In the News
Wired-Gov Plus weekly newsletter welcomes back its readers after a somewhat ‘soggy’ August break.
Consultations: While we were away: This week’s web-based part of the newsletter includes many of the 40+ consultations that have been announced since we last published a month ago. Click HERE to access Consultations section.
Newswire: Thinking outside the Government Spin – Previously Wired-Gov Plus has included the occasional opinion / report from assorted ‘Think Tanks / Research Organisations’ in its Newswire section. As we now regularly monitor an increasing number of these websites, we will be shortly loading new items to a dedicated section, which you will be able to add to your personal selection of news alerts.
The editorial ream would welcome any suggestions from readers as to any additional organisations that should be monitored for publications (Contact Us), in order to provide a ‘balance’ of views.
Items in this category for the last month include:
* New research shows conspiracy theories play important role in tipping people into extremism. The report, The Power of Unreason (from the think tank Demos), is based on the analysis of conspiracy theories in extremist groups. It looked at religious, far-right & left, eco, anarchic and cult-based extremism. It found that conspiracy theories are frequently adopted by extremist groups to demonise outsiders, discredit moderates and can push them in a more extreme and sometimes violent direction.
* The Chancellor claimed in his Budget speech, that the June 2010 Budget was a 'progressive Budget'. Researchers from the Institute of Fiscal Studies have cast doubt on this claim and, using analysis published by the DWP, they have attempted to reflect the impact of all the benefit cuts announced in the Budget.
* Responding to the latest borrowing figures from the ONS, Mark Littlewood, Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs, expresses grave concern that these figures disguise the gravity of Britain’s financial situation. Research calculates the real national debt at £4.8 trillion, a staggering 333% of GDP or £78,000 per person. The study's calculation includes liabilities such as public sector & state pensions, as well as an allowance for the bailed-out banks.
* In the new report, Access All Areas, Demos urges action to be taken to get disadvantaged young people into internships normally dominated by the middle classes. A 2008 study found there was significant correlation between socio-economic background and the social status of work places, indicating that work placements can compound the class divide. Demos said that the state stands to make significant savings by getting young people, who would otherwise be NEET (not in employment, education or training), off welfare and into the workplace.
* The Institute for Government set out its views on fiscal consolidation, alongside the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), in a briefing shortly after the election. A vital element (based on the experience of countries like Canada & Sweden) is securing a public mandate.
* Referral management: lessons for success is the latest in the Quality in a cold climate series of reports from The King’s Fund evaluating how the NHS can maintain quality & avoid cutting services, while delivering the £14-20bn savings needed under current funding projections. The report lays out 7 practical principles that commissioners can look to in considering referral management strategies.
* GPs’ lack of involvement in maternity care is undermining the care of pregnant women & their families, according to a report published for The King’s Fund’s Inquiry into the Quality of General Practice in England. The GPs’ role in maternity care has all but disappeared over the past 30 years, with recent policy & guidance omitting any reference to their role in caring for pregnant women.
* People living on Bradford's traditionally white estates want to be given the chance to improve their own lives and change the perception held by the rest of society, according to a new report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
UKOC: Shock, Horror! - 10m adults in the UK have never accessed Wired-Gov Plus - This year, the fourth annual Get online day has grown to become a full Get online week, and it's set to be bigger & better than ever before. More than 3,000 Get online week events will be held across the country between 18 & 24 October 2010, helping tens of thousands of people to get started with computers and the internet.
The campaign - from UK online centres - is backed by Race Online 2012 partners including the BBC, the Post Office and mobile network Three.
90% of all new jobs require basic internet skills and 7m jobs were posted online last year. However, there are still 10m adults in the UK who have never used the internet and are missing out on the benefits, opportunities & savings it can provide. What's more, the problem is worst for those already at a disadvantage. If you're older, disabled, or on a low income, you're far more likely to be off-line.
CLG: The same rights & rules for everyone means that equality is ‘seen’ to be achieved - Travellers who ‘play by the rules’ will get the same rights as other mobile home residents and could benefit from more authorised sites under plans announced recently by Communities & Local Government, Secretary Eric Pickles. Travellers on official local authority sites will benefit from changes to legislation that will give them the same rights & responsibilities as residents on other mobile home sites.
At the same time, top-down Whitehall planning rules on travellers which Ministers believe has undermined community cohesion and harmed the countryside will be scrapped. Such rules have, Ministers believe, undermined community cohesion by creating a perception amongst many people of ‘different' planning rules for the travelling community and for the settled community. Planning rules should be the same for all.
The Government has also announced that councils will be given incentives through the New Homes Bonus scheme to deliver new housing and Ministers have announced that this will include authorised traveller sites. Details of the scheme will be set out in a public consultation later in 2010.
TfL: Transport for London (TfL), the Mayor of London's Transport Adviser, Kulveer Ranger and celebrity cyclist Jon Snow, have joined together to urge London's cyclists to get their bikes security marked, as police stations across the Capital fill up with recovered stolen bikes which can't be reunited with their owners.
CEOP: A network of paedophiles who shared child sexual abuse images on the social networking site Facebook has been smashed in an international operation led in the UK by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre and Sussex Police and in partnership with police in Australia and Canada.
MoD: Now in its second year, Families' Activity Breaks (FAB) is helping Service families as they cope with bereavement following the death of a loved one. The scheme is the brainchild of Major Belinda Forsyth, a Royal Military Police Officer, who was asked to create a holiday scheme for bereaved Service families by the Army Widows' Association while working at the Directorate of Personal Services (Army).
The idea of an activity break was put forward and the project was given enthusiastic support by the Youth Hostel Association, which provides the accommodation. The project has now grown to offer 4 holiday locations - as well as Whitby, familes can choose from the Cairngorms in the Scottish Highlands, Coverack in Cornwall and Conwy in Wales.
MoD: A 6-man team made up of personnel from the Royal Marines, the British Army and the US Marine Corps (USMC) are about to take part in a 3,530-mile run from one side of America to the other to raise funds for injured servicemen & women on both sides of the Atlantic. They will begin their epic marathon on Friday 10 September 2010 and will run across 16 states and 4 time zones, completing approximately 20 miles a day each, for 8 weeks.
Being hailed as the 'Gumpathon', after the Hollywood movie 'Forrest Gump' which saw the title character run all over the world, the quest will raise money for 2 Service charities in the UK (the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund and Help for Heroes) and, in the US, the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. The team aims to raise £1m for each of the charities.
MoD: At the Kabul Military Training Centre (KMTC), the first stop for recruits to the Afghan National Army (ANA), British forces are mentoring the Afghan instructors, who are now doing the teaching. The KMTC is where Afghan soldiers receive their basic training on enlistment. The training itself is run by ANA instructors under the advisement and mentoring of ISAF forces.
The British-run Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) Training Team, or 'Bridmal' Team in Dari, and the Officer Candidate School (OCS) are part of the KMTC force. Much as British Army officers go through a rigorous selection & training process, potential Afghan officer candidates are put through a 20-week commissioning course at the KMTC as part of the officer selection course. The package is designed to teach candidates basic military skills, but also leadership, command and man-management capabilities.
Newswire – LGA: The Local Government Challenge 2011 has begun and applications are now open for candidates who think they have the drive, determination & ability to one day lead their council as an inspiring chief executive.
Organised by the Local Government Group, it gives the 10 short-listed hopefuls the opportunity to demonstrate their skills & potential through a string of tough real-life challenges, laid on by councils around the country. The winner, who will have displayed the creative, communication and leadership skills expected of a top council executive, will receive the prestigious & career enhancing Bruce-Lockhart Scholarship.
Newswire – WWF: With only 5% of rivers in England & Wales described as being in a pristine condition a new survey has been launched by a coalition of conservationists to celebrate and bring attention to some of Britain's best loved & long forgotten rivers.
The Our Rivers Campaign (which includes the RSPB, WWF-UK, the Angling Trust and the Salmon & Trout Association) is calling on people to take part in the first ever Our Rivers Awards by going online & voting for the 'best' or 'worst' river in England & Wales.
MoD: Two years ago he was shot in the thigh by a single bullet from a Taliban AK-47. It shattered his femur, and, more than 2 years later, his leg is still fitted with a metal frame supporting the bone as it painfully grows back. While recovering, Colonel David Richmond has been speaking out on behalf of all wounded soldiers and his public criticism of compensation for those injured while serving, led to him joining the committee supporting a thorough review of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.
Colonel Richmond's strong personal views also influenced consideration of the process of submitting claims:
"The burden shouldn't be on the claimant to make the claim, to pursue it and then worry about it," he said. "That person has probably got a million other things to worry about. He could be blind or only have one limb.
"Individuals are vulnerable at that time. You need this system as a crutch, supporting you, not something you've got to chase and to fight."
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DECC: The Government has set out how it will license the storage of carbon dioxide under the sea bed, following responses to its recent consultation on the geological storage of CO2. DECC will now lay the regulations in Parliament in order to comply with European rules on the underground storage of carbon dioxide and these will come into effect on 1 October 2010.
CLG: Eric Pickles has ‘succeeded in his quest’ to ban the reams of forms, high costs & red tape getting in the way of communities organising street parties & summer fetes. From now on, instead of organisers being met with endless, confusing guidelines on food licences, road closures & insurance - councils can ask street party organisers to complete one simple form.
Previously, some small community groups were asked to apply for up to 5 separate licences and found it tricky to get upfront advice on what to do. They also found out about hidden costs right at the last minute, causing delays or cancellations to community events.
Consultations announced during Wired-Gov Plus’s summer break:
HCA: The Mayor of London Boris Johnson and London Councils have put forward plans for sweeping changes which could see London boroughs taking greater control of their housing budgets, as part of a proposed devolution package from Whitehall to London.
Newswire – CWDC: The Coalition Government have announced restrictions on the number of workers entering the UK from outside Europe. Skills for Care & Development are coordinating a response from the social work & social care sectors to the MAC to ensure employer views are represented. (Non-UK workers from inside the EEA will not be affected by the new limits.)
WAG: The Welsh Assembly Government is currently seeking people’s views on the draft food strategy for Wales, 'Food for Wales, Food from Wales 2010-2020'. To complement this, a series of regional consultation events will be held throughout Wales in September 2010.
WAG: As part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Bovine TB Eradication programme, the Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones, has launched a consultation on a draft legislative order to control TB in camelids, goats & deer.
WAG: Proposals to reduce the time taken on the legal process for school reorganisations have been published for consultation.
ScotGov: An action plan setting out a 3-year vision for improving the health & wellbeing of people with diabetes has been published. The Scottish Diabetes Action Plan 2010 offers the opportunity for the diabetes community to work together to share best practice, support & deliver high quality care.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government is consulting on regulations to govern national tenancy deposit schemes aimed at preventing landlords from wrongly withholding cash from tenants. Wrongly withheld tenancy deposits in Scotland may amount to nearly £3.6m p.a. - due to between 8,000 and 11,000 tenants.
ScotGov: Communities have been urged to speak up for rural Scotland and join the debate into its future. A three month consultation has been launched on plans devised by the Rural Development Council to help economic recovery.
OFT: The OFT is consulting on draft guidance which sets out in detail how it conducts investigations into potential breaches of competition law.
Ofcom: Consumers in Hull could soon benefit from better value for money communications packages under moves unveiled by Ofcom.
NICE: In its latest draft guidance, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) remains unable to recommend omalizumab (Xolair, Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK) for the treatment of severe persistent allergic asthma in children aged 6-11 years.
NICE: NICE is currently updating part of its guidance on the use of peginterferon alfa & ribavirin for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C.
NICE: NICE is currently developing a clinical guideline on the assessment & management of psychosis with co-existing substance misuse in adults & young people.
NICE: NICE has recently opened the consultation on its draft clinical guideline on the diagnosis & assessment of food allergies in children & young people.
Monitor: Monitor has published a consultation on changes to the Principles & Rules for Co-operation & Competition.
LLUK: Lifelong Learning UK is currently reviewing the National Occupational Standards for Work with Parents. The standards were approved in April 2005, and were recently incrementally changed to remove level associations.
LLUK: Current NVQs in learning & development will not be available beyond March 2011. There is an urgent need to consult on what qualifications would be appropriate to replace these. Lifelong Learning UK are working with partners across all sectors to propose new qualifications for the learning & development workforce.
HO: The Government has published a consultation on the new drug strategy, which sets out the key themes of the Government’s vision for drugs policy – which includes preventing drug taking, disrupting drug supply, strengthening enforcement and promoting drug treatment & recovery. The targeted consultation is an opportunity for drug experts, charities and law enforcement agencies to help inform the new drug strategy, which will be launched before the end of 2010.
HO: The Home Office has launched the consultation Policing in the 21st Century: Reconnecting Police and the People, which contains proposals for ways to make police in England & Wales more responsive, more accountable, more effective and better value for money.
HO: Rebalancing the Licensing Act - a consultation on empowering individuals, families and local communities to shape & determine local licensing
EU News: The European Commission's Reflection Group ("Comité des Sages") on digitisation has launched a consultation on how best to foster the online presence of cultural heritage.
DWP: The Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) has been asked by the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions to consider proposals for The Employment and Support Allowance (Limited Capability For Work And Limited Capability For Work-Related Activity) Amendment Regulations 2011.
DWP: The Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) has been asked by the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions to consider proposals for the Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2010, and the associated amendments to the Rent Officers (Housing Benefit Functions Order) 2010.
DWP: Set out in a Command Paper entitled 21st Century Welfare are a series of options which focus on ensuring work always pays and is clearly seen to pay. They include allowing people to keep more of what they earn as they move into work whilst withdrawing benefits at a single, more reasonable rate as people start to earn more money. They include allowing people to keep more of what they earn as they move into work whilst withdrawing benefits at a single, more reasonable rate as people start to earn more money.
DFID: The Government is set to put the fight against malaria at the forefront of aid efforts in Africa, International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, has announced.
Defra: 15 new Marine Protected Areas have been created, designed to protect important habitats and species. 2 consultations have also started for sites at the Dogger Bank in the North Sea and proposed new boundaries for Lune Deep and Prawle Point to Start Point.
Defra: The new Task Force on Farming Regulation are calling for opinions & ideas on ways to improve approaches to regulation as part of a wide ranging consultation.
Defra: The Food & Environment Research Agency (Fera) would like to hear from anyone who markets vegetable seed to amateur gardeners as part of a consultation on the implementation of new European legislation.
CLG: Communities and Local Government has published a consultation on the consolidation & amendment of the EIA Regulations. The amendments will revoke & consolidate 4 previous Statutory Instruments (SIs).
CLG: Students studying at universities in Europe will receive the same council tax exemptions as students studying here under new proposals by Local Government Minister Bob Neill.
BIS: John Hayes has launched a consultation on the future of the right to request time to train. The legal right for workers in businesses with more than 250 employees to request time to take up relevant training came into effect from 6 April 2010.
BIS: The Government has launched a consultation on how best to ensure that corporate narrative reporting consistently provides clear, coherent & relevant information - enabling a good understanding of the performance & prospects of a business.
CQC: The Care Quality Commission has joined together with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to create guidance for inspectors & assessors. The guidance, created with the help of the CQC Voices for Equality and Human Rights group, will help to ensure robust scrutiny of human rights issues within CQC essential standards of quality & safety.
ACE: On 19 May 2010 the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, announced legislation that could see arts, heritage and sport each receiving an extra £50m a year in Lottery funding. The Department for Culture, Media & Sport is currently consulting on this proposal and you can take part in this process at the DCMS website.
Newswire – LC: In a consultation launched recently, the Law Commission sets out the case for reducing the scope for criminal law to be used in regulated fields such as farming, food safety,
banking & retail sales. Criminal sanctions should only be used to tackle serious wrongdoing.
CLG: A major new 'localism' proposal to cut red tape and hand over financial control of council service improvements & training to local government leaders was announced recently by Communities & Local Government Minister, Bob Neill.
Under new proposals, the Local Government Association (LGA) or a similar body will take control over how to use funding that gets redirected, or 'top-sliced', by Whitehall from the Revenue Support Grant (RSG) councils receive each year.
DfE: Children’s Minister Tim Loughton has called on all local authorities to make it easier for foster carers to make decisions for the children in their care, and free them from over-zealous restrictions & bureaucracy. In a letter to all local authorities, the minister outlined his concern at accounts of excessive restrictions on foster carers imposed by some local authorities.
The letter coincides with the launch of a consultation (closes on Friday 19 November 2010) on proposed changes to Children’s Homes and Fostering guidance & regulations. The changes are designed to reduce delay in foster placements, streamline bureaucracy and remove overly prescriptive regulations, including proposals to reduce the size of fostering and adoption panels
Newswire: The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) have launched an Offender Learning Review(closing date is the 24 September 2010) that covers offender learning in custody and in the community. The review gives the opportunity for colleges & providers to provide evidence to BIS to inform a Ministerial Meeting in October 2010 between BIS, DWP and the MoJ that will inform the MoJ ‘Rehabilitation Revolution’ Green Paper to be published in November 2010.
EA: Extended consultation on draft decision to grant an environmental permit for the Viridor Energy from Waste plant at Trident Park, Cardiff - The Environment Agency want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to comment so, in response to concerns about people being unavailable to comment during the school summer holiday, they have extended the consultation deadline to 10 September 2010.
Newswire – DirectGov: What can be done to improve family justice? If you have views about issues such as divorce proceedings, contact with children after family breakdown, cases of children going in to care, or of mediation - the Family Justice Review (FJR) would like to hear from you.
The FJR was set up earlier this year and is investigating how to improve the family justice system. The FJR particularly wants to hear from you if you have experienced or been affected by divorce, child contact or residence issues or care proceedings for children. To support this, a short questionnaire has been designed to make it easy for you to give feedback on the way the system could be improved.
FSA: A Russian company has applied to the Food Standards Agency for approval to market taxifolin as a novel food ingredient. Taxifolin is extracted from a type of larch wood and has been marketed in Russia & the US for 15-20 years as a food supplement. The company, Ametis JSG, is seeking an authorisation to market taxifolin as a dietary supplement in dairy, meat and confectionery products, as well as in oil & fats, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
Any comments on the application should be emailed to the ACNFP secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org by 22 September 2010. The comments will be considered by the committee when it begins its assessment of this novel food ingredient.
Newswire – LC: In its latest consultation (closes on 3 December 2010) the Law Commission, which advises the Government on law reform, suggests a shake-up of procedures to bring consistency to the way the main public services ombudsmen do business and make it easier for the public to seek redress. The consultation focuses on 5 statutory ombudsmen: the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, and the Local Government, Health Service and Housing Ombudsmen.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has issued a consultation (closes on 15 October 2010) on detailed proposals to improve local government elections in Scotland. The consultation seeks views on a range of issues including the design of the ballot paper, the election timetable and the timing of the count. It is the third in a series of consultations following the publication of the Independent Review of the 2007 Scottish Parliamentary and Local Government Elections (the Gould Report).
The previous consultations addressed the decoupling of local government elections from elections to the Scottish Parliament and the possible creation of a post of Chief Returning Officer for Scotland.
ScotGov: A consultation has been launched about a Scottish Social Housing Charter. The new legislation proposed in the Housing Bill, currently being considered by the Scottish Parliament includes powers to modernise the regulation of social housing; creating an independent Scottish Housing Regulator, which will safeguard & promote the interests of tenants, homeless people and other service users.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
Newswire – CC: The Charity Commission’s Faith and Social Cohesion Unit (FSCU), whose work came to a close at the end of August 2010, has made a range of new resources for faith-based charities available online.
The resources include:
* tailored guidance on developing a governing document for faith-based groups preparing to register with the Charity Commission
* a pre-registration checklist to track a charity’s progress to registration
* 3 case studies of mosques demonstrating good governance
Ofcom: It’s a hectic time for thousands of teenagers across the country as they sort out their college & university places. And with 101 decisions to make – from where to live to how to manage finances – choices over what phone & internet deal to get can often be pushed to the back of the queue. That’s why Ofcom has put together a guide for students on the communications services they may need during their studies.
ScotGov: Updated advice that focuses on ensuring communities can effectively engage in the planning system has been published by the Scottish Government. The document encourages engagement with communities from the earliest possible stage to enable views to be reflected in development plans and on individual proposals. Delays for communities & developers alike will hopefully then be less likely.
FCO: UK residents make nearly 70m overseas visits each year. Many are going to remote or adventurous destinations which require special preparation, but even if you're going to a country you're familiar with it's important to take proper health precautions before you go. Not doing so could be very costly. You can find up to date information for your destination on the National Travel Health Network & Centre (NaTHNaC) website.
NICE: People who experience spontaneous blackouts may not be receiving accurate or timely diagnoses because of inadequate assessments made by healthcare staff. NICE has published a clinical guideline which hopes to improve the diagnosis and management of this potentially serious symptom.
HSE: Installers, designers, maintenance firms & manufacturers of electric gates, are being urged to seriously consider new safety advice issued by the Health & Safety Executive, following the recent deaths of two children involving these gates. The safety alert points out that limiting the closing forces of gates alone will not provide sufficient protection to meet the relevant standards, and installers must fit additional safeguards to gates in public areas.
EHRC: The Equality and Human Rights Commission and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) are urging small & medium size businesses to examine their pay systems to ensure they comply with equal pay laws.
As part of the Commission’s drive to increase transparency around pay in the workplace, the Commission and the BCC have jointly published a quick & easy guide to help employers do this. The process is relatively simple for a small organisation and should take no longer than 4 hours, according to the guidance.
WAG: Social Justice & Local Government Minister, Carl Sargeant has invited front line staff from criminal justice, health, education and social services to attend a bespoke training course on handling cases of forced marriage.
Working in partnership with the South Wales Police, the Henna Foundation and Black Association Women Step Out (BAWSO), the training will provide guidance for dealing with cases of forced marriage. Funded by the Welsh Assembly Government, the training programme offers practical advice & support which may lead to earlier identification and intervention in cases of forced marriage.
General Reports and Other Publications
Newswire – Civitas: Third-rate courses wrongly presented as 'vocational', must go according to Civitas in its latest publication - Unqualified Success: Investigating the state of vocational training in the UK. Beneath the continuing rise in GCSE results lies a troubling truth about what is happening in schools.
Newswire – AUK: Over 29% of nurses are not confident that it would be noticed if a relative of theirs was malnourished when entering hospital, according to findings released as part of Age UK’s ‘Still Hungry to be Heard campaign’. The results spark fresh fears that older people are still being left to go hungry in hospital.
Last week marked the launch of the Still Hungry to be Heard report, which highlights that insufficient action is being taken to tackle malnutrition in people in later life and provides solutions to solve the issue. Monitoring of malnutrition in hospitals is poor with existing data revealing that 180,000 patients are still leaving hospital malnourished each year and 239 die of malnutrition during their stay.
ESRC: New research from the Institute for Criminal Policy Research at King's College, London, examines whether the police and the youth justice system treat young people from different ethnic groups in different ways.
Newswire – NHS Confed: A new report by the NHS Confederation’s London Relations Programme outlines the significant challenges facing the capital’s health service. The paper, Capital challenge: improving healthcare in London says tough decisions will need to be taken if London’s healthcare is to continue to improve during the financial downturn.
Legislation / Legal
ScotGov: Steps will be taken to strengthen legislation aimed at addressing problems with 'party flats' across Scotland. Part 7 of the Antisocial Behaviour (Scotland) Act 2004 will be amended to make it easier for local authorities to issue Antisocial Behaviour notices to owners of party flats, and bring a case to court with the prospect of a successful verdict.
The Scottish Government will do this by introducing a Scottish Statutory Instrument (SSI), a form of secondary legislation. It is intended to introduce the SSI by the end of this Parliament.
CLG: Local Government Minister, Grant Shapps, has outlined plans to give councils a new power to review and revoke outdated byelaws. This means that old local rules, like those about dickey straps in Hammersmith, fish frying in Gloucester and carpet beating in Blackpool will be a matter for these areas, rather than central government.
Under the current regime, councils would have to first contact the Secretary of State for Local Government for a stamp of approval before they can abolish outdated laws. Instead, under these new reforms councils would be required to consult with local residents based on an assessment of why a law should be created or cancelled - with no need to involve central Government at all. The changes will apply to councils in England only.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: There are between 10m - 12m Roma in the EU (in candidate countries & potential candidate countries in the Western Balkans) and a significant number of them live in extreme marginalisation in both rural & urban areas and in very poor social-economic conditions. The topic has been much in the news recently (especially in France) and the EC has published; Roma people living in the EU: Frequently asked questions.
EU News: The European Commission last week adopted a decision outlining the criteria necessary to achieve good environmental status for Europe's seas. This will help Member States to develop co-ordinated marine strategies within each regional sea, ensuring consistency and allowing progress to be compared between regions. The definition of the criteria is a requirement under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive which aims to achieve good environmental status in all EU marine waters by 2020.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
Newswire – CC: The Charity Commission’s Faith and Social Cohesion Unit (FSCU), whose work came to a close at the end of August 2010, has made a range of new resources for faith-based charities available online – See ‘Guidance Notes & Best Practice Guides’ section for more information.
Business and Other Briefings
LBRO: Retailers, who spend £20m per year on preventing sales to underage people of alcohol, tobacco, spray paint, knives, fireworks and other age-restricted products, have set out their ideas in a new report. The Age-restricted Products Review Group, representing major businesses, trade associations and professional bodies (with around 250,000 retail outlets), has made 12 recommendations in Better Regulation of Age-restricted Products: A Retail View, following an independent investigation for LBRO, the experts on better regulation.
The report's authors want to see the law on underage sales simplified and made more effective, with the current 18 separate pieces of legislation unified. The report says retailers want to stop underage sales but find the regulations brought in to tackle this issue place huge burdens on their business.
HMRC: HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has issued an alert to employers who use its Employer CD-Rom to help run their payroll systems. Employers who are using the CD-ROM must update it now, to ensure it has the most up-to-date guidance & calculators.
HMRC will be replacing the Employer CD-ROM for employers with a new downloadable application – ‘Basic PAYE Tools’ – in February 2011, and downloading the September update will ensure that employers can take full advantage of this new product.
HMRC has reissued guidance on the eligibility of Finnish, Greek and Irish dividends to dividend tax credits
This Brief gives details of an article concerning VAT: leisure trusts
This Brief explains the factsheets that HM Revenue & Customs issue to customers during a compliance check, their purpose, what they explain, and when
ScotGov: First Minister, Alex Salmond welcomed the success of Scotland's Housing Expo as he made a return visit to the sustainable homes event on its penultimate day.
The Expo, backed by £2m Scottish Government capital funding, is a permanent housing development of 27 different projects showcasing innovative, sustainable homes. It aims to encourage better design, including improved energy use & energy conservation, to help cut households' carbon footprint.
Newswire – HCA: An innovative affordable housing scheme that will provide future lessons for eco-development has started on site in Mansfield. 3 special eco-friendly houses are being built within an existing site at Blake Street. Owned by Nottingham Community Housing Association (NCHA), one of the houses will eventually be their first carbon-zero home.
The project has been supported by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and Mansfield District Council (MDC). The 3 houses will be built to levels 4, 5 & 6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH). Level 6 is the highest possible rating creating a zero-carbon home.
Newswire – HPA: The Health Protection Agency will showcase an unusually eventful year in health protection in a diverse & wide-ranging programme of presentations, seminars & lectures at its annual conference, 'Health Protection 2010', which is being held at Warwick University from 14-15 September 2010.
The conference offers a variety of innovative presentations which will demonstrate the latest scientific research & its practical application in three key areas:
* preventing & reducing infectious diseases
* minimising the impact of radiation, chemical & environmental hazards
* preparing for potential or emerging threats to health.
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