In the News
DH: Was the only ‘successful’ re-organisation of our health service when the NHS was originally created? - Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, last week set out the Government's ‘ambitious plans to reform the NHS during this Parliament and for the long-term’. The White Paper - Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS - details ‘how power will be devolved from Whitehall to patients & professionals’.
Under the new plans, patients will be able to choose which GP practice they register with, regardless of where they live, and choose between consultant-led teams.
Groups of GPs will be given freedom & responsibility for commissioning care for their local communities. Strategic Health Authorities & Primary Care Trusts will be phased out.
This White Paper is the start of an extensive consultation that will take place over the coming weeks. The Department of Health will shortly be publishing a number of consultation documents to seek views on more detailed proposals.
Defra: First World ‘greening’ can often come at great cost to the environment of the Third World - A radical research programme to map how the UK uses imported palm oil could halt the loss of rainforest thousands of miles away. Palm oil is a cheap ‘miracle product’ used in food, cosmetics, animal feed, tyres and biodiesel.
But the expansion of plantations in South East Asia is wiping out forests, driving up greenhouse emissions and threatening wildlife such as the orang-utan. Work on the research project is due to begin in July 2010, with the initial findings announced early in 2011.
The oil can be grown sustainably without damaging forests & wildlife and the research project will for the first time examine how palm oil is used by consumers in the UK. It will document how much we use, how much of that is sustainably sourced and consider how changes can be made to lessen environmental damage.
Also starting in July (under the Defra partnership with China on sustainable development) is a project working with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce to develop the ‘business case’ for sourcing sustainable palm oil for Chinese companies and to draw up options for the Chinese Government to encourage sustainable sourcing. China is the world’s largest country consumer of palm oil, followed by the EU & India
ScotGov: Democracy in action or just a way of deflecting blame for necessary cuts in services? - A ‘comprehensive, wide-ranging programme of public engagement will help ensure the people of Scotland have their say on the country's next budget’, Finance Secretary, John Swinney, said recently.
Publication of the Independent Budget Review (IBR) at the end of the month would trigger a period of consultation, led by Government, but providing the whole of society with a chance to air their views.
The public engagement will feature public meetings and online tools to allow groups & individuals across Scotland to get involved. Full details will be announced when the IBR is published. An analysis published by Scottish Government economists recently shows Scotland could lose some £42bn over the next 16 years.
CRC: One suspects that public sector cuts will make rural life even tougher - The Commission for Rural Communities has been working with the NHF, CPRE, the Countryside Alliance and ACRE in producing a new report - Affordable Housing – keeping villages alive. Over the last year the NHF has been working on raising the profile of affordable rural housing as a means to creating more vibrant & sustainable rural communities.
Villages have a long history of resilience & self help. In tackling today’s challenges, many rural communities have identified affordable housing as part of the solution. Typically, just a handful of well designed homes can help sustain more local services & jobs for local people.
WAG: Should the State have a right to a share of both our estate & body for the greater good of society? - The Welsh Assembly Government will seek the power to introduce presumed consent for organ donation in Wales, the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, has confirmed. Wales aims to be the first UK country to introduce such a system, where people have to opt out of the organ donation system rather than opt in.
Under the proposed ‘soft’ system of presumed consent, health professionals will still consult with families on whether they wish their relative to donate an organ after death.
The First Minister said he hoped the move would increase the number of organs available for transplant. Latest figures from the end of March show that there were 333 people on the waiting list for a transplant in Wales.
: IT Agility through Application Delivery Networking - The delivery of secure and fast applications that are always available across any network has been hotly pursued by both government and business communities for years. But this can only be achieved with a fundamental change in mindset – away from being led by tactical or static applications (eg, load balancing), towards optimising the strategic advantages which rest, often untapped, within application delivery networking (ADN).
ADN is not only an approach but also a suite of technologies that can transform IT and help organisations create an agile IT infrastructure that aligns with their business demands.
Click here to find out more and receive free copy of the whitepaper 'Load Balancing 101: The Evolution to Application Delivery Controllers'
BIS: Consumers can now access their statutory credit report online for a nominal fee of only £2 from all 3 major UK credit reference agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Callcredit, after they reached an agreement with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Continued FREE access to credit reports for victims of ID fraud and the financially vulnerable has also been secured by the government. Free reports will be offered to those referred by debt advice agencies, which Experian has done since 1996.
CEOP: Young Facebook users across the UK are the focus of a new initiative launched last week by the UK’s national centre for child protection – the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre and Facebook.
For the first time all Facebook users in the UK (especially those aged between 13 – 18 years) can have direct access to CEOP’s advice & reporting centre – ClickCEOP – from their homepage giving them the very latest help on online safety, as well as a dedicated facility for reporting instances of suspected grooming or inappropriate sexual behaviour.
FSA: Molson Coors has recalled Carling, Grolsch and Coors Light home draught beer dispensing units because there is a small chance of the beer bottle in the unit breaking when the CO2 cartridge is activated. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
FSA: Walkers has recalled some packets of its Ready Salted Crisps and Salt & Vinegar Crisps sold in multipacks, because the packets might contain crisps with other seasonings. This means the products are a possible health risk to people with an allergy to milk, soya or barley, or an intolerance to lactose or gluten, so the Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
PCS: The new government's plans to cut civil service redundancy terms could be challenged in parliament and the courts, the PCS has warned. Following legal advice, the union is urging MPs to question the validity of the ‘money bill’ laid in parliament last week by Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude.
Plans to cut the accrued rights of existing civil & public servants could also be challenged on human rights grounds, the union believes. The High Court has ruled twice in PCS’s favour that the previous government acted unlawfully when it tried to cut redundancy terms without the union’s agreement
The union also says the Cabinet Office’s claim that civil servants can receive 6 years’ pay on being made redundant is highly misleading because this applies to almost none of the existing workforce. Nor is it accurate to say that the ‘average’ payout is 3 years’ salary. Only staff with 20 years’ service would qualify for this, but the average length of service for admin officers - who make up 47% of the civil service - is just 7 years, rising to 14 years for executive officers.
IfL: The Institute for Learning (IfL), the independent professional body for teachers & trainers throughout the FE & skills sector, is reminding members of the need to make their annual continuing professional development (CPD) declaration by 31 August 2010.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DWP: On 8 July the Minister of State for Pensions, Steve Webb MP, made a Written Ministerial Statement to Parliament which announced the Government’s intention to move to using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as the measure of price inflation for the purposes of regulating occupational pension schemes (See press release for more details and generalised simplified examples).
UK OC: The Manifesto for a Networked Nation (launched last week by UK Digital Champion, Martha Lane Fox and Race Online 2012) tells us that ‘there are 10 million adults in the UK who have never used the internet’. It also states that Race Online 2012's ambition is that by the end of this Parliament: everyone of working age should be online and no one should retire without web skills.
ScotGov: Plans to reduce crime by improving help for offenders (and those at risk of offending) to meet their learning & skills needs were unveiled last week. Speaking during a visit to HM Young Offenders Institute Polmont, Skills Minister, Keith Brown, said ‘the aim was to break the cycle of crime many people find themselves trapped in by providing offenders with more of the skills they need to live positive lives’.
Although a pilotwill be rolled out in a Scottish prison in the coming months, the measures go further than helping those already behind bars. The report also outlines how young people at risk of offending can receive the help they need before they pursue a life of crime. The measures are included in the Scottish Government's response to the Options for Improvement report into Offender Learning, published earlier this year.
DfE: Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has set out a complete overhaul of capital investment in England’s schools. He has also announced that he will be ending the £972,000 annual funding for the Commission for Architecture & the Built Environment (CABE) design advice service associated with the BSF programme.
All documents, including The Secretary of State’s statement to the House, a table showing the impact of the announcement for all Building Schools for the Future projects, details of the £169.5m savings from capital budgets, and the Review Terms of Reference can be found on In the News.
WAG: Wales' Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones has launched an action plan aimed at encouraging more people in Wales to Dig 4 life and grow their own food. The Community Grown Food Action Plan which focuses on 3 key themes: community growing, allotments & community-supported agriculture and actions contained in the plan link to these themes.
DECC: Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker, has launched the first stage of the Government’s plans to help communities become more self-sufficient in the way they use heat & power.
The focus of the Microgeneration Strategy will be electricity generation technologies less than 50 kW in size and heat generating technologies less than 300 kW in size. The consultation will close on 22 December 2010.
Defra: Defra launched a consultation last week (closes on 22 October 2010) on new guidance to water companies on concessionary surface water drainage charges.
As a result of the switch by some water companies from the rateable value to a site area method of calculating surface water drainage charges some community groups experienced unaffordable water charges. As part of the Flood and Water Management Act (Clause 43) this new guidance will protect such community groups.
BIS: The Government is moving to strengthen consumer protection around holiday timeshares with its new consultation (closes on 1 October 2010). The Department for Business is seeking views from businesses, consumers, enforcement authorities and other interested parties on the transposition of the European Commission’s new Timeshare Directive into UK law.
This will introduce common rules across the European Community by February 2011 and set the conditions for fair trading in timeshares.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has outlined proposals to ensure all mortgages are carefully assessed to make sure borrowers can afford them. The new proposals, published in the consultation paper, form part of a major review by the FSA into the UK mortgage market and are based on detailed analysis of past lending decisions, looking at the causes of arrears & repossessions since 2005.
Please send your comments to FSA by the following dates:
* on questions 16 to 22 about interest-only mortgages and questions 33 & 34 about non-deposit taking lenders, by 30 September 2010
* on all other questions, by 16 November 2010
HMT: Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban MP, has launched a consultation document on the Bank Levy (closes on5 October 2010). The document sets out issues around technical aspects of the design & implementation of the Bank Levy. It is proposed that draft legislation will be published in the autumn to allow for further comments from stakeholders.
Final draft legislation for inclusion in the 2011 Finance Bill will be published towards the end of 2010, ahead of implementation of the Levy. The structure of the Levy is intended to encourage the banks to move away from riskier funding models, reducing systemic risk. Once fully in place, the Levy is expected to generate around £2.5bn per annum.
HFEA: The Human Fertilisation Embryology Authority is inviting fertility patients to have their say in a new poll aimed at gaining the views & experiences of people throughout the UK who have had, are undergoing or are preparing for fertility treatment.
It is estimated that around one in six couples, approximately 3.5m people, experience some form of fertility problems at some point in their lives and tens of thousands of people go through fertility treatment every year. Their views & concerns about the treatment they receive are important in helping improve the quality of care across the sector.
HMT: Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban MP, has announced the start of a consultation (closes on the 10 September 2010) on removing the effective requirement to annuitise by age 75, following the announcement in the June Budget that these rules will end from April 2011.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has started a UK-wide consultation (closes on 5 October 2010) on the best way to help businesses protect against E. Coli O157 contamination. A public inquiry into the E. Coli O157 outbreak in Wales in 2005, in which one child died, recommended that the Agency should review its guidance to food businesses.
The Agency has published proposals for guidance clarifying the need for businesses to implement tougher measures for preventing cross contamination. The consultation document details the key issues that will inform the drafting of the proposed guidance and the particular questions that the Agency would like stakeholders to respond to. An impact assessment is also included in the consultation package.
EU News: The European Commission has launched a public consultation (closes on 30 November 2010)on options to improve protection for insurance policy holders, including the possibility of setting up Insurance Guarantee Schemes in all Member States – See ‘EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.’ section for more information.
EU News: The European Commission has launched a public consultation (closes on 30 September 2010) on how victims are protected, what kind of support they receive and whether any improvements are needed – See ‘EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.’ section for more information.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
Ofcom: The time it takes consumers to transfer their mobile number to a new provider is to be halved, Ofcom confirmed recently. From 11 April 2011 customers will be able to transfer their existing number to a new provider in just 1 working dayrather than the current 2 days. In 1999 it used to take consumers up to 25 days to switch their number to a new provider via a fax-based system.
If a customer wants to switch provider but keep their phone number, they have to contact their original provider – usually by phone – to request a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC) which they then give to their new mobile provider. The new regulations mean that from next April PACs will have to be issued either immediately over the phone or within a maximum of two hours by text message.
SE: Four sports have come together with Sport England and the Football Foundation to agree a new strategic approach to selecting artificial grass pitches. New guidance drawn up by the sports bodies will ensure the right surfaces are installed in the right places, delivering maximum value for investment in pitches.
The last decade has seen an explosion in the number and type of artificial pitches. But, with some surfaces only suitable for certain sports, some of these pitches did not have the most appropriate surface to meet the needs of local sporting communities. The national governing bodies of hockey, football, rugby union and rugby league have all committed to using the new guidance for selecting the most appropriate artificial grass pitch.
General Reports and Other Publications
IFS: Responding to questions in the House of Commons, the government has just revealed that its Your Freedom website will cost approximately £20,000 to run over the coming year. The cost has been criticised as excessive – but is such criticism fair? How much does a government website cost? The recent release of official data on government websites allows the Institute of Fiscal Studies to make some comparisons.
OBR: The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has published its formal advice to the Chancellor on how the body should be established on a permanent basis. The advice draws on experiences of interim OBR’s work for the Budget.
HEFCE: Following a period of consultation, the Higher Education Funding Council England (HEFCE)has set out a revised funding agreement with the institutions it funds.
This will come into effect on 1 August 2010. It takes full account of key points of dialogue & discussion raised through the consultation, including accountability for corporate leadership, quality and standards, governance and financial management.
ACE: The Arts Council has published its self-evaluation framework to provide arts organisations with a flexible, development tool to support them in evaluating their own performance and to help inform their future planning. It focuses on six key areas.
DfE: Ministers yesterday published the Department for Education’s (DfE) key policy commitments and invited the public to hold them to account on delivery. The draft Structural Reform Plan (SRP) clearly sets out the Department’s key priorities.
HO: The Home Office has published its Structural Reform Plan.
DCMS: Plans to deliver a ‘fantastic’ 2012 Olympics, boost competitive sport in schools, reform media regulation and deliver universal broadband were set out last week by Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, when he published the DCMS Structural Reform Plan, a blueprint for activity over the next 3 years & beyond, which will also boost the Big Society and stimulate economic growth.
ESRC: Data visualisation techniques that generate sophisticated graphics could bring a fresh dimension to communications & decision-making by public bodies like local councils, according to research completed for the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The vizLib project presents data in a graphic format to show how people use public services such as libraries.
The project was led by Dr Jason Dykes, senior lecturer in geographic information at City University London, in partnership with Robert Radburn, research manager at Leicestershire County Council. Dr Dykes, who argues that 'graphicacy' should be recognised as an essential skill alongside articulacy, numeracy & literacy,
NAO: The National Audit Office has underlined the vital importance of measuring government performance. Good performance measurement frameworks show taxpayers what they are getting for their money and enable the Government to assess whether it is achieving its key objectives cost-effectively.
In its final review of the quality of the data systems used by government departments to measure progress against Public Service Agreements (PSAs), the NAO concludes that the PSA framework provided a clear focus on the objectives that mattered for the then Government, and had gradually improved over the years.
Newswire – RSF: Britain's finances may be exhausted but savings in the cost of road crashes costing 1.5% of GDP and worth £18bn annually are readily achievable.
The high costs of emergency services, hospitals and long term care for the disabled can often be avoided through little more than the cost of a pot of paint, according to the annual road tracking survey carried out by the Road Safety Foundation - the largest analysis of its type anywhere in the world, covering 28,000 miles.
Consultation with road authorities on improvements show that simple, relatively inexpensive engineering measures are paying dividends, contributing to more than 70% fewer fatal & serious collisions in the last 3 years on the top ten roads listed. Improvements to signing & markings, resurfacing, particularly the use of high-friction anti-skid treatments, and the layout & signing of junctions are common.
CQC: The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published its report into the GP out-of-hours provider, Take Care Now (TCN). The regulator’s investigation was triggered by the tragic case of Mr David Gray, a patient killed by an overdose of 100mg diamorphine in February 2008. The drug was administered by Dr Ubani, an out-of-hours doctor from Germany employed by TCN.
Dr Ubani has since been struck off the General Medical Council (GMC) register and is no longer permitted to practise in the UK. CQC looked in-depth at TCN’s out-of-hours service to assess its performance dating back to April 2007. It also assessed whether lessons had been learned and action taken following the death of Mr Gray.
Newswire – IfG: An independent review of 'arm’s length bodies' (ALBs) has found that 'quangos' are operating in a confusing environment that neither government, the public nor ALBs completely understand.
Read before Burning, a year-long study by the Institute for Government finds that while cuts & efficiencies in ALBs are certain and may well be justified, making decisions about how & if they should operate in future must be taken alongside fundamental reform or risk more confusion about their role and value in the future.
Lack of clarity about what they do, how and to whom they are accountable leads to ‘duplication, policy coordination problems and difficulties achieving the right balance between freedom and control of ALB’s’, the report says.
Ofsted: A recent Ofsted report - Twelve outstanding providers of work-based learning - showcases 12 outstanding work-based learning providers that excel at providing apprenticeships,
Legislation / Legal
WAG: A Welsh law that aims to strengthen local government in Wales and ensure councils engage with the people they serve has been laid before the National Assembly. A key feature of the proposed Local Government (Wales) Measure is to encourage more people from diverse backgrounds into public life.
Under the Measure councils will be able to remove barriers which may have previously discouraged people from standing as a councillor. Proposals such as parental leave and remote attendance at meetings will encourage a wider range of people to become local councillors.
CM&EC: The Child Maintenance & Enforcement Commission has begun using tough new powers to halt or reverse the sale & transfer of assets by parents attempting to dodge financial responsibility for their children. In the first case of its kind, a father in the northwest of England (who owes over £78,000 in unpaid maintenance) has been prevented from selling a house he was advertising on a popular property website.
In the first case to be brought under powers introduced by the latest child maintenance legislation, the High Court has now imposed an order preventing the sale. The reforms also allow the courts to reverse the sale or transfer of property by parents who have unpaid maintenance arrears.
MoJ: Plans to review the law on defamation to protect free speech & freedom of expression were outlined recently by Justice Minister Lord McNally. The Ministry of Justice will publish a draft Defamation Bill for consultation & pre-legislative scrutiny in the New Year, with a view to introducing a Bill as soon after that as parliamentary time allows.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: As part of its work creating a safer & sounder financial system, preventing a future crisis and restoring consumer confidence, the European Commission has proposed changes to existing European rules to further improve protection for bank account holders and retail investors.
Furthermore, the Commission has launched a public consultation (closes on 30 November 2010)on options to improve protection for insurance policy holders, including the possibility of setting up Insurance Guarantee Schemes in all Member States.
The proposals, fully in line with the EU's commitments under the G20, are now passed to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers for consideration.
EU News: The use of animals in scientific experiments could soon be reduced by new legislation, approved by the Agriculture Committee last week, which strives to strike the right balance between improving animal welfare and assisting research against diseases.
If endorsed by the full Parliament and Council, the new legislation would require competent national authorities to assess the animal welfare implications of each experiment done, with a view to promoting alternative testing methods and reducing the levels of pain inflicted on animals.
The new legislation would also tighten up rules on the use of primates in scientific experiments, inter alia by classifying tests according to severity and specifying the inspections necessary to ensure compliance.
The text as approved by the Agriculture Committee reflects a deal reached with the Council for approval at the second reading. The full Parliament will have to vote in September 2010, followed by Council. The directive will enter into force 3 years after its final approval.
EU News: Last week the European Commission proposed to confer to Member States the freedom to allow, restrict or ban the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) on part or all of their territory. The proposed regulation amends Directive 2001/18/EC to allow Member States to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs in their territory.
A new recommendation on co-existence clarifies that Member States can establish ‘GMO-free’ areas and this new recommendation provides better guidance to Member States to develop co-existence approaches. The European Co-existence Bureau will continue to develop together with Member States best practices for co-existence as well as technical guidelines on related issues.
EU News: An agreement with Pakistan on the readmission of individuals resident in the EU without authorisation was backed by the EP Civil Liberties Committee on Tuesday 13 July. This controversial agreement, on which Parliament has a right of veto, seeks to combat clandestine immigration by making it easier to return illegal immigrants to their country of origin. It will be debated then put to a plenary vote in Strasbourg in the week of 6 to 9 September 2010.
According to the European Commission - on the basis of 2008 figures - around 13,000 Pakistani citizens have been apprehended in an irregular residence situation in the EU. The Commission has been negotiating with Pakistan for eight years on an agreement which is part of a broader move towards closer cooperation on immigration.
EU News: The EU supports cooperation to bring criminals to justice, but what happens to the millions of crime victims? Their devastating experience can be made worse by a difficult investigation or trial, an invasion of their privacy, or disrespectful treatment of their case. Wherever they are in the EU – whether at home or abroad – victims have the right to be treated respectfully, to receive support, protection, compensation and have access to justice.
The European Commission has launched a public consultation (closes on 30 September 2010) on how victims are protected, what kind of support they receive and whether any improvements are needed. The Commission will use the results when it prepares a comprehensive package of rules & practical measures to be proposed in the first half of 2011.
OS: Since OS OpenData launched on 1 April 2010, there has been a huge range of different uses for the data, from mapping elephants across London to adding road routing information with potential benefits for the emergency services.
The most downloaded product in the last 3 months has been OS Street View, with OS Vector Map District (which was released in May) swiftly catching up. The huge variety of applications of OS OpenData have seen the locations of pharmacies & train stations across Great Britain being mapped – using 1:250 000 Scale Colour Raster and Code-Point Open – and can be seen at www.data.gov.uk.
Meanwhile, councils are using the datasets to show residents the nearest recycling facilities or latest planning applications.
One of the more unusual uses has been to map the position of 250 brightly painted elephants across central London this summer. The Elephant Family charity’s annual Elephant Parade highlights the crisis faced by the endangered Asian elephant, and Lovell Johns created a user-friendly map for the charity.
Ordnance Survey is keen to receive examples of OS OpenData in action and how the data is benefiting people across Great Britain. Anyone using the service should contact them via their website.
LSN: The Learning and Skills Network, working in partnership with BT, plans to make a big impact with BT Qualify, a ‘ground-breaking product, designed to change the face of vocational assessment’. The product improves learning outcomes by improving motivation, accessibility, productivity, team work and control.
WAG: A major project announced last week represents a major advance for supercomputing in Wales and is set to deliver significant long term benefits to business, industry and the Welsh economy.
High Performance Computing Wales (HPC Wales) is a £40m 5 year project to give businesses & universities involved in commercially focussed research across Wales access to the most advanced & evolving computing technology available.
HPC Wales will invest in state-of-the-art computing technology, infrastructure and facilities on a pan-Wales basis, high level skills development & training and provide tailor made support services to business.
The cutting-edge computing facilities will be available for use by businesses working independently or in collaboration with academics and will establish Wales as a key international centre for specialist computational research.
WAG: Deputy Minister for Housing & Regeneration, Jocelyn Davies AM, has shown Budget Minister, Jane Hutt, a housing development in Barry where public money has helped to create job & training opportunities. It is hoped the principles used on the development can be used on other Welsh Assembly Government contracts to create even more opportunities.
Newydd Housing Association’s Jacksons Quay development in Barry has been built using the i2i Can Do Toolkit which provides guidance to Registered Social Landlords working towards the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) on making targeted recruitment & training a requirement of contracts.
Socitm: Socitm President, Jos Creese, has spelled it out: use Socitm's October conference to take advantage of new ideas & rapidly emerging practice, or risk being controlled by fast unfolding events.
Writing about reasons to attend on the newly launched Socitm 2010 microsite, Jos Creese, says there has probably never been a more compelling business rationale for attending Socitm's annual three day event.
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