In the News
WAG: Behind closed doors - Tackling violence against women & children is central to a new strategic action plan issued for consultation (closes on 21 September 2009). The new draft action plan builds on the All Wales Domestic Abuse strategy published in 2005, but goes much wider than domestic abuse in the home.
Recognising that women & children are suffer disproportionately, not only in the home, but often fearing for their safety in their communities, the draft action plan has been strengthened to tackle issues such as prostitution, sexual assault, forced marriage and trafficking.
Although women & children suffer disproportionately adult male victims of domestic abuse are not forgotten with action proposed to raise awareness about support for male victims of domestic abuse.
HA: Easier to deal with Abnormal - Phase Three of the Highways Agency’s Electronic Service Delivery for Abnormal Loads (ESDAL) service has gone live. Phase Three allows hauliers to save time & admin costs by using an online service to notify abnormal load movements to the relevant road, structure owners and police by web, email or fax. The system will store each notification & proposed route and enable the appropriate agencies to assess the route through the ESDAL website.
Phase Four now enters pilot trials and is due to be formally launched in the Autumn. It will add functionality to provide an automated route assessment. A facility to add constraints such as road works will also be made available.
Enhancements due to be introduced from the Summer through to Autumn 09 include a larger map, simplified VR1 applications, improved route descriptions and confirmation of notification delivery. The service is free and requires no third party software.
ScotGov: A picture of hope - A new campaign is aiming to raise awareness about organ donation by creating an online 'mosaic' of 60,000 photographs. The interactive Wall of Life campaign has been launched by the UK-wide NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and it aims to promote awareness of & support for organ donation to boost the number of people joining the NHS Organ Donor Register (ODR).
The Wall of Life is an online mosaic created from people's photos posted on the site to show their support for organ donation. These photos come together to make up the image of two-year old Louisa McGregor-Smith, whose life was saved by a heart transplant in 2007 at just five months old. At least 60,000 people need to upload their photos on to the Wall to build Louisa's image.
The Wall of Life has been created as part of a national campaign to highlight the constant need for organs in the UK. More than 10,000 people currently need a transplant operation, of whom 1,000 (3 a day) will die before an organ becomes available.
NE: Free outdoor summer fun - Discover butterflies, lizards, fossils, seals and even otters. Take a picnic, learn to make a bird feeder or go on a bog safari. These are just some of the ‘adventures’ on offer as Natural England rolls out its summer programme of family days out at National Nature Reserves (NNRs).
NNRs represent many of the finest wildlife & geological sites in the country, providing unique environments where many of England’s most extraordinary wild plants & animals flourish - commonplace species rubbing shoulders with national rarities.
To celebrate these amazing places and the 60th anniversary of the Act that created them, Natural England has put together a packed summer events programme for people of all ages. From music festivals to nature rambles, NNRs have something for everyone.
DH: Disabled but not Unable - People with a learning disability will be helped into paid jobs to close the employment gap, Ministers have ‘pledged’. The goal is part of the new cross-government Learning Disability Employment Strategy, which sets out a vision to increase the number of real jobs for people with learning disabilities with appropriate support being provided.
The Office for Disability Issues is inviting interested organisations to submit proposals to become Project Search sites and take part in an evaluation of Project Search. Project Search supports people with learning disabilities into paid jobs by providing a series of internships with a host employer. A delivery plan, to be published alongside the strategy, will set out actions with timescales and responsibilities to ensure progress.
Cabinet Office: Government hires ex-poachers as Gamekeepers - The PM has announced new measures to protect the UK & British citizens from the growing threats to our security in cyber space. With over £50bn spent online in the UK every year and 90% of our high street purchases made using electronic transactions, new technology is vital to our national prosperity.
But with modern life increasingly dependent on computers and communications technology cyber space is a new area where hostile states, terrorists, and criminals can all threaten UK security interests. The UK’s first Cyber Security Strategy will hopefully help the Government re-shape the way we respond to these challenges swiftly & effectively.
A dedicated Office of Cyber Security will take forward a cross-Government programme of work and a new multi-agency Cyber Security Operations Centre in Cheltenham will provide the co-ordinated protection of the UK’s critical IT systems.
WAG: Civilised behaviour or denial of service to UK citizens as more slices cut from funding cake? - Amended Regulations to enable failed asylum seekers access to free healthcare will come into force on 15 July 2009, Health Minister Edwina Hart announced recently, saying: “I have made clear that the aim of these changes is to ensure that people who are in need of healthcare receive it. I believe the mark of a civilised society is the way in which it treats its people, particularly the sick and dying."
Forthcoming Event: 9th Annual Knowledge & Information Management for the Public Sector 29-30 September 2009, London.
The Ark Group presents (KIMPS 2009) a 2-day conference designed to help you:
* Convince your senior management that effective KIM is the key to cost-efficiency
* Get more from your existing knowledge assets on a tight budget
* Successfully harvest / capture knowledge, while keeping confidential personal data securely
* Understand how government organisations are using social networking technology
* Learn how horizon scanning is being used to prepare government organisations for the future
With knowledge & information management (KIM) budgets under severe pressure in many parts of the public sector, the task that lies before knowledge professionals is harder than ever before. You need to know how to demonstrate that your existing KIM strategy is delivering cost-savings for your organisation, before you can successfully bid for future funding.
The programme will showcase current best practice as well as new approaches to KIM. It includes case-studies from public sector organisations that are currently using social networking & semantic technologies, as well as horizon scanning techniques.
For more information click here
For information on other forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
For Industry News please click HERE
LDA: Construction on over 750 new homes on a derelict site next to the Thames Barrier has moved a step closer, after the London Borough of Newham granted outline planning consent to the London Development Agency’s Thames Barrier East proposals.
The mixed-use development includes commercial & retail space, new public open space & play area – with over 370 affordable homes and over 130 three- and four-bedroom homes for families. The development will be built to high environmental standards, with all homes reaching level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes. A combined heat & power system will generate power on site – and cut CO2 emissions by a typical 20%.
TfL: With summer on its way and excellent weather being forecast Tube passengers will already have noticed their journeys getting warmer. Some relief is on the horizon as, from next summer, Metropolitan Line passengers will be able to use air conditioned Tube trains, with new trains also eventually being rolled out on the Circle, Hammersmith & City (2011),and District lines (2013).
However much of the Tube is made up of deep & narrow tunnels built with insufficient space for air conditioning and finding cooling solutions is one of the many challenges being addressed by the Underground's Cooling the Tube project team.
The first phase of the ventilation shaft upgrade (that will double air-flow capacity) will be completed this year and preparation for the next phase of work has begun. In addition, this summer will see the return of the industrial sized blue fans that help increase ventilation at 36 locations on the Tube network.
Bus passengers are also being helped to beat the heat. All new double deck buses are now fitted with air cooling systems and all double deck buses in the capital’s fleet have been fitted with extra opening windows. There are now 2,041 double deck buses with air cooling or forced air ventilation systems. In addition, all new buses must have heat reflective white painted roof panels, panel insulation and tinted glass.
OFT: The OFT is warning consumers not to be taken in by businesses claiming to help them become debt free by 'buying' or 'selling on' their debts. In fact the law does not allow the sale of debt without the lender's permission and so businesses that suggest otherwise are making clearly misleading claims.
Consumers need to be aware that if they 'sell' their debts to one of these businesses, either directly or through a broker, they will still be liable for their original repayment obligations as well as losing the money they paid for this false service. Consumers will also still be subject to any debt collection activity and negative credit scoring associated with the original debt.
DSA: The Driving Standards Agency and The Caravan Club have joined forces to advise British motorists returning to caravanning to brush up on their driving & towing skills before taking to the roads this summer. The Caravan Club offers both caravan and motorhome training courses for drivers who want to brush up on their skills before they set off on holiday.
The credit crunch is encouraging holiday makers to return to caravanning as a more cost effective alternative to their usual summer breaks. Figures released by The Caravan Club indicate bookings are up 40% this year.
ScotGov: 18 of Scotland's key organisations & agencies joined forces recently to demonstrate their support for people facing redundancy by signing the PACE Partnership Protocol, which is a statement of commitment to PACE from the Scottish Government & partner organisations.
The Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) was established in March 2000 to ensure that local & national public sector agencies respond to potential & proposed redundancies as quickly & effectively and as consistently as possible.
PCS: A strike ballot involving over 400 PCS members working across 100 heritage sites including Stonehenge, Hadrian's Wall and Dover Castle started last week in a dispute over new pay proposals that divides staff into two classes and could lead to cuts in pay.
The proposals by English Heritage will lead to a two tier workforce and see support staff & workers in visitor operations forced to take drastic cuts in their pay. Under the plans, English Heritage is seeking to introduce two types of pay ranges called standard and premium. Those on the premium pay range in posts deemed ‘hard to recruit and retain’ will receive 10% more than those on the standard pay range in visitor operations.
Branding the plans as divisive & grossly unfair, the union also expressed anger over a move towards regional pay which could drive down the pay of those on the lowest salaries. Starting salaries in English Heritage are as little as £12,700 with the majority of staff affected by the plans working on part year contracts or reduced hours.
MoD: The MoD is launching a study to assess proposals for a new centre of excellence in rehabilitation to ensure that the care of injured service personnel remains state-of-the-art for decades to come. A private benefactor has generously agreed to fund a year-long feasibility study to establish costs & implications for a National Rehabilitation Centre that might be built in the Midlands in approximately 10 years time.
The study will explore the possibility of creating a facility which can be a truly national centre for excellence for both military & civilian rehabilitation, with a defence capability at its heart. Other Government Departments, the NHS and charities will all be consulted in the study process.
The Midlands have been identified as the preferred setting for a new centre, which - like Headley Court - would be located in a suitable setting for physical and psychological rehabilitation. It would bring rehabilitation services closer to other key military medical facilities, such as the new military ward under construction at the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham - due to open in June 2010.
MoD: A ground-breaking new armour system and a fleet of new armoured vehicles that will provide better protection on the frontline in Afghanistan have been unveiled by the Ministry of Defence at the defence equipment event - DVD.
The revolutionary, textile-based TARIAN vehicle armour system will give lightweight protection against RPGs, in place of the current bar armour that is fitted to vehicles such as Mastiff and Ridgback. Around 20 sets of TARIAN have been ordered and are in use on operations in Afghanistan, with half of them fitted to the Heavy Equipment Transporters.
The armour has been developed with Dorset-based AMSAFE in Bridport and will mean the weight saved on armour can be applied elsewhere on the vehicle. DVD also sees the unveiling of the Wolfhound, Husky and Coyote Tactical Support Vehicles (TSV), the first time these newly-purchased trucks have been seen in public.
400+ of these brand new vehicles will be delivered to training units later this year and the new TSV fleet will be used to accompany frontline patrols and carry essential combat supplies such as water & ammunition.
WAG: New ways of diagnosing & treating patients with glaucoma will be piloted in 2 areas in Wales. The ophthalmic diagnostic centre pilot will evaluate the feasibility of diagnosing & monitoring of glaucoma by optometrists working in the community, supported by hospital consultants. Subject to the outcome of the pilot, plans will be developed to roll it out across Wales.
The pilot will begin at the Highlight Park GP surgery, Barry on 1 September 2009 and start at the optometry practice in Llandeilo a few weeks later and run for six months.
MoD: British troops operating in the hot climates of Afghanistan are testing two innovative water filters to give them access to emergency drinking water in the heat of the battle:
* The Pure Hydration Expedition Field Pump System, allows the individual to draw water from a contaminated source, purify it by removing bacteria, waterborne pathogens, sediment & heavy metals and pump it back (decontaminated) into the service issue Camelback.
* The LIFESAVER Bottle is pumped manually to filter dirty water through a membrane. The muddy water is then instantly decontaminated to remove bacteria, viruses, fungi and waterborne pathogens.
Over 4,000 filters are being trialled with members of 19 Mechanised Brigade currently serving in Afghanistan and it is expected they will be completed later this year. The MOD will then decide whether to purchase further kit for wider distribution on operations.
ScotGov: Plans for a project that will see Scotland leading the rest of the world in predicting the eating quality of cuts of meat have been announced. Meat processors in Scotland will be offered technology that for the first time will allow them to accurately measure the different factors, such as tenderness, colour & fat levels, that add up to overall quality.
The project, run by Quality Meat Scotland, the Scottish red meat industry development body, and part-funded by the Scottish Government, will initially focus on beef, but the aim is to extend it to lamb and pork. Scotland's meat plants process around 8,500 prime beef carcases every week producing 2,900 tonnes of meat each week. The turnover of the beef processing industry in Scotland is worth £500m annually.
MoD: A new personal armour system was unveiled at the MoD’s defence equipment show - DVD. Over 10,000 sets of the enhanced Mark 7 helmet and the Osprey Assault body armour have been ordered from companies across the UK, under initial contracts worth around £16m and will be delivered to troops deploying to Afghanistan Autumn 2009.
The new helmet has the same protection as the current MK 6A, but will improve the effectiveness of the soldier. A new harness keeps the helmet more stable on the head when Night Vision equipment is fitted to it and it is better integrated with new weapon sights, making it easier to use weapons in a variety of fighting positions.
The new Osprey Assault body armour has all the stopping power of the current Osprey, but is closer fitting, less bulky and easier to move in.
PCS: The Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN) has launched an innovative new project, Climate Solidarity, funded by Defra's greener living fund aimed at mobilising the UK trade union movement on climate change. The project will see COIN working with 4 trade unions, including PCS, to build a sustainable society in which new low carbon workplaces thrive and provide green jobs for the future.
The project aims to create a wave of action across the trade union network by inspiring community action on transport (travel to work and the efficient use of cars), housing (cutting bills, switching to low carbon suppliers and fitting insulation) and food (ending waste & buying locally).
By working with the trade union movement, COIN and its partners hope to affect the biggest ever mobilisation effort on climate change in the UK, creating the basis for a more just and sustainable society for all – See also Defra item in ‘Charities / Voluntary Organisations / Third Sector’ section for more information.
NA: New files released by The National Archives cover subjects ranging from biological & chemical warfare in WW2 to drinking on trains and the Queen's Silver Jubilee. The latest Cabinet Secretary's notebook has also been released. This is the 17th notebook to be released, covering a period from November 1957 to December 1958. The notebooks contain the handwritten notes made by the Cabinet Secretary – in this case Sir Norman Brook - at Cabinet meetings.
TfL: Art on the on the Underground, London Underground’s art programme, has won global acclaim, beating 11 other countries including France, Germany, Portugal and Argentina to an international award for culture on a public transport system.
The aim of the award is to promote cultural best practice on public transport which helps make the travelling experience more interesting for passengers. Art on the Underground impressed the judges with the outstanding quality of contemporary commissions which surprise & delight the three and a half to four million customers that use the London Tube every day.
MO: Although many parts of England and Wales could see highs of 30°C this week, a key factor will be the night time temperatures. Lows in some areas may not fall below 18°C.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
BIS: Science Minister Lord Drayson has announced a range of actions to increase the industrial use of biological substances, systems & processes to produce materials, chemicals and energy. These are increasingly used to make ingredients that have traditionally been generated using oil and other fossil fuels.
Industrial Biotechnology materials (plants, algae, marine life, fungi, micro-organisms) and processes are found in a number of existing products ranging from new bio-based ingredients in personal care products to bio-based synthetic rubber for tyres to vaccines and pharmaceuticals.
DH: New ways of improving access to NHS dental services and assuring high quality of care have been set out in an independent review, which recognises that (despite some improvements) more needs to be done to improve NHS dentistry for patients. The review recommends new ways of encouraging dentists to take on new patients to provide quality care and outlines steps the NHS can take to help patients register with an NHS dentist.
From autumn 2009, selected dental practices will pilot some of the independent review team’s recommendations. Early findings from pilots are expected in 12 to 18 months time which will inform plans for further roll out nationally. In addition, the NHS will be responsible for providing a local helpline to help people find an NHS dentist and understand what they are entitled to.
ScotGov: The world's eyes are on Scotland as the country moves to become the first to introduce a nationwide minimum price for alcohol. A recent forum brought together around 100 representatives from across the political spectrum, NHS, universities, alcohol producers and retailers, interest groups and government.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "We know that alcohol misuse is damaging Scotland. It's fuelling violence, damaging our health and hurting our economy. The fact that you can buy a bottle of high strength cider for less than a bottle of water shows that it's time for action to be taken” - See also ‘General Reports and Other Publications’ for related article.
BIS: A new task force to ensure our universities become the first choice across the world for on-line distance learning has been announced. Chaired by Lynne Brindley, the Chief Executive of the British Library, it will advise on ‘a wider strategy to build on our past & present successes and ensure we do not lose pace on increased demand in expanding & new markets’.
It will be backed by a new Open Learning Innovation Fund aimed at helping universities build on their existing world class reputations to access & engage future markets that are expected to value around £15bn in the future. Britain is a world leader in distance learning currently attracting more than 100,000 students from around the globe and earning the sector some £200m in fees.
The wider strategy will continue to develop the role of the Open University (OU) as a national resource, so that all universities can benefit from the OU’s specialist expertise, developed through public funding.
DfT: Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis has announced the 4 companies who will begin supplying low carbon and all-electric vans to selected public sector organisations later this year, as part of a £20m Department for Transport scheme to use public sector procurement to help demonstrate the potential of new technologies for decarbonising road transport.
Ashwoods, Allied Vehicles, Smith Electric Vehicles and Modec will initially supply the first 100 - 150 vans for use across the country later this year. The vehicles will be monitored closely to assess their carbon reduction potential in real world conditions. Successful initial trials may lead to financial support for further larger vehicle procurements in a second phase of the programme.
DH: There will be a new drive to ensure GPs spot cervical cancer symptoms earlier in young women and refer patients correctly, Health Minister Ann Keen has announced. A review, carried out by the independent Advisory Committee on Cervical Screening (ACCS) reported concern that young women who present to their GPs with cervical cancer symptoms are not always being given appropriate advice.
ACCS have recommended immediate action in this area including, but have also agreed unanimously for no change in the screening age as evidence showed that earlier screening could do more harm than good causing too many false positives and increase the risk of premature births in some women.
The ACCS will now consider ways to improve the way symptomatic patients are treated, with a particular focus on women under 25 and then make further recommendations to the Department of Health.
ScotGov: National infrastructure projects, including a high speed rail link to London, have been identified in the Scottish Government's newly published National Planning Framework 2 (NPF). Infrastructure Minister Stewart Stevenson said the document ‘outlined a vision for Scotland's development to 2030’. It includes a list of 14 national developments with the potential to support economic recovery and increase sustainable economic growth well into the future.
Inclusion as a national development in the NPF establishes the need for the projects in the national interest, but planning (and other permissions as necessary) will still be required. Any subsequent examination on national developments would focus on matters such as siting, design and the mitigation of environmental impacts rather than re-opening the question of need.
The Planning (Scotland) Act 2006 requires Scottish Ministers to prepare or review the National Planning Framework (NPF) within five years. Planning authorities will now have to take account of the final NPF when preparing development plans and making planning application decisions.
BIS: The Innovation Growth Team for Space has been formed to create a 20 year strategy for British leadership in space and will be chaired by Andy Green (CEO of Logica). It will seek views from the entire space industry, and industries such as entertainment, navigation and climate change that rely on space technology. It will set out the challenges & opportunities that govern future value creation, competitiveness and growth in the space sector.
The Space IGT is expected to announce preliminary findings at the end of 2009 with the full report being published in early 2010.
DECC: With less than 6 months left before crucial climate negotiations take place in the Danish capital Copenhagen, the Government has set out why an international climate change agreement is vital for the world and what a deal must contain.
The UK argues the global deal on climate change must be:
* Ambitious – limit climate change to 2 degrees, by making sure global greenhouse gas emissions peak and start to reduce by 2020, and keep on shrinking to reach at most half of their 1990 levels by 2050
* Effective – keep all countries to their word with strong monitoring, reporting and verification; and let money flow to where it will make most difference by developing carbon markets
*Fair – support the poorest countries to cut their emissions and adapt to climate change
In his speech, the PM urged countries to provide around $100bn per year by 2020 to help developing countries reduce their emissions, tackle deforestation and adapt to the climate change already being experienced. He committed the UK to providing new finance additional to existing Official Development Assistance commitments.
In addition, the government published - ‘The Road to Copenhagen’ - a manifesto for a global climate deal and launched the official UK government website presenting information on the climate change negotiations
ScotGov: Sales of Scottish produce across Great Britain have increased by 21% in 2 years as consumers turn to the ‘Saltire’ as an indication of quality and source for their food & drink. At the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh last week, Rural Affairs and Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead unveiled Recipe for Success the next steps in Scotland's first-ever national food and drink policy.
WAG: New plans to improve the support & care for individuals and their families living with dementia have been announced for consultation (closes on 11 September 2009). Statistics from Alzheimer’s Society show that there are currently more than 37,000 people with dementia in Wales and this is set to rise to almost 50,000 within 20 years. One in three people over 65 are expected to die with a form of dementia.
The plan draws together current policies & strategies and proposes a series of actions for Wales to meet the challenges of planning & delivering better services for people with dementia. Views are being sought from all those personally affected by dementia, those working in the sector and the population at large.
LLUK: Lifelong Learning UK is currently reviewing the National Occupational Standards for Learning and Development. The standards were last updated by ENTO in 2001 and the suite will be reviewed to ensure they are 'fit for purpose' and still reflect the functions for which they were written.
They are now inviting all interested parties to contribute (by 20 July 2009) to Stage One of the Learning and Development National Occupational Standards review, by submitting their views on the current standards.
WAG: Health Minister Edwina Hart and Minister for Rural Affairs Elin Jones recently spoke at an event held as part of the consultation process on a major new plan to improve in healthcare services in rural areas of Wales.
The Rural Health Plan, which is out to consultation until 21 August 2009, delivers on a commitment in the One Wales document and aims to address the challenges faced in ensuring people have appropriate healthcare particularly in sparsely populated communities. The consultation seeks views on the suggested more creative ways in which primary & community services are provided in rural areas.
WAG: Environment Minister Jane Davidson has revealed details on how the Welsh Assembly Government will cut Wales’s carbon emissions to tackle climate change. The consultation (closes on 2 October 2009) sets out the actions the Wales Assembly Government has planned to achieve its climate change objectives, including its target to reduce greenhouse gases by 3% from 2011 in devolved areas.
In total Ministers are committing £300m across all departments to contribute to the target as a result of the proposals set out in the consultation document.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published proposals to build people’s trust & confidence in the retail investment market. The FSA has issued a consultation paper (closes on 30 October 2009) on its Retail Distribution Review (RDR), which sets out detailed proposals to implement the wide-ranging reforms it outlined in November last year.
The changes, which will take effect from the end of 2012, will improve outcomes for savers & investors by enhancing the quality of advice they receive, and prepare both consumers and the industry for the future. The FSA is calling on all investment advisers to consider how they will adapt to these reforms.
WAG: Tackling violence against women and children is central to a new strategic action plan issued for consultation (closes on 21 September 2009). The new draft action plan builds on the All Wales Domestic Abuse strategy published in 2005, but goes much wider than domestic abuse in the home – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
DWP: The Government has launched a booklet for pensioners & those over 60 that pulls together all the help that it available to them in one place. The 40-page booklet - Real Help Now for over 60s - provides information on everything you need to know about claiming Pension Credit, getting help with your fuel bills, or even information on that course on IT you’ve always wanted to take.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published guidance on cetuximab for the treatment of recurrent and/or metastatic (where the cancer has spread) squamous cell cancer of the head & neck. The guidance does not recommend cetuximab in combination with platinum-based chemotherapy as a treatment option for patients with this type of head and neck cancer.
DH: An event was held recently to raise awareness of the Department of Health’s prevention strategy for VTE. The DH is committed to reducing the number of people who develop blood clots by encouraging staff to follow national policy, which states that all adult patients in England receive a VTE risk assessment on admission to hospital.
A new online educational resource (e-learning)to inform clinicians & help them to assess a patient’s risk of VTE and take appropriate preventative measures was also launched. NICE VTE clinical guideline for all hospitalised patients is expected in early 2010.
NAO: New practical guidance published by the National Audit Office will save charities and other voluntary & community organisations time & money by reducing the paperwork they are currently required to collect when providing public sector-commissioned services.
The guidance, published by the NAO along with the Office of the Third Sector (OTS) in the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury, will help government cut paperwork while still enabling it to monitor the £12bn it gives to charities and other voluntary & community organisations each year. OTS has also unveiled principles for the monitoring of funding for the third sector.
Charities that receive public funding have to account to government funders for how they have spent this money and should show the impact they have achieved with it. The cost of producing this information, however, must be proportionate to the risks & benefits involved. The term for achieving this balance and avoiding poor practice is ‘intelligent monitoring’.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published its Annual Report for the year 2008/09. The report details how the FSA performed during the year against its statutory objectives and how it has delivered outcomes for both firms & consumers under the three headings, which cover all the FSA's work:
* promotion of efficient, orderly & fair markets
* helping retail consumers achieve a fair deal
* improving its business capability & effectiveness
SGC/SAP: The Sentencing Guidelines Council and the Sentencing Advisory Panel, the two independent bodies responsible for promoting clear, effective & consistent sentencing, have published their fifth joint annual report.
Monitor: Results published by Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts, indicate that foundation trusts are continuing (in most cases) to meet national standards & targets in key areas such as combating healthcare associated infections.
The report reviews data on key service performance issues and includes the end of year financial position for the 115 NHS foundation trusts authorised at 31 March 2009.
BIS: The 2009 Value Added Scoreboard uses ‘Value Added’ by companies to measure the amount of wealth they create. In particular it reflects the ability of companies to provide their customers with what they want and are prepared to pay for. Value added (VA) is defined as the difference between sales and the cost of bought-in materials, components and services.
This year’s scoreboard (using data from 2007/08) shows that UK companies are amongst the top 3 performing countries across Europe. Of all wealth created in Europe 58% of was produced by UK, German and French companies.
General Reports and Other Publications
ScotGov: The recently published Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey on smoking, drinking and drug use by 13 & 15 year olds underlines the need for the tough action the Scottish government is taking in these areas. The figures show a decline in smoking by girls and a decline in the number of young people who had drunk alcohol in the last week. However, it also shows that too many young people continue to smoke, drink and take drugs– See also ‘Policy Statements and Initiatives’ for related article on alcohol pricing.
CRC: People in rural England are at risk of constantly playing digital ‘catch up’ unless there is a firm commitment to improving communications access warns a new report. ‘Mind the Gap − Digital England: a rural perspective’ contains a series of recommendations to Government from the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) to ensure an effective & sustainable communications future for rural England.
The report includes an independent analysis of rural connectivity issues which is the first time this has been done for Next Generation Access on a consistent national basis. It is also part of the organisation’s contribution to the Digital Britain report and identifies 4 key areas that it believes must be tackled as a priority:
* education & lifelong learning
* business development
* social & community cohesion
* equitable access to services
MoD: The MoD has issued an initial response to the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) report into the Type 45 Destroyer programme. One of the report’s criticisms is that that the Sea Viper missile system will not have been fired from a Type 45 Destroyer prior to the ship entering service and, to quote the PAC press release, ‘Persistent over-optimism and underestimation of the technical challenge, combined with inappropriate commercial arrangements, led to burgeoning costs and serious delays’.
The PAC report follows an audit undertaken by the National Audit Office (NAO) into the Type 45 Destroyer programme. The NAO published its own report in Mar 09.
The prime role of the Type 45 Destroyer will be Air Defence, but it will also be able to act as a base platform for a deployable Headquarters, from which to Command operations. The Type 45 will be able to embark up to 60 troops (over & above its own complement) and their equipment, and support them with a modern medical facility that can deliver surgical capability.
Type 45 also has a large flight deck that can accommodate Helicopters up to and including the size of a Chinook. The ship can also take up to 700 people if necessary to support a civilian evacuation from war zones or natural disasters.
ESRC: A drop in the value of some older people’s savings & investments during the current economic crisis will worsen the financial difficulties already felt by many when their partner dies. New research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council into the financial implications of bereavement highlights the potentially devastating economic consequences of a partner’s death.
One in five people fall below the official poverty line following the death of their partner.
People, whose partners had been in paid work, reported the largest income falls, mainly affecting those under pension age.
Women with or without children were more at risk of financial decline than men and 40% of women pensioners were in poverty immediately after bereavement. While some of these experiences of poverty were short-lived, bereaved women were more likely to experience poverty lasting up to three years after the death.
Researchers conclude that some financial difficulties following death of a partner can be prevented; others can be avoided. Policymaking must address the immediate circumstances of people experiencing bereavement.
ESRC: The effect of anxiety on academic performance is not always obvious but new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council suggests that there may be hidden costs. The research found that anxious individuals find it harder to avoid distractions and take more time to turn their attention from one task to the next than their less anxious peers.
In addition, the study showed that anxious individuals often perform at a comparable level to non-anxious ones but only do so at a greater cost in terms of effort or perhaps long term stress.
Ofsted: The school’s philosophy, a supportive & stable school environment, and strong relationships between the school & parents are important factors in preventing very young children from being excluded from school, according to a report published by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.
Very few schools exclude children aged under 7, but some do. The report - The exclusion from school of children aged four to seven - reveals that teaching young children how to behave well and how to get on with each other, coupled with effective management of minor disruptive behaviour were key to reducing or avoiding the use of such exclusions.
DECC: An extra 25GW of offshore wind energy could be accommodated around the UK’s shores, in addition to the 8GW already built or planned, Energy Minister Lord Hunt has claimed. The findings, a result of the Government’s Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) will enable the Crown Estate to proceed with the third round of leasing in UK’s waters for offshore wind farms.
The new licensing regime for the cables to connect offshore wind farms to the mainland started last week. The competitive tender process, run by Ofgem, has the potential to save generators £1bn by getting the best deal.
In addition, the Government has published - A Prevailing Wind: Advancing UK Offshore Wind Deployment - which sets out work that will enable the necessary expansion of the industry.
The UK intends to join the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shortly and aims to sign the official agreement as soon as possible.
LLUK: Universities Scotland have published a paper that outlines what universities are doing to help alleviate the impact of the recession. The publication shows how, where possible, universities are making changes in the short term to meet the needs of businesses, learners, our graduates and wider society.
The publication identifies six main areas in which universities are making a contribution to try and help industry counteract the negative impact of the economic slowdown.
Ofsted: Teachers are generally positive about curriculum changes which have allowed them to be more creative in their teaching, according to a new report - Planning for change: The impact of the new Key Stage 3 curriculum - published by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.
The report found that, of all the changes, teachers were most enthusiastic about, how less prescription had enabled them to introduce more varied & engaging approaches to teaching & learning.
The changes (which were introduced into the Key Stage 3 curriculum in September 2008)were designed to provide greater flexibility for schools to develop the curriculum in ways that meet the needs of all learners more closely.
The key recommendations from the report are for the QCA to provide more support to schools to help them assess students’ progress in developing personal, learning & thinking skills, the DCSF to provide support & guidance for schools to help them to devise coherent plans across the whole curriculum and for schools to ensure that all subjects meet the statutory requirements in planning to implement the programmes of study at Key Stage 3.
Legislation / Legal
ScotGov: Climate Change Minister Stewart Stevenson has lodged an amendment to the Climate Change Bill that will set the interim target for Greenhouse Gas emissions at 42%. In its December 2008 report - Building a Low Carbon Economy: the UK's Contribution to Tackling Climate Change - the UK Committee on Climate Change advised that the appropriate targets for reducing greenhouse emissions for the UK should be a 34% reduction by 2020 relative to 1990 levels and 42% once a global deal to reduce emissions is achieved.
The Committee also identified the indicative potential Scotland holds to contribute to these UK targets. The Committee's independent advice, combined with additional analysis by the Scottish Government, formed the basis for the Government's Climate Change Delivery Plan. This Plan sets out what is needed if Scotland is to achieve its ambitious emission reduction targets.
Wales Office: All Welsh MPs will be given the opportunity to debate the proposed Welsh Language Order from the Welsh Assembly Government at a full meeting of the Welsh Grand Committee, Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain has announced.
A Welsh Grand Debate on the Welsh Affairs Committee report on the Welsh Language Order, expected for publication in the next fortnight, will be held on Wednesday, 8 July 2009, to allow MPs to fully debate the content & scope of the Order and its proposed impact on Wales, particularly Welsh business and industry.
DCMS: The Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 26 January and had its 3rd Reading and Report Stage on 26 June 2009. This is a Private Member’s Bill that the Government is supporting.
It will give the governing bodies of the national institutions named in the Bill a power to transfer an object from their collection and return it to the claimant, provided that the Spoliation Advisory Panel recommends return and Ministers agree, thus putting them on the same footing as other museums which can make such returns.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government's legislation to tackle climate change has been passed by MSPs in the Parliament. The Bill sets a target of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050, including emissions from international aviation and shipping. It also sets an interim target for a 42% cut in emissions by 2020. More than 21,000 responses were received to the Scottish Government's consultation on a draft Climate Change Bill.
HO: The £4m Community Cashback scheme will be funded by money & assets seized from wealthy criminal kingpins. The public will be able to choose which worthwhile community projects are funded by feeding in their views to a new dedicated website, neighbourhood policing meetings or through Citizens Panels.
Successful bids will have to show how the local community has been involved in selecting the project, demonstrate good value for money and be related in some way to tackling antisocial or criminal behaviour locally. Local Criminal Justice Boards will able to submit bids up to a total value of £95,000
Until now money recovered from criminals has been split between frontline services, such as the police and Government departments involved with the criminal justice system. This is the first time a portion of that money is being paid back into communities. The Community Cashback Fund is a pilot scheme for 09/10 - a decision will be made later in the financial year on how best to take this commitment forward.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
Defra: Eight projects from around England will share in £6m in funding through the Government’s Greener Living Fund, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has announced. The successful projects went through a 2-stage application process and were selected from 112 original applications.
Launched at the same time as Defra’s Third Sector Strategy in November 2008, the Greener Living Fund aims to help individuals & communities in England to live more sustainably, reducing their carbon footprint and reducing pressure on natural resources.
The fund has been made available to projects that have a clear understanding of who they are trying to influence and their potential to change behaviour and will give them two year funding. Most of the projects selected look at a range of behaviours that are good for the environment, like home energy, waste and water, but some of the chosen projects are more specialised and will focus on seasonal food and sustainable fishing.
OS: Youngsters at Tanners Brook Infant School can share their playtimes with storybook characters in a revamped play area and new reading garden thanks to staff from Ordnance Survey, Bond Pearce and John Lewis. Volunteers worked together to develop a currently underutilised part of the playground and transform it into a Reading Garden providing the teaching staff & pupils with an excellent outdoor resource.
Give & Gain Day is Business in the Community’s national day of action for employee volunteers, who give their time & skills to community projects in over 40 cities & towns throughout the UK.
Business and Other Briefings
HMRC: The latest edition of Agent Update – HMRC’s electronic update for tax agents - is now available. The Update provides tailored information specifically for agents so they can;
* stay informed across a wide range of taxes and services
* be totally up to date so they can give their clients the latest advice
The latest edition of Agent Update looks at how agents can file self assessment returns online for earlier tax years and the new PAYE upgrade.
HMT: Following a competitive process, HM Treasury has appointed Peter Clokey as independent valuer for the Bradford & Bingley plc Compensation Scheme. All shares in Bradford & Bingley were transferred into temporary public ownership at 8am on 29 September 2008 and the Treasury is required to set up a scheme for determining the amount of any compensation payable to persons who held any B&B shares immediately before that transfer.
The independent valuer, Mr Clokey, will determine what compensation, if any, is due to former shareholders and others whose interests may have been affected by the transfer. In due course, Mr Clokey will inform former shareholders & others, such as the holders of Bradford & Bingley’s sub-ordinated debt, of the basis on which he is going to operate and how he intends to proceed.
Computershare is maintaining a list of people who held shares immediately prior to the transfer into temporary public ownership. Former shareholders need take no further action, other than keeping their contact details up-to-date with them.
UKT&I: UK Trade & Investment – the Government body that helps British companies seeking to develop their international business – has identified opportunities where UK firms and the country’s leading trading partners can work together to rekindle global trade.
It is holding a free event on Tuesday 7 July 2009 at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, 10am-4pm, to show companies in the region how they can benefit from government spending in France, Germany and Spain. The total value of new projects in these markets for UK businesses is estimated at 12.6 billion euros, mainly in rail, construction, healthcare, education, energy and ICT.
Delegates will be able to find out about projects in their sectors and how to take advantage of this potentially lucrative new business. To book your place at this event, please contact Joseph Gerenscer on 0121 380 3624; or email email@example.com as soon as possible.
Editorial Content Statement
Any views expressed are therefore entirely those of the WGPlus editorial team and
independent of any sponsor, government organisation or political party.
For the official view of a source
organisation, readers should click
on the ‘press release’ that is the first link attached to each
Speed of download - Readers are reminded that some documents linked to can be large (VL)
or even very, very large (V VL) and may take some time to download, even with a
broadband link. Readers are encouraged to be patient.
While every care is taken to ensure that all links
’work’ in the newsletter (including checking just before
publication), WGPlus cannot guarantee that websites will not make changes that
will nullify individual links, especially over a period of
WGPlus is not responsible for the content of