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WGPlus provides an in-depth weekly briefing from the UK Government and Public Sector. To save your time, we research & validate the links to websites, documents and further background information. Click here for more about WGPlus

In the News

WAGWill there ever be a UK-wide policy for Care of Elderly resourcing? - Deputy Minister for Social Services, Gwenda Thomas has launched the Green Paper on ‘Paying for Care in Wales’, which sets out proposals for reforming the current system of paying for care & support for disabled & older people who need it. The consultation closes on 28 February 2010.

The paying for care options favoured by the UK Government are based on the principle that the new way to pay for care should be a partnership between the individual & government.  Everyone who qualifies for care & support would have a proportion of their costs paid for by the government, but would have to fund the rest themselves.  
Ofsted:  Cut off from their Family - Being separated from your siblings & losing touch with them, not being adequately supported by social workers and often moving from one carer to the next are just some of the concerns voiced by children in care, in a report that gives first-hand accounts of their experiences.

The report - Children’s messages to the Minister (produced by the Children’s Rights Director for England, Roger Morga) - reports children’s messages from a survey, focus groups and a conference.  It will contribute to the Government’s stocktake of how well services are supporting children in care & care leavers and is designed to help to develop future government policy for children in care.

One of the main concerns raised by children in the report is that on first coming into care many are being separated from their brothers & sisters, even though they had wanted to stay together – and decisions are often being made without asking the child.  Siblings in care also tend to lose touch with each other as they stay in care. Those who did manage to stay in contact often had to arrange it themselves.

Having proper support from social workers was also expressed. There was general agreement that seeing your social worker less than once a month was not enough. However, children did recognise the challenges social workers faced.
Press release ~ Children’s messages to the Minister report ~ Office of the Children’s Rights Director ~ Support for care leavers ~ Children leaving care - Every Child Matters ~ Care Matters: Time for Change ~ Educational achievement of looked-after children ~ Frank Buttle Trust Quality Mark ~ Carelaw : A guide for young people in care ~ Looked After Children and Young People: We Can and Must Do Better ~ Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) ~ Looked after Children 2008 ~  KLOE 8 - Reliable Data and Information ~  Childline information sheet ~ JRF: Barriers to change in the social care of children ~ Care and prejudice ~ Future rules ~ Parents on Council Care ~  Ofsted – Children’s Rights (scroll down) ~ Ofsted: Looked after children: good practice in schools ~  Care Matters - Transforming the Lives of Children and Young People in Care ~  Children on the edge of care: Human rights and the Children Act ~  Reuniting looked after children with their families ~ Resilience and young people leaving care ~ Mentoring for young people leaving care ~ Personal Education Allowances for Looked After Children: Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities ~ Care Matters implementation plan ~ ~ Positive Futures programme

WAGOdds stacked against the poor - Social Justice Minister Dr Brian Gibbons has welcomed the Bevan Foundation report - Paying the price of being poor - which was launched at the Senedd recently.  The research, which is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government’s New Ideas Fund, focuses on the ‘poverty premium’ that means that people from low income backgrounds often have to pay extra for products because they are unable to pay by direct debit, buy in bulk, or access mainstream services.

The report considers how WAG can help to ensure that low income families are not disadvantaged by having to pay more for services and makes recommendations in 3 areas:
* education
* financial services
* fuel poverty
Press release ~ Bevan Foundation ~ Paying the Price of Being Poor ~ Senedd ~ WAG: New Ideas Fund ~ WAG: Financial Inclusion strategy ~ WAG: Credit Unions ~ Report calls for expansion of credit unions ~ WAG: Home Energy Efficiency Scheme ~ WAG: Children and Families (Wales) Measure ~ JRF: Monitoring poverty and social exclusion in Wales 2009 ~ The Poverty Site - Welsh Indicators ~ Child Poverty and Social Exclusion in Rural Wales (scroll down) ~ WAG: European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion ~ ‘Child Poverty Solutions Wales’ website ~ WAG – Child Poverty ~ Children in severe poverty in Wales: an agenda for action ~ Cymorth ~ Genesis Wales website ~ National Energy Efficiency and Savings Plan ~ Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES) ~ Energy Saving Trust Wales ~ WAG – Fuel Poverty ~ National Public Health Service for Wales (NPHS) - Fuel poverty

BIS / LSN:  No more targets please, just real actions - The Government has set out how it will invest in the skills critical to the recovery & long-term success of the UK economy.  The Skills Investment Strategy 2010 -11 underpins the priorities announced in the recently published national skills strategy, Skills for Growth.

The Learning and Skills Network has responded to the Government’s new National Skills Strategy, applauding its promise of greater freedom for colleges & other training institutions demonstrating teaching excellence.  They also welcome the importance it places on advanced vocational skills, with the expansion of advanced apprenticeships and stronger progression routes from apprenticeships into higher education.

In particular LSN supports the strategy’s move towards a system defined not simply by targets but real world outcomes, with real market value.  They have been concerned about the distorting effect of the qualifications paper chase – ultimately it’s skills that matter and it’s the balance between supply & demand at local level that actually makes the difference.

But they are concerned that chasing national high level targets - such as the Skills Strategy’s aim of 75% in higher education or completing an advanced apprenticeship or equivalent by 30 - would lead to an overqualified & inappropriately skilled workforce.  Recent research suggests that jobs growth occurs across the whole skills spectrum, not just at higher qualification levels.

The strategy’s pledge to cut through the clutter and simplify the learning & skills landscape is also welcome.  However, while they accept the recommendation of removing 30 quangos, reducing the number of bodies without a root & branch review of the complexity of the system could actually make things worse.
ScotGov:  More responsibility please! - A National Conversation paper on people & communities, focusing on areas including health, housing and law & order has been published. Constitution Minister Michael Russell said that the paper underlined the urgent need for Scotland's Parliament to be given more responsibilities for the people it serves.

People & Communities is the seventh in a series of papers being published by the Scottish Government as contributions to the National Conversation.  It sets out options for the people of Scotland if they choose to seek further responsibilities for their Parliament & Government.
WAGUs too please! - The All Wales Convention, chaired by Sir Emyr Jones Parry, was set up as a commitment under One Wales to monitor public opinion and assess the levels of support necessary to trigger a referendum on further law-making powers for the Assembly at, or before, the end of the term in 2011.

The Welsh Assembly Government has welcomed the publication of a report from the All Wales Convention, which will now be considered by the WAG, with First Minister Rhodri MorganI making a full statement to the Assembly this week.
Newswire - P&HSOBig government too often looses sight of the individual - Parliamentary Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, has urged public bodies to improve customer service by acting swiftly & effectively to resolve complaintsSmall mistakes, big consequences contains 11 case studies illustrating how the relatively minor mistakes of large government departments can have a major impact on the people they are attempting to serve and on the public purse.
For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar

General News

DHSummary Care Records containing key medical information which will be accessible wherever patients are treated are being rolled out across London, the Department of Health has announced.  The scheme is taking off across England over the next year as part of a national roll-out of the programme.
A Summary Care Record is a secure electronic summary of core information such as medications, allergies, adverse reactions & key health information derived initially from the patient’s GP record and added to, as necessary, by other healthcare staff treating the patient.
Everyone living in the capital will be written to, outlining the initiative, and offering them the choice to opt out of having a Summary Care Record created.  SCRs can be enriched with extra information, such as a patient’s wishes about End of Life care.  In Bury, one of the SCR early adopters, around 60 patients have done this.
PCS: Over 1,000 PCS union members working on government IT contracts for EDS/Hewlett Packard (HP) began a strike ballot last week in a dispute over job losses & pay. There has been growing anger amongst staff since HP took over EDS in August 2008, with 3,400 staff already axed in addition to a pay freeze & voluntary pay cuts, with further 1,000 job losses planned for the first half of 2010.
The ballot which runs until 30 November is asking members to vote on action short of strike and strike action which could take the form of a series of 1 or 2 day strikes. Those being balloted work mainly on IT contracts for the Department for Work and Pensions in locations around the UK.
HOIdentity cards will be available to people who live & work in Greater Manchester from 30 November 2009.  Anyone with a home or work address in the Greater Manchester region can now make an appointment to register for their identity card.
The £30 cards will provide a secure & convenient way for people to prove their identity when they are undertaking individual transactions or buying age-restricted goods.  The cards can also be used in place of a passport for travel throughout Europe.
DCMS: Britain’s oldest surviving rollercoaster is being restored to its former glory, one of our finest Victorian railway stations will be transformed and fishermen’s cellars from the 1800s will be refurbished, as the latest round of the Government funded Sea Change programme is announced.
7 coastal resorts across the country are receiving a grant including, Plymouth, Barrow-in-Furness, Fleetwood, St Ives, Roker, North Tyneside and Margate.  The Sea Change programme, funded by DCMS, is designed to invigorate England’s seaside towns through investment in culture & heritage.
MoJ: The Ministry of Justice has been made aware of a scam where consumers are telephoned by people claiming to be from the government, Office of Fair Trading, a high street bank or a legitimate claims management company, suggesting that the consumer could receive payments, for example, repayment of bank charges or other debts.
They are asked to provide personal information such as bank account details and make an upfront payment first, often by money transfer.  These callers have no connection with Ministry of Justice, OFT or other bona fide organisations and have tricked & harassed victims into handing over hundreds of pounds, only to find that the call was a scam and they’re now even further in debt.
The MoJ are therefore warning consumers not to pass on personal or financial details to such callers, or to transfer money unless you are confident the company is legitimate.  If you have already done so, contact your bank as soon as possible to stop or check any unauthorised transactions and report the incident to the police.
FSA: The Co-opis recalling 3 of its Truly Irresistible Indian Cooking Sauces, because the acidity levels are too low.  As the acidity levels are too low, this means micro-organisms may grow and the sauces will be past their best before the 'best before' date that appears on the jar.  The Food Standards Agency has issued a Food Alert for Information. No other Co-op products are known to be affected.
FSATesco has withdrawn 2 batches of its own-brand wholegrain brown rice because they might be contaminated with insects.  The Food Standards Agency has issued a Food Alert for Information. No other Tesco products are known to be affected.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has announced a series of changes in the way it is structured to better support its strategy for the next five years. The previously announced merger of the FSA and MHS into a single, stronger organisation, together with the creation of the new Operations Group and the drive for reduced administrative duplication, will result in a more effective & capable agency that can deliver the 2010-2015 strategic plan.
BIS: Last week (16-22 November) was Global Entrepreneurship Week, a worldwide movement of entrepreneurial people.  Events took place in schools, colleges, universities, football grounds, pubs, town halls, businesses and workplaces. The initiative is run by Enterprise UK, the business-led, government-backed campaign to increase entrepreneurship in the UK.
BIS: As more than 25,000 British Muslims travel to Mecca for Hajj, the Government is urging pilgrims to know their rights & report scam artists.  In previous years, some Hajj pilgrims have been ripped off by a variety of scams, including paying for a five star hotel but getting substandard accommodation or, in extreme cases, some agents have disappeared & taken pilgrims’ money with them.

Pilgrims who are unhappy with their trip should, as soon as possible, bring this to the attention of a representative of the travel company.  If you can’t resolve the problem complain to your nearest Local Council Trading Standards Departments.  They can investigate if a firm fails to honour its responsibilities and can advise on how to seek compensation if the service pilgrims received was not what was promised.
STFC: Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope and its ability to obtain images as sharp as if taken from space, astronomers have made the first time-lapse movie of an unusual shell of matter ejected by a ‘vampire star’.  The ‘vampire star,’ known as V445 in the constellation of Puppis (‘the Stern’), has been gulping down gas from its close companion star eventually causing it to undergo a nova explosion, becoming 250 times brighter than before and ejecting a large quantity of matter into space.

This enabled a team of astronomers, including UK researchers from the Universities of Warwick & Manchester, to study V445 Puppis in great detail and determine the distance & intrinsic brightness of the outbursting object.  The Science and Technology Facilities Council funds UK membership of ESO, allowing our astronomers access to its telescopes to carry out their research.
DefraBrits are happy to recycle & follow green practises at home, but leave their environmental conscience at the door when they arrive for work.  That’s the conclusion of a new survey by Matters, which highlights how attitudes towards recycling & energy saving differ between the home and the workplace.
For instance, just over 40% of people said they recycled plastics at home but not at work, with women being the worst culprits.  Similarly, other poor workplace practises include unnecessarily printing out emails (21%) and putting recyclable items into the non-recycling bin (21%).
The impact isn’t simply on the environment though.  Defra figures indicate that UK businesses could save £6.4bn each year by implementing resource efficiency measures that are of no or very low cost. Simple steps such as turning down thermostats, turning off lights and addressing dripping taps can help Britain’s businesses to save money and be more environmentally friendly.
Newswire – CABE: Sir John Sorrell has called for a new generation of architects with the attitude & talent to make Britain more delightful.  Sorrell challenged the architecture profession, in a talk at Tate Modern on 16 November 2009, to stop being the servant of poor quality development.
The speech made the case for new and different values underpinning the architecture which should emerge from this recession.  He argued that many architects have exactly the optimism & inventiveness which Britain needs to progress from an age of anxiety to an era of delight.
Sorrell also called on the Government to sustain investment in public buildings, particularly schools.  He argued that Government should not squander the investment already made and it should use the emerging quality of public buildings as a springboard for the future.
TfLTransport for London’s (TfL’s) Lost Property Office (LPO) has donated hundreds of brand new toys to The Salvation Army to give to disadvantage children in south London over the Christmas period.  The toys will appeal to children of all ages and range from board games to cuddly toys.  The Salvation Army based in Deptford, south London, will work with the local council to distribute the toys to families in need.

The LPO handles almost 200,000 items a year left behind on buses, London Underground, London Overground, DLR, licensed taxis or in the Victoria Coach Station.  All the toys donated to The Salvation Army are found on TfL’s transport network.  The LPO only donates unclaimed toys which are more than 3 months old and are still in their original packaging.
HSE: Rogue gas fitters are being warned that they will be taken to task over shoddy jobs that risk lives. The Health & Safety Executive used Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week (16-20 November) to renew its commitment to bring them to justice.
The Gas Safe Register, the body responsible for registration of gas engineers, recently launched a review of the enforcement regime to see how it can be improved further.  Stakeholders including the industry, engineers and victim support groups are being asked for their ideas.
EH: A 28-year-old Herefordshire woman has won a coveted training post with English Heritage.  Samantha Barnes has beaten nearly 1,000 other applicants from around the country to claim 1 of 7 places on the Historic Environment Traineeship (HET) scheme and will spend the next 2 years working with heritage specialists in Birmingham.
English Heritage is committed to doing more to train a new generation of conservation managers and this initiative aims to equip people with the all-round skills required to work as conservation managers and help protect the nation’s priceless heritage in the future.  Along with nurturing traditional craftspeople like masons, glaziers and carpenters, they have a key role to play in keeping historic buildings & landscapes in good condition and putting them at the heart of regeneration.
During her training programme Samantha will learn more about archaeological sites, managing heritage assets through the planning system, protecting listed buildings & landscapes and exploring solutions for tough cases where heritage is at risk. 
DH: The swine flu vaccination programme will be extended to offer children over 6 months and under 5-years protection against the virus.  Extending the vaccination programme to young children is supported by the panel of experts that provide advice on vaccination issues - the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Children under 5 are more likely than other groups to be hospitalised if they become ill with swine flu.  Young children also have high rates of admission to critical care and, sadly, there have been some deaths.
DH: Chelsea fans may be currently celebrating being top of the Premier League, but there is room for improvement off the pitch as they struggle to kick the habit and give smoking the red card.  As the latest standings in the Smokefree United League are announced, it's revealed that only 77 Blues fans have signed for Smokefree United to quit smoking - leaving them trailing behind their Man U rivals who top the table with 274.
Smokefree United is a virtual club of quitters that provides coaching & support to help football fans & players to stop smoking.  Launched in October 2009, more than 1,500 fans have already signed up.  In addition to quitting advice & entry into competitions to win ‘money can't buy prizes’, footballers & fans that sign up boost their team's position in the Smokefree United League.
SE: While most bright ideas in the pub are forgotten by the morning, Cathy Rooney's resulted in 150 women in Nottinghamshire taking up running, many for the first time. And to acknowledge her innovation & tenacity, earlier this month Cathy was named Sport England's Community Club Volunteer of the Year at the Sunday Times 2009 Sports Women of the Year Awards.
"In January 2009 a group of friends were sitting in the Vale pub chatting over a pint and some pork scratchings about how they wanted to get fit and tone up ," said Cathy.  "I offered to take them out running and that was it, the Woodthorpe Huffers and Puffers was born." Less than 11 months after launch, this community club now boasts 150 female runners and women who could barely run for a minute are now entering 10km races & successfully completing half marathons.
DfT: An innovative online game to help reduce the number of children killed & injured on Britain's roads has been launched by Road Safety Minister Paul Clark. 'The Code of Everand' uses a virtual world to help children develop skills - such as finding a safe place to cross & planning ahead - which will help them to stay safe in the real world. 
These skills are particularly vital for children as they make the transition from primary to secondary school and start making longer journeys on their own.  Twice as many 12-year-old than 9-year-old pedestrians are hurt each year on Britain's roads and in 2008, 17 children aged 10-12 were killed on the roads while more than 2,500 were injured.
The multi-player online game is set in the fantasy land of Everand which is criss-crossed by spirit channels, inhabited by dangerous creatures.  Players are ‘Pathfinders’, the heroes of the society, who travel about the land and are trained to cross the spirit channels safely.  In a world first, the game uses real road data so players confront hazards based on the real situations that children face on the roads.
MoD: A ‘beast’ of a new vehicle has arrived in the UK to prepare for its unleashing in Afghanistan’s Green Zone to support British troops. Warthog can wade through water and is powered by a 7.2 litre engine that produces 350 bhp - while carrying up to 12 troops and offering improved levels of protection.  The highly agile, all-terrain vehicle will be able to climb steep gradients, cling to severe slopes, tackle vertical obstacles and cross wide trenches.
The MOD has bought more than 100 Warthog amphibious vehicles from Singapore Technologies Kinetics (STK).  The first has been unveiled at Thales UK’s new vehicle integration facility in Wales, as the company will install UK-specific kit to the vehicles.  This will include additional armour, specialist electronic counter-measure equipment & communication tools, before the vehicle is deployed to Afghanistan early next year.
Warthog, which will succeed the Viking tracked amphibious troop carrier currently in service in Afghanistan, will come in 4 variants - a troop carrier, an ambulance, a command vehicle and a repair & recovery vehicle.
STFC: Alongside teleportation and the AIDS vaccine, the Herschel Space Observatory has been voted one of the greatest inventions of 2009 by Time magazine. Herschel is placed at number 7 in the list of 50 inventions, which also includes the Electric Eye and the Personal Carbon Footprint.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

Wales Office: Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain has urged Welsh media organisations to join forces and submit the strongest possible bids to create a new pilot to replace ITV regional news in Wales.  Following on from the publication of the Digital Britain report the Government consulted on the proposal of Independently Funded News Consortia (IFNC) pilots.  The responses showed strong support for securing plurality of news sources in all regions of Britain and backed the pilot proposals.
DCSF: Children’s Secretary Ed Balls has backed children & young people in care and promised them the same as every other child with ‘a promise that they should not be stopped unnecessarily from taking part in activities their friends do’.
In 2007 the Government launched the Care Matters programme, a set of reforms to the care system bought in to improve the service that vulnerable children & young people receive.  The Government has now published the first annual progress report into these reforms, setting out the progress to date, the range of measures introduced since Care Matters and outlining the Government’s priorities for the care system for 2010.  
Through a series of reforms announced in recent years, the Government wants to put children & young people in the driving seat for reform, by empowering them to directly contribute to making the care system better.  The proposed change to the law will be outlined in a letter that will be sent individually from Ed Balls to every child & young person in care (currently 60,000+).
Ofsted: Being separated from your siblings & losing touch with them, not being adequately supported by social workers and often moving from one carer to the next are just some of the concerns voiced by children in care, in a report that gives first-hand accounts of their experiences – See ‘In the News’ Ofsted item for more information.
CLG: Families who haven't worked for years will be helped to climb out of poverty & into employment through a new £40m job & skills drive Communities Secretary, John Denham, claimed recently. Many of the families who have been unemployed for years become entrenched in a culture of worklessness - the Government will give people the right support they need to get a job, but equally will expect them to take up the offer or risk financial sanctions like losing benefits.
The extra Working Neighbourhood funding announced last week will allow 61 councils to do more, including directly stepping in to help the lives of some of the poorest people to get them in shape for work and off long term benefits, providing the support & skills they need.
ScotGov: The latest NHS Scotland performance management (HEAT) targets include a commitment to ensure that 90% of people who need treatment for their drug problem receive it within 3 weeks. A similar target to cover specialist alcohol misuse treatment will come into force the following year. The targets also include a commitment to deliver faster access to specialist child & adolescent mental health services.
There is currently no maximum waiting time for access to these services but, by March 2013, patients will wait no longer than 26 weeks as a milestone to delivering even faster access. Other new targets include:
* At least 60% of 3 & 4 years olds in Scotland are to routinely get fluoride teeth varnishing, to improve their oral health, by March 2014
* An annual 3% reduction in CO2 emissions over the next 5 years
* A further 15% reduction in MRSA cases by March 2011, on top of a 30% reduction by March 2010.
Defra: Defra recently unveiled its third Sustainable Development Action Plan (SDAP), which sets out what Defra will be doing over the next 18 months. Priorities for this plan include how to sustainably increase global agricultural production, making the Olympics greener and developing Defra’s first Departmental climate change plan to reduce emissions and adapt to climate impacts.
WAG: A campaign to get people across Wales to re-use their bags when out doing their Christmas shopping has been launched. The seasonal push is part of the ‘Get Carried Away’ campaign.  Each year an estimated 320m bags are handed out in Wales and it takes between 500 & 1,000 years for them to degrade.
DH: A cross-government action plan to improve the health of offenders in prison & in the community has been launched. Individuals from socially excluded sections of the community are over-represented in the offender population.  The plan draws together recommendations by Lord Bradley’s review of people with mental health & learning disabilities in the criminal justice system and the views of stakeholders.  It will hopefully help to protect the public, reduce health inequalities and cut levels of re-offending.
ScotGov: An additional £1.5m is being invested by the Scottish Government to ensure Scotland's scientists play their part in strengthening global food security. The funding will contribute to collaborative UK work being led by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
MoD: New measures have been announced by Harriet Harman, Minister for Women & Equality and Bob Ainsworth, Secretary of State for Defence. The measures include an Employment & Skills Taskforce, Armed Forces Champions for Jobcentre Plus and a further review of childcare & school place allocation for service families.
These measures add to the progress made by the cross-government 2008 Service Personnel Command Paper, which was published specifically to ensure that service families were no longer disadvantaged in obtaining jobs, or accessing public services such as childcare, education, healthcare, and work. 
In addition the External Reference Group (ERG) has published - A nation’s commitment to the Armed Forces community: First annual report on progress – which highlights achievements over the past year.  It also sets out what remains to be done to maintain progress.
WAG: Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones has outlined how the recommendations of an independent review into performance & excellence of sport in Wales will be taken forward at the debate in the National Assembly.  The report made an assessment of systems & processes that to support sport at the elite level in Wales.  It also looked at the pathways in place to ensure that young talent is identified and brought forward in Wales.
ScotGov: Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing has made clear the Scottish Government's determination to eradicate the sectarian attitudes & actions that have blighted Scotland for so long. In a statement to the Parliament, he announced an evaluation of the use of Football Banning Orders (FBO's) to ensure that they are being used to the full in tackling the violence & abusive behaviour, including sectarian abuse that sometimes occurs at, or around, matches.
He also made clear that he wants to work with CoSLA and ACPOS to consider how the 2006 Statement on Tackling Abusive Behaviour at Marches and Parades could be used at a more local level to ensure all parties involved in parades consider the impact & disruption they can cause and work together for the good of all communities.
The Minister also set out the work already underway to tackle sectarianism, including support for anti-sectarian organisations, the Promoting Citizenship through Football Partnership and educational resources for schools.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government is to fund the charity SANDS with up to £20,000 to work with health boards on improving support for mothers & fathers after their baby is stillborn.  The money will be used to ensure maternity staff are given specialist education & training, so that they are better equipped to support bereaved parents.
DH: 20 innovative new projects, designed by frontline NHS staff to transform patient care, were announced by Care Services Minister Phil Hope on Social Enterprise Day last week. Frontline staff working in Primary Care Trusts can set up a social enterprise to improve their services under the ‘right to request’ scheme.
This first wave of projects include a wide range of services, including those for homeless people, children & young people and mental health services. Each of the 20 organisations will receive £30,000 of DH funding; a dedicated mentor and access to professional development opportunities that will help ensure their social enterprise is a success.
DCSF: Schools Minister Vernon Coaker has confirmed plans to bring in a new curriculum for primary education – with what he claims is overwhelming support from pupils, parents, teachers & experts.  New legislation introduced last week on primary curriculum reform in England will hopefully ‘drive up education standards across the board’.
He confirmed that evolution will become a compulsory part of science education and that British history will be a key, and permanent, feature of the historical, geographical & social understanding area of learning.

The new legislation is based on recommendations from an independent review of the primary curriculum by Sir Jim Rose, which sought the views of teachers, parents, pupils and subject experts and took over a year to complete.  The Government accepted Jim Rose’s recommendations in full in April 2009.
HO: New television, radio, press & online adverts which tell the public what rights they have under the national Policing Pledge have been launched by Home Secretary Alan Johnson. The Policing Pledge is just one part of the Policing Green Paper, published last summer, which ‘signalled a fundamental shift in police accountability and reporting’.  All 43 police forces have signed up to the Pledge which sets out a range of promises about what the public can expect from the police.
The adverts focus on 2 of the promises within the Pledge, that:
* your Neighbourhood Policing Team spend 80% of their time visibly working in your neighbourhood
* you can make an appointment to see your local police at a time that suits you within 48 hours about non-emergency problems
The adverts will be coupled with a leaflet drop to more than 6m households in 60 areas across the country to provide them with information about anti-social behaviour services, who to contact and how to complain if services aren’t providing what they should, as well as informing them about the Pledge.
DfT: The UK’s streets & car parks could see thousands more charging points for electric & plug-in hybrid cars thanks to £30m of Government funding. Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis has invited cities & businesses to join together to bid for the money which will help fund the installation of charging points on streets, car parks and in commercial, retail & leisure facilities. 
This initiative – called Plugged-In Places – will support the development of between 3 & 6 electric car cities & regions across the UK which will act as trailblazers for electric car technology.  The experiences of these locations will inform the future development of a national charging infrastructure. 
DFID: All Pregnant & lactating women and children under 5 in Sierra Leone will have access to free life-saving healthcare within a year, thanks to a new emergency health programme that will receive a £34m boost from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).
WAG: A new National Advocacy & Advice service for children & young people, backed with £459,850 of new Welsh Assembly Government funding has been announced.  The helpline will be available through free phone lines, free texting, e-mail & instant messaging.  The Advocacy and Advice Service will work with and compliment other advice services & helplines (such as Childline) which have a prominent safeguarding role.
The announcement comes on the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).  At a celebratory event to mark the anniversary, the Minister also launched a major new Action PlanGetting it Right’ which sets out how the Welsh Assembly Government will make important steps to make children and young people’s rights a reality over the next 5 years in Wales.


DCSF: A consultation has been launched by Schools Minister Iain Wright on the National Commissioning Framework (NCF) 2011/12.  The NCF will set out how the new system for planning, commissioning, procuring and funding education & training for those aged 16 to 19, for young people aged up to 25 with a learning difficulty assessment and for young offenders in youth custody will operate.
A draft version of the NCF, which has been developed by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) with REACT and other key stakeholders, has been published for consultation.  The deadline for comments & feedback is 5 February 2010.  The draft will then be reviewed & revised, with a final version due to be published by the YPLA in April 2010 as part of their statutory guidance.
BIS: Guidelines to ensure robust scientific & engineering advice to Government are the subject of a consultation launched by the Government Office for Science.  The consultation (closes on 9 February 2010) provides an opportunity for scientists, academics & members of the public to help revise the guidelines (last updated in 2005).  These will set out the way Government departments obtain & use scientific advice and underpin the Government’s commitment to evidence-based policy making.
Alongside this formal consultation, Lord Drayson will lead work with scientific advisors, the learned societies, scientists, science journalists and Government colleagues over the coming weeks to outline principles for independent scientific advice which will underpin the relationship between Government & scientists.  These will be published before the end of the year and will feed into the guidelines consultation.
CLG: Housing & Planning Minister John Healey has launched measures intended to cut carbon emissions by overhauling the planning system. In proposals published for consultation (closes on 9 February 2010), homeowners, developersand businesses will be able to install their own on-site wind turbines and air source heat pumps, without the expense & red tape of planning permission.
The new rules would also allow councils & electric car drivers to install electric car charger points on streets & in car parks without needing to make a planning application. However, the relaxation of the planning rules would come with strict caveats about size, noise levels, location and the visual impact on an area.
LLUKLifelong Learning UK is currently reviewing the National Occupational Standards for Learning and Development.  The Standards were last updated by ENTO in 2001 and the suite will be reviewed to ensure they are 'fit for purpose' and still reflect the functions for which they were written.  As part of this review the current qualifications including the Assessor and Verifier awards are also being reviewed.
A period of open consultation on the draft new Standards and the proposed new qualification has opened (closes on 4 December 2009).  During this period there will be a number of opportunities for those that use these Standards to provide feedback which will include facilitated events, e-consultation and opportunities to hold your own events.
WAG: Deputy Minister for Social Services, Gwenda Thomas has launched the Green Paper on ‘Paying for Care in Wales, which sets out proposals for reforming the current system of paying for care & support for disabled & older people who need it. The consultation closes on 28 February 2010 – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

MLA: The Get It Loud In Libraries (GILIL) toolkit, sponsored by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and produced by Lancashire Libraries, sets out the nuts & bolts of GILIL, a project that stages live rock & pop gigs among the bookshelves.  Over the last 4 years GILIL has welcomed over 3,500 new users through library doors with acts including recent Mercury Music Prize winner Speech Debelle, Florence and the Machine, Adele, the Wombats and Mr Hudson.
A step-by-step guide to staging live music events for young people in public libraries is now available to library services across the country.  The aim has been to encourage young people into libraries who may have lost the library habit, or never had it to begin with and re-set their perceptions about what libraries do and what they stand for.
BIS/PCS: Employers, unions & the government have joined forces to promote new guidance on preventing harassment & violence in the workplace.  The guidance, which follows a Europe-wide agreement between employers’ organisations & unions, aims to give practical help & support to firms and their employees.
A related recent PCS union press release announced that ‘1 in 4 (26.4%) civil servants working in Wales have been bullied at work and 44% experience negative behaviour on at least a weekly basis according to an independent survey by the Glamorgan Business School's Centre for Research on Workplace Behaviours (CRWB) for the PCS union’.  

The survey also found that in the main bullying is top down and that less than 10% of those bullied are satisfied with the way the matter was dealt with by their employer.
OGC: The Office of Government Commerce is calling upon public sector organisations to strive for greater value for money from spend on temporary staff to help deliver real, cashable savings.  

A new guide, Demand Management in 9 steps, sets out a simple suite of measures that can be applied by public sector managers to get greater value for money when considering how to best organise their external human resource requirements.
The new guide shows how demand management can offer extensive savings over the long & short-term.  It also offers other benefits, when taking on temporary staff, such as improved business performance, a sustainable workforce and retention of skills & knowledge.

Annual Reports

FSA: The level of radioactivity people absorb through food remained below the EU legal limit during 2008, claims a report published by the Food Standards AgencyRadioactivity in Food and the Environment (RIFE) 2008 is an annual report combining the Agency’s monitoring results with those of the Environment Agency, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.  It is the most comprehensive annual independent report of radioactivity in food, and covers the whole of the UK.
The survey measures radioactivity from different parts of the food chain, including for people who live close to nuclear sites and eat locally produced food.  The report also assesses how much radioactivity people would absorb from authorised radioactive discharges in the environment, for example from the air.
By combining these sources, the report found that the total dose in the UK is significantly under the EU annual dose limit for members of the public of 1 millisievert for all exposures to radiation.  The findings do not highlight any safety concerns for the food chain.
Newswire – LGA: Councils are working hard to develop their staff and offer the best value-for-money services during the recession, the latest Local Government Workforce Survey has found, but the latest findings show that the number of councils with recruitment & retention difficulties has reduced dramatically.
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities has updated their 10 Big Numbers (some of which remain unchanged) which continues their State of the Countryside work by bringing together a set of statistics covering a range of factors affecting fundamental aspects of living and working in rural areas.
These statistics can be regularly updated and are based on robust & widely understood data sources.
In addition to national tables associated with the 10 Big Numbers, for the first time they provide regional tables for the vast majority of the statistics.
Their next full State of the Countryside report is due to be published in the summer of 2010.  In addition to the reports, the CRC also produce a number of focused State of the Countryside Updates − which look at a specific issue or dataset from a rural perspective

General Reports and Other Publications

MO: Latest research has shown that emissions of CO 2 will need to be reduced close to zero by the end of this century if a rise in the mean global temperature beyond 2°C is to be avoided.  A temperature rise of no more than 2 °C is widely acknowledged as the ‘safe’ level to avoid dangerous climate change.
This finding follows the development of a new climate mitigation scenario constructed using the same principles that will be adopted by the next IPCC assessment review using concentrations of greenhouse gases and other forcings as a starting point.  Modellers have then been able to establish what level of emissions would need to be achieved so as to restrict global temperature rise.

This research, revealed at the  ‘ENSEMBLES – A changing climate in Europe’ symposium at the Met Office in Exeter, is the culmination of 5 years of research from 66 institutes across Europe, led by the Met Office Hadley Centre and funded by the European Commission.
ESRC: Children as young as 12 have a strong sense of their personal futures and can reflect thoughtfully on what life might hold for them, according to new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)  and led by Professor Paul Croll of Reading University & Professor Gaynor Attwood of the University of the West of England.
“What is very striking,” says Professor Croll, “is that for this generation there is absolutely no gender stereotyping in hopes for the future.  Furthermore, what children say at the age of 11 about school participation after the age of 16 is highly predictive of their actual behaviour”.

The research concludes that to increase participation in schooling post-16, schools need to focus on giving advice & information to children as soon as they enter secondary education.  Greater attention also needs to be paid to social relationships, in order to make school a more enjoyable experience for some children.  But the study acknowledges that schools face a difficult balance between encouraging high expectations and providing realistic opportunities & goals.
LSIS: The Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS), the Association of Colleges (AoC) and its Governors’ Council have welcomed the ‘Review of Governance and Strategic Leadership in English Further Education’ as a catalyst for discussion at a time when the challenges for governance & strategic leadership across the sector are rapidly changing.
Commissioned by LSIS and the AoC the review sought to identify 'good' practice in each area of this diverse sector and it also looked forward & reviewed the implications of the proposed move towards shared regulation and the introduction of the machinery of government changes in 2010.
PB: The Parole Board has responded to a Ministry of Justice consultation paper on the future of the Board by calling for it to remain an independent body, but with sponsorship transferred to HM Courts Service.  This change would ‘put the independence of the Parole Board from the executive on a firmer footing, as required by the Court of Appeal, and enhance its ability to secure sufficient judicial resources from HMCS to hear prisoners’ cases on time’.
It would also provide for some efficiency savings through a closer relationship with HMCS without generating the additional costs that a formal move into the courts structure might entail.  The Parole Board argues against the option of a move to the Tribunals Service as being inconsistent with it remaining an integral part of the criminal justice system.
The Board has also called for its recommendations on moving prisoners to open prison conditions to be made binding upon the Secretary of State and at the same time for it to be given the power to review the cases of prisoners who have been moved back from open to closed conditions by the Prison Service.
NE: Scientists have sounded the alarm over the threats faced by coastal marine ecosystems - such as tidal salt marshes, seagrass meadows, kelp forests and mangroves – which are key tools in combating climate change.  Part-funded by Natural England, the Lighthouse Foundation and the UNEP, the IUCN report - ‘The Management of Natural Coastal Carbon Sinks’ - looks at a range of global options for carbon management around the world’s coastlines.
The report highlights the wide-ranging benefits that coastal habitats provide and also the increasing threats that they face.  For example, the loss of two-thirds of seagrass meadows and 50% of mangrove forests due to human activities has severely threatened their carbon storage capacity and is comparable to the annual decline in the Amazon forests.
ScotGov: Partnership work to tackle wildlife crime is proving successful, according to a report - The Natural Justice Update - which analysed the progress made in the prevention, detection, investigation & prosecution of wildlife crime. The report recognises the progress made and recommends that local partnership groups are now formed to make further progress.
Ofsted: An Ofsted report showcases 12 outstanding special schools that excel at providing for very vulnerable children & young people.  It shows how these schools deal with complex special educational needs, behavioural difficulties, disabilities and pupils excluded from mainstream schools.
The report - Twelve outstanding special schools - Excelling through inclusion - describes schools that have the highest aspirations for every child and aim ‘never to give up on them’.  These schools enable pupils whose schooling has been interrupted by obstacles and traumatic events to go on to achieve remarkable things.
The publication follows two reports launched earlier this year that identified the secrets of success for outstanding primary and secondary schools.

Legislation / Legal

CQC: The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has prosecuted the owner of the Skin Health Spa chain, for operating hair removal lasers without registration. CQC was successful in 5 separate cases against Waveriver Limited, which now faces fines & costs totalling £13,000.
Beauticians operating intense pulsed light (IPL) & lasers used for hair removal are legally obliged to register their services with the regulator to ensure minimum quality standards are provided and consumers are protected. Failure to register is considered a breach of section 11 of the Care Standards Act 2000.
HMT: The Government has introduced the Financial Services Bill to Parliament, claiming that it will ‘deliver significant reforms that will provide greater rights and information for consumers, in addition to stronger financial regulation to make banks safer and more robust in the future’.
DCSF: More powers to parents & pupils; more freedoms for schools; and clearer & smarter accountability for all were key proposals put forward by Ed Balls and Vernon Coaker when they published the Children, Schools and Families Bill.  The government claims that this Bill will set out what parents & pupils can expect from the schools system.  There will be specific entitlements for parents & pupils and a means of redress if those expectations are not met.
Alongside these greater rights are greater responsibilities.  Parent guarantees will include strengthened Home School Agreements setting DCSF expectations on parents and making clear their responsibilities for their child’s behaviour.  The Bill will give schools stronger powers to enforce these agreements when parents do not.
ScotGov: A Bill to improve arbitration law has been passed by the Scottish Parliament. The Arbitration (Scotland) Bill will provide a statutory framework for arbitration to encourage greater use of arbitration domestically and, in time, attract more international arbitration to Scotland.
The Bill puts the majority of Scots law on arbitration into a single Bill and means that anyone in Scotland, or seeking to do business in Scotland, will have easy access to the principles & rules governing the law of arbitration in Scotland. Some of the current law on arbitration in Scotland dates back over 300 years.
HMRC: The Corporation Tax Bill and the Taxation (International and Other Provisions) Billhave been published. These Bills are the sixth and seventh produced by the Tax Law Rewrite project, which rewrites UK direct tax law to modernise it so that it is clearer & easier to use. 
Press release ~ Tax Law Rewrite Project (scroll down for Bills)
Defra: The government is claiming that communities, homes & businesses will be better protected from the risk of flooding & water shortages in future under plans published in the Flood and Water Management Bill by Defra last week.
The government claims that the Bill addresses many of the recommendations from Sir Michael Pitt’s review of the summer 2007 floods.  It will give the authorities that manage flood risk better powers to do so, putting local authorities in charge of dealing with local flood risk and the Environment Agency in charge of overseeing flooding & coastal erosion nationally. 
HO: A tough new compulsory licensing scheme designed to rid England, Wales & Northern Ireland of rogue wheel clampers, has been set out in the Crime and Security Bill. Proposals within the Bill will make it mandatory for all wheel clamping businesses to be licensed under the terms of a strict code of conduct.  The code will include a cap on fines, time limits on towing cars unreasonably quickly after being clamped and set out clear instructions for putting up signs warning drivers that clamping takes place. 
Ministers are also looking to introduce an independent appeals process for motorists who feel unfairly penalised by firms and their employees. Any company which breaches the terms of their licence could lose their right to practise and face up to 5 years in prison, or a substantial fine.
BIS: The Digital Economy Bill, introduced last week, sets out Government plans to ensure ‘the UK is at the leading edge of the global digital economy’. Published jointly by the Department for Business and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Bill aims to support growth in the creative & digital sectors and includes measures aimed at tackling widespread online infringement of creative copyright, such as peer-to-peer file-sharing.
Other key proposals look to strengthen the UK’s communications infrastructure, such as superfast broadband, via the introduction of new Ofcom duties to encourage investment.  The Bill also puts in place measures to protect the creation of a range of engaging public service content, from multiple providers, on multiple platforms.  Specifically, it addresses the urgent need for action to secure provision of news in the nations, locally and in the regions.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

DefraTraditional Grimsby Smoked Fish is the latest UK product to be recognised under the EU Regionally Protected Food Names (PFN) scheme for its quality & regional identity. The product was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status because the way the cod & haddock is specially prepared is traditional to the Grimsby area.
The award means that 39 UK products now enjoy protection under the EU PFN scheme, which legally protects food names on the basis of their link to a specific geographical area, or because they are made to a traditional recipe.
ScotGov: A Scottish delegation, led by First Minister Alex Salmond, was in Frankfurt last week for Euro Finance Week - the largest financial services gathering in Europe. The delegation, which included Scottish Development International, Scottish Financial Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise and the Financial Services Advisory Board was be seeking ways to strengthen economic links with Europe and reinforce Scotland's position in financial services.
CLG: Local Government Minister Rosie Winterton has signed a ‘historic democratic agreement recognising the rights of citizens across Europe to have their views heard by their local leaders’. The new protocol to the Charter of Local Self-Government was agreed by Ministers from across Europe at a Conference in Utrecht last week.
It sets out that citizens in States across the Continent should ‘be engaged at every stage in local affairs from voting in their elected representatives to being consulted on local policy that matters to them’.
Press release ~ European Charter of Local Self-Government ~ New Protocol (scroll down to ‘Additional Protocol’)
Defra: 98.3% of England’s bathing waters met the EC’s minimum water quality standards in 2009, up from 96% in 2008, tests carried out by the Environment Agency show.  414 coastal & freshwater bathing water sites were monitored in England in 2008 and 2009.
In 2007 and 2008, exceptionally wet weather contributed to lower standards of bathing water.  Heavy rainfall caused pollution from agriculture & from urban areas to run off and lead to more frequent operation of Combined Sewer Overflows.
The Environment Agency investigates the causes of failure at each bathing water site that falls below mandatory standards and takes appropriate measures to address sources of pollution.  Measures taken to reduce & mitigate pollution from agriculture include the Catchment Sensitive Farming Delivery Initiative and the establishment of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones, which now cover approximately 70% of England

Charity and Voluntary Sector

CO: Dame Stephanie Shirley – the Government's Giving and Philanthropy Ambassador – has launched the new Ambassadors’ website.
CO: Frontline third sector organisations are set to benefit from improved facilities at local resource centres across England, thanks to £2m of capital investment from the Office of the Third Sector, delivered by Capacitybuilders.  The new round of small awards from Capacitybuilders’ Capital Investment Programme is now open for online applications.
Capacitybuilders will award small capital grants of up to £30,000 to local resource centres enabling them to respond to the recession.  The grants will make small scale improvements to their premises, which aims to improve availability, quality or accessibility of the accommodation or shared facilities used by local third sector organisations.  
Prioritisation will be given to projects which have specific relevance to the challenges facing the sector during the recession. Applications will be assessed on a monthly basis, so early applications are more likely to succeed.  In particular, priority will be given to applications received by 14 December 2009
CO: Grants helping organisations to enable more disabled people to volunteer were available from last week.  Organisations can apply for grants between £250 and £5,000, which can be used to help overcome barriers that stop disabled people volunteering, such as specific equipment, a lack of suitable access & understanding of disability issues.
These grants are part of the £2m 'Access to Volunteering Fund', which was developed by the Office of the Third Sector as a pilot scheme in Greater London, the West Midlands and the North West.  The fund operates between Autumn 2009 & Spring 2011 over 5 grant rounds.  The first deadline for applications is 1 December 2009, but organisations unable to submit an application by this date will have their applications considered in future grant rounds.
In addition to supporting disabled volunteers, the pilot will test different ways to apply for funds such as video applications and face-to-face pitches.  The grant fund is being managed by a consortium comprising Charities Aid Foundation, RNIB and Digital Public.
BIG: Training opportunities for people trapped in the poverty cycle, a support network for sufferers of a rare health condition and a transport service bringing the community closer for isolated people in Devon were among the projects benefiting from grants, as the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) made a landmark announcement.
This most recent funding of 33 groups (sharing £7,064,534) takes the total awarded through BIG’s Reaching Communities programme soaring over the £300m mark.  The scheme awards grants of between £10,000 and £500,000 to projects that build stronger communities, offer people better life chances and improve well-being.

Business and Other Briefings

This Revenue & Customs Brief outlines HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) policy in relation to amusement machines known as ‘electronic lottery terminals’ and their liability to VAT and Amusement Machine Licence Duty (AMLD).
This Revenue and Customs Brief explains how businesses trading with other EU Member States could be affected by changes from 1 January 2010.

Industry News

MoJ: The Ministry of Justice has announced competitions for the management of five prisons: Birmingham, Buckley Hall, Doncaster, Featherstone 2 and Wellingborough. Public, private & third sector providers will have the opportunity to compete for all 5 establishments.
Buckley Hall & Doncaster are to be re-competed as their current contracts are coming to an end.  Birmingham & Wellingborough are both public sector prisons and will be market tested for the first time.  Featherstone 2 is an expansion of Featherstone prison and requires a contract to operate.
The competitive tendering of prisons has led to cost savings of between 10 - 22% according to a Department of Trade and Industry report in 2005.  The report also found that where competition has been introduced in one area, it can lead to savings in others through the transfer of best practice. It has led to service improvement across the board, including in the public sector with leaner management structures, reduced sickness leave & a more mobile workforce.
WAG: Education Minister Jane Hutt has recently visited a company in Bridgend to see firsthand the success of their involvement with the GO Wales Programme.  Funded earlier this year with a £17m Welsh Assembly Government convergence package, GO Wales has continued to give students & graduates a head start in today's job market by providing a wide range of work experience opportunities, training & jobs, accompanied by a helpful range of career resources.
Unique to Wales, the GO Wales Graduate Academy provides the opportunity for graduates to attend a 2 week training programme followed by 4 weeks of work experience, leading to the achievement of a management qualification. provides the opportunity for graduates to attend a 2 week training programme followed by 4 weeks of work experience, leading to the achievement of a management qualification.
ScotGov: Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has visited an innovative project which has slashed waiting times for cancer patients. The one-stop clinic at the Western General's Edinburgh Breast Unit now ensures that patients are seen & given a diagnosis the same day. The project is one of scores of different schemes running across Scotland under the NHS's Efficiency Programme, which has saved the health service £300m in 2008-09.
Previously, patients waited up to 8 weeks but are now seen within 14 days of being referred, even with a 25% increase in patients. Redesigning the service means that patients who used to have to go for one test, wait for results, then go back for a different test until a diagnosis was established can now be seen in one hospital visit. 
Setting up a parallel clinic for low-risk patients has also speeded up the service, as fewer women now need a mammogram. This change alone is saving NHS Lothian an estimated £100,000 a year. NHS Scotland's Efficiency and Productivity Programme aims to achieve 2% cash-releasing efficiencies over the 3-year period 2008-09 to 2010-11.
CLG: The Prime Minister and Communities Secretary John Denham have announced that the public will have more access to Ordnance Survey maps from next year, as part of a Government drive to open up data to improve transparency. Ordnance Survey will open up its data relating to electoral & local authority boundaries, postcode areas and mid scale mapping information.
The Government will consult on proposals to make data from Ordnance Survey freely available, so it can be used for digital innovation and to support democratic accountability.
BIS: British Innovation shined at the iAWARDS. Topping the honours list was Horizon Discovery Ltd, a technology start-up company which scooped the iaward of the Year for its hi-tech, ‘X-MAN Model Cancer Patient’; a product that identifies patients most likely to respond to particular cancer treatments.
LDACompeteFor, the online business 'dating agency', continues to grow.  Over 4,000 contract opportunities have now been published on CompeteFor since it started in January 2008. CompeteFor was designed by the London Development Agency (LDA) with the London Business Network and London 2012 so that the massive Olympic contract & supply chain opportunities could be opened up to SMEs. 
It allows companies to register as potential suppliers online and then the system then notifies them of contracts as they are put out to tender and enables small & medium-sized businesses to apply quickly & easily.
Originally developed to open up contracts from London 2012, CompeteFor has been recognised as an effective way to increase competition and open up procurement by the wider public sector & business organisations. 

The Greater London Authority ‘family’ - the LDA, TfL, London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority, Met Police - now use the system routinely for their procurement of goods & services.  In addition, Westminster City Council has also adopted it to strengthen its procurement code & support local businesses.
Newswire – HCA: Work has officially commenced on England’s first large-scale zero carbon development at Hanham Hall near Bristol.  This follows completion of the formal contractual commitments & planning permissions between the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA), Barratt Developments PLC and South Gloucestershire Council.

The development will be the first created as part of the government’s Carbon Challenge initiative, which aims to help the house-building industry fast track a number of developments that significantly reduce the impact on the environment; provide important lessons for delivering low carbon development; and encourage people to live more sustainable lifestyles.

Hanham Hall is a former hospital site set in 6.6ha and features a Grade 2 Listed building.  Plans for the site include 195 homes that will conform to the highest level of the Code for Sustainable Homes and a range of shops & offices that will offer employment opportunities for the community.  The homes will use energy and water efficiently, as well as minimising waste and carbon emissions.

Allotment gardens & greenhouses will be provided to encourage residents to grow their own fruit & vegetables and a farm shop will offer a range of locally sourced products.  Existing hedgerows, meadows & orchards will be retained & extended, and some of the heritage buildings will be adapted for community use including a nursery and a café for residents & visitors.
ScotGov: Households in rural parts of Scotland will be offered cheap to run, 'plug in' energy to help cut household fuel bills. Grants of up to £6,500 are being made available through the Scottish Government's £60m Energy Assistance Package, to install low-carbon air source heat pumps for people who normally have to rely on oil or solid fuels.
Air source heat pumps use reverse refrigeration technology to take heat from the air, ground or water and transfer it to a heating system.  They make efficient use of electricity and can often make use of existing radiators. The units sit outside the home with 2 small pipes going through the wall to a heat exchanger within a storage cylinder which feeds the radiators.
The technology generates at least 2.5 times as much energy as it consumes and works in temperatures as low as -15C powering heating & hot water all year round - and lowering carbon emissions.
Visiting the Mitsubishi Electric Heating Systems plant in Livingston, where the pumps are being manufactured, Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil said: "For people in rural areas who are often hit by even higher fuel costs, help like this is particularly important, especially at this time of year. "We want to get the message out that everyone can benefit from this scheme, in one way or another, and I would encourage anyone who is struggling with fuel bills to pick up the phone."

Forthcoming Event

EHEnglish Heritage is hosting a national conference on commemorative plaques 18-19 February 2010, at the Royal Institute of British Architects, London. EH is responsible for running London’s blue plaques scheme, founded in 1866.  It aims to consider & celebrate the large number of plaques across the country, to share experiences, and to consider future developments.
The event, the first of its kind, will be held in London over 2 days and will include discussion of key areas such as selection criteria, plaque design & inscription, historical research, the gaining of consents, and the promotion of plaques & plaque schemes.
The outcomes of the conference – and the suggestions of conference attendees – will feed directly into a series of guidance documents to be produced by English Heritage in Spring 2010, covering all aspects of plaques work, from the consideration of suggestions to the organisation of unveiling ceremonies.
Newswire – HCA: Excitement is already mounting for the 2010 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, as plans for the largest show garden ever start to take shape.  The garden, entitled Places of Change, is being developed by homeless people right across the country and has already drawn interest from around 40 homeless agencies keen to contribute towards its creation.  It is an ambitious collaboration between the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), the Eden Project, Homeless Link, and Communities and Local Government (CLG).
This partnership builds on the success of the silver medal award-winning KeyGarden at Chelsea in 2009 which saw collaboration from 20 homeless agencies and 200 homeless service users involved at all stages of the Garden’s development.  Participants involved consistently reported a huge confidence boost, new skills, and renewed hope for their future.

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