In the News
Please note that Wired-Gov Plus weekly newsletter is taking a summer break and is due to publish again on 6/7 September 2010 – News alert emails will continue to be published as normal. We wish all our readers a restful / refreshing summer holiday and suggest (if you are stumped for reading materials) that you check out the 'avalanche' of consultations that are currently being launched (see below).
VSO: Spice up your career: Become a Short Term VSO Volunteer - VSO short-term roles give experienced professionals the opportunity to make a concentrated, high-impact contribution to the fight against poverty. You’ll face fresh challenges, develop valuable new skills and experience another culture in a way few people have the chance to.
VSO placements tend to be consultancy-type roles, designed around achieving a specific goal or completing a set project, so require highly skilled professionals who can hit the ground running. The majority of short-term roles last between 4 & 6 months.
You’ll need to have at least 6 years’ experience in your field, be able to go for 6 months and be ready to leave within 12 months of applying – sometimes at short notice. This isn’t ‘voluntourism’ – you don’t have to pay to volunteer with VSO. They take care of all your expenses, from flights & insurance through to visas & accommodation. You even get a local living allowance. For more information see their volunteering FAQs.
DFID: Death, not Life, is the outcome for too many - The UK Government is to put family planning at the heart of its approach to women’s health in the developing world in an attempt to reduce the persistently high number of women who die in pregnancy & childbirth.
The new approach will see a significant increase in the availability of family planning to meet the demands of some of the world’s poorest women. Mr Andrew Mitchell said the international community had failed millions of women by ignoring the complexities of why at least a third of a million women in the world’s poorest countries die each year during pregnancy & childbirth.
There are currently 215m women in the developing world who would like to delay or avoid their next pregnancy, but do not have access to modern family planning methods. Increasing access could prevent up to 30% of all maternal deaths and 20% of newborn deaths.
He has launched a public consultation (closes on Tuesday 20 October 2010) - Choice for women – wanted pregnancies, safe births - which will seek the views of development experts, health professionals and the public on the proposed direction of the Department’s policy.
DWP: Is the ‘Sick Benefits nettle’ finally & properly being grasped? - The latest statistics for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) applications show that three-quarters of applicants are being found ‘fit for work’ (39%) or are stopping their claim (37%) before their assessment period has been completed.
To ‘ensure that the assessment is fair & accurate’ the government announced last month that an independent review would be undertaken by Professor Malcolm Harrington. This review will be supported by a small Scrutiny Group that will offer advice & challenge to Professor Harrington during the course of the review.
The review has launched a call for evidence (closes on 10 September 2010) aimed at gathering information on the WCA from a wide range of organisations & individuals.
Everyone’s off on holiday; Quick launch our consultation! – To highlight the fact that the public sector has gone into consulting ‘hyperdrive’ during the summer holiday break, we are giving them greater prominence this week. Summaries are provided below, for full details please go to our ‘Consultations Section’:
IS: The Insolvency Service has launched an exercise seeking the views of stakeholders (& others), who use Official Statistics.
IS: The Insolvency Service has launched a consultation on ‘proposals for a new restructuring moratorium’.
Defra: Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, has called for everyone, from birdwatchers to big business, to shape the government’s Natural Environment White Paper.
MLA: The MLA urges the sector to respond to the current Ofcom consultation on the implementation of the Digital Economy Act, to ensure that the implications for the sector of the legislation & code of practice are clearly understood by decision-makers.
MPA: The Metropolitan Police Authority is asking Londoners to have their say and help identify the capital's policing priorities for 2012/13.
DH: Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, has set out proposals to ‘free the NHS to focus on improving services and outcomes for patients’.
HO: The Home Secretary has announced a ‘radical’ new programme of reform to change the face of policing.
BIS: Vince Cable & George Osborne have launched a consultation paper to encourage an industry-led recovery by addressing the problems businesses face accessing finance.
CO: The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, has recently called for the British people to nominate which new government datasets they would like to see released on data.gov.uk.
HMT: Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban MP, has launched the Government’s consultation on the implementation of reforms to financial regulation.
HMT: The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke MP has published 9 documents for discussion & consultation relating to tax, following commitments made at the June 2010 Budget
DfE: Education Secretary, Michael Gove & Children’s Minister, Sarah Teather, have launched a consultation to seek views on how best to operate the new pupil premium.
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading is consulting on a proposal to recommend an extension of the public transport ticketing schemes block exemption (as required for Multi-operator travel cards).
ScotGov: The scope of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act is the focus of a new Scottish Government consultation which seeks views on whether the existing legislation should be widened to cover a greater range of bodies who deliver public services in Scotland.
HO: Proposals for new measures to crack down on problem premises and more powers for local communities to influence licensing decisions have been unveiled for consultation.
ScotGov: Opposition parties have been invited to talks on the findings of Scotland's Independent Budget Review.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has announced plans to update its Remuneration Code to take on board remuneration rules required by the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD 3) and the Financial Services Act 2010 (FS Act).
DH: A consultation to help improve care services & healthcare outcomes for adults with autism in England has been launched by Care Services Minister, Paul Burstow. This follows the publication of the strategy for adults with autism: Fulfilling and rewarding lives.
CC: The Competition Commission (CC) is consulting on changes to the way retail payment protection insurance (retail PPI) is sold.
BIS: The Default Retirement Age (DRA) will be consigned to the history books by October 2011 under proposals published for consultation by the Government last week.
CLG: The public will be given the power to veto excessive council tax rises Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles announced last week.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency, Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government are jointly inviting people to share their views on the European Commission's 'TSE Roadmap 2'.
Defra: The Government’s review of waste policies has been formally launched with a ‘call for evidence’.
ScotGov: Views of Orkney & Shetland communities are being sought as part of a study into potential cost reduction measures on the Northern Isles ferry services currently provided by NorthLink Ferries.
Forthcoming event: Gartner Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit |15 -16 September 2010 | London, UK - Evolution Real Time - With the explosive arrival of the real-time Web and the unprecedented spread of social networking, new technologies and cloud delivery models are storming the workplace and are offering unlimited opportunities. The upcoming Gartner Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit will address these new developments head-on, examining how these changes can drive business value. Bring your workplace, information and processes into real time.
Key Topics include:
* Web and enterprise content management
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* Optimizing SharePoint and other platform investments
* Managing risk and reputation in social networks
* Controlling user-generated content
* Collective intelligence
* Cloud-based portal and content services
* Business processes improvement
Public Sector pricing is available. Register today!
FSA: Asda has withdrawn its own-brand milk chocolate because chocolate containing nuts has been wrongly packed into milk chocolate packaging. The label does not state that the chocolate contains nuts, which means the product is a possible health risk to anyone with a nut allergy. The Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
FSA: As Muslims observe Ramadan, the Food Standards Agency advises that people should consider avoiding drinking bottled water described or labelled as Zam Zam water. This is because tests have shown ‘Zam Zam’ water sold in the UK, or brought into the UK for personal consumption, contains high levels of arsenic or nitrates.
If consumers find any water on sale that is labelled as Zam Zam, they should contact the local authority enforcement office at their local council so they can investigate further.
MoD: Building on 2 years of success, the Sun Military Awards, dubbed 'The Millies', are returning to honour outstanding members of Britain's Service community. Organised by The Sun newspaper in close association with the Ministry of Defence, the Millies focus on the excellence of Her Majesty's Armed Forces, whether it be on front line operations or more routine business.
There are 11 awards in total and each one is open to all serving members of the UK armed forces (except the Support to the Armed Forces award which is specifically for civilians). Nominations for 10 of the 11 award categories can be made by members of the armed forces and the general public until Monday 13 September 2010. An 11th category winner will be chosen by a special panel of Millies judges.
MoD: Ships from 4 countries have spent the past week getting to grips with disaster relief training at Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth. FRUKUS 10 is an annual quadrilateral exercise which was originally established in 1988 as a means of enhancing operational capability & understanding between the 4 countries. The exercise is now the cornerstone of navy-to-navy cooperation with Russia.
The scenario for this year's exercise took the form of a hurricane disaster and the teams had to offer humanitarian assistance and medical treatment to casualties, as well as coping with flash fires, flooding and sanitation problems. During the exercise the task group had to cook and provide lunch to the casualties and visitors in a field kitchen type scenario.
MoJ: Plans to build a new 360 place juvenile prison on the site of HMYOI Glen Parva will not be pursued as part of additional budget savings. A cheaper, equivalent number of adult prison places will instead be provided on existing prison sites in a move that reflects the falling population of juveniles in custody.
This forms part of the £325m that the Ministry of Justice will contribute to the savings of £6bn for this financial year (2010-2011), as announced by the Chancellor recently.
Ofcom: Ofcom has confirmed that it will make 2 new pan-European ‘116 numbers’ available in the UK. Pan-European 116 numbers were introduced last year so that people can call helplines using the same memorable number regardless of which EU country they are in. The next stage is for potential relevant service providers to express their interest in using these numbers by 1 October 2010.
The numbers being made available are:
* 116 006 which will be used as a helpline for victims of crime
* 116 117 for a non-emergency medical on-call service
MoD: The nationwide programme to build the Royal Navy's new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers passed another milestone when construction on the first ship, the Queen Elizabeth, began in Birkenhead recently. Birkenhead company Cammell Laird is the final shipyard in the programme to begin construction and will build 2 of the sections that will make up the ship's giant flight deck.
CLG: The £22 fixed fee charged for personal searches of councils' local land charges register is to be abolished. Such land searches tell a home buyer about restrictions or issues that affect the property, such as planning conditions, conservation areas and protected trees.
MoD: Men, machines and (most recently) animals, are working together to beat the biggest threat to troops in Afghanistan - improvised explosive devices (IEDs) laid by insurgents.
MoD: The Ministry of Defence's 'Battle Back' programme for injured servicemen & women has teamed up with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to develop opportunities in the sport for injured personnel. Around 30 servicemen & women undergoing treatment (and their families) were given an opportunity to try out tennis at the launch.
It is hoped that the initiative will not only act as an aid to their recovery, but will hopefully encourage them into a longer term involvement in the sport.
The Tennis Foundation is looking to build relations with rehabilitation centres for injured servicemen around the country and Halton Tennis Club is establishing a tennis programme with links to the Armed Forces Rehabilitation Centre at Halton, as well as the Stoke Mandeville spinal unit nearby.
DWP: An independent review into early intervention, which aims to ensure that children at greatest risk of multiple disadvantage get the best start in life, will be chaired by Graham Allen MP. It will also consider how such schemes could be supported through innovative funding models, including through non-Government streams.
The review will report by the end of January 2011 on the issue of best practice and provide an interim report on funding. A final report on funding will be produced by May 2011.
DCMS: Plans to make sure London keeps moving during the 2012 Games and that athletes, officials, media & the Olympic family can get to venues on time have been published. A total of 82,000 people will use the ORN during the Games.
NA: A new website launched last week by The National Archives will give clearer, faster & simpler access to legislation, from Magna Carta to the latest statutory instruments. At www.legislation.gov.uk people will for the first time be able to find details of everything on the statute book in the same place, for FREE.
The site will enable officials, lawyers and ordinary citizens alike to scrutinise the laws on which their legal rights and responsibilities are based. A simple web search will quickly find key legislation, such as the Consumer Credit Act and the Data Protection Act.
Legislation.gov.uk replaces The Office of Public Sector Information (www.opsi.gov.uk) and Statute Law Database (www.statutelaw.gov.uk) websites to deliver an integrated & responsive service and better value to the taxpayer. Users can also link between associated legislative documents including EU legislation on the EURLex.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
ScotGov: Plans to identify & support carers of all ages across Scotland have been revealed, including investment in respite & short breaks. Backed by £5m over 5 years for the voluntary sector to support respite for carers of all ages, the strategy was unveiled last week by Public Health Minister, Shona Robison, as she met adult & young carers at the Lanarkshire Carers Centre in Hamilton.
The adult strategy - Caring Together - lays out a 10-point plan with specific commitments to help carers. In a Scottish & UK first, it includes a separate strategy on young carers - Getting it Right for Young Carers..
DH: ‘Bureaucracy will be cut and the functions of several organisations will be streamlined’, following a review of arm’s length bodies (ALBs), published by Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley. In total, the changes outlined in the report will reduce the number of health ALBs from 18 (see Press release) to between 8 & 10; they are expected to deliver savings of over £180m by 2014/15.
Subject to Parliamentary approval, organisations which are no longer needed will be removed from the sector, with essential work moved to other bodies.
DH: The £6m Family Restoration Fund to help reunite former child migrants with their families was formally launched last week by Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, following a meeting with child migrants and the Child Migrants' Trust.
The fund was announced in February 2010 at the time of the (previous) Government’s formal national apology to former child migrants. The funding, which will cover the practical costs of travel, will be available to any former child migrant who was sent under school-leaving age from Great Britain & Northern Ireland before 1970 to countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Zimbabwe (the former Rhodesia).
The fund will be administered & supported by the Child Migrants' Trust, which has also been awarded £450,000 in additional funding to expand its work in family tracing, social work and counselling services.
MoD: Changes to the policy governing rest & recuperation (R&R) for Service personnel deployed on operations have been announced by the Ministry of Defence. It follows the recommendation of Service Chiefs and agreement with the RAF Families Federation. The changes aim to ensure that Service personnel on operations get the R&R they deserve, while reducing the potential for delays travelling to & from theatre.
Under the new guidelines, all Service personnel serving tours in Afghanistan & Iraq of 6 months (or longer) will continue to receive 2 weeks mid-tour leave, but now with a guarantee that any days lost (due to delays in transit or for any other operational reason) will be made up at the end of their tour.
Service Chiefs have also recommended that those Service personnel due to serve on short tours will in future be posted for less than 4 months, thus removing the need for them to take R&R. This will mainly affect those serving with the Royal Air Force. The policy to reduce short tour length to 119 days will be implemented for personnel deploying on or after 01 Jan 2011.
DCMS: A number of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) 55 public bodies are set to be ‘merged, abolished or streamlined’ as part of the Government’s drive to cut costs and increase transparency, accountability & efficiency, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced last week.
DH: Cancer patients are to get greater access to cancer drugs recommended by their doctors as a result of a new £50m fund announced by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.
Publishing a report by National Cancer Director, Professor Sir Mike Richards, on international variations in drug usage that shows the UK’s uptake of new drugs falls behind other European countries, the Health Secretary said that from October 2010, an extra £50m will be available to help patients get access to innovative new cancer drugs.
The funding means that cancer patients will be able to access these drugs now to help extend life or improve quality of life, ahead of longer term plans to change the way the NHS pays for drugs. This interim measure precedes the Cancer Drugs Fund (due to commence in April 2011) and will help those cancer patients who need access to drugs ‘now’.
CLG: Action that will stop the forced regionalisation of fires services and hand more control back to local services has been announced by Fire Minister, Bob Neill, as part of the Government's promise to abolish regional government and give stronger powers & responsibilities to communities. Fire & Rescue Services will no longer have to work through Regional Management Boards.
HO: In a speech last week, the Home Secretary called for changes in how anti-social behaviour is tackled, including more local control and more freedom for police to decide how to deal with each case.
Claiming that ‘1 person in every 7’ believes their local area suffers from high-levels of anti-social behaviour and that the financial cost of dealing with anti-social behaviour is £bns a year, Theresa May said it was time to 'turn the system on its head'.
BIS: Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, has confirmed that motorists will receive up to £5,000 towards purchase of an ultra-low carbon car from January 2011. The consumer grant will reduce the up-front cost of eligible vehicles by 25% (capped at £5,000). Available across the UK, it will be open to both private and business fleet buyers.
BIS: The UK is set to benefit from a new generation of wireless services and improved mobile broadband coverage under new Government plans to ‘revolutionise’ the country’s digital infrastructure, announced last week.
Defra: £2m boost in funding to help local authorities deal with flood risk assessments was announced last week by Environment Minister, Richard Benyon, as part of a package of measures to help prevent & manage future flooding. The additional funding will help local authorities identify areas where there is a significantly high risk of flooding and where maps & action plans for flooding are required.
The National Flood Emergency Framework was also published – this provides guidance & advice for councils and others on planning for & responding to floods. The Framework will be a ‘one stop shop’ reference point on flood planning and will be updated on a regular basis.
Richard Benyon also announced that Defra is planning two consultations later this year – one to establish national standards for sustainable drainage systems and another to transfer the ownership of private sewers to
IS: The Insolvency Service has launched an exercise seeking the views of stakeholders and others (by 18 October 2010) who use Official Statistics (such as the ‘Quarterly insolvency statistics’ it produces.
The aim of the Insolvency Service’ user engagement exercise is to ensure the scope, presentation & dissemination of the statistics meets the requirements & needs of users, a key principal within the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.
IS: The Insolvency Service has launched a consultation (closes on 18 October 2010) on proposals for a new restructuring moratorium. The proposals would provide company directors with the option of obtaining a protected breathing space in which to negotiate with their creditors and reorganise their business affairs, through a new statutory moratorium.
At present, a moratorium is only available outside of the administration procedure for small companies with a proposal for a company voluntary arrangement (a statutory mechanism for the company achieving a legally binding compromise with its creditors). It is not available to large companies or to companies using other restructuring procedures.
Defra: A new approach to environment policy was signalled recently as Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, called for everyone, from birdwatchers to big business, to shape the government’s Natural Environment White Paper.
The White Paper will be Defra’s first environmental White Paper in 20 years and comes at a time when honey bees are facing crisis, 97% of our flower-rich meadow has been lost since 1930 and the last 25 years has seen house sparrow numbers decline by 10m.
The discussion document launched will gather ideas, knowledge & expertise which will feed into the White Paper. The deadline for responses is 30 October 2010.
MLA: Museums, libraries & archives offering public internet access could be liable to serious financial, reputational & legal costs if online copyright infringements are found. The recent consultation on the Draft Initial Obligations Code has set out for the sector how the provisions of the Digital Economy Act about online copyright infringement will be interpreted & enforced by Ofcom.
However, there remains uncertainty under which legal category the sector would fit into, leaving the sector vulnerable to risks. To mitigate these risks, The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), the British Library and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) have produced a number of briefing documents & templates to help the sector understand the Act and Ofcom's new code of practice and ways to respond to the consultation.
The MLA urges the sector to respond to the current Ofcom consultation on the implementation of the Digital Economy Act by 31 July 2010, to ensure that the implications for the sector of the legislation and code of practice are clearly understood by decision-makers. Please download the template or send responses to: email@example.com.
MPA: The Metropolitan Police Authority is asking Londoners to have their say and help identify the capital's policing priorities for 2012/13. By completing a short online questionnaire Londoners can tell the MPA what are the most important issues for them and what they believe the police should be focusing on. The closing date for completed questionnaires is 26 November 2010.
DH: Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has set out proposals to ‘free the NHS to focus on improving services and outcomes for patients’. ‘Regulating Healthcare Providers’ makes the case for releasing foundation trusts so ‘we have the most vibrant social enterprise sector anywhere in the world’. Monitor will be given new powers to defend the interests of patients & the public, through regulating prices and protecting choice & competition. The Consultation closes on 11 October 2010
In the White Paper; ‘Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS’, the Government set out that all NHS trusts will become foundation trusts by 2013.
HO: The Home Secretary has announced a ‘radical’ new programme of reform to change the face of policing. Policing in the 21st Century: Reconnecting Police and the People sets out how the police service in England & Wales will become more accountable to the public and responsive to local people, more focused at a national level and more effective at tackling crime, as well as providing better value for money.
This publication marks the start of a public consultation (closes on 20 September 2010) on key features of the Government’s reform programme, including directly elected Police & Crime Commissioners who will hold forces to account, and in turn be directly accountable to the public. This will focus the police on local people’s priorities rather than responding to what national politicians and civil servants think these priorities are.
BIS: Vince Cable & George Osborne have launched a consultation paper to encourage an industry-led recovery by addressing the problems businesses face accessing finance.
The paper, ‘Financing a Private Sector Recovery’, sets out the range of finance options for different sized businesses, explores where the market is failing to provide and if there is a role for government intervention. It launches an intensive discussion on how business and the government can work together to produce a diverse, competitive & sustainable financial environment. The consultation closes on 20 September 2010.
CO: The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, has recently called for the British people to nominate which new government datasets they would like to see released on data.gov.uk.
The most requested datasets already identified by the Board include the Land Registry, Companies House, the Integrated Business Register, transport data, weather information and Environment Agency data. Anyone can make suggestions about which datasets they wish to see be made public by going to www.data.gov.uk/data External website and clicking on the ‘request new data’ button.
As part of this transparency drive the Government has also published procurement spend by English local authorities and the Department of Health. This has been published for the first time along with spend for central government departments and Arms Length Bodies which was published in ‘Collaborative Procurement: Publication of Spend Data’ (on 24 March 2010).
HMT: Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban MP, has launched the Government’s consultation on the implementation of reforms to financial regulation (closes on 18 October 2010). The document sets out detailed proposals for reform of the financial services sector, first announced by the Chancellor in his Mansion House speech on 16th June 2010.
The Chancellor set out plans to overhaul the system of Financial Regulation giving the Bank of England powers over macro prudential regulation through a newly established Financial Policy Committee (FPC), which will be established on an interim basis from Autumn 2010.
HMT: The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke MP has published 9 documents for discussion & consultation relating to tax, following commitments made at the June 2010 Budget. This will provide businesses, tax professionals and other interested parties with a more comprehensive view and the opportunity to comment on the Government's proposed tax reforms.
DfE: A new pupil premium to raise achievement among disadvantaged children will start from 2011, the Government announced last week. Education Secretary Michael Gove and Children’s Minister Sarah Teather have launched a consultation (closes on 18 October 2010) to seek views on how best to operate the premium including what deprivation indicator to use.
The premium will help target money so that more can be done to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds that are still not doing as well at school as they could or should do.
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading is consulting (closes on 20 October 2010) on a proposal to recommend an extension of the public transport ticketing schemes block exemption.
The block exemption, subject to certain conditions, automatically exempts certain types of integrated ticketing arrangements from the UK law prohibiting anticompetitive agreements. The current exemption expires at the end of February 2011.
Multi-operator travelcards, for example, involve 3 or more transport operators agreeing the price at which they will sell the travelcard to passengers and how the revenue from the sale of the tickets will be distributed between them.
ScotGov: The scope of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act is the focus of a new Scottish Government consultation (closes on 2 November 2010), which seeks views on whether the existing legislation should be widened to cover a greater range of bodies who deliver public services in Scotland.
Organisations under consideration are contractors who build and/or maintain schools, hospitals & roads; private prison operators; leisure, sport & cultural trusts set up by local authorities; Glasgow Housing Association and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland.
HO: Proposals for new measures to crack down on problem premises and more powers for local communities to influence licensing decisions have been unveiled for consultation (closes on 8 September 2010) by the Government.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: "The benefits promised by the 24 hour drinking ‘café culture’ have failed to materialise ……… the system needs to be rebalanced in favour of the local communities they serve with tougher action taken to crack down on the small number of premises who cause problems."
Last year there were almost 1m violent crimes that were alcohol related, with 20% of all violent incidents taking place in or around a pub or club, and almost two-thirds of these happen at night. As well as this, the total cost of alcohol-related crime & disorder to the taxpayer is estimated to be between £8bn - £13bn.
ScotGov: Opposition parties have been invited to talks on the findings of the Independent Budget Review which sets out a range of options that could be considered in addressing the Budget challenges facing Scotland. The public has also been invited to give their views - there is no definitive closing date, but comments should be sent in a.s.a.p.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has announced plans to update its Remuneration Code to take on board remuneration rules required by the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD 3) and the Financial Services Act 2010 (FS Act). The FSA also reports on the implementation of the Code so far, lessons learned from last year’s implementation and discusses progress made in achieving international alignment.
The consultation period closes on 8 October 2010. The FSA intends to issue a policy statement in November 2010 with rules effective from 1 January 2011.
DH: A consultation (closes on 22 October 2010) to help improve care services & healthcare outcomes for adults with autism in England has been launched by Care Services Minister, Paul Burstow.
This is the next step to help adults with autism live full & independent lives as equal & included citizens and follows the publication of the strategy for adults with autism: Fulfilling and rewarding lives.
CC: The Competition Commission (CC) is consulting (closes on 3 September 2010) on changes to the way retail payment protection insurance (retail PPI) is sold.
In a document published last week, the CC outlines changes that will see clearer information provided to customers on the cost of retail PPI cover and their rights; 'unbundling' PPI from merchandise cover and a requirement for providers to supply information to the new Consumer Financial Education Body (CFEB) for its price comparison tables. Comments on the draft decision are now invited and should be made in writing to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIS: The Default Retirement Age (DRA) will be consigned to the history books by October 2011 under proposals published for consultation (closes on 21 October 2010) by the Government last week.
The new plans allow for a six month transition from the existing regulations, following the announcement in the Budget that the DRA would be phased out from April 2011.
The consultation also proposes to help employers by removing the administrative burden of statutory retirement procedures. With the DRA removed there is no reason to keep employees ‘right to request’ working beyond retirement or for employers to give them a minimum of six months notice of retirement.
CLG: The public will be given the power to veto excessive council tax rises Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, announced last week. Under the new proposals laid out in a technical consultation (closes on 10 September 2010) any council that set its council tax increase above a set ceiling, approved in a democratic & transparent manner by Parliament each year, would trigger an automatic referendum of all registered electors in their area.
Residents would be asked to choose between the proposed rise and a 'shadow budget', which the council must also prepare within the defined limit. A no vote would leave councils having to refund taxpayers or give a credit at the end of the tax year.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency, Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government are jointly inviting people to share their views (by 25 August 2010) on the European Commission's 'TSE Roadmap 2' and the accompanying Commission staff working document.
Although the roadmap contains no specific proposals or timetable for change, it identifies areas where changes could be made to TSE measures in the future.
Defra: The Government’s review of waste policies has been formally launched (closes on 7 October 2010). Opening a call for evidence, Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, called on businesses, households, communities, and local authorities in England to contribute their views.
ScotGov: Views of Orkney & Shetland communities are being sought as part of a study into potential cost reduction measures on the Northern Isles ferry services currently provided by NorthLink Ferries. The study will be carried out by BM Consulting and Reference Economic Consultants who will shortly contact a range of ferry users and other interested parties for their views.
People can also contribute their views by email to NIF consultation (by Tuesday 31 August 2010) or by writing to: Scottish Government, Ferries Division, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ. The work will be carried out over the next few weeks and the working group will report back to Ministers in the autumn.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
HO: The UK Border Agency has issued new policy guidance following the judgments in the cases of Secretary of State for the Home Department v Pankina 2010 EWCA Civ 719.
The guidance affects migrants under all tiers of the points-based system whose applications were refused solely because they failed to meet the maintenance (funds) requirements, and who unsuccessfully applied:
* from outside the UK between 23 June and 22 July 2010 inclusive; or
* from inside the UK (at a time when they had lawful status in the UK) on or before 22 July 2010.
NICE: From 26 July 2010, specialist cancer teams are tasked with improving the care & treatment of patients whose cancer has spread to other parts of the body from an unknown primary location. The re-organisation of cancer services for this group of patients is one of a raft of measures being recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to tackle the current inequality in care these patients often receive compared with people who have a site-specific type of cancer such as breast, lung or prostate.
This guideline has received the support of the National Cancer Peer Review Programme in England, which is studying the recommendations to develop a number of peer review measures. These are ‘quality measures’ that hospitals are required to follow and are assessed against with the aim of improving care for cancer patients and their families.
NICE has produced a podcast to help explain the guideline’s key recommendations & the thinking behind them, as well as other tools to help healthcare professionals implement the guideline and a booklet for patients & carers.
TfL: With the Mayor's flagship cycling scheme Barclays Cycle Hire being launched, a new film has been released online packed with essential advice to help new, rusty or current cyclists to polish up their on-the-road skills.
To help people get the most out of cycling in London and Barclays Cycle Hire, the short animated video produced by Transport for London (TfL) provides tips for new cyclists such as finding the ideal road position and staying visible by avoiding blind spots of larger vehicles. The film also highlights TfL's common sense 'Code of Conduct' that all Barclays Cycle Hire users are expected to adhere to. It can be viewed along with a short film explaining how Barclays Cycle Hire works HERE.
NICE: Women should be encouraged to achieve a healthy weight before they become pregnant and advised that there is no need to 'eat for 2’ when pregnant. These are just 2 of the recommendations included in new public health guidance published by NICE on dietary & physical activity interventions for weight management before, during & after pregnancy.
NICE: People with motor neurone disease could live longer & more comfortably if their respiratory problems are identified & managed more effectively. This is what NICE is hoping to achieve from its new clinical guideline on the management of non-invasive mechanical ventilation, out last week.
NICE: Individual care by a trained multidisciplinary team can help prevent delirium for those people identified at risk, according to new guidelines published last week. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) also recommends health professionals should 'think delirium' whenever people are admitted to hospital or long-term care.
This new clinical guideline describes methods of preventing, identifying, diagnosing and managing delirium. In particular, the guideline focuses on preventing delirium in people identified to be at risk, using a targeted, multi-component, drug-free intervention that is tailored for each individual.
NICE: Rituximab (MabThera, Roche Products) will now be routinely available to certain NHS patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, thanks to final guidance published last week. The NHS has 3 months to begin implementing this new guidance.
Newswire – NHSC: The NHS Confederation has highlighted that NHS chief executive, Sir David Nicholson, wrote to trusts on 29 July, setting out new guidance to the NHS on handling service reconfigurations. In the revised Operating Framework for 2010/11, published on 21 June, the Secretary of State set out four key tests against which reconfiguration processes need to be assessed. The processes involved in future reconfigurations are provided in more detail in Sir David Nicholson’s letter to the NHS.
IfL: The Institute for Learning (IfL) has published six case studies as part of a research project to help boost teachers' & trainers' skills in using new technologies to support their professional development.
The case studies explore the barriers & challenges that IfL members face in capturing their continuing professional development (CPD), and outline a variety of successful approaches.
LBRO: Improving the quality of life in Wales is at the heart of priorities set out in a new document prepared by the Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) for the Welsh Assembly Government. The National Enforcement Priorities for Wales establish 4 areas on which local authorities should concentrate their regulatory efforts: safer food, more secure communities, healthier workplaces and fairer trading.
IfL: The Institute for Learning (IfL) and the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) have published a guide to effective continuing professional development (CPD) for teachers, trainers and leaders.
ACE: Arts Council England have now published their annual review for 2010, which looks back on a year of ‘radical thinking & great change’ for the Arts Council as they worked to reduce their running costs by 15% and to manage the impact of a budget reduction of £19m, in addition to an earlier in-year reduction of £4m - bringing the total to £23m.
NAO: Amyas Morse, the Comptroller and Auditor General, has limited the scope of his audit opinion on the 2009-10 accounts of the Ministry of Defence, as he did for the MOD’s 2008-09 accounts, because the Department was unable to provide evidence to support the existence and value of certain assets & inventory balances.
He has also qualified his audit opinion because the Department’s accounting policies are not fully compliant with International Financial Reporting Standards.
COI: The Central Office of Information (COI) has published its annual report & accounts for 2009/10. The figures reflect the combined spend of numerous government departments and public sector bodies that used its services during 2009/10. A freeze has since been placed on government advertising & marketing spend by the new Government. During this financial year only essential new & existing campaigns will be allowed to continue.
COI is currently undertaking an internal review of its shape and size to ensure it remains efficient & effective, during the freeze & beyond. This includes assessing the services it delivers and establishing new opportunities offered by the evolving media landscape.
LR: Land Registry, the government department responsible for land registration in England & Wales has published its annual report and accounts for 2009/10.
UKBA: A report published by the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency has found significant weaknesses in current family removal procedures and no processes in place to collect, analyse & publish information on families who are subject to removal.
The report - Family Removals: A thematic inspection - focussed on the efficiency & effectiveness of the Agency’s approach to removing families who have no right to remain in the UK. The report also took into account the Agency’s obligation to have regard to the need to safeguard & promote the welfare of children.
UKBA: A report published by the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency represents the poorest performance seen in a UK Border Agency business area to date.
In some cases it was almost impossible to determine why visas had been issued, when others had been refused on identical or very similar evidence. In the worst cases, the Independent Chief Inspector found that visas that should have been refused were granted and visas that should have been granted were refused.
Ofsted: Ofsted’s first national annual survey of social workers’ views (Safeguarding and looked after children) has been published. The survey is issued alongside a report on the views of over 1,500 third sector organisations who provide services for children & young people across most local authorities in England.
These surveys provide a window on the views & experience of front line staff as they work to safeguard & protect children.
IPO: The annual IP (Intellectual Property) Crime Report reveals the extensive action being taken across the country and the significant collaboration between all the agencies involved in tackling intellectual property crime. The report reveals millions of fake items were seized through operations into everything from market traders to internet auction sites.
General Reports and Other Publications
Newswire – EC: The Electoral Commission has published its statutory report on the UK Parliamentary and English local elections on 6 May 2010. Although the Commission found that the elections were well run in the vast majority of constituencies, it recommends immediate action to ensure voter confidence for future elections.
The report outlines an agenda for the UK Government that needs to be implemented over the next 5 years, aimed at ensuring future confidence in the electoral process.
STFC: An international team of researchers, including several from the UK, at the U.S Department of Energy's Fermilab have announced results at the International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP) in Paris, that indicate that the quest to discover the elusive Higgs boson particle has taken a giant leap forward, drawing closer to answering questions on the makeup of the Universe.
These latest results, which were obtained by the scientists at Fermilab's DZero and CDF projects, significantly narrow down the possible mass range of the Higgs boson particle, ruling out a quarter of the mass range that has previously been thought possible.
NAO: The National Audit Office has concluded that, by setting up an Infrastructure Financing Unit, HM Treasury helped reactivate the lending market for private finance projects which was putting government PFI programmes in doubt as a result of the credit crisis.
While the extra finance costs for projects in 2009 were value for money in the short term to achieve the government objective of stimulating the economy, the Treasury should not presume that continuing the use of private finance at current rates will be value for money.
ScotGov: First Minister Alex Salmond wrote last week to Senator Robert Menendez of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, responding to his 5 questions in relation the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing, which Senator Menendez chaired. Last week, Mr Salmond issued a substantive letter to Senator John Kerry, which Senator Kerry described as ‘thoughtful and thorough’.
NAO: The Children & Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) could have responded more quickly & cost effectively to the large & sustained increase in care cases from local authorities following the Baby Peter tragedy, had it fully resolved known organisational challenges, according to a report by the National Audit Office.
But Cafcass’s management could not have predicted the sustained increase in care cases from November 2008. It is now implementing a £10m transformation programme that should allow it to improve how it deals with future fluctuations in demand. In order to be successful, these changes will require greater organisational cohesiveness and improvements in staff morale.
Newswire – Demos: The system of excluding badly behaved pupils from school should be abolished because it punishes vulnerable children, according to Demos. New government statistics show that 6,550 students in primary, secondary & special education schools were permanently excluded in 2008/09, a figure that the independent think tank classes as ‘6,550 too many’.
The current exclusion rules, which hand difficult pupils over to local authorities, are used too often and usually affect children with special educational needs who need extra support, according to a report published by Demos earlier this year. The Ex Curricula report called for difficult children to remain the responsibility of the head teacher and be dealt with through special support within the school.
Newswire – AC: As Lord Hutton’s review of public sector pensions gets under way, the Audit Commission published the results of its research into the largest of them all - the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS).
The Commission’s paper Local Government Pensions in England addresses a major financial issue for local government, affecting the cost of council services and influencing future council tax levels.
BIS: The Government has published two command papers setting out its response to reports published during the previous Parliament by the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee on Impact of spending cuts on science & scientific research and the Lords Science and Technology Select Committee on Setting priorities for publicly funded research.
ESRC: A study by a team of researchers at Bangor University has designed & tested two programmes that help problem drinkers curb their alcohol abuse. The study shows positive results after drinkers have followed either the Alcohol Attention-Control Training Programme (AACTP) or the Life Enhancement and Advancement Programme (LEAP).
BIS: Commenting on the report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and Internocracy on unpaid internships, Minister for Universities & Science, David Willetts said: "We will be considering the IPPR report carefully over the coming weeks. "Young people have been the biggest victims of the recession. We are committed to helping them get into work and realise their ambitions. Internships can contribute to this, but the exploitation of interns is unacceptable and employment legislation must not be breached”.
Legislation / Legal
HO: The Home Office will appeal against a High Court ruling which found that giving less than 72 hours notice before removing someone from the country is illegal. Following the judgment, the policy of implementing exceptions to the 72 hour notice period will stop, pending the outcome of the appeal.
HO: The government has announced its intention to abolish the 'certificate of approval' scheme. A Remedial Order under the Human Rights Act 1998 has been laid in Parliament to achieve this aim. At present, any migrant who is already in the UK and is subject to immigration control must apply for a ‘certificate of approval’ before they can get married or register a civil partnership in this country (unless they are getting married within the Anglican Church).
The government is now seeking to remedy the declaration by the UK courts that the scheme is incompatible with Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (read with Article 12). Additionally, changes made following rulings from the courts have weakened the scheme and it is no longer an effective method of preventing sham marriage. Applicants will need to follow the current process until further notice.
FCO: Research recently commissioned by the Foreign Office (FCO) showed that a third of people didn’t know that if you take your child abroad without the permission of the other parent, this may be considered abduction under UK law.
The FCO’s Child Abduction Section handled over 200 new cases between April 2009 – March 2010. Many of these involved abductions to countries that have not ratified the 1980 Hague Convention where parents can face great difficulties getting their children returned.
MoJ: Over the past months, the public have been commenting online at the programme for government website to help inform how the coalition government approaches justice in the UK. The Ministry of Justice has listened to what you’ve had to say. You can see the MoJ’s ideas & first steps by reading the response to the programme for government.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: The Big Lottery Fund (BIG) has opened its search for an organisation to set up and run a £200m independent charitable trust that will help ‘turn urban & rural neighbourhoods across England into better places to live’. BIG is calling for expressions of interest from organisations who wish to run the Trust by Thursday 12 August 2010.
CO: Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, and Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd, have written an open letter to the voluntary, community & social enterprise sectors asking them to share ideas about how they can help reduce the deficit directly with the Office for Civil Society (by20 August 2010). Ideas & examples from the sector can be posted on the Cabinet Office website or e-mailed directly to email@example.com.
Business and Other Briefings
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has recently published its near final rules to strengthen the financial resilience of the credit union sector and reduce the number of credit union failures. On average, around 6 credit unions are declared in default each year with customers compensated by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
The new rules aim to improve the financial soundness of credit unions and therefore maintain consumer choice in the financial services sector. The rules will be contained in a new Credit Union sourcebook (CREDS), which will replace the existing sourcebook CRED.
BIS: Vince Cable and George Osborne have launched a consultation paper to encourage an industry-led recovery by addressing the problems businesses face accessing finance. The paper, ‘Financing a Private Sector Recovery’, sets out the range of finance options for different sized businesses, explores where the market is failing to provide and if there is a role for government intervention – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information
HM Revenue & Customs Brief announcing changes to the application of the zero rate to new buildings and that, following a review, the phrase 'solely for a relevant residential or relevant charitable purpose' could incorporate a de minimis margin.
BS: Buying Solutions has launched its new online aggregation portal designed to provide all interested public sector organisations with the chance to register their interest in aggregation opportunities. If you have a generic requirement, why don’t you consider pooling demand with other organisations to gain economies of scale, shared resources and operational benefits?
OS: GeoVation, the geography innovation awards programme now in its second year, has announced a prize fund of £25,000 to support the development of winning ideas. This year the Ordnance Survey-backed initiative is asking entrepreneurs, developers and community groups to focus their efforts on using geography to address 3 distinct challenges.
The first is around the question; ‘How can Britain feed itself?’, where geography could play a vital role in helping connect people to farming and locally produced & sustainable sources of food. Among the ideas already submitted are the building of urban rooftop allotments and the creation of the ‘Real’ Farmville, where people could share and buy real produce.
Sam Henderson of Agrarian Renaissance, an organisation seeking to reconnect local farmers to their communities, supports the challenge. Entrants have until 3 September 2010 to submit their ideas, before a shortlist will be invited to pitch at a Dragons’ Den style event in the New Year for a slice of the prize fund.
The winner’s of last year’s awards, who scooped a £21,000 prize fund between them, have all now developed real applications, websites or products thanks to GeoVation. The giant 20 square metre MaxiMap is being used in schools across the country and the heritage plaque finder website (http://www.plaqueguide.com/) is now live. The third winner, Mission:Explore London, has an iPhone app ready to launch at the end of July.
ScotGov: A new green scheme that recycles food waste has been launched. The Commercial Food Waste Collection Service, run by Keenan Recycling, creates BSI accredited compost from items such as leftover food, coffee grounds, cups & paper towels collected from businesses & restaurants in the North East.
The Government plans to introduce legislation requiring mandatory food waste collections by 2013, leading to savings for LAs. This will increase the quality of other waste that can be separated & recycled for value.
WAG: Companies developing the latest technologies to improve healthcare in Wales – ranging from remote monitoring of patients, to accessing medical records from a mobile – are set to benefit from a new innovation centre in Swansea.
The centre, which has received £446,002 funding from the Welsh Assembly Government under the EU backed Academic Expertise for Business (A4B) programme, is specialising in E-health – the umbrella term for healthcare practice supported by electronic processes & communication.
BIS: Six successful bidders will share £660,000 match funding from the Department of Business for gas refuelling or electric vehicle charging infrastructure projects in the latest round of support from the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Grant Programme.
The projects will install infrastructure to support public & private sector fleets in trialling a wide range of natural gas, bio-gas and electric vehicles including buses, HGVs, and refuse collection vehicles.
WAG: A unique project that will develop innovative technology to test clean electricity generation from the tides off the West Wales coast is to receive a £1.4m EU funding boost. The money will be spent on a feasibility study to develop DeltaStream technology and assess the suitability of a site in West Wales for tidal stream testing.
As part of the package Tidal Energy Limited, the Company behind the technology, will be able to carry out site surveys, environmental assessments & design work at the proposed demonstration site at Ramsey Sound, Pembrokeshire. It is expected that the funding will lead to the deployment of a full-scale prototype device in 2011.
WAG: True Taste Award-winning Caffi Florence has launched a scheme on Facebook to allow food producers with a glut of fresh produce to find a buyer. The scheme, believed to be the first of its kind, is at ‘localfoodnortheastwales’ on Facebook and allows growers & buyers to post who has an abundance of fresh local produce and who is ready to buy it.
BIS: Business & Enterprise Minister, Mark Prisk, has announced a £1.5m investment in the development of wave energy technology during a visit to the South West RDA’s Wave Hub project at Hayle. He said the additional £1.5m grant from the RDA would allow wave energy company - Ocean Power Technologies Ltd (OPT) - to develop a larger version of its ‘Powerbuoy’ wave energy device.
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