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WGPlus provides an in-depth weekly briefing from the UK Government and Public Sector. To save your time, we research & validate the links to websites, documents and further background information. Click here for more about WGPlus

In the News

ScotGovNot all government IT projects fail to deliver benefits - New initiatives to further reduce hospital infections were unveiled by Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon last week.  Improvements to infection control & bed management IT systems are to be rolled out across Scotland, allowing hospitals to better monitor patients with infections, reducing the risk of bugs spreading. 

The improvements to IC&BM IT systems have been piloted in 4 health boards areas - Lothian, Fife, Tayside and Grampian.  An evaluation of the pilot has demonstrated that upgraded & integrated bed management and infection control IT systems can reduce infections.

A new, more stringent, target for tackling C.difficile is also being introduced. Health boards across Scotland are now being asked to reduce the rates of the infection by at least 50% among over 65s by the end of March 2011.  The move follows recent statistics from Health Protection Scotland which show that the vast majority of boards are well on their way towards meeting the previous target of 30% by the end of March 2011.
Press release ~ Most recent MRSA and C.diff statistics ~ Healthcare Associated Infections ~ IT in Support Of Infection Control ~ Health Facilities Scotland ~ ScotGov - Healthcare Associated Infection MonitoringRevised cleaning specification (June 2009) ~ Health Protection Scotland ~ Action to reduce Healthcare Associated Infections ~ ScotGov - Healthcare Associated Infection (HAI) Task Force ~ National Hand Hygiene NHS Campaign Compliance with Hand Hygiene - 6th Audit Report ~ Independent Review of the Vale of Leven clostridium difficile outbreak ~ HAI Task Force Delivery Plan April 2008 - March 2011 ~ National Hand Hygiene NHS Campaign Compliance with Hand Hygiene - Audit Report ~ Related documents / links ~  NHS Education for Scotland (NES) - HAI ~ Useful Links and Other Additional Educational Materials ~ HAI Audit Tool – Checklist Questions for Staff and Patients; HEI (2009)

NICE:  More is less (life) when it comes to salt & fat - Tens of thousands of lives could be saved, and millions of people spared the suffering of living with the effects of heart disease & stroke, simply by producing healthier food says new National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance, which calls for the food industry to further reduce the salt & saturated fats in the food it produces, building on the good work already started.

Trans fats, which have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and are classified as toxic by the World Health Organisation, should be eliminated from the food we eat, say the NICE recommendations.  This guidance sets out very clearly what the government & industry can do to make it easier for people to make healthy choices and thus improve the health of the whole nation.

In the UK, nearly 3m women and 3m men are living with the devastating & disabling effects of cardiovascular disease - which includes heart disease & stroke.  Over 40,000 people die from premature cardiovascular disease each year.  However, cardiovascular disease is a largely preventable condition and it can be effectively tackled by making simple changes to diet, smoking and physical activity.
NSGGearing up for Financial Crash Diet - The Sunningdale Institute recently launched its latest report - Beyond Light Bulbs and Pipelines: Leading and Nurturing Innovation in the Public Sector.  In an era which demands government to achieve better outcomes with less, leading & nurturing innovation in the public sector has become more important than ever.

The report concludes that innovation is not just about ‘light bulb’ moments of creativity, but requires strategic leadership.  It also illustrates that a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not suitable for nurturing innovation.  It sets out a number of different models for innovation, suggesting where they are most appropriate and offers guidance on how they can be supported.
Press release ~ Beyond Light Bulbs and Pipelines: Leading and Nurturing Innovation in the Public Sector ~ National School of Government ~ The Sunningdale Institute ~ NSG: The relentless unforeseen: the case for strategy in government ~ NSG: Place Based Innovation ~ NAO: Helping Government Learn ~ NSG Virtual Learning Portal ~ Professional Skills for Government (PSG) strategy ~ PMPA reports ~ Whole Systems Go!: Improving leadership across the whole public service system ~ University of Warwick – Institute of Governance and Public Management ~ Engagement and Aspiration: Reconnecting Policy Making with Front-Line Professionals ~ IDeA: Project, programme & change management toolkit ~ Public Service Leadership (PSL) ~ Cabinet Office Review of Public Service Leadership Development Summary Report ~ Change You Can Believe In: The Leadership of Innovation ~ NSG - Professional Skills for Government (PSG) ~ Listening to the frontline: Capturing insight and learning lessons in policy making ~ Government Skills ~ NAO: Innovation across central government ~ NAO: Measuring up: How good are the Government's data systems for monitoring performance against Public Service Agreements? ~ Private Office Community ~ Centre for Working with Ministers and Parliament (CWMP) ~ Working with Ministers ~ Capability review website & reports ~ NSG: Take-off or Tail-off evaluation of Capability Reviews

Newswire – IfGStraight from the horse’s mouth - The Institute for Government has teamed up with BBC's Today Programme to find best practice in providing better public services for less cost.  Listeners, who are public servants, are being asked to submit their real world examples of ways to save money that could deliver savings elsewhere in government.  The IfG will then analyse the results.
LLUKTraining is more valuable if it is appropriate - Lifelong Learning UK are carrying out their annual Sector Skills Assessment (SSA) to understand current & future national skills needs and the drivers of skills demand in the lifelong learning sector.  The SSA identifies future skills priorities for the UK and each nation, including skills shortages & skills gaps, along with recommendations for addressing these issues. 

LLUK would like you to help them with this important study by answering a few questions (by 31 August 2010) about skills issues that you might be facing as an employer in the lifelong learning sector.  By participating in the study you are helping to ensure the accuracy & completeness of the data.  In turn the research will enable you as an employer to plan & develop strategies to prepare for the challenges ahead.  
DWP:  Staying healthy enough to reach an affordable retirement - Iain Duncan Smith and Steve Webb last week outlined the steps they plan to take to ‘fundamentally reform and repair Britain’s outdated and inadequate pension system’.  This agenda will be driven by:
* Restoring the link between the State Pension & earnings from 2011
* A call for evidence from the public & interested parties on raising the state pension age to 66
* Consulting on how we will quickly phase out the Default Retirement Age
* An independent review of how to make auto-enrolment work
Press release ~ When should the state pension age increase to 66? – A Call for Evidence ~ Details of the automatic enrolment review ~ ESRC: Inequalities in health in an ageing population, patterns, causes and consequences ~ Health, Work and Wellbeing website ~ Carol Black's review ~ Related documents ~ Health, work and well-being – Caring for our future A strategy for the health and well-being of working age people ~ Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing (July 2006 - October 2008) ~ Full of Life government campaign ~ Directgov: Pensions and retirement planning ~ Building A Society For All Ages ~  The Generation Factor ~ DWP – Aging Society ~ AC: Don't Stop Me Now: Preparing for an ageing population ~ John Elbourne – Report to Government ~ Empowering Engagement: A stronger voice for older people  - The Government response to John Elbourne’s review ~ Age Positive ~ DWP: Pensions reform 2010 onwards ~ LinkAge Plus ~ Beyond the Tickbox ~ Centre for Research into the Older Workforce ~ Age UK responds to state pension age plans ~ ESRC: Boomers and beyond: intergenerational consumption and the mature imagination ~ EHRC: Just Ageing? ~ Guidance for Occupational therapy and physical activity interventions to promote the mental wellbeing of older people in primary care and residential care ~ The use of Default Options in Workplace Personal Pensions and the use of Group Self Invested Personal Pensions for Automatic Enrolment ~ ESRC: Financial implications of death of a partner ~ Social Policy Research Unit 4-page Briefing ~ Men's health 60-plus ~ Women's health 60-plus ~ PPI: Retirement income and assets: outlook for the future

Newswire – 10 DSSuggestions from the 'coalface' - The Prime Minister & Deputy Prime Minister have written to public sector workers asking for their ideas on how the Government can do more for less.  As part of the Spending Review set out in last week’s Budget, the Government is launching a ‘Spending Challenge’ aimed at engaging the country in thinking about public services and how they are provided.

The first phase of the challenge aims to harness the expertise of those working on the front line, including NHS workers, police officers and civil servants and a website has been set up where they can submit their ideas.

Industry News: Giving slow computers the red card - As we emerge from the worst global recession since the Second World War, the public sector is bracing itself for spending cuts designed to reduce the country’s major budget deficit. For many government departments this means finding true efficiencies now, to set themselves up for a lean few years. We hear reports of new purchases delayed, major projects suspended and recruitment and salary freezes in an effort to reduce expenditure.
However, to be able to absorb cutbacks on this unprecedented scale, will require blowing the whistle on many of the hidden expenses involved with running the civil service. The best way to do this is by ensuring your computers are match fit. One little-understood but very costly issue that is common to most organisations is caused by disk fragmentation. Diskeeper has the ability to resolve fragmentation across networks before it even happens. Click here to read more...

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

General News

MO: The Met Office prediction of 20 tropical storms between July & November 2010, with a 70% chance that the number will be in the range 13 to 27, is well above the 1990–2005 long-term average of 12.4

The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index is a measure of the storm lifetimes & intensities, as well as total numbers over a season.  This year’s most likely ACE index is 204, with a 70% chance that the index will be in the range 90 to 319 — this is again well above the 1990–2005 average of 131.
This would make it one of the most active tropical storm seasons on record.  In the last 40 years, only 2005 has seen more storms in the July to November period with 25 recorded and only three seasons (1995, 2004 and 2005) have recorded a higher ACE index than 204.
BISFurther Education Colleges have been given the opportunity to bid for a share of £50m for building projects. Around 150 colleges, who have yet to significantly benefit from the capital programme, will each receive approximately £225,000 under a £30m Renewal Grant.
A further £20m will be made available to colleges through an Enhanced Renewal Grant.  Colleges will have the opportunity to add to their Renewal Grant, by bidding to build their total allocation to £1m.  Colleges will be expected to attract additional private finance, providing final projects of significant value.
Newswire – CWGC: A new exhibition organised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which tells the story of 250 First World War soldiers recovered from a mass grave in northern France in 2009, will open at the Imperial War Museum London on 1 Jul 2010.
Remembering Fromelles: A New Cemetery for a New Century charts the construction of the Commission's new Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery (the first to be built in 50 years) and explains the fascinating story of how 250 Australian & British soldiers came to be found, excavated & then reburied in a fitting & final resting place.
OSOrdnance Survey has launched this year’s GeoVation Challenge. This year’s programme will ask entrepreneurs, developers & community groups to focus their efforts on using geography to address 3 distinct challenges.  The first of which is ‘Can Britain feed itself?’, where geography can play a key role in helping people connect to locally produced & sustainable sources of food.
Those with ideas are being encouraged to share them on a newly redesigned GeoVation website, where users can rate, comment and collaborate on each other’s contributions.  There will also be a series of workshops to develop real prototype ideas later in the summer.
TfL: A new short film guiding people through the process of hiring a Barclays Cycle Hire bicycleis now available to view online.  TfL has worked closely with the 9 London boroughs and several Royal Parks that Barclays Cycle Hire will cover to identify the most suitable locations for docking stations, with all applications subject to planning consent and including a period of consultation.  The boroughs, as the planning authorities, have been making the final decision on whether to approve the locations
In order to maximise the chance of people being able to return a bicycle to the docking station of their choice, there will be approximately 1.7 bicycle docking points for each bicycle.  This means that, once the scheme is complete, there will be 10,200 docking points spread across 400 docking stations.  Redistribution teams will be in place to move bicycles from quieter docking stations to busier ones throughout the day.
PCS: The coalition government has no democratic mandate to attack low-paid public servants and the vulnerable, the PCS union says; ‘With inflation running at over 5% and thousands of civil servants already suffering pay freezes & below inflation increases, a 2-year pay freeze for public sector workers earning £21,000 or more is deeply unfair and will drive down living standards.
Cuts of 25% in most government departments will also inevitably lead to massive job cuts at a time when unemployment is continuing to rise. The costs of public sector pensions are far from ‘spiralling’ as the chancellor George Osborne claimed, they are modest & sustainable - as the National Audit Office recently confirmed’.
ScotGov: Community Safety Minister, Fergus Ewing, has announced a Scottish Government funded campaign to warn families about the dangers of blind cords. Free-hanging, looped blind cords can be dangerous for young children who can find themselves entangled in the cord - in extreme cases leading to death by strangulation.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

HMT: The Government has confirmed the launch of an independent review of fair pay in the public sector headed by leading economist, Will Hutton. The review will investigate pay scales across the public sector and make recommendations on how to ensure that no public sector manger can earn more than 20 times the lowest paid person in the organisation.  The review will publish an interim report in Autumn 2010 and a final report in Spring of 2011.
DH: The NHS will begin to make immediate efficiency savings by tackling escalating management costs in order to meet the increasing demands on NHS services, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said recently. A revision to the 2010/11 NHS Operating Framework, published last week, sets out changes to key priorities for the NHS including plans to reverse the rise in management costs seen in the last year.
The overall reduction in management costs by 2013/14 will be £850m, which is a 46% reduction on the 2009/10 management costs. The Operating Framework revisions ask the NHS to give greater priority to 2 important areas, military veterans’ health & dementia.
CO: The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, has pledged to scrap hundreds of unnecessary & expensive government websites and slash the cost of the remaining sites to save £ms. In autumn 2006 the previous Government committed to dramatically culling the number of websites.  In March 2010 there were still 794 websites; now, the Government has identified 820.
No new websites will be permitted except for those that pass through a stringent exceptions process for special cases and the expectation is that the review, which will report by the Spending Review in September 2010, will aim to shut down up to 75% of existing sites and then look at getting the remaining sites to cuts their costs by up to 50% and move onto common infrastructures.


WAG: The Wales Assembly Government is looking for the views of fathers, fathers-to be and other men who have an opinion (positive or negative) about women breastfeeding. To mark the start of Breastfeeding Week, an on-line survey was launched to find out what men think of women breastfeeding.  
The short questionnaire should take 5 minutes to complete.
The survey’s findings will be used to inform future activity to encourage breastfeeding and challenge negative perceptions.  Information specifically for men will be developed to help them understand the importance of breastfeeding and know ways to support & encourage their partners.
Newswire – GC: The Gambling Commission proposes to introduce an additional operating licence condition, which will restrict the betting activities that can take place under Occasional Use Notices (OUNs), to betting on the sporting event that is taking place at the track to which the OUN applies.  If you would like to comment on the proposed change please email: by 20 July 2010.
The GC have become aware of OUNs being used in ways that were not envisaged, including to provide betting in public houses.  They have arranged for a stakeholder workshop to be held during the consultation period, on 12 July 2010. It is proposed that a supplement to the Licence conditions & codes of practice - October 2008 (LCCP) setting out the final form of the new licence condition will also be subsequently published.  
MoJHMCS currently operates out of 530 courts, some of which do not fit the needs of modern communities.  Their number & location does not reflect recent changes in population, workload or transport and communication links over the many years since they were originally opened.  Views are now invited (by 15 September 2010) on how HMCS can improve the services courts provide.
FSA: A US company has applied to the Food Standards Agency for approval to market magnolia bark extract as a novel food ingredient.  William Wrigley Jr. Company wants to use the magnolia bark extract in 2 confectionary products – chewing gum and a limited number of mint confectionery products – for its perceived breath freshening properties.

The Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) has prepared a draft opinion on this ingredient.  Comments are invited by Monday 5 July 2010.
DWP: Iain Duncan Smith and Steve Webb last week outlined the steps they plan to take to ‘fundamentally reform and repair Britain’s outdated and inadequate pension system’ – See ‘In the News’ section for more information. 

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities was delighted to attend the launch last week of a new toolkit to help more communities set up community & parish councils to represent their interests & serve local people.  The toolkit, ‘Power to the People’ was prepared by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), which represents the 8,000 plus parish & town councils in England.
DH: A revision to the 2010/11 NHS Operating Framework, published last week, sets out changes to key priorities for the NHS including plans to reverse the rise in management costs seen in the last year. The Operating Framework revisions ask the NHS to give greater priority to 2 important areas, military veterans’ health & dementia – See ‘Policy Statements & Initiatives’ section for more information.
OFTFailing to shop around for will preparation & executor services could be costing consumers around £40m a year, the OFT warned recently, as it welcomed new steps to help people understand their options. 88% of people paying for will preparation currently use solicitors, and 7% use professional will writers.  
While the costs for preparing a will can be relatively modest (more than half pay less than £100), the costs for a professional executor to administer an estate can be high & vary considerably - for an average estate, consumers can pay between £3,000 & £9,000.
People preparing wills have the option to shop around for professional executor services, or to appoint a lay executor, for example a friend or family member, who can then choose to be assisted by a professional, if required.
New guidance published recently by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and in the code of practice of the Institute of Professional Willwriters (IPW) given approval recently by the OFT under its Consumer Codes Approval Scheme highlights these options.
QCDA: The 2010 key stage 2 Reviews guidance for schools is now available on the QCDA website and will be sent to schools with the June Circular from Monday 21 June 2010.  For detailed guidance on changes to the reviews service for 2010 and how to apply for reviews, please read the 2010 key stage 2 Reviews guidance for schools.

General Reports and Other Publications

Newswire – WWFPreventing whaling in the Southern Ocean (the seas around Antarctica) is critical to ensuring the recovery of whale populations in the entire southern hemisphere, a new WWF report states. The report was published ahead of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting, where governments debated a possible resumption of commercial whaling in Antarctic waters.

Save the Whale, Save the Southern Ocean reveals how seriously depleted several Southern Hemisphere great whale populations are, many of which are completely reliant on the Southern Ocean as the only place they feed.  

If whale populations were again decimated in the Southern Ocean, they may also disappear from the seas around many other countries in Africa, Oceania, the Pacific Islands and Latin America.
TfL: Motorcyclists in London will be permitted to use the Capital's red route bus lanes under a new ‘Motorcycles in Bus Lanes’ trial that has been announced by the Mayor and Transport for London (TfL).  A report into the current trial, which ends on 5 July 2010, examines the 418 TfL Road Network (TLRN) bus lanes that the trial covered and looked in detail at 28 of those trial sites, comparing them with 28 control sites on parallel routes where motorcyclists did not have access to bus lanes.
In the light of the reports findings, the new trial will run alongside a road safety awareness campaign aimed at improving drivers' awareness of motorbikes & cyclists in bus lanes. 

Motorcyclists on BikeSafe training will have their courses updated to include extra training on awareness of vehicles crossing their path at junctions. There will also be stricter enforcement of speeding by motorcyclists, in order to improve safety.
ESRC: Progress towards teaching children to have positive attitudes towards disabled people has been slow & 'patchy', according to a new study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).  Many primary school teachers admit they ‘could do better’.  Lack of resources or insufficient training has led to teaching that is often inadequate and lacking in confidence, claim researchers.

The Disability Equality in English Primary Schools Project, led by Dr Angharad Beckett of Leeds University, focused on the extent & nature of teaching for disability equality, whilst also examining children's understanding of what it means to be disabled.

In December 2006, a legal duty was placed upon public sector organisations to promote equality for disabled people.  Primary schools were supposed to have a Disability Equality Scheme (DES) in place by December 2007, which included their plans for promoting positive attitudes towards disabled people (study found that only 30% of respondent schools did).
Newswire – UKSA: Richard Garriott, British-born computer games pioneer & astronaut, has made available a fantastic video library of science experiments he performed on his visit to the International Space Centre in 2008.
For schools in the UK, Richard has also set up a special challenge: can your students turn all of this fantastic space stuff into an amazing 'space story' to win some out-of-this-world prizes?  To see the amazing videos, find out more about the competition and get tips on how to create a digital space adventure check out the Our Space website.
Newswire – TLRC: The Tax Law Review Committee (TLRC) have published a discussion paper (TLRC Discussion Paper no.8:   Tax policy making in the UK) considering tax policy making in the UK. 5 years have passed since the reorganisation of UK tax policy making.  Since the O'Donnell reforms of 2004 lead responsibility & accountability have rested with HM Treasury and HMRC have been responsible for policy maintenance.

The TLRC paper considers that this organisation of tax policy making has not worked as well as it should to produce clear & effective tax policies.  The TLRC paper argues that if the new Government is to take steps aimed at improving the system of making UK tax law and simplifying the UK tax system, it should also address the organisation and functioning of tax policy making.
LSISLearning & Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) recently commissioned Mick Fletcher to review claims that the further education sector systematically misleads young people by offering courses that appear to lead to employment, but which in reality do not. 

The resulting report examines the availability & validity of data on learner destinations and the potential for making better use of it.  It also contains current examples of the importance that Colleges do in fact give to learner destinations and providing employability skills.
WAG: Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones has published the consultation responses to the Welsh Assembly Government’s proposals for managing the coexistence of GM, conventional and organic crops in Wales
In line with the WAG’s stated policy position to take the most restrictive & precautionary approach to GM crop cultivation that is consistent with the UK & EU legislative frameworks; a full public consultation was conducted on the options for a coexistence regime for Wales.
HSE: Three documents are now available relating to recent cases where HSE has requested, or considered, that a planning application be called-in.
HMIC: There should be an integrated national strategy to support criminal justice agencies in tackling the causes & effects of gang activity among under-18s, said Dame Anne Owers, Chief Inspector of Prisons, Andrew Bridges, Chief Inspector of Probation and Sir Denis O’Connor, Chief Inspector of Constabulary, as they published a joint thematic report; The management of gang issues among children & young people in prison custody and the community.
Newswire – TSA: The Tenant Services Authority (TSA) and Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) have launched the findings of their recent anti-social behaviour (ASB) baseline survey, at the TSA stand of the annual CIH Conference in Harrogate.
The survey asked specific questions of housing providers directly relating to how they are currently delivering their ASB services to their tenants, from both a strategic and operational perspective.  These findings give a clear indication of the housing sector’s position in relation to tackling ASB and demonstrate the barriers & challenges to this work.
DWP: Drug & alcohol addiction is one of the most damaging root causes of poverty. In light of the recent report by the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC), Ministers have decided not to take forward previously proposed Welfare Reform Drug Recovery pilots.  

The SSAC report, which follows a public consultation, finds the pilots are unlikely to be effective, contain a number of significant flaws and won’t produce robust results.
Also published is the research report ‘Problem Drug Users and their Experience of the Benefits System’, which finds mixed results in the experiences of problem drug users claiming benefit, finding and sustaining employment and dealing with Jobcentre Plus.
Newswire – KF: Plans by the coalition government to give GPs power & responsibility for holding real budgets and commissioning health services on behalf of their local communities have the potential to help improve care, but will need time & careful design if they are to be successful.
That is the verdict of 6 national organisations that have joined forces to inform the coalition government’s aim of fully devolving commissioning power to GPs.  More details are expected in a White Paper, due in early July 2010.
Ofsted: An Ofsted report on food in schools launched last week shows that most pupils have a good understanding of what makes up a healthy diet.  It also finds that in the majority of schools visited, food is attractive, nutritious and well prepared.
The report, 'Food in schools - Progress in implementing the new standards’, shows that some parents have to budget carefully to pay for school meals.  Families on lower incomes, with a lack of transport, may however be limited to a smaller range of cheap food that is available locally, but not sufficiently healthy.
NIAMajor Government projects are still being completed late and incurring increased costs.  That’s one of the key findings from the Northern Ireland Assembly Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) First Thematic Report.  

The Report, which looks at how complex Government projects have been managed since 2007, also found that the public has not always received the intended project outcomes.
A number of cases examined by the Committee have exposed a worrying lack of skills in areas such as IT, accounting & project management that undermines the public sector’s ability to negotiate successful outcomes of projects with private sector contractors.
The Committee will debate this report on 29 June 2010 in the Assembly.  At that time it will also address the findings of its fourth composite report, which summarises inquiries dealt with through written correspondence with departmental officials.  These included internal fraud in the Sports Institute for Northern Ireland and legal challenges by unsuccessful bidders.

Legislation / Legal

OFT: The OFT has imposed requirements on a major national retail finance company and issued a warning to the credit industry that taking court action against consumers outside their home jurisdiction is unacceptable.
An OFT investigation into Creation Consumer Finance Ltd (CCF Ltd), which provides point of sale finance facilities through major retailers, home improvement suppliers & motor finance dealers, revealed that a firm of solicitors acting on behalf of the company was issuing proceedings against Scottish debtors in English courts
The OFT is warning all consumer credit licence holders that taking action or threatening to take action against consumers in a court outside their home jurisdiction is a breach of the OFT's Debt Collection Guidance.
WO: Secretary of State for Wales, Cheryl Gillan, has recently written to the Electoral Commission inviting their views on the Question and Preceding Statement for the proposed referendum on the law-making powers of the National Assembly for Wales.
Speaking at Welsh Questions in the House of Commons, Mrs Gillan said the Electoral Commission would now have the 10 weeks they said was necessary to test the Question and Preceding Statement. The timing enables the timetable put in place by the Welsh Secretary last week when she announced her aim to hold a referendum before the end of the first quarter of next year.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

Newswire – EU: Last Monday, in Madrid, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Spanish Presidency-in-turn sealed an agreement regarding the organisation & operation of the European External Action Service (EEAS).
The EEAS was approved by the EU-27 at the end of April, but it still needs the approval of the European Parliament, which wants to have more say in the structure of the future EU diplomatic service, one of the principal new features of the Treaty of Lisbon.
The future diplomatic representation of the EU, which will be led by Ashton, will have a staff of several thousands made up, in equal parts, of people from the European Commission, the European Council and the twenty-seven member states.
Newswire – EU: More students than ever went abroad for studies & company placements with EU support through the Erasmus programme in 2008/09. According to new figures, almost 200,000 higher education students received grants to study or train abroad. 

This represents an overall increase of 8.7% on the previous academic year and means that more than 2m young Europeans have benefited from Erasmus funding since the programme's launch in 1987.

The biggest increase is in the number of students going on company placements – up more than 50% on the previous year.  In addition, last year more than 36,000 staff from higher education institutions went abroad to teach or receive training in one of the 31 European countries participating in the Erasmus scheme.
Newswire – EU: The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has issued an opinion on the European Commission's draft Agreement with the United States on the Terrorist Financing Tracking Programme (TFTP) to allow US authorities access to European based financial data managed by the Belgian company SWIFT in cases of anti-terrorism investigations.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

CLGThe Big Lunch is taking place on Sunday 18 July this year with the aim of ‘encouraging people to knock on their neighbours' doors, say hello & invite them for lunch’

As well as inspiring a powerful sense of community, Big Lunches can spark new social networks and encourage more active neighbourhood groups, important ingredients in the Government's vision for a new Big Society. For ideas on how you can run your own Big Lunch, or to find a Big Lunch in your area, visit Big Lunch website:

Business and Other Briefings

FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has set out the rules which will ensure there are proper protections in place for vulnerable customers in arrears on their mortgages or entering sale & rent back (SRB) agreements. 

It defines the standards firms must follow on arrears handling and contains details of the full sale and rent back regime, to provide customers with greater protection from 30 June 2010.
HM Revenue & Customs Brief announcing the guidance that can be found in VAT Information sheet 13/10.

Industry News

LDA: The Mayor of London has launched an open invitation to tender for £3.1m of funds that will support experimental public, private or voluntary sector projects that test innovative ideas for supporting London’s businesses to grow.
The funding is made available by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which encourages collaboration across sectors and promotes more productive links between business & education to support entrepreneurial skills.  

It also provides support for London businesses to increase productivity and create jobs.  Over 4,000 jobs are forecast to be created through the fund over the next 5 years.
WAG: An ‘intelligent’ mattress cover that prevents patients developing pressure ulcers or bed sores - which currently costs the NHS more than £1bn a year - has been launched in Wales. 

The Synidor system, developed by entrepreneur Frank Edwards, with assistance from a number of Welsh Universities and support from the Welsh Assembly Government, detects lack of movement in patients & alerts nursing staff.
It consists of a disposable mattress cover with a unique sensor linked to a visual and audio alarm unit that alerts medical staff if a patient is not moving regularly. The alarm can also be pre-set & programmed to remind patients to move at regular intervals or if they are not able to move, the carer can intervene.

Forthcoming Event

LSIS: A conference, billed as a new approach for the new circumstances faced by leaders & managers, will help them look at ways of building resilience in the workplace and shielding their capacity to deliver the skills outcomes the country needs.  It is being hosted by the Learning & Skills Improvement Service (LSIS).

The one-day event at London’s Thistle Marble Arch on 6 July 2010 will give senior leaders & managers in further education, the chance to engage with each other during a series of seminars, round-table discussions all captured live & fed back in-situ.  
The event will also explore how to build resilience in an organisation as well as looking at new and renewed ways of working in a world where high quality public services are key.  Delegates will be engaged in structured sessions designed to help them make sense of change as it unfolds.
MPA: The MPA Civil Liberties Panel is holding an open meeting on Thursday 1 July 09:00 – 12:00 in London’s Living Room, City Hall, as part of its current review into the National DNA Database (NDNAD) and the use of DNA in policing.
This is an open meeting, but if you cannot attend please send your comments to or write to: Civil Liberties Panel, MPA, 10 Dean Farrar Street, London SW1H 0NY. Please send your comments by 31 August 2010.
Press release ~ ~ Met Forward: fighting crime and reducing criminality; increasing confidence in policing; and giving us better value for money

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