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In the News

EHRCGetting around is hard enough without being harassed as well - The Equality and Human Rights Commission is investigating whether public bodies & public transport providers are fulfilling their legal obligations to prevent disabled people from being harassed.  Councils, police forces, schools and other public bodies (as well as bus, train companies and other public transport providers) found to be failing in their duties could face enforcement action.

Every working day at least one person on average appears in court charged with a crime against a disabled person - nearly half of which involve violence.  Evidence already gathered by the EHRC suggests that many more incidents of targeted violence or hostility go unreported or are not dealt with properly by social housing bodies, social services teams, crime prevention units, public transport and other public bodies in Britain.  

Members of the public are being asked if they sought help from any public body or transport provider and what support they got, either as a result of being harassed because of their disability or because of their connection to someone who is disabled.  The Commission is working with organisations of and for disabled people or crime victims to help gather evidence.  Public bodies & transport providers are being asked to disclose what steps – if any – they are taking to meet their legal duties.

The first wave of evidence will be collected until Friday 10 September 2010.  It can be given directly to the Commission via its website.  Evidence can be taken in disabled people's preferred formats where required. 13 evidence gathering events have already been organised and more are in the pipeline.  These will be held around Britain in the next 3 months and will be publicised locally.  Disabled people, organisations of & for disabled people, or crime victims, will be invited to attend.
Press release ~ CAB press release in response ~ Crown Prosecution Service, Hate Crime Report 2008-2009 ~ CPS legal guidance ~ EHRC: Promoting the Safety and Security of Disabled People ~ EHRC: Guidance to help public authorities understand what their duties ~ EHRC – Transport ~ Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 ~ Directgov – Motoring & Transport ~ Access to Air Travel Code of Practice ~ AA Disabled travellers guide ~ Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee ~ Disability Equality and Awareness Training Framework for Transport Staff ~ Directgov - Disability Discrimination Act (part 3) ~ RADAR: the disability network ~ TfL Accessibility guides ~ Directenquiries – the nationwide access centre ~ Liberty: Right to Equal Treatment: Disability Discrimination in Transport ~ DPTAC: Door to Door: a travel guide for disabled people

OFT:  Debt is often an ever present reality for the less well off - The OFT has published the final report of its review of the £7.5bn high-cost credit sector. The sector comprises the pawnbroking, payday loan, home credit & rent-to-buy credit markets.  Products supplied in these markets are typically used by people on low incomes who cannot access mainstream credit and who borrow small sums for short periods.

The report found that, in a number of respects, these markets work reasonably well in that they serve borrowers not catered for by mainstream suppliers, complaint levels are low, and there is evidence that for some products, lenders do not levy charges on customers who miss payments or make payments late.  

The report also makes some recommendations for improvements to the functioning of aspects of these markets that work less well.  However, more radical approaches which are beyond the OFT's remit would be required if the Government or others wanted to tackle the wider social, economic and financial context in which high-cost credit markets exist.

The OFT has also considered the case for price controls for pawnbroking, payday loans, home credit and rent-to-buy credit and concluded that they will not address the problems identified in the high-cost credit sector, which stem from both limited supply options and consumers' lack of ability to drive competition.  The report makes a number of recommendations for improvements to the way in which these markets operate, while recognising that these will have only a limited impact in the current context.
Press release ~ OFT: High-cost credit review ~ OFT project webpage ~ White Paper: A Better Deal for Consumers – Delivering Real Help Now and Change for the Future ~ Money Advice Trust ~ In Debt - Dealing with Your Creditors ~ Insolvency Service ~ Moneymadeclear ~ OFT – Irresponsible Lending ~ Debt Management Schemes – delivering effective and balanced solutions for debtors and creditors ~ The government response to the consultation Administration and Enforcement Restriction Orders: Setting the Parameters and the consultation ~ OFT - Debt Management practices ~ BIS - Over-Indebtedness ~ CAB: Face-to-face debt advice ~ Advice UK ~ The Consumer Credit Counselling Service ~ Stop Loan Sharks website ~ BIS: Face to Face debt advice project ~ CAB ‘Debt’ publications ~ CAB: Credit and debt fact sheets ~ Dealing with loan sharks : Directgov ~ WAG – Credit unions ~ Association of British Credit Unions ~ National Association of Credit Union Workers ~ The Debt Test on BBC website

CRC:  Beautiful landscapes are often the result of decades of hard farming - The main findings of the inquiry into the future of upland communities, by the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC), are that the English uplands are landscapes that provide a wealth of natural & cultural assets.  They also have the potential to generate many valuable public goods & market products, supporting a low carbon future and green economy.  Vibrant, secure upland communities hold the key to realising this potential.

Unlocking that potential requires government to work with and support local communities and land managers.  In particular this means empowering communities, increasing the supply of affordable housing, particularly for young people, and improving access to next generation broadband and mobile communications.
Current support for hill farming is inadequate to sustain these assets.  New funding mechanisms are required as part of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy from 2013.  These would reward farmers for managing national assets in harmony with developing businesses.  

A new approach is needed which would balance the needs of the environment with maximising the economic potential of the uplands.  But supporting farmers is not sufficient on its own: the communities in which they are embedded must also be enabled to thrive if these assets are to be sustained.

The inquiry also calls for a new integrated approach to maximising the potential of these unique & diverse natural assets.  At present, the inquiry found a lack of joined-up thinking, with too many of the well-intentioned initiatives having unintended negative consequences for communities, farmers and land owners alike.
Press release ~ High ground, high potential – a future for England’s upland communities: Summary report ~ Read expanded CRC press release ~ CRC: Upland Communities project page ~ Developing the English Uplands ~ NE: Update sessions for agents on Uplands ELS ~ Look after your uplands with Environmental Stewardship ~ Changing Land Use in Rural Scotland - Drivers and Decision-Making ~ Realising the Potential Contributions of Scotland's Rural Land to Delivering Sustainable Economic Growth ~ The Role of the Public Sector in Realising the Benefits of Scotland's Rural Land - Research ~ Pack Inquiry on the Future of Agricultural Support for Scotland ~ Vital Uplands - a 2060 Vision for England’s uplands (scroll down) ~ Report on Market Towns ~ State of the Countryside Update: uplands ~ Northumberland Renewable Energy Group ~ Defra – The English Uplands ~ International Centre for Uplands ~ Natural England ~ NE210 - Vital uplands: Natural England’s vision for the upland environment in 2060 ~ Other related publications ~ Defra – CAP reform ~ CAP Reform - Agriculture and Rural Development - EUROPA ~ The International Centre for the Uplands – Cumbria (ICU-C) ~ The Southern Uplands partnership ~ Sustainable Uplands ~ ESEP Ltd : European Structural Fund Programmes for Lowlands and Uplands Scotland 2007-2013 ~ Northumberland Uplands

Newswire – NRThey could start by reducing the excessive soft drinks profit margins in pubs - In the first major review of drink & drug driving law since 1976, Sir Peter North recommends that the drink drive limit is reduced from 80mg/100ml to 50mg/100ml and that there should be a step-by-step assault on drug-driving.

The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence’s (NICE) high-end estimates suggest that as many as 168 lives - approximately 7% of current road deaths in Great Britain - could be saved in the first year of a reduced limit, rising to as many as 303 lives saved by the 6th year following any change in the law.  Sir Peter also recommends maintaining the current 12-month mandatory driving ban at the lower limit.

Tasked to independently review both drink & drug driving law, Sir Peter makes 51 recommendations to the Secretary of State for Transport in a bid to reduce drink & drug driving casualties.  The most recent statistics showed 430 drink drive deaths and 60 reported drug drive deaths in 2008, but the report stresses that many others are dying as a result of crashes involving drivers impaired by alcohol, but below the current limit.
Directgov:  Learn just how much it will ‘hurt’ - On Tuesday 22 June 2010 (at 12:30pm), the Chancellor George Osborne will deliver the Budget and explain how the coalition government intends to reduce the deficit. In advance of the announcement, you can sign-up free of charge to a Directgov widget, which you can embed on your site, allowing your users to read the key lines from the report as they are announced by the Chancellor.  These tweets will be easy-to-understand summaries of the main points.

In addition, on the day, Directgov will provide clear & impartial information to explain exactly what the Budget means to households across the nation at
Press release ~ HMT: Official Budget report, speech and supporting documents

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

General News

WAG: Last week, on World Blood Donor Day, the First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones reminded people of the importance of giving blood. The Welsh Blood Service supplies blood to 16 hospitals in South, West & Mid Wales, which is used to help save the lives of patients requiring blood.
One blood donation can save up to 3 lives and 450 donations are needed every day in order to meet the demand in Mid, South and West Wales alone. The blood services are always looking for donors of all blood types, in particular during the summer months when the number of donations drops in comparison to the rest of the year.
Ofcom: Ofcom has agreed to allow the BBC to limit the full availability of its & other broadcasters’ high definition (HD) Freeview services to receivers that control how HD content can be used. 

Earlier this year the BBC proposed that only HD receivers with content management technology should be able to access the Electronic Programme Guide for Freeview HD programming.  This technology would control the way HD films & TV shows are copied onto, for example Blue-ray DVDs and shared with others over the internet.  

Viewers would still be able to record the BBC’s and other free to air broadcasters HD content onto their digital video recorders. No restrictions will be placed on standard definition services.
BIS: Universities & Science Minister, David Willetts, urged students to apply online now for their student loans & grants (by 25 June 2010)during a visit to the processing centre in Darlington last week.  

This financial year Student Finance England is expecting to make loans and grants for tuition fees and living costs worth up to £7bn to up to 1m students studying at English universities.
FSAAsda has withdrawn its 'Indian Tikka Masala and Jalfrezi Meal for 2' and its 'Indian Chicken Korma and Jalfrezi Meal for 2', because they have been packed with the wrong labels

This means that the Tikka Masala packs contain cashew nuts, the presence of which are not declared on the product label, and the Chicken Korma packs contain mustard, which is not mentioned on the product label.  

This makes the mislabelled meals a possible health risk for anyone who is allergic to nuts or mustard. The Agency has issued Allergy Alerts advising anyone with these allergies not to eat these products.
MO: Figures from the Met Office have shown how rainfall totals across the UK have been the lowest for over 40 years for the first 5 months of 2010.  In contrast to the UK, areas of Europe have already seen torrential rain & flooding this month.  

The Met Office is liaising with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office regarding the likelihood of torrential rain & flash flooding that could occur, especially in Alpine regions.
Defra: During Recycle Week (21 – 27 June 2010) this year we are all encouraged to think about parting with our used electrical goods so they can find a new home; hence the theme – ‘love your electricals’, which was chosen following research conducted by Recycle Now, the national recycling campaign, that found many of us keep electrical items when we no longer have a use for them, whether they are broken or have been replaced with the latest model.  
In support of Recycle Week, The British Heart Foundation is offering to take unused or unwanted small electricals that are still in working order, and sell them on to benefit the charity (once they have been safety tested).  

With its network of over 90 Furniture & Electrical Stores, this should be welcome news to the 37% of us who say we would feel better if we could donate or recycle our unused small electrical goods.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

WO: A referendum on additional powers for the National Assembly for Wales should be held before the end of the first quarter of 2011, Secretary of State for Wales, Cheryl Gillan, announced last week. In a letter to the First Minister, Mrs Gillan said in accordance with section 1 04(3)(b) of the Government of Wales Act 2006, she was writing to notify him that she was unable to lay the draft referendum Order in Council before Parliament within the 120-day period due to circumstances she had inherited from the previous administration.
Mrs Gillan said: “Both you and I and the Deputy First Minister have discussed a possible timetable for the referendum, taking account of all the stages that need to be gone through to prepare for it.  In the light of our discussion, we have agreed that we should aim for a referendum to be held before the end of the first quarter of 2011.”
HORegistration with the Vetting & Barring Scheme (VBS) will be halted to allow the Government to remodel the scheme back to proportionate & common sense levels, it was announced by the Home Secretary last week. Voluntary registration with the VBS for new employees and job-movers working or volunteering with children and vulnerable adults was due to start on 26 July 2010.  This registration has now been stopped.
The Government recognises that many businesses, community groups & individuals see the current scheme as disproportionate & overly burdensome, and that it unduly infringes on civil liberties.  

The scope of the remodelling process – to be co-ordinated by the Home Office in partnership with Department of Health and Department for Education – is currently being finalised and will be announced shortly.
DFID: Britain will in future focus its aid on fewer countries in a move designed to increase the impact of UK funding on the world’s poorest people, International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, announced last week. 

A review will scrutinise the countries, which currently share around £2.9bn in UK bilateral aid.  Countries such as China & Russia will see a phasing out of UK development assistance as soon as practical & responsible.  The Review, which will report after the Comprehensive Spending Review in the Autumn,
The redirected money will be channelled to priority countries and used for poverty reduction measures including programmes to improve maternal health, women’s right to family planning and protection against deadly diseases like malaria.
HMT: Sir John Vickers is to Chair the Independent Commission on Banking, which will produce a final report by the end of September 2011.
CO: Responsibility for The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and the public sector procurement agency, Buying Solutions, will move to the Cabinet Office, where they will form part of the Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG), the Prime Minister announced last week.
ScotGov: A blueprint for maximising the contribution allied health professionals (AHPs) make to supporting people with mental health problems has been unveiled by Public Health Minister, Shona Robison. 

The plan will help bring together the work of AHPs in mental health with service users & carers, professional bodies and NHS boards in a bid to further improve the quality & range of care and support delivered to people with a mental illness.
The 3-year action plan has a number of key actions, structured to make the biggest possible difference to improving the lives of service users and their carers. It aims to deliver earlier intervention and faster access to these important AHP services that promote wellbeing, support recovery and enable people to live their lives to the full.  

This work includes support for service users to stay in or return to work, education or productive living and aims to maximise quality of life.
HMT: The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, last week announced which projects re-submitted to the Treasury will be suspended / cancelled as part of a review of all spending decisions taken since 1 January 2010.  Projects have been cancelled where they:
* were not affordable
* did not represent good value for money, or
* where they did not reflect the Government's priorities
The Chief Secretary also announced an urgent review of inherited spending commitments for 2010-11, where funding was reliant on underspending through the End Year Flexibility (EYF) system, or additional funding from the Reserve.  

It was unrealistic to expect under-spending would have occurred on a scale necessary to fund all these commitments - consequently, at least £1bn of commitments will have to be cancelled.
ScotGov: Four farms have been selected to test & demonstrate climate friendly farming methods in Scotland. Three represent the 3 agricultural sectors - dairy, upland livestock & arable.  The fourth will demonstrate farm diversification and can be used for education & public demonstration. The Climate Change Focus Farms will work to reduce emissions, improve efficiency and boost productivity.
CLG: Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, last week announced that councils will have greater flexibility to manage concentrations of shared housing in their area, without tying landlords in red tape. A high concentration of shared homes can sometimes cause problems, especially if too many properties in one area are let to short term tenants with little stake in the local community.
Changes to legislation will give councils the freedom to choose areas where landlords must submit a planning application to rent their properties to unrelated tenants - known as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).
DfE: Education Secretary Michael Gove has unveiled the next step in the Government’s school reform programme.  He outlined the process for allowing teachers, charities & parents to set up new schools – Free Schools – in response to parental demand.  Free Schools are independent state schools run by teachers not bureaucrats or politicians and accountable to parents.
In addition the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government will update guidelines to local planning authorities to make it clear there is a presumption in favour of setting up of new schools.


Newswire – EU: The European Commission has published a public consultation (closes on 10 July 2010) on Short Selling & Credit Default Swaps. The purpose of the document is to consult market participants, regulators & other stakeholders on the options being considered by the Commission services for a forthcoming legislative proposal dealing with potential risks arising from short selling and Credit Default Swaps.
Short selling is the sale of a security that the seller does not own, with the intention of buying back an identical security at a later point in time in order to be able to deliver the security.  The Commission believes that working towards a more harmonised regime will increase the resilience & stability of financial markets in the EU.
WAG: People across Wales are being asked their views on how to encourage more people to use the internet.

The move is part of the consultation for the Welsh Assembly Government’s Digital Inclusion Framework which aims to help people gain the skills & confidence to get online. Social Justice Minister, Carl Sargeant, has called on private, public & third sector organisations, as well the general public, to get involved in the consultation process (closes 9 September 2010).
NICE: All children & young people are entitled to high-quality education about sex, relationships & alcohol to help them make responsible decisions and acquire the skills & confidence to delay sex until they are ready.  Research suggests effective sex, relationships & alcohol education can help a child make responsible, healthy and safe choices, and improve their performance at school.
In draft guidance, issued for public consultation (closes on 15 July 2010), NICE recommends that children from primary school age upwards are given sex & relationships education that is appropriate to the maturity of the pupils, sensitive to diverse cultural, faith & family perspectives and based on an understanding of their needs.  

Only stakeholders can comment formally on consultations, but organisations can register to be a stakeholder at anytime during this process.
NICE: In preliminary draft guidance published last week, a new treatment for ovarian cancer is not recommended for NHS use because the manufacturer did not submit sufficient evidence that the drug benefits patients more than the most widely-used NHS treatments.  

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s (NICE) preliminary guidance is now available for public consultation until 9 July 2010.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has opened its consultation (closes on 10 September 2010) on the proposed process & methods guides for its Evaluation Pathway Programme for Medical Technologies.
NICE: The Postmenopausal women who are at increased risk of osteoporotic fractures should be treated with denosumab if treatment with currently available oral bisphosphonates is unsuitable, according to draft guidance published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). This Draft guidance has been issued for consultation (closes on 9 July 2010). 
EHRC: The Equality and Human Rights Commission is investigating whether public bodies & public transport providers are fulfilling their legal obligations to prevent disabled people from being harassed.  

Councils, police forces, schools and other public bodies as well as bus, train companies and other public transport providers found to be failing in their duties could face enforcement action – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

Newswire – BSI: Developed with the University of Bradford and a panel of healthcare experts, PAS 800 (Publicly Available Specification) is intended to ensure that care provider organizations (such as hospital wards & care homes) have comprehensive guidance to assist them in the Dementia Care Mapping (DCM) process.  

PAS 800 Use of Dementia Care Mapping for person-centred care in a provider organization should ultimately lead to improved well-being & quality of life for people with dementia.
LLUK: Following their consultation with the Community Learning & Development (CLD) sector, the CLD Standards Council for Scotland have published a Code of Ethics for CLD containing 13 clauses. A report on the consultation process, prepared by Peter Taylor and Howard Sercombe, which describes & analyses the range of responses received, is also available on the CLD Standards Council website.
Newswire – WWFResponsible soy has moved closer to being available in the marketplace with members of the soy industry agreeing to finalize new global standards to improve soy production

Recently the Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS) adopted voluntary sustainability standards that will help ensure that current soy production and further expansion of the crop will be done in an environmentally sound & socially responsible way that avoids clearance of forests and high conservation value areas.  The standards also call for soy production to avoid polluting the environment and creating social conflicts.
HSE: A new campaign from the British Safety Council asks young people to take responsibility for their own health & safety. The campaign supports young people to feel confident talking to their work supervisor, parent, teacher or friends if they feel that they are in an unsafe situation.  No young person should feel pressurised to work in an environment where there is a risk of injury or death.
MLA: The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council has launched new case studies, guidance & tools to support museums, libraries & archives in planning how they deliver their services and in measuring their contribution to social outcomes.

Annual Reports

NICE: More people with diabetes are now receiving all 9 of the key tests for diabetes care recommended by NICE, but thousands are still missing out on the essential tests, according to latest figures from the National Diabetes Audit, which looks at the records of over 1.7m people with diabetes in England & Wales. It found that only just over half of patients with type-2 diabetes and a third of patients with type-1 diabetes received all nine tests in 2008/9.
These tests are essential to ensure that diabetes is controlled.  If left unchecked, it can lead to blindness, kidney failure and increase the risk of developing cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks & stroke.

General Reports and Other Publications

Ofsted: Local authorities need more information & understanding about home education to provide effective support for children educated at home, a report published by Ofsted reveals.
ScotGovWildlife tourism plays a vital part in Scotland's rural economy, pulling in £ms and also creating many hundreds of job opportunities.  These findings were contained in a Scottish Government report - 'The Economic Impact of Wildlife Tourism in Scotland' - published last week. It found that wildlife tourism annually brings in a net economic impact of £65m to Scotland's economy and creates the equivalent of 2,760 FT jobs.
NAO: The National Audit Office has reported that most PFI hospital contracts are well-managed and the evidence indicates that they are currently achieving the value for money expected when the contracts were signed.  

There continue to be risks, however, to the long-term value for money of these contracts. Some Trusts are not devoting enough resources – 12% operational PFI contracts have no-one from the public sector assigned to contract management.
It is likely that Trusts will be expected to make efficiency savings over the next few years, but their ability to make savings from their PFI contracts is very limited.  Because Trusts pay an index-linked fixed sum, it is difficult for them to make savings without cutting back on services.  Contractors who secure economies of scale through managing multiple PFI contracts are rarely required to share these efficiency gains with Trusts. 
NAO: The National Audit Office has reported that the Department for International Development has successfully supported developing countries in progress against goals of universal enrolment in primary education and improved educational prospects for girls.
ScotGov: The potential energy from waste that cannot be reused or recycled has been quantified for the first time in a new report which highlights opportunities from the use of various ‘waste to energy’ technologies.

Legislation / Legal

WAGUNICEF UK is supporting Wales’ efforts to become the first part of the UK to embed the rights of children & young people into flagship legislation. The Proposed Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure was laid last week and a statement introducing the Measure was made in the National Assembly for Wales on Tuesday 15 June 2010.
The purpose of the Measure is to place a duty on Assembly Government Ministers to have due regard in taking strategic decisions to the rights & obligations in respect of children that are enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.  This will strengthen WAG’s existing rights-based approach for children & young people in policy making in Wales and also strengthen children & young people’s position in Welsh society.
IPCC: The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has published the final report following its investigation into two allegations against a Metropolitan Police Sergeant at the G20 protests. He stood trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in March 2010 and the District Judge who heard the case found him not guilty.  The IPCC then completed its misconduct report, which concluded that in the circumstances of Sgt Smellie's acquittal there was no further case to answer.
CLG: In the first parliamentary questions for CLG's new ministerial team recently, Andrew Stunell confirmed that the Localism Bill would include legislation to scrap the ‘expensive’ local government Standards Board.  

He informed MPs in an adjournment debate on 8 June 2010 that the Bill would also end the unfair practice known as 'predetermination' which bars elected council members from taking part in decisions where they had campaigned or expressed a predisposed view.
PCS: A High Court judge has dealt the final blow to the (previous) government's unlawful cuts to civil service redundancy pay. Mr Justice Sales confirmed last week, the PCS union was right to challenge the way the terms of the civil service compensation scheme, which governs redundancy payments, were slashed.
The decision quashes an amendment to the scheme that the previous government had claimed was effective from 1 April 2010 and requires the new government to enter negotiations with PCS if it wants to change the scheme in future.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

Newswire – EUEU action plan for seabirds: the Commission calls for stakeholder input to enrich the debate. Seabirds often lead fishermen to productive fishing grounds; in return, they can often take advantage of the fishermen's operations to get an easy meal.  A happy arrangement for all concerned, you might think.  Not so, however – for the birds can become caught in fishing gear and will frequently die as a result.

In an attempt to deal with this problem, the European Commission is proposing (consultation closes on 9 August 2010) a European Union action plan to limit these incidental catches of seabirds by reducing as much as possible the interaction between seabirds & fishing gear.
Newswire – EUSelf-employed bus & lorry drivers must be brought under the same rules on working hours as drivers who work for companies, the European Parliament decided last Wednesday, confirming a previous vote by the Employment and Social Affairs Committee.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

BIGMEN IN SHEDS are moving out to reach & support more men.  Following a successful pilot in the village of Hartford, Age Concern Cheshire has received a Big Lottery Fund grant of £493,138 to take the aptly named ‘MEN IN SHEDS’ project to areas of Cheshire. The scheme is designed to give men over the age of 50 who have experienced life-changing events such as retirement, redundancy, ill-health & bereavement a unique chance to socialise & share and learn new skills together.

Business and Other Briefings

HMRCHM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is issuing a reminder to businesses affected by new online filing requirements for VAT returns. Under the new rules, existing VAT-registered businesses with annual turnovers of £100,000 or more (excluding VAT), and any businesses which registered for VAT from 1 April 2010, now have to file their VAT returns online and pay their VAT electronically.
Customers wishing to sign up for the VAT Online service should go to the HMRC website and follow the instructions on the screen. There is more information about the registration process on the HMRC website, including an online demonstrator and 2 downloadable Beginner’s Guides HERE..
LBRO: Ministers have asked the Better Regulation Executive to work with LBRO - the technical expert on better local regulation - to prepare options for extending the Primary Authority scheme

For companies operating under 2 or more local councils, Primary Authority provides reliable & consistent advice from a single source when dealing with environmental health, trading standards, health & safety and licensing services.
Businesses can run the risk of prosecution, even if they follow official advice, if local inspectors disagree about how to interpret regulations.  86 businesses covering more than 20,000 premises currently have a primary authority partnership with a local authority, as a gateway to simpler, more successful local regulation, based on new relationships.
This Business Brief explains the failure to notify penalty contained in Sch 41 of the 2008 Finance Act (FA2008) which from 1 April 2010 can be applied to most taxes.
 This brief announces a change to the treatment of claims received by HM Revenue & Customs under the provisions of the above scheme in respect of holiday homes.
A Revenue & Customs Brief providing confirmation of the VAT treatment of Verified Emission Reduction units (VERs) and carbon offsetting services.

Industry News

ScotGov: Trials at a Scottish meat processing plant are set to play a crucial role in a project to develop an automated process to determine the eating quality of meat

The £950,000 IMEQ (Integrated Measurement of Eating Quality) project, jointly funded by Quality Meat Scotland and the Scottish Government, will see Scotland first to have novel technology, which could deliver benefits throughout the meat production chain.
The project will explore semi-automatic & automatic means of measuring pH, temperature, meat colour, carcase fat, eating & nutritional qualities.  It aims to examine ways of integrating these measures into a new process for use on the line in abattoirs to replace the current limited system with one which is faster, less labour-intensive and less expensive.
The commercialisation of IMEQ research by the industry could then provide producers & processors with a new way to guarantee consumers a consistent eating experience every time they buy Scotch Beef or Lamb.
TfL: A wealth of new information about London’s Tube, buses & river services is being made available online so that web developers can use it to create products such as mobile phone applications (apps) that help passengers.  Developers can also use the data for commercial gain without the need to get permission from TfL.
By lifting previous restrictions, digital developers can now independently develop & sell products using TfL data.  Basic information will remain available free of charge to the public on  But Transport for London hope the move will encourage developers to put together a wider range of high quality services & applications.
BS: Following on from recent Buying Solutions eAuction successes, which have seen savings of up to 45%, a new wave of aggregated eAuctions in IT hardware, mobiles & stationery are taking place in July 2010

Please access the following
link to find out more and register your interest.

Forthcoming Event

SfE: The Standards for England 2010 Annual Assembly, ‘A place for Standards’, has now been cancelled.
This decision follows recent Government proposals to introduce provisions in the Decentralisation & Localism Bill to ‘abolish the Standards Board regime’.
The event was due to take place at the International Convention Centre (ICC), Birmingham, on October 18 & 19 2010.  However, given current uncertainty about any future local standards arrangements it did not feel appropriate to continue with the event. Its priority now is to ensure that a full refund policy is put in place.

Editorial Content Statement

WGPlus would like to make it clear that the commentary & links provided, in respect of any particular item, are published in its capacity as an independent non-government funded organisation and reflect the editorial team’s need to both précis & re‑format the content of news releases
Any views expressed are therefore entirely those of the WGPlus editorial team and independent of any sponsor, government organisation or political party.
For the official view of a source organisation, readers should click on the ‘press release’ that is the first link attached to each item.
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