In the News
WAG: WAG bags a green policy - A 7p charge on carrier bags looks set to come into force in Wales from spring 2011. The mandatory charge is being introduced to dramatically reduce the number of single use carrier bags used in Wales. Over 400m single use carrier bags are currently given out to Welsh shoppers each year.
Most of these bags then end up littering our country or in landfill where they release harmful greenhouse gasses into the environment and take between 500 & 1,000 years to degrade. The Welsh Environment Minister, Jane Davidson, was at the Hay Festival last week to launch a second consultation (closes on 2 August 2010) on the carrier bag charge.
NE: Leading the nation to better health - The 1 June 2010 marked the start of National Volunteers Week, an annual event which celebrates the contribution made by the millions of volunteers who regularly contribute to society. To coincide with this important national event Natural England hosted Walking for Health’s Volunteer Activity Week, which took place from 1-7 June 2010.
Natural England’s Walking for Health programme (WfH) encourages people to enjoy their local natural spaces and benefit their health by taking part in health walks led by trained volunteer walk leaders. Volunteer Walk Leaders are vital to the success of WfH, with over 30,000 regular walkers around the country reaping the health benefits.
This year, NE wanted to encourage & inspire even more people to volunteer for WfH and other activities in the natural environment. As part of their Volunteer Activity Week, walking groups took part in a range of volunteering activities so they could experience the full range benefits of environmental volunteering.
Newswire – Civitas: Can governments boost social mobility? - A new report from the independent think tank Civitas argues that many politicians are badly informed about the facts of social mobility in modern Britain. And because they don't know the facts, they support policies which are at best unnecessary and, at worst, deeply damaging.
In Social Mobility Myths, Peter Saunders, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Sussex, sets out to convince the political class that much of what they believe (or say they believe) about social mobility in Britain is either false or more complicated than they think.
Examining the evidence on social mobility in Britain, Saunders exposes 4 'social mobility myths' which distort debate & policy:
1. The myth that Britain is 'a closed shop society' in which life chances are heavily shaped by the class you are born into
2. The myth that social mobility is getting worse, or has even 'ground to a halt'
3. The myth that differences of ability between individuals are irrelevant in explaining the differential rates of success they achieve
4. The myth that governments can increase mobility by top-down engineering of the education system and forcing more income redistribution
ScotGov: Preparing for the trials of old age - Commitments to improve support after diagnosis & hospital care for people with dementia have been made as part of Scotland's first national dementia strategy. The strategy lays out 8 specific actions to support improvements in the care & treatment of people with dementia, focusing particularly on improving the support given in the wake of a dementia diagnosis and improving hospital care.
It also commits the Scottish Government to continuing its support for dementia research. In another Scottish first, new national standards of care for people with dementia are to be developed & implemented.
WAG: Domestic violence cannot be justified - A Wales-wide campaign that challenges the attitude of men towards women got underway last week in Wales. The Violence Against Women campaign aims to stamp out unacceptable attitudes & behaviour towards women before it leads to more violent forms of abuse. It shows how seemingly innocent actions may be a step too far and lead to women feeling unsafe.
The advertising campaign is part of Welsh Assembly Government’s ‘Right to be Safe’ strategy, which aims to tackle violence against women. The campaign has been welcomed by women’s support organisations and the police.
FSA: Changes to way FSA warns & informs - The Food Standards Agency is changing the way it issues information to consumers about food product withdrawals & recalls. The new system takes effect from June 2010.
Under the new system, a 'Product Withdrawal Information Notice' or a 'Product Recall Information Notice' will be issued to let consumers & local authorities know about problems associated with food. These replace what was known under the previous system as the ‘Food Alert for Information’.
The ‘Food Alert for Action’ category of alert will continue to be issued and will remain unchanged. This alert is issued to provide local authorities with details of specific action to be taken on behalf of consumers.
Press release ~ Food Alerts
Recent white paper: The Use of Labelling and Protective Marking Technologies as a Legal Defence to Data Protection Law Breaches - In April 2010, the UK's Information Commissioner's Office's (ICO) was given new powers in relation to the Data Protection Act 1998, which include the power to issue a £500,000 fine and to enact spot checks on government departments.
Boldon James has commissioned the noted Internet and Technology Law Expert, Dr. Brian Bandey, to answer some essential questions about these powers. In this Whitepaper, Dr. Bandey:
- Explains the Law in understandable terms
- Identifies the anatomy of e-mail centric breaches of the Data Protection Act 1998 from real-life examples.
- Maps the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 in the context of Labelling and Protective Marking Technologies.
- Reveals that an appropriate implementation of Labelling and Protective Marking Technology can provide a real and effective Legal Defence to the ICO's ability to fine.
So what is the actual answer to the £500,000 question? How do you avoid the Information Commissioner's Office's new powers to fine organisations up to £500,000 for breaches of the Data Protection Act 1998? To find out, register here for your free copy today.
For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities have called for a fundamental review of the English Indices of Deprivation in a consultation submission to the Department of Communities and Local Government.
The Indices of Deprivation (IOD) have been used by government for the past 10 years to identify & target areas of concentrated deprivation. They have been important in directing significant levels of government funding, both for regeneration and other programmes.
Our longstanding view is that the Indices of Deprivation are not an adequate tool for understanding and addressing the challenges of rural deprivation and a more fundamental review of their use is necessary.
The characteristics of rural areas mean that the use of the IOD does not give an adequate or true picture of the nature and extent of rural deprivation.
TfL: To mark the International Year of Biodiversity, London Underground (LU) and the Royal Society for the protection of Birds (RSPB) are once again teaming up to launch a competition (runs until 12 September 2010) encouraging Londoners to use the Tube to discover the Capital's rich & varied wildlife.
The competition, Life between the lines, follows the success of last year's Mind the Bird and this year will have 2 categories:
* Projects - asks people to write in about local wildlife and environmental projects
* Photographs - asks people to send in their striking images of mammals, birds, flora & fauna taken near a Tube station
Policy Statements and Initiatives
CLG: Communities & Local Government Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, took pre-emptive action to prevent unauthorised development over the recent bank holiday weekend. Mr Pickles wrote to all Local Authority Chief Planners to warn them to be on alert & ready for action if any significant planning applications were submitted before the bank holiday.
In the past some people have used extended weekends to put in last minute applications to their council on the Friday. They then spend the extended weekend illegally developing the land, for example cutting down protected trees or laying concrete driveways. These developments are often at quite an advanced stage by the time council planning officers return after the holiday and are able to call a temporary halt on activity.
BIS: Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced an action plan to bring an end to the excessive regulation that is stifling business growth.
The ‘Forward Regulatory Programme’ published in March 2010 by the Better Regulation Executive identified 200 new regulations that departments were planning to bring in between May 2010 and April 2011 (with a cost of over £5bn) and over 20 new regulations beyond April 2011 with individual costs of over £50m and total costs of about £19bn.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has launched a consultation (closes on 16 July 2010) on a scheme to eradicate bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD). The proposed scheme would be in 2 stages:
* In the first (voluntary) phase farmers would receive £100 for every Persistently Infected Animal (PIA) slaughtered
* In the second, compulsory, phase PIAs would have to go straight to slaughter, recompense would be nominal at best and screening tests would be mandatory
BVD causes a complex of diseases in cattle, the most important of which interfere with reproduction, affect the unborn calf and lead to mucosal disease. BVD virus can also cause enteritis during acute or transient infection which is usually mild but occasionally severe enough to cause mortality, even in adult cattle.
Transient BVD virus infection is also associated with significant suppression of disease resistance and may contribute to the pneumonia complex in calves.
ScotGov: New draft guidance to help social workers, police, NHS staff and other professionals improve the protection of children at risk of abuse or neglect has been launched by Children's Minister, Adam Ingram, for consultation (closes on Friday 17 September 2010).
It will replace outdated guidance from 1998 and cover new areas of practice including online safety & child trafficking, as well as issues which have become more prominent in recent years such as substance misuse.
CRC: The Department of Health is currently consulting (new closing date 2 July 2010) on proposals to allow people to register with a GP of their choice, rather than having to register where they live. Although the Commission for Rural Communities supports the principle of patient choice, there are potentially adverse implications for rural GP practices and rural communities.
Some rural GP practices may become unviable if they lose too many patients, or may be left with a greater proportion of older patients with higher healthcare needs. In the longer term, this may mean that some people living in rural communities have less choice, if they no longer have a local GP practice. There are also issues about out of hours & emergency care.
Newswire – EU: A consultation (closes on 1 July 2010) inviting citizens, businesses & researchers to share ideas on how best to use information & communications technologies (ICTs) to help older Europeans live more independently and, more generally, to establish new ways to put ICTs at the service of the most vulnerable members of society, has been launched by a high-level panel established to advise the European Commission on the functioning of the Ambient Assisted Living joint programme (AAL JP).
The public consultation is the first step towards meeting the target of doubling the take-up of independent living arrangements for the elderly by 2015 set by the Digital Agenda (see IP/10/581). The Commission's participation in the Ambient Assisted Living programme results from a 2007 action plan on ‘Ageing Well in the Information Society’ (see IP/07/831).
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published proposals for consultation (closes on 6 September 2010) to strengthen its requirements on competence for individuals carrying out retail activities, while placing more emphasis on standards of ethical behaviour.
Plans to publish lists of qualifications in the Handbook that meet FSA requirements will mean that firms & individuals will have an easily accessible & comprehensive source of approved qualifications. RDR professionalism proposals will be set out in the next RDR consultation paper (due in June 2010).
WAG: A 7p charge on carrier bags looks set to come into force in Wales from spring 2011. The Welsh Environment Minister, Jane Davidson, was at the Hay Festival last week to launch a second consultation (closes on 2 August 2010) on the carrier bag charge – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
HSE: Measures bed manufacturers have taken to successfully reduce manual handling injuries feature in a new report aimed at promoting good practice in the industry. Employees in the bed manufacturing industry are around twice as likely to suffer manual handling injuries (such as back & upper limb disorders) than those in any other manufacturing sector.
This prompted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), with the support of the National Bed Federation, to identify the key risk activities and encourage companies to identify solutions that would work best for them. In a series of seminars, bed manufacturers were given the report findings and asked to produce 3-year action plans to show how they could improve health and safety in these areas.
NICE: The NHS must improve how it treats people with physical health problems caused by alcohol misuse, according to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Around 1 in 4 men & women in the UK regularly drink above the recommended safe limits, which can cause them to suffer a variety of long term physical health problems, such as liver disease, pancreatitis and Wernicke’s encephalopathy (a brain disorder caused by a lack of thiamine - vitamin B1).
Those who regularly drink excessive amounts of alcohol may also experience physical withdrawal symptoms (such as tremors, seizures & hallucinations) if they abruptly reduce their intake or suddenly quit - the consequences of which can be fatal.
Recognising that the NHS needs a standardised approach to treat the physical complications caused by excessive alcohol consumption, the NICE has published guidance, which outlines which diagnostic tests & treatments healthcare professionals should use & when.
NICE: Alcohol needs to be less affordable and less easy to buy if we are to save thousands of lives each year, says new guidance from NICE. To help create an environment that supports lower-risk drinking, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published guidance outlining the most effective measures that can be taken to lower the risks of alcohol-related harm.
As well as the detrimental health consequences, there are a number of other knock-on effects that alcohol misuse can have, such as on antisocial behaviour, crime, costs to the NHS, relationship breakdown and work absenteeism.
ScotGov: Children with additional support needs are to receive an improved service as a result of new measures that will make it easier for teachers & health staff to work together. More than 44,000 children in Scotland require additional support for their learning and many of these are likely to receive assistance from Allied Health Professionals (AHPs), who include speech & language therapists, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists, among others.
However, there are fears that the quality of service children receive can vary depending on which part of the country they live in. Following a wide-reaching consultation, the Scottish Government has now published national guidelines for health & education staff showing clearly how they can best work together.
WAG: The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Tony Jewell, has advised parents that children under 15 should not drink alcohol in new guidance on drinking among young people. Dr Tony Jewell points to research that shows clear evidence that alcohol can harm the development of children.
The new guidance - You, Your Children and Alcohol - aims to help protect children & young people from the risks linked to alcohol consumption. Research shows that 40% of Welsh 15-year-olds drink alcohol on a weekly basis and that 20% of 15-year-olds report having been drunk for the first time at the age of 13 or younger.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is reminding parents not to feed honey to babies who are under a year old. There have only been 11 confirmed cases of infant botulism in the past 30 years, but 3 of these have occurred in the past year and all have had possible links to honey. The most recent case involved a 15-week-old baby.
Honey is safe for children over the age of one, but a younger baby’s gut is not sufficiently developed to be able to fight off the botulism bacteria. This is why parents are advised not to give babies honey until they are one year old.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has updated its list of product ranges that do not contain the 6 food colours associated with possible hyperactivity in young children. Another manufacturer producing product lines free of the colours has been added to the list: Candyking Ltd's Candyking products.
The list includes companies whose product ranges have never contained the 6 colours and companies whose product ranges that have been reformulated to remove the colours.
General Reports and Other Publications
NAO: The National Audit Office has called for a central, mandatory system of assurance to be established for government. The spending watchdog recognizes that central government has made a number of improvements towards providing assurance for high-risk projects - particularly by introducing OGC Gateway™ reviews and establishing the Major Project Review Group. However, the lack of an integrated system is limiting the ability of government to make further improvements.
The NAO estimates that the total cost to government of assurance for high-risk projects is £8.3m, which is minimal compared with the £10.5bn of annual expenditure on the 42 projects tracked within the Major Projects Portfolio.
Newswire – IfG: Cutting the deficit is perhaps the biggest challenge facing the new coalition government. The current debate has focused on the numbers, but cutting spending will also require government to act very differently. Going with the grain of how people behave could make the process of cutting less painful and more effective.
In a recent article in Civil Service World, Institute for Government senior researcher, Michael Hallsworth, discusses behavioural economics, one of the most intriguing new tools that policy makers can draw on. By applying the Institute’s new MINDSPACE framework, Michael outlines new strategies to motivate civil servants – and the public – to support the fiscal consolidation.
CQC: The Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) are calling for improvements in NHS healthcare provided for adults in the prison system in a joint report. It indicates progress has been made in embedding management & clinical governance systems and also in the way IT systems are used to record and analyse information on the quality of care.
But CQC and HMIP say clear improvements must be made in broader arrangements to monitor the quality of care and to ensure care is centred on patients’ needs. The review flags up particular concerns over arrangements for continuity of healthcare around prisoners’ transfer and release.
The report describes it as inadequate and says it appears to be getting worse. There has also been no improvement in the provision of drug treatment systems, a potentially critical resource within a prison environment.
Newswire – KF: A new report published by The King’s Fund shows that having a choice of hospitals is ‘valued’ by the majority of patients. However, it is not yet operating as intended and has not so far acted as a lever to improve quality and increase competition.
Since April 2008, patients in England have been able to choose treatment from any hospital in a national directory. The new report - Patient Choice: How patients choose and how providers respond - assesses how patient choice is operating based on research with patients, GPs and hospital providers.
While GPs broadly supported the idea of patient choice, they also strongly criticised Choose & Book, the electronic system for booking appointments for treatment, which despite technical improvements, GPs found difficult to use.
Legislation / Legal
ScotGov: Amendments aimed at regulating non-lawyer ‘will writers’ have been lodged by Minister for Community Safety, Fergus Ewing. The proposed amendment to the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill follows a consultation process and would apply a set of regulatory rules, enforcement measures & sanctions to ensure non-lawyer will writers conform to acceptable industry practice.
Following representations made to it, the ScotGov is concerned that some non-lawyer will writers may be exploiting the lack of regulation to the detriment of the consumer in Scotland. The consultation responses indicated that there is almost overwhelming support for regulation. As to the method of regulation, the vast majority of respondents are in favour of using the same model as outlined in Part 3 of the Bill.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
Defra: The Dutch research institute LEI has published a Defra-funded academic study of farm viability without direct payments - ‘Farm Viability in the European Union’. This was a hypothetical, academic exercise to increase the evidence base on subsidy reform. The report, which illustrates an extreme scenario, will be a useful base on which to build more practical work.
Newswire – EU: Divorcing international couples would be able to choose which EU country's law governs their divorce under enhanced co-operation arrangements unanimously backed by the Legal Affairs Committee last week. The committee said that, for the first time in EU history, the full Parliament should authorise the 12 Member States that have so far agreed to the plan to start the necessary enhanced co-operation in the field of divorce law. The plenary vote is scheduled for June or July 2010.
This proposal would allow international couples (couples of different nationalities, couples living apart in different EU countries or living together in a country other than their home country) to choose which law applies if they are to separate, so long as it is the law of a country to which they have a close connection (such as long-term residence or nationality). For example, it would allow a Franco-German couple living in Belgium to agree whether French or German law applies to their divorce.
If spouses are unable to agree on which law should apply, then this will be decided on the basis of the law of the country where the spouses have their common habitual residence, or failing that, where they had their most recent common habitual residence (provided one still resides there), or failing that, the law of the spouses’ common nationality, or failing that, the law of the court before which the matter is brought.
Newswire – EU: Travellers by bus, coach & boat are set to gain new rights similar to those set out in the EU air passenger rights charter, thanks to tougher rules on compensation for delays & cancellations, payments in the event of accidents and assistance for disabled passengers. The proposed rules are to be put to a vote by Parliament as a whole in July 2010.
MEPs agreed that Member States should be allowed to exclude urban & suburban bus services from the regulation's scope, on condition that they offer a comparable level of passenger rights. But MEPs did insist on including regional services, unless these are already integrated with other urban or suburban services which ensure a high standard of passenger rights.
Business and Other Briefings
HMRC announces that ESC B46 will come to an end on 31 March 2011.
This Revenue and Customs Brief publicises the introduction of overpayment relief and advises a change in HMRC's view of the law following a recent Court of Appeal decision in the Franked Investment Income Group Litigation.
Defra: Young’s the fish producer, part of Findus group, was last week announced as the winner of the European Business Awards for the Environment for their ‘Fish for Life’ programme for sustainably sourcing fish for their range of products.
Fish for Life was selected for these finals by a European jury and was the only British entry to reach the pan-European stage out of eleven UK winners named in London in March. It won the overall prize in the ‘Management’ section of the awards, against two other entries from Austria and Turkey.
Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) Forum, which has managed the process for entry into the EBAE on behalf of Defra and the UK, has had at least one winner in every round since then.
FSA: Individuals with an interest in food research are invited to find out more about funding opportunities and ongoing European research projects at a FREE seminar to be held at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London on 16 July 2010. The event is organised by Defra in collaboration with the Food Standards Agency, the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council.
The seminar will explore the funding opportunities available under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), its main funding for scientific research, and will focus on developments so far, as well as future priorities for two particular funding streams under the programme:
* Food, Agriculture & Fisheries
* Biotechnology & Environment, including climate change
Although free of charge, delegates must register using the form below if they want to attend. Spaces are limited so please return your form asap or by 2 July 2010at the latest.
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