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In the News

HOSafe as Houses? - More than 45,000 homes will have their security improved after a cash injection of nearly £5m from the government.  The money has been allocated from the £6m safer homes fund which was set up in April 2009 to pay for local handy-people to visit up to 45,000 homes in 93 priority areas.

The cash has been awarded to 66 voluntary & community projects who bid for the grants and they will use it to help secure homes and provide training, community awareness events & security checks of vulnerable peoples’ homes. 

A free advice pack for people concerned about becoming victims of burglary that provides simple & practical advice on what they can do to prevent it is also available.  It includes discount vouchers for home security products from B&Q and Homebase.  To request a pack ring 0800 456 1213.

The Vigilance programme is a £3m package of support to help 35 areas tackle & prevent burglary and personal robbery.  It includes a crackdown on known offenders, particularly offenders released from short term prison sentences, with more proactive methods.  Participating areas will also be provided with pre-emptive support, training & additional resources for areas across the country that have started to see rises in burglary & robbery over the last 12 months.
PCS:  ‘Decreed savings’ are not always ‘Actual Real savings’ - The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) have echoed concerns over staff morale & arbitrary efficiency targets highlighted in the report - Evaluating the Efficiency Programme – published by the House of Commons Treasury select committee.

The committee shared the union’s concerns over low staff morale in Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which the union warned would get worse as the department ploughed on with plans to cut 25,000 jobs and close 200 offices by 2011.

The union went on to warn that services in HMRC were suffering as a result and highlighted concerns in the report over deteriorating services by the Charted Institute of Taxation, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales and the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group.

The select committee also expressed concern over the measurement of efficiency & service quality, with the union also supporting the committee’s view about the arbitrary nature of the extra £5bn added to the value for money target in the 2008 pre-budget report.
Press release ~ Evaluating the Efficiency Programme ~ PCS ~ Operation Efficiency Programme prospectus ~ Gershon Review ~ CPA previous press release ~ Committee of Public Accounts - The Efficiency Programme: A Second Review of Progress ~ NAO - The Efficiency Programme: A Second Review of Progress ~ PCS previous press release ~ OGC - The Efficiency Team and What We Do ~ Value For Money in public sector corporate services - A joint project by the UK Public Sector Audit Agencies ~ Audit Commission ~ Audit Scotland ~ Northern Ireland Audit Office ~ Wales Audit Office ~ ESRC – The Management of Second Best ~ Public Sector Performance: Efficiency or Quality? ~ Public service reform in Scotland ~ NHS Better care, better value indicators ~ NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement ~ NHS Institute – Service Transformation

TfLLimiting Streetworks – the ‘holy’ grail in traffic management - As part of the commitment by Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to smooth traffic flow in the Capital, Transport for London has submitted its application for a new London Permit Scheme to the Department for Transport.  The scheme could be in place before the end of 2009.

The permit scheme, which is also being submitted by 18 London boroughs, aims to regulate street works and would help to ensure that any company that wants to dig up London roads agrees to conditions & timing that limit the consequential disruption suffered by Londoners.

Feedback from consultation has led to the inclusion of a section to ensure the needs of Disabled & Visually Impaired pedestrians are taken into consideration when it is necessary to work on footpaths or alter road crossings.

It is estimated there are around 1m holes dug in London’s roads each year, with little or no regulation.  There are more than 100 utility companies who are currently only required to give short notice of upcoming works – 80% of works are carried out in less than 3 days notice to the highway authority.  The final decision rests with the Secretary of State for Transport and a decision is expected in the next 3 months.
DCSF:  In the end it will come down to adequate resourcing - The Government has published a report setting out the interim findings & recommendations of the Social Work Taskforce, which was tasked with supporting & developing the long-term reform of the social work profession, including training, recruitment and day-to-day practice.

Recommendations from the report include:
* The creation of a National College for Social Work
* Greater partnership between employers & educators for the improvement of social work education
* Clearer career & progression structure
* A much more sophisticated understanding of supply & demand
* Securing the resources social workers need to be effective

The Government has also launched a new peer support programme for middle managers of social care functions in local authorities.  The programme will help managers to explore & tackle the challenges of leading & managing workforce change to improve services and outcomes.
CIIFinally the Truth? - Sir John Chilcot, chairman of the Iraq Inquiry, made a statement at a news conference to launch the inquiry on Thursday 30 July 2009 at the QEII Conference Centre, London.
Press release ~ Chilcot Iraq Inquiry website

Industry NewsCollaboration generates real savings while arbitrary efficiency saving just lower staff morale (see above PCS item) - Government departments are located across the length & breadth of the UK.  The Internet has reduced the need for physical, face-to-face interaction and enabled these departments to work together online to work on documents, share information, allow remote working, talk live in chat rooms and hold web conferences.

In a nutshell, online collaboration increases productivity, streamlines procedures & reduces cost.  For example, recent research indicates that cross-government collaboration has the potential to save 70% on traditional IT costs and improve the workings of central & local government.’s collaboration tools are already being widely used within the UK Government.  The Home Office, NHS, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Department for Innovation, University and Skills, and the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) are all benefiting from collaborative working.

Yet some departments may have reservations about using collaborative tools.  The key barriers to the adoption include slow take-up, perceived costs, security, complexity and some tools were not popular after testing.  There is an organisational mindset that needs to be overcome and internal training to successfully engage in collaboration. 
Once those hurdles have been addressed, departments can start thinking about the many benefits of collaboration.  They can create virtual teams, discuss & agree policy, connect head offices with local branches, approve documents online, brainstorm new ideas, share files securely and eliminate the need for meetings.

So why not apply for a FREE copy of’s White paper - 'Guide to Collaboration for Government and the Public Sector' – which describes the different types of collaboration products and illustrates the benefits of collaborative working?  Read also about how Northamptonshire Enterprise works with a large number of stakeholders to co-ordinate development of the local economy, sometimes involving as many as 20 partners working together.

For other Industry News please click HERE

For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar

General News

10 Downing St: The Prime Minister and his wife were among the guests who witnessed the colourful opening ceremony at the Special Olympics, when 2,400 athletes paraded around Leicester City Football Club’s Walkers Stadium.
Athletes with learning disabilities from across the UK have been competing in more than 21 different sports at the 8th Special Olympics GB National Summer Games last week. 19 venues across the region played host to sporting events during the week.
NENatural England are telling people to ‘pull on your boots and enjoy our spectacular National Trails this summer’. Tranquil water meadows, wooded valleys, gentle chalk downs, historic towns & villages, dramatic views and cliff top walks are just some of the unforgettable experiences offered by England’s 13 National Trails, criss-crossing more than 2,000 miles of the nation’s finest landscapes
Natural England is responsible for overseeing the management of National Trails which this year are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act that brought them into being.  It was this Act that led to the creation of National Trails, or Long Distance Paths, as they were known as in those days.  The Act also led to the creation of National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Nature Reserves.
DECC: Three UK-based banks have started work with the European Investment Bank (EIB) on a programme to lend up to £1bn to onshore wind farms over the next 3 years.  The cash, part of the additional £4bn of EIB lending to support UK energy projects announced in the Budget, will help get building started for onshore wind projects which have been hit by the credit crunch, particularly small & mid-sized wind farms.
The banks – RBS, Lloyds and BNP Paribas Fortis – have been teamed up with the EIB by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and HM Treasury, following the announcement in April’s Budget Statement that the Government wanted to get more EIB lending to UK renewables.
NA: The National Archives, in collaboration with UK-based family history website, is providing 7 archives & libraries around England & Wales with free access to the recently completed online records of the 1911 census. Before planning a trip, visitors are urged to contact the relevant institution to find out the when the service will be available.
The census, available at, provides a snapshot of life in the early 20th century, showing the name, age, place of birth, marital status and occupation of every resident in every home, as well as their relationship to the head of the household.
HEFCE: Professor Sir William Wakeham, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, has been appointed chair of SEPnet (South East Physics Network), a HEFCE-funded consortium of 6 university physics departments across the south-east, working together to promote excellence in physics.
The network is supported by a five-year HEFCE grant of £12.5m and its 4 main initiatives are:
* an outreach programme to increase student enrolment in physics
* the development of a graduate school offering a 2-year MSc in physics based on the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)
* a collaborative research programme at PhD level
* an undergraduate programme of employer engagement to increase career prospects
NENatural England and the English National Park Authorities Association (ENPAA) have announced the start of a new shared agreement between the two organisations that commits both to work together to ensure National Parks continue to be places of rich environmental value that are enjoyed by all.
The announcement was made as part of the celebrations that fell during National Parks Week that ran from 27 July – 2 August.  The aim is to come together to make tangible progress in 3 important policy areas:
* Landscape
* Climate Change
* Access, Enjoyment and Understanding for all
ScotGov: The Scottish Government is to provide Borders Council with £10,000 to enhance its existing investment in rugby opportunities and supplementing funds already made available though the Cashback for Communities initiative
LDA: With 3 years to go to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, thousands of Londoners are being given the opportunity to get more active and try out different sports.  Backed by the Mayor of London and his Commissioner for Sport Kate Hoey, Play Sport London features around 30 different sports and involves more than 140 grass roots clubs putting on expert coaching and activities.
Participants will then be ‘signposted’ to local clubs where they can carry on playing their chosen sport. The new programme is run & funded by London Development Agency (LDA) with the support of Sport England.

Play Sport London runs until 30 September 2009 with activities for people of all ages and for disabled Londoners.  The aim is to build on the success of an earlier scheme, Summer of Sport, which reached around 8,000 Londoners last year.
LSN: Earlier this year LSN ran a ‘coaching for entrepreneurship’ programme (funded by the British Council) in Nigeria, with the first part of the programme being run at LSN’s head office in London..  The aim of the programme was to train the delegates in Solution-Focused coaching skills and using these skills to help develop entrepreneurship in others.
They also had access to online learning materials developed by LSN and its technology partner (Learning Resources International) and the option of being assessed for an Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) Level 5 coaching qualification.
On their return to Nigeria, the delegates held the first of a series of coaching sessions with their young potential entrepreneurs.  They continue to be supported by ongoing coaching sessions with their allocated LSN coach, using both telephone & Skype.  LSN is also running extra group development workshops using video-conferencing.
PCS: The PCS union has warned that over 1,200 immigration officers could be taking part in a 24 hour strike on 5 August 2009 in a dispute with the UK Border Agency (UKBA).  Further talks are scheduled, which centres on plans by UKBA to force immigration officers to undertake duties & work performed by customs officers, as well as imposing changes to shift patterns which could see immigration officer’s wages cut.
Immigration officers are angry over moves by UKBA to force them to carry out duties which they weren’t employed for, such as strip searches & law enforcement duties, as the agency seeks to merge the jobs of customs officers and immigration officers.
ScotGov: A new state-of-the-art communications system will enable Scotland's 8 fire & rescue services (FRS) to communicate directly with incident command centres, police colleagues and other fire vehicles throughout Scotland and the rest of Great Britain.
Fergus Ewing, Minister for Community Safety, has launched Firelink which is being installed in over 1,200 FRS vehicles and 8 regional control centres across Scotland. The new system will cost £37m over 3 years and is due to be operational in every fire appliance in Scotland by the first half of 2010.
The decision to introduce Firelink was taken following the September 11 and July 7 terrorist attacks, which highlighted the need for a single, reliable communications system linking all emergency services. Firelink will deliver a geographical coverage of 90,000 square miles - from urban to the most remote rural communities.
TfL: Passengers using one of London Underground’s (LU) busiest & most congested stations are set to benefit from a major £695m upgrade as part of TfL’s Investment Programme.  Used by more than 80m passengers each year, Victoria Underground station is at the heart of London’s transport network.  However, severe congestion during the morning rush hour often makes it necessary to stop passengers coming into the station for several minutes, to avoid overcrowding on the Tube platforms.

When complete, the scheme will increase the size of the station by about 50% with a new ticket hall, lifts & additional escalators to ease congestion and step-free access from street level to all platforms.
DH: A new education programme has been developed to provide enhanced training in genetic technologies & clinical applications for healthcare scientists working in laboratory genetics,
The new pilot will:
* Respond to future workforce needs, which has increased significantly in the last 10 years as scientific discoveries have created new opportunities to diagnose & predict disease
* Inform the roll out of the MSC programme for other healthcare science training programmes which will begin in 2010 with full implementation in 2012
* Establish a national School of Genetics in the West Midlands
* Modernise the genetics curricula to respond to breakthrough scientific advances and their applications for patients & the public
The pilot programme, to begin in October 2009, will fund 24 pilot training posts for 12 trainee Healthcare Science Practitioners and 12 Healthcare Scientists in Genetics.  The trainees will be based in a number of NHS genetics departments throughout England and will be brought together for national training events & courses. NHS West Midlands has agreed to host the process for all the SHAs involved.
ACEArts Council Englandhas made the first awards from its £40m Sustain fund for organisations under pressure as a result of the recession.  The first batch of awards are worth just under £4m and will help 10 arts organisations maintain artistic excellence during the economic downturn.
ScotGov: An outbreak of American Foulbrood (AFB), a disease affecting colonies of honeybees, has been confirmed in the Perthshire area. The disease was discovered during ongoing investigations into European Foulbrood (EFB), which was confirmed last month. There are no risks to public health.
So far AFB has been found in 4 hives in 3 apiaries.  Bee inspectors are continuing their investigations and the Scottish Government's animal health contingency plan has been activated. A surveillance zone has been put in place around the confirmed cases and inspections are taking place based on information provided by the affected beekeeper.
As with the EFB outbreak, both the Bee Farmers Association and the Scottish Beekeepers Association have been informed. So far 1,093 hives have been inspected for EFB with 61 of those testing positive.  40 hives have been destroyed, because (unlike EFB), hives with AFB cannot be treated with antibiotics.
WAG: On the week of the National Eisteddfod for Wales, Meirion and District 2009, Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones has offered his best wishes for a successful festival, which takes place on the Rhiwlas Estate between 1 and 8 August.
Earlier this year, the Heritage Minister announced an extra £100,000 for this year’s event to reflect the difficulties the Eisteddfod face in terms of fundraising in a rural area like Meirionydd.  This was in addition to the £485,722 that the National Eisteddfod receives from the Welsh Language Board.
PCS: Plans announced by the government to radically reduce the compensation paid to civil servants being made redundant are ‘an outrageous attempt to cut jobs on the cheap’, the Public and Commercial Services union has said.
‘Proposals published by the Cabinet Office for what it describes as ‘reform’ of the civil service compensation scheme represent a cut in contractual rights to decent redundancy compensation at a time when jobs are at risk. They would mean a huge financial loss amounting to tens of thousands of pounds for the vast majority of existing staff, particularly those facing compulsory or voluntary redundancy’.
Facts about civil service pay & pensions include:
* 50% of the workforce earn less than the national average UK salary which is over £23,000
* In 2007/8 the average civil service pension was £6,500.  Excluding high earners, it was £4,200
SE: A drive to bring 10,000 new coaches into grassroots sport is benefiting young sports enthusiasts across England, with 2,400 coaches recruited in the 6 months since the programme went live. Recruit into Coaching is being delivered by Sport England and the Youth Sport Trust as part of the Government’s PE and Sport Strategy for Young People.
Recruit into Coaching aims to unearth new coaching talent across the 70 most deprived areas of England, to support sporting activity by young people aged between five and 19.  The 3-year programme will see 5,680 coaches delivered through school sport partnerships, with 4,320 recruited & trained through the network of county sports partnerships.
Defra: Police officers will receive specialist training to become designated Dog Legislation Officers who will provide expert advice on dangerous dogs cases & legislation, Animal Welfare Minister Jim Fitzpatrick has announced.
The Association of Chief of Police Officers (ACPO) will receive £20,000 from Defra to help deliver the training which will ensure officers have a thorough understanding of current dangerous dogs legislation, as well as best practice enforcement techniques.
Guidance for enforcers, published in April, recommended that it was good practice for every police force to have, or have access to, a designated Dog Legislation Officer (DLO) who had a good knowledge of the law and how it could be best used to protect public safety.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

CLG: Housing Minister John Healey has announced that 270 stalled development projects across the country have been shortlisted for a share of £925m which could help get building work on 22,400 homes back on track & create 20,000 jobs.  Over 8,600 of these homes would be for affordable rent or sale, with two=thirds built to a standard above that required by building regulations helping to cut CO2 emissions and reduce energy bills.
The projects have been identified by the Homes and Communities Agency through the Kickstart programme.  The Government expects almost half the money to be repaid within 5 years while over one third will go to housing associations & others to help them manage the affordable housing. 18% consists of direct grant to support developers.  
DH: NHS organisations will receive a total of £25m to create 5,000 new NHS apprenticeships by March 2010.
New NHS Apprenticeships will include clinical support roles such as dental nurses & pharmacy support workers and non-clinical roles such as IT support, estates & facilities management and catering. There are currently 1,500 apprentices in the NHS.
ScotGov: An additional 170 early years apprenticeships are to be created across Scotland, giving young people access to childcare careers. On a visit to Cherrytrees Nursery in Melrose, Cabinet Secretary for Education & Lifelong Learning Fiona Hyslop heard about the benefits of investing in early years skills development when she met with young people taking part in modern apprenticeship programmes, as well as Get Ready for Work and Skillseekers initiatives.
Skills Development Scotland (SDS) will contract for an additional 170 early years apprenticeships in 2009/10, which will be funded by the £16m announced in the Scottish Budget for the recruitment of 7,800 new apprentices.
Early years apprenticeships are at SVQ levels 3 & 4 and are available for young people aged 16 to 19 years old.  These apprenticeships typically last between 9 months and 2 years.
DH: Corner shops nationwide will get help from Change4Life to sell fruit & veg – this will mean more people will get their 5-a-day and shops will see an increase in profits. Following a successful pilot in the north east, corner shops across the country can now join Change4Life and work with the local NHS to promote healthier eating in their communities.  
The shops will have a fruit & veg makeover, stocking a wide range of fruit & veg, displaying Change4Life posters & signs and appointing a member of staff to champion fresh fruit & veg in store. The trial run of the saw sales of fresh fruit & veg increased on average by 40%, with around a third of shoppers saying they will buy more fruit & veg from their local store in future.
The expansion of the programme across England is now possible thanks to a new Change4Life partnership with the Association for Convenience Stores, an organisation which represents more than 28,000 retailers & suppliers in England, including well known franchises such as NISA Local, SPAR and Landmark.
WAG: Health Minister Edwina Hart has announced the allocation of £4m Assembly Government funding for hospices & palliative care services across Wales.  £2.1m of it will help fund the clinical palliative and end-of-life care services provided by 18 hospices throughout Wales and £1.9m will be spent on NHS palliative care services.
The allocations for independent and NHS care services are based on recommendations of an expert group headed by Baroness Ilora Finlay, a consultant in palliative care. Part of the funding will be dedicated to the expansion of the Cancer Network Information System Cymru, a computerised clinical record to enable health professionals quick access key information to monitor and care for patients.
DWP: The government has launched a new campaign - 'Backing Young Britain' – uniting business and government to ‘create thousands of opportunities for young people’. Launching the campaign Ministers announced £40m to fund over 20,000 additional internships, so that graduates & non graduates can get higher quality work experience, as well as a new mentoring network to ‘help young people find their feet in a tough jobs market’.
Ministers also announced the first 47,000 youth jobs supported by the Future Jobs Fund for young people who are unable to find work or training within a year. The campaign kicked off as the Government launched its Graduate Talent Pool website which goes live with 2,000+ internships available to graduates.
ScotGov: A Rural Gathering is set to take place in Perth on 25 September 2009, bringing people together to drive forward a 'bright future' for rural Scotland. It forms part of the Scottish Government's plans to empower rural communities, helping them to shape their own destiny and to remain vibrant & sustainable places.
The national event will be followed by around 20 local events a year to be run by the regional co-ordination service.  The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations has been awarded the contract to run this service.
The Scottish National Rural Network is one of four UK networks which helps connect rural Scotland and promote sustainable, economic growth & community development.  ScotGov’s Community Empowerment Action Plan was launched in March 2009 and is intended to encourage people in both rural & urban areas to participate in the running of their neighbourhoods.
Cabinet Office: Minister for the Cabinet Office Tessa Jowell has been appointed as the new Chair of the Public Services Forum (PSF), which encourages employers, government & trades unions to work together to deliver world class public services for everyone.
Recently the forum published a report on what has been achieved in its first five years, claiminh it has made a ‘real impact’ on the whole of the public service workforce of nearly 6m people.  It also looks ahead to the challenges facing the public sector in the coming months and years.
ScotGov: Nearly 325 new rural homes are set to be built across Scotland, thanks to government funding for affordable house building. In addition, land owners & community groups will share £5m (under the Rural Homes to Rent pilot) to build 75 new affordable homes - exclusively for renting - in villages & communities across Scotland.
ScotGov: The way people use & conserve energy in the home is set to be revolutionised in Scotland with the offer of free energy audits, advice on becoming more energy efficient and free or discounted loft & cavity insulations.
Up to 96,000 homes across Scotland are to be offered help with making their homes more energy efficient in ten council areas, who will be the first to benefit from a home insulation scheme over the next year. The scheme will use £15m of Scottish Government funding which will help create & sustain up to 900 jobs including employment opportunities for energy advisors and insulation installers.
The Climate Change (Scotland) Bill states that Scottish Ministers will ensure emissions are reduced by 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.  Making Scotland's homes better insulated will be key to achieving this objective.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has published a new discussion paper - a strand of the National Conversation - which sets out options for a Scottish oil fund which would invest a share of present oil revenues to leave a lasting legacy for future generations.
It claims that, adjusted for inflation, £230bn of tax revenue has come directly from Scottish waters over the past 30 years.  The paper presents a range of models on how annual or one-off investments could provide a sustainable income to support the economy and seeks views on the best model for Scotland.
DH: The future use of Independent Sector Treatment Centres (ISTCs) in the NHS will be fairer and on the same terms as other providers of NHS services, Health Minister, Mike O’Brien has claimed. Under the changes each contract will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and new services will be commissioned by the local Primary Care Trust where they are designed to meet local needs, provide value for money and benefit patients in that community.
Services will be delivered under the terms & conditions of the standard NHS national contract for acute hospital services – the same contract used by NHS providers.  Where the NHS identifies an ongoing need for services, there will be a competitive tendering process and bidders, including those from the independent sector, will be invited to deliver services at NHS tariff prices.
The changes will take effect in the second wave of ISTC contracts, the first of which will be advertised in August 2009.  The first wave of contracts are due to end from 2010.  Both independent sector and NHS providers will be eligible to bid for the new contracts, which will be commissioned locally by the NHS, rather than by the DH.
WAG: Leading academic Professor Ian Hargreaves, who is currently based at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is to lead a review into the creative industries in Wales.  This appointment has been made in response to the call by the National Assembly’s Communities and Culture committee in their report on Public Service Broadcasting for an independent review of WAG’s activities in the field of creative industries.
The review will include a broad exercise of market sizing, the market opportunity for Wales for all segments of the creative industries sector, consideration of the WAG’s internal & external linkages, skills and a review of the IP fund.
The Assembly Government also welcomes the announcement that the BBC is considering establishing a ‘drama village’ in Wales and relocating Casualty to South Wales.  A major production centre such as this would help to develop a sustainable production base in Wales.  
DCSF: Children’s Minister Delyth Morgan has launched a new strategy outlining how Government will work with the third sector to improve the life chances of children, young people and their families at a visit to the Barking and Dagenham Foyer.
The foyer was opened in December 2008 and caters for young people aged 16-25 offering a range of services in one place, including accommodation with support for 116 residents, an information advice & guidance centre, life skills and employability training & healthy living programmes.
Building on the strategy & action plan published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007, the new publication - Third sector strategy and action plan: Intentions into action - was produced in partnership with the DCSF’s Third Sector Group.
BIS: The Government has launched a new scheme to compensate former Icelandic-water trawlermen who lost their livelihoods following the Cod Wars of the 1970s. All trawlermen who fished in Icelandic waters during the Cod Wars will be able to claim for additional payments.  They will have 9 months to submit claims, with the first payments expected in the autumn 2009.
The ‘breaks rule’ in the previous scheme that ran from 2000 to 2002 was found to be unfair by the Parliamentary Ombudsman.  Following a review, the Government decided to run a new scheme based on aggregate service on vessels that fished in Icelandic waters, rather than continuous service, as before.  
Under the new scheme, the Government will calculate payments for each trawlerman on the basis of his aggregate service on vessels that fished in Icelandic waters, in the last 20 years of his fishing career.  Where this calculation produces a higher payment than that already made under the previous schemes, the Government will pay the difference.   The Government will not of course be claiming payments back where the reverse is the case.
Press release ~ Dedicated helpline on 0845 604 3477 ~ Icelandic Water Trawlermen Compensation Scheme


DWP: The Government has launched a consultation (closes on 19 October 2009) into officially recognising Workers Memorial Day to remember those who lose their lives at work. The Government wants to give bereaved families, unions who represent workers and the public, the opportunity to have their say about how they would like to mark the day and commemorate those who have died.
Despite the UK having one of the best health & safety records in the world, there were still 180 workplace fatalities in Britain in 2008/09.  Many more die as a result of diseases incurred when they are working.  Every year, for example, there are around 4,000 cancer deaths due to past exposure to asbestos, and every working day, over 400 people are seriously injured at work.  Accidents & ill health are estimated to cost society £20bn a year.
Following its inception in Canada in 1984, Workers Memorial Day is already recognised as a national day in many countries around the world including Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Luxembourg, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, Taiwan and the USA.
HEFCE: A joint consultation between Higher Education Funding Council England (HEFCE), Universities UK and GuildHE on developing a carbon reduction target and strategy for higher education in England has been published. It asks for views on proposed sector-level targets for the reduction of carbon emissions and a proposed strategy for achieving these targets.

The consultation sets out areas where HEFCE, Universities UK and GuildHE will work with institutions and other stakeholders to achieve carbon reductions.  It will be for individual institutions to decide, within the national set of targets, how to reduce, measure, review & report progress on their own emissions.
HEFCE has commissioned good practice guidance on developing carbon management plans. This complements existing guidance and sets out what HEFCE’s requirements may be in this area.  The consultation seeks views on this and any areas where additional guidance is needed.

Institutions will be required to have carbon management plans and performance against these plans will be a factor in capital allocations from 2011, as requested by the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills in HEFCE’s 2009 grant letter.

SQW Consulting and SQW Energy were commissioned to undertake research to measure a carbon baseline and to make recommendations for a sector-level carbon reduction target and strategy for HE in England.  The study was conducted between November 2008 & April 2009 and its report has also been published.
The closing date for responses is Friday, 16 October 2009.  As part of the consultation HEFCE will be holding two seminars to help inform this process and to offer the sector the chance to discuss details further.  These will take place on Thursday 3 September 2009 in London and Monday 7 September in Manchester.
CLGDraft guidance (published for consultation – closes 23 October 2009) makes clear that first priority for housing must be given to those in greatest housing need.  It also highlights the need for councils to tackle the myths & misunderstandings surrounding allocations, by doing more to inform their communities about who is getting housing, and to consult tenants & residents when setting their local priorities, so that allocations policies are better understood and have greater legitimacy among local people.
Housing Minister, Mr Healey, also launched plans for a coordinated crackdown this autumnon people who cheat the housing systemand profit from subletting their council house or housing association home.  Housing experts have suggested that the number of social homes unlawfully sub-let by tenants could range from one in 100 to as many as one in 20 in some inner-city hotspots.  The crackdown will include a data sweep of housing & benefit records.
A key element the draft guidance covers is the removal of the requirement to give higher priority to people who have "cumulative preference", that is people who fit into more than one of the greatest housing need categories – giving councils more leeway to consider other local priorities, such as local or family connection to an area, how long a person has been on the waiting list, and supporting people into work.
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has launched a consultation (closes on 21 October 2009) on draft guidance setting out practices the OFT considers constitute irresponsible lending. It clarifies minimum standards required from businesses engaged in lending which, if breached, could lead to the OFT taking enforcement action against the lenders.

The guidance covers each stage of the lending process and a range of potential issues in a credit transaction including advertising, account management and handling of arrears. The draft guidance identifies types of policies & procedures that the OFT would expect lenders to put into practice.  It also sets out some specific practices that the OFT considers to constitute irresponsible lending.
DCSF: Children’s Minister Delyth Morgan last week launched a consultation (closes on Friday 23 October 2009)  on guidance on serious case reviews (SCR) in order to improve their quality, consistency & impact.  The guidance is aimed at Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCB) who by law undertake an SCR whenever a child dies or is seriously injured and abuse or neglect is known or suspected to be a factor.
In his recent progress report, Lord Laming made a number of recommendations to strengthen & clarify the serious case review process.  His recommendations were accepted in full by Government with an undertaking to update statutory guidance set out in Chapter 8 of Working Together to Safeguard Children.
The Government has also published it’s first annual update to the 3rd Joint Chief Inspectors’ Report on Arrangements to Safeguarding Children. The inspectors report was published in July 2008, highlighting the progress that had been made at a national and local level to protect children. The report made 22 recommendations and the Government published it’s response in December 2008.
AC: Public spending watchdog the Audit Commission is consulting (closes on Friday 18th September 2009) on the way it assesses strategic housing services.  A proposed updated key line of enquiry (KLOE) aims to give a broader view of how housing is linked to other local issues like economic development and sustainability.
It is asking consultees to consider the enhanced emphasis on whether local authorities are driving forward a clear housing vision for their areas and tackling their area's housing needs, and it emphasises the vital role councillors play in shaping what can be achieved in partnership.  
The updated KLOE reflects the new planning & housing strategic environment in which local councils are now operating, where they are responsible for Local Development Frameworks, Sustainable Community Strategies and more.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has welcomed a referral by the Department of Health (following advice from the National Quality Board) and will now begin work on setting NICE quality standards for the NHS on the following areas:
* Stroke
* Dementia
* Neonatal Care
* Venous Thromboembolism (VTE)
NICE quality standards are a set of specific, concise statements which act as markers of high quality, cost effective care across a pathway or a clinical area.  They are derived from the best available evidence and are to be produced by NICE in collaboration with the NHS & social care, along with their partners and service users, for use by clinicians, patients, service providers & commissioners.
The statements in each NICE quality standard will be accompanied by a measurable element or indicator in order to enable an assessment of quality and quality improvement to be made.
NICE has established a pilot process to develop its first quality standards and plans to consult on the ongoing development process later this summer.  The first NICE quality standards developed from the pilot process are expected to be published in early 2010.
DH: The Appointments Commission and the Department of Health have published guidance to help Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) with their governance arrangements for Provider Committees.  Provider Committees are a committee of a PCT Board, overseeing the operations of a PCT’s provider arm.  
The guidance - Governance Arrangements to Support PCT Provider Committees - sets out core principles that should underpin the committee’s membership & make-up and will help to ensure that these committees are able to independently monitor, identify & mitigate risks to patients.  It also offers options for recruiting the independent members and outlines their roles & responsibilities.

Annual Reports

MoJ: The Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information (APPSI) has published its annual report for 2008-09, which sets out the advice that the Panel gave to Michael Wills, Minister of State for Justice, in 2008; and its recommendations to official consultations that are central to the re-use of public sector information (PSI) agenda.
HO: The increasing availability and potential harm of legal highs are one of the key priorities of the ACMD as set out in their recently published annual report. The ACMD undertook numerous reviews and gave advice on classification of; cannabis, MDMA (ecstasy), GBL, BZP and 24 various steroids.

Professor David Nutt, Chair of the ACMD, said: “One of our key priorities for the coming year will be investigating the increasing threat of legal highs.  We have already started this work and recently gave the government advice on the synthetic cannabinoids known as SPICE”.
LBRO: LBRO has published its 2008/09 annual report, ‘demonstrating how local regulatory services delivered by councils across the UK are playing an increasingly vital role in supporting economic prosperity and protecting the public’.
Newswire - CMEC: Almost 794,000 children are benefiting as the Child Support Agency collected or arranged £1,136m in child maintenance across Great Britain over the past twelve months. Recent National Statistics show between July 2008 and June 2009, the CSA also continued to recover unpaid maintenance for children, with £157m in arrears collected in Great Britain in the last year. 
Clients are seeing a more efficient service, with 84% of new applications being cleared within 12 weeks and the CSA answering 99% of telephone calls available to answer, with an average waiting time of 8 seconds. The CSA is now the responsibility of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, which is developing an entirely new maintenance scheme to replace the two CSA schemes from 2011
ScotGov: Scotland's Chief Statistician has published statistics from the Annual Population Survey (APS). The APS is a boosted annual version of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and is the official source of many labour market & lifelong learning indicators for Scotland and local authority areas in Scotland.
The publication provides an annual summary of the data covering key indicators such as employment rates, unemployment rates, rates of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) and qualification breakdowns.
It is important to note that the APS data for 2008 covers the calendar year, January to December, so does not necessarily take into account the full extent of the economic downturn as Scotland officially entered recession in the fourth quarter of 2008.
OS: Ordnance Survey has published its Annual Report and Accounts for 2008-09.
DCSF: The DCSF has released the latest national & local authority level data on permanent and fixed period exclusions.
EA: The Environment Agency has announced that successful prosecutions for waste crimes resulted in fines totalling £3m last year (The amount has doubled in the last 5 years). Its crackdown on waste crime – from flytipping to the illegal export of waste – has led to an increase in the severity of penalties handed down by the courts.  This week the Agency secured its largest ever waste fine – £261,268 – after the soft drinks company Red Bull failed to meet its requirements to recover & recycle packaging waste.
In the last 12 months the Environment Agency has created a new National Environmental Crime Team made up of around 20 former-detectives, intelligence officers and forensics experts.  The team was set up to target organised waste crime, and they are specialists in recovering the proceeds of crime.
In May a serial fly tipper was jailed for 2.5 years for repeatedly collecting household & business waste for a fee, and then dumping it around Bristol and the surrounding countryside.  After the man was arrested, reports of fly tipping in & around Bristol decreased by over 30%.
STFC: The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has published its Annual Report and Accounts 2008-2009, which outlines a ‘year of significant scientific and technological achievement and selected highlights of the many economic and societal benefits resulting from STFC’s wide array of research disciplines’.

General Reports and Other Publications

CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities has welcomed the Independent Policy Commission's new report on Primary School Organisation in Shropshire.  The IPC has investigated how to secure a sustainable network of schools in the county, by considering the many issues surrounding education in Shropshire.
The report highlights a number of key recommendations for Shropshire Council which the CRC fully endorse in a rural context. The IPC also recommends that the DCSF should, when reviewing its national funding arrangements for schools, ensure that any new formula or allocation mechanism should fully recognise the needs of councils with small schools in rural areas.
The CRC are also pleased that, following their submission of evidence, the IPC has recommended that the CRC should commission in depth social research on the tangible benefits to rural communities of village schools. 
HM Treasury: The Insurance Industry Working Group (IIWG) has published its report into the medium & long-term challenges facing the insurance industry.  Its findings will be reported to the Chancellor's High-Level Group on City Competitiveness, which will meet later this year.
The report sets out a Vision for the UK insurance industry in 2020 as the leading global insurance centre with an unsurpassed reputation for excellence, a deep & constructive relationship with its customers and a close and effective partnership with Government.
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities are supporting a new NALC publication - 'Whatever, yeah? Local councils and youth provision' - highlighting some of the innovative approaches local councils are taking to better represent and involve young people.
Positive engagement can help young people feel more integrated into the community, help them to make a positive contribution and reduce instances of anti-social behaviour often caused simply out of boredom.  The publication highlights 6 innovative approaches to youth provision from across the country.
FSA: An independent review commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) shows that there are no important differences in the nutrition content, or any additional health benefits, of organic food when compared with conventionally produced food.  The focus of the review was the nutritional content of foodstuffs.
The study, which took the form of a ‘systematic review of literature’ (published over the past 50 years), was carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).  This research was split into 2 separate parts, one of which looked at differences in nutrient levels and their significance, while the other looked at the health benefits of eating organic food.
ScotGov: The importance of the Scottish sea angling sector and its potential for further growth has been revealed in a report commissioned by the Scottish Government. The study - the Economic Impact of Recreational Sea Angling in Scotland - has shown the sector to be a strong employer and healthy contributor to the economy.
According to the report, sea angling supports nearly 3,200 full-time jobs and is worth over £140m to the Scottish economy. The study contains detailed information on regional expenditure & participation, both by resident and visiting sea anglers. Luce Bay and Portpatrick, both in the Solway Firth area, have been identified as the most popular sites.
NENatural England (NE) has welcomed the report by the Innovation, Universities, Skills and Science Committee on Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The report draws heavily on the evidence provided by Natural England, outlining the extensive assessments involved in identifying and notifying SSSIs.
NE welcomes the IUSS’s recognition of the importance of NE’s SSSI notification strategy – which was introduced in November 2008 - in maintaining the value of the SSSI series and also the recommendation of the Committee to review certain aspects of the guidelines, especially in light of climate change pressures.
HMIC:  A report published by H.M. Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) finds that some police
forces lack the specialist skills & resources needed to manage major crime incidents
. The report - Major Challenge: A Thematic Inspection of Major Crime - reviewed the police response across England & Wales to the most serious incidents of violence & death, including homicide, attempted homicide & manslaughter, sexual assaults, and other serious offences.
HMIC found that the of London, Cumbria, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire forces did not meet the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) standard.  The report finds that collaboration between forces may offer police forces an opportunity to share the cost of building the skills & capabilities needed to address some of these
issues.  The benefits of collaboration between forces have been explored by the HMIC in ‘Getting Together’, a previous report published in June 2009.
HMIC will be monitoring the implementation of the recommendations made in the ‘Major Challenge’ report and are also undertaking an inspection of rape investigations across England & Wales forces in spring 2010.
NENatural England (NE) has published region by region maps showing that the public do not have full access to over a third of England’s coastline.  The findings come as the result of an extensive audit – conducted by NE, in partnership with 53 local access authorities - into existing access to England’s coast.
The audit shows that there is no satisfactory or legally secure access to 34% of the English coast.  In the North West, this figure rises to over half the coast (56%).  Access is best in the South West where full public access extends to 76% of the coast.
NE’s audit has also highlighted the importance of the Marine & Coastal Access Bill in enabling footpath networks to adapt to the increasing problem of coastal erosion.  NE’s audit estimates that 13% of the existing coastal rights of way could be lost to erosion in the next 20 years.  Provisions in the forthcoming Bill allow for the new route to be made erosion proof, with the path rolling inland when landslips
AC: Councils are basing important decisions on unreliable information, an Audit Commission study has found. The report - Is there something I should know? -  finds councillors complaining that they receive lengthy reports that don’t contain the information they need.  Less than 5% of councils have excellent quality data and 65% face problems sharing data externally.
The report considers whether councils are equipped to improve their information.  It also says that decision makers must be more demanding about getting the information they need to make decisions. The report finds that almost 80% of councils say that a lack of in-depth analysis is a major problem.  But their analysts spend around twice as much time on producing routine reports as on value-added analysis.
Previous Audit Commission studies have consistently shown that councils have failed to capitalise on the power of information.  Most recently, one report said that only 20% of finance directors had all the information to manage their councils’ estates properly.
The Audit Commission is providing tools to help councillors demand better information and to help councils improve the information they provide to decision makers.  It will also assess councils on the information available to support decision making in use of resources as part of the Comprehensive Area Assessment, which publishes this December.
DH: An independent report to clarify the rules on organ transplants for NHS patients and non-UK EU residents has been published by Elisabeth Buggins, former Chair of the Organ Donation Taskforce. The report was commissioned by the Health Secretary (11 March 2009) following concerns about the number of organs from deceased UK donors being transplanted into non-UK resident EU nationals each year. 
The report’s recommendations, which have been broadly accepted by the Department of Health, will help to ensure public confidence in the fairness & transparency of the organ allocation system. 
DHMeasles vaccination rates are still far lower than levels needed to protect the population.  This is despite the finding of a new Department of Health survey that over 90% of parents are aware it is the best way to protect their child.
The findings follow recent estimates that suggest over 2m children in England are at risk from the disease because they have missed either their first or second MMR vaccination.  And the poll comes as the DH launches a measles awareness campaign
From 1 August the ‘Measles: Is your child safe?’ roadshow will visit 12 measles hotspots across England to give parents the opportunity to talk with health professionals and get the facts on measles and other childhood illness, including the most effective ways to prevent them.

Legislation / Legal

ScotGov: Pubs & shops in Scotland will not have to stop selling alcohol just because the manager has not received their personal licence. The plans are designed to give some leeway for managers who have not yet received their licence. This means that those who have gained the licensing qualification and applied for a personal licence by the end of August 2009 will be able to continue trading after September 1.
The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 requires outlets that sell alcohol to have a premise license.  They must also have a designated premise manager, who is required to have a personal licence.
DCMSPub and bar owners will now find it cheaper & easier to make changes to their licences.  The new application process for small changes to licences – ‘Minor Variations’ - will save the industry as much as £2.3m a year and make it easier for licensees to change the layout of their premises, serve hot food after 11pm or put on some live music events.
Under the new system the applicant will fill in a short form, pay a flat rate of £89 and will wait no more than 15 days for a response, against 28 days at present and compared to the previous average fee of around £225.  There will also no longer be a requirement to advertise in a newspaper or for the licensee to make responsible authorities aware.
In addition, a new measure to help village halls & community halls has also come into force.  Instead of having to have a designated person apply for a personal licence, responsibility for the supervision of alcohol sales can, on application, fall to the management committee.
For halls with permission to sell alcohol already, the cost to apply for the committee to be collectively responsible will be £23.  For halls applying to sell alcohol for the first time, and wishing to apply for the committee to be collectively responsible, there will not be a fee in addition to the normal licence application fee.
MoJ: The new virtual court pilot in Lewisham Police Station has been formally opened by Justice Ministers Bridget Prentice and Claire Ward. Virtual courts free up police time and ensure crimes are dealt with more quickly & effectively.  Cases can be heard within hours of charge via a secure video link between the police station and Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court.
The virtual court will sit at both the court and police station.  The defendant will be online at the police station, with the magistrates or District Judge, legal adviser, CPS and probation service based at the court.  The defendant’s solicitor can be either at the police station or court.
If successful, the London virtual courts pilot, which is coordinated by the London Criminal Justice Board and the Office for Criminal Justice Reform, could generate £2.2m in benefits over the year across the criminal justice system.  A wider roll out across England & Wales could deliver benefits in excess of £10m a year.
BIS: Mr Justice Wyn Williams has ruled the UK’s regulations governing the collection, treatment and recycling of electrical & electronic equipment are lawful and entirely consistent with the EU Directive. Producer Compliance Scheme Repic Ltd brought a Judicial Review in the High Court against the Department for Business and the Environment Agency claiming:
* The continued failure of the Environment Agency to take enforcement action against schemes which are deliberately & significantly over-collecting WEEE is unlawful, and
* The UK WEEE Regulations are unlawful insofar as they fail to provide any mechanism to prevent schemes from charging excessive prices for evidence notes at the end of each compliance period
Ian Lucas MP, Minister for Business, said: “The UK system has made a successful start with the UK recycling the equivalent of roughly 7kg per head of population last year, far in excess of the 4kg requirement set by the European Commission”.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

BIS: Mr Justice Wyn Williams has ruled the UK’s regulations governing the collection, treatment and recycling of electrical & electronic equipment are lawful and entirely consistent with the EU Directive. Producer Compliance Scheme Repic Ltd brought a Judicial Review in the High Court against the Department for Business and the Environment Agency claiming:
* The continued failure of the Environment Agency to take enforcement action against schemes which are deliberately & significantly over-collecting WEEE is unlawful, and
* The UK WEEE Regulations are unlawful insofar as they fail to provide any mechanism to prevent schemes from charging excessive prices for evidence notes at the end of each compliance period
Ian Lucas MP, Minister for Business, said: “The UK system has made a successful start with the UK recycling the equivalent of roughly 7kg per head of population last year, far in excess of the 4kg requirement set by the European Commission”.

Business and Other Briefings

BIS: A package of measures to ‘help UK manufacturers seize the opportunities provided by emerging technologies’ has been launched by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson. Investment totalling £151.5m has been announced as part of the Government’s targeted strategies for key sectors & markets.
It is intended to expand access to information, encourage take up of new technologies and address specific challenges faced by the aerospace sector. Advanced Manufacturing describes businesses which use a high level of design or scientific skills to produce technologically complex products & processes.  Because of the specialised requirements involved, these are usually goods & associated services of high value.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has confirmed an extension of the ‘approved persons regime’ for those that perform a ‘significant influence’ function at firms.  In its supervisory enhancement programme (SEP) the FSA stated that it would place greater emphasis on the role of senior management, including non-executive directors (NEDs).  
This policy statement sets out changes to the approved persons regime which improves FSA’s approach to ‘significant influence’ functions by ensuring that those likely to exert a significant influence on a firm fall within the scope of the approved persons regime.
These changes will come into effect on 6 August 2009 with a transitional period of 6 months.  Firms should now begin assessing which individuals require approval and submit timely applications to comply with the end of the transitional period.
HMRC: The latest in a series of online, bite-sized videos for new & small businesses is now available to download free. Episode three in the ‘Start Up Diaries’ series follows recent developments in the lives of three budding entrepreneurs – Ruth, Nick and Hannah.
The video diary series provides a unique insight – in the trio’s own words – into how they’ve coped with the ups & downs of going it alone.  It can be viewed or downloaded free from the Business Link website and is essential viewing for anyone who’s recently started up in business, or is thinking of doing so.
HMRC recently launched a range of 10 video guides, fronted by TV presenter Dan Snow, which provide a helpful overview on a range of key tax issues.  These include: setting up in business, income tax for the self-employed, corporation tax, and VAT.  They can also be downloaded for free.
COI: The Central Office of Information (COI) has announced that it will create a centralised media buying framework, meaning that one company will handle all of its media buying. To date, COI has tendered its media buying contracts by medium.  These arrangements are set to expire in March 2010.
COI’s decision to create one single supplier framework forms part of its ongoing ‘Agenda for Integration’ announced last April following an independent review of its media buying systems by RAB (Radio Advertising Bureau) founder and media industry expert, Douglas McArthur OBE.
All suppliers interested in applying for the contract should register at and complete the pre-qualification questionnaire by 25 September 2009.  Questions about the contract can be sent via the messaging tool on the website, and questions & answers relevant to all applicants will be published online.  Suppliers should not telephone queries to COI direct.
FSCS: The Financial Services Authority recently published its Policy Statement on banking & compensation reform.  The FSCS welcomes the changes and believes they will contribute to improving consumer confidence.
HMRCHM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has confirmed the details of a new disclosure initiative that will allow people with unpaid taxes linked to offshore accounts or assets, to settle their tax liabilities at a favourable penalty rate.
Under the New Disclosure Opportunity (NDO) people who make a complete & accurate disclosure will qualify for a 10% penalty.  Those who choose not to take this opportunity and are subsequently found to have undeclared tax liabilities are likely to face a 30% or higher penalty and also run an increased risk of criminal prosecution.  Those notifying on paper can do so from 1 September to 30 November, while those notifying electronically can do so from 1 October to 30 November.
BIS: Rosie Winterton, Minister for Regional Economic Development, visited Seevent Plastics near Brighton to highlight the importance of ensuring that companies pay their suppliers promptly, without changing their agreed terms.  Over 750 companies in the South East failed during 2008 because of late payment and the region’s companies will pay over £33m in unnecessary interest charges because of overdue payments this year.
The Minister urged businesses to sign up to the Prompt Payment Code, which aims to encourage better payment performance between businesses.  Regional Minister for the SE, Jonathan Shaw, will also write to local councils, public sector bodies & business groups in the region to encourage them to sign up to the code.
FSCS: Banks, building societies & credit unions are being asked to pay £406m as their initial contribution to the costs of the 5 bank defaults of 2008, the FSCS has confirmed.  It is issuing a levy to deposit taking firms in respect of the interest charges on the loans it used to fund its compensation payments following the failures of 5 banks, together with related management expenses.  
FSCS costs for the defaults were funded through loans from HM Treasury on an interest only basis for the first 3 years.  The Scheme will use any recoveries received to repay the principal.  It will start repaying the outstanding principal (net of any recoveries) in 2012, according to a repayment schedule it will agree with HM Treasury in the light of prevailing market conditions at the time.  The FSA & FSCS are sending invoices to firms due to pay the levy, which are due to be paid by 1 September 2009.
HMRC: A new minimum interest rate on tax repayments of 0.5% means that in future interest will still be payable even when the Bank of England base rate falls below 1.5% HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has announced.
The Government will also be introducing changes to the current interest rates regime which are claimed to  deliver greater transparency & certainty in the way that rates are set and applied.  This will pave the way for the implementation of full interest harmonisation which was legislated for in this year’s Finance Bill.
HMT: The UK Government has introduced legislation to remove VAT from supplies of emissions allowances (also known as carbon credits) traded within the UK, in order to prevent the risk of VAT fraud. The new law, which has already taken effect, follows evidence that commodity trading in emissions allowances is being used by fraudsters to steal VAT revenues from the UK and that the UK may become a major target for this activity in the coming months.
Similar measures have been taken by the Governments of France & the Netherlands to prevent this form of fraud.  The UK Government has sought a derogation from EU law to cover this short-term action pending agreement with EU partners on an EU-wide solution.
CLG: Businesses all over England can now apply to their local council to defer part of their 2009-10 business rates bills thanks to a new government scheme. Local councils are now sending out a simple one page application form with details of how to apply for this scheme and small business rate relief to every ratepayer in England.
Businesses should apply to local authorities as soon as possible.  Once approved businesses will pay reduced instalments for the remainder of the financial year or until payment is complete.  Businesses that submit their application next month can expect to see their bills reduced by October.  Further help may be available for small businesses to pay their bills, with Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR).  
HMRCRevenue & Customs Brief 46/09
This brief announces that emissions allowances will be zero rated with effect from 31 July 2009 in order to tackle the rapidly increasing threat of VAT fraud.

HMRCRevenue & Customs Brief 45/09
This Brief announces changes to the forms and guidance used by individuals who are claiming back VAT that they incurred as DIY housebuilders and converters on the costs of their building work.

The brief announces a series of changes to Schedule 10 of the VAT Act 1994.

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