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In the News

DWPCaring for others need not mean total poverty in later life - 250,000 people caring for an ill or disabled friend or relative could be missing out on a top up that protects their basic & second State Pensions in later life.  An estimated 1m people have given up work to care for someone and Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, wants ‘hidden’ carers, who could be eligible for Carer’s Credit, to benefit.

Carer’s Credit is not a cash sum now but it credits a person’s National Insurance record for the time they are caring, helping them to build up their State Pension.  People giving up their time for 20+ hours a week to provide unpaid care for a loved one, who are not already claiming Carer’s Allowance, could qualify. There are currently less than 1,000 people getting Carer’s Credit.  The Government & Carers UK are calling for people to help identify hidden carers and encourage more people to ensure they are claiming all they are entitled to.

According to research from Carers UK the majority of people who care for relatives take over a year to realise that they have become a carer.  But if you are giving up time to cook, clean, shop or provide personal care, unpaid, for someone you could be entitled to Carer’s Credit.
Defra:  Climate change impacts on 'fragrance' of River Thames - Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman has given her support to Thames Water’s plans for a tunnel to reduce the amount of raw sewage discharged into the River Thames.  The core of London’s sewage network was designed in the late 19th Century and was designed to overflow at times of heavy rainfall to ensure that sewage did not back up into houses & streets.  Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) were intended to discharge the raw sewage into the Thames in the event of extremely heavy rain.

Increasing populations and changes to land use in London have lead to this occurring around 50 times per year.  With further population growth and projected climate change, this figure is expected to increase in coming decades and spills could occur when there is very little rain.  This also creates problems for the UK’s continued compliance with EU waste water treatment regulations.

Thames Water estimates that the proposed Tunnel will cost £3.6bn which could result in bill increases of around £60-65 per year for Thames Water customers.  Thames Water will shortly launch a consultation exercise on the need for the tunnel, the route and the sites needed to construct and operate the project.  
EU News‘Fairtrade’ for EU food producers also required - The bargaining positions of all players in the human food chain must be rebalanced and fair competition enforced by law, to ensure fair returns to farmers and price transparency to consumers, the EU Parliament said in a resolution voted on last week.

To monitor trading relations between producers and retailers and if necessary rebalance them, an EU-wide instrument could be implemented through specialised bodies in the Member States.  Measures to be taken should include an analysis of possible misuse of private labels (i.e. retailers' "own brand" products) and a pilot project to create an EU farm prices & margins observatory.

MEPs have asked the Commission to report to Parliament by the end of 2010 on buyer power abuse and anti-competitive behaviour anywhere in the food supply chain. MEPs also urged the Commission to table legislation to reduce the maximum period allowed for payments from buyers to producers to 30 days for all foodstuffs. 

Finally, MEPs also ask the Commission to report on the issue of food wastage, which can account for up to 30% of food produced, and to launch an awareness-raising campaign on the value of food.
Press release ~ Report on fair revenues for farmers: A better functioning food supply chain in Europe ~ Adopted text ~ European food price monitoring tool ~ Competition Commission: GSCOP ~ Explanatory note on final Order ~ GSCOP response to 2nd consultation ~ Ombudsman recommendation to BIS ~ Mapping and Analysis of the Resilience of the Food Supply Chain in Scotland ~ ScotGov: Food Prices ~ ScotGov: Key Food Facts for Scotland 2009 ~ Scotland's new national food and drink policy ~ Scottish Retailers' Charter ~ Food Security: The Role for the Scottish Government in Ensuring Continuity of Food Supply to And Within Scotland and Access to Affordable Food ~ BBC: Cost of Food ~ CH4: The True Cost of Cheap Food ~ The Great Milk Robbery ~ Defra: Economic analysis - food and farming ~ French farmers protest income drop ~ Public behaviour in the UK in times of economic decline/rising food prices ~ Food 2030 ~ UK food security ~ BIS: Food ~ Foresight: Gobal Food and Farming Futures ~ Foresight: Land Use Futures ~ UK Cross-Government Strategy for Food Research and Innovation ~ EFRA Committee report on securing food supplies up to 2050 ~ International drivers of sustainable and secure food ~ Ensuring UK food security in a changing world ~ Chatham House - UK Food Supply in the 21st Century: The New Dynamic ~ Household Food Waste - WRAP

Newswire – BPLegal profession have struck an ‘oil gusher’ of fees - A sequence of failures involving a number of different parties led to the explosion & fire which killed 11 people and caused widespread pollution in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year.

A report released by BP concludes that decisions made by ‘multiple companies and work teams’ contributed to the accident which it says arose from a complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgments, engineering design, operational implementation and team interfaces.’  Based on its key findings, the investigation team has proposed a total of 25 recommendations designed to prevent a recurrence of such an accident.

BP said the report was based on information available to the investigating team. It noted that additional relevant information may be forthcoming, for example, when Halliburton’s samples of the cement used in the well are released for testing and when the rig’s blow-out preventer is fully examined, now that it has been recovered from the sea-bed.
WAGA modern-day ‘William Wilberforce’ required for Wales - Social Justice & Local Government Minister, Carl Sargeant, has announced the creation of Wales’ first anti human trafficking co-ordinator. A report prepared by a Cross Party Working Group on human trafficking, led by Joyce Watson AM identified a need for an anti human trafficking co-ordinator for Wales.

‘The Right to be Safe’ strategy, launched in March 2010 outlined the Welsh Assembly Government’s commitment to supporting victims of human trafficking. Worryingly, human trafficking is now the third most lucrative market in the UK for organised criminals, after drugs & firearms.  As the trafficking of women & children in Wales is a largely hidden problem the scale of the crime remains somewhat unknown; however recent police intelligence indicates that it is on the increase.
FDA:  Don’t ‘Raise’ taxes, just ensure that they are all ‘collected’ - Last week the Association of Revenue and Customs (ARC) - the union representing senior staff in HM Revenue & Customs - launched a report on tackling the spending deficit.  The paper - Being Bold: a Radical Approach to Raising Revenue and Reducing the Deficit - suggests that the Government has been asking the wrong question when assessing where cuts should fall.

Graham Black, ARC President, said: "When looking at the one department that raises money - HMRC - the question should not be 'What can you cut?', but rather 'What can you contribute?'. Being Bold makes it clear that additional resources for HMRC could significantly reduce the deficit by targeting tax cheats”. The report claims that for every additional pound spent on HMRC, the Government could bring in at least £30 - a return any commercial organisation would readily take advantage of.
LERCPublic Sector Lean Thinktank - 27th September 2010 - The Public Sector Lean Thinktank aims to bring together key decision makers, change agents, policy makers and lean implementers to share a dialogue about lean in their environment and to develop and disseminate new thinking.
Feedback from the last Thinktank suggested that participants wanted the opportunity to visit successful Public Sector Lean sites to better understand its applicability and to explore issues surrounding implementation in more depth. The Ministry of Justice’s Court Services have very kindly offered to host the next Thinktank session at Liverpool County Court, providing the opportunity to learn more about how they delivered their improvement programme, to discover what results they have achieved and to talk to staff about the experience.
Forthcoming eventGartner Symposium/ITxpo 2010 - Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2010 is the industry's largest and most important annual gathering of CIOs and senior IT leaders. It delivers independent and objective content with the authority and weight of the world's leading IT research and advisory organization.

In more than 200 sessions, workshops, how-to clinics, roundtables and more, Gartner analysts cut through the hype to deliver you a view of what you need to know — from breakthrough approaches to delivering business value through IT to the strategic implications of fast-evolving technologies and industry trends. Whatever your IT role, Symposium/ITxpo has a track dedicated to your needs and perspectives.
The CIO Program
The CIO Program at Symposium/ITxpo concentrates on the issues, decisions and actions required for CIOs to be successful and drive business forward through IT-led innovation and operational excellence. The format provides opportunities to share real experiences with fellow executives while gaining Gartner insight in a stimulating environment to help make you a more effective leader.

Click here for further information and to register for this event.

General News

CWGC: At midday on Sunday 26 September 2010, a new war memorial, built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, will be unveiled in Sussex, paying tribute to some of the 1.5m Indian soldiers who fought for the British Empire during the First World War.
The unveiling of the new memorial is being filmed as part of a new education resource being prepared by the CWGC, which examines the often overlooked contribution of servicemen & women from India during the two world wars.  This education pack will be released in October 2010.
ScotGov: Scotland's new-look genealogy website was officially launched last week. The revamped ScotlandsPeople service is now up & running and features new search features designed to make it easier & quicker for people at home & abroad to discover their family roots

This includes plotting search results on maps, helping those unfamiliar with Scottish geography (such as users overseas) understand more about Scotland and their ancestors. 
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is commissioning an evaluation & comparison of third party assurance schemes that focus on food & feed hygiene and standards. UK food assurance schemes are arrangements through which primary producers, food processors and other food businesses can assure customers that particular standards have been maintained throughout the production process.

Some examples include the Red Tractor, Lion eggs, SGC (Scottish Quality Crops), AIC (Agricultural Industries Confederation – feed scheme).
MoD: New ventilators, which will play a key role in saving the lives of soldiers injured on the front line, have arrived in Afghanistan. The Vela Comprehensive ventilators are being used in the Intensive Care Unit at the Armed Forces' hospital in Camp Bastion, providing additional hi-tech kit for doctors & nurses who work to save the lives of personnel injured on the front line.
Until now, medics have been using 3 different types of ventilator to help patients breathe. New technology means this flexible piece of kit is able to do the job of all 3 - including giving medics the ability to use the same ventilator on patients, even when they are being transported within the hospital.
PCS: The PCS union is urging MPs to throw out a government bill that would severely cut the terms available to civil servants who lose their jobs. As part of the ongoing campaign against the coalition government’s plans to impose stringent caps on payments under the civil service compensation scheme, union’s members asked their MPs to participate in the debate when the superannuation bill had its second reading in the Commons on last week.
More than 130 MPs - including almost a quarter of all Liberal Democrat MPs - have signed a parliamentary motion encouraging the new government to seek a negotiated settlement after the union’s successful High Court challenge to the previous government’s plans to cut redundancy terms.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has reported that Ella’s Kitchen has withdrawn certain batches & date codes of its baby food because of possible microbial spoilage inside the straw of the packets.  The micro organisms that have been identified are harmless.
DHChange4Life, ITV and walking groups are joining together to hold ITV’s Walk4Life Day on Sunday 26 September.  This is a nationwide day of mass-participation walks which will see people across the country stepping out and on their way to a happier, healthier future.
10 major events will be held around England & Wales, led by local ITV personalities.  The free Change4Life events will be open to everyone, from experienced ramblers to first-time walkers and will be between one and three miles long.  
The walks coincide with the launch of a new website which allows people to type in their postcode to find a local walk, or if they live near one of the ten ITV Walk4Life events, to head down and join in.
There’s also a network of hundreds of regular walks across the country, which can all be found on the Walk England website.
WO: The forthcoming referendum on Wales Assembly powers will use the amended question & preamble as recommended by the Electoral Commission, Secretary of State for Wales Cheryl Gillan has announced.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

WAG: Social Justice & Local Government Minister, Carl Sargeant, kicked off a Wales-wide ‘Your Service Your Say’ tour last week to hear from public service users & providers how to protect services in the challenging times ahead
ScotGov: Ministers have asked the General Register Office for Scotland, National Archives of Scotland and Registers of Scotland to explore the benefits of amalgamation. A merger of the 3 bodies has the potential to deliver savings for the taxpayer while maintaining the high level of services provided.
ScotGov: The first of a series of nationwide meetings to listen to views on Scotland's budget got underway last week in Livingston. Further meetings will take place in September & October in Aberdeen, Galashiels, Glasgow, Kirkintilloch and Kirkcudbright (dates will be confirmed in due course).
BIS: Following the closing day for submitting local enterprise partnership proposals the Government has confirmed that it has received 56 proposals from across the country.  

Over the coming weeks Ministers will consider the proposals in detail, looking at how they will support economic growth, before providing feedback to partnerships ahead of the publication of the White Paper on sub-national economic growth and the introduction of the Localism Bill.
HO: Damian Green says the coalition government will make sure that Britain maximises from the benefits of immigration. Speaking to the Royal Commonwealth Society last week, the minister said that Britain has always benefited from immigration, 'but it will only continue to do so if it is properly controlled…… This means that the unsustainable levels of net migration seen in recent years must be brought down'.
He said the government is determined to make decisions based on evidence – which is why it has just released new research called The Migrant Journey, which gives evidence about the behaviour of immigrants coming to the UK through all managed routes (apart from the visitors' routes). It reveals that the largest group in the study were students, with around 186,000 granted visas in 2004.  Over 20% of those were still in the UK 5 years later.
MoD: Lord Levene, a former Chief of Defence Procurement and now Chairman of Lloyd's of London, last week chaired the inaugural meeting of the steering group overseeing the Defence Reform Review. The full steering group will meet again next month.  In the meantime, the group will break into 3 teams, each of which will look in more detail at key areas of Departmental activity.
DH: The Department of Health review of the National Programme for IT has concluded that a centralised, national approach is no longer required, and that ‘a more locally-led plural system of procurement should operate, whilst continuing with national applications already procured’.

A new approach to implementation will take a modular approach, allowing NHS organisations to introduce smaller, more manageable change, in line with their business requirements & capacity.  NHS services will be the customers of a more plural system of IT embodying the core assumption of ‘connect all’, rather than ‘replace all’ systems.  This reflects the coalition government’s commitment to ending top-down government and enabling localised decision-making.
ScotGov: First Minister, Alex Salmond has set out the Scottish Government's priorities for the final year of the parliamentary term & beyond. In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister outlined a programme of legislative & non-legislative action including a Water Bill to transform Scottish Water from a successful utility into one of the largest generators of renewable electricity in this land, and a Double Jeopardy Bill to overturn the centuries-old law which prevents a person from being tried twice for the same offence.
DfE: Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has announced a major independent review of vocational education for 14- to 19-year-olds, to be led by Professor Alison Wolf, of King’s College London. Prof Wolf will look at the organisation of vocational education and its responsiveness to a changing labour market, and will consider ways to increase incentives for young people to participate.  The review will also take explicit account of good practice in a selection of developed economies.


CO: The second wave of the National Survey of Charities & Social Enterprises was launched last week, giving charities, social enterprises and voluntary & community groups in every local authority area an opportunity to have their voices heard.
Over 110,000 organisations have been selected to take part and response from all sizes & types of organisations is essential to ensure the results build a representative picture. The Cabinet Office press release encourages all invited organisations to complete the survey by post or online at by the 27 September 2010. Full results of the second wave will be published in early 2011.
EU News: The European Commission has launched a web-based consultation (closes on 22 October 2010) to gather input from a wide range of stakeholders on policy options for the European Union's post-2010 EU biodiversity strategy.  

Opinions are sought on issues including the shortcomings of the existing biodiversity policy, the new approach that the Commission is proposing, farming & biodiversity, the economics of biodiversity and biodiversity governance inside & outside the EU.  The results will feed into the new strategy which is under development.
Defra: Members of the public can have their say on how the country’s water supplies are managed in the future. Defra has launched an online survey(closes on 30 November 2010), asking people to give their ideas ahead of the Water White Paper, which is due to be published early summer 2011. Itwill set out the Government’s plans for the water industry and address challenges such as future resource needs, charging and affordability.

CSPL: The Committee on Standards in Public Life has published a consultation paper (closes on Friday 29 October 2010) setting out the key issues & questions on which it intends to focus during its inquiry into party political finance.
ScotGov: A consultation (closes on 9 December 2010) on plans for an autism strategy for Scotland has been launched by Minister for Public Health, Shona Robison. The strategy - Towards an Autism Strategy for Scotland - sets out what the Scottish Government in partnership with users, carers & professionals proposes to do to meet the needs of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in response to growing concerns about available support. 
EU News: The European Commission has launched a public consultation (closes on 30 November 2010) on the EU Directive on the re-use of public sector information (PSI).  PSI covers all sorts of data generated by public sector bodies (e.g. maps, meteorological, legal, traffic, financial and economic information) that can be re-used by anyone else in innovative products such as car navigation systems, weather forecasts, and travel information applications ("apps") that can be downloaded on smart phones.

Public data that is reused (for free or for a fee) generates an estimated market turnover of at least € 27bn in the EU every year, according to a 2006 study.  Contributions to this consultation will feed into the review of the PSI Directive, part of the Digital Agenda for Europe that aims to contribute to the EU goals of increasing competitiveness, innovation and job creation.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

NICESmoking during early pregnancy can have an adverse affect on the fertility of the baby in later life, a study has found.  The findings add further weight to calls for mothers to stop smoking before trying for a bab, and follows the release of NICE guidance on helping women give up smoking in pregnancy and following childbirth.
The guidance recommends that midwives assess every woman's carbon monoxide levels at their first antenatal appointment by encouraging women to have a special breath test. This can determine whether women smoke or are being exposed to passive smoking, thereby ensuring that they receive appropriate support for the good of their unborn baby.
WAG: Deputy Minister for Housing & Regeneration, Jocelyn Davies AM has launched a new set of guidelines on governance, finance & landlord services for Housing Associations in Wales. The guidelines have been jointly produced by the Welsh Assembly Government and Community Housing Cymru (the umbrella organisation for Housing Associations in Wales) and have been drafted following extensive consultation with the housing associations and tenants.
They have been drafted as delivery outcomes, which places the focus on the result for the customer rather than the processes and actions of the housing association.  They comprise statements of intent that all Housing Associations should aspire to and against which they will assess their own performance.  Self Assessment is a core element of the new regulatory system introduced in Wales this year.
Press release ~ WAG: Social housing ~ Community Housing CymruDeveloping a modern Regulatory Framework for Housing Associations in Wales - Delivery Outcomes

Newswire – AC: How can councils square the circle of public service demands and public spending cuts? The Audit Commission offers practical self-help to councillors, council chief executives, finance directors and service leaders as they face severe social & financial challenges. 

The paper - Strategic Financial Management in Councils: delivering services with a reduced income - gives a route map to 'managing for today, while getting fit for the future'.  It says councils need to make some urgent & tough decisions.  The best are doing this already, but many are not.  Aimed at all council staff, but especially those who hold the purse strings of local government, it points out potential financial pitfalls, highlights successes, and features a value for money self-assessment questionnaire they can use locally.

Annual Reports

DWPNo one works in almost one out of five households across the UK, according to new figures published by the Office for National Statistics. The latest work & worklessness figures reveal that there are 3.9m UK households where no adults work, an increase of 148,000 on last year, with 1.9m children living in workless households.
The North East has the highest percentage of workless households with 24.3% of homes in the region; this is closely followed by Inner London and Wales at 22.9%.  The South East has the lowest number of homes where no one works at 14.2%.

General Reports and Other Publications

WAG: Police forces in Wales should consider the need for more full time wildlife crime officers according to a new review of the prevention & investigation of Wildlife Crime in Wales published last recently. 

The report recommends that each of the Welsh police forces identifies a biodiversity ‘champion’ of supervisory rank to ensure that wildlife incidents are dealt with in a proportionate, professional and effective manner.
The report also stresses the importance of effective training for wildlife crime officers and recommends that each force has at least 1 officer trained to carry out the investigation of crimes relating to the illegal trade in endangered species. Student police officers & other staff should also receive training on wildlife crime.
CRC: Rural England is making a major contribution to the nation’s economic recovery and stands ready to play its part in the UK’s drive to achieve full economic potential.  Since the beginning of 2009 the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) has led discussions with rural entrepreneurs, communities and their representatives about how to release this potential.  From these discussions, they have drawn up ‘Agenda for change: releasing the economic potential of England’s rural areas’.
ScotGov: A new study concludes that adopting blanket 'one-size fits all' policies on gangs and knife-carrying are largely ineffective and recommends instead deploying targeted intervention strategies - like those seen in the successful Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV) in Glasgow.
The CIRV initiative (which is modelled on similar projects from the US) has seen gang-related violence drop by 46% in the first 18 months.  It is due to be evaluated at the end of the 2 year pilot. 
NAO: The National Audit Office has reported that many academies are performing impressively in delivering the Academies Programme's intended improvements.  Most are achieving greater rates of improvement in academic attainment than their predecessor schools.
The NAO warns in the report that academies' performance to date cannot be assumed to be an accurate predictor of how the model will perform when generalized over many more schools, given that the future number is likely to include schools with a much wider range of attainment, and operating in very different community settings.
BIS: The Government has published Richard Hooper’s update to his December 2008 Report on the maintenance of the universal postal service in the UK. Since June 2010, Hooper has been analysing developments in the postal sector in the last 18 months.  

He has found that the underlying issues that threatened the universal postal service (the same price goes anywhere and a collection & delivery of letters 6 days a week) remain and that urgent action has to be taken.
ESRC: According to research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), renewable energy policies should encourage more community-owned projects to avoid a concentration of commercial power plants in poorer areas. The current trend shows that many technically suitable locations may remain unused because of the threat of effective local resistance by people who are relatively privileged.
Planning delays & rejections encourage commercial developers to instead focus on remote or deprived communities as sites for new power plants.  In areas of economic fragility, commercial plants are more easily established without having to provide many benefits for the local community.
Newswire – PE: A report from think tank Policy Exchange published recently calls for a radical overhaul of housing policy, ‘saving taxpayers around £20bn a year’. It calls for a big increase in the number of new homes being built for sale or rent in areas of high demand, with social housing tenants given new ways to get onto the first rung of the housing ladder.

Britain is ‘stuck’ with an expensive social housing sector which traps residents by providing disincentives to work, holding down aspirations, while at the same time costing taxpayers around £32bn a year.

Legislation / Legal

ScotGov: New powers are being proposed that will stop teachers threatened with disciplinary action avoiding a hearing by moving to a job in another area. The proposed powers will give the General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS) the right to examine competence cases even if a teacher has already resigned from their post

In the past, teachers have been able to avoid being struck off by moving to a job in another area before their employer has set a date for a disciplinary hearing.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: EU authorities are to get tough new powers to settle disputes among national financial supervisors and to ban risky financial products & activities, in a revamp of EU financial supervision plans agreed recently.  If national supervisors fail to act, then the authorities may also impose decisions directly on financial institutions, such as banks, so as to remedy breaches of EU law.
The new EU supervisory authorities (ESAs) and the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) should be up & running by January 2011.
EU News: Better communication by governments, parties, educational institutions and public service broadcasters is vital to overcome the perception of many citizens that ‘Europe’ is too distant and can do little to solve their real problems, say MEPs in a resolution approved last week.
MEPs believe that the EP internet television channel EuroparlTVshould be made more effective’, while ensuring its editorial independence, and advocate ‘making its content as widely available as possible for TV channels and online media who wish to use it’.  They also call for larger budgets & greater independence for Parliament's information offices in Member States.
Defra: The Government has announced that they will meet the 2010 Landfill Directive target and also published responses to 2 separate consultations on meeting EU Landfill Diversion Targets (a key EU waste target with further targets to be met in 2013 and 2020) and on restrictions on the landfilling of certain wastes.
EU News: Tools developed using EU funds to ensure that digitally stored data can be preserved, accessed and understood for the indefinite future are now available in the form of open source software, which is available for free download and for further development into commercial applications.  The EU's CASPAR (Cultural, Artistic and Scientific knowledge for Preservation, Access and Retrieval) research programme involved researchers from the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Israel, Italy and the UK.

This work complements initiatives such as Europeana, the European digital library (see MEMO/10/166). Application of ICT research to benefit Europe's citizens and businesses is a key element of the Digital Agenda for Europe adopted by the Commission in May 2010 (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200).
EU News: The European Parliament has voted to revise legislation on animals used for scientific purposes.  The revised legislation, first proposed by the European Commission in 2008, will strengthen the protection of animals still needed for research and safety testing.

Through the revision of Directive 86/609/EEC the Commission has sought to strengthen EU legislation on the protection of animals used for experimental purposes.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

BIG: The Big Lottery Fund report published recently suggests that for small front-line minority groups the quality of organisational support is more important than the identity of the provider.  The study, commissioned by BIG and undertaken by Equal to the Occasion (ETTO) in 2009/2010, considered whether groups working in areas of ethnicity or sexual orientation receive better development support if it is delivered by infrastructure organisations that share their identity.

Business and Other Briefings

HMT: Last week a new regional National Insurance Contributions (NICs) holiday for new businesses came into effect. New business set up outside London, the South East and East of England will be eligible for a holiday worth up to £5,000 for up to the first 10 employees they hire in their first year of business.  This means a maximum saving on their national insurance payments of up to £50,000. The scheme will run for three years.
ScotGov: Scottish employers are being given information about what Curriculum for Excellence means for them in a brochure & website launched by Education Secretary, Michael Russell last week. The business-focused brochure & website are designed to help employers understand the benefits of engaging with young people through Curriculum for Excellence and encourage them to get involved.
WAG: The Social Justice & Local Government Minister, Carl Sargeant, has increased rates relief for business in Wales.  From 1 October 2010 until 30 September 2011 at least half of businesses in Wales will not pay business rates.
Most business premises with a rateable value up to £6,000 will not pay any business rates and most of those with a rateable value between £6,001 & £12,000 will receive rate relief that will be reduced on a tapered basis.  This means that business premises with a rateable value of £8,000 will get around 66% rate relief; whilst those with a rateable value of £10,000 will get around 33% relief.
Newswire – ICO: The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is concerned that some lettings & estate agents are failing to notify the privacy watchdog that they are handling people’s personal information

It is a legal requirement under the Data Protection Act (DPA) for all organisations handling personal information to notify the ICO.  As property agents routinely process personal data, such as financial information, the ICO is warning that the vast majority would be subject to the DPA and need to notify the ICO as a matter of urgency.

Industry News

WAG: A major £23.6m investment to grow Wales’ growing marine sector by increasing collaborative research projects between business & universities was announced last week by Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones. Bangor University’s SEACAMS (Sustainable Expansion of the Applied Coastal and Marine Sectors) project has been given the go-ahead following EU backing of £12.6m from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Assembly Government.  
The project will turn cutting edge research ideas into new processes, services & technologies to encourage over 450 businesses to grow, create new high tech jobs and win more global contracts.
As part of the project, a new Innovation Centre will be set up at the University’s School of Ocean Sciences (SOS) at Menai Bridge, Anglesey. The Centre will provide laboratory and computing facilities for SMEs.
Newswire – LGA: Councils saved £230m last year by using the latest technology to manage services for the iGeneration & pensioners alike, a new report reveals. Town halls are using mobile, web-mapping and satellite technology to make bin men more efficient, tell people waiting at bus stops where the next bus is & how long it will take to arrive, and keeping them informed about roadworks and planning applications.
Recent innovations also include iPhone applications which allow you to point your phone at a pub, restaurant or take-away and receive its hygiene rating, aps where you can send photographs of fly-tipping & vandalism so councils can deal with it quickly and a program allowing residents to buy a parking ticket before they leave the house.

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