In the News
Cabinet Office: Feeling Marginalised and Undervalued - A consultation (closes on 30 September 2009) - Equality Bill: Making it work; ending age discrimination in services and public functions - sets out how the legislation will enable things that are beneficial to continue such as age-based holidays and discounts for pensioners. Banning age discrimination is particularly important as the population ages: by 2050, over half of the UK’s population will be over 50 years old.
Dame Joan Bakewell, Voice of Older People, said: “I receive a steady stream of letters from older people, providing clear evidence that they feel marginalised and undervalued”. The ban could mean that an older person is offered lifestyle advice after suffering a heart attack, which may currently only be offered to younger people, or that older people get better access to travel & car insurance.
The Government will bring the new law into force in phases, starting with those sectors which are most ready to comply. Hopefully it will be in force (in all sectors, with the exception of health & social care) in 2012. See also 'Legislation / Legal' for related item.
WAG: Shopping with to help others - Help for families with sick & disabled children in Wales is now available at the click of a mouse, Welsh Assembly Government Deputy Minister for Social Services, Gwenda Thomas, claimed when she officially launched a new online scheme from the Family Fund Trust called Family Fund Extra, which gives disabled children’s families discounts at leading retailers.
More than a hundred companies are signed up to the scheme including Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Comet, and Haven Holidays. General shoppers can also buy through the website and raise money for the Family Fund Trust at the same time. The Trust receives commission on every purchase which can then be re-distributed as grants to help families. It provides financial support & information to families for a range of things including holidays, transport, household equipment and driving lessons.
Cabinet Office: What exactly will ‘switch spending priorities’ mean to the budgets it is switched from? - Public service entitlements will be guaranteed to parents, patients & communities and the government claims it will also introduce ‘new measures to drive economic growth and create jobs’. In a new policy document - Building Britain’s Future - it promised to switch spending priorities and target investment worth £1.5bn over the next 2 years to deliver 20,000 affordable homes, creating 45,000 jobs in the construction & related sectors.
They now plan to legislate in the 2009/10 session for further reform of the House of Lords, including completing the process of removing the hereditary principle, bringing forward a draft bill for a smaller & democratically constituted second chamber. Ministers will be holding town hall meetings to discuss the plan.
PCS: Anyone remember the Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs) debacle? - The PCS union has called for a National Audit Office (NAO) inquiry and a halt to the outsourcing of the Flexible New Deal following reports on Channel 4 News of alleged fraud involving private companies contracted by the government to help people back to work. PCS expressed deep concern over the findings of the news report which highlighted allegations of how profits are being put before people and how the private sector is failing some of the most vulnerable in society.
The report highlighted allegations of fraud by private companies including Working Links, involving the fabrication of signatures & paperwork and A4e, which involved the placement of people into unsustainable jobs.
Commenting, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: "The fraud uncovered is scandalous and is a stark example of what happens when profits rather than people are put at the heart of the welfare state..... Not only is the taxpayer being fleeced, but in some instances people’s lives are being toyed with”.
Ofsted: Funding transition care could reduce need for prison places - Flexible individual support, high aspirations and a commitment from social care staff are successfully helping young people leaving care make the transition into adulthood & independence, according to an Ofsted report - Support for care leavers - which highlights that leaving care is not a single event but a period of transition for each young person.
It shows that good authorities recognise that, like other young people, care leavers will make mistakes and change their minds about their future. This acknowledgement ensures continual support & guidance from social care staff, helping young people progress and become successful young adults.
However, preparations for young people leaving care from secure settings were less successful. The tensions between the task of managing behaviour & risk and helping care leavers gain independence skills had an impact on the number of opportunities for preparatory work made available to individual care leavers. Most young people in secure settings are not confident about leaving care.
The report recommends areas for improvements, which include the DCSF working in partnership with the Benefits Agency to review issues within the benefits system that have an adverse impact on foster carers and care leavers moving into independence. Local authorities should also increase housing options, including the provision of more suitable emergency accommodation for care leavers.
Forthcoming Events: Rise up from your departmental silos & work together to make 2+2=5 – The 2009 Gartner Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit (16-17 September 2009) will help senior managers and IT leaders to ‘Connect for Success’, by exploring how portals, content and collaboration tools & technologies are being used to connect people, markets, processes and information flows across organisations, geographies and communities.
Join leading-edge Gartner analysts, keynote presenters, industry panelists and your fellow practitioners to discuss the most effective ways to bring your enterprise together across all fronts - people, partners and information - and use workplace technology to deliver value services. Your summit takeaways will include strategies, tools, insights and peer experiences to inform sound decisions.
Follow the link and Register Now using priority code WGOV-PCC to obtain an Early Bird Discount with WiredGov - Save €500 on the standard delegate rate.
Industry News: Enterprise Search Technology: Balancing the Benefits, ROI and Hidden Costs - No public body can succeed if it fails to gain the maximum return on its physical assets and the same is true of information assets.
In a turbulent economy, with public sector budgets facing at best a ‘freeze’ - but possibly 20% cuts - investment in Search, Information Access and Discovery needs to deliver ‘from day one’ returns in terms of improved services, as well as meeting with the increased demands of FOI & DP compliance.
Amongst other considerations, the business case for your organisation’s search strategy needs to balance:
* the benefits a properly implemented system can generate
* with the challenges / costs of choosing, implementing and ensuring maximum ROI on your chosen solution
A recent briefing paper from ISYS entitled ‘Making the Business Case for Search in a turbulent economy’ offers invaluable ‘Before you Buy’ advice, highlights the value of effective enterprise search and how public sector organisations can get the best return on their information access investment.
Click HERE to receive your FREE copy of the briefing paper
For information on other forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
For more Industry News please click HERE
STFC: New research led by a UK scientist indicates that Mars had significantly warmer weather in its recent past than previously thought. The research, funded by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), is good news in our quest for life on Mars as, the shorter the time period since the last warm weather on the planet, the better the chance that any organisms that may have lived in warmer times are still alive under the planet’s surface.
Dr Matthew Balme, from The Open University, made the new discovery by studying detailed images of equatorial landforms that formed by melting of ice-rich soils. His work indicates that the Martian surface experienced ‘freeze thaw’ cycles as recently as 2m years ago and that Mars has not been locked in permafrost conditions for billions of years, as had been previously thought.
The pictures show polygonally patterned surfaces, branched channels, blocky debris and mound/cone structures. All of these features are similar to landforms on Earth typical of areas where permafrost terrain is melting.
Dr Matthew Balme, from the Earth and Environmental Sciences department at The Open University, holds a prestigious STFC Aurora Fellowship to study the extent to which recent geological activity on Mars has been influenced by changes in its climate.
LLUK: Lifelong Learning UK are pleased to announce their support for the Keep Britain Working campaign, which promotes innovative ways to preserve and create jobs. Recent research undertaken by the campaign found that 50% of UK bosses have become worse at motivating their staff since the recession began. The Keep Britain Working campaign focuses on how individuals can play their part in keeping colleagues motivated and organisations working.
OS: Over 30 developers were able to get hands on experience with OS OpenSpace and were given the opportunity to experiment with some of the world’s best mapping data, at an open evening held by Ordnance Survey recently. Attendees (including web developers, independent developers, new business start-ups, consultancies & developers from the police) were also given the opportunity to attend a selection of workshops.
The sessions included topics for all user abilities, starting at how to create your first web map and adding your own content, through to how developers can use the new boundary data with other datasets to create mash-ups. The developer workshops follow the release of the new enhanced version of OS OpenSpace.
The new application programming interface (API) gives users access to a range of Ordnance Survey mapping for FREE. Through OS OpenSpace, developers can use a range of mapping scales covering the whole of Great Britain down to street level, access boundary data and use a postcode look-up feature.
NA: The National Archives proposes a number of changes to its operations & public services. The proposals include closure of the Kew reading room to the public on Mondays, and a new daily charge for car parking on the Kew site. The changes reflect the growth in demand from their online customers, who account for over 90% of their usage and it is anticipated that they will be implemented from early September 2009.
Users are invited to attend an open information meeting at Kew (10:00 on Saturday 11 July, when Jeff James, Director of Operations and Services, will take them through proposed changes.
ACE: Arts Council England has responded to the publication of Marc Sidwell's report for the New Culture Forum. It believes that the New Culture Forum has missed important opportunities – for a proper analysis of arts funding & of the challenges that lie ahead and a proper debate about how the Arts Council can continue to change & improve its relationships with artists.
The response includes:
* The report is hampered and its analysis called into question by some basic errors and highly misleading factual inaccuracies.
* The New Culture Forum has spectacularly missed the point. It claims to want to reduce bureaucratic burdens on artists and then proposes massively increasing them.
* Today’s Arts Council will never allow artistic ambition to be smothered by a smallness of vision. We are committed to becoming a new kind of public sector organisation that ignites ambition and allows extraordinary things to happen, with a minimum amount of bureaucracy.
Ofgem: Energy regulator Ofgem has urged suppliers to up their game in complaint handling, as consumer research found less than 1 in 4 customers were satisfied with the way gripes were dealt with. While an independent audit commissioned by Ofgem found that suppliers had made the necessary systems investments and updated their processes in preparation for new complaint handling standards introduced last year, customers remained dissatisfied.
Consumers were particularly unhappy with the number of times they had to contact the supplier, suppliers who promised to call back but didn’t, the attitude of some staff and the fact that suppliers often viewed the problem as resolved when in the customer’s eyes it was not.
While there were low levels of satisfaction across all suppliers some performed better than others. Out of the big 6, SSE and E.ON rated joint highest for satisfaction (29%) and npower was rated lowest (16%).
STFC: The computing grid that will provide the massive amounts of computer power needed to support the experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – the world’s most powerful particle accelerator - has passed a new series of tests that mimicked the immense load it will be under when the LHC restarts later this year.
After months of preparation and 2 intensive weeks of continual operation, the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (wLCG) has demonstrated that it is ready to support the massive growth in LHC users once data taking commences.
wLCG combines the IT power of more than 140 computer centres, the result of collaboration between 33 countries. The UK contributes 21 of these sites and almost 15,000 computers. The UK facilities are all managed by GridPP, a project funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).
NA: From searching for records of transportation to Australia to chronicling the history of the Irish revolution, free talks at The National Archives in July offer a wealth of help & information to people researching their family history. Other highlights include:
* The life of the Victorian poor
* The summer of '69
* The creation & service records of the Metropolitan Police
* Railway disasters
MoD: The Queen is to honour families of fallen heroes. The Elizabeth Cross will be granted to the next of kin of Armed Forces personnel killed on operations or as a result of terrorism in a mark of national recognition for their loss.
This is the first time the name of a reigning Monarch has been given to a new award since the George Cross was instituted in 1940 by King George VI for brave acts by both civilians and the military. Prior to this, the Victoria Cross was introduced by Queen Victoria in 1856 for acts of gallantry by the Armed Forces.
The next of kin will receive the Elizabeth Cross – a sterling silver emblem, in the shape of a cross over a wreath - plus a Memorial Scroll signed by The Queen which will bear the name of the person who died. The Queen’s recognition will be available to the families of those who died in conflicts dating back to 1948, including the Korean War, the Falklands conflict and operations in Northern Ireland.
The Elizabeth Cross & Memorial Scroll have been inspired by precedents from the WW1 & WW2. A scroll & memorial plaque were presented to the families of those killed in WW1, while a scroll was given to the families of those who died in WW2 and in the Korean War in the early 1950s.
HO: Visitors will now be fingerprinted & checked against watch-lists before being issued with a visa to travel. The new rules have been introduced by the Home Office to counter passport & identity fraud and follow Britain’s first global review of who needs a visa to come to the UK for a short-term visit.
Visa regimes for visitors have now been imposed on five new countries – Bolivia, Venezuela, South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. This follows a global assessment by the Government of all non-European countries to determine the level of risk their citizens potentially pose to the UK in terms of illegal immigration, crime and security.
Nationals from more than 100 countries now require a visa and the UK Border Agency has already collected more than 4m fingerprints from people applying for visas worldwide.
MoD: The advanced Hawk T Mk2 will train next generation of fast jet pilots from 2011. The new aircraft builds on the success of its long-serving predecessor, but benefits from significant enhancement to bridge any gap with the latest front line jets entering service, such as Typhoon.
Featuring a ‘glass’ cockpit and the latest advances in radar, weapons & defensive aids simulation, the Hawk T Mk2 is aimed at providing a seamless transition from flying training to operational squadron.
In addition to the realistic in-flight training environment, the new Hawk benefits from simpler design & construction, leading to lower acquisition & support costs. Infrastructure to support the new training regime is currently under construction at RAF Valley by the Ascent Flight Services consortium, which was awarded the £600m contract to deliver all military pilot training on an incremental basis last summer.
MCA: The European Commission-funded Project Horizon brings together 11 academic institutions & organisations with a broad range of interests from the shipping industry in a 30-month research programme to examine the way in which fatigue affects the cognitive performance of ships’ watchkeepers.
The €3.78m project will make extensive use of bridge, engine and liquid cargo handling simulators in Sweden and the UK to produce real-time, realistic scenarios in which the impact of fatigue on decision-making and performance can be assessed.
Launched in response to concern over aspects that lead to seafarer fatigue, the project seeks to improve safety at sea by developing a fatigue management toolkit for the industry, as well as recommendations for improving work patterns at sea.
STFC: A group of 15-16 year old students have been reporting directly to the UK government on their proposals for how nanotechnology could be used to help meet the future needs of the healthcare sector.
During a 2-week placement period at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC’s) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory the A-level and GCSE students have been working on the ‘Nanotechnology in Healthcare’ project which involves researching the key areas in the health sector that need addressing, the technologies currently available to do this and how the UK can play a role.
It’s being sponsored by STFC’s Futures Programme, which was set up in response to the government’s Grand Challenges, which are a set of key priorities set up to respond to the future demands of society.
NE: A man has been ordered to restore an area of the Cam Washes Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) near Wicken after constructing a track and a car parking area through an important wildlife habitat.
The SSSI, consisting of a series of low-lying washland pastures, is nationally important for its numbers & diversity of breeding wildfowl and wading birds including snipe, redshank and teal. The Cam Washes are the third largest area of washland remaining in Cambridgeshire.
STFC: A new laser technique that could lead to bone disorders being diagnosed earlier is to be tested in a hospital for the first time. The study, which it’s hoped will pave the way for future clinical trials, will apply a revolutionary approach known as SORS (Spatially Offset Raman Spectroscopy), to examine specific substances in non see-through surfaces deeper than has previously been possible, without damaging the surface.
The research team hope ultimately that the method can be used both to detect & screen for early signs of diseases such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. The concept has been evaluated on bone samples with differing chemical composition, but never before in a hospital on patients - as will happen in the next few years.
If these trials are successful it may still take several years for the method to become fully realised for diagnostic use in the mainstream health service. The SORS technique has also been developed for pharmaceutical and security applications. These applications are in more advanced stages and are presently taken forward through STFC’s spin-out company Cobalt Light Systems Ltd.
NA: A rare print of America's Declaration of Independence has been found among files at The National Archives at Kew. Printed on 4 July 1776, the Dunlap print is one of only 26 known copies in the world and is named after John Dunlap, the printer whose name is at the bottom of each copy.
The last discovered Dunlap Declaration, found at a flea market in 1989, sold at auction in 2000 for $8.14m. The newly discovered print was found, hidden among correspondence from American colonists intercepted by the British in the 18th century, by an American carrying out research at The National Archives.
A copy of this rare find can be downloaded free of charge from our DocumentsOnline service, or you can choose a colour image of all three copies of the Declaration held by The National Archives, the only copies held outside the United States, for 75 pence.
CWGC: On Monday 6 July 2009, at 11am at Comely Bank Cemetery in Edinburgh, former machine gunner Alf Tubb unveiled a headstone in memory of Reginald Earnshaw, his friend & former shipmate who was one of the youngest service casualties of the WW2. Records show Reginald Earnshaw was aged ‘about 15’ when he died aboard the SS North Devon, but it’s believed he may have lied about his age in order to serve his country, perhaps being as young as just 14.
For reasons unknown, the location of Reginald Earnshaw’s grave was never reported to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, though his name is listed on the Tower Hill naval memorial in London. On Monday the Commission unveiled a granite Commission headstone - a fitting & lasting memorial for a boy who died fighting for his country.
Alf has spent the past few years piecing together information on his friend Reggie, who was killed after German aircraft attacked their merchant ship on 6 July 1941. Alf said: “I only knew young Reggie for a short time, but we were good friends. It still upsets me to think of a young lad trapped inside that engine room and I couldn’t save him. Monday will be a special day, and I am indebted to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and all those who helped me piece together Reggie’s story.”
Policy Statements and Initiatives
ScotGov: The Scottish Government is to provide up to £3m to support the recruitment of 100 new apprentices within the life sciences sector. First Minister Alex Salmond revealed that life science companies will be able to recruit two apprentices for one - with the full salary costs of the second apprentice being paid by the Scottish Government.
ScotGov: Minister for Community Safety Fergus Ewing has written to the new Home Secretary Alan Johnson reiterating the Scottish Government's opposition to the proposed National Identity Card Scheme. Mr Ewing asked the Home Secretary in reviewing his portfolio to cancel the ID scheme.
He wrote to dispute a letter from Phil Woolas which claimed that the scheme would bring economic benefits to the UK, raising doubts about the figures quoted in the letter. In his letter to the Home Secretary, Mr Ewing said:
"It is worrying that your Department is building arguments on economic benefits that have to assume so much over such a long period of time. Not only that, but having undertaken such an exercise, I am concerned that Mr Woolas chooses to use only the £6bn figure rather than the £2bn (or quoting the range, £2bn to £10bn) and the phrase 'over time' thus avoiding the fact that this is 30 years……..
The UK Government continues to use the same argument: that 70 per cent of the planned expenditure will need to be spent in any event just to implement secure biometric passports. This is a fallacy.
DECC: More help to save energy will be available to householders due to an increase in the Government’s Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) scheme and the introduction of a new Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP), to begin this Autumn, helping householders in low-income areas receive ‘whole house’ energy makeovers.
Together, CERT and CESP will see extra investment by energy companies under the two schemes, taking the total to an estimated £3.5bn in energy efficiency improvements by the end of 2012.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government is to allocate £600,000 during the next two years to support a new post-graduate scheme designed to improve education links between Scotland and China for the economic benefit of both nations.
The move follows an announcement by the Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop (during her April visit to China) that both countries had agreed to create a new university research programme which would aim to:
* Build partnerships between research teams in both countries, based on areas of mutual strength & interest including renewable energy, life sciences, public health, financial services and engineering
* Encourage research teams and PhD students to undertake exchange programmes which will develop students' skills and support an exchange of knowledge for the benefit of the universities, businesses and economies of both countries
WAG: The Welsh Assembly Government has proposed a new measure outlining changes for greater consistency & fairness in local authority charging for non-residential social services across Wales. It will hopefully introduce greater clarity into the charging process and allow for further improvements as part of an incremental approach to tackling present inconsistencies.
The proposed Measure will also place an obligation on authorities to provide free information about charging. Where an authority propose to levy a charge they will be required to provide information, in the form of a statement, on the services that are being charged for, the calculation of the charge and how their charges can be reviewed if they wish.
The measure and its initial package of reforms takes into account the views of the stakeholder task & finish group and the independent research that was undertaken in 2008. It is planned to introduce it from April 2011.
WAG: Deputy Minister for Skills John Griffiths yesterday outlined the progress being made in relation to post-16 education provision across Wales, following the launch of the Welsh Assembly Government’s policy - ‘Transforming Education and Training Provision in Wales’ - last September.
‘Transformation’ aims to modernise post-16 education, achieve greater efficiency, offer more choice & better access for students and provide higher quality education & training. Different areas have taken different approaches responding to local circumstances.
BIS: The government has announced measures for the financial credit sector including:
* a consultation on significant reforms to the regulation of credit & store cards to put consumers
* a ban on unsolicited credit card cheques
* a review by the OFT of the market for high cost credit, such as pay day loans & door step lending
* a new self-help tool-kit and a new Debtor’s Guide from the Insolvency Service
* new powers for the courts to ban persistent rogue traders
* a new national specialist team for internet enforcement to tackle internet scams
* a pilot scheme giving Trading Standards officers powers to help consumers get money back
* appointment of a new Consumer Advocate responsible for co-ordinating work to educate consumers and to help them get their money back when things go wrong
New requirements will be introduced on all lenders to check consumers’ creditworthiness before they borrow; to explain financial products fully including the consequences of failure to repay; and to comply with new OFT guidance to tackle irresponsible lending.
LBRO: The public body for better local regulation – LBRO - could help councils get new powers to secure compensation for consumers, following the publication of the Government’s Consumer White paper. The paper heralds a potentially major shift in how councils can help consumers achieve redress.
A key initiative would see LBRO working with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) on compensation pilots within councils, developing the approach to awarding local authorities the powers to apply alternative sanctions, such as restorative justice.
Councils would be considered for the new powers based on how they demonstrate the better regulation principles, in line with the Excellence Standard currently being developed by LBRO with its ‘World Class Coalition’ partners. The partners include the Food Standards Agency, Health and Safety Executive, Office of Fair Trading, LACORS and professional bodies. The standard is currently being tested through work in 60 local authorities with LACORS, Coventry City Council and Westminster City Council.
ScotGov: People who traditionally find it difficult to enjoy & participate in Scotland's cultural and creative life can do so if activities are better planned & co-ordinated at local level. That's the finding from an evaluation of the Cultural Pathfinder Programme, which supported 13 pilot projects throughout Scotland over two years, exploring practical ways to get people involved in cultural activities.
The projects reached out to groups who had previously faced barriers to participation, such as older people, vulnerable & rural communities, children & young people and minority ethnic communities, ensuring an additional 50,000 people across Scotland were able to explore & enjoy creative opportunities.
Less formal approaches adopted by the projects allowed communities to determine their own cultural interests, shaping what happened in their area. Taking culture out of traditional venues and into local communities meant that activities could be enjoyed in familiar surroundings. Measures such as these were key to sustaining involvement & commitment from local people.
ScotGov: An action plan to give Scotland's fishing fleets breathing space and avoid crew shortages has been agreed with the Home Office. Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead this week held constructive talks with Phil Woolas MP, Minister of State for Borders and Immigration, over the employment of non-European Economic Area migrants across the Scottish inshore fleet. The Scottish Government is separately working on new plans to attract fresh blood into the industry.
The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has now written again to vessel owners who were recently issued with notices to repatriate their Filipino crew by last week, giving them more time while further consideration is given to the matter. The UKBA will continue to take action where there are blatant & deliberate abuses of the law.
The next review of the Scottish and UK Shortage Occupation Lists will take place in September 2009. Inclusion on either list makes it easier to recruit skilled workers from overseas. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is independent and its members are expert labour market economists.
WAG: The first Post Offices to be awarded a share of a new £4.5m fund to help sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses diversify and improve their Post Offices have been announced. The fund, which will run for 3 years, is open to every sub-post office in Wales. Under the scheme, 63 post offices throughout Wales have been awarded grants worth over £1.1m in total.
WAG: Plans to reduce free
single-use plastic carrier bags in Wales were unveiled by Jane Davidson,
Minister for the Environment, Sustainability & Housing when she launched a
consultation (closes on 21 September
2009)asking for views on proposals to introduce a charge on single use carrier
bags at the annual Welsh Litter summit at the Swalec
members of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) had already agreed to
reduce the amount of single-use carrier bags they give out by 50% by spring 2009. The Republic of
Ireland introduced a charge in 2002 and they have seen huge over
90% reduction in the amount of single use plastic bags.
HMT: The Government has published a
consultation (closes on 25 September
2009) document on a code
of practice on tax for banks. The code sets out the
behaviours the Government expects from banks in the management of their tax
affairs and in their relationship with HMRC (including governance, tax planning
and the relationship between banks & HMRC).
being sought on a range of issues, including introducing & complying with
the code, how uncertainties arising in interpreting the code could be dealt
with and what support banks can expect from HMRC in return. The Government
& HMRC will be speaking directly with banks operating in the UK to develop
a shared understanding of the principles and implications of the Code.
The Code of Practice will be introduced in Autumn 2009.
ScotGov: Proposals to widen the use
of electric vehicles have been published as part of a consultation (closes on
2 October 2009) on the use of
low carbon vehicles. The consultation proposes twin targets:
* 100% use of
low carbon vehicles by public sector vehicles by 2020
* 95% of all
new vehicles to be low carbon in 2020
SSRB: A consultation (closes on
31 July 2009) has been
launched on allowances in the House of
Lords by the Review Body on Senior Salaries
(SSRB). The cross-party House Committee in the House of
Lords, which deals with the internal management of the House, agreed in
May this year to seek a comprehensive & independent review of the
Lords’ allowance system.
Minister therefore asked the SSRB ‘to review options for the system
of financial support for Members of the House of Lords … and to make
recommendations’. The Prime Minister has asked SSRB to pay
particular attention to the need for transparency, accountability & value
for money and the desirability of reducing costs to the
taxpayer. The SSRB has been asked to report to the Prime Minister
and the Lord Speaker by the end of
WAG: Rural Affairs Minister Elin
Jones has published proposed measures, for consultation (closes on
22 September 2009), to protect
farmers of traditional & conventional crops from the possible economic disadvantages of accidental
contamination from GM crops.
Views are being
sought on proposals including the imposition of strict liability on GM crop
growers, a statutory redress mechanism, GM-free zones and a prohibition on GM
crop cultivation in National Parks & Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
In addition to the implicit need for consultation with
neighbours, in order to ensure compliance with separation distances,
it is also proposed that there will be a statutory requirement to inform all neighbours &
measures include options for imposing strict liability on GM crop growers and
introducing a voluntary industry funded compensation scheme.
Consideration is also given to an option for a statutory redress mechanism.
DCMS: A consultation has been
published (closes on 22 September
2009) on proposals for a contained, contestable element of the
television licence fee to fund sustainable, independent & impartial news,
in the Nations, locally and in the regions. The Digital Britain White
Paper made clear a particular case for the need for top-up funding to prevent a decline in the provision of
impartial news in the Nations, locally and in the
legislative programme set out plans for a Digital Economy Bill in the next Parliamentary session.
SGC: The Sentencing Guidelines
Council published a draft guideline
on the principles which apply when courts sentence young
offenders (consultation closes on 28 August 2009). Far more than with adults, the
approach to sentencing young offenders will be
individualistic, the Council says in the draft guideline. This
recognises that young people under 18 can be significantly different in
maturity and that the individual circumstances of each offender will need to be
guideline is set in the context of new laws for sentencing young people that
are expected to come into force later in 2009.
It deals with the approach to the new youth rehabilitation
order, including the order with intense supervision & surveillance
which is an alternative to an immediate custodial sentence. The guideline
also covers the length of custodial
sentences, where it is particularly important to consider
maturity as well as age, in addition to the circumstances of the offence.
single, easily identifiable, body for regulating the civil nuclear energy sector has been
proposed for consultation (closes on 22
September 2009) by the Government. The new body would
combine responsibility for overseeing safety, security and transport of civil
nuclear sites and material. Legislation is required to create the new
body as a legal entity to give it statutory functions & powers, and will
take the form of a Legislative Reform Order.
has already transferred the operations of the Office for Civil Nuclear
Security and the UK Safeguards Office to the Health and
Safety Executive’s Nuclear Directorate in 2007, and by naming
the new body in legislation as responsible for these functions, the proposals
would be used to consolidate the earlier reform.
BIS: The Government has begun a
consultation (closes on 2 October
2009) on how employment
tribunals can pass on details about whistleblowing cases to appropriate
regulators. The measure is designed to make it easier for
regulators to assess whistleblowing claims and decide whether further action
needs to be taken.
consultation aims to create a clear mechanism for keeping regulators informed,
whilst ensuring that unsubstantiated allegations against companies are not made
ScotGov: Should information held by
public authorities be made available for public viewing earlier than is
currently the case? That is the question being asked by Minister for
Parliamentary Business Bruce Crawford as the Scottish Government invites views
on proposals to reduce the lifespan of
certain exemptions in the Freedom of Information Scotland Act (FOISA) from
30 years to 15 years.
consultation (closes on 30 September
2009) follows the recent decision by Scottish Ministers to open
Scottish Government files from the period 1979 to 1994, 15 years earlier than
has previously been the case.
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. The standards are
applicable to a large workforce and Lifelong Learning UK is offering the
opportunity to those people and organisations who are involved in the delivery
of learning to input into this review.
They are now
inviting all interested parties to contribute to Stage One of the
Learning and Development National Occupational Standards review,
by submitting your views on the current standards until Monday 20 July 2009.
Cabinet Office: The consultation
(closes on 30 September 2009)
- Equality Bill: Making it work – ending age discrimination in
services and public functions - sets out how the legislation will enable
things that are beneficial to continue such as age-based holidays and discounts
for pensioners. Banning age discrimination is particularly important as
the population ages: by 2050, over half of the UK’s population will be over 50 years old – See also Cabinet Office item in ‘In the
News’ section for more details.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
CRC: 'Rural Money Matters: A support guide to rural financial inclusion' has been launched by the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC). Around 1m people live in rural areas with high levels of financial exclusion, but the financially excluded are less visible in rural areas compared to in towns & cities and it is more difficult to reach those who need help.
Produced by DWP's 'Now Let's Talk Money programme, with the CRC, the guide will help local authorities and their strategic partners understand & tackle financial exclusion in rural areas.
To ensure Rural Money Matters brings real benefit to people living in rural communities the DWP is funding a new post in the Rural Financial Inclusion Champion Team to encourage the use of Rural Money Matters and directly support the growth of suitable financial services in underserved rural communities.
MO: There’s so much information out there about climate change that it is hard to know what to believe. It can get a bit confusing but it doesn’t have to be like that. The Met Office is giving a clear guide to the facts about climate change and what can be expected in the future at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this week (7 - 12 July 2009). They will also dispel doubts by talking about the fiction.
Met Office climate scientists will be on hand in the ‘Garden Energy’ interactive feature garden to discuss the facts & fiction of climate change and advise on what our changing climate will mean to gardens and our lives. All you need to know about climate change is outlined in the essential guide to climate change that will be available at the show.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has announced that it will convene a guidance development group to formally review the recommendations relating to the diagnosis & removal of ‘low risk’ basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) in primary care in its guidance Improving Outcomes in Cancer for people with skin tumours including melanoma (2003).
Buckingham Palace: The Royal Public Finances annual report, which includes details of public expenditure on property & travel, states that Head of State expenditure for 2008-09 at £41.5m (including VAT of £2.1m) has increased by 1.5% in real terms. Over the past eight years it has decreased in real terms by 1.3%.
Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse, said: “The money provided by the taxpayer to enable The Queen to fulfil her role as Head of State, is equivalent to 69 pence per person in the country. This is the annual cost, not the daily, weekly or monthly cost and is lower in real terms than it was in 2001……………. Expenditure on Royal Travel has increased due principally to lower availability of aircraft from the RAF and the consequential increase in the use of commercial charter aircraft, often at short notice.
Head of State Expenditure is met from public funds in exchange for the surrender (by The Queen to the Government) of the revenue from the Crown Estate and other hereditary revenues. The Treasury’s gross receipts in respect of the Crown Estate were £211m in 2007-08.
FRAB: The Financial Reporting Advisory Board (FRAB) has published its 12th annual report, which highlights that ‘satisfactory progress has been made to date by government departments in implementing the Treasury’s trigger point strategy for the application of EU adopted international financial reporting standards, from 2009-10’.
The Board also reports that it has agreed the extension of its remit to include oversight of the Code of Practice on Local Authority Accounting in the United Kingdom, with effect from 2010-2011, when local authorities complete the move to IFRS-based financial reporting.
DH: The GP Patient Survey, the biggest healthcare survey of its kind, found that overall satisfaction with surgeries was high at 91%, but there is still room for improvement in accessing GP services, especially getting through on the phone and being able to make appointments more than 48 hours in advance.
Patients were also able to feedback on their practice nurse for the first time this year with overwhelmingly positive results. The majority (92%) find it easy to see a practice nurse and rated them highly on a range of factors from listening to them and asking about their symptoms, to explaining treatment & involving patients in decisions about their care.
DH: The fourth annual set of local Health Profiles has been published. The Profiles provide a snapshot of health for each council area in England using key health measures, which enables comparison locally, regionally and in some cases over time. They are designed to help local councils and the NHS decide where to target action and resources in their area.
They have been used successfully for a variety of purposes including:
* informing Joint Strategic Needs Assessments & other strategic plans
* preparing briefings for senior officials at national, regional & local level
* supporting funding applications for third sector organisations
* identifying neighbourhood baseline data for inequalities target
ScotGov: Scotland has the talent and resilience to retain & reaffirm its position as a global financial centre, First Minister Alex Salmond told academics in Glasgow last week. In an address to The Institute for Advanced Studies at Strathclyde University, he said that ‘even in the current economic climate there were new opportunities that would reaffirm the competitive edge of Scotland's financial services industry’.
Last Month the Scottish Government and financial services industry published the annual report of joint industry advisory board FiSAB. It showed that Scotland continues to build the conditions necessary for future growth in financial services, while particular sectors - including insurance & fund management - continue to perform well.
General Reports and Other Publications
CCWater: Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “There is currently little support available for those who struggle to afford their water bills, and when asked the question ‘Are your water bills affordable?’ one in five customers tell us no……….. Water affordability is an acute problem particularly in the south west of England and in Wales, but we are not sure if Walker’s recommendations have the potential to address the full scope of the situation……………… ;Walker makes a good argument that it might not be right for water customers to pay for work that benefits the wider community, especially since water bills are not based on ability to pay.
On the issue of metering, we agree with Walker’s recommendation to increase metering only where it makes sense. While many people can and do save money by having a water meter installed others could find they pay more. A robust safety net needs to be in place to protect those who may face unaffordable bills before metering is considered on a wider scale”.
ScotGov: New research shows alcohol-related illnesses could be killing one in 20 Scots - twice as many as previously thought. The study totalled the proportion of 53 different causes of death - ranging from stomach cancer & strokes to assaults & road deaths - in which alcohol consumption played a part, to show that nearly 3,000 deaths in 2003 were alcohol-related.
This is double the figure for deaths from illnesses caused almost entirely by alcohol consumption alone, such as alcoholic liver disease. It means one Scot may be dying from alcohol-related causes every three hours.
The calculations are based on consumption data from the Scottish Health Survey 2003, updated to reflect the increasing strength of alcoholic drinks. New Scottish Health Survey data due for publication later this year will allow updated mortality figures to be calculated.
LLUK: The Scottish Government has published their third Skills Utilisation E-Bulletin, which updates stakeholders of the progress of the Scottish Government's Skills Utilisation Action Group to improve skills utilisation in Scotland.
Monitor: Monitor has welcomed a progress report on the implementation of Lord Darzi’s Quality Agenda one year on. It is particularly positive that Lord Darzi continues to champion clinical leadership as the way forward and is considering how best to embed the principles of Service Line Management (SLM) across the NHS.
SLM is an approach Monitor has introduced to the NHS, and which has been widely adopted with positive results for patients. It provides clinical leaders with increased responsibility, not just for budgets but for overall service development & improvement. It also provides the ability to shape services around the needs of patients by understanding results, including outcomes & experience, by service line.
Monitor is proposing the development of anational clinical leadership academy and would like to work with the Department of Health and other partners in establishing this. The academy would recognise the unique potential of senior clinicians in managerial posts and provide clinical leaders with the skills to lead service lines effectively.
Socitm: Socitm has welcomed the Government’s proposal, set out in the Digital Britain Final Report, to deliver universal broadband access in the within 30 months. This achievement, says Socitm, is essential to ensure the accessibility, sustainability, efficiency and quality of service delivery through the proposed ‘digital switchover’ to public services available exclusively online.
However, despite its support for the Universal Service Commitment (USC), Socitm is critical of other proposalsset out in the report. It is concerned, for example, at the lukewarm approach to the development of fibre-based, future-proofed, next generation broadband networks, which will provide speeds of 100Mbps+, compares unfavourably with the 2Mbps internet connection proposed under the USC.
These and other views from Socitm on the Digital Britain Final Report are set out in a new Policy Briefing written by Socitm Futures for members. Other issues Socitm raises concerns about include the claimed fall in telecommunication costs and ‘accessibility’ to services (especially the for the disabled).
Legislation / Legal
HO: Fixed penalty notices for failing to wear a seatbelt or putting illegal plates on a vehicle increase from £30 to £60 as from last week. The increase follows a public consultation seeking views on how to tackle the fact that many motorists persist in failing to comply with seatbelt laws, despite repeated warnings that they are risking serious injury or death to themselves and others.
Whilst educational campaigns & publicity have made considerable differences in behaviour, some drivers and passengers are still ignoring the fact that seat belts reduce the risk of dying in a 30mph crash by 60%.
DfT: The roads that will form the Olympic Route Network (ORN) have been designated by the Department for Transport following a public consultation. The ORN is a series of existing roads on which a range of traffic management measures will be applied where needed to ensure over 70,000 athletes, officials, media and sponsors can move safely, quickly & reliably between the competition venues, their accommodation and other key locations during the 2012 Games.
The ORN measures will include permanent improvements that will help reduce congestion, such as upgraded traffic signals, the creation of a new Traffic Control Centre for London, and new CCTV and junction upgrades. A range of temporary measures to be applied during the Games are also included.
The Olympic Delivery Authority will now engage & consult with businesses, residents & others in order to determine specifically how those roads will be affected by those measures. The implementation stages include:
* January 2011 - July 2012: rolling programme of implementation, including any testing
* 13 July -10 Sept 2012: operation
DECC: A new Energy Bill has been proposed for the forthcoming session of Parliament as part of the Government’s plans to lead the world in breakthrough clean coal technology. The Bill would enable the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to introduce a financial mechanism to fund up to 4 commercial-scale Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) demonstration plants.
This follows the recent publication the Government’s consultation (closes on 9 September 2009) document ‘A framework for the development of clean coal’ which sets out how the Government proposes to reconcile the need to curb emissions of carbon from future coal fired power stations with the need to maintain a secure diverse energy mix.
GEO: At the moment, people may only bring separate discrimination claims relating to one protected characteristic; such as their age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. But some people still have stereotyped attitudes about certain groups with a combination of protected characteristics, such as Asian men or black women.
The new ‘dual discrimination’ clause, which the Government wants to insert in the Equality Bill, would allow people to make a claim if they were directly discriminated against because of a combination of 2 relevant protected characteristics.
This would mean, for example, that a black woman who is discriminated against because her employer has particular stereotyped attitudes towards black women - as opposed to black men or white women - could bring a single claim for combined race & sex discrimination.
The Equality Bill will cover England, Scotland & Wales. Northern Ireland has its own equality legislation. See also 'In the News' section for related item.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
LDA: The London Development Agency (LDA) has launched the second round of funding for its ‘2007-10 Community Grants Programme’. Small voluntary & community organisations are invited to apply to the LDA, where eligible organisations will be able to benefit from the £5.5m available through this scheme.
Typical organisations that apply for funding are social enterprises, charities and community groups that support refugees, women, disabled people and families. They are expected to reach out into London’s communities as the Programme’s aim is to provide a stepping stone for disadvantaged people, helping them progress into mainstream training and employment.
The funds available are 50% LDA monies and 50% from the European Social Fund. The scheme is managed on behalf of the LDA by Greater London Enterprise. The grants are available to voluntary and community groups with no more than 2 full-time staff.
Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain is backing a squad of 15 former Wales rugby captains as they face one of the greatest challenges of their career - to conquer Kilimanjaro for a Welsh cancer charity. The Brains SA Captains’ Climb will see them climb to the peak of Kilimanjaro to raise money for Velindre Cancer Centre. The money raised will go towards the Stepping Stones Appeal for research into lung cancer - the biggest cancer killer in Wales.
Velindre Cancer Centre Lung Cancer Research Department has launched the Stepping Stones Appeal to increase awareness of its work and to raise the money necessary to continue to fund & expand its research programmes. Lung cancer is the most common form of cancer death in Wales with nearly 2,000 people newly diagnosed with lung cancer in Wales every year.
Business and Other Briefings
CRC: Business leaders, local authorities, community organisations & economic development agencies from around the country met last week to discuss how inspiration & leadership can help release the potential of rural economies.
The summit, organised by the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC), East of England Development Agency and South East of England Development Agency, showcased success stories and agreed action to help promote the achievements & contribution of rural economies. It is the second in a series of events and was about how everyone can work together to raise the profile & aspirations of rural businesses.
This Brief announces a change in HM Revenue & Customs interpretation of the of the legal provisions that apply the zero rate to new buildings used for a relevant charitable purpose, and the withdrawal of Extra Statutory Concession (ESC) 3.29 and two related concessions.
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