In the News
DH: If NHS spending has trebled since 1997, why hasn’t it happened already? - Building work to finally eliminate mixed-sex accommodation in hospitals across England has started with over 700 projects planned across 200 organisations, Health Secretary Alan Johnson has announced.
The work is part of the government's pledge to ensure that men and women will not have to share sleeping areas, bathrooms or toilets when admitted to hospital and that their privacy & dignity is upheld whenever possible.
Some improvement works started in April 2009 after Alan Johnson allocated a £100m Privacy and Dignity Fund to all Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) in England. Approximately £40m of the funding has been allocated for new & refurbished same-sex sanitary facilities such as bathrooms, with the rest spent on other work including:
* Erecting separating walls
* Provision of same-sex lounges
* Improved partitions
* Approved pan-trust bed management systems
SE: Triumphs over adversities - Sport England’s Chair, Richard Lewis, has challenged everyone in sport to do more to encourage participation by people with learning disabilities. He laid down the gauntlet as Sport England announced an investment of £200,000 in the 2009 Special Olympics GB National Summer Games.
Thousands of athletes are expected to compete in the games, supported by over a thousand coaches and 2,000 volunteers. The event, which is open to children & adults with a learning disability, is being staged in Leicester from 25 to 31 July 2009.
WAG: Simpler paperwork for Welsh Farmers - Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones has announced a shift in approach to land management schemes in Wales. From 2012, the 5 existing agri-environment schemes will be replaced by 1 scheme – Glastir - which is ‘better positioned to meet current & future environmental challenges’.
The announcement meets the One Wales commitment to undertake a review of programmes under Axis 2 of the Rural Development Plan. The 5 existing schemes are Tir Gofal, Tir Cynnal, Tir Mynydd, the Organic Farming Scheme and the Better Woodlands for Wales scheme.
As a consequence of the announcement Tir Gofal and Tir Cynnal schemes will close to new entrants with immediate effect. Those farmers who are in the process of negotiating a management agreement or have received an initial farm visit will have their applications processed. The last Tir Mynydd payment will be in 2011.
Transitional relief will be in place to bridge the gap between the closure of existing schemes and the opening of the new scheme. The delivery of the new land management arrangements is subject to agreement with the European Commission. A formal proposal will be submitted to the Commission next month.
HO: Sticking doggedly to a justifiable system or just a ‘Dog’s Breakfast’? - New proposals to ‘reassure the public’ that the right people are kept on the DNA database have been outlined by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in a public consultation (closes on 7 August 2009) - 'Keeping the right people on the DNA database'.
The consultation includes plans to:
* Destroy all DNA samples like mouth swabs, hair or blood as soon as they are converted into a profile
* Automatically delete profiles of those arrested but not convicted of serious violent or sexual crimes after 12 years
* Automatically delete profiles of those arrested but not convicted of all other crimes after 6 years
* Retain indefinitely all DNA profiles & fingerprints of those convicted of a recordable offence
* Remove profiles of young people arrested but not convicted, or convicted for less serious offences as a teenager, when they turn 18
* Change the law to retrospectively add all serious violent & sexual criminals who were convicted before the DNA database was established, including those who are now back in the community
* Change the law to allow the police to take DNA from those who were convicted of serious violent & sexual crimes abroad upon their return to the UK
* Keep fingerprints for those arrested but not convicted of serious violent or sexual crimes for 12 years, and 6 years for all other crimes, before automatic deletion
DH: Can the NHS ever be run on commercial lines? - The government claims that commercial & procurement skills across the NHS will receive a major boost to help deliver high quality, personalised care for patients, following the publication of a new Commercial Operating Model (COM) by the Department of Health. Changes will be implemented over the next 12 months.
The COM is intended to improve support & increase commercial capability throughout the NHS by:
* creating new regional Commercial Support Units (CSUs), offering a range of dedicated commercial support to NHS health care providers & service commissioners to ‘help them improve their skills, gain better value from procurement and respond more effectively to the commercial challenges of operating in today's NHS’
* making the 10-year NHS Supply Chain contract work harder & smarter to deliver greater efficiencies for providers & commissioners alike, with more transparent pricing, increased responsiveness and better strategic management
* transferring the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency's (PASA) functions to organisations that can add greater scope, scale and impact to the procurement of goods and services
* creating a new commercial centre within the Department of Health - the Procurement, Investment and Commercial and Division (PICD) to strengthen commercial & procurement support for the department
* ensuring that the third, voluntary and private sector have a clear & visible point of contact in each region
Cabinet Office: After all our taxes paid for its ‘collection’ - Minister for Digital Engagement, Tom Watson, has outlined the next steps in the Government's Power of Information (POI) programme. In a speech to the NESTA / UNESCO Public Service Media 2009 Conference, the Minister announced plans for an overhaul of Crown Copyright rules that will make it easier for citizens to re-use Government information and new standards that will 'improve the quality of official websites'.
Ofsted: Ofsted responds to child safety reports - Ofsted has published its responses to Lord Laming’s inquiry The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report and to Sir Roger Singleton’s report Keeping Our Children Safe, a review of safeguarding arrangements in independent schools, non-maintained special schools and boarding schools in England.
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HO: Individuals banned from the UK for allegedly ‘stirring-up hatred’ have been named & shamed by the Home Secretary. The list covers people excluded from the UK between October 2008 & March 2009 for allegedly being ‘animal rights extremists, right to life extremists, homophobe extremists, far-right extremists, as well as advocates of hatred and violence in support of their religious beliefs’.
It follows the Home Secretary's introduction of new measures against such individuals last year, including creating a presumption in favour of exclusion in respect of all those who have engaged in spreading hate. The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith also announced that the government is now able to ban European nationals and their family members if they constitute a threat to public policy or public security.
MoD: Work to recover the bodies of up to 400 WWI British & Australian soldiers has begun at Pheasant Wood, in the small village of Fromelles in France. In a simple yet poignant ceremony Reverend Ray Jones from St. George's Memorial Church in Ypres and Fromelles parish priest Father Duprez blessed the site of the five mass burial pits, before the turning of the first soil began.
Dignitaries from the UK, Australian and French governments were present alongside representatives from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which is overseeing the project on behalf of the UK & Australian governments and the team from Oxford Archaeology which is undertaking the recovery operation. By the end of the project in 2010 all bodies found will be permanently laid to rest in individual graves at a new Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Fromelles, the first to be constructed in fifty years.
DH: People with learning disabilities have gained a new champion in the Department of Health following the appointment of Scott Watkin as Co-National Director for Learning Disabilities for a period of 3 years. He will lead work on making the Department's learning disability strategy, Valuing People Now, a reality and will work jointly with Anne Williams, the current National Director.
The Co-National Director position was created in 2006 to provide joint national leadership around the delivery of Government's original learning disability white paper, Valuing People. This was the first senior Government post specifically for a person with learning disabilities.
LR: Land Registry, the government department responsible for registering land in England & Wales, will apply a new 'Early Completion' practice from 3 August 2009 to ensure that registration applications are completed as quickly as possible. The practice will apply to all situations where an application for a discharge of whole has been received with another application or applications, but evidence of the discharge has not been provided.
Under the new practice, Land Registry will reject an application for discharge but complete other applications lodged with it where it is possible to do so. The entries relating to the existing charge will be left in the register until proof of satisfaction is received. If the application for discharge is the sole application and evidence of discharge has not been provided, the application will be rejected as before.
LD: Land Data, the NLIS regulator, has announced that, following a review of the current National Land Information Service (NLIS) Hub licence agreement with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd (MDA), it has agreed to revised terms in order to support NLIS and MDA through the current property sector downturn.
As the property sector comes to terms with the end of the Home Information Packs (HIP) transitional arrangements, requiring changes to the first day of marketing arrangements as well as the removal of insurance provisions for private search firms, Land Data will continue to work closely with the NLIS Hub, run by MDA, to maintain NLIS’ position at the forefront of electronic land and property information.
Land Data is also investigating the potential for creating an industry search standard in the form of an official ‘kite mark’ which could be applied to all official property searches.
DfT: Passengers' requirements at stations across England & Wales are to be reviewed by 2 'Stations' Champions' who have been asked by the Government to suggest ways to improve facilities. The champions will advise on the minimum levels of service that should be set at stations - ensuring they are appropriate to the stations' passenger flows - so passengers can be confident that stations will meet set standards.
They will also provide advice on how other changes such as 'quick wins', better station management, future franchise agreements, Network Rail initiatives and longer term investment can be brought about in a way that that delivers better stations.
TfL: World class cycle racing will return to the streets of London this September, as the Tour of Britain cycle race finishes its 8 day UK tour in the Capital. On Saturday 19 September 2009 96 professional cyclists will race for 92.5 kilometres on a central London circuit that takes in some of London’s most iconic landmarks.
The 9.25 kilometre route will start & finish on Whitehall, taking the riders along the banks of the Thames, through the City of London, past Big Ben, Cleopatra’s Needle, Somerset House and the Tower of London. This is the sixth time that Transport for London (TfL) has bought the Tour of Britain, the largest free-to-attend sporting event in the country, to the Capital. It will also finish here in 2010 and 2011.
In addition, the London Cycle Hire scheme will launch in the Capital in May 2010. People will be able to pick up & drop off hire bikes at 400 locations across the nine London boroughs and several Royal Parks that make up London’s zone one travel area. An initial 6,000 hire bikes are expected to generate around 40,000 extra daily cycle trips in central London.
DSA: The Driving Standards Agency is to tailor the way out-of-hours tests are offered. A new, flexible approach means that from 17 May 2009, appointments for the practical car test outside normal hours will be offered where overall demand is high at individual test centres, but not at those where it isn't.
Appointments classed as out-of-hours are those offered at the weekend and, during the summer, weekday early mornings & evenings. Out-of-hours testing will be available at centres where waiting times exceed eight weeks for car tests.
ScotGov: Scottish university students taking part in all overseas exchange programmes are to receive full tuition fee support from 2010 under new procedures being introduced by the Scottish Government. At present, Scottish students taking part in the ‘Erasmus exchange’, covering 31 European countries, have their tuition fees paid.
However, those participating in other recognised programmes outside of Europe - currently around 300 students a year - are often currently liable to pay half their tuition fees during their exchange at a cost of approximately £1,000 a year, with the remainder being met by the Students Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).
ScotGov: The Group established to map out a strong future for literature in Scotland met for the first time last week. Established to recommend a new approach to support for literature in Scotland, the Working Group will focus particularly on writers & publishers. It will make recommendations to the Culture Minister and the Chair of Creative Scotland 2009 by the end of 2009.
Defra: Defra has announced that its remaining Bluetongue vaccine stocks will be discounted by 50%, effective from Thursday 7 May 2009. They expressed the hope that this discount will be passed on throughout the supply chain, which means that the end price of vaccine could be expected to fall from its current price of around 66-79p per ml plus VAT, to 33p-39p per ml plus VAT. The remaining Merial vaccine, in 100ml bottles, is being reduced to encourage uptake and reduce taxpayer liability before it expires later in the year.
Due to the efforts of farmers who vaccinated last year, the UK is now in a situation without evidence of circulating disease, and a subsequently reduced appetite to vaccinate. The situation on the Continent is still uncertain therefore farmers need to recognise the ongoing risk to their livelihoods, and take the opportunity to vaccinate now, while discounted vaccine is available.
Defra: Defra and Kew's International Garden Photographer of the Year Competition have joined forces to find the first Conservation Volunteering Photographer of the Year. Almost a quarter of a million volunteers are regularly getting out & about in towns, parks, the countryside and forests to help conserve our precious natural green spaces and England's wildlife.
To celebrate this work and to get ready for 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity, the photo competition aims to capture the fun & enjoyment that comes from volunteering and taking part outside in England. The competition is open until November 2009, with shortlisted entries being announced around Christmas time.
The competition, which launches Defra's MuckIn4Life campaign, is open to anyone living & undertaking conservation volunteering in England. MuckIn4Life is the Defra campaign which supports the DH's Change4Life campaign and is supported by a wide range of environmental stakeholders. It encourages biodiversity by highlighting the fun and & which comes from being active and volunteering outdoors in the fresh air to help conserve wildlife, landscapes, parks, gardens and other green spaces.
WAG: New all-Wales uniforms for NHS nurses – designed so that patients can easily see who is in charge of hospital wards – have been unveiled. In addition, more uniforms will be provided and, along with this, hospitals are working to identify on-site laundry & changing facilities, which should help to prevent & control healthcare associated infections. The uniforms for Healthcare Support Workers to hospital wards sisters/ charge nurses will be phased in across Wales from October 2009.
HO: The winner of a Home Office backed competition for architecture & design students to design a public space to minimise the effects of a terrorist attack, has been announced by Security Minister Lord West as Peter Hughes, who is currently undertaking his Part One qualification in architecture, having graduated from Sheffield University last summer. He received a £1,000 prize.
The competition - part of the RSA's Design Directions student award scheme - asked competitors to think about security features & safety issues when designing a fictional public space. Competitors were asked to consider & include innovative counter terrorism measures in their designs. The winner and a number of outstanding entries have been on display to a wide range of stakeholders in the Home Office London HQ building.
WO: Secretary of State for Wales Paul Murphy has praised the work of the Kidney Wales Foundation during a reception held in Westminster to highlight the work they do to help kidney patients and their families, saying:
“The Kidney Wales Foundation has given a huge amount of support and hard work to the Donate Wales campaign. Both the Tell a Loved One campaign and the Save Sian campaign have had a significant impact on the Organ Donor Register.”
LLUK: The new website of the Standards Council for Community Learning and Development for Scotland is now up & running at www.cldstandardscouncil.org.uk.
Ofgem: Energy regulator Ofgem has said that it will allow a temporary relaxation from the rules governing the electricity networks to speed up connections for low-carbon generators. The temporary relaxation is to the rules for connection to & use of the high-voltage electricity networks. It means any generator wanting to seek an earlier connection date can now do so by approaching National Grid.
The approach adopted by Ofgem is an interim solution to speed up connections while more enduring reforms are introduced. It is expected that some of the generators could start to connect this year.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
ScotGov: The teaching of science in Scotland's classrooms needs to be reinvigorated according to Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop. Over 200 people attended Scotland's first-ever School Science Summit, chaired by Sir Andrew Cubie. The focus was on how science can be made more engaging for pupils and how the skills & confidence of teachers can be improved to make this a reality.
Scottish Government initiatives aimed at realising the potential in science to make Scotland an innovative & creative country include:
* the launch of the Science for Scotland framework
* the introduction of the Scottish Science Baccalaureate
* £2.1m investment in Science CPD for teachers announced last June
* the provision of £140,000 by the Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser for a pilot scheme to allow 60 schools to develop science clubs
MoD: Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth has announced the results of a review to ensure that the Royal Navy has the bestinfrastructure in place to support its ships, submarines and new aircraft carriers. The principal decisions of the review are:
* Faslane Naval Base will become the dedicated home for the Royal Navy's fleet of nuclear-powered submarines - including the Future Deterrent - with the last attack submarine leaving Devonport in around 2017 on current plans
* The Royal Navy's planned next generation of frigates, named the Future Surface Combatant, will be based in Portsmouth to maximise the benefits of basing them alongside the Type 45 destroyers and Aircraft Carriers
* Devonport will be home to the amphibious fleet & survey vessels and, subject to final approval, a force of Royal Marines' landing craft and the associated RM personnel will transfer there
* Subject to commercial negotiations the majority of surface ship major refits will go to Devonport once work on the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers starts to increase. Some major refit work will occasionally be done at Portsmouth to retain skills;
CLG: A strategy for delivering the new homes, jobs and infrastructure the South East needs until 2026 has been announced by Communities Minister Sadiq Khan. The South East Plan sets out a framework for sustainable growth that will hopefully support long-term economic performance in the region by encouraging the provision of new job opportunities and meeting the region's housing needs.
The Plan deals with the key issues of tackling climate change, including flood risks, and protecting the region's natural and historic environment. It also sets out the region's transport strategy and an overall framework for implementation, which includes delivering 654,000 new homes (35% affordable) until 2026 to meet the region's long-term housing needs.
DH: The Department of Health is to provide £1.6m to Macmillan to improve services & support for those living with & beyond cancer. The funding will be used to:
* pilot different ways for the NHS & LAs to look after people when they have finished their initial cancer treatment
* provide healthcare professionals with information & training to support people following cancer treatment
* run courses to help people living with cancer to look after their own lives, with advice on finances & returning to work
DH: Local health agencies & schools must improve the management of childhood asthma to help children lead full & healthy lives, Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Health has urged. Asthma affects 5m people in this country, including 1.1m children, and it is one of the leading causes of hospitalisation of children.
As part of the Child Health Strategy, the Government is looking at how schools & early years settings can better support children with long-term conditions such as diabetes & asthma. A Best Practice Guide for Children's Asthma is also being developed.
Primary care trusts are being encouraged to make better use of the data on the treatment of asthma - a disease information management tool that has been developed enables them to analyse how many emergency bed days are attributable to asthma attacks, and use this information to plan better services for patients. Adult asthma will be one of the focus areas of the national strategy on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is due to be published later this year.
WAG: Green standards for new buildings in Wales intended to cut carbon emissions and improve their sustainability have been announced by Environment, Sustainability & Housing Minister Jane Davidson. The move makes Wales the first part of the UK to set a national standard for sustainable buildings to be met through the planning system (from 1 September 2009).
For new homes this will; * reduce their carbon emissions by more than 31% compared to current building regulations, * reduce the consumption of water, * use more sustainable materials. Housing proposals will be expected to meet the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3 and non-domestic buildings will be expected to meet the BREEM ‘Very Good’ standard as a minimum.
DIUS: Colleges have been urged to improve their sexual health services by Further Education Minister Sion Simon. The Minister pushed for all colleges to offer a minimum level of sexual health provision to include screening for sexually transmitted infections and providing contraception to FE students.
Government will provide £2m in 2009/10 under the Healthy FE Programme to support colleges in developing their sexual health services. This includes an increased sum of £1.6m to Strategic Health Authorities to strengthen delivery partnerships with Primary Care Trusts.
CLG: A new planning policy setting out a comprehensive approach for planning for sustainable economic growth in all parts of the country has been published for consultation (closes on 28 July 2009). The proposed Planning Policy Statement 4: Planning for Prosperous Economies streamlines existing guidance to create a coherent & modern planning framework which will hopefully enable communities to meet the economic challenges they are facing now & in the long-term.
The new PPS takes forward the Government's commitment in the Planning White Paper 2007 to streamline planning guidance. It replaces the existing PPS4, Planning for Sustainable Economic Development, PPG5, Simplified Planning Zones, PPS6, Planning for Town Centres, and the economic development elements of PPS7, Sustainable Development in Rural Areas.
WAG: In a bid to improve people’s health & combat obesity, the Welsh Assembly Government is challenging everyone to lead more active lives, because regular physical activity is proven to improve people’s health & wellbeing.
As part of the challenge, the WAG has worked with key stakeholders & partners to develop an action plan and is inviting the people of Wales to give their views (by 31 July 2009) ) on the priorities for the next five years. The action plan focuses on four strategic aims, to:
* develop a physical environment that makes it easier for people to choose to be more physically active
* support children & young people to live active lives and become active adults
* encourage more adults to be more active, more often throughout life
* increase participation in sport, by all sectors of the population
PADA: The Personal Accounts Delivery Authority (PADA) has launched its discussion paper on investment: Building Personal Accounts: Designing an investment approach. The purpose of this paper is to draw upon good practice & expertise from across the pension & investment industries, and relevant stakeholders, on the most appropriate investment approach for the personal accounts scheme.
Responses will inform PADA's recommendations to the trustee corporation regarding the design of the scheme. The personal accounts scheme will be run by a not-for-profit trustee corporation, solely in members' interests. One of the key questions considered is how to meet future members' needs at low cost.
Interested parties will be able to respond to the document until 7 August 2009. All comments will be summarised & published along with a response to the discussion paper (within 3 months of the deadline).
NA: The Government is asking people for their views on its proposal for a new policy on archives. The consultation (closes 12 August 2009) document - Archives for the 21st century - seeks to ‘build the foundations for a sustainable future for archival services, responding to the challenges of the digital age and the opportunities to make archives accessible to a wider range of people’.
Comments on the policy proposals are welcomed from all parties interested in archives, including local authorities, universities, individual information professionals, archival organisations and the general public.
HO: New proposals to ‘reassure the public’ that the right people are kept on the DNA database have been outlined by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in a public consultation (closes on 7 August 2009)- 'Keeping the right people on the DNA database' – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
ECGD: The Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD), the UK's official export credit agency, has launched a public consultation (closes on 3 July 2009) on a proposal to offer a scheme to confirm letters of credit for British exports – See ‘Business and other Briefings’ section for further information.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
HMRC: HMRC has launched a new teaching resource for secondary schools - Tax Matters. The free, online interactive resource includes videos, quizzes and games, as well as key facts & figures, to help young people learn about tax and its role in society.
The new materials are primarily aimed at education professionals who teach Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) and citizenship to pupils aged between 11 and 19. They are also designed to be used by charities & voluntary organisations that work with young adults not in employment, education or training (NEETS).
ScotGov: Teenagers going into any hospital in Scotland will in future benefit from dedicated age-appropriate care as a result of guidance issued to health boards. Following a commitment to raise the upper age limit for patients in children's hospitals from 13 to 16 (with added flexibility from 16-18), the Scottish Government is now advising all hospitals on how to improve care for adolescents.
The Hospital Services for Young People in Scotland guidance recommends:
* All hospitals should provide facilities & services for young people aged 13 & over, separate wherever possible from children and adults
* Adequate training for staff who care for young people
* Extra educational support for young people, particularly those who need frequent or lengthy hospital stays
* Support for moving from adolescent to adult care
DH: All newborn babies & children up to four years old will have their growth measurements plotted on new charts from last week. The launch of the charts, which have been developed for the Department of Health by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, based on the World Health Organisation's work, coincides with National Breastfeeding Awareness Week (10 - 16 May) and replaces current measures which are based predominately on babies fed with formula milk.
The new charts include parent-friendly instructions and a chart specifically for premature babies. As babies can lose & gain weight at different rates during birth and two weeks, it is recommended that they are not measured during this time. The charts also help make more reliable predictions of a child's adult height.
DH: The government claims that commercial & procurement skills across the NHS will receive a major boost to help deliver high quality, personalised care for patients, following the publication of a new Commercial Operating Model (COM)by the Department of Health – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
General Reports and Other Publications
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities has submitted the 6th of its regular reports to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the rural impacts of the recession. The report highlights the effects of the recession on financial inclusion in rural areas, some of the policy issues and makes suggestions for government actions.
BERR: The industry-led Automotive Innovation and Growth Team (NAIGT) has published its report setting out its 20 year vision for the automotive industry and its recommendations to Government & industry to achieve this. Key among these recommendations are proposals to:
* Establish a joint industry/government Automotive Council to develop, guide & implement a long term strategic framework for the industry
* Focus the UK R&D agenda around a new industry-consensus technology roadmap, and as part of this, establish ‘Test Bed UK’ a bold, large scale pilot to develop, demonstrate & build the new low-carbon personal transportation system including its infrastructure
HO: The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) has published several documents relating to the National Identity Service, the:
* Cost Report 2009
* Secondary Legislation Regulatory Impact Assessment
* National Identity Scheme Delivery Update
In addition, it has been announced that High Street retailers are in talks to offer a local, convenient recording service to people applying for identity cards and biometric passports.
NAO: The Department for Work and Pensions has made progress in reducing the number of leaflets that it produces for its customers and in making application forms simpler & shorter, a National Audit Office report has found. Some forms are still unnecessarily long (such as the application form for Disability Living Allowance which is 45 pages long) & guidance notes are complicated and the Department’s computer generated letters are overly long & confusing for customers.
The Department has significantly changed the way in which it provides information in recent years with a growth in telephone enquiries and in online provision, but there is still progress to be made in moving services online.
HM Treasury: A reformed financial services sector will play an important role in Britain's economic recovery, according to a report published by the Financial Services Global Competitiveness Group, co-chaired by the Chancellor Alistair Darling and former Citi Chairman Sir Win Bischoff. The Group has proposed a ten to fifteen year framework for strengthening the UK's place in the rapidly changing global financial services industry.
ESRC: New research from the Economic and Social Research Council reveals just how great the difference really is in people’s health and well-being between different social groups at older ages, including:
* Those from lower socio-economic groups, on average, die earlier than their wealthier counterparts
* Those from lower socio-economic classes and those with less education & wealth, are more likely to suffer from both self-reported illnesses and also from long-term conditions
* Early retirement is generally good for people’s health & well-being unless it has been forced on them (and this is usually because of redundancy or poor health)
* Older people who participate in non-work activities, such as volunteering or caring for others, have better mental health and well-being, but only if they feel appreciated and rewarded for their contribution
BERR: In the Government's response to the independent report ‘Review and Refresh of Bioscience 2015’, Peter Mandelson has outlined key commitments to encourage the development of bioscience in the UK and to create supportive conditions for bioscience investment. In July 2009, the OLS will publish a ‘Life Sciences Industrial Blueprint’, detailing the actions is taking to improve the operating environment for the life sciences industry.
NAO: A report by the National Audit Office highlights that the number of deaths among pedestrians has fallen by 36%, but Great Britain is some way behind some of the better performing nations, particularly for child pedestrians. The number of cyclists killed or seriously injured fell from 2000 to 2004, but rose again by 11% from 2004 to 2007, despite the amount of cycling staying broadly constant.
The DfT has, however, taken a number of relevant measures to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries amongst pedestrians & cyclists, including a general strategy for road safety which has provided a focus for other organisations working in this field. It has also developed media campaigns (under the ‘Think! Campaign’) to change the ‘beliefs & attitudes’ of road users.
NA: Embracing the future, preserving our past is a new publication explaining what The National Archives are and what they do.
HEFCE: HEFCE has published a report on the characteristics of part-time study focusing on the completion rates of students entering a first degree. The report looks at two cohorts of students attending UK higher education institutions who began a first degree through a part-time programme of study.
Legislation / Legal
DfT: From 1 June 2009, English local authorities councils which carry out parking enforcement will be able to issue Penalty Charge Notices to motorists who park at dropped kerbs or double-park, without the need for these prohibitions to be indicated with specific traffic signs or road markings.
Authorities in London have successfully used this tool for a number of years to help wheelchair users and those with prams manoeuvre on and off pavements - as well as stopping inconsiderate motorists from blocking residents' driveways. It has also helped deter motorists from blocking the road when parking. Those who park across entranceways to private properties should only be penalised if the owner of the property
Currently local authorities are able to enforce contraventions of parking alongside dropped kerbs or double parking under Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 (TMA) if they have responsibility for parking enforcement. DfT advised local authorities that the TMA powers should be used with traffic signs or road markings to show where the prohibitions apply.
BERR: Using tips to make up staff pay to minimum wage levels will be outlawed from October 2009, the government has announced. This will give thousands of workers fair wages and will hopefully ensure a fair & level playing field for employers and boost consumer confidence in the use of tips.
The government is working with consumer and business groups over ways of boosting clarity & information, which could include a new scheme for participating businesses to promote clear tipping practices.
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has launched a short market study into the sale of second-hand cars. Last year, more than 68,000 consumers complained to Consumer Direct about issues with second-hand car sales. Concerns around defective vehicles, services and potentially misleading selling are consistently among the top complaints to the government-funded advice service.
The second-hand car market is large, with sales of approximately £35bn in 2008 and the level of harm appears substantial: the financial cost of car clocking alone is estimated to be £100m per annum. The purpose of the study is to understand the causes of such high levels of consumer complaints and to consider whether existing consumer protection legislation is sufficient and effective in this sector.
The OFT expects to complete the work by the end of 2009. The OFT will be contacting key parties directly; however, other interested parties can email; email@example.com to submit their written views (by 5 June 2009).
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: The Big Lottery Fund (BIG) has awarded close to £1m to 251 environmental projects across the UK to enable them to showcase their work to engage more local people with nature and attract more volunteers. Many of the events funded will take place over the BBC Springwatch ‘Dirty Weekend’ (6 - 7 June), which will see people up & down the country joining in to do their bit for nature.
Sir Clive Booth, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Through these latest grants, people of all ages can go along to Lottery-funded events to learn about nature and to appreciate the difference a ‘Breathing Place’ can make to their community and local wildlife”.
Business and Other Briefings
ECGD: The Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD), the UK's official export credit agency, has launched a public consultation (closes on 3 July 2009) on a proposal to offer a scheme to confirm letters of credit for British exports.
ECGD is the UK's official export credit agency. It works with exporters, project sponsors, banks & buyers to help UK exporters of capital equipment and project-related goods & services, by providing insurance against non-payment risks to UK exporters and guarantees for bank loans to facilitate the arranging of finance to buyers of UK goods. It also provides insurance against political risks to UK investors in overseas markets.
Socitm: With cuts in public sector spending looming, the message of Learning from Better connected 2009, a new briefing based on research published in Socitm’s annual report on council websites, is that customer self-service must move sharply up the agenda if councils are to meet future demand for services against a background of static or falling budgets.
This advice is based on the fact that self-service is considerably cheaper for the council. However, the briefing highlights the fact that failure rates for council web enquiries are high, running, even in the more web-savvy councils, at between 10% & 40%t.
That means that many web enquiries simply reappear at the council as more costly phone or face to face enquiries, so that the web ends up being a source of wasteful ‘avoidable contact’ rather than what it should be, which is a means of reduced ‘cost-to-serve’.
Editorial Content Statement
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