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WGPlus provides an in-depth weekly briefing from the UK Government and Public Sector. To save your time, we research & validate the links to websites, documents and further background information. Click here for more about WGPlus

In the News

Newswire – LGAThe size of the ‘cake’ has got much smaller despite the number of ‘party guests’ increasing - Frontline council services face a funding shortfall of up to £20bn a year by 2015 if spending review budget cuts are imposed without reform of the way the public sector operates local government leaders warned recently.

The estimated annual shortfall - equivalent to more than the entire adult social care budget in England & Wales – includes possible spending cuts & unavoidable increases in demand for services which councils must meet.  The report has 20 proposals to cut red tape & improve services (see Executive Summary for full list), including:
* Funding for local public services to be pooled into local budgets – to save up to £100bn over 5 years
* All ring fencing on local authority budgets to be removed
* Integrate health & social care policy
* Pool funding for local infrastructure projects

In a second press release the LGA announced a report which calls on Ministers to set up a new system of tax-free municipal bonds to allow vital long term investment in roads and other major projects to continue without driving up the deficit.  The report argues that action is needed to fill the estimated £50bn a year gap in spending on infrastructure maintenance & rebuilding despite expected deep cuts in public spending.
Press release ~ Second press release ~ Executive summary of the LGA’s submission to Government ~ Full LGA Spending Review 2010 submission ~ Funding and planning for infrastructure ~ Finance improvement tool ~ Under Pressure: Tackling the Financial Challenge for Councils of an Ageing Population ~ Strategic Financial Management in Councils: delivering services with a reduced income ~ Audit Commission response to the Localis report - For good measure ~ Visit the National Indicator information portal ~ Surviving the Crunch ~ Financial management in a glacial age - Presentation and handout ~ Back to front - Efficiency of back office functions in local government ~ Means to an end ~ Protecting the public purse ~ Valuable lessons ~ Room for improvement ~ Summing upCrunch time? ~ AC: Good practice and case studies ~ CLG: Delivering efficiency in local services ~ Delivering Efficiency: Understanding the Cost of Local Government Services ~ Building better lives - Getting the best from strategic housing ~ View the updated VfM profiles ~ Is there something I should know? - Making the most of your information to improve services (see also related documents) ~ Working better together?

Newswire - JRFEven partial devolution has not solved the issue of poverty in Scotland - A new report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) shows that not only is Scotland’s unemployment rate back to 1996 levels, but poverty is now hitting childless adults harder than pensioners or children.

Monitoring poverty and social exclusion in Scotland 2010, produced by the New Policy Institute, is JRF’s fifth assessment of poverty in Scotland.  Built around a set of indicators and constructed using the latest official government data, the report assesses a wide range of indicators including unemployment, education & health.

The report identifies areas in the Scottish Government’s anti-poverty programme that need improvement and concludes that, where ScotGov has little direct control, its challenge is how to exercise influence both upward to the UK government and downwards to employers & service providers in Scotland.
Press release ~ Monitoring poverty and social exclusion in Scotland 2010 (see also links to Rt of webpage) ~ New Policy Institute ~ Budget cuts and children in poverty - don't overlook the smaller things ~ The media, poverty and public opinion in the UK ~ The impact of family and labour market changes on recurrent poverty ~ Better off working? Work, poverty and benefit cycling ~ Could online marketplaces tackle poverty? ~ Voices of people experiencing poverty in Scotland ~ Something for Nothing: Changing negative attitudes to people living in poverty ~ Child poverty in Scotland: taking the next steps ~ Scottish Poverty Information Unit at Glasgow Caledonian University ~ Implementation plan for reducing health inequalities in infant mortality: a good practice guide ~ End Child Poverty coalition ~ Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland ~ ScotGov: Estimating the Cost of Child Poverty - Approaches and Evidence ~ Taking Forward The Government Economic Strategy: A Discussion Paper on Tackling Poverty, Inequality and Deprivation in Scotland ~ Fairer Scotland Fund ~ Older Persons Advice Project (OPAP) ~ Minimum Income Standard for Britain ~ The State of the Nation: Poverty, worklessness and welfare dependency in the in the UK ~ Achieving Our Potential: A Framework to tackle poverty and income inequality in Scotland ~ Poverty and income inequality in Scotland: 2008/09 ~ The Poverty Alliance ~ A BETTER SCOTLAND FOR ALL: Report of the first Scottish Assembly for Tackling Poverty ~ OU: Poverty in Scotland ~ Poverty and inequalities in Scotland: ten years of Devolution (VLF 5.8Mb)

CABMum’s purse and Dad’s wallet will be many miles away - National charity Citizens Advice, which helps people of all ages resolve their money, legal and other problems, has produced a podcast aimed especially at University students.  Timed to coincide with the start of the Autumn term, the podcast covers money management & housing rights.

Debt & housing are two of the biggest issues for under-25s who visit bureaux and can be of particular concern to students at University, who are often experiencing living independently for the first time.  The ‘advicepod’ covers how to manage your money, applying for a student loan and things to be aware of when renting a room or property from a private landlord.
Press release ~ Podcast_with_advice_for_students ~ Directgov: Student Finance ~ CFEB: Get them off to a flying start at university ~ National Union of Students ~ NUS Scotland: 'Overstretched and Overdrawn' ~ Skill: the national bureau for students with disabilities ~ Healthy FE Programme ~ National Student Survey (NSS) ~ Unistats web-site ~ Home Office – Student Safety ~ Tax advice for students ~ HMRC Tax Checker ~ Higher and Further Education Students' Income, Expenditure and Debt in Scotland 2007-08 ~ Student Awards Agency for Scotland ~ Student Income and Expenditure Survey (SIES) 2007/08 ~ Institute of Employment Studies ~ FSA Money Doctors financial education programme ~ 'Skilled to go' ~ What about Money ~ Ofsted: Developing financially capable young people ~ Personal Finance Education Group (PFEG) ~ ~ Money Advice Trust ~ The true cost of college ~ National Student Forum (NSF) ~ YouthNet ~ ~ Independent Health Check Review of Student Finance England ~ Related recent press release warning students of scams ~ CFEB:  Flying Start

HMT:  Clamp down on ‘Tax Avoidance’, not just Tax Evasion’ - The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, has announced new plans to tackle non- compliance in the tax system.  He announced that the Government will make £900m available (during April 2011 to April 2015) to raise additional revenues from those who undermine the tax system and seek to avoid paying their fair share.  This should bring in around £7bn p.a. by 2014-15 in additional tax revenues.  More details on HMRC’s final spending review settlement will be set out on 20 October 2010.

HMRC will be targeting the following areas:
* Avoidance & evasion - Making it harder for individuals & companies to avoid tax and working to prevent tax avoidance before it happens
* Tax debt - Reducing the amount of tax that is lost to the Exchequer each year through tax debt
* Organised crime - Organised crime & criminal attack is estimated to contribute around £5bn a year to the UK tax gap
HOIf police want public’s support they must support the public on the streets - A report out last week shows anti-social behaviour has 'been sidelined' & ‘victims let down,' according to Home Secretary, Theresa May.  The study by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary shows there are 14m incidents a year, but only 3.5m reported to the police.

Theresa May said: “Anti-social behaviour ruins lives and scars communities. This report, yet again, shows that for too long this problem has been sidelined and victims, especially those who are vulnerable, have been let down”. 
The police watchdog’s wide-ranging review looks at how well forces tackle anti-social behaviour.  90% of people say the problem is one for the police to deal with and believe anti social behaviour & crime are the same thing.  However, police do not always take the issue seriously because they do not regard it as real crime and police response was patchy ‘because officers treated the incidents differently to recordable crimes’.
Press release ~ Related press release with link to report ~ Directgov – Antisocial behaviour ~ Directgov: Reporting anti-social behaviour ~ AC: Sport and leisure, anti-social behaviour and young people ~ Youth Crime Action Plan (YCAP) ~ YCAP One Year On ~ Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) ~ DfE: Family Intervention Projects - An Evaluation of their Design, Set-up and Early Outcomes ~ Designing Out Crime Association ~ Secured by Design ~ Protecting Young People From Alcohol Related Harm ~ DH – Alcohol and Young People ~ Talk about Alcohol ~ Drink Aware – Young People talk about alcohol ~ Youth Alcohol Action Plan ~ Discussion paper setting out ScotGov strategic approach to tacking alcohol misuse ~ 'Whatever, yeah? Local councils and youth provision' ~ Moving Beyond the ASBO speech ~ ASBO statistics ~ Radical policing reforms ~ Chrysalis Foundation ~ Personal Leadership and Personal Effectiveness Programme ~ An Anatomy of Youth ~ Mayor's youth plan 'Time for Action' ~ EDM - Communication Difficulties and Young Offenders ~ BBC NEWS - Communication skills 'cut re-offending' ~ Locking up or giving up? Why custody thresholds for teenagers aged 12, 13 and 14 ~ Barnardo’s ~ Children in Trouble Campaign ~ Locking up or giving up - is custody for children always the right answer? ~ Community sentencing: Public Perceptions and Attitudes - Summary Research Report ~ Alternatives to Custody ~ Restorative Justice Scotland: YouthJustice ~ SAP: Breach of an Anti-Social Behaviour Order ~ Re-offending of juveniles statistics

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 are now loading new items to a dedicated section, which you can 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 ‘balanced’ views.

Free white paper:
Can the G-Cloud deliver OEP savings and Unleash the full Potential of On-demand IT? - The G-Cloud is an ambitious project to create a secure government cloud computing infrastructure and is central to HM Treasury's Operational Efficiency Programme target of cutting £3.2bn from the public sector's annual £16bn IT spend.

Government CIO John Suffolk stated earlier this year:

"The G-Cloud will help to drive down cost by cutting the more than 10,000 software packages and services currently being used by public sector bodies. Rather than each having separate apps, the organisations will be able to choose from a shared range of applications held in the Government Application Store, to be hosted in the G-Cloud.

And with the public sector sharing more apps and moving away from running individual apps hosted in separate datacentres, the government will be able to cut its datacentre estate."

A recent white paper, ‘Unleashing the True Potential of On-Demand IT’ explores how organisations can easily mitigate the complexity and costs of the move toward cloud computing whilst realising the true potential of on-demand IT.

Click here to receive your free copy of the paper.

General News

MoD: A total of 131 members of the Armed Forces have received honours & awards in the Operational Honours List dated, 24 September 2010. For short citations on the highest awards and the full list, which recognises service on operations in Afghanistan & Iraq and national operations for the period 1 October 2009 to 31 March 2010, see Related Links.
Newswire – BIJ: In a detailed analysis of government salaries, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed more than 38,000 government workers are paid over £100,000, and 9,187 earn more than the Prime Minister (£142,500).
Directgov: A new service being introduced throughout the United Kingdom between now & 2011 will make it easier to inform government when someone close to you dies.  The new service will allow you to ‘contact just the local authority in which the person who died was living’.  The LA will then contact all other the relevant government departments for you.
ACE: Dame Liz Forgan, Chair of Arts Council England, said last week: “The convergence of television and the internet is a huge step forward for audiences. “We look forward to working with all the Project Canvas partners, and with arts, and with arts organisations across the country, to deliver our fantastic theatre, dance, music and visual arts directly into even more people’s homes through this exciting new medium.”
ScotGov: A new leaflet aimed at increasing awareness of the recommended vitamin D levels is to be sent to all GPs & Health professionals. Vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining good bone health. Conditions such as rickets in children (& osteomalacia in adults) are the best understood consequences of vitamin D deficiency.
In Scotland people only get enough sunlight of the right wavelength (UVB) to create vitamin D in this manner between April - September.  For the rest of the year, people in Scotland are dependent on vitamin D stores that have built up during these summer months and on other sources such as dietary intake & supplements.
WO: Secretary of State for Wales, Cheryl Gillan, has received notification from the Welsh Assembly Government that its preferred date to hold the forthcoming referendum on Assembly powers is Thursday, 3 March 2011.
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities will be completing its work by 31 March 2011, but they are aware that many organisations & individuals have been using their evidence and will still want to be able to access this material in future.  For this reason they are including in their plans for winding-up the CRC a comprehensive range of tasks, including:
* passing their official files & records to Defra for use by the new Rural Communities Policy Unit
* website material will be archived & made available via the National Archives
* working with their stakeholders to create ‘signposts’ to their evidence, to ensure its accessibility for the future
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is urgently warning people not to consume Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS).  This product is being sold as an oral supplement and is also known as Miracle Mineral SupplementIf you have any of this product you should throw it away.  If you have consumed MMS and feel unwell you should consult your doctor.
MMS is a 28% sodium chlorite solution which is equivalent to industrial-strength bleach.  When taken as directed it could cause severe nausea, vomiting & diarrhoea, potentially leading to dehydration and reduced blood pressure. If the solution is diluted less than instructed, it could cause damage to the gut and red blood cells, potentially resulting in respiratory failure.
If you are aware of MMS being sold in retail outlets you should contact your local authority trading standards department.  To find the contact details of your local authority, you can use our online search facility.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

Directgov: The Home Secretary says that companies & customers miss out when not enough female candidates are appointed to boardroom roles in the UK.  Theresa May has promised to help more women get on the boards of top UK companies.
At present just 12.2% of FTSE 100 directors are women and a quarter of FTSE 100 companies don’t have a single woman board member, even though these companies could get a better understanding of what their customers want & need by adding women to their boards.
If you’re a woman and would like to find out about vacancies on the boards of UK public bodies, follow the link below. At the Public Appointments website, you can sign up to get information about boardroom vacancies in public bodies and search for current vacancies near you.
DfE: Education Secretary, Michael Gove has announced ‘another step in the lifting of the bureaucratic burden on heads and teachers’.  The school Self Evaluation Form (SEF) process takes days out of heads’ time and can cost schools tens of thousands of pounds.  The Secretary of State has asked Ofsted to ditch it.  
The SEF asks teachers & heads to collect and verify facts & figures about their school in preparation for their Ofsted inspection.  Headteachers say it can take many long hours to fill in and take teachers out of the classroom for extended periods.  It can run to over a 100 pages once it has been filled in.
ScotGov: Scotland's renewable electricity target for the next decade is being raised from 50% to 80% (by 2020) First Minister, Alex Salmond ,announced last week.
The Scottish Government has now calculated that significantly higher levels of renewables could be deployed by 2020 with little change to the current policy, planning or regulation framework in Scotland.  A separate study for industry body Scottish Renewables (published last week) reports similar conclusions.
DfE: All young people should have the chance to learn an instrument, read music & receive top quality music education, Education Secretary Michael Gove said last week. Launching an independent review of music education, Mr Gove said broadening the access & opportunities young people have to experience & understand music is central to raising standards.
Research shows that quality music education improves behaviour, attention & concentration and has a hugely positive affect on numeracy & language skills.  Giving all young people the best possible music education will help the Government achieve its twin aims of driving up standards and reducing the attainment gap.


FSA: The Food Standards Agency has launched a consultation (closes on 10 December 2010) on proposed changes to the Official Feed and Food Controls Regulations. The FSA Board decided at its meeting in July 2010 to consult on suggestions to amend the legislation that currently allows slaughterhouses & cutting plant operators to continue to operate while an appeal against the refusal or withdrawal of approval is pending.
WAG: Wales’ Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones, has announced an important step in her eradication programme to tackle Wales’ bovine TB crisis by setting out plans for a new badger control strategy.
In July 2010 the Court of Appeal ruled that an earlier order, the Tuberculosis Eradication (Wales) Order 2009, which applied to the whole of Wales was unlawful.  The new draft order is specific to an Intensive Action Area, covering north Pembrokeshire and including areas of Ceredigion & Carmarthenshire. This part of Wales has one of the highest bovine TB rates in Europe. The consultation closes on 17 December 2010.
NICE: NICE has opened a consultation (closes on 18 October 2010) on its draft guidelines for the care of people with diabetic foot problems in hospital. These problems may significantly affect a patient's quality of life, reducing mobility that may lead to loss of employment, depression, and damage to (or loss of) limbs. Treating diabetic foot problems also has a considerable financial impact on the NHS through outpatient costs, increased bed occupancy and longer hospital stays.
ScotGov: New guidance to help public sector bodies meet their responsibilities under the Climate Change Act has been published. Public bodies are invited to give their views on the guidance, which encourages them to set their own emissions targets and make tackling climate change a priority.
The duties will apply to approximately 5,000 public bodies all defined as a ‘Scottish public authority’ within the meaning of Section 3(1) (a) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. The consultation will close on Friday November 26, 2010
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities are now planning their final report to government on the current economic health of rural areas.  This report will go to the DEFRA Minister for Rural Affairs and help inform the future work of the new Rural Communities Policy Unit.  If you can contribute please email Matt Griffith by 8 November 2010.  The report will be published in mid-December 2010.
NICE: Guidelines are being developed for the NHS in England & Wales to aid earlier diagnosis and promote more effective management & support specifically for women with ovarian cancer.  Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women with around 6,800 cases being diagnosed each year in the UK.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published its draft recommendations for consultation (closes on Friday 19 November 2010).  Charities, patient groups, NHS organisations and others who have registered an interest in this guideline, now have the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed recommendations to help develop them further, ahead of the final guideline being published in 2011.
ScotGov: A consultation has been launched on a strategy which sets out, for the first time, a high-level, long-term agenda for sustainable land use across Scotland. Written responses to the consultation are invited by 17 December2010 (earlier responses would be welcome).
The Scottish Government launched its integrated approach 2 years ago with the Rural Land Use Study and is committed to this 'vital dialogue' with everyone interested in urban and rural land.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

FSA: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has recently reminded people of the importance of good hygiene practice when handling & cooking raw bean sprouts. An investigation into an outbreak of salmonella by the Health Protection Agency and Health Protection Scotland has identified possible links to raw bean sprouts. There have been 58 cases reported in England since the start of August and 15 cases in Scotland.
NICE: Too many women faced with difficult social circumstances are not accessing or engaging with maternity services with potential negative consequences for them and their baby's health.  Now, a new NHS guideline calls for the re-organisation of these services to improve access to & uptake of antenatal care for women in difficult social circumstances, thereby helping to prevent complications and potentially save the lives of these mothers and their babies.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published its 200th technology appraisal guidance (of which 83% have been positive).  A partial update of the existing NICE guidance on the use of peginterferon alfa (2a or 2b) and ribavirin for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C, this new guidance reflects changes in the marketing authorisations for peginterferon alfa (2a and 2b), and recommends their wider use and, where appropriate, shorter treatment durations, for adults with the disease.
Newswire – TUCNearly one in five workers wants to work from home, but is being prevented from doing so by their employer.  To mark National Work From Home Day (last Friday), which was  organised by WorkWise UK, the TUC is offering five reasons for businesses to try out home working (see press release).

Annual Reports

Newswire – FI/IEA: The latest Economic Freedom of the World: 2010 Annual Report, released by the Fraser Institute in association with the Institute of Economic Affairs, ranks Britain as 10th in the index. Economic freedom in Britain has been on retreat since 2000 and Britain’s score fell again in this year’s report (though Britain’s ranking remained the same).
LSIS: The Learning Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) is the sector-led improvement & development body for the FE & skills sector.  It provides a comprehensive series of programmes & services to support quality improvement and strategic change in the Learning & Skills sector including leadership & management, teaching & learning, learner support, resource utilisation, and peer review & development.

Supporting the sector to develop its own capacity for self-improvement, engaging those employed in the sector to deliver improvement services, and promoting the range and scope of peer learning are key elements of our approach.  These are particularly effective in ensuring cost-effectiveness and efficiency of the services offered.

General Reports and Other Publications

Newswire - IPPR: As world leaders met for the UN Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York (20–22 September) a new report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) highlights that, as a result of the financial crisis, around 120m more people may now be living on less than US$2 a day and 89m more on less than US$1.25 a day. The report shows that because of the crisis output, exports, migrant remittances, capital inflows and aid have all been lower than expected over the last 3 years.
African countries will see only US$11bn of the US$25bn in increased aid promised for 2010 at the Gleneagles G8 & Millennium +5 meetings in 2005. Taxes on financial transactions – which have become known as ‘Robin Hood’ taxes – could raise hundreds of billions a year from the financial sector and put us back on course for achieving the MDGs.
ScotGovHospitals are using the wrong kind of stocking to prevent blood clots in patients, a study suggests. Researchers found that mid-calf stockings (which are similar to flight socks) do little to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in stroke patients. Stroke patients fitted with below-the-knee, stockings were 30% more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis than patients fitted with thigh-length stockings. This could be because the most serious type of blood clots tend to be in the thigh, researchers suggest.
Newswire - Civitas:  The proposals in '21st Century Welfare' are the product of two inconsistent philosophical perspectives: one that stresses 'welfare rights' and another that focuses on 'mutual obligation'.  As a result, the proposals are unlikely to achieve the significant reduction in welfare dependency that is hoped for.  Moreover, there is a strong risk of repeating the mistakes of American welfare reforms before the mid-1990s.
This press release is based on the response by Dr David Green, Director of Civitas to the DWP consultation document; 21st Century Welfare
ACMD: The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has published ‘Consideration of the anabolic steroids’, a report considering the misuse & harms of the substances. The report was written following the ACMD’s increasing concern at the numbers of anabolic steroid users.  Among other findings, the report considers the potential harms to users due to the patterns of use and the presence of substandard & counterfeit steroids in the marketplace.
CRC: In the period leading up to their abolition, the Commission for Rural Communities will ‘continue to deliver for the benefit of rural communities’.  They have produced a revised work programme for this final period.  If any organisation would be interested in talking to them further about this work, please get in touch.
Newswire – WF: A new report by The Work Foundation argues that, contrary to popular belief, the UK actually needs more graduates and the only viable option will be to increase fees. The challenge will be for Vince Cable and his Coalition partners to implement this in a way which maximises access. But these graduates also need to have better quality skills in the right areas to support the sectors that will drive recovery & economic growth over the next decade.
Newswire – CWDC: New research into social care professions could have a major impact on the way we develop a professional framework for the sector. The study, carried out for us by the University of Salford and Action for Children, looked at updating current workforce data and identifying the key roles & the roles of graduates within the care workforce. 
Newswire – PXHousing associations should be set free to raise money through methods like equity investment, claims a new report from Policy ExchangeHousing People; Financing Housing claims that so-called ‘equitisation’ could ‘raise £30bn and build an extra 100,000 new homes a year’
The report’s author, Natalie Elphicke, says that using the housing association sector’s profits to raise money from organisations like pension funds would save taxpayers £5bn in government grants, as well as helping solve Britain’s chronic housing shortages.
Directgov: The Office for National Statistics has published a new report on e-Society, outlining how internet use has changed and how the internet is changing life in the UK.  The report covers areas such as the 'digital divide' between households, social networking, education & work and e-Government.

Newswire – CH
The 'shale gas revolution' - responsible for a 20-fold increase in unconventional gas production in the US over the last decade - is creating huge investor uncertainties for international gas markets and renewables and could result in serious gas shortages in 10 years time, says a new report; The 'Shale Gas Revolution': Hype and Reality
The report casts serious doubt over industry confidence in the 'revolution', questioning whether it can spread beyond the US, or indeed be maintained within it, as environmental concerns, high depletion rates and the fear that US circumstances may be impossible to replicate elsewhere, come to the fore.
Defra: An independent review of England’s wildlife sites & the connections between them was published last week. The report makes many recommendations and the Government response will be included in the Natural Environment White Paper to be published in 2011.  Making Space for Nature will also help those that wish to contribute to the White Paper discussion document by the end of October 2010 to submit their ideas on what they want to see included.

Legislation / Legal

DefraPowers to confirm local nature reserve byelaws will shortly be devolved from the Secretary of State for the Environment to English LAs. This change will mean that local authorities will be able to make, confirm & revoke byelaws without approval from the Secretary of State. Subject to legislative timetable, local authorities (in England only) will be able to use these new powers early in 2011
CLGSerious misconduct for personal gain will be a criminal act, while petty local vendettas will no longer get a hearing as the unpopular standards board regime is axed, Communities Minister, Andrew Stunell, announced last week.
BIS: Firms which pester consumers with silent & abandoned calls can now be fined up to £2m under new Government legislation. The new fine is 40 times larger than the previous maximum limit of £50,000.  Silent calls are generated when call centres use predictive dialling systems to call more numbers than there is staff available to speak to the person who answers.  Ofcom will now have the power to use the fine to penalise & deter firms from persistently making these calls.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU: News: The European Commission has completed the launch of the EU tool that supports early large-scale demonstration of CO2 capture & storage (CCS) technologies.  The CCS Project Network is the world's first network of CCS demonstration projects to foster knowledge sharing and raise public understanding of the role of CCS in cutting CO2 emissions.
EU: News: The European Commission has adopted a Recommendation indicating to national telecoms regulators how they should regulate third-party competitive access to ultra-fast fibre networks that bring high-speed broadband connections to homes & workplaces.

Regulators should apply the new guidance in their daily decision making as soon as the text has been published in the EU's Official Journal.  Under the telecoms Framework Directive (2002/21/EC) they are obliged to take ‘utmost account of the Commission's Recommendation, justifying any departure from it’.  The Recommendation forms part of a package of broadband measures presented by the Commission last week (see IP/10/1142).  See also press release for other related links.
EU: News: The European Commission adopted last week a 5-year strategy for promoting equality between women & men in Europe.  The strategy aims in particular to make better use of women's potential, thereby contributing to the EU's overall economic & social goals.

It translates the principles set out in the European Commission's Women's Charter (see IP/10/237) into specific measures, ranging from getting more women into company boardrooms to tackling gender-based violence.  The strategy spells out a series of actions based around 5 priorities: the economy & labour market; equal pay; equality in senior positions; tackling gender violence; and promoting equality beyond the EU.
EU: News: The European Commission's own research body, the Joint Research Centre, has published an indicator-based map of potential threats to soil biodiversity, in order to guide decision-makers in protecting this crucial resource.  The biodiversity within our soils plays a vital role in agriculture and in the water & carbon cycle.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is keen to hear from any company that uses specific colours in particular types of products that the EC proposes should no longer be permitted. If there is no evidence of the colours being used, permission for use in that food category will be withdrawn.  Major European trade associations are not aware of the colours currently being used in the food categories mentioned. The colours are listed by food category in the document that can be downloaded from the link below

Charity and Voluntary Sector

VSO: African health workers in the UK should be allowed to ‘pause’ their citizenship journey to return home temporarily to help tackle poverty, international development charity VSO said recently. 

The recommendation is one of a number of policy measures proposed in Brain Gain, a VSO report highlighting how improved circular migration, the legal & recurring movement of people, could help international aid efforts to ‘tackle brain drain; the mass exodus of trained health workers from Africa’.
African health worker seeking citizenship must have been resident for 5 years and not spent more than 450 days outside the UK in that period, which restricts opportunities to transfer skills to their home country, many of which suffer from a severe shortage of health workers.

Business and Other Briefings

This brief announces a consequential amendment to the nursing agency concession that allows VAT exemption of certain services provided by nursing agencies.

Industry News

LDA: The University of London and Newham University Hospital NHS Trust are the first public sector bodies in London to use the Mayor of London's RE:FIT framework to retrofit public buildings with energy saving measures to cut carbon emissions.
RE:FIT, run by the London Development Agency, helps public bodies in London to cut carbon emissions from their buildings by appointing an energy service company (ESCo) which undertakes energy efficiency measures to guarantee a set level of energy savings. This guarantee transfers the risk onto the ESCo rather than the owner or occupier of the building in an approach known as Energy Performance Contracting (EPC).

Forthcoming Event

NO – FOS: The Financial Ombudsman Service is running a series of training-days for community & advice workers aimed at giving advice workers the opportunity to learn more about the ombudsman service and how they work. See press release for dates & further information.
They are very keen to welcome the widest range of people from consumer & voluntary groups to their events – including trading standards officers, money advisers and representatives from local advice & support agencies.

Editorial Content Statement

Wired-Gov  would like to make it clear that the commentary & links provided, in respect of any particular item, are published in its capacity as an independent non-government funded organisation and reflect the editorial team’s need to both précis & re‑format the content of news releases
Any views expressed are therefore entirely those of the Wired-Gov Plus editorial team and independent of any sponsor, government organisation or political party.
For the official view of a source organisation, readers should click on the ‘press release’ that is the first link attached to each item.
Speed of download - Readers are reminded that some documents linked to can be large (VL) and may take some time to download, even with a broadband link.  Readers are encouraged to be patient.
While every care is taken to ensure that all links ’work’ in the newsletter (including checking just before publication), Wired-Gov cannot guarantee that websites will not make changes that will nullify individual links, especially over a period of time.

Wired-Gov is not responsible for the content of external websites

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