: An independent review has commended the Food Standards Agency for the way it commissions, manages & uses science. The Government Office for Science Review highlights examples of good practice and praises the FSA for operating in an extremely open & transparent fashion.
The agency has pioneered holding committees and board meetings in public, with the agendas & papers published on the web beforehand and minutes of meetings also made available online.
However, the report also found that whilst science lies at the core of the FSA's business, without in-house facilities, the Agency relies on others to undertake the science it needs.  There is therefore a high risk that in a climate of resource constraints, the funding of science within the FSA may be reduced and that the pressure may be met by reducing the amount of externally funded work.

General Reports and Other Publications

ESRC: A new joint Economic and Social Research Council and Technology Strategy Board publication highlights the need to focus on improving the energy efficiency of millions of buildings in Britain that will still be standing in 2050.
How people use & ‘misuse’ buildings coincides with a report from the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee which calls on the government to make retrofitting existing buildings a priority in the Government’s £535mgreen stimulus plan.
Cabinet Office: The Panel on Fair Access to the Professions, led by Alan Milburn MP, has published a first research paper highlighting key trends & issues in access to the Professions. The report identifies where progress had been made to widen access to professions such as law, medicine, media, publishing, Civil Service and banking for young people, but also identifies where barriers still exist.
The research report finds that many of Britain's professions have become more socially exclusive and that, as a consequence, bright children from average income families, not just those from more disadvantaged backgrounds, are missing out on a professional career.
CRCAre romantic sentiments of rural England holding back our upland communities?  That was one of several topics discussed by contributors to the 2nd of 6 scheduled hearings (taking place in every region of England containing uplands) of the Upland Communities inquiry held by the Commission for Rural Communities, in Harrogate recently.
Some of those giving evidence to the Inquiry Panel suggested an unrealistic, even nostalgic, view of small upland communities was having an adverse effect on proposals for new development.  The example was given of ‘NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard)’ attitudes delaying or even blocking what many consider to be much needed affordable housing in upland communities.  Several significant concerns, challenges & potential solutions were raised by over 30 participants contributing evidence to the inquiry

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

BERR:  The Department for Business and Defra, working closely with the Devolved Administrations, and the environment agencies, have produced regulations that establish the legislative framework for the collection, treatment & recycling of waste batteries & accumulators in the UK.
The Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009 complement the existing Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2008, which set out the requirements for introducing new batteries onto the market as of September 2008.
BERR:  The Government has launched a consultation (closes on 10 June 2009) on the European Consumer Credit Directive. The Directive aims to protect consumers, offer them new rights and set out common standards across the EU in relation to a range of unsecured credit products – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

ScotGov: Voluntary adult learning organisations in Scotland are to receive a share of more than £685,000 from the Scottish Government to help maintain their Scottish headquarters & support training of their own staff. Eleven organisations will receive a share of more than £679,000 to help maintain their headquarters so that they can continue to promote & provide adult learning throughout Scotland.
To be considered for a grant, an organisation must be able to demonstrate its ability to address the learning needs of communities in relation to social inclusion, lifelong learning and active citizenship.  It must also be a national organisation in Scotland, in both its activities and membership.
BIG: A project taking action to tackle knife crime in the community by bringing together young people, schools, police, youth services and the general public in South London has been awarded a grant by the Big Lottery Fund.
The project Action SE17 - Helping our community tackle knife crime together in Walworth in Southwark was awarded £481,433 and is led by Inspire At St. Peters in partnership with local Police, youth services, schools and community projects.
Shocked at the level of knife crime in the area and after the death of a pupil at a local secondary school, Inspire brought all parties together to pool their resources and knowledge.  Local young people themselves are also heavily involved and have been a driving force.
DCMS: A major new tourist attraction exploring the history of maritime Greenwich has been given the go-ahead, as Culture Minister Barbara Follett pledged the final £700,000 needed to make the 'Discover Greenwich' project a reality (opening in early in 2010).
'Discover Greenwich' will be housed at the Old Royal Naval College and the exhibition will tell the story of the historic site from Henry VIII's Tudor Palace and Wren's Royal Hospital for Seamen to its 20th century role as the Royal Navy's staff college.  It will tell the personal stories of many of the characters behind the buildings, from monarchs and admirals to architects and craftsmen.
Press release ~ 'Discover Greenwich' ~ Greenwich Foundation

Business and Other Briefings

HMRCHM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has issued a reminder to employers - file your Employer Annual Return by the 19 May 2009 deadline, or you could end up with a late-filing penalty. HMRC is also reminding large employers, with 50 or more employees, that they must file their 2008/09 Employer Annual Return online, or they could face an additional penalty.
Smaller employers, with fewer than 50 employees, can still file their return on paper, but those who file online will qualify for a £75 tax-free payment.

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