In the News
DfE: Power to parents for SEN location choice - Ministers are considering how to ensure parents can send their child with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities to their preferred educational setting – whether that is a mainstream school, special school or an academy.
The plans were outlined as Children’s Minister, Sarah Teather, called on parents, charities, teachers & LAs to contribute to the Government’s SEN Green Paper, which is to be published in autumn 2010. It will aim to ‘improve radically the entire SEN system and will cover issues including school choice, early identification and assessment, funding and family support’.
Alongside the launch of the Call for Views (closes on 15 October 2010), the Children’s Minister confirmed the end of the national disabled children’s services parental survey.
Only a limited number of parents could respond to the survey and ministers want all parents to have the opportunity to get involved in how local services are designed & delivered. The Government welcomes views on how to strengthen the process for ensuring parents’ views affect the services their family receives locally.
CQC: Children are not born 'naughty', but a poor environment doesn't help - The work to turn children away from crime needs to be more focused and to be evaluated better, said independent inspectors, who have recently published a joint report on youth crime prevention.
Inspectors confirmed that a number of factors in a child’s background can make that individual more likely to offend. The report emphasises that it is difficult to turn some of these children away from crime, but details many examples of prevention work that were having a positive impact on children’s lives.
ESRC: Community cohesion develops best in 'nice' areas - What people think about their neighbourhood is much more strongly influenced by deprivation than by the degree of ethnic mixing in the area, according to new research funded by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC), carried out by researchers from Portsmouth and Southampton Universities.
The study says that while initiatives to promote cohesion are valuable, policy should prioritise on improving disadvantaged areas.
“Previous research has suggested that diverse communities are less cohesive and suffer from problems associated with anti-social behaviour, crime and lack of trust,” Dr Liz Twigg, University of Portsmouth explains: “Our research suggests that this is not true. In general, what people think of their neighbourhood as a place to live is not strongly influenced by the level of ethnic mixing. What is more important are material circumstances - the level of deprivation or prosperity in the area.”
Drawing on multiple sources of data to model the relationship between ethnic diversity and the way people see their neighbourhood. The researchers found no link between the degree of ethnic mixing and high levels of perceived antisocial behaviour, such as spraying graffiti on local buildings, truancy and hooliganism. They also found that people who lived in the most ethnically diverse areas were less likely to think that the national crime rate was increasing.
DCMS: Most of us are not yet convinced as to its benefits yet - Following the publication of the Government’s Digital Radio Action Plan in July 2010, the Consumer Expert Group (CEG) - who advise the DCMS and BIS on the needs of consumers - have published their recommendations on digital radio switchover.
Its recommendations are designed to make sure that consumers are at the heart of the Government’s roadmap to a digital radio switchover and that the needs of older people and people with disabilities are met to ensure that no consumers are left behind.
Among the prerequisites the CEG have called for are:
* the consumer benefits to be clear & demonstrable before a decision on switchover is made
* a full cost-benefits analysis from the user perspective is undertaken
* new & compelling digital radio content to drive the voluntary take-up of digital radio by consumers
* a digital switchover date to only be announced when no more than 30% of listening remains analogue
* coverage & signal strength issues to be resolved
* no digital switchover date to be set until DAB radios have been standard in cars for a minimum of 2 years and reliable solutions to be offered for retro-fitting cars
* suitable equipment to be available for all listeners, including older & disabled people
Forthcoming event: Reducing risk from targeted attacks - Tuesday October 5th, London - When the 'Aurora Attacks' hit the headlines earlier this year, it was far from an isolated case. The criminal intent on display was just one example of many more instances that continue to impact enterprises, but go unreported by the media.
Attend this free half-day session to:
Find out more and register for this free event
Defra: Sensors similar to those used in computer games consoles are to be planted into fish to help scientists better understand their movements under water. Scientists from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) are looking to pilot the technology as part of their research into fish habits which will ultimately help with predictions about future fish stocks.
The 3axis accelerometer sensors, which can detect movement in any direction just as in Nintendo Wii remote controls, will be used to learn more about the habits of fish by studying how they move about and measuring their metabolic rate.
PCS: The ‘coalition government does not need to cut a single job in the civil and public services’, the PCS said on the eve of the TUC annual conference. Launching its Alternative economic strategy, the union said the government should be creating jobs, not cutting them, and investing in the public sector to help the economy to grow and ensure against a double dip recession.
FSA: Morrisons has recalled its Chilli Rice Crackers because the product contains peanut & sesame, which isn’t mentioned on the product label. The allergen advice box say that it ‘may contain traces of nut, peanuts and sesame’ but does not declare them as an ingredient.
This makes the product a possible health risk to anyone with an allergy to peanuts or sesame. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert. If you have an allergy peanuts or sesame you are advised not to eat this product.
FSA: Aldi has recalled some of its own-brand Stonemill Group Coriander with a ‘best before’ date of 14 October 2012, because the product is contaminated with salmonella. Salmonella is a bacterium that causes food poisoning. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
Newswire – HPA: New research presented at last week’s Health Protection 2010 (the Health Protection Agency's annual conference) showed how an alternative approach for treating & preventing Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is being developed by the agency's scientists. This could in future be used in combination with antibiotics or as a replacement for antibiotics.
The treatment, called an immunotherapeutic, is in the early stages of development and would work by using antibodies which would neutralise the toxins produced by C. difficile which cause symptoms of diarrhoea. The research is in being conducted in collaboration with MicroPharm, a UK Biotech firm based in Wales.
Newswire – HPA: Scientists at the Health Protection Agency have designed a new test which will identify positive tuberculosis (TB) cases within one hour, according to findings presented at the HPA's annual conference - Health Protection 2010. The standard identification test for TB can take anything up to 8 weeks to grow & identify the bacteria.
WAG: The Counsel General last week welcomed farmers from Wales, Africa, Asia & Latin America to Abergavenny to debate the issues surrounding fair trade and sustainable food. John Griffiths welcomed participants to the Fair Trade, Sustainable Food and Climate Change Summit: The Big Food Debate, which took place at the renowned Abergavenny Food Festival.
MoD: While the MOD recognises the desire of the general public to support our personnel on operations it is urging people not to send unsolicited gifts & packages in the pre-Christmas period as it increases pressure on the in-theatre postal system and can delay mail from family & friends. Personal mail from family & friends can therefore be significantly delayed.
Therefore, with 100 days to go until Christmas, the MOD is launching a campaign to remind members of the public how to express their support other than by sending unsolicited gifts & packages. Details of the many ways to do this, including making donations to Service Charities, can be found on the MOD website - see Related Links.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
WAG: A new campaign to reduce the amount of wasted medicines has been launched by the Welsh Assembly Government. More than 250 tons of out of date, surplus & redundant medicines are returned each year to pharmacies and dispensing GP surgeries across Wales at an estimated cost of £50m to the NHS.
This is in addition to medicines that are probably disposed of incorrectly through household waste.
The campaign includes radio adverts and leaflets distributed by GPs surgeries & pharmacies. Patients receiving prescription medicines will be handed advice such as ensuring they order the right amounts of medicines and do not stockpile drugs.
BIS: A new website which explains the science behind the headlines on climate change was launched last week by Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Sir John Beddington. The website presents an overview of some of the most important areas of study in climate science, to help anyone wishing to get beyond the day-to-day headlines to gain a deeper understanding of the fundamental scientific issues involved.
For those uncertain about the state of scientific knowledge, the web resource explains both where evidence is well established and where findings & projections remain subject to greater uncertainty.
CLG: Communities Minister, Andrew Stunell, last week celebrated the success of graduates in a pioneering scheme that helps people of all ethnic backgrounds achieve their potential. He spoke at the graduation ceremony for participants in the First Steps and Black on Board programmes, both supported by Communities and Local Government, which offer training & support for people starting up social enterprises or looking to increase their influence in the local community.
DH: A huge cultural shift is required across health services in order to meet the needs of children & young people and take the service from its current ‘mediocre state’, according to Professor Sir Ian Kennedy’s review published last week.
The review, Getting it right for children and young people - Overcoming cultural barriers in the NHS so as to meet their needs, states that the single most important change in the NHS will be able to make sure children’s health services are prioritised, as highly as adult services are, from ‘minus nine months’; the moment a child is conceived – See also ‘Consultations’ section for related DH item.
FSA: Ministers have confirmed to the Food Standards Agency that the GM (genetic modification) dialogue project will NOT continue in its current format. The details of the Government’s policy on the use of GM technology in food & agriculture are still being determined and any future public engagement will be an element of this.
ScotGov: Creativity will be placed at the centre of Scottish education following the launch of the Education and Culture Action Plan last week. The Plan brings together the education & cultural sectors to provide exciting learning experiences to ignite children's imaginations and help them develop their creative skills.
Ofcom: New research from Ofcom shows that nearly half (45%) of consumers with broadband or a landline think that switching communications provider is too much hassle.
Ofcom is considering ways to make the switching processes quicker & easier across communications services, initially focusing on broadband and landlines, to improve consumers’ experience and to make competition more effective.
Ofcom committed to review switching processes in its latest Annual Plan. In addition, a number of broadband & landline providers (as well as consumer groups) have expressed the view that Ofcom should consider these issues. Consultation closes on 19 November 2010.
HMT: Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Lord Sassoon, has set out proposals in a consultation paper (closes on 16 November 2010) for a new special administration regime to strengthen the UK’s ability to deal with any future failures of investment firms. The proposed new special administration regime is not expected to impose any additional regulatory costs on the private sector.
DH: The Government last week set out a new vision for the health of children & young people in an engagement document - Achieving Equity and Excellence for Children. This forms a detailed supplement to the ongoing consultation for the White Paper, Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley launched the engagement document, designed to seek the views of professionals and the wider community (closes on 5 October 2010) on how the new system should work, alongside a thorough review of children’s services in the NHS by Professor Sir Ian Kennedy.
MoJ: The Ministry of Justice has opened a consultation (closes on 8 November 2010) to anyone with an interest in the guidance to be published under section 9 of the Bribery Act. The guidance is about procedures which commercial organisations can put in place to prevent persons associated with them from bribing.
To support the consultation MoJ will also be holding a number of open discussion seminars to further encourage the sharing of views on the form and content of the proposed guidance (see press release).
BIS: A consultation (closes on 10 December 2010) on updating the Code of Practice for Scientific Advisory Committees (CoPSAC) was launched recently by the Minister for Universities & Science, David Willetts and the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Sir John Beddington.
DfE: Ministers are considering how to ensure parents can send their child with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities to their preferred educational setting – whether that is a mainstream school, special school or an academy – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
CLG: A new package of practical advice & training for traditional market traders was announced in a speech to the industry by Coalition Markets Minister, Andrew Stunell last week. Recent studies show that while speciality markets like farmer's markets thrive, some traditional retail markets are struggling with the growth of out-of-town supermarkets, the recession and internet shopping.
To help address this Mr Stunell announced a trio of measures:
* A practical advice guide for markets: highlighting their benefits, areas of good practice and pointing traders to more detailed information on specific concerns
* A market management report: examining the pros & cons of ways in which markets can be managed
* Business support: 15 training modules & guides that will be launched by the National Market Traders Federation in October 2010 to support new & existing traders.
Newswire – HPA: Advice on the potential health effects in the event of a domestic heating oil leak came under the spotlight at the Health Protection Agency’s (HPA) annual conference - Health Protection 2010 - at the University of Warwick.
About 1.2m homes across England & Wales have oil fired heating systems, which mostly use kerosene, and each year the HPA receives dozens of calls from people seeking advice on the potential health effects that the leak may have on those living in the property.
HPA chemical specialists have developed an action card spelling out who to contact in such events so that health professionals have easy access to expert advice when they need it and have also posted extensive information on the topic on the HPA's website.
ScotGov: New guidance for councils and other public bodies buying care has been published. The dedicated guidance on the procurement of care & support services is Scotland's first specifically governing care commissioning. It is set to improve services for people who need care, as well as making the way care is bought more consistent. Around £1.18bn is spent by public bodies on buying care & support every year.
Newswire – AC: The Audit Commission have developed their finance improvement tool to help councils to respond to the financial impact of an ageing population. It is based on the areas for challenge & review, identified in their study report ‘Under Pressure: Tackling the Financial Challenge for Councils of an Ageing Population’. Using the tool is voluntary.
Socitm: Agreement has been reached with the Cabinet Office over the security standards required for local authorities to connect to the Government Secure Extranet (GCSx). The GCSx will allow sharing of data & services across government and is a vital element in delivering efficient electronic services.
The agreement, negotiated by Socitm and the LGA, meets local public services' concerns about the cost of connection to GCSx, and its future migration to the Public Sector Network (PSN), by recognising the existence of 'low threat environments' in local public services.
Modified standards for the Government Connect Code of Connection (CoCo) version 4.1 for these environments will help ensure that expensive, new investments are not required by local authorities.
CQC: Some people who use community mental health services in England are still not getting the care and support that fully meets their needs, according to a survey published by the Care Quality Commission. The CQC survey captures the views of more than 17,000 people aged 16 and over, who had contact with specialist community mental health services between July and September last year.
They had been referred to a psychiatric outpatient clinic, local community mental health team or other community-based service. The survey covered 66 NHS trusts.
Newswire – LGA: Escalating bus subsidies will cost an extra £1.3bn of public money over the next 5 years unless the system is reformed to give local people more influence over bus services, council leaders warned last week.
Nearly £3bn of taxpayers’ money is used to support bus services every year, equivalent to 60% of the industry’s turn-over, and that cost is climbing at an annual rate of 9%. The total has more than doubled in less than 10 years, but passenger numbers outside London are falling.
A new report, unveiled by the Local Government Association argues the increases could be controlled by giving local people, through their council, more of a say on how their bus services are run, whilst protecting local bus services.
MoD: The Ministry of Defence has published its formal response to the Service Complaints Commissioner's second annual report on the efficiency of the Service complaints system.
Dr Atkins has praised the progress made by the MOD & the Armed Forces against the 17 recommendations and the 6 objectives set out in her first annual report for 2008. The new report sets 10 new recommendations, 3 updated recommendations and 2 new objectives.
Ofsted: The training staff of the Armed Forces display a strong commitment to promoting the well-being of recruits & trainees, but there is still scope for improvement in the overall quality of welfare and duty of care, according to a report published by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.
General Reports and Other Publications
Newswire – PX: Industrial relations in the UK are in need of significant modernisation, a report from think tank Policy Exchange argues.
Changes in the nature of employment and the workforce, increased concentration of union membership, the proliferation of litigation over the last decade and the shift in the balance of power to the trade unions has created a situation where the existing framework needs extensive revision, says the report -
Newswire – IPPR: In-work poverty in the recession, a briefing paper by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr), claims that in 2008/09 there were 1.7m poor children living in working households, compared to 1.1m in workless households.
The proportion of poor children who live in working households has continued to rise despite the recession driving up unemployment. Over 60% of poor children now live with parents who work, demonstrating that poverty is not simply the result of worklessness.
OBR: The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has published its report into the effect of changes in oil prices on the public finances. The report concludes that the overall effect of a temporary oil price rise would be close to zero. A permanent rise would create a loss to the public finances.
MoD: An independent report into detainee handling by the British Army has been published, Armed Forces Minister, Nick Harvey, has announced. The report's author, Brigadier Purdy, was directed by Chief of the General Staff, General Sir David Richards, to assess the current detainee handling situation within the British Army.
This comes 2 years after the Aitken Report, which examined 6 cases of alleged detainee abuse in Iraq. The report concluded that detainee handing receives direct attention from commanders at all levels in the Army & MOD, and that progress identified in the 2008 Aitken Report is continuing.
CRC: Consumer Focus have prepared a report on outreach Post Offices highlighting concerns about their future viability, in particular the need for more support, flexible opening hours and better publicity about the existence of the services themselves.
MoD: The House of Commons Defence Committee (HCDC) published its first report on the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) last week. The report represents its initial reaction to the Secretary of State's and the Department's written & oral evidence given before the Parliament summer recess.
Conclusions & recommendations of the report covered policy context, the SDSR timetable, the National Security Strategy and MOD studies, costing & industry involvement, manpower costs and the Reserve Forces, cost-cutting & reform, consultation and the public, as well as other issues.
Newswire – AC: How would your local fire & rescue service cope with a disruption caused by bad weather, staff illness, industrial action, communication problems or power failure? Has it planned for all types of emergency? Can it call on specialist equipment, and what scale of event could put public safety at risk?
Earlier this year the government asked the Audit Commission to answer questions like these by reporting on fire service resilience - how well firefighters plan and practise to make sure their lifesaving work can continue whatever happens.
The big change is that they no longer have military backup as a safety net. The familiar old green goddess fire engines are no longer available.
CRC: The East of England Rural Forum (EERF) has published a paper titled ‘Vibrant Rural Communities’ setting out their vision for the region’s rural areas over the next 10 years.
Legislation / Legal
PCR: In a recently published report, MPs conclude that the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill addresses an issue of acknowledged political concern, but is unnecessarily rushed & raises a number of legal & constitutional questions.
CO: Voters will be asked to register individually from 2014 in order to modernise the electoral registration system and tackle fraud, the Government announced last week. In addition, voters will be asked to provide their date of birth, signature and national insurance number, all of which will be cross-checked, before they are added to the register.
The process will replace the existing system of household registration, in which one person at each address is responsible for providing the names of eligible voters who live there. The measure will speed up the timetable for implementing individual registration, which was not due to replace household registration until 2015, at the earliest.
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has published its interim policy on imposing financial penalties on estate agents and certain credit lenders who have failed to register under its money laundering registration scheme, but continue to carry on a supervised activity.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: The EU should not revise its policy, agreed in 1996, on Cuba (i.e. no dialogue with Havana in the absence of progress on democracy & human rights) as there is no sign of genuine political change there, and hundreds of political prisoners are still behind bars.
EU News: The new capital requirement standards (agreed by the Basel Banking Committee recently) tackle some of the right issues, but ‘need much more work to transpose them into laws that ensure a global level playing field, reduce risk and do not hamper economic growth’, says an own-initiative resolution approved by Parliament's Economic Affairs Committee on last week.
The resolution gives a foretaste of the position that Parliament could take later this year on the European Commission proposals to update the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD IV), which is to transpose the Basel standards into EU law.
EU News: EU researchers will have sustainable & continuous access to the combined processing power of over 200,000 desktop computers in more than 30 European countries thanks to the European Commission funded European Grid Infrastructure (EGI) project launched last week.
The Commission is contributing €25m over 4 years to the EGI-InSPIRE project to link the processing capacity of desktop computers when they would otherwise be idle and so give researchers the processing power needed to tackle complex problems in environment, energy or health.
EU News: The Commission reminds companies that they must register the most widely used or most dangerous chemicals by the deadline of 30 November 2010, less than 10 weeks from now – See ‘Business and other Briefings’ section for more information.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: Children devastated by the death of a parent or sibling are to get more support to help them with their grief through 2 grants from the Big Lottery Fund. Over £10.4m in Lottery good cause funding has been awarded to 45 projects across England for communities & people most in need from BIG’s Reaching Communities scheme.
Business and Other Briefings
BIS: The Government has set out how costs would be shared as part of the Digital Economy Act’s measures to tackle online infringement of copyright. The decision will see costs resulting from these measures split between rights holders and internet service providers (ISPs) at a ratio of 75:25 respectively.
Responding to its consultation on sharing costs for implementing the initial obligations to send notifications to consumers who have infringed online copyright, the Government also announced no fee will be charged to consumers who want to appeal a notification.
The decision will now be notified to the European Commission before being introduced in Parliament as a Statutory Order. Ofcom’s Online Copyright Infringement Initial Obligations Code will implement the notifications process and will also reflect the decision on costs. This will come into force in the first half of 2011.
EU News: The Commission reminds companies that they must register the most widely used or most dangerous chemicals by the deadline of 30 November 2010, less than 11weeks from now.
Registration is one of the milestones of REACH, the EU Regulation on chemicals and their safe use Companies are also reminded that they must notify the Classification and Labelling of their chemicals to European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) by 3 January 2011.
LDA: Green Expectations sets out London's low carbon job prospects from 2008/09 to 2012/13. London Development Agency Director of Employment, Stephen Evans, said: "Green Expectations provides a blueprint for future job growth in London's low carbon sector, enabling us to identify job growth in this sector and develop a series of innovative projects to help workless Londoners to benefit."
"Working closely with central and local government and London business we will be using the findings of this report to build on our Low Carbon Employment and Skills Programme and increase job opportunities in this sector across the capital."
DfT: Mass market electric cars moved a step closer last week as Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, awarded £24m to further develop the UK's low carbon vehicle capability. The 6 winning projects - which together with contributions from business will receive total funding of £52m - are part of the latest Technology Strategy Board competition (see press release for details of winners).
Projects include the development of new engines for plug-in hybrid versions of Nissan, Lotus and Jaguar Land Rover cars, a lightweight electric bin wagon, development of lightweight materials for vehicle weight reduction, and new technologies using thermal energy to improve vehicle performance.
The Government also set out the eligibility criteria for its Plug-in Car Grant. Under the scheme motorists will receive a grant of up to £5,000 to purchase electric, plug-in hybrid or hydrogen fuelled cars. In order to be eligible, cars must meet appropriate safety standards and must have been crash tested. They must also meet minimum range & performance criteria.
BS: Buying Solutions are pleased to announce that an aggregated eAuction programme of events up to March 2011 is now available and can be viewed here. .
Fully funded & managed eAuctions taking place in October 2010 include mobiles, carbon offsetting, office supplies and facilities management services. If you are interested in joining any of our eAuctions please visit their dedicated eAuction web pages and complete the Expression of Interest form.
If you would like to attend a Viewing Room to see how a live eAuction works please let them know by sending us an email.
CLG: Councils that are offering MOTs rather than wielding the wheel clamp and waging war on motorists are showing how it is possible to earn income and save their residents money, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said last week.
Across the country there are hundreds of council run MOT test centres which are used to check council vehicles like buses for their safety and roadworthiness. These centres can also open their doors to the public and because these council run garages only offer tests, not repairs, customers can feel assured that there is no hidden agenda for extra trade.
Council MOTs are just one example of local authorities using their resources to generate income. Others case studies, provided by the Association of Public Service Excellence, include:
* Tree inspections for insurers
*Highways maintenance - dropped kerbs
CLG: A new package of practical advice & training for traditional market traders was announced in a speech to the industry by Coalition Markets Minister, Andrew Stunell last week – See ‘Guidance Notes & Best Practice Guides’ section for more information.
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