In the News
WAG: Will we end up with 3 different systems for England, Wales and Scotland? - Legislation to provide fairness & consistency in charging by local authorities for social care provided in the community has been approved. Royal Assent has been granted for the Social Care Charges (Wales) Measure, which will allow the Welsh Assembly Government to exercise greater control over the financial assessments councils make to calculate charges for services (such as home care, day care and support for carers).
Research undertaken for WAG has shown that there is wide variation in the charges made by local authorities for these services and disparity in the rules used by them in assessing a person’s financial means to pay.
One of the major components of this First Steps Package is the introduction of a maximum weekly charge of £50 for all of the services a person receives irrespective of where they live in Wales. Work will now commence in consultation with stakeholders to draw up the regulations & guidance required to introduce the First Steps Package from April 2011.
ScotGov: Affordable care in one’s home - Plans to use technology to help increasing numbers of older people to live at home for longer are being advanced with a £4m investment in telecare across Scotland. Telecare is delivered by electronic devices in people's homes that support them to live independently when previously they may have needed hospital or residential care.
Public Health Minister, Shona Robison, said: "We expect our older population to rise by 62% over the next 2 decades…………….. More than 25,000 older Scots have already benefited from telecare as part of £16 million invested since 2006. This extra £4 million investment means we - and our NHS and council partners - can help a further 13,000 people to receive telecare. As well as helping older people retain their independence at home, that will also help avoid an estimated 21,000 more hospital admission days.
Telecare can include:
* Motion sensors to detect when someone has not moved for some time & may have fallen
* Home safety devices such as fire, flood & intruder alarms linked to a staffed 24-hour response service
* Emergency pendants to summon help in a crisis
* Electronic reminder alerts to take medication, with carousel dispensers
* Vibrating 'rumble' pillows for people who are hard of hearing
DCSF: Technology lets e-bullies do it 24/7 - Schools Minister, Vernon Coaker, has announced that DCSF will continue its investment in Beatbullying's CyberMentors programme, with a further £1m. The service has engaged over 400,000 young people who were looking for support & advice from people their own age to cope with bullying.
CyberMentors.org.uk is a safe, social networking site providing information & support for young people being bullied or cyber bullied. Young people (aged 11-25) are trained as CyberMentors, in schools & online, so that they can offer support to their peers.
Encapsulated by cutting edge technology, it is a safe website where young people can turn to other young people for help & advice. CyberMentors are also supported by trained counsellors, available online if needed.
DCSF: A change from the days of ‘Spare the Rod, spoil the Child! - The Government has announced its intention to ban physical punishment of children in any form of tuition or care outside of the family following recommendations from the Chief Adviser on Child Safety, Sir Roger Singleton.
Current legislation means that teachers in schools are banned from using any form of physical punishment, but those who tutor outside of school, including in part-time educational & learning settings and evening & weekend faith schools, are not covered by the ban.
In 2009, the Government worked with a range of charities & voluntary organisations to produce a guide entitled – Being a Parent in the Real World - which aims to help parents avoid smacking as a form of discipline.
WAG: Keeping Wales moving - The Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones, has launched the final version of the National Transport Plan, which sets out how he will deliver the One Wales vision of a modern & sustainable transport system for Wales.
The aim of the plan is to ensure a system of transport fit for the 21st century based on 3 key principles, to:
* meet the demand for enhanced mobility which will enable economic growth & improve the quality of life they seek for the people of Wales
* put transport onto a more sustainable & less carbon-intensive path
* use transport funding more effectively in light of increased pressures on public finances
Defra: Protect in the present or lose our ‘future’ - Defra has published the Government strategy to deliver a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) across the UK, which will be vital to protect many species of sea life, from the rare & threatened to the more common, as well as helping ensure our seas & oceans remain healthy and clean.
The strategy sets out that all UK Governments, agencies and those with an interest in protecting our seas are committed to delivering a coherent network of MPAs to meet international, EU and national commitments contained in the Marine and Coastal Access Act.
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MoD: The Government will host 2 events this year to mark the 65th anniversary of the end of World War Two:
* To remember Victory in Europe (VE) Day, on Saturday 8 May, representatives of the Government, the major opposition parties, the Armed Forces & veterans’ organisations will lay wreaths at the Cenotaph in Whitehall during a short service.
* A further event will be held on 15 August to mark the 65th anniversary of Victory in Japan (VJ) Day. Further details of this event will be announced in the summer
DCMS: An exquisite bronze statue of a dancer by the acclaimed impressionist Edgar Degas last week became the latest item to be saved for the nation under the Government’s Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) Scheme, administered by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), which celebrates its centenary this year.
The AIL Scheme allows items of great historical or cultural importance to be given to the nation in place of inheritance tax. Last year, for example, the Scheme settled around £11m worth of tax, which led to items with a value of around £20m entering public collections throughout the UK.
Defra: England last week officially welcomed the South Downs as our newest National Park. The 632sqm protected area, home to an estimated 108,000 people, will stretch from Beachy Head in East Sussex to the edge of Winchester in Hampshire. The National Park Authority, which will be fully operational in 2011, will now pick up the role of co-ordinating work on conservation & recreation in the Park’s boundary.
Defra: Defra has given approval to Leeds University to conduct a research trial of GM potatoes this year. The research is on potatoes that have been genetically modified to resist infection by potato cyst nematodes. The application has been evaluated by the independent expert group the Advisory Committee of Releases to the Environment (ACRE). It is satisfied that the proposed trial will not result in any adverse effect on human health or the environment.
Reflecting ACRE’s advice, precautionary conditions have been attached to the statutory consent for the trial. These conditions aim to ensure that GM potato material does not persist at the trial site. The harvested GM potatoes will not be used for food or animal feed.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DWP: Long-term Jobseekers Allowance claimants will be given the guarantee of a job or work placement as part of the Government’s next stage of welfare reform. Publishing a Command Paper – Building Bridges to Work, the Government will offer all JSA claimants who have been out of work for 2 years a guaranteed job or work placement to prevent long term unemployment, as the economy recovers.
Claimants will be required to take up the offer if they cannot find other work to make sure people who lost their jobs during recession aren’t left to a life on benefits.
Alongside this, the Government is today laying regulations to abolish old style Incapacity Benefit and announcing new measures for those on sickness benefits. From October 2010 all Incapacity Benefits claimants will be reassessed with a new Work Capability Assessment which looks at what they can do and what help they need, rather than on whether they could do their previous job.
DCSF: Schools Minister, Vernon Coaker, has announced a new programme to spread educational knowledge & best practice across the country through primary & secondary school-to-school visits.
The ‘Inside Knowledge’ scheme, which will be trialled in a number of schools from April 2010, will allow headteachers & other school staff to take part in professionally managed visits to local schools that have excellent, cutting-edge practice in five important areas:
* narrowing the gap for disadvantaged pupils
* effective use of assessment data for pupil progress
* best practice in pupils’ writing at Key Stage 2
* managing school budgets effectively to deliver best value
DWP: The Government called on employers to do more to promote flexible working, as it published its response to the Family Friendly Taskforce report. Yvette Cooper has also announced that Government will appoint a taskforce of business leaders & business organisations to champion the case for flexible working in the private sector.
The Government has also published - Think Fathers: How flexible working for Dads can work for your business - a collection of case studies of how businesses large & small across many different sectors have implemented flexible working and reaped the benefits. It provides some top tips to employers on how they can do the same in their own businesses.
ScotGov: Scotland's farmers are to increase their green credentials after it was confirmed new software will be up & running this summer. Funded by the Scottish Government, the £400k PLANET (PlanningLand< strong> Application of Nutrients for Efficiency and the Environment) Scotland project is intended to help improve the environment and the farm business.
A Scottish version of the software will be widely available from June 2010. With the user friendly software, farmers will be able to use field level information to generate fertiliser recommendations and to set up a nutrient management plan.
Newswire – HCA: The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) is creating a panel of 400 senior housing & regeneration professionals to provide expert insights into pressing industry issues. CEs, directors & heads of service from the public, private & third sectors are being invited to take part in a series of quarterly online surveys that will explore current issues like meeting affordable housing targets, delivering low carbon homes in difficult economic times and measuring the success of the HCA's Single Conversation business process.
Following the appointment of panel members over the next few weeks, the first survey will focus on the impact the recession has had on the housing and regeneration industry. Each survey will include a series of benchmark questions about the recession to help track the perceived degree of recovery over the next 12 months. If you would like to become a panel member then please contact Jo Bell: email@example.com / 0113 3949410
ScotGov: Plans to convert long lease properties into ownership are being put out to consultation (closes on 30 June 2010), Community Safety Minister, Fergus Ewing, announced last week. The proposed changes, which would be introduced through a Long Leases (Scotland) Bill, could affect 9,000 long leases in certain parts of the country. The consultation is based on recommendations made by a Scottish Law Commission (SLC) Report of December 2006, on the conversion of long leases to ownership.
Long leases tended to be granted by large estates (often between 1770 & 1860) to encourage the industrialisation of Scotland. Leases would be eligible to convert to ownership so long as:
* they were granted for more than 175 years
* have more than 100 years to run
* the tenant does not opt out.
Subject to the response to the consultation and the availability of parliamentary time, the Scottish Government intends to introduce a Long Leases (Scotland) Bill in the current Parliament.
DECC: The government has published a new action plan on international climate change (‘Beyond Copenhagen: The UK Government’s International Climate Change Action Plan’), which shows what must be done to build on the progress made at Copenhagen. The plan sets out the Government’s belief that the low carbon transformation can be a major driver of economic growth & job creation – in the UK, in Europe and globally.
It has also published a consultation on a new low carbon skills strategy (closes on 23 June 2010) which includes co-funding the delivery of up to 2,500 apprenticeships in the emerging wind energy sector, in line with the sector’s ambition for the size of its workforce in 2017.
The joint consultation document produced with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills sets out what we know about the scale & nature of the low-carbon skills challenge, what we’re already doing to tackle it and seeks views on what more needs to happen.
Cogent’s report – Next Generation : Skills for New Build Nuclear (also published last week) – outlines for the first time the employment opportunities that new nuclear reactors could bring, helping to build a clear picture of skills requirements in the sector.
Defra: Proposals to simplify & improve the rules around livestock movements have been published. The proposals include:
* more robust business rules for CPH allocation, supported by a single maintained dataset of land & customer data (including re-affirmation of 10 mile rule for CPH allocation)
* abolishing Cattle Tracing System links (CTS)
* abolishing Sole Occupancy Authorities (SOAs)
* extending the circumstances in which isolation facilities can be used to serve livestock movement standstills
These proposals address both Sir Iain Anderson’s concerns about recording of livestock data and Bill Madders’ recommendations for streamlining the complicated ‘livestock movements rules’.
This consultation (closes 30 June 2010 and which covers England only) also canvasses opinion on sheep recording & reporting arrangements to replace the interim arrangements introduced on 1 January 2010.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published a consultation (closes 30 June 2010) on changes to its client asset rules. The aim of the consultation is to ensure that clients have confidence their money & assets are safe and will be returned within a reasonable timeframe in the event that a firm becomes insolvent
The failure of Lehman Brothers International (Europe) (LBIE) highlighted a number of areas where the client assets sourcebook (CASS) could be strengthened. Keen to learn lessons, the FSA has been reviewing this area on a number of fronts including engagement with a number of working groups and extensive pre-consultation with firms. The FSA also input into the Treasury’s consultations which considered effective resolution arrangements for investment banks.
ACE: Tim Smit, CEO from Eden, argues that there is a major role for the arts in ensuring a sustainable future.
Eden has an environmental education role and works with the arts to develop these messages, but Tim feels that the arts have a far bigger role to play, particularly in developing a language that reaches beyond the environmental sector and providing a focus for collective & community action.
Read Tim's full article and let Arts Council England know your views on the future, in their consultation (closes on 14 April 2010) on the development priorities for the next 10 years - Achieving great art for everyone.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
DH: A new organisation is being set up to help NHS & social care bodies plan their workforce around delivering more productive & people centred care, Health Minister Ann Keen has claimed.
The Centre for Workforce Intelligence will ‘help the NHS & social care system plan their workforces around shifting resources to the frontline, removing bureaucracy and moving care from hospitals into homes and the community’.
The commitment to form the Centre was made after a review into the future of the NHS workforce in 2008 - ‘A High Quality Workforce’ - highlighted the need for an organisation to provide leadership on the quality of workforce planning across the health & social care system. The Centre will be run by Mouchel, which specialises in transforming public services, working in partnership with the University of Manchester.
To clarify the national operating system for workforce planning & education commissioning the DH have also published ‘Planning and Developing the NHS Workforce: A National Framework’.
DH: Organ donors will, in future, be allowed to donate their organs to a family member or close friend in need of a transplant under new rules, Health Minister, Ann Keen, has announced.
New guidance for transplant teams published last week sets out that (in some exceptional cases) people will be able to request that their, or a family members, organs are given to a family member or close friend after they die in cases where there is someone in need of a new organ.
This will give transplant teams greater flexibility in the allocation of organ donations, particularly where a family member intended to donate an organ, such as a kidney, to a person but sadly died before they could. Frontline staff will if they need additional advice be able to refer cases to the Requested Allocation Oversight Group, who will provide expert guidance where needed.
CLG: Local people can now demand their councils take action on under-performing schools & hospitals, drink disorder, anti-social behaviour and other concerns under new rules giving real power to local petitions.
The Government announced last week that it has put in place the legal steps to bring into force on 15 June 2010 a statutory duty on councils, so they have to respond to petitions for the first time and tell local people what action is going to be taken to address their concerns.
New statutory guidance published sets out exactly how councils will be expected to respond to all petitions, especially on 4 key areas.
* On underperforming schools
* On alcohol related crime and disorder
* On underperforming hospitals
* On anti-social behaviour
DH: Children & young people affected by severe disability, injury or illness will be better supported thanks to a new national framework to help local services make clinical assessments. The new framework sets a clear process for assessing the healthcare (nursing & clinical) needs and for local services to agree how these needs will be met.
Usually, needs are met by the local NHS Primary Care Trusts but, in some cases, local authority social care services will also be required. The framework will help local services understand their responsibilities and hopefully make the whole process of creating a bespoke care package smoother.
NE: Natural England believes that everyone should have access to good quality natural greenspace close to where they live. Its new guidance is a key tool for those working on the planning & management of parks & green spaces and their ‘natural’ development. It sets out the standards NE are promoting to provide high quality accessible natural greenspace:
* Quantity & Accessibility – the Access to Natural Greenspace Standards (ANGSt)
* Visitor Service Standards – for our most visited NNRs and for Country Parks and Local Nature Reserves
* Quality – the Green Flag Award
DfT: New guidance to make sure that companies who dig up the road replace it properly - reducing the risk of potholes forming – has been published. It is estimated that poorly replaced road surfaces mean there are around 90,000 remedial works each year, adding inconvenience to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
The revised Code of Practice published last week sets out new methods to provide better quality road surfaces, reducing the chances of potholes developing, as well as cutting down the risk that the road will have to replaced a second time.
OFT: The OFT has published guidance on the irresponsible lending element of the test of fitness to hold a credit licence. The guidance provides clarity for businesses & consumers about behaviour the OFT considers may constitute irresponsible lending practices under the Consumer Credit Act. It covers each stage of the lending process, from the pre-contract stage of advertising credit through to the handling of arrears and default on agreements.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency wants every food business to have good hygiene standards. They provide a range of tools, including Safer food, better business, to help food businesses – including those just starting up – comply with food hygiene legislation.
DCSF: A new ‘Guide for Grandparents’, has been launched by charity Grandparents Plus with advice & guidance on how grandparents can balance work & care, support teenagers and help families through difficult times. The new handbook is aimed at the millions of grandparents who are providing emotional, practical & financial support to families across the country.
There are over 14m grandparents in the UK. With 1 in 3 families depending on them for childcare & more than 300,000 children being raised by their grandparents, Family Life: a grandparents’ guide to supporting families through difficult times answers many of the questions and tackles some of the key dilemmas facing grandparents.
DCSF: The Government has published revised statutory guidance to local authorities on how they can better meet the needs of homeless 16- & 17-year-olds. The new guidance means that LAs will have to work pro-actively with young people and their families to identify & resolve issues which have led them to become homeless. Much of this work will be targeted, early intervention to help prevent family breakdown and keep families together.
The guidance, which follows a judgment by the House of Lords in the case of R(G) v Southwark (2009), makes clear that homeless 16- & 17-year-olds should be accommodated as a looked after child, rather than under homelessness legislation, if the child is in the local authority’s judgement 'a child in need' as defined in the Children Act 1989. The guidance is also clear that local authorities must provide suitable accommodation based on the young person’s needs.
General Reports and Other Publications
WAG: A new report on how free prescriptions are benefiting patients in Wales has been published by Health Minister, Edwina Hart. The report says patients with heart disease, who were previously ineligible for free prescriptions make up the largest group in terms of items dispensed – with almost a third of the prescriptions issued in 2009 – helping to keep people out of hospital and reducing the cost to the NHS.
It says there has been no significant increase in prescriptions dispensed as a result of the introduction of the policy. Neither has there been an increase in over the counter medicines (such as teething gels) being prescribed to more affluent people.
TDA: A new report from the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) released last week shows that ‘increasing the number of Teaching Assistants in schools improves student attainment’. The research report also shows that increases in funding for teaching assistants, more than additional expenditure on any other type of support staff, leads to improvements in student results.
The report suggests that having a teaching assistant in the classroom who can give additional support to pupils who need it, allows the teacher to focus, without distraction, on other students. And new research, also released by the TDA last week, shows that the majority of parents (78%) recognise the positive impact support staff have on pupil learning.
LSN: The Mobile Learning Network (MoLeNET) has released a new report exploring the ways in which computer games, digital games & digital learning games can be used to enhance & support teaching and learning.
The report, titled ‘Games Technologies for Learning: More Than Just Toys’ was officially launched at the Game Based Learning conference 2010 held at the Brewery London, as part of a research seminar led by Learning and Skills Network’s Jill Attewell and Rebecca Douch.
The report also focuses specifically on how handheld games technologies can be used to support learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, through benefits such as overcoming language barriers for those with low levels of literacy and/or numeracy and helping teachers to support learners at different levels. Practitioners can also glean advice on how to use games technology more effectively in their teaching.
Socitm: According to Socitm, the ideas & intentions set out in the PM’s speech on Britain’s Digital Future, delivered on 22 March 2010, will only be realised if they are underpinned by a renewed focus on locally delivered information handling & technology deployment.
In a response to the speech, Socitm (which represents IT professionals in the public & third sectors) says that evidence from the Total Place pilots & elsewhere confirms that public services deliver more, better & for less when services are led, managed & resourced locally, with citizens & front-line staff having a major say in the nature and composition of those services.
Legislation / Legal
MoJ: The Lord Chancellor and the Law Commission for England & Wales have agreed a statutory protocol governing how Government departments and the Law Commission should work together on law reform projects.
The protocol is key to ensuring a more productive working relationship between the Law Commission & Whitehall and is intended to increase the number of Law Commission proposals implemented by Government and to reduce the time in taking reform forward.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
DSA: Measures to improve skills & safety for new motorcycle riders, drivers of lorries & buses (and new drivers) who want to tow medium sized trailers were confirmed last week by the Department for Transport (DfT) in conjunction with the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
Charity and Voluntary Sector
DCMS: A nationwide campaign which aims to use the inspirational power of the Olympic & Paralympic Games to motivate the British public to give time in their communities was unveiled last week. The 25th Hour campaign, which is separate to the official London a2012 Volunteer programme, is based on the idea that we can all find the extra hour and more to make a difference.
The 25th Hour will also celebrate the outstanding contributions of exceptional time givers with a range of rewards, including 2,012 pairs of tickets to a unique ‘money can’t buy moment’ – the chance to see the dress rehearsal of the 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.
Because the 25th Hour is a national movement, the campaign will use one day every year to celebrate our achievements together. In October, when the clocks go back and we are all given a real 25th Hour, there will be a national celebration of giving time.
CO: The Government, together with Business in the Community, has embarked on a campaign to encourage more companies to give staff time off to undertake public duties.
The new employer information pack helps employers understand the benefits of volunteering for civic roles, what is involved if their staff volunteer and how it can help their businesses. Case studies on how it has worked for others and information on next steps are also included.
Business and Other Briefings
HMRC: HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is urging businesses to get ready for major changes to VAT & PAYE coming in this spring. HMRC recently launched a ‘super podcast’ covering the VAT & PAYE online filing changes, as well as changes to corporation tax filing & payment coming in next year.
HMRC: New rules for businesses who want to reschedule large tax debts under HMRC’s Business Payment Support Service (BPSS) come into effect in April 2010. The BPSS gives viable businesses, experiencing temporary difficulties paying their taxes, the opportunity to reschedule their tax payments to a more affordable timetable, as part of a ‘time to pay’ arrangement. These arrangements can cover PAYE, National Insurance, VAT or any other HMRC taxes.
From April 2010, businesses seeking time to pay arrangements on tax debts of £1m or more must provide an Independent Business Review (IBR) in support of their request. Typically, an IBR will include a review of a number of important areas, including: current trading and financial position; profit and cash flow projections; business and financial strategies; management systems; and funding and banking arrangements.
IS: Business Minister, Ian Lucas, has taken steps to ensure confidence in the ‘pre-packaged administration sale process’ with a range of possible new measures aimed at making the system more open. He was reacting to an Insolvency Service report (19 March 2010) which revealed that in a third of cases, insolvency practitioners were failing to fully comply with the industry’s own rules on transparency.
In a consultation (closes on 24 June 2010), the Minister puts forward options including strengthening the laws surrounding the use of ‘pre-packs’. He is also seeking views on automatic scrutiny of all ‘pre-packs’ by the Official Receiver, a trusted and independent public official.
This Brief gives details on the handling of postal services Input Tax claims following the decision of the European Court of Justice in the case of TNT Post UK Ltd.
Excise duty: Relief scheme for biodiesel produced from waste cooking oil.
Changes to implement ECJ decision in Canterbury Hockey Clubs C-253/07 mainly affecting affiliation fees.
HMRC announces that the Corporation Tax Act 2010 (CTA 2010) and the Taxation (International and Other Provisions) Act (TIOPA), produced by the Tax Law Rewrite project, come into force for corporation tax purposes for accounting periods ending on or after 1st April 2010 and for income tax and capital gains tax purposes for the tax year 2010 – 11 and subsequent tax years.
WAG: A new £8.3m investment announced last week will help develop groundbreaking new low carbon technologies in Wales and create up to 150 ‘green jobs’. CardiffUniversity's SEREN project will help business commercialise their innovative ideas to develop new products, services & technologies for the low carbon economy.
The programme will pioneer research into areas such as burning coal underground to generate energy as well as carbon storage in a bid to cut greenhouse emissions & fuel costs. As part of the programme a borehole will be sunk into the South Wales coalfield in order to trial & prove the technology of burying & storing carbon in the large deposits of coal that exist in un-mineable seams. Research will also be undertaken into more efficient extraction of heat from the ground, in order to provide heat energy to buildings.
The impact of this research will create 2 new industries in Wales, namely coal gasification and carbon storage, supporting new jobs & businesses. It will also contribute to Wales’ quest to become self-sufficient in energy and attract companies working on innovative low-carbon technologies.
Newswire – LEASE: The head of England & Wales' civil justice system, the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, and Hugh Seaborn, CEO of the Cadogan Estate, will join speakers from the property professions to ensure that the 2010 Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) conference (13 May 2010) provides delegates with real insight into how leasehold is working in practice at the moment and explores where the regulators should take it next.
WAG: Heritage Minister, Alun Ffred Jones, will be holding a series of public meetings across Wales to outline the Assembly Government’s proposals for a Welsh Language Measure. Events will be held on the following dates & locations:
12 April – Glasdir - Conwy Rural Development Centre, Llanrwst
13 April – Welsh Assembly Government office, Aberystwyth
14 April - Pontyberem Hall
15 April – Pontypridd Rugby Club
Light refreshments will be available from 7pm onwards and the meetings will start at 7.30pm. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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