In the News
DFID: Looking out for barriers to Open Trade - An early-warning system to help guard against nations turning to protectionist policies during the global recession has been launched as part of the UK Government's ongoing commitment to open trade.
Speaking at an international conference to mark the start of the first-ever World Trade Week UK (June 8 -12), Lord Mandelson and Douglas Alexander said that defending open trade remained the most powerful means of rebuilding global prosperity and fighting global poverty.
Lord Mandelson underlined the UK's commitment to keep global trade flowing as he announced that the UK is co-financing a new independent anti-protectionism watchdog.
Global Trade Alert will unite a worldwide network of think tanks to provide governments with independent analysis of trade-distorting policies. It will produce evidence of the damage protectionist policies are doing and advise on the least protectionist ways to provide support & stability to economies through the downturn.
DH: Caring for isolated Carers - A one-stop information & advice service for the unsung army of carers who look after ill, frail or disabled friends & relatives has been officially launched. The Carers Direct hotline will hopefully make England's 5m carers' lives easier and reduce the time & stress of searching out essential advice.
Funded by £2.8m a year, Carers Direct includes:
* Details of support available, including assessments, benefits, direct payments, individual budgets & time off
* Help to maintain, leave or return to employment
* Help in education or training
* Advice on how maintain or improve social & emotional well-being and physical & mental health for carers
* How to access information about, and support from, health & social care services for the person being cared for
Carers Direct is complemented by Caring with Confidence, a training course available to carers face-to-face, online & by distance learning, which inform carers of their rights, the services available to them and networks which might support them.
DfT: Whiter than White Vans - Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis has claimed that van buyers will find it easier to cut emissions and save money due to a new van CO2 data base which allows users to search for new van models on the UK market and compare their CO2 emissions and the fuel consumption.
The online database - the biggest of its kind in Europe - has been compiled by the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), and Department for Transport (DfT).
Vans make up around 15% of road transport emissions in the UK and their emissions are rising at the highest rate of any road vehicle. If everybody buying a new van bought the most fuel efficient model in its class the average buyer could save up to 17% on both CO2 emissions and fuel costs.
Newswire – NHS Confederation: Hard times ahead even with either ‘investment’ or ‘protected budgets’ - The NHS is facing its biggest organisational & financial challenge ever, a report published by the NHS Confederation warns. But the health service can meet the challenge if it acts decisively & now.
In Dealing with the downturn: the NHS's greatest ever leadership challenge, the Confederation gives a sober assessment of a future of tightening funding & difficult spending decisions.
In just under 2 years the NHS will face the most severe constriction ever in its finances and that action is required now if the service is to remain true to its founding principles and continue to provide care free at the point of need.
In the five years from 2011 it forecasts that the impact of the recession, allied to rising costs mean it is likely the NHS will face a real terms shortfall of £15bn. The Confederation's report also warns that many of the options of past slowdowns in funding, which included cutting training, across the board budget cuts, reducing quality and allowing waiting lists to grow could prove counter-productive and ultimately lead to extra costs.
The report says that the solution to this crisis lies in NHS leaders embracing innovation, change & efficiency. It gives examples, of the kind of service redesign & innovation that can help deliver savings, saying that the rest of the NHS now needs to learn from the leanest and most efficient organisations.
CQC: More ‘engaging with’ and less ‘talking at’ - The Care Quality Commission has published Voices into Action, a charter for involving people in its work as the regulatory body for health & adult social care in England. It also intends to make sure that the providers & commissioners of health & adult social care services ask for people's views and that they respond to what they say.
The charter states that the Care Quality Commission will:
* conduct regular studies to find out people's experiences of health & social care services
* involve people who have experience of using services in its inspection work
* set up special panels of people, such as one to represent the views of currently or recently detained mental health patients
* consult widely on CQC policies and other topics, making a particular effort to reach people who are often missed out because of their disabilities or other circumstances
* work with Local Involvement Networks (LINks) and seek ways of actively involving voluntary groups in the Commission's functions
* develop ways of assessing how well service providers and commissioners are involving people
Dame Joan Bakewell, who was appointed the Voice of Older People by the government last November, will be the guest speaker at an event on 24 June 2009 to launch Voices into Action. CQC next plans to consult on the measures it will use to assess how well providers of services are involving people. It will report yearly on how people have been involved and the difference it has made.
Industry News: Protecting Citizen Data – Delivering Secure Electronic Services to the Public - Effective &efficient use of information is key to improving public services - whether in ensuring health information is readily available, cutting costs associated with collecting fees & taxes, or protecting the public from crime and terrorism.
While the public welcomes new & improved services, they expect that their privacy will be protected. Initiatives such as Government Connect, which seeks to securely link central government and every local authority will usher in new services, but the question remains - How do you connect with citizens and make sure that sensitive data is protected not only in the communication but also in back end systems?
Learn what local authorities such as Islington Borough Council, Bedfordshire County Council and NHS Trusts such as Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS are doing to protect the privacy of citizen data using secure email communication from Voltage Security. Click HERE for:
* Demo – see how it works
* Try Voltage Security Network – 14 day free trial
* View the Public Sector Email Encryption Datasheet
* View the NHS Email Encryption Datasheet
For other Industry News please click HERE
For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
Directgov: BBC TV comedy actors, Paul Henshall and Mark Benton, (stars of the BBC's I'm with Stupid), feature in a new video, available on Directgov. The short downloadable film promotes a new mobile phone service for disabled Blue Badge holders, and their drivers.
Using their mobile phone Blue Badge holders can view parking bays, accessible toilets, petrol stations with service call and more, via an interactive map. The new service even allows users to check the local council parking rules all via their mobile phones.
PCS: PCS members at Manchester Disability Benefits Centre are fighting a decision to close the office by the end of the year. Management say the lease of the building is due to end and, as it is one of the best performing offices, staff are wanted by Jobcentreplus to help cover the rise in unemployment.
Whilst PCS recognises the pressures facing our members in Jobcentre Plus due to the current recession, the decision by management, nationally, to remove 1,100 PDCS staff from their current work and to close the Manchester DBC will unfairly penalise the most vulnerable in society.
HA: With some coach firms planning for a particular busy summer, the Highways Agency is promoting its latest journey planning tools to help fleet managers and on-board crew check the road is clear ahead. The latest addition to a suite of services provides access to live traffic data from a web-enabled mobile phone.
The HA website is particularly suited to the coach tourism industry, allowing drivers to check conditions when taking a break or a co-driver or other crew member can safely check the route ahead during the journey, while the driver keeps his or her eyes on the road. By keying in http://www.highways.gov.uk/mobile crew members can get up to the minute details of any incidents or delays searchable by region, motorway or A-road.
WAG: Environment Minister Jane Davidson has announced that the DyfiValley has been officially recognised as Wales’ only UNESCO Biosphere. A Biosphere is a special area in which people work to balance the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. They are nominated by national governments.
The unique status means the area joins the likes of Uluru in Australia and Mount Olympus in Greece. There are 553 UNESCO Biosphere areas in the world, but the Dyfi is the only one in Wales and only the second in the whole of the UK.
PCS: The Public & Commercial Services union (PCS) has responded with anger to the announcement by the Forensic Science Service (FSS) of up to 800 job losses over the next two years and a major restructuring of pay, reward, redundancy terms and other conditions of employment.
The FSS, formerly an Executive Agency of the Home Office, but since 2005 a wholly owned Government Company (GovCo) in which Ministers act as the sole shareholder, are embarking upon a business transformation programme which will last until mid-2011.
Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary, added: ‘The obsession with the market has led to tens of millions of pounds worth of work leaching away from the FSS, which was formerly a world leader in forensics and crime detection, to a small number of competitors whose sole purpose is profit rather than the needs of the public or victims of crime. We will not countenance savage cuts now merely to make the FSS more attractive to private sector buyers in three years time’.
CWGC: Construction of the first new cemetery to be built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in 50 years has begun in northern France. Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) MilitaryCemetery will provide a final individual resting place for up to 400 British & Australian soldiers who died at the Battle of Fromelles in July 1916. Work on the new cemetery will be completed by December 2009 (See interactive map & virtual image).
Their recently discovered remains are now being recovered by a team of archaeological specialists from several mass graves nearby. In addition to the primary aim of providing a fitting & final resting place for each soldier, it is hoped that DNA techniques may be able to identify some of those buried at Fromelles. Families who believe their relatives may have lost their lives at Fromelles are urged to check the casualty lists.
STFC: Techniques & instrumentation initially developed for ExoMars - Europe’s next robotic mission to Mars in 2016 - but now due to fly on a NASA mission in 2018, could also provide the answers to the globally pressing issue of energy supply.
A major study by the Imperial College London, funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), aims to use this new technology as an inexpensive & efficient way to help process unconventional energy resources, potentially having an enormous impact on the UK and global economy.
Dr Liz Towns-Andrews, Director of Knowledge Exchange at STFC, which is funding the study through its Knowledge Exchange Follow on Fund award scheme, said: "The new research is a direct solution to our worsening energy supply crisis and is a great example of the seamless interaction of pure and applied science with engineering to solve real world environmental and commercial issues”.
LD: The latest official Local Authority data from Land Data reveals the national average price for an electronic local authority (LA) combined CON29R and LLC1 property search has reduced from £114 (March ’09) to £109 (April ’09), and the average electronic CON29R fee has reduced from £94 (March ’09) to £88 (April ’09).
The reduction in fee is a direct result of the new fee charging regimes introduced on 6 April 2009 which mean that both the LLC1 and CON29R search fees are now charged on a cost recovery model. A full list of LA fees and NLIS turnaround times from April – June ’09 will be available from mid July.
DH: A FREE, online lifestyle self-assessment service to help teenagers improve their health & wellbeing is being rolled out nationally by the Department of Health. NHS Teen LifeCheck uses an engaging & interactive quiz to offer health & lifestyle information to 12-15 year olds.
Hosted entirely online, it guides young people through a set of completely confidential, simple multiple choice questions and then gives them tailored advice on how they can set goals to improve their lifestyles. It is non-judgmental, totally confidential and no identifying data is kept.
NHS Teen LifeCheck is one of three NHS LifeCheck services. NHS Early Years LifeCheck, aimed at parents and carers of 5 - 8 month old babies and NHS Mid-life LifeCheck, aimed at 45-60 year olds, are being rolled out nationally later this year.
STFC: Astronomers using the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) William Herschel Telescope (WHT) on La Palma have confirmed an effective way to search the atmospheres of planets for signs of life, vastly improving our chances of finding alien life outside our solar system.
The past two decades have witnessed the discovery of hundreds of exoplanets (planets beyond our solar system). Ambitious missions, ground and space based, are already being planned for the next decades, and the discovery of Earth-like planets is only a matter of time. Once these planets are found, techniques like transmission spectra will be invaluable to their further exploration.
PCS: The PCS union has condemned the British Council's announcement that it intends to cut up to 500 jobs over the next 2 years and consider ‘offshoring’ work to India. In a message to staff, the BC, which promotes Britain overseas, announced that it intends to reduce its staff by up to 40% over the next two years.
Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary said: “It comes as a surprise that the British Council, whose remit is to promote Britain abroad, is even considering offshoring jobs. These proposed job losses, if not resisted, will add to the already rising unemployment figures and do nothing to help economic recovery.”
HA: The Highways Agency is advising road users planning to use the A43 in Northamptonshire during the weekend of the British Grand Prix to plan their journey and keep up to date with the latest road conditions. Last year approximately 47,000 vehicles travelled to the circuit over the three days of racing with similar numbers expected for the 2009 British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
To help improve traffic flow the Highways Agency will be closing the A43 to through traffic between Brackley and Towcester. Road users heading for the Grand Prix will be directed along one-way systems, which will be reversed as traffic leaves the event.
Socitm: Figures from the Socitm Website Takeup service, subscribed to by more than half of all county councils show that on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th June, web traffic to county council websites was more than double that of the Friday and Saturday of the previous week.
A survey by Socitm Insight, publishers of the annual Better connected report on council website quality, looked at websites of county councils and new unitaries where elections had been held to see how the results were being reported.
The survey found many Councils included some form of interactive map, summary tables & charts or other graphics to allow visitors to follow the results as they happened and to access a summary in various forms. Some councils provided TV style graphics including ‘virtual council chambers’ filling up with figures in party colours as the results came in.
CRC: Stuart Burgess, Chair of the Commission for Rural Communities and the Government's Rural Advocate, has been visiting Cumbria with the Commission for Integrated Transport (CfIT) to find out more about the Rural Wheels initiative - a shared taxi scheme - that provides subsidised travel for rural communities.
CfIT will be launching a campaign supporting their report calling for Government to announce & fund a large-scale shared taxi project, ‘TaxiPlus’.
LR: From 1 October 2009, Land Registry offices in Birkenhead which currently operate from 2 sites, will be replaced by a single office to be known as Land Registry, Birkenhead Office. The new office will administer the areas now covered by the Old Market House and Rosebrae Court offices.
The new office will operate from the existing premises at Rosebrae Court. All paper applications & correspondence to be received after 30 September 2009 should be sent to the new Birkenhead Office at Rosebrae Court, unless a written agreement is in place between the registrar and the applicant as to delivery elsewhere. The customer information centre for Birkenhead Office will be located at Rosebrae Court.
Practice Guide 51 - Areas served by Land Registry offices is being revised and a new edition will be published on 1 October 2009.
SE: Sport England plans to invest £480m in 46 sports over the next 4 years to deliver grassroots sporting opportunities and a lasting Olympic & Paralympic legacy of 1m people playing more sport. The overall amount invested directly into NGBs has increased and responsibility for delivery has been placed in the hands of each governing body, with clear targets agreed on a sport-by-sport basis.
NA: Census records of the 2.4m people recorded as living in Wales on the night of Sunday 2 April 1911 are now available to search & download. Records for the whole of England are already available, with the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, as well as naval and overseas military records, to be made available over the coming months.
FDA: The independent review of pay arrangements for senior civil servants in Northern Ireland announced recently by Finance Minister Nigel Dodds, has been welcomed by the FDA, the union that represents senior managers and professionals in the Civil Service.
Jonathan Baume, FDA General Secretary, said: “The current system, which prioritises non-pensionable, performance-related bonuses over reasonable cost-of-living increases, was introduced to save the Government money and suppress pay levels. We now have a situation where the UK Government’s own evidence suggests that similar roles outside of the civil service are paid up to twice as much”.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
HO: National Tackling Drugs Week was launched recently by Home Office Minister Alan Campbell. The awareness week, which ran from 8 - 12 June 2009, saw a range of partners including drug treatment agencies, local authorities, substance misuse voluntary workers, police and community groups highlighting their work to rid communities across the country of drugs.
Defra: Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has announced the 5 successful projects to receive government grants to create energy from organic waste, such as food. The grants are being awarded under the £10m Defra Anaerobic Digestion Demonstration Programme, and form part of wider plans to tackle food waste & packaging.
Anaerobic digestion breaks down organic matter, such as animal manure & food waste to produce biogas, a renewable energy source for heat, power & transport and keeps organic waste out of landfill, which cuts greenhouse gas emissions.
DWP: The UK has ratified an international treaty that enshrines the human rights of disabled people, Jonathan Shaw, Minister for Disabled People has announced. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a powerful & explicit statement, which states that disabled people must be able to enjoy, on an equal basis, the same human rights as others.
The Convention is designed to promote, protect and ensure the human rights, freedom & dignity of disabled people. It explicitly sets out the rights that disabled people have and should be able to enjoy on the same basis as other people - for example, the right to dignity, freedom, equality and justice. It also provides direction on how human rights should be interpreted from the perspective of disabled people all over the world.
DFID: An initiative to help clothing manufacturers improve working conditions for their producers in developing countries has been launched. The RAGS (Responsible and Accountable Garment Sector) fund will make £3.5m available over 3 years for bids from companies who want to make their clothing business more ethical and contribute more strongly to development in poor countries.
A Challenge Fund will be set up that invites bids for work that will make a real difference - which might include companies working with unions and others to explore responsible business practices, projects to raise workers' awareness of their rights, and ways of generating more viable & decent jobs in garment making in poorer areas.
DCMS: Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe has announced a new voluntary funding arrangement to bring in at least £15m over the next 3 years for the research, education & treatment of problem gambling. The Responsibility in Gambling Trust will continue to raise funds from the gambling industry and are committed to raising over £5m every year from now until 2012/13. A new body, the Responsible Gambling Fund, has been set up to distribute the money.
The recently-created Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB), chaired by Baroness Julia Neuberger, will work with the new distributor and will set priorities for research, education and treatment.
ScotGov: Recommendations from an independent working group advising on further help to homeowners facing repossession are to be taken forward by Scottish Ministers. The Repossessions Working Group was asked to consider whether existing legal protection for homeowners is adequate and, if necessary, to make recommendations on how it might be strengthened.
Chaired by the advocate, Adrian Stalker the group's main recommendations include:
* Legislation to ensure that the protection available through the Mortgage Rights (Scotland) Act 2001 applies in all repossession cases, instead of just those where the home owner defends the action
* Legislation to require lenders to show that they have considered every reasonable alternative to repossession, and to ensure that the courts consider the extent to which they have done so when deciding on repossessions cases
Defra: Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has claimed that consumers will see a major overhaul of all packaging over the next decade, under the Government's new packaging strategy - Making the most of packaging - which looks at the packaging of the future and what our shop shelves & kitchen cupboards should look like if we cut the amount of packaging produced, used & thrown away and increase the amount recycled. Under the plan, the whole chain from production to disposal of packaging will be tackled.
Making the most of packaging covers all of the UK and is being published jointly by Defra, BERR, the Welsh Assembly Government, Northern Ireland Executive and the Scottish Government. The devolved administrations have also announced how they will each take forward the strategy.
DECC: Hospitals, leisure centres, local authorities - and even central government departments - will be able to save money & reduce their carbon emissions by taking up new energy efficiency loans. The Government, in partnership with Salix Finance and the Carbon Trust will provide £51.5m in interest free loans to help public sector organisations take advantage of energy efficiency technology.
Loans will be available for around 80 different energy efficiency technologies, including building insulation, boiler & lighting upgrades, improved cooling systems and IT energy efficiency improvements. This support will play an important part in the build up to the mandatory Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), which begins in April 2010.
WAG: The potential of algae to create new Welsh jobs and absorb carbon dioxide emissions is to be investigated with the help of a grant from the Welsh Assembly Government. This grant will allow the community interest organisation Merlin Biodevelopments to examine how algae can be used to our advantage by using the by-products of certain renewable energy plants.
Currently, anaerobic digestion plants turn organic waste into bio-gas, a renewable source of energy. These plants are to play a major role in energy production in the coming years. As well as producing clean energy, the plants produce a by-product called ‘digestate’ that can be used as compost and a liquid fertiliser. The Assembly Government wants to see if extracts from the liquid element of this digestate can be used to grow algae, and potentially create a whole new market.
WAG: Welsh patients who are charged for prescriptions at hospitals in England after having treatment will be able to get a refund, Health Minister Edwina Hart has announced. At present, patients who have prescriptions from English hospital pharmacies have to pay for prescriptions at the English rate of £7.20, if they are not exempt due to age or medical condition.
Amendments will be made to the free prescriptions legislation so that patients who are treated in England can reclaim the cost of their prescriptions. In addition, the legislation will be amended to reflect the change in England that entitles cancer sufferers access to free prescriptions. It is anticipated that the necessary changes to the legislation will be in place by early autumn.
DFID: New African products will appear on supermarket shelves thanks to a new fund formally launched by Trade and Development Minister, Gareth Thomas. The FRICH (Food Retail Industry Challenge fund) will support six projects to bring a range of new tea, coffees and fruit juices from across Africa to the UK, with a total investment of around £3m. Projects are co funded by FRICH and the companies implementing them.
The six companies chosen to receive funding so far are:
* Blue Skies (fruit juice from Ghana)
* Waitrose LEAF (environmentally-sustainable fruit and vegetables)
* The Co-Operative Group (tea from Kenya)
* Sainsbury's (coffees from Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo)
* Betty's and Taylors of Harrogate (tea from Rwanda)
* Cafedirect (hot drinks from Sao Tome and Tanzania)
Research shows nearly 75% of consumers in the UK want to reduce poverty through their shopping choices. However, statistics show that we still spend only 3% of our food shopping budget on products from developing countries.
DH: Social enterprises which improve the quality of health & social care for local communities can now apply for loans & grants from the Department of Health's Social Enterprise Investment Fund. New & existing organisations can apply for investments and the funding application process takes approximately 6 weeks.
BIS: The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has highlighted that the Low Pay Commission has been asked to consider introducing a new national minimum wage rate for apprentices. The request came as the Government published the new terms of reference for the Low Pay Commission - the independent body which advises the Government on the national minimum wage.
Apprentices are currently exempt from the NMW if they are aged under 19; or are over 19 and in the first year of their apprenticeship. There is a minimum rate of pay for Learning and Skills Council (LSC) apprenticeship contracts, which is currently set at £80 per week (rising to £95 from August 2009).
The Low Pay Commission will continue to monitor & evaluate the impact of the minimum wage and make recommendations, if appropriate, for changes to the rates. The Commission has been asked to report to the Prime Minister and the Business Secretary by the end of February 2010.
ScotGov: Scotland's young people will be equipped for the 21st century through the next generation of national qualifications. The new changes, which will come into effect from 2013, will deliver ‘qualifications that reflect Scotland's new approach to teaching & learning with a more streamlined system, which is simpler for pupils, parents and employers to understand’.
The changes will mean that:
* A new qualification - the National award - will replace Intermediate and Standard Grade
* New National Literacy & National Numeracy awards will be introduced, to be taken from S3 onwards
* The existing Access, Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications will all be retained & updated to fully reflect Curriculum for Excellence.
ScotGov: A strategy has been unveiled to encourage energy companies and the UK Government to boost energy efficiency investment north of the Border. The plan aims to secure a greater share for Scottish households from the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT).
CERT is an initiative that places an obligation on energy companies to provide households with subsidised energy efficiency measures, such as cavity wall and loft insulation, energy efficient appliances and low energy light bulbs. The focus of the strategy is working with delivery partners in Scotland to introduce many more potential CERT customers to the energy supply companies.
DBIS: The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has highlighted that the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) has launched a consultation (closes on 31 July 2009) on the future of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund.
The SSRB is an independent body which advises the Government on the remuneration of senior positions in the public sector, including parliamentarians, the judiciary, senior military officers, senior civil servants and some senior NHS managers. The SSRB intends to report to the Prime Minister by the end of 2009.
In 2008 the House of Commons agreed to a recommendation by the SSRB that parliamentary pensions should be reviewed if the costs to the Exchequer appeared likely to rise above 20% of members' payroll. The most recent valuation (March 2009) estimated that, as at April 2008, the underlying cost had reached 23.1%.
CQC: The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has outlined the scope of its review of the provision & commissioning of out-of-hours GP services run by Take Care Now. The work was triggered by the tragic case of a patient who was treated by a locum doctor from Germany and died following the administration of 100mg of diamorphine.
The CQC will look at the service generally, focusing on current systems, including contractual & monitoring arrangements between primary care trusts (PCTs) and Take Care Now, as well as changes made after recent incidents.
As part of its work, the CQC will conduct telephone interviews with people who have used services provided by Take Care Now, and also current & former Take Care Now and PCT staff. People interested in talking to the CQC can email email@example.com, or telephone 0207 448 9207, if they think that they might have relevant information to contribute.
WAG: Young people from across Wales are being given the opportunity to have their say in what the world’s decision-makers decide to do to tackle climate change when they meet for crucial talks in Copenhagen later this year.
‘Countdown to Copenhagen’ is an event being held at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea on 1 July 2009 for young people in Wales to get together, learn about climate change and make their opinions heard about what should be done in Wales and across the world to face up to this real and serious problem.
Environment Minister Jane Davidson is looking for 300 under 25s to attend so their views can be passed on to world leaders in December at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in the Danish capital.
The event will include the producer of the popular climate change film ‘Age of Stupid’, introducing key parts of the film, workshops, a graffiti wall and video booths where youngsters will be able to record their views. There will also be talks from young people who are already taking action on climate change.
DWP: A national consultation (closes on 30 September 2009) that could dramatically change the way every disabled person their lives has been launched. Right to Control is a shake up of the way disabled people can use the funding they receive from the state.
Under the new scheme, disabled people will be able to choose who delivers their services and how they receive them. They can have as much or as little control as they wish and they could choose to spend the money on a wide range of support to help them to live their lives with greater independence and freedom.
The Right to Control is a major part of the Government's goal to achieve equality for disabled people by 2025. The scheme will be tested in a limited number of trailblazer areas, before a decision is made on whether to implement the policy nationally. Pilots in a small number of public authorities will run in England from 2010 for an initial period of 2-3 years.
DSA: The Driving Standards Agency has unveiled plans for consultation (closes on 3 September 2009) to ‘improve’ the test for drivers of lorries and other large vehicles which tow trailers. At present, learner lorry drivers in Great Britain are tested in vehicles which do not carry a load - but heavier vehicles & trailers have different driving characteristics to those of unladen vehicles.
The new proposals will require that the weight of lorries & trailers used in tests should be similar to the vehicles which candidates will use on the roads after they have passed their test.
In addition, the new rules will also affect those wishing to tow whilst driving a minibus, coach or bus. The new test rules will not apply to car drivers unless they tow trailers weighing over 750kg. Drivers who already hold a licence allowing them to drive a lorry or tow a trailer will not be affected.
GEO: The Government Equalities Office (GEO) has set out its proposals for consultation (closes on 30 September 2009) for the new single Equality Duty, which will require public bodies to tackle discrimination & advance equality of opportunity, including reporting annually on their gender pay gap and considering using procurement to drive equality.
The Equality Duty, a key part of the Equality Bill introduced in April, will build on the existing gender, race, and disability duties, and extend it to also cover age, sexual orientation, gender reassignment in full, and religion or belief.
The Equality Duty will also require public bodies with 150 or more employees to report annually on their gender pay gap; black and minority ethnic employment rates; and their disability employment rates.
The aim is for the new Equality Duty to come into force in April 2011. Enforcement of the new Equality Duty will be by judicial review or through the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Defra: Smarter eco-design for energy using products could save £900m for the economy, as well as protect the environment according evidence to be given to a new consultation (closes on 4 September 2009). The consultation seeks views on how to implement minimum energy standards and energy labelling of high street products.
The European Union (EU) Framework Directive for the Eco-design of Energy Using Products (EuP) has already begun to introduce minimum energy standards and labels for televisions, washing machines & fridges and more products are to follow.
The EU estimates that implementing these standards effectively will reduce EU energy use by 10%. It is estimated that 15% of products across Europe do not comply with standards and that non-compliance costs £30m pa.
The consultation will help ensure that manufacturers can compete in a fair environment while consumers are guaranteed that the products they purchase meet the mandatory minimum energy performance standards and their declared energy label.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has announced that, following consultation with stakeholders on the economic model that underpinned NICE’s 2006 guidance on the use of drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease, the resulting draft guidance remains unchanged.
NICE guidance on the use of donepezil, galantamine & rivastigmine and memantine for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease therefore remains unchanged and the drugs continue to be recommended only for people with moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Consultees now have a chance to appeal against this decision.
The Appraisal Committee has prepared a Final Appraisal Determination (FAD) on donepezil, galantamine, rivastigmine (review) and memantine for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and submitted it to the Institute. The FAD has been sent to the formal consultees for this appraisal who have 15 working days to consider whether they wish to appeal against it (Closes on 1 July 2009).
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
ScotGov: New materials which will help embed Curriculum for Excellence, Scotland's new approach to learning & teaching, in nurseries and pre-schools have been announced. Children's Minister Adam Ingram revealed that a new DVD training resource - Curriculum for Excellence, Supporting the Early Level - will be produced in the autumn to help those working with Scotland's youngest learners apply the new approach.
The DVD covers areas such as learning & teaching, improving transitions and involving parents. It will provide training & discussion materials that will help early years practitioners & teachers embed Curriculum for Excellence.
ScotGov: New homelessness prevention guidance has been issued to local authorities as part of the Scottish Government's strategy to meet the 2012 homelessness target. At the same time, the housing charity Shelter Scotland has been given additional funding of £96,000 to increase the capacity (by 40%) of its free Helpline - 0800 800 444 - to help meet the demand from those people with mortgage & debt worries.
The new guidance, developed in partnership with COSLA, recognises:
*The prevention of homelessness does not happen in isolation from other issues and therefore a systemic approach is needed
* Homelessness prevention is a corporate responsibility and must be embraced by all parts of the local authority
* The need to encourage pro-active and early intervention, based on a well understood knowledge of the local triggers of homelessness
Ofsted: A revised framework for the inspection of maintained schools in England has been launched by Christine Gilbert, HMCI, at the first of a series of conferences for schools and local authorities. Ofsted is changing the focus and frequency of school inspections to ensure that inspection has the greatest impact possible on school improvement and outcomes for children and young people.
OFT: Action by local authority Trading Standards Services (TSS) to protect the public from unfair trading practices saves UK consumers at least £347m a year, the OFT has revealed. In a new study OFT found that, on average, for every £1 that TSS spend on this work, they deliver direct consumer savings of at least £6.
HMIC: Although the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) have made considerable improvements in organising their complex & fast moving operations, further work is needed if a recurrence of the tragic death of Jean Charles de Menezes is to be avoided. That's the verdict of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), in the report – Stockwell: MPS progress - published recently.
The report found several projects to improve police operations following the Stockwell event still did not have clear deadlines for delivery, while overall planning needed to be streamlined across departments.
ScotGov: Much progress has been made in Scottish prisons over the past 7 years, but many frustrations remain, Dr Andrew McLellan, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, says in his final report published last week. The report highlights:
* The transformation of living conditions which has produced first class prison buildings
* The end of slopping out, except in one prison
* The patience, humanity and fundamental decency of prison staff at all levels
However, the report also emphasises:
* Overcrowding remains a real evil
* Children under 16 years of age are still being held in prison
* Prisoners, especially remand prisoners, spend far too long locked up in cells
DH: The Department of Health has released a report on the experience of patients in BME groups, based on data up to and including 2008 patient surveys. These findings give us insight into the areas of NHS service provision where experience of the service looks different to patients from different ethnic groups. Results are based on data from the National Patient Survey programme, led by the Care Quality Commission.
SE: New research published by Sport England reveals a high level of satisfaction amongst people taking part in grassroots sport. Regular participants from over 40 sports gave an overall satisfaction rating of 80.3 out of 100 across ten areas - including coaching, exertion and fitness, officiating, facilities and value for money.
Increasing satisfaction lies at the heart of one of Sport England’s strategic outcomes – sustaining participation – because the quality of the sporting experience on offer is a key factor in attracting & retaining participants. The results show that satisfaction is higher among affiliated club members than general participants, suggesting that being part of a club enhances the sporting experience.
More detailed results & analysis will be published in July, following workshops with the national governing bodies of each of the sports covered by the survey
WO: The fifth annual report of the Wales Office has been presented to Parliament.
General Reports and Other Publications
HMIC: The Policing Pledge is a set of promises from the police on the service they should provide and every force has committed to keeping those promises. HMIC published a review that reports how far the Policing Pledge has become a reality since its introduction in December 2008.
Inspectors found that there were a number of improvements needed, including:
* more work on communicating the Pledge to the public
* a better system to handle public dissatisfaction with police services in local areas
* assessing the actual visibility time of policing teams in neighbourhoods
* ensuring better contact with victims before an alleged suspect is charged
* developing better ways to spread good practice
CQC: The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published an inspection report on the Yorkshire-based independent mental health hospital, Linden House in Market Weighton near York. The report says improvements have been made in relation to concerns about the quality of care following an unannounced inspection in March. But the Commission makes clear that further significant progress is required.
Inspectors assessed the low- and medium-secure hospital against statutory requirements made last year. As a result, Linden House now faces further enforcement action over breach of the Private and Voluntary Health Care Regulations (2001).
Ofsted: Ofsted’s report, Supporting young carers, has found that councils are not doing enough to identify & support young people who help to care for their disabled parents, according to a survey of eight council areas and 50 young carers.
Inconsistent joint working between councils and their partners, lack of awareness by some professionals, and families’ reluctance to engage with service providers are among the key barriers in identifying & supporting young carers – See also ‘In the News’ section for related item.
IfL: The Institute for Learning (IfL), which is the professional body for teachers & trainers in the further education & skills sector, has given evidence to a select committee inquiry into training & development arrangements for FE teachers.
The purpose of the evidence session was to examine the arrangements for those wanting to teach in the sector, including:
* teacher training qualifications for FE teachers
* registration requirements for FE teachers
* the staffing of vocational programmes in schools and colleges
* co-ordination across the agencies concerned with teacher training for schools and for colleges.
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities has helped fund a new IPPR report into 'Migration and Rural Economies: Assessing and adressing risks'. It examines the roles migrants to rural areas are playing, the economic impacts of migration on existing populations & businesses and what future migratory trends might be.
The report considers whether recent migration to rural Britain has led to any risks for rural economies and, if so, how these risks can be managed.
HMIC: A new Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary report shows that members of the public are not getting a good deal, in terms of crime fighting & financial efficiency, for the substantial amounts of taxpayers' money spent on policing in England & Wales.
Getting Together, discloses that police forces with the most effective joint working arrangements across traditional force boundaries are getting the best results on organised crime. HMIC found they mount full-scale operations against four times as many crime gangs, including drug traffickers, compared with forces that do not collaborate.
Some forces & authorities spend more than twice as much on human resources as others. Average police spending in this area is above the rest of the public sector, where collaboration is more advanced. There are similar variations in costs for finance services.
Getting Together proposes a robust, transparent, market-style system to help police forces overcome barriers to collaboration. A new 'Informed Choice Model' (ICM) will give senior officers & authorities information on the range of costs & risks and where the best option can be found for the public by collaboration or other means.
NAO/CQC: The Department of Health has met its target to reduce MRSA bloodstream infections by 50% by 2008 and has made encouraging progress towards its target to reduce Clostridium difficile infections, according to a National Audit Office report published last week.
However, blood stream infections due to other causes may be increasing. There is also no national data that captures information on some of the most common healthcare associated infections, such as urinary tract infections and pneumonia.
Nigel Ellis, Head of National Assessment & Inspection at the Care Quality Commission said: “While the NHS as a whole is doing better, there are still individual trusts that have a great deal of room for improvement…… We will keep up the pressure and encourage the NHS to stay focussed on improvements. That will include taking swift enforcement action if we find unacceptable performance.”
NSG: The Leading Innovation report to be launched on 16 June 2009 shows transformative & collaborative leadership is critical to creating the conditions for innovation. The report suggests that civil service leaders need to create opportunities for policy-makers to reconnect to the front-line.
This transformation involves government officials having more appreciation of the public as a resource and not as a problem. Ultimately it is the public’s engagement, motivation and aspirations that will forge the relationships to provide the foundations for a more innovative approach to public service.
The key message from the Hub’s Vertical Network is that while transformative leaders are building mature partnerships for shared practices across localities, now is the time for much more bridge building between localities and central government & Whitehall departments.
Legislation / Legal
PCS: The House of Lords has decided in the long-running case of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs v Stringer, Ainsworth and others. It decided that workers on who are denied holiday pay can pursue a claim to an employment tribunal for unauthorised deduction from wages under the Employment Rights Act 1996.
This follows the decision by the European Court of Justice earlier in the year that member states can allow workers who are off sick to take annual leave. It also decided that member states can only prevent a worker taking leave while off sick if they ensure that the worker has the right to carry over annual leave to a subsequent leave year if unable to take it because of illness.
Following the court’s decision, the revenue accepted that a worker’s entitlement to compensation on termination of employment could not be affected by sickness absence. It also accepted that workers on long-term sickness absence and who apply to take annual leave but cannot because they have no right to carry over under the working time regulations, are entitled to paid annual leave.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
BIS: Lord Mandelson has argued that the new European Parliament and next European Commission must be ‘Europe's economic conscience’, pushing European member states to work together to rebuild Europe's economic strength. His speech was accompanied by a UK Government document on The Future of EU Competitiveness: From Economic Recovery to Sustainable Growth.
Business and Other Briefings
FSCS: A recent change in tax law has clarified that, where a compensation payment from FSCS includes an element representing interest and that compensation is paid after 6 October 2008, the interest element of the compensation is treated as taxable income.
The FSCS plans to provide the relevant figures to customers of the building society or banks that have recently failed before the end of September 2009. Icesave customers who pay tax on the interest they earn on their account will shortly receive a letter containing the above information. As ISAs are tax free, consumers who have received compensation for an ISA will not be affected.
BIS: Business Secretary Peter Mandelson has announced changes that will mean more firms can now purchase top-up cover as part of the Government's trade credit insurance scheme. Since 1 May 2009, companies who have had their credit insurance cover reduced have been able to purchase 6 months top-up cover under the £5bn Government Scheme.
In response to requests from business, from last week eligibility for the scheme will be backdated to include suppliers who had their cover reduced since 1 October last year. Previously, the Scheme was available to companies who had cover reduced since April this year.
In addition, credit insurance provider HCC will now join the three largest credit insurers (Euler Hermes, Atradius and Coface) as a provider of the Government Scheme, which runs until 31 December 2009 andallows suppliers to purchase Government-backed insurance to either restore cover to the original level or double the amount they are able to obtain from the private sector up to the value of £1m (whichever is the lower).
HMRC: Revenue & Customs Brief 33/09This brief explains HMRC's revised interpretation of 'occupation' for the purposes of the option to tax anti-avoidance legislation. This follows the release of the judgment in Newnham College
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