In the News
CEOP: The risks are real and parents must do their bit - Child sex offenders are switching between the internet and the offline world with increasing frequency & severity in order to target and (in some cases) abduct young victims and parents could & should do more, claims the UK national policing centre for child protection – the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre.
Publishing its 2008/09 Strategic Overview - designed to inform the wider policing & child protection communities of the emerging trends & patterns of offender behaviour - CEOP urged parents to also take note and have published a public version via podcasts & downloads so that they too can understand how the threat manifests itself.
Almost 5,500 reports were received by the Centre during the past 12 months of which 2,500 came from members of the public using the organisation’s unique online ‘CEOP Report’ button. Anyone providing an online environment where children go can apply to embed the ‘CEOP Report’ button by visiting www.ceop.police.uk/digitallibrary. 1,373 of those reports were from young children themselves of which 89% related specifically to instances of grooming.
ScotGov: Talking their way to Independence - Scotland's National Conversation has taken on an international dimension with the publication of the Scottish Government's paper on Europe and Foreign Affairs. Minister for External Affairs and the Constitution Michael Russell said: "This paper on Europe and Foreign Affairs sets out options for the people of Scotland if they choose to seek further responsibilities for their Parliament and Government. These options range from maintaining the current arrangements, through to greater devolution or full independence……..
Ten years on from the creation of the Scottish Parliament, it is clear that change is needed in Scotland and in how we are represented on the world stage. I now look forward to a full and open debate on this vital issue of Europe and Foreign Affairs before inviting the people of Scotland to make an informed decision about their future in a referendum on independence."
Newswire – AC: Central policy may provide a good sound bite, but not the best value - Councils are focused on building new homes, but should give more attention to making the most of existing houses & flats in their area. This is one of the findings in a new national report by the Audit Commission, which says that 1 in 3 councils struggles to understand the housing market on its own doorstep.
'Building better lives' finds that councils feel pressured into focusing on building brand new housing – 94% of areas have prioritised new and/or affordable housing targets in their local area agreements, but fewer than a third prioritised targets relating to their existing housing stock, despite the financial savings, environmental improvements and social benefits of doing so.
The report finds that if all councils thought of housing more broadly they could do more to combat poverty, ill-health, educational under-achievement and help strengthen their local communities. The report also shows that taking a strategic view of an area's housing is not only critical to its economy, education, public health & community cohesion, but across all public service areas it can be a major cost saver:
* £1 spent on housing support for a vulnerable person saves nearly £2 in health services, tenancy failure, crime and residential care
*Spending as little as £2,000 on adaptations to help an elderly person stay in their own home can save £6,000 a year on care
* If only 5% of empty homes could be brought back into use, councils could cut their annual homelessness costs by £½bn
Newswire – TUC: Would reducing Tax Relief on pension contributions be a better option than a 50% tax rate? - Taxpayers are paying £2.50 for subsidising the pensions of the richest 1% of the population for every pound spent on paying pensions to retired public servants such as nurses, teachers and civil servants, according to new research published by the TUC.
The cost of providing tax relief on pensions in 2007/8 was £37.6bn according to HMRC figures – nearly 10 times the net cost of unfunded public sector pension schemes that are not backed by an investment fund. Tax relief is heavily skewed towards the better off. Treasury figures reveal that 60% of tax relief goes to higher rate taxpayers, including 25% - nearly £10bn a year - going to the top 1% of earners, on more than £150,000 a year.
The findings are revealed in a new campaign pamphlet Decent Pensions for all that says the real pension problem in the UK is not the affordable cost of public sector pensions, but the growth in the number of private sector employees with no pension. 62.6% of the private sector workforce get no employer backed pension.
Newswire – IDeA: Hopefully this means that the government cares - England’s 5m unpaid carers of people provide up to £87bn worth of care to family & friends with long term conditions or support needs. 1m people in England care for 50 or more hours per week. In the UK, there is a turnover of 2m people moving in & out of caring, which means that the task of identifying & supporting local carers is never complete, with many carers attempting to provide unsustainable levels of care in isolation.
A new blueprint for councils who are buying services to help carers who are looking after people in their homes comes in a new Guide ‘Commissioning for Carers’. It has been launched by the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) and 4 carers’ organisations working alongside health & local government agencies, with support from the Department of Health.
The guide aims to help local areas to meet new NHS and social care inspection expectations on carers and demonstrate competencies. It also highlights the carer-relevant aspects of key government health & social care strategies. The guide introduces a new model of comprehensive carer support, which is a working consensus drawn up in consultation with providers & commissioners outlining the range of carer interventions needed in any area in order to achieve the 5 outcomes for carers as outlined in the vision of the ‘National Carers Strategy’.
This can be used by leaders to generate a strategic overview of current provision and unmet need. The guide is accompanied by a shorter Action Guide for Decision-Makers aimed at directors of adult services, Primary Care Trust (PCT) chief executives and elected members.
Industry News: It’s the little things that often cause the most trouble - Sometimes, big threats come in small packages - like a tiny USB stick that steals identity information, or launches malware into the heart of your local authority (Computer weekly – Virus attacks Ealing Council) - making compliance with the Government Connect Code of Connection potentially difficult, complex and costly.
Now, as Bracknell Forest Council has discovered, Novell can help: "Like most Local Authorities, Bracknell Forest council has found it a challenge to comply with the Government Connect Code of Connection (CoCo) requirements. The deployment of Novell solutions has significantly helped the Council to address a number of these requirements, by providing robust and flexible security control of workstations,laptops and portable storage devices." Ian Slee, CIO, Bracknell Forest Council.
In addition to ‘locking down’ hardware according to centrally managed security policies, the Novell solution provides full reporting on activity at the boundaries of the network. CoCo status will be reviewed by central government on an annual basis and the ability to run network audits using Novell ZENworks Endpoint Security Management should make it easy & cost-effective for the Council to demonstrate compliance.
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WAG: First Minister Rhodri Morgan has praised a Welsh scientist responsible for groundbreaking new research into Alzheimer’s disease (part funded by the Welsh Assembly Government). Professor Julie Williams led an international team in discovering 2 new genes associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Previously only one gene, APOE4, had been shown to be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. This study reveals two further genes, CLU and PICALM, are related to Alzheimer's disease.
NE: Research by Natural England (NE) and the RSPB reveals that the bittern – one of the UK’s most threatened birds – has enjoyed its best ever year for at least 120 years, continuing this formerly extinct British bird’s dramatic recovery. The bittern is one of 52 species of bird to be placed on the Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern.
The bittern – a relative of the grey heron – is confined in Britain to tracts of extensive reedbed, especially sections of East Anglia, pockets of northern England and, more recently, the Somerset Levels & Moors. Researchers estimate the UK bittern population by listening for the male bittern’s booming song, which the birds use to establish territories and attract females. The boom can be heard up to 3km or more away.
The bittern – a protected species in Europe – has been subject to two EU Life projects, funded by the European Commission, since 1997. The annual bittern monitoring initiative is a partnership between NE and the RSPB under the Action for Birds in England programme.
MoD: A Royal Marines duo have successfully navigated the central section of the Arctic’s notorious North-West passage, in a 17 foot open boat. Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Oliver (42) and Major Tony Lancashire (36) have taken 42 days to sail & row their 17-foot boat Arctic Mariner 1,400 miles through Canada’s Northern provinces. The adventurers used the latest Canadian ice charts to weave their way through the hostile Arctic seas & landscape, braving freezing storms, pack ice, charging bears and curious whales.
A year in the planning, the duo’s expedition was conceived to raise awareness of the charity ‘Toe in the Water’ for which they have raised in excess of £10K. The charity is dedicated to inspiring injured servicemen & women to move beyond their disability through competitive sailing - an extension of Headley Court’s rehabilitation programme.
MoD: A new Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) Package, part of the Future Integrated Soldier Technology (FIST) programme, has been ordered from Thales UK under a £150m contract. The new thermal sights will allow soldiers to conduct surveillance and engage targets in all weather & light levels, including zero light, where normal night sights would be rendered ineffective.
Thermal imaging has the added benefits of improving the ability to see through optical camouflage; it will also enhance the soldiers’ ability to conduct low level change recognition of tell tale thermal signatures of concealed weapons and IEDs. Deliveries of the new kit will begin at the end of 2010 and the first equipment will be given to troops for training, prior to being deployed to Afghanistan, in early 2011.
Ofgem: Ofgem has announced the creation of a new business unit, Ofgem E-Serve, as part of a major restructuring of the regulator to meet the challenge of helping to deliver a low carbon economy. Ofgem E-Serve will focus on administering environmental programmes and the delivery of sustainability projects like offshore wind, smart meters, the proposed carbon capture & storage levy and feed-in tariffs.
Ofgem E-Serve already runs £3.9bn of Government environmental programmes and offshore transmission, up from £150m in 2001. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has also given the organisation a key role in the introduction of smart meters to Britain’s 26m homes and in setting up feed-in tariffs for microgeneration. In addition, DECC is proposing that Ofgem E-Serve is responsible for the carbon capture & storage levy.
HMT: From this month onwards, children who turn seven will get a £250 birthday boost to their Child Trust Fund account. The extra money will benefit 700,000 children per year, with children in lower income families also receiving a further £250. A further payment of £250 will also be made to the accounts of 7-year-old children in lower-income families, and children in care.
ACE: Arts Council England has made a third round of awards from its £40m Sustain fund for organisations under pressure as a result of the recession. The awards announced are worth around £6.2m over 2 years and will help a further 18 arts organisations maintain artistic excellence during the economic downturn.
A total of 136 applications have been received to date and applications requesting £31m are still under consideration. Further awards will be announced by early October 2009. All awards from the Sustain fund are one-off and are made to cover the period 2009 – 2011.
WAG: First Minister, Rhodri Morgan has performed the official opening ceremony for Wales’ first commercial scale biomass plant, in Port Talbot. The £33m Western Wood Energy Plant, which is now fully operational, generates enough electricity to power the equivalent of 31,000 homes a year.
The 14 Megawatt plant uses only wood as the fuel, the majority of which is sourced locally from Welsh forests and by-products from timber industries. The plant's combustion process will result in no net increase of carbon dioxide as trees draw this greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. The project will also avoid 47,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions otherwise produced by an equivalent fossil fuel power station.
MCA: The Maritime & Coastguard Agency have seen a dramatic - and welcome - increase in the number of Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) and Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) being registered with the MCA’s 406 MHz Distress & Security Beacon Registry based at Falmouth Coastguard station.
A 406 MHz beacon is an important part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System as it sends a digital signal via satellites to the Coastguard that identifies the vessel or person in distress. EPIRBs are designed for maritime use and float free from the vessel in the event of a capsize or can be manually cast adrift after a vessel failure or catastrophic event whereas PLBs have to be manually activated.
Manufacturers provide registration forms with beacons but these are also available from RYA/CG booklets, RA registration documentation and magazine articles etc. Forms can also be obtained from the MCA website.
DCMS: Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw has announced that 29 cities and local areas from across the UK have already put themselves forward as potential candidates to become the first ever UK City of Culture in 2013. The winning place, to be announced next spring, will host big ticket national cultural events, as well as putting on a year-long programme of their own.
He also announced that Phil Redmond, the architect of Liverpool’s highly successful year as European capital of Culture in 2008 will chair the judging panel for the City of Culture competition. The winning city will be provided with the title of UK City of Culture for their year and given rights to the UK City of Culture brand, with scope to tailor it to their own city if desired.
LDA: Over 100 business representatives met recently to discuss how they can help stem climate change by cutting carbon dioxide emissions from commercial properties in London. The Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) and Green500 event brought together some of London's most prominent owners & occupiers to develop sustainability solutions to the commercial property market.
Commercial property owners have an important role to play in reducing CO2 emissions from their buildings – as the commercial building stock in London is responsible for a third of London’s CO2 emissions. But there are several barriers.
MoD: A ceremony to dedicate a new Royal Navy memorial in remembrance of the many men & women who have served in the Royal Naval Air Service and Fleet Air Arm was held at the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire on Friday 11 September 2009.
This year the Royal Navy is celebrating the Centenary of Naval aviation and it will honour the sacrifice made by the 6,749 men & women who have given their lives in the service of Naval aviation over the past 100 years. The new memorial, a sculptured plinth of Portland stone supporting a granite aircraft carrier, is set amidst an avenue of fine old English oak trees close to the National Armed Forces Memorial.
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has launched its 'Just Tick It' campaign warning consumers about fraudulent ticket websites. Supported by a host of musical & sporting celebrities, the OFT campaign coincides with new research which reveals that 20% of people know someone who has been scammed by bogus ticket sites. To check who a website is registered to consumers can search for domain name registrant information using an online search tool, such as www.whois.com and www.nominet.org.uk (for.uk domain names).
The OFT is encouraging event-goers to take simple steps to help ensure they are not scammed when buying tickets online – so ‘tick off the top tips’ from OFT-managed advice service Consumer Direct to make sure you are buying the real deal.
MoD: The UK & French governments have announced the start of a joint 2-year Assessment Phase to develop systems & technologies for a new helicopter-launched anti-surface missile. The weapon is being developed for use initially in the naval environment and to be launched from different helicopters, including the British Lynx Wildcat and the French NH90 and Panther platforms.
This co-operative project, which meets the UK’s Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (FASGW) and the French Anti-Navire Léger (ANL) requirements, is the latest in a long history of co-operation between the two nations on missile projects, which has most recently included Meteor and the Sea Viper (Principal Anti Air Missile System - PAAMS)
ACE: Arts Council Englandis recruiting 150 people (closing date for applications - 9 October 2009) with knowledge & understanding of the arts to carry out assessments of the work of its regularly funded organisations. Beginning work in January 2010, they will report on the full range of artforms including specialisms such as work for children & young people, culturally specific arts and disability-led arts.
They are expected to come from a diverse range of backgrounds & practice and may include artists, arts managers, academics and critics. Their reports will feed into the Arts Council’s ongoing artistic evaluation of regularly funded organisations, providing a broader evidence base to help inform its funding decisions. The aim is to appoint a further 150 in 2010, so that 300 assessors are ultimately available, with 50% of them being replaced or re-appointed each year.
NA: The latest batch of newly opened UFO files saw over 450,000 file downloads from national & international ET enthusiasts in the first 2 days of their release. The videocast, featuring UFO history expert Dr David Clarke, has also been viewed by thousands across the globe.
The release is part of a 3-year project by the Ministry of Defence and The National Archives to open up these records to a worldwide audience. The latest instalment consisted of 14 files of sightings, letters and Parliamentary Questions spanning from 1981 to 1996.
Included in this release are papers relating to the famous RendleshamForest sightings, often described as 'Britain's Roswell', and reports of a lemon-headed alien trying to lure 2 men away in Staffordshire. Also recorded are accounts of UFO sightings in Belgium that led to the Belgian Air Force scrambling F-16 fighters to intercept the strange flying objects.
TfL: Everything’s coming up roses on the Tube as winners of London Underground in Bloom gardening competition are announced. The LU staff gardening awards aim to recognise employees who have gone beyond the call of duty to add splashes of colourful flowers & plants to the network.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has issued an allergy alert. Whittard of Chelsea has withdrawn 3 tea products because they contain macadamia and almond nuts that are not mentioned on the label. If you have an allergy or intolerance to nuts you are advised not to consume these products. Its Rooibos Cream Caramel Flavoured Tea and its Sticky Toffee Pudding Tea have been found to contain macadamia nuts. Its Spiced Chai Green Tea has been found to contain almonds.
Whittard of Chelsea has withdrawn the affected products. In addition, the company will be also contacting the relevant allergy support organisations, which will inform their members of the withdrawal. Notices will be displayed in all stores to alert consumers to the reasons for the withdrawal and the actions they can take if they have purchased these products. No other Whittard products are known to be affected.
Directgov: West of England councils Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are running a joint competition aimed at cutting food waste. They are asking local residents to complete a 7-day food diary, pledging to reduce food waste.
Everyone who returns a food diary will win a free 'Eat Well, Waste Less' cookery book. People who suggest ideas to prevent food waste have the chance to win a class at a local cookery school.
Every year we throw away £4bn-worth of food because we cook or prepare too much. This amounts to 6.7m tonnes and most of this is food that could have been eaten. A video & recipes for using leftover foods like bread, spaghetti, potatoes and vegetables are available from the Love Food Hate Waste site.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has announced further progress on the development of the national 'Scores on the Doors' scheme for England, Wales & Northern Ireland, which will provide consumers with information about hygiene standards in food businesses.
Following discussions with the UK-wide steering group that was set up to advise on the scheme, the FSA has decided to opt for a broad top band for the new 6-tier rating scheme. This will mean that local authorities can concentrate their resources on helping the high-risk establishments at the lower end of the scale to improve their rating.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
HO: A raft of new government measures will ensure that resident workers can have every opportunity to fill vacancies before they are offered to workers abroad, the Home Secretary has announced. The Government has accepted the 16 recommendations made by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) last month to tighten up the rules controlling when skilled workers are allowed to take jobs in the UK under the Government's points system.
This will mean that from 2010, all jobs must be advertised to British workers in Jobcentre Plus for 4 weeks, extended from two weeks, before companies can seek to employ individuals from outside Europe. The Government will also extend the qualifying period for all those overseas workers who want to transfer to work at the UK base of their company meaning that they must have worked for their firm for at least a year rather than just six months prior to the move.
The minimum salary that will allow an individual to qualify as a skilled worker and be eligible to work in the UK will also rise from £17,000 to £20,000.
ScotGov: A call for more volunteers to join the Children's Panel and help improve the outlook for young people in their area has gone out across Scotland. Children's Minister Adam Ingram said people could make a huge difference to the lives of children in their local community who have been neglected, abused or are going through troubled times.
The Children's Panel is unique to Scotland and was established in 1971 to address the needs & behaviour of children & young people who face serious problems in their lives. These problems can include, for example, a child being abused, a child failing to attend school, the child's parents having difficulty looking after them or a child committing an offence.
ScotGov is discussing proposals to strengthen & streamline Scotland's Children's Hearings system and improve the support given to vulnerable young people with stakeholders before legislation is introduced to the Scottish Parliament early next year.
WAG: New projects to help protect people in East Wales from the risk of flooding are to receive £13.3m in funding. Flood & coastal risk schemes in Flintshire, Wrexham, Powys, Monmouthshire, Newport, Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan will be able to apply for the financial support.
The 5-year programme will help protect 700 homes & businesses and will include the construction of flood defences and raising awareness of the threat of flooding among vulnerable communities. The programme has been made possible with £6m from the European Regional Development Fund, with the remaining funding from the Welsh Assembly Government and others.
BIS: Creative music master classes for people out of work or education, learning adventures for isolated older people and access to digital technologies in a Tyneside Cinema are all on offer thanks to an investment in ‘learning for pleasure’ announced by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
The £20m Transformation Fund, launched by Government to offer grants for more than 213 innovative informal adult learning projects in England, are intended to ‘bring to life’ The Learning Revolution, a White Paper presented to Parliament in March 2009.
The projects, many spearheaded by partnerships between public, private & third sector organisations, will hopefully help improve mental health, physical well-being, active citizenship & community cohesion, as well as providing a stepping stone towards further learning, qualifications and employment for many people.
DFID: The UK will double its funding for a road-building in the Democratic Republic of Congo to improve access to some of the world's most remote regions. The DRC has one of the least developed roads networks in the world - 95% of the DRC's 152,400 km of roads are effectively just paths, making it difficult to get food, medicine & trade routes open. Only one out of ten of the provincial capitals are easily accessible by road.
This severely hampers development prospects and has been cited as a reason the country is so poor. Of the 60m population, around 45m live on less than 50p a day. One in seven children die before their fifth birthday and every day nearly 100 Congolese mothers die in childbirth.
Studies have shown that in areas where there are no roads, bandits & rebels often commit crimes and then disappear into heavily forested areas to escape justice. Roads allow soldiers & police better access to keep law & order. In addition, better roads mean small-scale farmers can get their produce to market before it rots or spoils and also brings down prices in the area by increasing competition from traders.
CLG: Housing Minister John Healey has given the green light for work to begin building over 2,000 new council homes that will help create over five thousand jobs in the construction industry. 47 councils, covering every region of the country, will receive a share of £127m Government funding to help build these homes.
They will match funding bringing total investment to over £250m and construction will begin on the first sites before the end of 2009. He will alsoannounce a second wave of projects in the autumn. 80% will be built to standards well above that required by building regulations helping to cut CO2 emissions and reduce energy bills for the families that live in them. See also ‘Newswire – AC’ item in ‘In the News’ section above.
CLG: Housing Minister John Healey has confirmed a further boost for affordable housing with almost £250m to provide 3,400 affordable homes and create around 5,000 jobs. Every region of the country will receive funding which is shared between 43 housing associations and other bodies operating across 97 local authority areas. This funding comes the day after Mr Healey gave the green light to a programme to build new council homes.
HCA: The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has received 132 completed submissions from a range of construction & development companies, to the Pre-Qualifying Questionnaire (PQQ) for a panel being set up to develop its sites, which can also be used by Local Authority partners for developing their land.
The Delivery Partner Panel framework will exist for 3 years and be split into 3 regional clusters - Northern, Central and Southern panel - each with 6 to 12 members. Panel members will cover the full range of development activity and will be responsible for securing sales of completed homes either themselves or by working with partner organisations.
There will be up to 20 firms shortlisted for each panel. Of the bids received, 29% expressed an interest in all three regional clusters, 45% expressed an interest in two and 45% had a preference for one regional cluster only.
ScotGov: A national improvement programme to drive up health standards in the NHS has been showcased to Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon, as Patient Safety Month got underway this month. The Scottish Patient Safety Programme aims to reduce hospital mortality by 15% and adverse incidents by 30%. Ms Sturgeon says it is achieving this through a whole range of projects in Scottish hospitals.
The SPS Programme works by giving front-line staff permission to make changes to the way they work. What is done to change the culture might be as simple as a chart on the wall where staff tick off carrying out each process one by one to make sure they are done each time.
Projects are trialled in individual health boards before being rolled out across Scotland. The programme is currently 20 months into its 5-year lifespan.
CLG: Communities Secretary John Denham has claimed that councils in North Kent, the West Midlands and the West of England have been given new freedoms & powers to work together to improve employment, skills, housing and transport in their regions.
The issues that affect people's lives (like jobs & housing) do not stop neatly at council boundaries. Councils increasingly need to join forces across their borders to mastermind regional solutions for getting more people back into work, raising skills levels, or developing new transport links. The Government is helping local authorities to work together to do this through new Multi-Area Agreements (MAAs).
DECC: A competition for up to £7.2m of funding for companies to develop Hydrogen & Fuel Cell technology has opened. The competition is being funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change and is part of measures for stimulating low carbon technologies announced in this year’s budget. Companies will be able to bid to the Technology Strategy Board, who will manage the programme, for a share of the cash.
Hydrogen & Fuel Cells have the potential to help drastically reduce carbon emissions because they only emit water & heat as by products. The energy conversion in fuel cells is more efficient than those of other technologies such as the internal combustion engine.
Defra: The future of sustainable clothing was the focus of Environment Minister Dan Norris’ visit to the Nike facility in Belgium last week. The Environment & Sustainability Minister was there to see how Nike’s ‘Considered Design’ ethos is being integrated across its sportswear product ranges, as part of Defra’s Sustainable Clothing Action Plan. Considered Design is intended to measure & minimise the environmental impact of each product – from trainers to jackets – throughout its lifecycle – from design to re-use/recycling.
Considered Design takes into account the materials used and their embedded footprint right through from design, to manufacture, to sale & end of lifespan. This includes minimising the toxicity of materials, cutting out waste, re-using materials & products and maximising the re-use potential of products through recycling.
The Minister also saw first-hand Nike’s pilot shoe recycle initiative in partnership with IOK – a Belgian waste management company. Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe scheme collects worn-out athletic shoes of any brand from a variety of sources, shoes that are returned from retailers due to a material flaw and counterfeit shoes. These are then ground up to make 3 different raw sports materials for use in a variety of applications including sports surfacing.
DCSF: Schools Secretary Ed Balls has teamed up with Jamie Cullum to set the stage for the first ever National Year of Music. In launching the Year of Music, Ed Balls has called on schools & local authorities to make a concerted effort to get more young people into music, so that by 2011 over 2m primary school pupils will have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument.
The Year of Music will run from September 2009 to September 2010, with events taking place across the country over the coming year. It will bring together opportunities available to children & young people across England, and encourage them – whatever their talent – to get involved in music.
BIS: Speaking at the Universities UK conference David Lammy announced the creation of the Low Carbon Future Leaders placement scheme that will give 1,500 graduates the opportunity to work & gain paid work experience in a sector that will be providing the jobs for the future. The Graduates will initially work on marine energy in the South West and on low carbon vehicles in the North East.
This initiative is part of the Backing Young Britain campaign, which is providing funding of £40m for new internships & work placements for graduates and 10,000 places for non-graduates. This funding will support the development of a new mentoring network to help young people find their feet in a tough jobs market and offer more help from day one of unemployment through job clubs and 1-2-1 support. HEFCE will work with universities and regional partners to determine the most effective way of implementing the initiative.
WAG: Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones, has announced arrangements for the opening of the Organic Farming Conversion Scheme, providing an opportunity for farmers to apply to join between 15 September & 30 September 2009. The scheme offers support for organic conversion over a 2 year period, provided for under the Rural Development Programme for Wales 2007 - 2013.
In line with the requirements of Glastir, the new land management scheme for Wales, the minimum eligible area to be entered into the scheme is 3 hectares. Applicants’ must have commenced organic conversion in their field parcels on or after 15 July 2009 and no later than 1 January 2010. It should be noted that converting to organic farming without an offer of support from the Welsh Assembly Government is a business decision; it does not guarantee an offer of financial support.
ScotGov: Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has announced plans for an increase in critical care capacity of at least 100% across Scotland in readiness for any major surge in the number of cases of H1N1 later this year.
The plans will create the ability to increase, as required, the number of adult ICU beds from 180 to at least 378, and double the number of paediatric beds.
The expansion in capacity will be achieved by a range of measures, including:
* The identification & redeployment of staff, and where appropriate recruitment & upskilling of contingency staff
* The purchase of 40 extra adult ventilators & 15 extra paediatric ventilators
* The upgrading of high dependency beds to ICU level.
* The postponement, as necessary, of inpatient elective & outpatient activity
CC: The Competition Commission (CC) has published an issues statement as part of its inquiry into Sports Direct International plc’s acquisition of 31 stores from JJB Sports plc. The CC has been asked by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to decide whether the acquisition may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition (SLC) within any market or markets in the UK.
The issues statement follows the first stages of gathering information, views & evidence and identifies for all interested parties the specific questions & areas the inquiry is examining. These issues will form the basis for hearings with Sports Direct and other parties. The CC is expected to report by 21 January 2010 and would like to hear comments on the issues statement from any interested parties, in writing, by 22 September 2009.
Defra: Advice for owners of non-human primates about how to look after their animals has been published in a proposed new Code of Practice (consultation closes on 30 November 2009). There are an estimated 1,200 non-human primates kept privately in England.
Defra set up a working group including owners, vets & animal welfare groups in response to concerns that non-human primates were readily available without buyers knowing enough about the animals’ welfare needs. The Code highlights existing legal requirements for keepers under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and includes practical advice. It will also help law courts with cases brought before them (applies to England only).
DH: The Department of Health has launched a consultation (closes on 7 October 2009) on whether there is a need to make temporary changes to the Mental Health Act 1983 should exceptional circumstances arise during pandemic flu. The contingency legislation would enable mental health patients to continue to get the treatment they need in the event of severe staff absences.
The DH are consulting on whether they should temporarily change certain aspects of the 1983 Act in the event of severe staff absences during pandemic flu. The changes would ensure that mental health professionals could continue to operate the Act in the best interests of the patient and for the protection of others.
If the contingencies are implemented, they propose to ask the Care Quality Commission to convene an oversight group with representation from national mental health service user and professional bodies to advise on progress and the need for ongoing contingency measures.
DH: Health & public sector professionals are being asked for their views on how the NHS can improve its services for women & girls who have been victims of violence & sexual assault. Each year, across the UK, 3m women experience violence including domestic violence, sexual violence, forced marriage and trafficking.
The Taskforce on the health aspects of violence against women & girls is holding a listening exercise to collect feedback from health and other public sector professionals. Health & public sector professionals should go to www.dh.gov.uk/vawg to register their views by the 14 October 2009.
Cabinet Office: The Office of the Third Sector has published a consultation document (closing on 4 December 2009) on a draft Consolidation Bill, which would bring together provisions of the Recreational Charities Act 1958, Charities Act 1993 and most of the Charities Act 2006, into a single piece of legislation.
The aim of consolidating charity law is to make it simpler & more accessible and will not involve significant changes in policy. The amendments made would remove unnecessary inconsistencies and repeal provisions which are now considered obsolete.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
PB: Following a consultation with stakeholders representing both victims & prisoners, the Parole Board has published a protocol that sets out a code of practice for victim participation in Parole Board hearings. This formal policy details the parameters of victim participation so that expectations are set and the Board can ensure that it meets its legal obligations to provide fair hearings.
For some time the Parole Board has been allowing victims to make written statements for consideration by the panel. These statements are commonly known as victim personal statements. On occasion, there have been applications for victims to attend hearings in order to present their victim personal statements in person. To date, such applications have been dealt with on a case by case basis.
FSA: Almost one third of people may face financial difficulties when they retire, according to new research and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) & Association of British Insurers (ABI) are launching an online pension calculator which is designed to help people gauge how much they will have to live on in retirement.
The pension calculator, on the Moneymadeclear website, enables anyone with a pension fund from a previous employer, those paying into a new pension scheme, or people without any existing pension at all, to calculate their potential retirement income based upon regular payments. Further functionality will be added to the calculator in the future.
Advice for owners of non-human primates about how to look after their animals has been published in a proposed new Code of Practice (consultation closes on 30 November 2009) – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
Newswire – CABE: Design quality has been placed at the heart of planning for security in draft counter-terrorism guidance from the Home Office. Safer places: a counter-terrorism supplement seeks to ensure that counter-terrorism features are included in building & public space designs from the start to protect them from attack. 8 years on from the 9/11 attacks on New York City, the guidance says the threat from terrorism remains ‘severe’, meaning that an attack (which could occur without warning) is ‘highly likely’ on crowded places.
The guidance stresses the importance & cost-effectiveness of designing in counter-terrorism measures into new buildings from the start. The supplement incorporates urban design principles & points to guidance such as the Department for Transport’s Manual for streets. The final guidance will supplement Safer Places, the anti-crime good practice guidance published in 2004.
ScotGov: Published figures for greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland indicate that total emissions, which include international aviation & shipping, were 56.9m tonnes CO2 equivalent (Mt CO2e), compared with 61.0 Mt CO2e in 2006 - a 6.8% reduction on 2006 figures. This means that compared to the 1990 baseline of 70.0 Mt CO2e, greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland have fallen by 18.7%.
The greenhouse gas emissions data for all four countries of the UK will be published through the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) website on 24 September 2009.
DCSF: Ministers have responded to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Education at a Glance report, which provides a rich, comparable & up-to-date array of indicators on the performance of education systems. The indicators look at who participates in education, what is spent on it, how education systems operate and what results are achieved.
TCs: Britain’s bus & haulage regulators – the 7 Traffic Commissioners based in Scotland, Leeds, Manchester, Cambridge, Birmingham and Wales, Eastbourne, and Bristol – have published their Annual Report for 2008-2009.
The Traffic Commissioners are statutorily independent Licensing Authorities responsible for bus, coach & goods vehicle operators and for local bus service registrations. They can also take disciplinary action against the licence of bus, coach and lorry drivers who commit road and certain other offences.
BIS: More than three quarters of people claim they feel well informed about their employment rights – a rise of 13% - according to figures published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The 2008 Fair Treatment at Work Survey (FTWS) also shows that problems with specific employment rights have fallen with more people prepared to seek information & advice on problems that do arise. In particular, problems with pay & working time (including annual leave) have more than halved since 2005.
CEOP: Publishing its 2008/09 Strategic Overview, designed to inform the wider policing & child protection communities of the emerging trends & patterns of offender behaviour, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre urged parents to take note and have also published a public version via podcasts & downloads so that they too can understand how the threat manifests itself – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
SE: Sport England has published a quarterly update on regular sports participation in England. The Active People Survey of 190,000 people each year is the biggest of its kind and is used to measure progress against SE’s targets to get more people playing & enjoying regular sport. The latest update shows sport participation levels in the 12-month period from July 2008 – July 2009.
General Reports and Other Publications
ESRC: Shoppers face a complex & time-consuming task to get the best deal, depending on the store they buy food from and the item involved, according to a new booklet ‘Public behaviour in the UK in times of economic decline/rising food prices’. Published by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) it highlights that the reports of a ‘food price crisis’ fail to notice large cost variations over time & by outlet.
The booklet is based largely on insights from 2 academic experts on food pricing presented at a public policy seminar organised by the ESRC for the Food Standards Agency. Their research included checking the prices of more than 50 standard food items in 250 stores in 1997 and 500 in 2007, ranging from multiples &discounters to greengrocers and delicatessens.
Failing to choose the right store could mean - in an extreme case - a price premium as high as 260% for a tin of baked beans from a delicatessen (72p) compared with a discount store (20p).
CRC: The recent NALC Annual Conference 2009: 'Putting People First' showed local councils now have the opportunity to further develop their role &services to enhance their position as advocates &representatives of their communities. Stuart Burgess, the Commission for Rural Communitites chair (and the Government's Rural Advocate), spoke to the conference about the opportunities for collaboration with NALC to help strengthen the role of local councillors.
DH: Surveys for NHS Teen LifeCheck reveal social similarities & divides on some of the top teenage concerns. Of the teenagers surveyed, almost double the number of teens from low income families worried about bullying. However, teens from higher income families are more likely to worry about peer pressure and fitting in.
Further research also shows that 48% of teens don’t feel they can talk to their friends about their worries because they think they’ll be considered silly or different and 31% feel that their friends just wouldn’t understand.
The NHS Teen LifeCheck online service (which is specifically targeted at young people aged 12-15) is aimed at teens with the highest risk of future ill health caused by their lifestyle choices. The website encourages them to complete its quiz & act on the results and signposts people to support for issues like bullying.
Newswire - WAO: The way the States of Guernsey (the States) currently directs itself does not facilitate the delivery of sustainable services that offer value for money for the Islanders. That is the conclusion of an independent review carried out by the Auditor General for Wales, Jeremy Colman.
His review concludes that the States’ arrangements do not fully comply with any of the 6 principles of good governance for public bodies set out by the Independent Commission on Good Governance in Public Services. Good governance is essential if public bodies are to deliver value for money and quality services in a transparent manner.
Defra: New research commissioned by Defra has found that banning some materials from landfill in countries around the world may mean that as little as 1% of waste ends up in landfill. Other research is underway into how such bans could work in this country, what infrastructure & resources would be needed, and what the impact would be.
The research on bans in other countries was carried out by Green Alliance and looked at how similar bans have worked in Austria, Flanders, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Massachusetts in the USA. It showed, for example, that the amount of waste sent to landfill in Germany reduced from 27% to 1% after a landfill ban was introduced for some materials, such as paper & card. A public consultation will be held in the next few months on banning certain materials from landfill in England.
GSCC: Responses to a General Social Care Council (GSCC) poll indicate that employers are failing to take action when social workers report concerns or barriers to their work. Almost 50% of respondents to the poll in Social Work Connections, the GSCC’s newsletter for social workers & students, said that when they had reported operational difficulties or concerns about a colleague, their employer had not taken action. Similar numbers said they did not feel confident that their employer would take action if they spoke up.
Social workers are bound by the Code of Practice for Social Care Workers, which says they must ‘use established processes and procedures to challenge and report dangerous, abusive, discriminatory or exploitative behaviour and practice (3.2)’. The most common fears cited by those who said they would not speak up were victimisation and a negative impact on their career.
Earlier this year, the government accepted Lord Laming’s recommendation that the employer’s code become mandatory. The GSCC is in talks about this with Ofsted, CQC and the government and will meet local authority employers in October 2009.
ESRC: Finding appropriate ways to understand the value of culture, media & sport to society and explain this with evidence that convinces has proved a challenge for many years. New approaches to this issue are outlined in ‘Not Only .... But Also: Capturing the Value of Culture Media and Sport’.
This new booklet highlights these approaches & the views of leading experts, policymakers and academic researchers as presented during a Public Policy Seminar jointly organised by the Economic and Social Council (ESRC), the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), held in June 2009.
NE: Three quarters of the public would pay more for fish caught without damaging the environment, according to a new survey published by Natural England. The survey accompanies its new report - Sea fisheries: steps to sustainability’ - highlighting the ways in which fishing practices should be adapted to secure more sustainable fish stocks in English waters.
England’s seas are amongst the most biodiverse in Europe and a long history of over-fishing has contributed to a marked decrease in the populations of many important species such as skate and cod. The report points to the heavy impact of discarding – the ‘scourge of fishing’ - as a practice that now sees nearly a third of the total catch in the North Sea being thrown back into the sea, partly because of quota restrictions.
But Natural England’s report makes clear that current levels of waste and over-exploitation are by no means inevitable. The fishing industry has already made a number of innovations in fishing gear & fishing methods that can help to minimise damage to sea bed environments, and reduce by-catch & discards. A wider programme of fisheries certification is needed to ensure that the fishing industry can capture an economic premium for fish caught through these sustainable fishing methods.
BIS: The Government has published the results of an independent investigation into the collapse of the MG Rover Group (MGRG). The inquiry was set up by the then Secretary of State for Trade & Industry after MGRG, the manufacturer of Rover & MG cars, went into administration on April 8, 2005 owing creditors nearly £1.3bn.
When publishing the findings Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, announced that lawyers have already begun work compiling the underlying evidence required to bring proceedings against the relevant directors to prevent them holding company office in future. He also decided the report should be referred to the Financial Reporting Council, the regulatory body for auditors, accounting and corporate governance.
In addition he has written to the Business & Enterprise Select Committee after the Inspectors found inaccurate & misleading explanations were given to MPs & others, including some evidence given by one of the directors to the Select Committee.
OS: New research amongst the UK’s leading insurance fraud investigators (IFIs) by Ordnance Survey reveals that insurance fraud is continuing to rise, despite soaring to record levels in 2008. According to Sarah Adams, Insurance & Banking Sector Manager at Ordnance Survey: “One area that is being used to effectively tackle the problem is the use of geography & mapping, which is being used by around three quarters of insurance fraud investigators to help highlight hot spots or patterns of fraud, and to help validate claimant information.
“For example, recent analysis using geographic intelligence highlighted how two seemingly unrelated postcodes with high volumes of fraudulent activity were in fact adjacent to each other. Our analysis has also uncovered the hidden spatial relationships between suspect addresses used by an organised crime gang, which would never have been identified through traditional data-mining techniques.”
Legislation / Legal
HSE: Schools are being warned to make sure that full health & safety checks are carried out before pupils head out on work experience, following the prosecution of a Stafford company. DeansfieldHigh School in Wolverhampton employed Making Learning Work Ltd of Brewood, Stafford in 2005 to locate extended work experience placements for 32 pupils at a cost of £650 each.
The company recently pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was given one year’s conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs of £22,000 at Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court, following an injury to a pupil on a placement in January 2006.
Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: ‘It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.’
BMI: The Baha Mousa Inquiry will resume its opening statements at 10am on Monday 21 September 2009. On that day, legal teams for most of the Core Participants will deliver their opening addresses, each speaking for approximately 20 minutes.
The Inquiry intends to call its first witness to give oral evidence on Wednesday 23 September. It has published its first provisional witness list, which will be updated on a weekly basis and published on the Inquiry’s website.
HO: The fight against wildlife has been stepped up with the appointment of the first ever poaching priority officer for England & Wales. Former detective Gareth Cole will be dedicated to supporting the work of all English & Welsh police forces in tackling poaching as part of the government funded National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) whose headquarters are in Scotland.
His role provides additional expertise for tackling serious crimes against wildlife, acting as a single point of contact in the coordination of investigation into poaching crimes in different police areas. He will be working closely with his colleagues in the Scottish poaching priority delivery group.
HO: The latest Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules have been laid before Parliament recently and they will be incorporated into a consolidated version of the Immigration. The changes will come into effect on 1 October 2009. Updated guidance for sponsors & applicants will be available on this website from 30 September 2009.
MoJ: The Probation Service is teaming up with Keep Britain Tidy for this year's 'Big Tidy Up' in which offenders on Community Payback are cleaning up areas of England that have been nominated by the new Tidy Up Champions. The 11 Champions will put offenders to work to tidy up areas of the community that will make a real difference to the lives of those living and working in the chosen area.
The work with Keep Britain Tidy follows a public vote in which members of the public were encouraged to nominate and 'have their say' on projects they want to see made over by offenders in their area. This is part of the ongoing 'Justice Seen Justice Done' Campaign to make justice more visible.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
Newswire – EA: As part of its commitment to continuing the rising standards in water quality across England and Wales, the Environment Agency supported the autumn seminar of the Association of Rivers Restoration Trusts at the London Wetland Centre, Barnes, recently.
Under the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) the UK is required to achieve good ecological status in all surface waters & ground waters by 2027. Currently only 24% of water bodies in Thames region are at good status. The EA is the competent authority for delivering WFD objectives in England & Wales and recognises that partnership working is the only way these objectives can be reached.
ScotGov: Rural Affairs and Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead announced action to extend the list of Scottish foods enjoying Protected Food Name (PFN) status. The Arbroath Smokie, Scotch Beef, Shetland Lamb, among others, already enjoy PFN status, making it illegal for others to cash in on their special appeal by selling imitations.
As part of Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight, Mr Lochhead announced that the Scottish Government will bring together producers currently registered as PFNs (including those elsewhere in Europe) with those hoping to secure that status in the future. The event, to take place later this year, will highlight the benefits, advise on the process for application and provide an opportunity to exchange ideas about growing the number of PFNs in Scotland.
ScotGov: A new study on the impact of the economic downturn and conservation measures on the fishing industry has been published. The study was commissioned by the Scottish Government earlier this year to demonstrate to the European Commission the financial difficulties facing fishermen (ScotGov officials will be meeting European Commission officials on September 25 to discuss the study's findings).
Carried out by economists at industry authority Seafish, it looked at the current & future impacts on fleets of fuel & fish prices, quota reductions and restrictions on days at sea. It found that this year fuel & fish prices are the key factors affecting the profits of the nephrops (prawn/langoustine) sector. Additional restrictions proposed by Europe for 2010 are estimated to have a further impact but, even without these, the sector is likely to remain financially fragile.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
Cabinet Office: The Office of the Third Sector has published a consultation document (closing on 4 December 2009) on a draft Consolidation Bill, which would bring together provisions of the Recreational Charities Act 1958, Charities Act 1993 and most of the Charities Act 2006, into a single piece of legislation – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
Business and Other Briefings
& Customs Brief 60/09This brief addresses
questions we have received concerning the practical implications of Revenue
& Customs Brief 30/09.
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