In the News
CQC: Will we ever be able to stop saying ‘Never Again’? - The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published a report showing systemic failings in the healthcare provided by NHS trusts to Baby Peter. The report raises questions about how NHS trusts assure themselves they are meeting important standards for safeguarding children.
Excluding his birth, Peter had 34 contacts with health professionals at North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust and Haringey Teaching Primary Care Trust. Both trusts commission paediatric services provided by Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust (GOSH).
The main focus of the report is on these three trusts as they provided the majority of Peter's NHS care. The report makes clear that since Peter's death the trusts involved have made progress in addressing gaps in child protection procedures.
But the report says more work still needs to be done in areas like:
* ensuring sufficient staffing levels
* improving attendance of healthcare staff at child protection case conferences
* addressing communication problems, particularly when making referrals
This is the first of two reports that CQC will be publishing in relation to child protection in the NHS:
* This first one brings together comprehensive evidence on the healthcare provided to Peter including: information from medical notes; the joint area review of safeguarding in Haringey (carried out by the Healthcare Commission, Ofsted and HM Inspector of Constabulary); and Haringey council's serious case review report relating to Peter's care
* In the second report, due out this summer, the CQC will report on findings of a national review of NHS arrangements for the safeguarding of children, which is already underway.
Newswire – JRF: Fewer Lads, but more Ladettes - Recent research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that the proportion of women who binge-drink almost doubled between 1998 & 2006 and is now at 15% (men who binge-drink increased by 1% to 23%). However, the proportion of 16- to 24-year-old men binge-drinking decreased by 9% since 2000. Researchers also found that whilst fewer children are drinking, those that do drink are drinking much more than they did in the past.
The research, carried out by a team from Oxford Brookes University, looked at existing evidence on drinking trends in the general population over the last 20 to 30 years. The research highlights five interesting trends:
* an increase in drinking amongst women
* an increase in drinking among middle- & older-age groups
* an increase in drinking in Northern Ireland compared with the rest of the UK
* a possible recent decrease in drinking among 16- to 24-year-olds
* an increase in alcohol consumption amongst very young adolescents
Lesley Smith, the report’s lead author, said: "Much concern has been expressed in recent years about young people’s drinking - and young people binge-drinking in particular. Many people will be surprised to learn that young men’s drinking, including binge-drinking, has gone down in recent years, while middle age and older people’s drinking has increased."
Defra: Oil is not the only resource people will fight over in the future - Global challenges such as population growth towards 9bn in 2050 and climate change highlight the need to develop sustainable food policies fit for the longer term. The Ministers with responsibility for food sustainability from the UK Government, Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly Government and Northern Ireland Executive met in Edinburgh recently to consider these challenges and how to address emerging issues.
The meeting discussed sharing best practice from current & developing initiatives. In particular, the meeting identified opportunities for co-operative working in assessing food security issues and considering opportunities for collaborative research. A similar event at ministerial level will be held later in the year.
DfT: Making one city a pleasanter to live in - Large urban areas across England are being given the chance to bid to become the country's first Sustainable Travel City, Transport Minister Paul Clark has announced. Up to £29m over the next 3 years will be invested in one of England's largest cities to encourage greener travel choices. These could include plans to support walking, cycling and initiatives to improve public transport.
This follows the success of the department's three Sustainable Travels Towns who, over the last five years, have seen car use fall by up to 9%, walking increase by up to 14% and cycling increase at least 12%.
The major urban areas eligible to apply suffer from the worst congestion in the country. The 9 areas are; Greater Manchester, West Midlands, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, Merseyside, West of England (Bristol), Nottingham and Leicester. The government also announced up to £3m of funding to smaller local authority areas to help them develop their own green travel initiatives.
DH: Not every relationship is a ‘happy’ one - A new taskforce of health professionals working together to spot early signs of violence & abuse against women & girls, investigate the scale of the problem and ensure victims across the NHS get the support they need has been announced.
The taskforce has been set up in response to issues raised during the Violence against Women and Girls consultation which began in March (closes on 29 May 2009). The Government recognises that victims may talk more freely with health professionals about their fear of violence - even when they are not ready to take the next step to reporting the crime.
The Government wants to make sure that health professionals are prepared to give victims of violence & abuse information about local support services. The taskforce will also look at helping health workers to identify women at risk earlier and how they can offer these women support to reduce repeat victimisation.
TfL: Transport for London (TfL) has announced a 6 month trial of the Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) technology which aims to reduce road casualties and help drivers avoid speeding penalties. As part of the trial, which will start this summer, a London bus will be fitted with ISA, alongside a licensed Taxi and 20 TfL vehicles driven by road engineers, traffic managers & highway inspectors.
The intelligent technology enables drivers to select an option where acceleration is stopped automatically at the speed limit specific to any road in London within the M25 area. The unit can be disabled at the touch of a button, at which point it reverts to an advisory status where the current, legal speed limit is simply displayed as a driver aid. There is also a complete over-ride switch with disables the system entirely.
This is the first time all of London’s speed limits have been mapped accurately with regular updates. The trial will monitor driver behaviour, journey times and the effect that driving within the speed limit has on vehicle emissions.
DCMS: The 1,000ft long & 52ft wide pier in Eastbourne has had its listing upgraded by Culture Minister Barbara Follett, from Grade II to Grade II*, following a review by English Heritage. The pier, one of the best in the country, was originally listed at Grade II in 1971, having had an interesting history, full of changing fortunes.
Attrition rates are high, and of the 100 seaside piers built by the end of the 19th century, only 55 still survive. In England there are currently two Grade I piers (Brighton West and Clevedon), three Grade II* piers (Eastbourne, Birnbeck Pier in Weston-super-Mare and Brighton Palace Pier) and 13 Grade II piers.
DH: The first step towards producing a European prototype of a swine flu vaccine has been achieved by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), Health Secretary Alan Johnson has announced. On a visit to the HPA's National Institute of Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC, Alan Johnson learnt that researchers have sequenced the full genetic code of the virus. This is critical in understanding how the virus operates and identifying the crucial parts of the virus that can be used in vaccine manufacture.
Researchers hope that European manufacturers will be able to take delivery of candidate vaccine prototypes in the coming months so preliminary steps to mass vaccine production can begin. The HPA researchers will also work with sister organisations to compare the characteristics of this virus with other samples to gain a greater understanding of how flu infects people and how it can quickly change to evade our immune systems.
Pandemic specific vaccines will not be available until 4-6 months after a pandemic virus has emerged and hence it may be of limited use in the first wave of a pandemic. It is likely to be over a year before all of the vaccine has been delivered. It cannot be known in advance whether a pandemic will have one or more waves.
Ofsted: Ofsted have launched their 2009 revised childcare complaints commitment, which relates to complaints made against registered childminders & childcare providers. It is intended to give parents & carers easy, quick and up-to-date access to complaints information; they will no longer have to wait for an inspection to take place.
MoD: Troops on operations in Afghanistan are now trialling new hot weather ration packs, designed to feed troops with greater variety in the harsh summer temperatures. Over 300,000 of the new 24 hour multi-climate rations (MCR) will be trialled by deployed troops this summer which sees the traditional ‘biscuits brown’ and pate replaced by healthier and more suitable meals like pasta lunchtime pouches.
The MCR also includes the introduction of 20 new trial menus for general use plus 6 new menus for Halal, Vegetarian and Sikh/Hindu ranges. The MCR trial will run from May - October 2009 and will help inform the long term future of menus for 24 hour ORP in Hot Climates for summer 2010 and beyond.
BERR: Nearly 1m people will benefit from the October 2009 increase after the government approved recommendations from the independent Low Pay Commission:
* Low paid workers aged 22 and over can look forward to an increase from £5.73 to £5.80 an hour
* The rate for 18 to 21-year-olds will also rise from £4.77 to £4.83
* For 16 & 17-year-olds, the rate will go up to £3.57 an hour from £3.53
MoD: The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, has announced that a female pilot is one of two candidates selected to join the world-famous 'Diamond Nine'. The successful candidates - Flight Lieutenant Kirsty Moore of number X111 Squadron, RAF Marham and Flight Lieutenant Ben Plank of number 1(Fighter) Squadron, RAF Cottesmore - will fly as part of the 2010-2012 display team.
Until recently, no female fast-jet pilot had reached the stage in their flying career to fulfil the application criteria; be assessed as above average in their flying career, have a minimum of 1,500 flying hours and have completed at least one front line fast-jet operational tour.
MoD: Events to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the Berlin Airlift and the outstanding contribution of UK Armed Forces throughout the campaign were held last week in Berlin. 40 British veterans visited the former RAF Gatow Airfield in Berlin, where they operated from during the June 1948 to May 1949 campaign.
British aircraft flew more than 175,000 trips to & from the city as the RAF, supported by civilian pilots and Army teams on the ground, faced the most challenging of conditions in ensuring that the two million people living in Berlin did not starve or freeze to death when their supplies were cut off by the Soviets.
Events will culminate on 26 September 2009, the anniversary of one of the final flights, with a commemorative event organised by the Ministry of Defence at the Berlin Airlift Memorial in Staffordshire. Service veterans, those who supported from the civilian population, and their families, are urged to apply for tickets to attend to what is likely to be the last major commemoration for this remarkable endeavour.
LD: Land Data, the NLIS regulator, has announced a new channel strategy for NLIS (the National Land Information Service), which includes a new license option allowing businesses to operate as a licensed provider of NLIS data. The new channel strategy has been devised to make NLIS more accessible, cost effective and ultimately more competitive.
Over the next 3 months, Land Data will brief companies on a new channel licensing option, enabling them to operate as an electronic conveyancing search distribution service. Under the terms of the new license agreement, the channels will handle authoritative searches from official data providers including all Local Authorities in England & Wales. The information is distributed to the licensed channels by the NLIS hub.
MoD: The first batch of a fleet of versatile, protected vehicles has been delivered to troops on operations, complete with the latest battle-ready upgrades. Weighing over 7 tonnes, the Panther Command and Liaison Vehicle (PCLV) is fitted with the latest high-tech developments, including a remote-controlled weapon system that allows the user to operate a machine gun with a camera & joystick from inside its turret.
It can operate in all weather conditions, day & night using thermal imaging equipment that ‘sees’ in the dark and the vehicles are protected against a range of threats including small arms, blast & anti-personnel mines.
DfT: Rail Minister Andrew Adonis has officially opened the upgraded £8.9bn ‘West Coast Mainline’. The line, which runs from London to Glasgow serving destinations including Birmingham, Manchester & Liverpool, has been completely overhauled over the past 5 years. The upgrade sees journey times fall by up to 30% and a 45% increase in long distance train services on the line.
The route is the UK's main rail artery and one of the most intensively used lines in Europe, handling 40% of the nation's rail freight. Passenger numbers on the line have doubled since 2004, while improved journey times have caused a massive shift from air to rail on the busy Manchester to London route, with rail now accounting for two-thirds of journeys, up from one third in 2004.
DCMS: A new visitor centre to help bring alive the mystery & majesty of Stonehenge, the UK's internationally renowned World Heritage Site, has been given the go-ahead in principle by the Government. The Stonehenge Programme Board, chaired by the Culture Minister, Barbara Follett, and Transport Minister, Andrew Adonis, has recommended that the centre, costing up to £25m, should be built at Airman's Corner.
The way is now clear for work to be done on working up a design, seeking planning permission and raising funding to deliver the project. The Government also announced that the site will be further enhanced by closing the A344 which, at present, takes traffic very close to the stones.
OS: Following the announcement of a new business strategy for mapping agency Ordnance Survey, further details were last week unveiled to an audience of industry stakeholders in London (comments requiredby 29 May 2009). The event was held at NESTA, the independent organisation with the mission to ‘make the UK more innovative’, and saw the enhanced web mapping portal, OS OpenSpace, showcased for the first time.
The free to use service, for which the event marked the official re-launch, provides greater access to Ordnance Survey mapping than ever before. As well as new terms that allow for businesses to use the service, boundary information is also available for the first time, making it possible for users to display information based on administrative regions.
ScotGov: A new agreement to help improve the use of mapping information by over 70 public bodies in Scotland has been announced. The agreement with Ordnance Survey allows Scottish councils, government departments and other public bodies to use Ordnance Survey's mapping information for a wide variety of purposes, and to exchange map-based information about their work. It should result in savings across Scotland's public sector.
The One Scotland Mapping Agreement replaces two previous GB-level Agreements - the local government Mapping Services Agreement and the Pan Government Agreement for central government.
SQA: The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has embarked on a project to develop a training pack to be used in the delivery of the PDA: Introduction to Tutoring ESOL. SQA is seeking an academic partnership with an SQA approved centre to pilot & evaluate the draft version of the training materials. The deadline for responses is 12 noon on Tuesday 26 May 2009..
Policy Statements and Initiatives
SE: Sport England has challenged innovators – both within & beyond the sport sector – to come forward with ground-breaking concepts and solutions that will shape community sport over the next decade. This is the opportunity to unearth the ideas that will transform grassroots sport and help create a lasting sporting legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The best innovations, and the people who can turn them into reality, will benefit from expert support & investment through Sport England’s new Innovation Fund. £5m of National Lottery funding is available each year, through a highly competitive process, with up to 20 projects expected to secure investment.
CLG: Communities Secretary Hazel Blears and Culture Secretary Andy Burnham are urging councils & developers to put good planning, local character and high quality design at the heart of development. A new cross-Government strategy stresses that good quality buildings and ample green infrastructure - parks, trees and waterways - are not a luxury that can be dropped during difficult economic circumstances.
In World Class Places, the Government pledges that all new public & private development will be built to the highest design standards. All new government-funded building programmes, including social housing, schools and health centres, will include improved design standards. Every significant public sector project could have the opportunity to be advised or reviewed by a team of design experts from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE).
HO: Local people will be able to choose how money from a £4m criminal assets fund is spent in their area, alongside further targeted work to tackle property-related crime and a tougher approach to dealing with prolific offenders. The PM has also unveiled the Government's updated crime strategy - Cutting Crime: Two Years On.
LSC: The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is committing to help parents from low-income families with a new £75m initiative. The Free Childcare for Training and Learning for Work scheme offers 50,000 eligible parents help through childcare support (while they train or learn) to support them into employment.
The nationwide scheme is open to half a million families in England with:
* One partner in work
* An annual household income of £20,000 or less per year
* A child or children aged 14 or under
* A child or children aged 18 or under with disabilities
HEFCE: David Lammy, Minister of State for Higher Education and Intellectual Property, has announced the national launch of the Aimhigher Associates programme, following a pilot last year. The scheme is now looking to recruit around 5,500 university students from September to mentor over 21,000 school pupils in a drive to widen participation in higher education (HE).
The national roll-out of the programme in September 2009 follows 17 pilot projects involving 77 higher education institutions (HEIs), 7,227 learners and 1,380 Associates. Aimhigher Associates will provide support & encouragement to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds on both a one-to-one and group basis. It is planned that these relationships will develop over time, typically involving 15-20 sessions per Associate p.a.
DH: Patients are a step closer to getting more say over their healthcare services as plans for a national pilot project reach the next stage. Following a call for expressions of interest for sites across England to take part in the first trials of personal health budgets, 68 projects, involving a total of 75 PCTs, have been awarded provisional pilot status.
All sites will now be subject to a robust assessment of their capability before gaining full pilot status later this year. Applications indicate that pilot sites want to look at a wide variety of areas ranging from people who have long term conditions or use mental health services to areas such as obesity or substance misuse.
DIUS: Local authorities will have a bigger say to help determine who needs English language lessons in their local area, Skills Secretary John Denham claimed when he published plans to re-prioritise funding for ESOL classes to support community cohesion. He also announced the 21 local authorities who will take this approach forward.
The new approach follows a decision to refocus the £300m of ESOL spending on long-term UK residents and away from short-term migrants to the UK. Local authorities are best placed to help identify those groups whose poor English language skills currently act as a barrier to full integration into the economy & society.
BERR: A joint statement setting out the positive contribution that modern union reps can make to the workplace has been launched by the Department for Business, the Trades Union Congress and the CBI.
Featuring real life examples, 'Reps in Action’ shows how modern union representatives and company managers have worked together to deal with situations that can occur in any workplace and as a result have, for example, improved working practices, enhanced workplace training provision or lead to a greener workplaces.
CLG: Ministers have asked councils to lead their communities through the downturn & spearhead bids for the £1bn Future Jobs Fund to create 150,000 new jobs. The 'application form' for bids has been published in DWP's Future Jobs Fund website. It sets out how councils should submit innovative bids for the new Fund.
As recommended by the Councillor Stephen Houghton's report, Ministers are also announcing that councils should now commit to create unemployment profiles of their communities so they can design jobs & skills programmes to fit local labour markets and future demand partners. Guidance will be published shortly.
ScotGov: A major push to get consumers eating more Scottish fish has been launched. Fish will be promoted to shoppers as great value for money - delivering major health benefits, as well as giving a much-needed boost to Scotland's fishing & fish-farming sectors. A new web portal will give consumers a single source of advice on buying & eating Scottish fish, including recipe ideas
Despite being one of Europe's primary fishing nations, Scotland consumes much less fish than other countries. On average, consumers in Spain, Portugal and Norway eat twice as much fish as Scots. Recent figures also show a dip in fish consumption and that consumers are eating considerably less than their recommended two portions of fish a week.
WAG: Minister for Rural Affairs, Elin Jones has launched a new over-arching strategy for farming in Wales. ‘Farming, Food & Countryside – Building a Secure Future’ outlines how the Welsh Assembly Government will work to secure a sustainable future for the farming, food and land based production industries and the Welsh countryside environment through to 2020.
The five key aims of the strategy are:
* Connecting to the marketplace
* Producing sustainably and profitably
* Safeguarding animal health and welfare, plant health and food safety
* Sustaining our countryside
* Encouraging innovation
ScotGov: A group of experts advising the Scottish Government has concluded an in-depth study and recommended a number of improvements to the way neonatal services are organised - which have been accepted by the Government in full.
HO: A public consultation (closes on 3 July 2009) on the European Commission's proposal for a new Directive to strengthen the regulation of the use of animals in scientific experiments has been launched by the Home Office.
The Commission published its proposal to revise Directive 86/609/EEC, which currently regulates the use of animal experiments in the UK through the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, last November. The purpose of the revision is to harmonise the regulation of animal experiments across the European Union, to create a level playing field for both researchers & industry.
DECC: All homes in Britain will have smart meters installed by 2020 under plans just published. Smart meters enable meter readings to be taken remotely and, together with a display device, give householders real time information on their energy use. They will mean the end of estimated bills, no more having to stay in for home readings, quicker & smoother switching between suppliers and cheaper, easier prepayment.
The Government has set out the different options for consultation (closes on 24 July 2009) of rolling out the revolutionary kit across Great Britain and on what the smart meters should be capable of doing.
HM Treasury: Financial Services Secretary Paul Myners has published a report setting out the Government's initial thinking on reforms to strengthen the UK's ability to deal with the failure of an investment bank. The report outlines the Government's thinking on the changes to market practice, regulation and insolvency law that might be needed to deal with any future failure of a major investment bank.
The report considers the treatment of investment banking clients after default, the future of their assets and the treatment of their open or un-reconciled trading positions. It also examines what can be done to make the process of insolvency more effective and to limit the damage that may be done by a failing investment bank. The Government welcomes responses to the issues & questions raised in the paper by 10 July 2009.
These reforms are part of a package of steps aimed at renewing the financial services sector, other aspects of which will be laid out in the Government's forthcoming paper on financial regulation.
PCS: The PCS union is assisting a research project into the public sector currently being carried out under the auspices of Durham University. The researcher has asked for the help of their members by getting them to complete an online questionnaire with 28 questions across 3 themes: performance, accountability and values.
It will only take between 5-10 minutes to complete the whole questionnaire. If you wish to participate, please respond by 5pm Friday 22 May 2009.
SAP: Criminals who burgle homes are committing offences against the person – not just property – and they should face robust sentences, the Sentencing Advisory Panel has proposed in a consultation paper (closes on 5 August 2009) dealing with sentencing for burglary of a dwelling.
The Panel’s proposals closely follow the approach taken in a recent judgment in the Court of Appeal, in which the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, said that sentences should reflect the anguish suffered by the victims of domestic break-ins. Only in cases where a burglar has caused minimal loss or damage and the harm caused to the victim is shown to be low should the starting point for sentencing fall below a custodial sentence.
CLG: Park & mobile home residents will get more protection from rogue site owners and get easier access to justice if they have a dispute with their site owner under new proposals published for further consultation (closes on 9 June 2009) by Housing Minister Iain Wright.
The proposals aim to make sure that the 200,000 park home residents across the country have reputable licensed site owners or managers and are able to easily challenge them on issues such as pitch fee increases, without having to go through the costly courts system. The aim is to transfer the jurisdiction on appeals & applications under the Mobile Homes Act 1983 from county courts to Residential Property Tribunals.
CLG: A major new package of measures to ‘strengthen consumer protections for tenants living in private rented accommodation’ has been announced for consultation (closes on 31 July 2009) by Housing Minister Margaret Beckett. The Government claims that it wants to ‘improve the quality of the private rented sector, by increasing professionalism, driving out bad landlords, and strengthening protections for tenants affected by repossessions’.
The Government has also announced its intention to change the law to ensure that tenants have a minimum two months' notice if they have to leave their home because their landlord has been repossessed. Changes to the rules for informing tenants if their landlord is due to attend a court repossession hearing have already come into effect. Since April 2009, tenants get up to 7 weeks notice of a hearing (previously 2 weeks).
CLG: Businesses, charities, voluntary groups and local authorities who have not already contributed to the Government's new race equality consultation are asked to come forward and make their views known. This is the final chance for contributions to be heard and Communities Minister Sadiq Khan has urged as many people as possible to seize the opportunity before the consultation ends on 18 May 2009.
HO: A ban on irresponsible drinks promotions including ‘all you can drink for £10’, speed drinking competitions and ‘dentist's chairs’ (pouring alcohol directly into people's mouths) are included in a proposed new mandatory code on alcohol sales launched for consultation (closes on 5 August 2009), as part of Government's plans to tackle alcohol-related crime & disorder and harm to health which costs the UK up to £13bn every year.
The proposals take a two-tiered approach with a small number of mandatory conditions for all alcohol retailers, alongside new discretionary powers for local authorities to tackle problem premises where irresponsible drinking could put individuals at risk and lead to crime & anti-social behaviour.
Any premises that breach the mandatory code or local discretionary conditions that have been imposed will face a range of possible sanctions including losing their licence, having additional tough conditions imposed on their licence or, on summary conviction, a maximum £20,000 fine and/or six months imprisonment.
WAG: A national Welsh-medium Education Strategy has been launched for consultation (closes on 5 August 2009). The strategy meets the Assembly Government’s One Wales commitment to; ‘create a national Welsh-medium education strategy to develop effective provision from nursery through to further and higher education, backed by an implementation programme’.
The strategy builds on WAG’s commitments under Iaith Pawb outlining how the Welsh Assembly Government will work towards creating a truly bilingual Wales.
HO: The Home Office have announced new rules to tackle rogue immigration advisers. The proposals would give greater powers to the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) to tackle unscrupulous as well as untrained & unqualified advisers. Poor advice can cause distress to individuals, delay hearings and slow down casework & decision making.
The measures are set out in the 'Oversight of the Immigration Advisers Sector Consultation' (closes on 6 August 2009), giving users & stakeholders an opportunity to give their views on how immigration advisers can be better regulated. It is the OISC's role to ensure that those giving immigration advice are qualified. It currently regulates over 1,600 organisations (around 4,000 individuals) and it has received over 3,500 complaints about advisers.
As part of a toughening up of the system, the consultation proposals include:
* tightening restrictions on individuals who have provided immigration advice illegally so they cannot own or participate in an immigration advice business
* strengthening the rights of the OISC to access & inspect immigration advisers
* issuing businesses with 'yellow card' warnings to say that their practices are not up to scratch
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities has produced a ‘refreshed & strengthened’ Rural Proofing Toolkit to help policymakers ensure policies take account of rural circumstances & needs and which:
* builds on learning from use of the previous model
* includes more specific practical advice concerning the needs of rural areas
* emphasises that ‘sparsity’ & ‘rurality’ are essential considerations of good policy making
* highlights examples of effective rural proofing within government
ScotGov: Women with low-risk pregnancies are to be offered more choice & control over giving birth, as a result of new guidelines for Scotland. The Keeping Childbirth Natural and Dynamic (KCND) guidance for doctors and midwives is intended to ensure midwives are the lead carers for women who have safe, low-risk pregnancies and births - the majority of women giving birth in Scotland.
The KCND clinical guidelines have been prepared by NHS Quality Improvement Scotland. In addition to the guidance for maternity care professionals, NHS Health Scotland have been asked to produce information for patients to ensure pregnant women remain as well-informed as possible about their care.
ScotGov: Every teacher in Scotland will (this week) receive their own personal copy of the guidelines for Curriculum for Excellence - Experiences and Outcomes. Scotland's new approach to learning & teaching is intended to bring about change in the classroom and will be fully implemented from August 2010.
The new approach puts literacy & numeracy at its heart, with all teachers equally responsible for teaching and an emphasis on cross-curricular teaching. The teaching guidance outlines from the perspective of a child or young person what they expect to have learned at appropriate stages in their education.
CLG: All new homes will feature inbuilt protection from hot water scalding in baths and will use water more efficiently under measures announced last week. From October 2009 all new build homes will have protective devices fitted to baths to limit hot water temperature and will need to meet a new minimum standard of 125 litres of water per person per day to improve water efficiency.
In addition, the government have published the Water Efficiency Calculator for New Dwellings that will be used to estimate water usage for the purposes of both Part G (sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency) of the Building Regulations (amendments to which were laid before Parliament last week) and for the Code for Sustainable Homes.
DH: More than 200 indicators of high quality care in the NHS has been published by the Department of Health and The NHS Information Centre to help clinicians drive up the quality of care they deliver to patients.
The Indicators for Quality Improvement will help measure the quality of care clinicians deliver, highlight areas for improvement and track the changes they implement. They span the three dimensions of high quality care: patient safety, effectiveness of care and patient experience.
At this stage, the aim is to enable clinicians to fully understand the indicators, their methodology and source. Within the next few months, DH will publish data that will enable local clinical teams to compare themselves with others as the basis for local quality improvement. Over the next 3 to 5 years the list will be further developed to improve depth of coverage across all care pathways and quality dimensions.
ScotGov: Scotland's energy sector is making a significant contribution to economic recovery, according to figures published as part of evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee's energy inquiry.
The Scottish Government's key sector report shows that:
* Renewables account for at least 3,000 jobs in Scotland, with the potential to support at least 16,000 new jobs over the next decade
* Scotland exported an average of 17% of its electricity between 2000 and 2007
Cabinet Office: Minister for Digital Engagement Tom Watson last week told the Cabinet Office's Tower '09 conference that it was crucial for the government to embrace digital technology in order to keep delivering the best public services. The Minister was among the high-profile speakers at the second annual public sector reform event, which also saw the launch of the Transformational Government Annual Report.
SOCA: The Serious Organised Crime Agency has published its annual report for the year 2008-09. SOCA is an intelligence-led agency formed in April 2006 to tackle Class A drugs and organised immigration crime as top priorities. Other priorities are fraud against individuals and the private sector, high tech crime, counterfeiting, firearms, serious robbery and recovery of the proceeds of crime.
DCMS: The Government and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) have announced that £324m of the Olympic budget will be invested in the Olympic Village. All of the additional public investment, being made from contingency & savings, is expected to be returned after the Games when the flats are sold.
The Government also published new figures that show that due to cost savings & good management, the forecast total cost of the ODA's Olympic programme has been reduced by £179m. Taking account of expected receipts from the Village the current forecast for the Anticipated Final Cost (AFC) of the ODA programme is now £7,234m.
General Reports and Other Publications
CIOB: In a submission to the Department’s of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has called for a combined approach towards buildings & energy generation.
Michael Brown CIOB Deputy Chief Executive said; “With 50% of CO2 emissions being apportioned directly to the buildings we live and work in, the built environment is in the front line in the battle to cut carbon dioxide emissions. Tackling the issue at source through the production of energy is vital for the construction industry.”
The CIOB believes that displaying the practical affects of any energy efficient measures will be fundamental in gaining public engagement.
ScotGov: The report of the independent inquiry into abuse at the former Kerelaw residential school in Ayrhsire has been published. The school was opened in 1970 and a Secure Unit added in 1983. It was run by Strathclyde Regional Council until local government reorganisation in 1996, when it was taken over by Glasgow City Council.
The Open School was closed at the end of 2004 following adverse inspection reports and investigations of bullying & harassment of staff and allegations of child abuse. In 2006 a former teacher and a unit manager were convicted of abuse and jailed. The Secure Unit was closed in March 2006. A number of former staff, including the school's senior management, were dismissed by Glasgow City Council following internal investigations.
CLG: A new Government-funded report into levels of racism experienced by members of the UK Chinese community should start a national debate on how best to tackle the problem, Cohesion Minister Sadiq Khan has claimed.
Hidden from Public View, published by The Monitoring Group-Min Quan Project following a Connecting Communities Grant from the Department for Communities and Local Government, examines how best to monitor & tackle racist incidents against UK Chinese people.
NAO: In 2007 the National Audit Office reported that primary care trusts (PCTs) could save more than £200m a year without compromising patient care if GPs prescribed cheaper, generic medicines. Keele University has now confirmed the NAO’s finding by calculating that almost £400m has been saved by the DH, the NHS and PCTs in England, through more cost effective prescribing as recommended in the NAO report.
BERR: The interim Digital Britain report established a Spectrum Modernisation Programme to address a range of key issues around the transition to Next Generation Mobile Services. In February 2009, an Independent Spectrum Broker was appointed to determine whether a series of market-led spectrum trades between operators could be achieved to facilitate this objective.
The Independent Spectrum Broker has now concluded this process and has published his conclusions in a report and accompanying statement. The government will be setting out their response in the final Digital Britain report in June 2009.
ESRC: The way that mothers talk to their children when they are young has a lasting effect on children’s social skills, according to a research study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The researchers found that children whose mothers often talked to them about people’s feelings, beliefs, wants & intentions, developed better social understanding than children whose mothers did not include much ‘mental state talk’ in their conversations.
The researchers also observed how each of the mothers talked to their child when they were 3 years old as they looked at a series of pictures together. They found that children whose mothers had often described the mental state of people in the pictures – their emotions or what they might be thinking or going to do next - did particularly well on the social understanding tasks.
BERR: The industry-led Industrial Biotechnology Innovation and Growth Team (IB-IGT) chaired by Ian Shott has published its report setting out its vision for industrial biotechnology (IB) by 2025 and its recommendations to Government and industry.
Robust estimates of the global IB market by 2025 range from £150bn to £360bn. Similar estimates for the UK IB market range from £4bn to £12bn, with a favourable research environment & technology development having a high likelihood of pay-off in the future in the area of high-value low-volume chemicals.
NAO/MoD: A report from the National Audit Office finds that, despite the challenging operational environments, the MOD has successfully delivered around 300,000 personnel and 90,000 tonnes of freight to Iraq & Afghanistan over the last two years. However, it has not consistently met its targets for delivering supplies in a timely fashion.
MOD is taking measures to improve the effectiveness of its supply chain and the amount of time a unit waits for items to be delivered has reduced by half in Afghanistan and a third in Iraq. The MOD’s prioritisation of Urgent Operational Requirements has led to shortages of equipment matching that in theatre for Service personnel in the UK to train with. The MOD has introduced new equipment, but numbers remain limited to support the scale of pre-deployment training.
Personnel have widespread confidence in the medical system, which the MOD has delivered successfully. The helicopter borne Medical Emergency Response Teams provide quick, life-saving medical support to casualties and evacuate them speedily to hospital.
While welcoming the praise from the National Audit Office, the MoD also accepts the need for further improvements in some areas and is now looking seriously at the recommendations.
CQS: The CQC, the new health and social care regulator, has published results from the sixth national inpatient survey, carried out by 165 acute and specialist NHS trusts in England. The 2008 survey results overall show significant improvement in the experience of patients in key areas relating to infection control.
BUT the survey highlights persistent problems in important aspects of care. Despite some improvements, the NHS must do more to ensure hospital food is consistently of good quality and that patients are sent copies of letters between hospitals and GPs. Performance remained poor in other key areas such as help with eating, mixed-sex accommodation, involvement in decisions about care and answering call buttons.
NAO: A National Audit Office report has found that HM Revenue & Customs faces large peaks in its workload but, by introducing different filing deadlines for paper & online Income Tax Self Assessment returns, it has smoothed some of those peaks.
By encouraging more customers to file tax returns online and removing the need for some returns, HMRC has smoothed peaks in workload and released resources of £7m a year. The Department could also make greater use of modern employment practices used by other organisations, such as part-year permanent contracts.
Legislation / Legal
HO: Tougher new rules to tackle rogue immigration advisers are to be launched by the Government, the Home Office have announced. The proposals would give greater powers to the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) to tackle unscrupulous as well as untrained & unqualified advisers – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
CLG: Park & mobile home residents will get more protection from rogue site owners and get easier access to justice if they have a dispute with their site owner under new proposals published for further consultation (closes on 9 June 2009) by Housing Minister Iain Wright – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
BERR: The reigning champion of the Enterprising Britain competition, Scarborough, is celebrating again after being named the most enterprising place in Europe at this year's European Enterprise Awards. Run by the European Commission, the Awards saw Scarborough take the Grand Jury Prize, making it the overall winner, and in the jury's view, the most creative & inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe.
The seaside town was up against the best of European enterprise, including Finland's capital city, Helsinki; Spain's second biggest port, Valencia; and Liege in Belgium, known for its beer, chocolate and water exports. Despite its population of just 50,000 - tiny in comparison to its competitors - Scarborough's work to encourage people to start-up and grow businesses and create jobs saw it awarded the top prize at a gala dinner in Prague's Zofin Palace on Wednesday evening.
Part of European SME Week, which ran from 6 - 14 May 2009, the European Enterprise Awards recognise outstanding initiatives that support enterprise and entrepreneurship. Scarborough's winning bid was led by the Scarborough Renaissance Partnership, a coalition of local entrepreneurs, Scarborough Borough Council staff and residents, which transformed what was a seaside resort in decline into a thriving enterprise hotspot.
NE: Farmers looking to enter Environmental Stewardship will now be offered a greater range of options, making it easier for making it easier for them to join the 35,000 farmers already being paid to care for the environment, Natural England has announced.
The additional options have been introduced this month and are available for all new agreements from 1 May 2009. In addition to the introduction of these new options, points allocations & payments have been increased for the existing in-field tree and mixed stocking options. These changes reflect alterations to the requirements for these options.
There are 3 new options for both Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) and Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS) and two new capital items for Higher Level Stewardship (HLS). Most of the new options will be of particular interest to farmers who want to tackle issues concerning potential soil erosion as part of their Stewardship agreement. Full details of the new & revised options can be found within the Handbook addenda, or by speaking to your local adviser or calling 0300 060 1115.
HO: A public consultation (closes on 3 July 2009) on the European Commission's proposal for a new Directive to strengthen the regulation of the use of animals in scientific experiments has been launched by the Home Office – See ‘Consultation’ section for more information.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: Viewers of Channel 4’s hit show The Secret Millionaire will now be able to play a part in helping local community groups secure much-needed funding through the Big Lottery Fund’s new Secret Millionaire Fund. Big Lottery Fund and The Secret Millionaire have teamed up to give viewers of the programme a chance to act on the charitable inspiration fuelled by the show.
Lottery funding worth £1m has been lined up to give away in grants across the UK of up to £10,000 from the Fund. People can visit the website to find out if their community group is eligible to apply, or they can even nominate a local good cause who could benefit from the funding. Groups can then download a straightforward application form and apply to BIG’s Secret Millionaire Fund.
Successful applicants may then be selected for filming by Channel 4 and appear on the website or TV programme. Visitors to the website can also showcase their favourite local cause on an interactive map of the UK and get involved by donating time or money.
Cabinet Office: Businesses with a social mission (that provide social value), like Jamie Oliver's Fifteen, are to benefit from a wide package of new measures to designed to boost social enterprises in creating new jobs, new businesses and delivering public services, announced this week. The Minister for the Cabinet Office has set out three new ways in which Government will back social enterprises seeking to deliver public services:
* A new Ministerial Working Group
* A new Guide to Social Return
* The new Futurebuilders Investment Plan
DCMS: A new strategy to engage with & support the voluntary and community sector - the 'third sector' – has been unveiled by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The strategy has taken into account information gathered through sources such as DCMS' rolling survey, 'Taking Part', as well as specific reports such as 'Helping out: a national survey of volunteering and charitable giving', published by the Office of the Third Sector in 2008.
Actions contained in the report include:
* strengthening the foundations of the third sector
* forging closer partnerships between DCMS, its NDPBs and the third sector
* supporting voluntary participation in both public & third sectors
BIG: A brand new project helping disabled young people in York is soon to get off the ground after being awarded £283,076 from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG). The 3-year grant from BIG’s Reaching Communities Programme is supporting The Children's Society’s new ‘Reaching Out’ initiative run by the PACT project.
The new scheme will help young disabled people, including those with autism & profound disabilities, to take part in a range of volunteering opportunities, increasing their skills & confidence and preparing them for adulthood & employment.
A team of volunteers will be recruited & trained to support & mentor disabled people to recognise their own skills & talents. Individually tailored programmes will prepare each young person with the confidence, self-esteem & guidance to volunteer in local community projects such as elderly people's shopping schemes, Brownies, charity shops and museums.
Business and Other Briefings
BERR: Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has announced changes to the Government's Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme to help improve lending to businesses & social enterprises in disadvantaged areas. The changes are intended to provide extra support to Community Development Finance Institutions by allowing them to access bank loans, worth up to £20m, through the EFG scheme.
Unity Trust Bank, in response to this change, has also announced that it is making an additional £5m available for onward lending by CDFIs that provide vital financial support to businesses & social enterprises which are unable to access bank lending due to the higher risk associated with supporting the disadvantaged groups and communities to which they lend.
In addition, the Cabinet Office, in partnership with the National Endowments for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), today announced a year long Access to Investment Programme, aimed to find ways for social enterprises to gain the advice & support they need to access new forms of growth finance.
BERR: Business Minister, Shriti Vadera, recently met with leaders from big business and urged them to ‘pay fair’ and sign up to the Government's Prompt Payment Code. 11 new high profile companies have committed to sign-up to the Government's Prompt Payment Code and pay their suppliers promptly.
The pledges coincide with the launch of the Government's new information leaflet, 'Paying on time is good for businesses'.
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading is warning the debt collection & tracing sector that using neighbours to pass on messages to trace subjects is an unacceptable practice and should be ceased immediately. It is concerned that some businesses are breaching the spirit of the OFT debt collection guidance by using this trace method, which has the potential to reveal to neighbours that individuals are being pursued for payment of debts. If businesses continue to use these tactics, the OFT will look to take swift enforcement action.
HMRC: Revenue & Customs Brief 30/09Shares acquired before 10 April 2003 by exercising employee share options. Computation of chargeable gain or allowable loss on a disposal of such shares where there was a charge to income tax on exercising the option.
HMRC: Revenue & Customs Brief 29/09This brief is of interest to bodies liable to Corporation Tax carrying out remediation work on land in the UK.
WLN: Maria Eagle MP, the parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Government Equalities Office, will open the Women’s Leadership Network (WLN) second annual conference on Wednesday 10 June 2009 and participate in a panel discussion.
With a focus on learning, the conference will give delegates from the further education & skills sector a chance to network with inspirational leaders & peers, develop their leadership skills, discuss career development and learn more about actively promoting equality in their organisation.
Sally Dicketts, WLN chair and principal of Oxford and Cherwell Valley College, said: "Our aim is to develop a strong, dynamic and influential network of women in leadership roles to ensure equality of opportunity throughout the FE system – this is strongly reflected in our conference programme, which should interest both women and men”.
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