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In the News

CLG:  Is this ‘initiative’ just a belated attempt to appeal to rural voters? – Local councils need to work more closely with other agencies to address anti-social behaviour associated with a small minority of Gypsies & Travellers, Communities Secretary, John Denham, claimed last week.

The Government has published guidance for local authorities, the police & other agencies, setting out the powers that are available to them - Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs), Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs) and injunctions.

This guidance makes clear what action can be taken on policing & prevention, fly-tipping, noise, straying livestock and untaxed vehicles.  It also stresses the importance of agencies working together to apply the same rules to Gypsies and Travellers when gathering evidence, prosecuting and collecting fines.

New planning rules will hopefully speed up the enforcement process, so that quicker action can be taken against developments without planning permission, such as unauthorised Gypsy & Traveller sites.
HOFor some it may seem to be the only 'solution' to their problems - New measures to help missing people & their families were outlined by the Home Office last week. 

The measures, which include better sharing of data between police, councils, charities, health authorities & the families of the missing, were recommended in a report by the Missing Person's Taskforce, which was created to explore ways of improving services.

All its recommendations have been accepted by the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister, who jointly launched the taskforce in December, and will now be developed into an action plan.  They include:
* a national model of information-sharing to facilitate better sharing of data between police, local authorities, charities and health services on missing individuals
* a single point of contact for families in police forces, local authorities & health authorities, ensuring families and practitioners know where to turn and that there is a joined-up response
* better training for police, social workers, charity case workers & health professionals to deal with missing people and their families

Alongside these improvements the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP) will assume responsibility for missing & abducted children from the Missing Person's Bureau.  As part of this, CEOP will shortly pilot a service with police forces to help review their long-term missing children cases.
MoDNecessary manpower planning or is it because ‘Tommy’ costs less than ‘Mr Atkins’? - According to the government ‘the Army is closer to full strength than it has been for a number of years.  However, within the total numbers, the Army needs to ensure that is has the right balance of skills and experience to meet the challenges of current operations in Afghanistan…………….. 

This combination of operational imperatives and the recent rapid but uneven growth in its strength means that the Army needs to make modest adjustments to its structures and the balance of its capabilities. In part this will be achieved through retraining, but some soldiers are likely to have to leave the Army through what is know as Manning Control Points (MCPs). …… 

While Manning Control Points give the Army the opportunity of terminating the service of soldiers at the end of 3, 6, 9, 12 or 15 years service, the current intention is to focus on the 12 and 15 year groups only……
Newswire - ACWhatever the Budget says, Councils face difficult financial times - Councils must think bigger & act quicker to reduce costs, or funding cuts will cause more damage to services & jobs than necessary.  This is the stark warning in Surviving the Crunch, a report published last week by the Audit Commission, tracing the effects of the economic downturn on council services.

It says most Councils have been cushioned from the worst of the recession because the government stuck to its 3-year funding settlement, but this ends in 2011. On average, councils receive two-thirds of their income from grants.

Even though the timing & extent of cuts in government support are unclear, the report says that councils must prepare now for leaner times.  However, the recession pushed up demand for benefits & social assistance, while longer term pressures on costs continued unabated, for example from the growing numbers of older citizens.

Staff cuts may be inevitable, but keeping the pay bill down through pay freezes and other measures can help to preserve jobs and lessen the impact on services, families & local economies. 

The report graphically illustrates how important the public sector is as an employer in parts of the country, notably on Humberside, Merseyside and in the North-East.  It recommends that councils tell the public & their staff about how they are planning to cope with the full effects of the recession.
CLGI do like to be beside the seaside - A new strategy to help all seaside towns flourish by restoring iconic piers, creating new jobs and improving local housing was announced last week by Communities Secretary, John Denham. 

The Government wants to ensure coastal areas are best placed to take advantage of their natural resources & assets, historic infrastructure and high quality of life, as well emerging green industries - to develop strong & successful local economies.

Strategy for Seaside Success; securing the future of seaside economies includes:
* a commitment to work with the Heritage Lottery Fund to find ways to further extend their work in restoring iconic piers, which are of critical public value
* a new £5m fund for 25 priority areas to create jobs, support business & improve skills of the long term unemployed
* new licensing rules for councils over Houses in Multiple Occupation to tackle problems around low quality seaside housing
* a pledge to extend the SeaChange Programme, which has already pumped £38m into improving seaside infrastructure in 32 areas, beyond 2011.
HMTTo cut now or to cut later that is the question for any 'Hamlet' Chancellor - Readers who want to delve into the fine details of the 2010 Budget can click HERE for HM Treasury website.
Previous PCS press release ~ PAC: Evaluating the Efficiency Programme ~ Operation Efficiency Programme prospectus ~ Gershon Review ~ CPA previous press release ~ Committee of Public Accounts - The Efficiency Programme: A Second Review of Progress ~ NAO - The Efficiency Programme: A Second Review of Progress ~ PCS previous press release ~ OGC - The Efficiency Team and What We Do ~ Value For Money in public sector corporate services - A joint project by the UK Public Sector Audit Agencies ~ ESRC – The Management of Second Best ~ Public Sector Performance: Efficiency or Quality? ~ Public service reform in Scotland ~ NHS Better care, better value indicators ~ NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement ~ NHS Institute – Service Transformation ~ NAO MoD Black Hole press release ~ Ministry of Defence: Major Projects Report 2009 ~ HMT – Value for Money ~ NAO Efficiency Toolkit ~ Review of Arrangements for Efficiencies from Smarter Procurement in Local Government ~ AC: Back to Front ~ Press release – Not answering telephone calls ~ Report and related links ~ NAO: Lack of Commercial skills for complex government projects
Industry News: - AIM, Affordable Information Management – a solution for smaller organisations – free Whitepaper - The demands on public bodies to manage information are increasing rapidly within a regulatory framework with penalties for failure.
Larger organisations struggle to comply. Implementations of high cost ‘enterprise strength’ systems can take a long time to implement. Smaller organisations, with similar needs, have insufficient budget for major systems. This puts the onus on staff and leads to errors, lost and inaccurate information and sometimes penalties.
AIM combines a document management system in which to store and index documents that need to be managed, an associated scanning application and a federated search engine to search across all indexes.

Click here to receive your free white paper on the benefits that you can expect.
For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar

General News

PCS: Legal action brought by the PCS union over cuts to the redundancy terms for civil & public servants will start on 22 April 2010, the union has announced. The imposed changes will see staff ‘robbed of up to a third of their entitlements’ if they are forced out of their job.
DCMS: Culture Secretary, Ben Bradshaw, has announced £250k funding for Bletchley Park museum.  Located on the site of the secret British WWII code-breaking HQ, the museum will use the money to help maintain & repair buildings, and enhance the experience for the 100,000 people who now visit each year.
The grant will allow Bletchley Park Trust to join a partnership with English Heritage and Milton Keynes Council to fund an urgent repair programme within the conservation area.
LDA: The London Development Agency plans to invest almost £3m improving public space in & around Rainham village.  The investments will improve public access to the open spaces around the village, joining up the Ingrebourne Valley to the north with Rainham Marshes and the River Thames through the unique character of the village.
QCDA: The Qualifications & Curriculum Development Agency was represented at the recent inaugural advisory panel workshop for a new international project led by the University of Exeter.  

The Science Education for Diversity (SED) project is a 3-year EU funded Science in Society project that will explore the cultural aspects that influence young people's interest in & engagement with science.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

BIS: The Government has announced the creation of the new Institute for Web Science, which is intended to make the UK ‘the hub of international research into the next generation of web and internet technologies and their commercialisation’. 

The Institute will ‘conduct research, collaborate with businesses, identify opportunities for social & economic benefit, assist in commercialising research and help Government stimulate demand through procurement’.
£30m will be set aside to create the Institute for Web Science and it will be headed by Sir Tim Berners Lee, the British inventor of the World Wide Web, and leading Web Science expert Professor Nigel Shadbolt. It will be jointly based in the Universities of Oxford and Southampton.  It is still subject to contract.
DCMS: Culture minister, Margaret Hodge, has published a blueprint for England’s public library service, to help ensure it is fit for purpose in the 21st century.  The Modernisation Review of Public Libraries: a Policy Statement makes it clear that books – and the right to borrow them & browse free of charge - must remain at the heart of the service.  

In addition, the statutory responsibility on library authorities to provide a ‘comprehensive & efficient’ service must remain.
The paper aims to ‘help libraries grasp the opportunities of digital technology, respond to the decline in use of existing services, the current economic climate and the public’s expectation of more customer-focused public services’.
ScotGov: Public sector pay in Scotland must be affordable & sustainable, Finance Secretary, John Swinney, stressed last week, as the 'Public Sector Pay Policy 2010-11' was officially published. The policy covers 9 public bodies which are scheduled to submit pay remits during the 2010-11 pay round.  ScotGov will not commit to pay agreements that extend fully into the next spending review period.
The policy states that:
* The basic award for employees should not exceed 1%
* Public bodies' overall pay bills should not increase by more than 2%
DH: A framework for developing well-being by adopting a broad-based public health approach to maintaining good mental health was launched last week by Care Services Minister, Phil Hope. The Confident Communities, Brighter Futures’report offers a systematic evidence base from which local authorities and the NHS can act to reduce inequalities and improve mental health in their areas.
The report highlights early intervention & prevention through programmes such as psychological therapies, healthy workplaces and initiatives to reduce workplace stress, as well as education & lifelong learning to promote well-being and resilience.
CLG: A new report published last week set out government plans for ‘a radical transformation to the way public services will be delivered in future’. The Total Place: A whole area approach to public servicesreport set out the ‘sweeping changes being introduced following wide-ranging testing of the approach in 13 pilot areas.  The report presents a series of commitments that will give greater freedoms and flexibilities to support a new relationship between Government and places’.


DfT: Councils will be given new ways of preventing & clamping down on Blue Badge abuse as part of a package of proposals for a radical overhaul of the scheme, Transport Minister, Sadiq Khan, has announced.  

The Government is consulting (closes on 2 July 2010) on detailed plans to enable local authorities to enforce against abuse, including powers to confiscate stolen or forged badges on the spot.  
Other proposals include extending the scheme to more children under 3 years of age and seriously injured Armed Forces personnel & veterans.  The consultation also aims to ensure that assessments of who should be entitled to a badge are fairer.
LRLand Registry has launched a consultation paper (closes on 25 June 2010) E-Conveyancing Secondary Legislation – part 3 seeking views on proposals to create electronic transfers complete with electronic signatures and to extend the use of electronic legal charges (a form of mortgage).  It is anticipated that the new rules could come into force during 2011.
The new proposals would make it possible, for the first time, to carry out the main conveyancing steps in the sale & purchase of a house electronically instead of using paper documents.  

The consultation is aimed primarily at conveyancers, lenders, financial institutions, regulatory and representative bodies (such as The Law Society, the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Council for Licensed Conveyancers) and other property professionals such as estate agents.
CRC: As England has 'officially emerged from the recession', the Commission for Rural Communities would like to hear of your views & experiences on the sectors that are contributing to (or have the potential to contribute to) recovery and economic growth in rural areas.
These will inform their report which will be presented to the new Government in early June 2010 to encourage them to take into consideration the rural aspect when formulating & implementing future economic strategies and related support mechanisms. 

Please e-mail your views (by Wednesday 31 March 2010) to the questions outlined in the press release (and any other related issue you would like to raise) to 
ScotGov: A consultation (closes on 14 June 2010) on plans to reform the centuries-old law which prevents a person being tried twice for the same offence in Scotland is being held. 

The 'double jeopardy' principle was first introduced over 800 years ago, but questions have been raised in recent years - and most recently following the trial for the World's End murders - about whether the law now needs to be updated.
Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, believes there is a strong case for modernising the current law and will consult Scotland's legal profession, the public, victims & their families and those with an interest. 

It is not proposed to remove the rule, butMinisters want to examine whether exceptions should be introduced where new evidence comes to light and this is the main focus of the consultation paper.
It is also proposed to amend the law to permit a new trial in cases where the original trial was tainted by corruption, or threats or where an accused admits carrying out the offence after being acquitted.
HFEA: The Human Fertilisation Embryology Authority is inviting fertility patients to have their say in a new poll aimed at gaining the views & experiences of people throughout the UK who have had, are undergoing or are preparing for fertility treatment.
People taking part in the ‘Fertility - Have Your Say’ panel will be contacted roughly every 3 months to be asked questions regarding their experiences, values and about the support they need at each stage of their treatment.  

It is intended to give people a chance to comment on their care and will help HFEA shape the broader policies affecting the fertility sector as a whole. To sign up please go to
Defra: New proposals to tackle greenwash and build consumer confidence in environmental claims & labelling have been announced by Defra. Two consultations (both close on 15 June 2010) have been launched:
* one aimed at helping consumers identify goods & services that are genuinely better for the environment,
* one ensuring that energy-using products meet minimum performance standards and are accurately labelled
IS: Independent money advisers have welcomed the formal publication of an Insolvency Service consultation (closes on 23 June 2010) aimed at opening Debt Relief Orders (DROs) to people who have a small pension. 

The proposed changes are in response to concerns expressed by debt advice agencies that vulnerable people with small amounts of debt are still struggling because they are unable to obtain a DRO because of the present ‘asset’ value of their future pension.
Delivered in partnership with the professional debt advice sector, Debt Relief Orders provide low cost, easy access to debt relief for those overwhelmed by relatively low levels of unmanageable debt. They are designed to provide a fresh start for the most vulnerable people trapped in debt.
There are strict eligibility criteria of assets less than £300, debts no more than £15,000 and surplus income of less than £50 per month.  Currently, if someone has a pension that is over £300, they are not eligible to apply.
DWP: The Child Poverty Act, which commits this & future governments to eradicating child poverty by 2020has received Royal Assent.  Plans have also been published for consultation (closes on Monday 17 May 2010), to extend the eligibility of FreeSchool Meals to an additional 600,000 children.  

From September 2010, primary school children from low-income families, who are receiving Working Tax Credit & have a household income up to £16,190, will be able to access free school meals.
Draft statutory guidance for local authorities on new duties in the Child Poverty Act is being consulted on (closes on Wednesday 16 June2010).
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is seeking views (by Wednesday 16 June 2010) on new date-marking guidance it has drawn up to assist industry when deciding appropriate date marks to use on food products. Under European Union (EU) food law, pre-packed food is required to carry one of two types of date marks:
* the ‘best before’
* the ‘use by’ date marks
The updated guidance should help food businesses set date-marks in a way that is more appropriate & more consistent, plus helping improve consumer confidence around the use of date marks. 

The guidance sets out key principles that should be considered by food businesses when determining date marks, including a flow chart to aid the date-marking decision-making process.  A simplified 2-page version of the guide to legal compliance is also being issued in order to help small businesses.
HEFCE: The Higher Education Funding Council England (HEFCE) has published the first of two consultations that will explore the future of its teaching funding method.  

These consultations will examine all the options for change – from minimal change to an entirely new approach - and will inform the future of the method from 2012-13 onwards.
The first consultation (closes on Monday 12 July 2010) seeks views on underpinning principles & features.  It invites comment on 3 key principles that the Council believes are key to the future of the method:
* to give institutions the freedom to manage provision in a way that best responds to the needs of students, employers & society
* to enable HEFCE to incentivise change that is in the public interest
* to be compatible with various modes of study, including flexible provision
NICE: In draft guidance, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has asked Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK to provide more data on its product imatinib (Glivec) as an adjuvant treatment for people who have had a gastrointestinal stromal tumour removed and who are at risk of the cancer recurring. 
This draft guidance has been issued for consultation and the manufacturer now has an opportunity to respond to the independent Appraisal Committee’s considerations and requests. NICE’s preliminary recommendations are available for public consultation until 19 April 2010.
DECC: Draft legislation - providing for the creation of a new body to improve the regulation of civil nuclear energy - was published last week.  Lord Hunt, Minister of State for Energy, welcomed the publication, which brings the Government a step closer to the proposed creation of an independent Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).
The Government also announced the launch of consultations (both closing on 18 June 2010) covering:
* The methodology for determining how a fixed unit price for disposal of nuclear waste will be set
* Regulations clarifying requirements set out in the Energy Act 2008 in relation to Funded Decommissioning Programmes

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DH:  A new online resource hub to help people with moderate & severe learning disabilities into employment was launched last week. 

The hub is to support delivery of the cross-government strategy, Valuing Employment Now, which aims to increase the number of people with moderate & severe learning disabilities in employment by 2025.
ScotGov: New guidance is being prepared to help mental health service providers in Scotland take the next step towards banning smoking. Although smoking has been banned in public places since 2006, there has been an exemption to allow smoking to continue in designated rooms in mental health institutions.
Following a recent consultation, Public Health Minister, Shona Robison, has announced that guidance will be produced (by the end of 2010) to help mental health service providers move towards banning smoking altogether. 
EMHWDEast Midlands Healthcare Workforce Deanery has announced the launch of PHORCaST - a unique, free UK-wide web resource bringing together information on education, career & development opportunities in public health.  

It is intended to be a key resource in helping individuals, organisations, workforce planners and educators plan & deliver the public & and wellbeing workforce of the future.
Split into easy to follow sections the PHORCaST website provides:
* Step-by-step guidance on starting a career in public health & information on different career options & roles
* Over 80 ‘real life’ career success stories of people working in a wide variety of public health roles
* Help on developing your career through competence frameworks, CPD and CV development advice
* Access to training & resources and development opportunities within public health
MoJ: Guidance to candidates standing at the parliamentary general election on publishing declarations of interests was published last week. The guidance is being published in response to a recommendation made in the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s report on MPs’ expenses & allowances.  

It invites candidates to publish, at nomination, a declaration of interests including any paid employment held.
The declaration is largely based on categories of interest that MPs are required to declare in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests if elected.  As the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s report recommended, the guidance is advisory.
BIS: Leaders from the public & private sector have contributed to the package of advice developed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to help employers put the principles of employee engagement into practice - and improve business performance as a result.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has outlined the most effective drugs that healthcare professionals in general & community settings should prescribe adults with neuropathic pain, a potentially debilitating condition that affects thousands in the UK.  
Typically common painkillers such as aspirin, ibuprofen and paracetamol are ineffective at treating this, but there are other drugs available on the NHS that can help.  NICE’s new clinical guideline outlines which drugs should be prescribed in non-specialist settings and in what order these treatments should be given.
NICE: New guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) are set to have a significant impact on reducing premature deaths by improving the assessment & diagnosis of patients with recent onset chest pain/discomfort that may be of cardiac origin.
The guideline, jointly developed with the National Clinical Guidelines Centre for Acute and Chronic Conditions, represents a significant change in practice in some key areas of diagnosing an acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and angina.  The guideline has 2 separate diagnostic pathways:
* the first is for patients with acute chest pain who may have an ACS (such as a heart attack or unstable angina)
* the second is for those with intermittent stable chest pain of suspected cardiac origin who may have stable angina
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published a new guideline that aims to prevent unnecessary deaths in people who suffer an ‘acute coronary syndrome’ (ACS).  ACS encompasses a range of conditions from unstable angina to myocardial infarction (heart attacks).  

The guideline covers the early management of unstable angina and a type of heart attack known as a non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (or ‘NSTEMI’) from arrival in hospital to discharge.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has announced a change to the recommendations in its lipid modification guideline (CG67) on cardiovascular risk assessment.

The recommendations advising the use of the Framingham risk assessment tool have been withdrawn, as it is not clear that it is superior to other tools.  Healthcare professionals will now instead decide which risk assessment tool is most suitable for their needs.
ScotGov: A new toolkit which helps caterers provide consumers with more information about the origins of the food & drink available in Scotland's hotels, cafes, pubs and restaurants has been launched. 

A successful trial of the Provenance on a Plate guide has already generated increased sales of fresh, seasonal produce, raised greater consumer awareness of local produce and built stronger links with local food suppliers.
Designed as a code of practice, it aims to clarify legal requirements and best practice guidelines for food & drink origin declarations on menus and provide clear, accurate and consistent information to consumers when eating out.
Newswire – CWDC: A ‘beacon of best practice for those working with England's young people’ is set to be lit with the publication of the first standards for Youth Professional Status (YPS). The Standards have been developed by the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC), following extensive consultation with the young people's workforce, and key organisations.  
A pilot assessment process for the Standards will also begin in April 2010 and run to March 2011. It will test practice against the draft standards, provide incentives to participants who meet them, and supply evidence for their evaluation.
FSA: An innovative, interactive web-based education resource for primary school teachers has been launched by Platinum Films, in conjunction with the Food Standards Agency

Inspired by the Channel 4 TV show Planet Cook, and based on the Food Standards Agency's food competences, the resource helps young children learn how to choose, cook & eat safe, healthy food – while at school & at home. includes a teachers' area that contains lesson plans, video clips & interactive content as well as curriculum links.  The lesson plans, for children aged 7 to 9 years, looks at all aspects of food – from balanced diets, nutrition & health to shopping, handling and cooking safe food. There is also a colourful and exciting game area for children to explore that adds another dimension to their learning experience.
Newswire – CWDC: The Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) has launched a refresh of the common core of skills & knowledge that everyone working with children, young people & families should have.
The refreshed common core of 6 core areas of skills & knowledge for 2010 remains broadly the same, but with a renewed text & updates to strengthen certain areas.

General Reports and Other Publications

WAG: The Welsh Assembly Government has responded to Consumer Focus Wales E.coli report (see press release for details).
BISPrinciples of Scientific Advice to Government to govern the relationship between Government and its advisors were published last week by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.  

They set out the rules of engagement between Government and those who provide independent scientific & engineering advice.  They offer a foundation on which independent scientific advisers & government departments should base their operations and interactions.
ScotGov: Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has responded to the publication of Audit Scotland's Review of Orthopaedic Services (see press release).
Ofsted: The best schools are excellent at developing their staff and are highly effective in using continuing professional development as a way to help bring about improved standards at their school, according to a report published last week by Ofsted.

The report ‘Good professional development in schools’, sets out the progress schools are making with regards to the ongoing training of teachers & other staff.  Inspectors visited 2 nursery schools, 13 primary schools, 24 secondary schools and one special school, where previous inspections had indicated that practice in professional development was good or outstanding.

Legislation / Legal

BIS: Firms which cause nuisance & distress to consumers through silent & abandoned calls will face a new maximum fine of £2m. The new penalty is an increase on the current limit of £50,000 and will be introduced to more fully deter organisations that persistently make silent calls to consumers, following a widespread Government consultation.
Silent calls are generated by call centres that use automated calling systems (ACS).  The new higher penalty will provide the telecoms regulator Ofcom with a greater ability to deter and punish companies that ignore the guidelines in this area.  In addition, Ofcom will be reviewing its ACS misuse guidelines to provide clearer advice to operators, benefiting both business and consumers.
Press release ~ Current OFCOM guidelines on persistent misuse of ACS ~ BT’s (Easiserve) line where to speak to an advisor about silent calls: 0800 661441 ~ Ofcom’s complaints line: 0300 123 3333 ~ Telephone Preference Service
NE: From the 1 April 2010 wildlife licensing in the terrestrial & marine environment will be carried out by two separate bodies:
* the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) will be responsible licensing in the marine environment (this applies to all activities undertaken seaward of the mean low water mark), and
* Natural England will be responsible for licensing in the terrestrial environment (this applies to all activities undertaken landward of the mean low water mark)
If you are interested in applying for a licence for a species that is found in both the marine and terrestrial environments then who you apply to for a licence depends where you want to carry out the activity. 

Natural England issues a series of
General Licences, allowing people to carry out activities that affect protected species without the need to apply for a personal licence.  From 1 April 2010, NE’s general licences will only permit activities undertaken landward of the mean low water mark.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

Defra: The least energy efficient TVs will be taken off the shelves of some of the UK’s leading electrical retailers as part of a new commitment to reduce energy waste.  8 leading retailers (such as Comet) - have voluntarily joined a new scheme launched by the Energy Saving Trust and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to remove the least energy efficient TVs from their stock, and educate shoppers about the benefit of buying an energy efficient TV.
The commitment means that all televisions sold by these companies will meet new minimum efficiency standards at least a year in advance of the EU introducing these regulations for all retailers in July 2012.  The EST is working with industry to encourage other retailers to follow suit and voluntarily sign-up to join the initiative.
The worst performing 42" televisions on the shelf today can cost around £75 a year to run whereas an equivalent sized energy efficient (Energy Saving Recommended accredited - ESR) TV would cost only £33 a year to run - shaving around £340 off their electricity bills over the lifetime of the TV (7.5% of the average domestic electricity bill is spent on powering TVs).

Business and Other Briefings

BIS: The Government has confirmed that it has accepted the recommendations from the Low Pay Commission (LPC) on the new rates for the National Minimum Wage.  

The new rates, which will come into force on 1 October 2010 will be:
* £5.93 per hour for low paid workers aged 21 and over
* £4.92 per hour for 18-20 year olds
* £3.64 per hour for 16-17 year olds
The Government also announced that it had accepted the LPC’s recommendation to introduce an apprentice minimum wage of £2.50 per hour.  The new rate will apply to those apprentices who are under 19 or those that are aged 19 and over, but in the first year of their apprenticeship.
BIS: The Government’s updated Forward Programme, setting out all business regulation planned for introduction over the next 12 months, was published last week. The new edition of the Forward Programme follows on from the measures announced as part of the Budget, that will improve the understanding of, and control over, the flow of new regulation.
Previous restrictions where the period of ownership for UK tax purposes differed from that used in the other country or where the chargeable gain in the UK was less than in the other country have been withdrawn.
The compliance checks legislation introduced a new normal four-year time limit for assessments and claims, from 1 April 2010, in schedule 39 of the Finance Act 2008. This affects Capital Gains Tax, Corporation Tax, Income Tax, PAYE and VAT.

Industry News

WAGNGD Europe - one of the word’s largest data centres - was officially opened on 11 March 2010 by the Welsh Assembly Government’s Lesley Griffiths, Deputy Minister for Science, Innovation & Skills. NGD Europe is now operational with its first long-term tenants already installed following completion of the essential phases of a £200m project which began nearly 2 years ago.
This involved converting & upgrading the 750,000 sq ft former Hynix semiconductor plant into a state-of-the-art tier 3 mega data centre. The ISO 14001 accredited centre has:
* its very own on-site power sub-station connection capable of sustaining a City the size of Bristol
* a wide range of on-site dark fibre carrier interconnects to enable high speed low latency connectivity
* triple-skinned walls, bomb proof glass, prison grade perimeter fencing, infra-red detection
* biometric recognition and ex-special forces security guards
DH: Revolutionary ‘bed pods’ & screening systems, modular toilets & washrooms and a redesigned patient gown were just some design prototypes to improve patient privacy & dignity unveiled by Health Minister, Ann Keen, at the Design Council last week.
The groundbreaking designs are the culmination of ‘Design for Patient Dignity’, a programme from the Department of Health and Design Council, which has brought together 7 teams of leading UK designers & manufacturers with frontline healthcare staff to help solve privacy & dignity issues for patients.
Over 60 design teams applied to be part of the challenge and they were judged by a panel of the UK’s most respected experts in design, patient care, hospital management & nursing.  

It is hoped the designs will be introduced to hospitals in 2011.  Innovation & new concepts such as these developed with the Design Council will be showcased at the second Innovation EXPO at the Excel Centre in London on 6-7 October 2010.
BIS: Minister for Business, Ian Lucas, has presented the UK’s first-ever ‘Cluster Marks’. Clusters are 'regional concentrations of related companies & organisations that compete, but also collaborate to share knowledge, increase innovation & drive growth within the sector'.
The Cluster Mark was established to raise the profile of UK manufacturers involved in cluster activity and to help promote their local strengths internationally.  The awards also aim to boost the reputation of the manufacturing sector as a whole and highlight its importance to the British economy.

Forthcoming Event

EHEnglish Heritage has welcomed the new Planning Policy Statement for the historic environment (PPS5) that has been launched.  The Government's Statement on the Historic Environment was also launched last week and provides the context for PPS5 & sets out how heritage contributes to a wide range of government objectives. 

PPS5 is intended to bring a ‘new, integrated approach to the historic environment removing the distinction between buildings, archaeological remains and landscapes’.
English Heritage took a lead in preparing the Practice Guide that accompanies PPS5.  It explains how the policies in the PPS can be applied and explains how the historic environment should be integrated into & considered during the planning process.
In order to help people working in heritage and planning to understand the implications of the new PPS, English Heritage is organising FREE workshop events across the country and providing additional guidance online for local authority planning & heritage officers, Civic & Amenity Societies and private sector developers.
The workshops, will examine the content of PPS5 involve discussion of case studies.  They will be taking place as follows:
20 April - Cambridge
23 April - Preston
26 April - Gloucester
27 April - Basingstoke
Further details of the workshops will be available on or by emailing or telephone 01600 890610.

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