In the News
DECC: Keeping the lights burning - Energy & Climate Secretary, Ed Miliband, claimed that ‘faster & fairer planning decisions on new energy infrastructure were a step closer’ last week when he laid before Parliament draft texts setting out the national need for a low carbon secure energy mix. He also set out a new policy for the transition to clean coal. The draft National Policy Statements (NPSs) will be the basis on which individual planning decisions are made from March 2010 by the new Infrastructure Planning Commission.
To meet our low carbon energy challenge (and due to the intermittency of wind) we will need significantly more generating capacity in the longer term. One third of that larger future generating capacity must be consented & built over the next 15 years to 2025.
While there are already proposals to build more energy infrastructure, more is needed to bring about the shift to a low carbon future. The NPSs include clear direction towards a massive expansion in renewables, a new nuclear programme based around 10 sites assessed as potentially suitable for new build and a programme to demonstrate clean coal technology.
Six NPSs are published - one overarching and one for each of the following areas: fossil fuels, nuclear, renewables, transmission networks and oil & gas pipelines - alongside the Government's final Framework for the Development of Clean Coal. The consultations close on 22 February 2010.
A consultation (closes on 22 February 2010) on the Secretary of State's proposed decision that two nuclear power station designs are ‘Justified under the Justification of Practices Involving Ionising Radiation Regulations 2004’ has also been launched. It seeks views on the proposed decision and the evidence on which it is based.
DH: A cheap & simple campaign that works - The Department of Health’s Act F.A.S.T. campaign has led to an increase of 55.5% in stroke calls to 999. New research also shows that 84% of the public remember the campaign and its graphic depiction of stroke spreading like fire in the brain. A new online test has also been launched by the NHS to help people to recognise all the signs of stroke and prompt 999 calls when necessary.
The campaign was launched in February 2009 with hard-hitting imagery to highlight the visible signs of stroke and encourage people to call 999 as soon as possible. The ongoing campaign is designed to inform the public about FAST – Face, Arm, Speech, Time to call 999. FAST is a simple test to help people to recognise the signs of stroke and understand the importance of emergency treatment. The faster a stroke patient receives treatment, the better their chances are of surviving and reducing long-term disability.
MoJ: Usually forgotten - Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Justice Minister Claire Ward joined Victims' Champion Sara Payne at the launch of her victims report at a community project in Cheshire. The Compass Victim and Witness Support Service provides independent & confidential support to residents experiencing antisocial behaviour.
Newswire – CABE: Greening generates financial benefits as well as looking better - CABE’s Grey to Green campagn, launched last week in the run up to the UN conference in Copenhagen, argues that a switch is needed in public spending from grey projects, like road building & heavy engineering projects, to green schemes, like street trees, parks, green roofs and waterways.
Figures produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers show how a shift in spending from grey to green of just 0.5% could increase investment in urban green space by 141%. The elements of green infrastructure are all around us, but they don’t yet work together as a functioning system. The campaign report - Grey to Green: how we shift funding and skills to green our cities - argues for more people, with the right skills, to manage the living landscape of our towns & cities.
There is no official system for mapping green infrastructure, so to mark the launch of the campaign CABE has mapped Gloucester, Liverpool and the London boroughs of Hackney and Islington, picking out the green from aerial photographs. They challenge normal perceptions: normal maps show places as made of concrete & tarmac, with some green punctuation.
An argument for investment in green infrastructure at a time of austerity is that unlike most grey infrastructure, green infrastructure is multi-functional. At present, for instance, flood protection requires supersized stormwater pipes. But a combination of living roofs, large trees & soft landscaping can absorb heavy rainfall, store & recycle it for summer irrigation; save energy through insulation; provide shade for offices to cut the need for air conditioning; and make cities more beautiful, so encouraging exercise & improving public health.
Newswire – AC: Not all is doom & gloom with NHS Spending - The NHS is treating more patients at lower cost, says a new briefing from the Audit Commission. The Commission's new briefing, 'More for less', suggests NHS trusts are increasing productivity & reducing unit costs. But overall, there is no sign yet that PCTs have been successful in moving care from hospitals closer to patients’ homes, which is one way to save more money.
'More for less' is an analytical briefing that looks at how NHS money has been spent, whether PCTs have been successful in keeping more patients out of hospital and whether hospitals have become more efficient. Overall, the good news seems to be that NHS acute & specialist trusts are driving down unit costs. This is partly helped by a significant increase in the number of less complex cases treated.
DWP: Cheap Child Care or much more? - Grandparents & their representative organisations last week attended a cross-Government summit to explore the changing role of grandparents in society and talk to Ministers about how the Government can support them.
Topics for discussion included how families & childcare services can adapt to better meet the needs of grandparents, the impact of combining employment with care of their grandchildren and ways to provide more information to grandparents more effectively.
The findings from the summit will inform the forthcoming Families and Relationships Green Paper, which will look at how government can better support all family members (including grandparents) and how services can cater for their differing needs.
MoJ: A bigger stick for the Information Commissioner? - The government has launched a consultation seeking views on implementing a maximum penalty of £500k for serious breaches of the data protection principles.
The consultation (closes on 21 December 2009) - Civil Monetary Penalties: Setting the maximum penalty - asks whether new fines of up to £500k will provide the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) with a proportionate sanction to impose on those seriously contravening the data protection principles.
Industry News: CRM Solution set to save RBK council over £5M by 2012 - The council of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames (RBK), in
London handles everything from housing and adult education to taxation and recycling for its 160,000 residents.
In the past, citizens frequently found it difficult to obtain information because they did not know where to direct their specific inquiries and requests. Likewise, council employees faced problems with tracking interactions with citizens.
Each department used a different method for both managing the information and fulfilling a given request. In turn, this involved an array of custom-developed and proprietary tools, all of which took up considerable time, effort and resource.
In order to centralise interactions with the public and improve services, RBK worked with CIBER to implement a contact centre solution which easily interoperated with back-office systems.
The investment “paid for itself within 12 months and we’re expecting to save more than £5 million by 2012,” said Robin Noble, IT Manager for RBK.
Kingston has transformed how it delivers services to the public and has become a more efficient organisation. “Citizens have one clear source for information, and employees have the ready resources and workflow processes to handle issues quickly and effectively,” said Anne Marie Micallef, E-Services Project Officer for RBK.
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FSA: Asda is recalling its own-brand Wholefoods Garland Figs (250g) with a 'best before' date of 31 July 2010, because the product is infested with moth larvae (moth larvae are caterpillars). The Food Standards Agency has issued a Food Alert for Information. If you have bought the affected product you can return it to the store for a full refund - No till receipt is necessary
FSA: Morrisons has recalled its green Thai-style stir fry sauce, because it contains fish that is not mentioned on the label. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert advising anyone who is allergic to fish not to eat this product. No other Morrisons products are known to be affected.
HMRC: HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has launched its TaxBack campaign, which aims to encourage pensioners who have overpaid tax on interest from savings to claim it back & register for savings interest to be paid gross in future, if they’re non-taxpayers. HMRC will be writing to around 3.4m Pension Credit recipients, asking them to check if they have overpaid tax on their bank or building society interest.
Claiming is easy and can be done using HMRC Form R40. In addition to claiming any overpaid tax back, non-taxpayers can also get future savings interest paid gross, without deduction of tax, by filling out a simple form (Form R85) and sending it to their bank or building society.
CWGC: As part of this year's Remembrance Day, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has been asking today's young people to take a moment and think about the sacrifice of their forebears. It has produced a number of learning aids to help teachers
As an example of what Remembrance Day means to one teenager, the Commission asked 17 year old Crawford McInally-Kier from Hutchesons' Grammar School in Glasgow to explain (in a video report) how a trip to Flanders transformed the way he views honouring the fallen. More information is available at the Commission's recently-launched Learning Zone.
ScotGov: The first trial of new selective gears is underway in the North Sea, as Scotland's 'land more, catch less' approach gathers momentum. The Fraserburgh-registered Caspian, a whitefish boat, is 1 of 5 vessels taking part. Both whitefish & prawn gears will be used in the trials.
Recently the Caspian started using equipment which prevents unwanted cod from being discarded, whilst at the same time allowing groundfish such as monkfish and megrim to be caught. Trials scheduled for the New Year will use different equipment to release cod, whilst allowing other whitefish such as haddock & whiting to be retained. The £250,000 trial uses industry observers to monitor the trials and collect the data.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has allocated £30,000 to supply free hand-held metal detectors for all first-time recipients of Best Bar None Awards. The metal detectors (& the training to use them effectively) will help keep customers safe & combat knife crime. The awards recognise the importance of promoting public safety and the highest standards of care at licensed premises right across Scotland.
WAG: A major new press & radio campaign is being launched in Wales to encourage people in the priority groups to get their swine flu vaccination when invited. Pregnant women, people with chronic conditions and those in contact with people with weakened immune systems are being vaccinated first, because they are most at risk from swine flu and its complications.
The aim of the campaign is to tell everyone the vaccination programme is now underway and that GP practices in Wales, as in the rest of the UK, will be inviting those in the priority groups to be vaccinated.
PCS: Responding to a recent story in the Observer newspaper, the PCS Union has said plans to axe £350m from the skills budget would further undermine frontline services that have already been ‘cut to the bone’. Most of the proposed reduction would fall on places for adult learners, apprenticeships, employer training, and pay & job cuts at further education colleges, according to a document drawn up for business secretary Lord Mandelson and skills minister Kevin Brennan.
The union represents workers in the Learning and Skills Council, the body responsible for distributing the funding, and its parents department – Business, Innovation and Skills. The claim that cuts and ‘so called efficiency savings' can be done while protecting frontline services ‘rings hollow’ according to PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka.
SE: Sport England’s Parliamentary Fellowship scheme was set up in 2005 with cross party support. It aims to build a better understanding of sport within Parliament and a stronger partnership between the worlds of sport & politics.
Parliamentarians are matched to a sport and are invited to spend 7 days with the governing body to gain an insider’s view on the work they do. In return, employees from the governing body spend 3 days shadowing the parliamentarian to gain a better understanding of how Parliament works and identify opportunities to work with MPs & peers.
SE: 16 young athletes have been tipped to make their mark at the 2016 Olympic & Paralympic Games by SportsAid and Sport England. The ‘16 for 2016’ are all supported by SportsAid, a charity which gives financial assistance to talented youngsters aged 12 to 18, to help them meet the costs of pursuing their sporting dreams.
In the last 12 months, SportsAid has distributed awards worth more than £1.3m to some 1,979 young sports stars who are starting their journey in performance sport, but who are not yet eligible for the Lottery funding awarded to elite athletes. Awards are made to youngsters aged 12 - 18 from across 50 able-bodied & 25 disability sports. These athletes compete in national squads and the awards, generally worth £500, help with costs, such as travel, training, accommodation, competition fees and equipment.
EH: On the expert advice of English Heritage, 17 war memorials were listed by Ben Bradshaw MP, Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to coincide with Armistice Day (Wednesday, 11 November, 2009).
English Heritage is also publishing guidance on how to protect War Memorials from theft and is recruiting a heritage crime officer to advise on counteracting architectural theft generally. The guide – War memorial Theft: Prevention and Solutions - will be available on English Heritage’s website later this month.
HEFCE: The HEFCS have issued a statement to update higher education institutions & further education colleges on our progress in assessing proposals & allocating the 2,000 additional student numbers (ASNs) for 2010-11 that they have available through competition.
They have received 112 proposals from institutions bidding for around 7,500 ASNs. As they only have 2,000 ASNs to allocate, most of these bids will be unsuccessful. They are now assessing proposals through the established processes of the Strategic Development Fund and will make decisions by the end of 2009 and notify institutions as soon as possible thereafter.
SE: Sport England has announced a £10m National Lottery funding round to encourage ‘Active Women’ – in a drive to get more women from disadvantaged communities, and women caring for children, playing sport. The announcement is being supported by Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe, the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) and Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis.
At present, 1 in 8 women regularly play sport in England. Whilst this has increased significantly since 2005/2006, women's participation still trails behind that of their male counterparts, with 1 in 5 men active and the gender gap increasing. Sport England figures also show that women from disadvantaged communities play even less sport, with just 1 in 10 taking part regularly.
Details of the Active Women fund, including the prospectus, how to apply & frequently asked questions, are available on Sport England’s funding website. The closing date for applications is 3 February 2010.
NE: A new phase of the international rescue mission for the short-haired bumblebee (Bombus subterraneus) gets underway this week, as project officer Nikki Gammans departs for New Zealand to retrieve queen bees for re-introduction to England next year.
To mark the occasion, a newly revised version of the popular Field Guide to Bumblebees by Martin Jenner & Mike Edwards, sponsored by Natural England, has been launched. The guide features new pages on the short-haired bumblebee in anticipation of its arrival home to the South East of England.
The decision to revise & reprint the guide responds to public demand. The last remaining copies of the previous edition were selling for around £100 online, ten times that of the normal retail amount. Dr Gammans will be selling the Field Guide to Bumblebees at speaking events around the country next year, all proceeds of which will go back into the re-introduction of the Short-haired bumblebee project.
PCS: The PCS union has accused Justice Secretary, Jack Straw MP, of a startling lack of foresight in reaction to proposals to slash 318 legal staff in courts by HM Courts Service, just days after he announced a review of the police's use of cautions & fixed penalty notices to dispose of tens of thousands criminal offences, including rapes & violent assaults
The review comes at the same time as the union were informed by Her Majesty’s Courts Service (HMCS) of plans to reduce front-line staff, including legal advisers who provide in-court advice to lay justices, by as much as 27% next year.
The reduction in staffing arises from a drop off in court workload, much of which is directly attributable to the increase in the use of conditional cautions & fixed penalties for offences which used to be brought to court. The union fears that the cuts could either restrict or undermine any recommendations made by the Office for Criminal Reform.
FDA: Criticisms of 'bonus' payments made to Ministry of Defence civilian staff are very unfair & misleading, the FDA said last week. FDA general secretary Jonathan Baume said: "…. Many of these payments are made to people serving alongside the military - in Iraq and Afghanistan. They include a very wide range of technical and professional staff.
The payments themselves are not bonuses in the way that most people would understand them. They are non-pensionable, are not carried forward to the next year and are taken out of the overall pay pot set by Ministers. This means that, over recent years, pay levels for civil servants in the Ministry of Defence have been depressed”.
NE: Natural England has celebrated the Secretary of State's confirmation of National Park status for the South Downs. The iconic landscape of the South Downs will be Britain's fourth largest National Park by area, at just over 1,600sq km.
The South Downs, home to an estimated 120,000 people - the largest population of any National Park - joins a formidable family of 9 English National Parks, alongside remarkable landscapes like the Lake District and the Peak District. It will stretch from Beachy Head to the edge of Winchester and will also include the Western Weald. A new South Downs National Park Authority is expected to be established by April 2010 and will become fully operational a year later.
DFID: One Platform2 volunteer’s time on his 10-week trip to South Africa has given him the chance to start his own business. Platform2 is a fully funded global volunteering experience for 18-25 year olds who would not normally be able to afford this kind of opportunity. The scheme is funded by UKaid from the Department for International Development and run by Christian Aid and BUNAC.
250 places have now been opened for departures leaving in March 2010. Volunteers who are accepted on the programme work for 10 weeks on projects in Ghana, India, Nepal, Kenya, South Africa & Peru in community projects, building schools, toilets, community centres or teaching English. On their return they raise awareness of global issues in their local community. Over 700 people have been on the programme so far.
You can apply online or download the application from http://www.myplatform2.com/ or call to chat (0800 988 6828). Completed applications for March 2010 trips need to be received by 30 November 2009.
HO: A national 6-month campaign aimed at helping older people & students protect themselves from distraction burglars has been launched. These groups can be vulnerable to distraction burglary, where criminals trick their way into a victim's home often by posing as utility company workers. Approximately 9,000 distraction burglaries take place each year. Free 'Secure Your Home' packs are also available and face-to-face advice will be provided through road shows in England & Wales.
MoD: The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, has unveiled its historic 2010 line-up at Royal Air Force Scampton, its home base near Lincoln. The 2010 team includes the first-ever female pilot, Flight Lieutenant Kirsty Moore (Red 3), as well as new Officer Commanding & Team Leader, Squadron Leader Ben Murphy (Red 1) and fellow newcomer Flight Lieutenant Ben Plank (Red 2).
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DH: The NHS last week (9-15 November) ran the first national Self Care Week to raise awareness of the improvements everyone can make to their health by taking a more active role in their own health & wellbeing.
One of the aims of Self Care Week was to raise awareness of Personalised Care Plans and to encourage everyone with a long term condition to discuss making a plan with their GP or nurse. This ensures patients have discussed what matters to them together with the support & services available to them and have a record of the decisions made about their care.
DfT: The 11 newest Cycling Towns are Blackpool, Cambridge, Colchester, Chester, Leighton-Linslade, Shrewsbury, Southend, Southport, Stoke-on-Trent, Woking and York. The funding of these new areas built on the successes of the 6 initial Cycling Towns - Aylesbury, Brighton and Hove, Darlington, Derby, Exeter, and Lancaster & Morecambe - which gained their status in 2005. ‘Greater Bristol’ is the only Cycling City.
This programme of funding has been influenced by the good value for money which cycling projects exhibit. The economic research Cycling England commissioned from consultants SQW is available on its website.
CLG: Housing Minister John Healey has announced that all 8m tenants in public housing will have the right to clear standards of service from their landlord. Mr Healey said that from 1 April 2010, tenants in council or housing association homes will have these standards protected by a tough, responsive regulator, the Tenant Services Authority.
The Housing Minister John Healey has directed the TSA on the standards it must set for all social housing tenants on quality of accommodation & tenant involvement, and for RSL tenants, on rents for 2010/11. Concurrently, the CLG have published a summary of responses to the Section 114 Order consultation. This Order, which will be published before Christmas, will extend Tsar's regulatory powers to the Local Authority sector from 1 April 2010.
HEFCE: Six universities will work as part of a major initiative to promote science, technology, engineering & mathematics (STEM) throughout England & Wales. The 6 partner universities will develop & initiate activities in their regions as part of the National Higher Education STEM Programme, a £21m initiative funded by the Higher Education Funding Councils for England & Wales.
The Universities of Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester Metropolitan, Southampton and Swansea will act as focus for regional activities to engage local workforces in higher education (HE) learning. They will also enhance the undergraduate student experience in the STEM disciplines by helping students develop the skills required by employers, engage young people in STEM disciplines, and widen participation in these subjects among school students.
In addition to the universities the programme will involve the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Institute of Physics, the Royal Academy of Engineering, and a consortium of mathematical bodies, building on their work in the earlier pilot stage.
EHRC: The Equality and Human Rights Commission has set out its plan to preserve the rights in the Human Rights Act and to protect & promote respect for human rights principles. One of the core principles in the Commission’s 3-year strategy is for any future legislative developments, such as a proposed Bill of Rights, to have the rights & remedies of the Human Rights Act at their heart, so that the protection it provides is retained.
The Commission's strategy aims to create a climate of respect for human rights – through promoting understanding, demonstrating the value of human rights law in people’s everyday lives, and using its legal powers. It intends to promote widespread & accurate understanding of human rights and help to translate the law into practical action by public, private & voluntary organisations.
In July 2009, the Commission published its Human Rights Inquiry. With evidence gathered from more than 2,800 people, it provides comprehensive research into the Human Rights Act’s first 10 years and how human rights principles have been adopted by public institutions. The Commission is inviting feedback on the strategy and will be discussing the most effective way to implement its aims, objectives and proposed actions with interested parties.
Newswire – EA: The Environment Agency has set out a 5-year plan to ‘clean up rivers, defend more properties against flooding, reduce emissions, discharges & waste from industry and tackle the causes & consequences of climate change’ in its 2010-2015 corporate strategy.
The government’s environmental watchdog has also highlighted numerous environmental improvements across England & Wales in the past decade, in a detailed analysis of the current state of the environment. However, in its detailed analysis of the state of the environment to support its new strategy, the EA also revealed that the number of properties in England & Wales at the highest risk of flooding could increase by over 60% by 2035 if investment in flood defences does not increase annually.
ScotGov: £1.5m is set to be invested in a new pilot scheme aimed at reducing ill-health in Scotland's working age population. The Fit for Work Service will allow workers to access rapid diagnosis & referral to services for common physical & mental health conditions in a bid to reduce their time out of work.
This is one of a range of measures set out in Health Works, the Scottish Government's revised approach to encouraging healthy working lives. Ill-health in the working age population has been estimated to cost the British economy £100bn a year in lost productivity, lost tax and increased health & welfare costs.
DH: A new action plan to tackle the over prescribing of antipsychotic drugs to people with dementia has been announced by Care Services Minister Phil Hope. The action plan responds to an independent review by Professor Sube Banerjee, which shows that too many people with dementia are routinely prescribed antipsychotic drugs to treat aggression & agitation, contrary to National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance.
WAG: More than 12,000 young people across South West Wales who are at risk of falling out of school or further education studies are set to benefit from a new £32m scheme to improve their chances of success. The ENGAGE Local Authority and Further Education initiative will target 14-16-year-olds who are facing difficulties such as underachievement or absenteeism, and 16-19 year olds who are already in college, but are at risk of dropping out.
ENGAGE will provide alternative curricula and innovative training approaches to motivate & boost the confidence of students who are experiencing problems with learning. Tailored to the needs of each individual, a range of techniques will be used such as vocational training, one-to-one intensive support and activities to raise self-esteem will encourage young people to remain in education & improve their skills.
DCSF: Ed Balls has called on parents to always report incidents of bullying to their child’s school, as new research highlighted the positive impact this can have on stopping bullying. Together with Schools Minister Vernon Coaker, Ed Balls launched Anti-Bullying Week at an event with the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA), young people & teachers at the Science Museum.
Anti-Bullying Week, which began on the 16 November 2009, is a focal point for activities across the country and is led by the ABA. The theme of this year’s Anti-Bullying Week is tackling cyberbullying, under the slogan ‘Stay Safe in Cyberspace’.
Parents can access a range of support to help combat bullying. A new online leaflet - ‘Keep an eye on it’ - produced by ABA, Young ABA and NASUWT, provides information for parents & adults working with young people on how to spot the signs of bullying and what they can do to help. Parents can also seek advice from Parentline Plus, funded by the DCSF, which runs a helpline for parents whose children are being bullied and provides support through their ‘Be Someone to Tell’ website.
DCMS: Sporting events with a special national resonance should continue to be protected for the widest-possible television audience. There is still a place for a listed events regime, but its long-term future in a changing media landscape is by no means certain. That’s according to the independent review Panel into the future of listed events, which reported last week.
If the Government chooses to continue listing events to ensure free-to-air broadcast coverage, there should be a single list of live events, the Panel concluded. Protected coverage of highlights is now insufficient and out-of-step in a multi-channel, digital and online world. In the absence of any other agreed way forward, the Panel recommended a list that met amended criteria for events of national resonance.
BIS: PricewaterhouseCoopers has released a report on the future of the credit card market. Commenting on the report, a Department for Business spokesperson said: "Two weeks ago the Government launched a consultation on new measures which we believe will give consumers who use credit cards a better deal”. The consultation closes on 19 January 2010.
The Government is already taking action and is legislating to ban unsolicited credit card cheques in November 2009. Under the Office of Fair Trading’s Guidance on Irresponsible Lending Practices (coming into force in January 2010) lenders should not to encourage borrowers to increase existing debt.
Lenders failing to follow the OFT's guidance can be stripped of their credit licences. This could be used to enforce changes to minimum payments and credit limit increases. The Consumer Credit Directive comes into force in June 2010, requiring credit card companies to properly explain their charges.
DfT: Ports around England & Wales will have a new planning framework to work in when considering development, following the launch of the Government's new National Policy Statement (NPS) for the sector (which is subject to public consultation – closes on 15 February 2010). It sets out the broad need for additional ports capacity up to 2030 & beyond, taking such things as freight demand forecasts and the economic benefits of ports into account.
The NPS is designed to provide a clear framework for both port developers and the new Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC). It will play an important part in any decisions taken by the Commission when considering applications for new developments.
Following Royal Assent to the Marine and Coastal Access Bill, ports applications below the IPC thresholds will in future be dealt with by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), which will also advise the IPC on marine spatial planning matters and on certain deemed consents.
DCMS: The Government is seeking further views on whether to allow product placement in programmes made for UK television. The consultation (closes on 8 January 2010) also asks what safeguards should be in place should the product placement rules be revised. Current rules mean UK television broadcasters cannot include product placement in programmes which either they have made or have been made for them.
As part of the EU Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive member states have to legally prohibit product placement but are allowed to grant exceptions for certain types of programmes.
DCSF: Children’s Minister Dawn Primarolo has launched a consultation (closes on Tuesday 2 February 2010)on new rules aimed at ensuring that wherever possible births are registered by both parents. Current arrangements mean unmarried mothers can choose whether or not to register the name of a baby’s father on their birth certificate. Around 7% of births – on average 45,000 a year – are registered with only one parent.
The new regulations, made under the Welfare Reform Bill (which received its Royal Assent last week), will mean that in most cases, both unmarried parents will be required to register their names on their child’s birth certificate. The legislation & regulations will be supported by a public awareness campaign, so that parents are clear about what is expected of them. Information & guidance, for both parents & registrars, will be developed in consultation with key parenting organisations & children’s charities.
The consultation sets out how the information can & should be collated and is aimed principally at registrars. The Joint Birth Registration regulations will only affect unmarried parents, the majority of whom already choose to register both names at birth. They are expected to come into effect from January 2011.
WAG: The creation of a new central hub to co-ordinate all the help available for householders struggling to pay their energy bills is one of the proposals put forward for consultation (closes on 4 January 2010) in the Welsh Assembly Government’s new fuel poverty plan. The hub will provide a joined-up service so that people can make the most of the advice, support & funding that is accessible. It will work with the various agencies, including health and social services, who have contact with vulnerable people on a daily basis.
Other proposals in the plan include:
* Funding will be targeted at those most at risk from fuel poverty.
* Early identification of those most vulnerable to fuel poverty so help can be provided as soon as possible.
* The development of a new, improved programme to help householders reduce the impact of their fuel bills, which will replace the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES).
* Low cost loans for energy efficiency from credit unions
DH: Patients will have legal rights to maximum waiting times for elective procedures & urgent cancer referrals and to a NHS Health Check every 5 years for those aged 40-74, if proposalspublished for consultation (closes on 5 February 2010) are taken forward.
The proposals, set out in ‘The NHS Constitution: A consultation on new patient rights‘, could mean that, from 1 April 2010, patients will have the legal right to maximum waiting times to start treatment by a consultant within 18 weeks of GP referral and to be seen by a cancer specialist within 2 weeks of GP referral.
If the NHS is unable to meet this commitment, it will be required to take all reasonable steps to find a range of alternative providers that can. This will enable a patient to receive their care more quickly, if this is what they want. The alternatives could include private providers at NHS prices.
ScotGov: A new scheme that will better safeguard vulnerable groups and end the need for people to complete detailed application forms every time a disclosure check is required has been announced by the Scottish Government. The scheme will:
*Improve on current disclosure arrangements by replacing the need for multiple 'one-off' checks - which currently cost £23 a time - with a system that continually updates relevant information
* Ensure that people who become unsuitable during their employment are quickly identified
* Allow employers to check records quickly & easily while reducing the time & cost demands on individuals when their circumstances change.
A consultation on key elements of the secondary legislation required to implement the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme has been launched (all close on 2 February 2010). It is expected the scheme will be introduced before the end of 2010, with implementation being phased in to minimise the administrative burden on individual organisations.
Initial membership will cost £59 with a lower fee of £18 for subsequent records updates - substantially less than in England & less than the existing cost of an enhanced disclosure check and these will be turned around almost instantly. All PVG Scheme Record Disclosures & Updates will continue to be free for volunteers working in regulated work in the voluntary sector.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has announced proposals to simplify the structure of the fees it levies on regulated firms and to enhance fairness & transparency. Following a review of its approach for determining the annual fees that firms pay, the FSA is consulting on a number of measures to ensure that fees continue to be set in a fair way, and to make the basis for calculating fees easier for firms to understand.
The FSA is inviting responses to the proposals in its consultation paper by 11 January 2010. In February 2010, depending on the outcome of this consultation, the FSA plans to consult on fee levels for 2010/11 using this new fee model.
LLUK: Lifelong Learning UK Scotland has been working with a group of employer representatives & stakeholders for the past year to undertake the refresh of the current Level 3 Modern Apprenticeship (MA) in Youth Work and to discuss the potential for introducing additional MAs in Youth Work which establish a progression route for those interested in Youth Work as a career.
The group believes the case study report, which accompanies the consultation questionnaire (closes on Monday 30 November 2009), identifies sufficient support for the introduction of a Level 2 MA in Youth Work in line with government policy. LLUK is seeking the views of employers - To find out more please contact email@example.com ~ Press release ~ Lifelong Learning UK Scotland
HO: Every migrant who enters the UK will require 'permission' to stay under new draft proposals published in Parliament last week. Under measures in the draft Immigration Bill, the 5 current application categories available to migrants will be replaced by one clear concept - 'permission' to be in the UK. With this new approach, migrants will either be granted permission or refused, making the rules easier for applicants & staff. Those in the UK must gain permission, or face removal for breaking the law.
The new, temporary, time-limited, permission will be given for a particular purpose to visit, work or study and is subject to conditions such as access to work or public funds. Permanent residents will be given permission without any time limit or conditions attached.
The draft Bill also proposes a new streamlined power of expulsion replacing the current powers of deportation & removal. Individuals who are issued with an expulsion order will be required to leave the UK and will not be able to re-enter while the order is in force. The Government has also published proposals for a new streamlined asylum support system.
Alongside this, the Government has published, the responses to its consultation into the Oversight of the Immigration Advice Sector which was launched in May and aimed to improve the way the sector is regulated.
IS: Proposals to allow individuals to submit a bankruptcy application online, or through the post, (rather than in a court) have been outlined by the Government. The proposals, contained in the ‘Consultation on Reforming Debtor Petition Bankruptcy’ (closes on 8 February 2010) will make it quicker & easier for people who are overwhelmed by debts (and have no means of ever fully repaying them) to seek relief through bankruptcy.
It follows earlier consultation carried out by the Government and builds on research conducted in 2007 by The Insolvency Service & the courts, which found that in some parts of England & Wales, debtors faced delays of up to three months between first contacting the court to the making of the bankruptcy order.
DCSF: Schools Minister Diana Johnson has launched a consultation (closes on 15 February 2009) on new guidance for schools to ensure that teachers, parents and the Government are working together to send out a clear message that ‘drug, alcohol & tobacco misuse among young people is unacceptable and could damage their futures’.
As well as giving advice on how to handle drugs education in the classroom, the guidance stresses the importance of schools having clear policies in place to deal with incidents with illegal drugs & alcohol on school premises. Heads are also encouraged to forge stronger links with other local services to help them better identify & support over 1m children & young people who live with one or both parents who have a drug or alcohol problem.
Defra: The ability of England’s agricultural sector to withstand shocks and remain competitive is the subject of an online discussion forum (accessible until 23 December 2009) launched last week. The discussion is the latest step in engaging with stakeholders on the state of the industry with the aim to identify potential strategies to improve productivity & resilience in the farming industry.
DECC: Energy & Climate Secretary, Ed Miliband, claimed that ‘faster & fairer planning decisions on new energy infrastructure were a step closer’ last week when he laid before Parliament draft texts setting out the national need for a low carbon secure energy mix. He also set out a new policy for the transition to clean coal – See ‘In the News’ section for more information and closure dates.
MoJ: The government has launched a consultation (closes on 21 December 2009) seeking views on implementing a maximum penalty of £500k for serious breaches of the data protection principles – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
ScotGov: Help to enable Scottish businesses prepare for the impacts of swine flu has been offered through an innovative, free-to-access, online seminar (published on Thursday 12 November 2009). While forecasts for the numbers of people likely to become ill have been revised downwards, businesses are still likely to experience disruption to services and supply chains, as well as potential losses in revenue as a result of higher than average staff absences.
The online seminar was recorded & will be placed on Scottish Government, Business Gateway and business organisations' websites, ensuring that the guidance continues to be available to businesses across Scotland.
DH: Thanks to Sir Michael Parkinson’s call to action more than 10,000 people have now signed up to be Dignity Champions. Dignity Champions, part of the Dignity in Care Campaign, volunteer to promote good care for the elderly. Their aim is to change the culture of care services and place a greater emphasis on the quality of experience of those services.
Last week also saw the publication of the Guide: Walk a mile in my shoes which is designed to assist Overview and Scrutiny Committees & others in discussing what dignity is, why it matters and how to assess whether an organisation or service treats the people whom it serves with dignity & respect.
BIS: The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has made good progress putting better regulation principles into practice according to a new report from the Better Regulation Executive. The report, part of a series of reviews of national regulators, examined how the ICO, which promotes public access to official information and protects personal information, matched up to the principles of effective regulation, set out by Philip Hampton in 2005.
Despite making real progress, the report also identified some issues the ICO needed to address to improve its performance further, including articulating more clearly the outcomes that it is seeking to achieve and instituting a more systematic approach to its audit work.
BIS: New reports from the Better Regulation Executive have found that Companies House and the Employment Agency Standards inspectorate (EAS) have made, or are taking, positive steps in putting better regulation principles into practice. The reports examined how Companies House and EAS matched up to the principles of effective regulation set out by Philip Hampton in 2005.
Companies House, which collects & disseminates information on registered companies in the UK, is considered a leader in terms of the provision of clear, accessible, authoritative and user-friendly guidance. Its report found that it had set a good standard of compliance with Hampton’s principles, offering examples of best practice in a number of areas.
EAS, which regulates around 17,000 employment & recruitment agencies, has a clear sense of purpose that is understood well by staff & stakeholders alike. It faces a number of challenges but is moving in the right direction, developing risk-based practices to address sectors that cause persistent problems, such as model and entertainment agencies.
Defra: The Third Sector Strategy One Year On report, has been published by Defra detailing the progress the department has made since the project’s launch in 2008. Defra’s Third Sector Strategy is part of the Government’s wider commitment to working with voluntary & charitable organisations and demonstrates the department’s commitment to helping these organisations promote environmental sustainability.
ScotGov: The Inspector of Constabulary's annual report says police forces, common services and their partners must work to deliver more efficient services and help minimise the effect the recession has on their budgets. The Annual Report from Her Majesty's Inspector for Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) also highlights improvements in policing.
ScotGov: NHSForthValley is the first health board to come under scrutiny from Scotland's newly-appointed hospital inspector. Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon established the independent Healthcare Environment Inspectorate, headed by Chief Inspector Susan Brimelow, in April 2009.
Its work is designed to ensure public confidence in all aspects of the care environment in Scottish hospitals. In particular, it has a mandate to ensure the correct procedures are followed to prevent the spread of healthcare associated infections (HAI) such as MRSA and C.diff - so-called 'superbugs'.
DCSF: Children’s Minister Dawn Primarolo has called on local authorities & health trusts to continue to prioritise the Government’s teenage pregnancy strategy, to further bring down teenage conceptions. The call to action comes as the Government publishes its response to the Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group (TPIAG) 2007/08 annual report.
The Government has taken forward all the major recommendations including making sex & relationship education statutory from 2011 and investing more than £45m in improving young people’s access to contraception.
General Reports and Other Publications
ScotGov: Commenting on the Consumer Focus 'Green to the Core' report, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "We are particularly keen that retailers do more to recognise the value of local seasonal produce and sustainably sourced fish. Over half of all Scottish fisheries by value are currently accredited by the MSC - and many more are on track to achieve the gold standard of sustainability.
This year Scotland has led the way by working with retailers to virtually halve the number of carrier bags handed out and was the first country in the UK to introduce the 50% target. Through 'Recipe For Success' we've successfully worked with supermarkets to encourage more sourcing of Scottish produce which can help cut food miles”.
ScotGov: Rural land makes up 97% of the country, accounts for 1 in every 6 jobs and generates over £17bn a year for the economy. Those key findings were among many to be found in new research published recently at Scotland's first-ever Land Use Summit. T he Summit promoted the development of Scotland's first integrated Land Use Strategy to help meet 21st century challenges, such as food security, energy production and tackling climate change.
The Climate Change (Scotland) Act requires the Scottish Government to lay a Land Use Strategy before Parliament by March 2011 and to review it at intervals of no more than 5 years. All land, both urban & rural, falls within the scope of the strategy. However, Scotland's second National Planning Framework, published in June, sets out a long-term spatial strategy for development and will provide the foundation for the urban & built environment component of the strategy.
The Rural Land Use Study and Summit will help inform further policy development including the Land Use Strategy, the Pack Inquiry on the Future of Agricultural Support for Scotland and further research.
NE: Natural England has launched Vital Uplands - a 2060 Vision for England’s uplands - which examines how the uplands could be sustainably managed over the next 50 years to secure the food production role that they have played in recent decades, while delivering a wide range of other public benefits.
The report – and the detailed description of environmental services that goes with it - describes how the Uplands might look & be managed in 50 years’ time. NE is looking to explore how upland communities can be better supported by focusing land management on critical food & environmental services.
Accompanying the Vision, NE also announced 3 pilot projects – in Cumbria, the South West uplands and Yorkshire – which will explore how the provision of a broader range of environmental services can be turned into genuine business opportunities for farmers & land managers. The pilots will go live in 2010 and will trial ways in which local upland management can be geared to the delivery of multiple public benefits.
CRC: A report written to inform the Commission for Rural Communities’ inquiry into the future for England’s upland communities says; “the greatest threat to the future of upland communities is the ambiguity regarding the significance, value and role of upland communities themselves.”
The report goes on to say that there is a risk that upland communities will continue to be characterised by disadvantage unless we see a shift in people’s perceptions of the uplands, including those who live & work there, from ‘less favoured’ to ‘highly favoured’ places. The report explains why there is the need for upland communities to be much more closely involved in the policy decisions that affect them and considers how this might be achieved. The final report of the inquiry is scheduled for completion in February 2010.
HO: In April 2009 the Home Office published a consultation, ‘Protecting the Public in a Changing Communications Environment’, which set out the importance of communications data in helping to protect & safeguard the public; how the rapidly changing communications environment means the existing capability of the police, the security & intelligence agencies and other public authorities is declining and why change is necessary.
The consultation paper sought views on options for maintaining our vital communications data capabilities and the government has now published a Summary of Responses to that consultation.
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has published 4 research reports undertaken as part of its market study into home buying & selling. These comprise a survey of estate agents, a survey of trading standard services and both qualitative & quantitative consumer research.
Evidence from the research suggests that consumers are increasingly open to alternative methods of buying or selling a home. The OFT’s final report will look at, among other things, how new ways of buying & selling a home may develop in the future, whether there is scope to improve consumer protection enforcement, consumer awareness of potential pitfalls in the process & ancillary services sold by estate agents. The OFT intends to publish the study in early 2010.
NAO: The delivery of the Government’s programme to control chlamydia infection in young people to date has not demonstrated value for money, a report by the National Audit Office has found. The Department of Health implemented the Programme in 3 phases.
In 2008-09, 6 years after the Programme’s launch, testing levels were only just beginning to reach the point where they are likely to significantly reduce the prevalence of chlamydia. The devolved delivery, through Primary Care Trusts, has resulted in duplication & inefficiency, with, for example, 45 different brands developed for the Programme in different parts of England
Dstl: In response to the recommendation of the RCUK (Research councils UK) Review of Physics, EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) and STFC have carried out a review of nuclear physics & nuclear engineering in the UK which was chaired by Dr Sue Ion.
The review panel sought input from a variety of stakeholders. The panel met in July 2009 and their report is now available. EPSRC & STFC welcome comments on the report and its recommendations from members of the research community and other stakeholders. Feedback will be integrated in to the Action Plan for the Review report, which EPSRC & STFC will prepare. Please email any comments by 7 December 2009.
STFC will hold a discussion of the report with the Nuclear Physics community at 3pm on 25 November 2009, in the Merrison Lecture Theatre at Daresbury Laboratory. This discussion will follow on directly from the Nuclear Physics Forum meeting.
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities has welcomed Action with Communities in Rural England’s (ACRE's) latest national survey of rural community buildings. Village halls & other community buildings are part of the essential fabric of rural localities and play an increasingly important part in the provision of vital services & facilities for the wider community.
The specific recommendations in ACRE’s report raise important issues about the future sustainability of community-owned & run buildings and highlights the increasing role government, at all levels, can play in supporting & nurturing this vital asset.
Legislation / Legal
CQC: Legislation introducing a new registration system for all regulated health & adult social care services in England has now been laid before Parliament. To help care providers get ready for registration, the Care Quality Commission have published 3 short guides. Further guidance, including the final version of the CQC guidance about compliance, will be available in December 2009:
BIS: The Government has announced new action to crackdown on the ‘ugly face of the modelling & entertainment industry’. To prevent rogue entertainment & modelling agencies from exploiting people the Government will introduce new rules banning agencies from taking upfront fees from models, background artists, extras and walk-ons.
There is a concern that some agencies are charging exorbitant amounts without any likelihood of securing people castings or work. Draft regulations will be laid in Parliament in November 2009 and will come into force in October 2010. Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS) will enforce the new regulations.
HO: A series of proposals designed to ensure the right people are on the National DNA Database, as well as defining when people should come off has been announced by Home Secretary Alan Johnson. Following a public consultation which received more than 500 responses, the Government has ‘listened’ to the range of comments & has proposes to:
* remove profiles of all adults arrested but not charged or convicted of any recordable offence after 6 years
* remove profiles of 16 & 17 year old juveniles arrested but not charged or convicted of serious offences after six years
* remove profiles of all other juveniles arrested but not charged or convicted of a recordable offence after 3 years, regardless of age at arrest
* retain DNA profiles of all juveniles convicted of all but the most serious recordable offences for 5 years and indefinitely for any further convictions
The Government also plans to give police new powers to take DNA samples from anyone convicted abroad, or convicted before the creation of the DNA database in 1995.
DSA: Proposals to improve skills & safety for new motorcycle riders, drivers of lorries & buses and new drivers who want to tow medium sized trailers have been published for consultation (closes on 5 February 2010) by the Department for Transport (DfT) in conjunction with the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
The measures are contained in a consultation on the implementation of new European requirements on driver testing, training, examination & licensing which come into force in mid-January 2013. Other motorists will not be affected.
HO: New measures to protect the public, increase police accountability and tackle crime & disorder have been welcomed by the Home Secretary Alan Johnson after the Policing and Crime Bill received Royal Assent.
New measures include the introduction of a mandatory code of practice for alcohol retailers, the creation of a new offence of paying for sex with a prostitute who has been coerced or deceived and the power for police & local authorities to apply for injunctions against people involved in gang-related violence.
DSA: Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) who pose a significant threat to the safety of the public will face immediate suspension under new legislation which gained Royal Assent last week. The Driving Instruction (Suspension and Exemption Powers) Act 2009 will close a loophole in existing law by allowing the Registrar of ADIs to immediately suspend ADIs who pose a threat to learner drivers and other road users while they are removed from the register permanently.
It currently takes 45 days to remove instructors from the register of Approved Driving Instructors, during which time they can continue to give driving instruction. The Driving Standards Agency intends to consult early in 2010 on the detailed arrangements for implementation of the Act. The new suspension power will also apply to Potential Driving Instructors, who are authorised to provide instruction using a trainee licence.
BIS: The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act has received Royal Assent. The Act provides the first complete legislative overhaul of Apprenticeships legislation for nearly 200 years – putting the new Apprenticeship Offer for suitably qualified young people on a statutory basis from 2013 and ensures a good quality apprenticeship for apprentices & employers alike.
It introduces the landmark time to train initiative, which will give employees the legal right to request time to train throughout their working lives. The introduction of the right will be phased and will be made available to employees in large businesses from April 2010 before being extended to all employees from April 2011.
CLG: Councils will have new powers to engineer economic recovery locally, following the Royal Assent of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill. The Act is intended to strengthen the democratic role of councils to support local people & businesses to rebuild the local economy, increase jobs & skills, tackle housing shortages and improve infrastructure.
Defra: England’s sea life & habitats will benefit from greater protection after the Marine and Coastal Access Bill received Royal Assent last week, creating the Marine and Coastal Access Act. The government claims that ‘no other country in the world has successfully introduced a single piece of legislation to protect the marine environment’.
The Act will create a new marine planning system designed to bring together the conservation, social & economic needs of our seas. A network of Marine Conservation Zones will be created that will protect rare & threatened species and habitats. 4 regional projects have started working with local groups & businesses to identify which areas will be designated as Marine Conservation Zones.
MoJ: Better protection for witnesses during criminal investigations, more consistency in sentencing and modernisation of the coroners system are part of a raft of new measures that became law last week. The Coroners and Justice Act 2009, which received its Royal Assent, is intended to deliver a more responsive & transparent justice system for victims, witnesses & the wider public and place bereaved families at the heart of the coroner service.
DH: A new law that will help to protect children & young people from the harms of tobacco received Royal Assent last week. Provisions in the new Health Act 2009 mean that shops will no longer be allowed to display tobacco products and it will also enable the prohibition of sales of tobacco from vending machines.
The Act also places a legal duty on the NHS and its providers to have regard to the NHS Constitution, which will safeguard the principles & values of the NHS for the future and sets out the rights & responsibilities of patients and staff. The Act will also enable the piloting of direct payments for healthcare (giving patients more choice & greater control over the care they receive) and improving the quality of health services. The Act will come into effect over the next few months.
DCMS: The Government have warmly welcomed the giving of Royal Assent to the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Private Member’s Bill, as proposed by Andrew Dismore MP. The Bill will give the governing bodies of national institutions named in the Bill the power to return an object from their collection to its rightful owner, as determined by the Spoliation Advisory Panel.
Before the passing of the bill, the Spoliation Panel could recommend an object from a local institution be returned to the claimant, if they were satisfied that the item had been stolen during the Nazi era (1933-1945). However, national institutions are forbidden by legislation from ‘deaccessioning’ items, even if they too have been investigated & judged to have been stolen.
Up until now a valuation of the object has been carried out in such cases and an ex-gratia payment made in lieu of the return of the item. Due to the success of this Bill, national institutions will now be able to return treasures to claimants if the panel so recommends and Ministers agree.
DCSF: New, smarter punishments, that will hopefully tackle the underlying causes of youth crime, help prevent re-offending and make our neighbourhoods safer & better places to live, will come into effect on 30 November 2009, Ed Balls & Jack Straw claimed last week.
The Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO) will provide judges & magistrates with a choice of 18 options from which they will be able to create a sentence specifically designed to deal with the individual circumstances of the young offender before them and so help them turn their backs on crime.
The YRO provides a range of sentencing options including intensive fostering, intensive surveillance & supervision requirements, electronic monitoring, curfews, the required attendance of substance abuse or mental health programmes, as well as undertaking community work & reparation. This could include apologising to their victim, in order to make visible amends for their crimes.
Custody will continue to be available to punish those who commit the most serious offences. The Sentencing Guidelines Council will shortly publish the first sentencing guideline which sets out overarching principles for judges to take in account when they sentence young people.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
FSA: The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published its scientific opinions on 6 artificial food colours. In 2007 the Food Standards Agency-commissioned 'Southampton study' was published. This study looked into the effects of 6 artificial food colours and a preservative on the behaviour of children.
The findings of the study suggested that if a child shows signs of hyperactivity or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), then eliminating the colours used in the Southampton study from their diet might have some beneficial effects.
On the basis of the evidence from this peer reviewed study, UK Ministers & the FSA asked UK industry to voluntarily remove the 6 colours from food & drink in the UK by the end of this year. In addition, the EU agreed that from July 2010 food & drink containing these colours should carry labelling to inform consumers that these colours may have an adverse effect on activity & attention in children. As part of its review of all approved additives, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued opinions on these 6 colours.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: 28 Villages across the UK are a step closer to finding out if they will secure up to £400,000 of Lottery money to set up new community reviving enterprises and have their journey documented by the BBC for a major prime time series.
Village SOS – an initiative by Big Lottery Fund and the BBC to inspire UK rural revival – aims to fund 6 rural villages to develop new business ventures that will breathe new life into their areas, create new jobs and improve the quality of life for local people. The 28 villages shortlisted will be offered a development grant of up to £10,000 to develop their business proposals.
The shortlisted villages span the UK - from the Cornish peninsula to the Scottish Highlands - and have plans for a diverse range of social enterprises, including community food co-operatives, cultural heritage centres and green energy schemes.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has set out its proposals for strengthening the financial resilience of the credit union sector and ensuring that its customers are adequately protected. The proposals aim to raise prudential standards in the sector, particularly on capital & liquidity. The proposed regime could also help ensure credit unions are prepared for the new government legislation allowing them to carry out a wider range of financial activities.
Business and Other Briefings
HMRC: 2 new toolkits to help agents avoid common errors when filing clients’ returns have been launched by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The free toolkits cover the following taxes:
* Capital Gains Tax (land and buildings)
* Personal & private expenditure
3 other toolkits are already available to help agents navigate capital gains tax for Trust & Estates, marginal small company relief and capital allowances for plant machinery. More toolkits will follow next year. This work forms part of HMRC’s Pre-Return Support pilot for agents. To view the toolkits, agents must join the pilot by going to the HMRC website at www.hmrc.gov.uk/prereturnpilot
~ Press release ~ News, updates and events for agents and advisers
HMT: HM Treasury has issued a statement on Money Laundering controls in Overseas Jurisdictions. The notice constitutes advice issued by HM Treasury about risks posed by unsatisfactory money laundering controls in a number of jurisdictions. The Money Laundering Regulations 2007 require firms to put in place policies, procedures or systems in order to prevent money laundering or terrorist financing.
Regulated businesses are also required to apply enhanced customer due diligence & enhanced ongoing monitoring on a risk-sensitive basis in certain defined situations and in “any other situation which by its nature can present a higher risk of money laundering or terrorist financing”.
On 16th October 2009 the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) issued a further statement drawing attention to deficiencies in several jurisdictions of concern. The UK fully supports the work of the FATF on these matters and HM Treasury agrees with the FATF assessments.
The UK additionally draws attention to & supports, the public statements of MONEYVAL (a FATF style regional body under the auspices of the Council of Europe) in respect of Azerbaijan in December 2008, March 2009 and September 2009. This advice is effective immediately.
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has launched a market study into corporate insolvency. The study will look at the structure of the market, the appointment process for insolvency practitioners and any features in the market which could result in harm, such as higher fees or lower recovery rates for certain groups of creditors.
It follows concerns raised within Government, including the Insolvency Service which is an executive agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the industry itself. A recent World Bank report showed the costs of closing a business in the UK are higher than other countries with similar or even better recovery rates. A report by R3, the trade body for insolvency practitioners, also highlighted the cost of insolvency as a relative weakness of the UK's regime.
HMRC: A new Charter setting out what individuals, businesses and other groups dealing with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) can expect from the department, as well as what it expects from them, has been launched. The Charter also provides pointers to further information on your rights, where you can get help and support, and HMRC’s role.
BIS: The iawards - the first government-led awards initiative to recognise & celebrate the best of British science, technology & innovation – have announced the shortlist of finalists. Finalists will attend the gala dinner & awards ceremony at the Science Museum on 16 November 2009, hosted by Science & Innovation Minister, Lord Drayson, and leading entrepreneur, James Caan.
All entrants had to specify the British involvement in any innovation - demonstrating that creative thinking & development came from a British organisation or team. Each entry also had to illustrate how its innovative qualities relate to at least one of the following challenges:
* Addressing the healthcare needs of an ageing society
* Increasing international security from tackling global poverty to minimising the threat of terrorism
* Preserving finite natural resources in the face of population growth and climate change
* Delivering public services which make best use of new technologies
LDA: The London Development Agency (LDA) has presented the Environment Award to Novacem for its potential contribution to the engineering & construction industries at the recent London Technology Fund (LTF) Competition awards ceremony.
Novacem, a spin-out from Imperial College London, has developed a groundbreaking type of cement, which has the potential to transform the cement industry from being a significant emitter of CO2 to being an absorber of CO2. Novacem estimates that for every tonne of ordinary Portland cement replaced by Novacem cement, around 0.75 tonne of CO2 could be captured & stored indefinitely in construction products.
Novacem is supported by the LDA and European Regional Development Fund, through their investment in the LTF, which supports the capital's emerging talent in high-tech industries. It has acted as a key investor to help secure nearly £20m of equity funding for London-based companies – securing co-investment at the rate of over £2 for every £1 it has invested. Novacem is also based in a specialist incubator facility at Imperial College London, which the LDA contributed funding too.
STFC: As the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) - the world’s largest & most complex scientific experiment - restarts this month, the science & vast machinery of this massive international project at CERN are brought to life in the pages of a new pop-up book - Voyage to the Heart of Matter.
Once first physics gets underway early next year, protons travelling at nearly the speed of light will collide 40m times a second within the heart of the LHC’s particle detectors, sending out showers of debris, to recreate the conditions that existed millionths of a second after the Big Bang - the event that set our Universe in motion. Now readers of all ages can join the ATLAS Experiment on this fascinating journey to the beginnings of the Universe.
In this collaboration between ATLAS and renowned paper engineer Anton Radevsky, 7,000 tonnes of metal, glass, plastic, cables and computer chips leap from the page in miniature pop-up, to tell the story of CERN’s quest to understand the birth of the universe.
WAG: Hayley Widlake has built up one of the largest leaflet distribution franchises in the UK and the collective annual mileage covered by her 90 ‘posties’ is equivalent to walking around the globe twice. They deliver to 50,000 homes each week, covering 345 delivery rounds, so it’s small wonder that Hayley needed a software programme capable of organising the logistics & workflow of her Dor-2-Dor franchise.
Hayley, who has a marketing background and worked for a travel company before starting her own business, had an existing software programme but needed support from the Welsh Assembly Government’s Flexible Support for Business programme to take it to the second level.
Her software programme – Deliver-IT! has been so successful that she’s now selling it to other distribution businesses throughout the UK and just had her first sales from Australia to a master franchisor of a leaflet distribution company.
Hayley’s delivery service covers Neath Port Talbot, Swansea, Maesteg & Carmarthenshire and she provides a consultancy service to her customers to ensure they are targeting the right markets and offers a design & print service for leaflets.
Newswire – CABE: CABE has set up a dedicated design review panel to provide expert advice on the quality of designs for the government’s proposed eco-towns. The panel will review the proposals for: Whitehill-Bordon in Hampshire; Rackheath in Norfolk; North-West Bicester in Oxfordshire; and St Austell in Cornwall.
The specialist panel brings together a wealth of experience to comment on the specific issues involved in eco-town designs. Working with Communities and Local Government (CLG) and the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA), the reviews will be part of CABE’s national design review programme.
CABE and BioRegional produced joint guidance in September 2008. ‘What makes an eco-town?’ was inspired by the Challenge Panel and sets out the principles for the agencies involved in developing proposals.
NA: The National Archives has made 99,000 RAF officers' service records (from 1918 – 1919) available online for the first time. These records are easily searchable by first name, last name & date of birth and were previously only accessible to visitors at the Kew site. You can view & download records via the DocumentsOnline service.
The courageous aviators of the early Royal Air Force (RAF) played a crucial role in Britain's victory in the First World War. Among the service records available are some of the country's most celebrated & famous pilots - known as 'Aces' for having shot down 5 or more enemy aircraft.
The service records were created with the inception of the RAF in April 1918, however many records include the retrospective details of earlier service in either the Royal Flying Corp or Royal Naval Air Service. These records and many others can be viewed on The National Archives' website on a pay-per-download basis for the fee of £3.50.
The NA also has a series of podcasts entitled Voices of the Armistice which bring alive the individual experiences of those who served in the First World War, which are available to listen and download for free
NA: Archive Awareness has just launched its 'Take Flight' campaign, celebrating local links to manmade flights and the movement of people. Throughout the autumn & winter, archives across the country have teamed up with local groups & communities to highlight their rich & diverse heritage in air travel, migration and human endeavour.
Historical events and individuals being commemorated in the Take Flight campaign include American explorers Robert Peary and Matthew Henson - the first men to reach the North Pole, the first non-stop transatlantic flight in 1919 and the 40th anniversary of the first manned moon landing.
STFC: A new discovery about nanoparticle behaviour in sewage treatment plants could improve the environmental management of nanoparticle wastes from foods, cosmetics, medicines, cleaners and personal care products.
Scientists from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s ISIS Neutron Source, along with colleagues from King’s College London and OxfordUniversity, have studied how certain nanoparticles behave in wastewater and identified a way to potentially help remove them during primary sewage treatment. The scientists examined silica nanoparticles which are commonly found in consumer products and routinely discharged to wastewater.
The study simulated primary sewage treatment to show that coating silica nanoparticles with a detergent-like material (surfactant) made the nanoparticles interact with components of the sewage to form a solid sludge. This sludge can be separated from the wastewater and disposed of. In contrast, uncoated nanoparticles stayed dispersed in the wastewater and were therefore likely to continue through the effluent stream.
Each year manufacturers worldwide use over 1m tonnes of silica nanoparticles in consumer products. A large proportion of these are washed down the drain into the sewage system. This makes sewage treatment plants a major gateway for nanoparticles to enter the aquatic environment.
BIS: Two further Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) have been ‘relicensed’. Sector Skills Councils are employer-led bodies, established to enable employers to exert influence on the UK’s education & skills systems to ensure they meet their needs.
Both ConstructionSkills (for the construction industry) and the Institute of the Motor Industry (for the retail motor industry) have been successful in their application for a further trademark licence to operate as SSCs and have gone through a comprehensive assessment process led by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).
All 25 Sector Skills Councils are currently undergoing a robust & rigorous ‘relicensing assessment’, in order to ensure they are as effective as possible. The relicensing process includes a performance assessment carried out by the National Audit Office on behalf of the UKCES which manages the relicensing process.
BIS: Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has announced that the Government is setting up a new Automotive Council to address the long term strategic challenges facing the UK car industry. The move is part of the Government’s response to the wide ranging recommendations made in a report from the New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team (NAIGT) published earlier this year, setting out its 20-year vision for the automotive industry. The first meeting is expected to be held in December 2009.
LDA: The London Development Agency (LDA) is investing £75m this year in programmes to support Londoners into jobs, provide training, advice, support & help businesses and those people hit hardest by the recession.
The LDA has been tasked under the Mayor's leadership and within the framework set out by the London Skills and Employment Board (LSEB) with cutting the number of long term workless in London and helping London’s low paid to progress in work.
Under the new Government Skills Strategy, released last week, the LDA & LSEB have responsibility for developing an effective plan for London. They will be working with a number of local & national agencies to deliver on this objective and simplify services for London's people & its employers, including investing £75m in employment & programmes (this includes £48m through the Mayor's Economic Recovery Action Plan).
The first of these independent research reports commissioned by the LDA has been published. Entitled - Staying In, Moving Up: Employment Retention and Progression in London - , the report shows that, despite significant progress made, too many Londoners still are trapped in a ‘low pay, no pay’ cycle with one in two out of work Londoners back on benefits within 6 months of leaving benefits.
To help inform the LDA's strategic investment strategy going forward, the agency has commissioned a suite of 5 research reports to assist it & its partners better understand London’s labour market and identify new & innovative ways of getting more value from its investments.
ScotGov: Plans to increase the reuse of second hand furniture & household goods in Scotland were given a lift recently with the launch of a £800k investment programme. The cash - from the Scottish Government's £7.5m INCREASE fund - will be targeted at Scottish-based community projects which reuse household items, such as furniture, white goods, or carpets.
The investment programme will be managed by WRAP Scotland (Waste & Resources Action Programme) and supported by the Community Recycling Network for Scotland (CRNS). The programme will fund up to 50% of project costs and projects must be fully operational by 31 March 2011.
Funders particularly want to support innovative ways to encourage reuse, including developing purpose-built, community reuse facilities at local authority recycling centres. They also want to target areas of Scotland where reuse infrastructure is currently under-developed.
WRAP Scotland, in partnership with the CRNS, is hosting a series of regional seminars for potential applicants to explain the aims of the programme and the application process. There will be a single round of applications to the programme, which closes at 1.30pm on Friday 8 January 2010.
LSN: Assessment Tomorrow are holding a series of seminars to discuss how e-Assessment, the use of IT to measure skills, knowledge & understanding, can support learning & skills development, and provide a way to measure & develop the talent pool.
Bill Malcolm, International Director at Learning and Skills Network will be speaking at these seminars to an audience of government officials responsible for education, HR & training, educational policy & strategy, funding bodies and heads of industry & commerce.
Talking to the theme of ‘Making Learning Work’ Bill will be demonstrating the benefits of using technology (including mobile learning) within learning & development and how it can be used more effectively to address the skills gap in India.
LSN: A delegation from TAFE has visited Learning and Skills Network with the aim to better understand the challenges & complexities currently facing UK colleges and to gain an appreciation of good practice. The delegation from Australia met with LSN’s Chief Executive, John Stone, and International Director, Bill Malcolm.
The delegation will be attending the Association of Colleges (AOC) Annual Conference in Birmingham on 17-19 November 2009, of which LSN are a main sponsor.
CLG: Inter Faith Week (15 to 21 November) is being facilitated by Communities and Local Government in partnership with the Inter Faith Network for the UK.
It is faith-community led with organisations around the country holding events - from art exhibitions to inter faith seminars; from football matches to pilgrimage walks; from the good deeds of Mitzvah Day to the good food of shared meals - to bring major faith communities, as well as those with no religious beliefs, closer together.
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