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In the News

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CLGEnd to Heathrow Third Runway protests even without ‘fixing’ consultation results? - Planning Minister, John Healey, has ‘heralded’ the start of the new planning regime for major infrastructure, as the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) begins receiving applications for energy projects that have the potential to provide up to £50bn worth of international investment & supply electricity to 22m homes.
 
From 1 March 2010, the IPC will be able to consider proposals for major energy & transport projects. The IPC is a new development consent process for large projects such as large wind farms, power stations and major roads. It combines up to 8 former planning systems into a single process and is intended to cut the time taken to make planning decisions from up to 7 years to under 1 year.
Press release ~ Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) ~ IPC’s Programme of Projects ~ CLG: Nationally significant infrastructure ~ Consultation (closed) on draft National Policy Statements for Energy Infrastructure ~ A framework for the development of clean coal ~ Electricity development consentsConsultation (closed) on proposed Regulatory Justification decisions on new nuclear power stations (AP1000 and EPR) ~ Consultation (closed) on draft supplementary guidance for Section 36 Applications: New Coal Power Stations ~ Consultation (closed) on the proposed offshore carbon dioxide storage licensing regime ~ RTPI – NPS on energy ~ Infrastructure planning - How will it work? How can I have my say? ~ British Chambers of Commerce ~ The Infrastructure Planning (National Policy Statement Consultation) Regulations 2009 ~ National Policy Statements ~ Related article from The Guardian~ BAA plans for third Heathrow runway delayed — but is it too late for Sipson? ~ Bradwell and Oldbury reactors face opposition ~ FOE: Legal warning to Government over energy policy statements
 
DHThe new ‘normal’ reality of an aging population - 32% of people are uncomfortable around people with dementia according to new research, Care Services Minister, Phil Hope, claimed as he launched a new awareness campaign. The new ‘Living Well’ campaign employs real people with dementia who declare 'I have dementia - I also have a life' to educate the public about the condition and demonstrate the simple things everyone can do to help people live well with dementia.
 
The campaign will appear on TV, radio, online and in print across England. It asks people to take a moment to find out more about dementia and provides 5 simple ways to help someone living with the condition. Research, published by the Alzheimer’s Society, shows that over 700,000 people currently have a form of dementia and, in less than 20 years, 1m people will be living with the condition.
Press release ~ NHS Choices: Dementia ~ Dementia Information Portal ~ Alzheimer’s Society ~ Public awareness of dementia: What every commissioner needs to know (scroll down) ~ ‘Living Well with Dementia’: a five year National Dementia Strategy (NDS) ~ NAO: Improving dementia services in England - an interim report ~ Improving services and support for people with dementia (2007) ~ Dignity in Care Campaign ~ The use of antipsychotic medication for people with dementia: Time for action. A report for the Minister of State for Care Services by Professor Sube Banerjee ~ Government response ~ NICE- Dementia: Supporting people with dementia and their carers in health and social care ~ Consultation on the National Dementia Action Plan for Wales ~ Worried about your memory? ~ Prepared to care: challenging the dementia skills gap ~ Oral evidence ~ Leaflet launched to help hospital staff improve care to people with dementia ~ Impact of Blood pressure Treatments on dementia ~ Alzheimer Scotland ~ DH – Older people ~ Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing (July 2006 - October 2008) ~ National Health Specialist Library
 
DHHelping them have a ‘normal’ life - The first strategy to help adults with autism in England live independently in a society that understands them has been launched by Care Services, Minister Phil Hope. For too long, adults with autism have been excluded. Just 15% are in paid employment and 49% live at home with parents.
 
Fulfilling and rewarding lives, the strategy for adults with autism in England, is intended to be a foundation for culture change. It will start fundamental change in public services helping adults with autism to find work and live independent lives. 
 
The Government will publish a first year delivery plan in March 2010, followed by statutory guidance for health & social care by December 2010. The strategy will be reviewed in 2013.
Press release ~ Fulfilling and rewarding lives: the strategy for adults with autism in England ~ DH: Delivering Adult Social Care - Autism ~ World Autism Day 2010 (2 April 2010) ~ Jobcentre Plus Disability Employment Advisers ~ Institute of Psychiatry ~ Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University ~ Autism London ~ National Autistic Society ~ Autism Act 2009 ~ Autistica ~ NAO: Supporting people with autism through adulthood ~ The Bercow Review ~ A better future: a consultation (closed) on a future strategy for adults with autistic spectrum conditions ~ National Centre for Autism Studies at the University of Strathclyde ~ National Autistic Society Scotland ~ Scottish Autism Service Network ~ Scottish Society for Autism ~ 'Services for adults with autistic spectrum conditions (ASC): good practice advice for primary care trust and local authority commissioners' ~ Autism NI ~ Autism Connect ~ Make school make sense ~ Autism Toolbox ~ HMIE report: Education for Pupils with Autism Spectrum Disorders ~ The Transporters ~ International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) ~ Adults with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) ~ Welsh Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Strategic Action Plan ~ Autism Cymru ~ AWARES, the All Wales Autism Resource ~ Autism Independent UK (SFTAH) ~ Welcome to the Autism Awareness Website ~ NES - Autism Learning Resource
 
CRCNo access to Technology, no future - The Government has been told that the long-term future of the countryside is in jeopardy because so many young people are being forced out of rural areas to find homes, jobs & support. The alert comes from Dr Stuart Burgess − the Government’s Rural Advocate - in a report being delivered directly to the Prime Minister. 
 
Dr Burgess says: “Wherever I go, I hear deep concerns − that challenges with housing, work, transport, training and social exclusion are preventing young people from living in the countryside. Without young people to provide a work force, rural economies are unable to fulfil their full potential and rural communities can go into a decline. On top of this, lack of broadband and mobile phone coverage in many rural areas is hitting young people and businesses alike….”
 
At the same time, the Commission for Rural Communities, which Dr Burgess chairs, published a ‘State of the countryside’ update, setting out the statistical facts of rural life for children & young people, including the current rate of outward migration. See also BIS item in ‘Policy Statements and Initiatives’ section.
Press release ~ State of the Countryside Update: children and educational services ~ Rural Advocate report 2010 ~ 'Peace and quiet disadvantage: insights from users and providers of children’s centres in rural communities' ~ Summary report ~ Coalition for Rural Children and Young People ~ State of the Countryside Update: Housing demand and supply ~ Position statement - 'How can public resources be fairly allocated between different places? ~ Dedicated Schools Grant ~ Rural manifesto ~ 'Recognising rural interests within Regional Strategies' briefing note ~ PPS4: Planning for Sustainable Economic Growth ~ Earlier advice ~ The potential impacts on rural communities of future public austerity ~ Literature review ~ Understanding economic well-being ~ Economic well-being – guidance for local authorities ~ An assessment and practical guidance on next generation access (NGA) risk in the UK ( March 2010) ~ Green fields, digital divides: Green Futures article ~ ‘Mind the Gap − Digital England: a rural perspective’ ~ Ofcom - Next Generation Access ~ Related news item ~ Digital Britain ~ CRC: Hands Up ~ Rural Services Network ~ Rural Fuel Poverty ~ Quantifying rural fuel poverty ~ Addressing Fuel Poverty in Rural Cambridgeshire ~ Rural masterplanning fund prospectus ~ Taylor Review into rural housing and economies ~ Government response to the Matthew Taylor Review: Implementation plan ~ Defra: Affordable Rural Housing ~ Community Land Trusts (CLTs) ~ Guidance for local authorities on incentivising landowners to bring forward additional land for rural affordable housing on rural exception sites ~ Incentivising landowners to bring forward additional land for affordable housing: Impact assessment ~ Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) – Rural Housing ~ 10 Big Numbers ~ EEDA Short guide to Rural proofing ~ CRC: Rural proofing ~ Rural Accessibility report and best practice case studies ~ Local Transport Plan Guidance ~ Local Transport Plan process ~ Download 'Indicators of Poverty and Social Exclusion in Rural England: 2009' ~ Key facts document providing the headline findings of the report ~ JRF: The Poverty Site ~ 'Monitoring poverty and social exclusion' ~ Healthy Rural Communities: a national conference ~ IDeA’s Healthy Communities Programme
 
Newswire – DSCAs well as being 'underfunded' - The MoD is spending hundreds of millions of pounds a year on unproductive activities because it has commissioned more work than it can afford to pay for, says the Defence Select Committee in its Report - Defence Equipment 2010.
 
In its Report, the Committee notes that both the NAO: Major Projects Report 2009 and Bernard Gray’s: Review of Acquisition for the MoD have confirmed that the MoD’s 10 year equipment programme is unaffordable. Furthermore the MoD’s practice of delaying projects, so as to reduce costs in the early years of a programme, is adding to overall procurement costs and so further increases the funding gap.
 
The Committee considers it shocking that the MoD has apparently made no attempt to calculate the full extent of the costs of delays and that it has therefore taken decisions to delay projects without understanding the full implications of those decisions.

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

General News

DCSF:  Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, has announced a further £500k funding to help fund a new centre which will provide early intervention & support for children & young people who stammer.  The funding is supporting the ARSC (Association for Research into Stammering in Childhood) Appeal for a new centre of excellence in West Yorkshire to complement the existing centre in London .  It brings the total contribution to the appeal, from the Department for Children, Schools and Families, to £1m.

The Prince of Wales, Patron of the ARSC Appeal, hosted a reception last week at Clarence House, where Michael Palin gave his backing to support the charity's ambitions to raise a further £2m to expand services at the centre in London and help set up the new centre in West Yorkshire .
Press release ~ ARSC (Association for Research into Stammering in Childhood) Appeal ~ Michael Palin Centre ~ Stammering Information Programme video ~ Bercow Review ~ Teachernet, Stammering ~ British Stammering Association ~ I CAN ~ Royal College of S & L Therapists ~ Afasic ~ Speech and language therapy : Directgov ~ DCSF:  Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) Action ~ British Stammering Association ~ I CAN

CLG:  Celebrities from across the music, showbiz & sporting worlds are backing the Government’s Fire Kills campaign with a ‘Push It Pledge’, to urge people to test their smoke alarm every week.  85% of people own a smoke alarm, but worryingly less than a third test them every week.  This is despite the fact that you are more than twice as likely to die in an accidental house fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm.

Just 2 to 3 breaths of toxic smoke can render you unconscious, your lungs fill up and you can’t breathe, just like drowning.  It’s imperative that a smoke alarm is not only installed in your home, but that it actually works.

Installing a smoke alarm only takes a few minutes - just follow the manufacturer's instructions that come with it.  The best place is on the ceiling, near or in the middle of the room or hall.  The alarm should be at least 30cm (12inches) away from a wall or light.

Press release ~ Pledge to check your smoke alarm

DH:  A new team of specially trained coaches are being deployed to help children become more active - setting them on the path to a healthier future.  The new Active Lifestyle Coaches are people who the children know well, but are specially trained and come from a range of backgrounds.  They may be teaching assistants or parents and will help motivate the children to do at least one extra hour of physical activity per week.

In addition to school PE, the programme offers children the opportunity to take part in fun alternative activities such as break dancing, cheerleading, martial fitness, yoga or free running.  It is expected that 20,000 children from the ages of 4 - 5 and 10 - 11 will take part in the programme, which will see an active lifestyle coach working in 1,100 schools. 

The Government has also published - ‘Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives: Two Years On’ - a new report highlighting the impact of the cross-government obesity strategy on individuals & communities.
Press release ~ Active Lifestyle Project - Phase 1 Fact Sheet (R/KS1) ~ Healthy Child Programme ~ Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives: A Cross-Government Strategy for England (scroll down for report: Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives: Two Years On) ~ Walk Once a Week (WoW)

DH:  Frank discussions about the importance of being tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia, are an important indicator of a lasting relationship, according to a surprising new survey out last week.

A Populus poll of over 1,000 young adults found that 70% rank discussing STI tests together as the most important sign that a new relationship will last.  This has overtaken more traditional milestones such as meeting the parents (66%) or friends (40%).
Press release ~ Chlamydia: Worth Talking About campaign (scroll down)

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DfT:  Transport Minister Sadiq Khan has issued a challenge to local authority & city leaders to be bold & innovative in developing transport strategies.  The minister was speaking at an event in London to launch the Urban Challenge Fund – a new funding scheme designed to support packages of measures that will hopefully deliver a wide range of transport improvements.

Cities will only be eligible to receive money from the fund if they can show their plans will: improve journey choice, tackle congestion, improve safety; lower carbon emissions; and promote healthier lifestyles through better air quality and more walking & cycling.

Press release ~ Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit report on urban transport ~ DfT response:  The Future of Urban Transport ~ Local Transport Plans (LTPs)
 

DH:   Nurses & midwives must renew their pledge to society to deliver high quality, compassionate care – and must be better supported to do so by their employers, according to a new report on the future of nursing & midwifery in published last week.

The Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery in England believes that a strong statement of commitment to high quality care from all concerned would help to restore public trust.  Front-line staff and their employers should state how nurses & midwives will enact their values of compassion, maintain their competence and become champions of care in hospitals & the community.

Among its 20 recommendations, it highlights the need to prepare nurses to meet the growing need for highly skilled care for people with long-term conditions and the complex needs of ageing.  The Government welcomed the report and committed to a full Government response in due course.

Press release ~ Front line care: Report by the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery in England – 2010 (VLF 4Mb) ~ Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery

WAG:  The Welsh Assembly Government has published the Woodlands for action plan which sets out what needs to happen over the next 5 years to make progress towards achieving the outcomes of Woodlands for Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government’s 50 year strategy for trees & woodlands. 

The plan includes actions that will encourage the use of trees to help control flooding and that will introduce more trees to urban environments – where they provide shade & improve drainage, as well as a making towns & cities more attractive.  Actions to increase the demand for timber & other woodland products also feature in the plan.
Press release ~ Woodlands for Wales action plan ~ WAG:  Woodlands for Wales

BIS:  The new Government body responsible for rolling-out next generation broadband across the began its work last week, Digital Britain Minister Stephen Timms has announced.  Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) will drive forward the Universal Service Commitment to deliver 2Mbps to every household by 2012 and will manage the spend of the £1bn Next Generation Fund to deliver next generation broadband to 90% of the country by 2017.

The group has been launched as a major report forecasting the future reach of next generation broadband across the is published by the Government.  The report will help inform public authorities looking to invest in superfast broadband and will also be considered by BDUK in prioritising the communities who could benefit from the Next Generation Fund.  See also CRC item in ‘In the News’ section.
Press release ~ Research paper:  An Assessment and practical guidance on next generation access risk in the UK ~ CLG:  Digital Inclusion Resources (includes ESD Toolkit) ~ Next Generation Access in the Digital Britain Report ~ Universal Service Commitment ~ Next Generation Fund

 

Consultations

DfT:  The Government has set out proposals for a tougher inspection regime giving local councils more powers to charge utility companies for inspecting road works in their streets.  The proposals are intended to provide utility companies with a strong incentive to finish works on time.  Utility firms will not be permitted to pass the cost of these charges on to their customers.

The new inspection regime will mean that utility firms that consistently fail to keep their sites safe, or fail to replace the road surface properly, could be required to pay for additional inspections by local councils.

In addition, irresponsible firms who allow their road works to overrun will face penalties of up to £25,000 a day - a tenfold increase on the current £2,500 maximum daily charge - under plans also published for consultation.

Press release ~ The Street Works (Inspection Fees) (England) Regulations 2010 Consultation (closes on 24 May 2010) ~ Consultation on the Amendment to the Charges for Unreasonably Prolonged Occupation of the Highways (closes on 25 May 2010)

WAG:  A public consultation exercise (closes 24 May 2010) to address traffic problems in & around the communities of Caernarfon & Bontnewydd has been launched.  The Welsh Assembly Government is seeking the views & opinions of local residents to help inform any future action taken to relieve congestion and improve safety along this busy stretch of road.

A public exhibition explaining the need for the study is being held on 9 & 10 March 2010 (between 10am & 8pm) and on also 11 March (between 10am & 2pm) at the Royal Celtic Hotel in Caernarfon and on 16 March 2010 (between 10.00 & 20.00) at Canolfan Bontnewydd, The Old School, Bontnewydd.

Press release ~ A487 Caernarfon to Bontnewydd Study ~ WAG:  Roads

DfT:  A series of reforms aimed at modernising the regulation of mobility vehicles have been announced by Transport, Minister Sadiq Khan.  The proposals for consultation (closes on 28 May 2010) aim to ensure that disabled people maintain their independence, whilst increasing safety for mobility vehicle users, pedestrians & other road users.

The consultation will cover both mobility scooters (which are intended to help people with reduced mobility) and powered wheelchairs for those who need help with everyday movement.
Press release ~ Consultation on proposed changes to laws governing powered mobility vehicles ~ DfT:  Wheelchairs and mobility scooters

NICE:  The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is currently appraising a number of drugs as possible treatments for rheumatoid arthritis after treatment with a tumour necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor has failed.  This is a part review of NICE technology appraisal guidance 36, and a review of NICE technology appraisal guidance 126 & 141.

NICE has put its initial draft guidance on the NICE website and this is now open for public consultation until 24 March 2010.  Comments received during this consultation will be considered by the committee at its next meeting.  The next draft guidance will be issued following this meeting.
Press release ~ Adalimumab, etanercept, infliximab, rituximab and abatacept for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis after the failure of a TNF inhibitor

DH:  Patients will have the chance to choose the best GP practice for them under new plans in a consultation published by Health Secretary, Andy Burnham.  At present, GPs operate within fixed geographical boundaries that can be restrictive and severely reduce patients’ choice of the practice they register with, especially for those patients living in poorer areas.

The consultation (closes on 28 May 2010) is seeking views on a wide range of proposals, in particular around the issues involved in arranging home visits, co-ordination of community based services, safeguarding access for local residents and access to hospital & specialist treatment.
Press release ~ Your choice of GP Practice: A consultation on how to enable people to register with the GP practice of their choice ~ NHS Choices – Find a GP
 

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DCSF:  The DCSF has created a set of materials to help communicate & collaborate with young people through social media & inspiring video content.  3 short films have been produced to illustrate the stages of video creation.  These videos are designed to enthuse & motivate to create video content.

 

The toolkit includes a comprehensive guide to social media that will allow you to start a conversation with young people and get them actively involved in creating & maintaining a social media group, page or account.  A guide to video production is also included and can be used to help develop creative videos to promote activities.

Press release ~ Engaging through social media

WAG:  A new information pack, launched on St David’s Day, will help migrants, refugees, asylum seekers & their families find the information they need to access services and integrate into local communities, Social Justice & Local Government Minister, Carl Sargeant, has claimed.

Understanding Wales includes links to relevant public sector, regulatory & government bodies, voluntary organisations, basic advice on day to day living, sections on health, education, employment, housing, and information on Welsh culture, events & places of interest.  It will be available in the top six most used languages spoken by migrant workers.
Press release ~ Understanding Wales ~ WAG:  Community Cohesion ~ Refugee Inclusion strategy ~ Migrants Forum


DH
:  When it comes to our health & wellbeing, is a nation of ‘all talk and no action’ according to a survey for new online service NHS MidLifeCheck.  Despite 46% believing they need to think more about leading a healthy lifestyle, 47% admit to spending a lot more time talking about getting healthy than actually doing anything about it and 33% say they wouldn’t even know where to start.

NHS MidLifeCheck) has been launched to help people over 40 turn their good intentions into reality.  The free, confidential website is easy to use and supports people in planning for changes they choose to make.  Following a simple multiple-choice lifestyle questionnaire, the site gives personal results & advice.  Users can create an individual plan, set goals, track their weight and sign up for free emails, texts or letters to help them along the way.
Press release ~ NHS MidLifeCheck ~ NHS:  Baby LifeCheck & Teen LifeCheck


NICE
:  New guidance has been produced to help GPs identify symptoms & diagnose young women with cervical cancer early, Health Minister, Ann Keen, has announced.  The guidance was produced after a working group of the Advisory Committee on Cervical Screening (ACCS) was set up to look at the management of young women with gynaecological symptoms.

The working group found that women that visited their GP with abnormal bleeding experienced delay in diagnosis because they did not receive a full pelvic examination.  The guidance provides GPs with an easy to follow algorithm to help in the management of these young women and re-emphasises existing NICE guidelines around gynaecological symptoms.
Press release ~ Clinical practice guidelines for the assessment of young women aged 20-24 with abnormal vaginal bleeding ~ NHS Cervical Screening Programme

HO:  Plans to streamline police powers, cut red tape and increase the time officers can spend on frontline duties have been announced by Home Office Minister David Hanson.  New measures in the review of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) include:

* increasing the flexibility of chief constables to use back-office staff for appropriate routine tasks
* simplifying procedures for issuing bail & dealing with those who breach it
* reducing time spent dealing with detainees by issuing guidance to chief constables on making best use of short-term detention facilities
Press release ~ PACE, Powers and Procedures
 

General Reports and Other Publications

BIS:  Redesigned PhD & masters programmes to attract & nurture the best researchers are at the centre of proposals to maintain ’s leading position in scientific research published by the Council of Science and Technology recently.

The report, by senior figures from across the field of science (including social science), engineering & technology, analyses the state of science & research within the against a rapidly changing global situation.  It prescribes action to ensure that the is not eclipsed by the growing research strength of & .

A key recommendation is that, over the longer term, the Government should rethink the Master degree/PhD landscape so that PhD degrees generally last for 4 years, with the first one or two years potentially leading to a Masters degree, which could develop specific and widely-deployable skills.
Press release ~ A Vision for UK Research ~ Council for Science and Technology (CST)

DH:  The investment in cycling has improved the public’s health in 6 Cycling Demonstration Towns – and has had a positive impact on its most inactive citizens according to new statistics published last week.  The 6 towns received support similar to that in European cities where cycling is popular & cycling schemes are successful.

The analysis of research conducted in partnership with the National Obesity Observatory and Sustrans, shows the impact an increase in cycling has had on public health - with a 10% reduction in the number of people classified as physically inactive.
Press release ~ Cycling Demonstration Towns – First 3 years ~ National Obesity Observatory ~ Sustrans ~ WHO:  Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT) for Cycling

BIS: The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) have welcomed the publication of the report from the Science for Careers Expert Group.
Press release ~ Science for Careers Expert Group report ~ Quality, Choice and Aspiration - A strategy for young people's information, advice and guidance

Newswire – OofSJC:  Sir John Chadwick has issued his third & final interim report on an ex-gratia payment scheme for policy holders most affected by events at Equitable Life.  It develops from his Second Interim Report of December 2009, in response to which he received a number of representations. Many of these responses have also now been published.
Those wishing to make representations on Sir John’s Third and final Interim Report are requested to send written comments to him by 9 April 2010.  Sir John expects to provide his final advice to the Government in May 2010.
Press release ~ Equitable Life ex-gratia payment scheme: Third Interim Report (VLF 4.7Mb) ~ Office of Sir John Chadwick

NAO:  A report by the National Audit Office into government action to tackle problem drug use has concluded that there has been good progress in a number of areas, including an increasing number of problem drug users in effective treatment and an increasing number leaving treatment free from dependency.

Without an evaluative framework for the Strategy as a whole, the NAO is not able to conclude positively on value for money.  Nevertheless, the NAO note that the Drug Treatment Outcomes Research Study (DTORS) has estimated the benefit-cost ratio for drug treatment, the largest element of spending, at 2.5 to 1 and that the programme has delivered some significant successes.
Press release ~ Tackling problem drug use ~ Drug Treatment Outcomes Research Study (DTORS)

ScotGov:  Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon, has commented on the Audit Scotland report Managing NHS waiting lists - A review of new arrangements published last week.
Press release ~ Audit Scotland ~ Audit Scotland report: Managing NHS waiting lists - A review of new arrangements
 

Legislation / Legal

MoJ:  Jack Straw has taken action to reduce the success fees that lawyers can charge in defamation cases from 100% to 10%.  The amendment (which was laid by Statutory Order last week) will come into effect from April 2010.  It is intended to prevent legal costs in defamation cases spiralling out of control and follows the consultation 'Controlling costs in defamation proceedings', which was published by the Ministry of Justice in January 2010.

Also published were the responses to the consultation, which indicate support for the proposal to reduce defamation success fees to 10%.  A wide range of stakeholders responded to the consultation, including legal professionals & their representative organisations, members of the judiciary, media organisations and legal insurance groups.

A consultation on libel on the internet was published in September 2009, seeking views on the multiple publication rule and time limits in defamation cases.  Responses to that consultation are now being considered.

The government has also established a working group to consider whether the law of libel, including the law relating to libel tourism, in & needs reform, and if so to make recommendations as to solutions.  The working group has already met 3 times and is expected to report its initial findings to Ministers in March 2010.

Press release ~ Jack Straw: review of civil litigation costs ~ Controlling costs in defamation proceedings - conditional fee agreements ~ Civil Litigation Costs Review ~ Civil Procedure Rules Committee

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

ScotGov:  Details of how 's share of the EU Dairy Fund will be allocated have been announced.  The Fund was agreed in November 2009 by EU Finance Ministers to support dairy farmers severely affected by the fall in milk prices based on 2008/2009 milk production.  It comes in the form of a national envelope allocated to each Member State - will receive £2.548m.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said that after consulting the industry (who favoured simplification), he has decided to allocate the money on a flat term basis of 0.2p per litre - the same formula which will be used in , Wales & Northern Ireland.  Payments must be made by the end of June 2010.
Press release ~ Consultation (closed) on the method of distribution for the UK's share of the €300 million EU Dairy Fund ~ Rural Payments Agency ~ ScotGov:  Farming and Rural Issues

Business and Other Briefings

HMRC:  Revenue & Customs Brief 07/10

HMRC is publishing guidance on Land Remediation Relief.  This replaces the draft guidance published in Brief 29/09.

Forthcoming Event

GC:  The Gambling Commission’s nationwide series of open events are proving an effective platform for meeting & discussing issues with groups of smaller licensed operators.  In total to date, more than 200 smaller gambling businesses have attended the first 5 of the 15 events Arcade operators, off-course bookmakers, on course bookmakers and gaming machine suppliers have attended the events.

The main feature of each day has been an open forum with senior figures at the Commission.  Operators have been able to make clear their concerns about the industry and the Commission has clarified its approach to issues such as self-exclusion and test purchasing.

Still to come are towns & cities as diverse as Weymouth (next event on Monday 22 March 2010), Louth, Rotherham & Dunblane.  Operators can find out more or book a place by calling (0121) 230 6666 or registering at:  www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/openevents

Press release

ESRC:  Sunderland City Council has teamed up with a group of academic researchers to put on an interactive event aimed at making internet users more aware of the problems of disclosing personal information online.

The event forms part of the nationwide Festival of Social Science which is run by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) - the leading funder of social science research in the - and is intended to help the general public discover more about the world of social science.  This event is being held on the 13 March 2010 at 10.30am and 12.30pm at the Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens.

The event will be showcasing the Visualisation and Other Methods of Expression (VOME) research project, which is seeking to raise awareness about online privacy.  It involves academic researchers working with Sunderland City Council to produce tools to help online users deal with issues such as privacy of personal information and consenting to that information being used appropriately.  It also aims to help those offering online services to respond more effectively to concerns about privacy.

Press release ~ Exploring privacy: your privacy and the internet (scroll down) ~ Festival of Social Science ~ Visualisation and Other Methods of Expression (VOME) research project

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