In the News
ScotGov: Do you “tak’ the High (on alcohol) Road” without realising? - To mark Alcohol Awareness Week 2010 last week, adults across Scotland were asked how their drinking habits measure up and encouraged to ‘make every day count’. The initiative aimed to raise awareness that, by making small changes to our drinking habits (to make sure we're drinking more responsibly) we can all get more out of our day, week & weekend.
Currently only 15% of Scots are able to correctly estimate the number of units in a normal strength bottle of wine. So, this year's AAW aimed to help explain how many units of alcohol drinks contain and highlight how positive lifestyle choices & sticking to the sensible drinking guidelines can help us enjoy alcohol responsibly.
Under this year's 'How do you Measure Up?' Unit Challenge theme, people can discover how many units of alcohol they're drinking on a regular basis and get useful tips on how they can stick within sensible drinking guidelines of not regularly drinking more than 3-4 units per day for men, or 2-3 units per day for women.
DfT: Will high speed be worth the high cost & amount of disruption? - Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond has announced which network option the Government prefers for taking high speed rail north of Birmingham. The Government will consult early in 2011 on building a ‘Y’ shaped high speed rail network with separate legs from the West Midlands to each of Manchester & Leeds. A Y shaped route would allow the East Midlands and South Yorkshire to be served by the high speed rail network, as well as Leeds, Manchester and the North West.
Mr Hammond has been considering advice from HS2 Ltd (the Government company set up to examine the case for high speed rail) on the relative benefits of the 'Y' route against a 'reverse S' shaped route from Birmingham to Manchester and then across the Pennines to Leeds. HS2 Ltd found that the Y network would deliver a total of £25bn more benefits than the reverse S.
HS2 Ltd published detailed route proposals for a high speed rail line from London to Birmingham earlier this year. Work is currently underway to refine the preferred route identified in that report and the Secretary of State will set out the Government’s final preferred route for consultation later in 2010.
DfE: Chances are that it will happen again as ‘well meaning’ is not the same as ‘comprehensive & effective’ - Professor Eileen Munro recently set out her initial analysis on the child protection system in England. She finds that processes & procedures (and the unintentional consequences of previous reforms) are getting in the way of social workers spending time with vulnerable children & families.
The early scoping review explains that, while previous reforms have been well-meaning & well-informed, they have not delivered positive long-lasting improvements at the front line. Changes during the past 40 years have been made in reaction to high-profile cases and have focused on parts of the system in isolation, rather than looking at the system as a whole.
Professor Munro wants to improve the serious case review (SCR) process so that lessons learned can be put into practice more effectively. The Government has published 2 research reports on SCRs, which have fed into Professor Munro’s review. Professor Munro is due to submit her final report in April 2011.
BIS / MoD: Giving their children a future is the least we can do for those who sacrificed their own futures - Families of servicemen & women killed on active duty will benefit from publicly funded higher education scholarships, the government has announced. The new scheme will apply to the children of servicemen & women killed on active military service since 1990, giving them the chance to take up university scholarships.
The government also announced the continuation & expansion of a scheme to pay tuition fees for service leavers undertaking level 3 further education or undergraduate higher education courses for their first time, funded by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and the Ministry of Defence.
In addition, Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox announced a new provision to help Service personnel who are suffering from mental health disorders following the publication of a report by Dr Andrew Murrison MP on mental health services for serving personnel & veterans - 'Fighting Fit - A Mental Health Plan For Servicemen and Veterans'.
PC: We can only afford to take out what we have put in - Lord Hutton of Furness has published the Independent Public Service Pensions Commission's Interim Report. It sets out the case for change in public service pensions: longer lives, the unfairness of a system that rewards high-flyers disproportionately, the imbalance of risk between taxpayers and employees and contribution rates that do not reflect the value of benefits received - all demonstrate the need for reform.
The Commission's final report, looking at long term structural reform options, will be delivered in time for the 2011 Budget.
OS: Explore your local neighbourhood for free - Ordnance Survey is urging schools to place their orders for free maps before this year’s offer closes on 15 October 2010. Over 8,000 schools across Scotland, England & Wales are able to order a free OS Explorer Map for the 11‑year-olds in their schools. A list showing the numbers of schools in each area yet to order is available HERE.
Free Webinar; Achieving CESG’s Good Practice Guide (GPG) 13 Compliance - There is no doubt that event logging is an important element of good security practice, but it is only one part of protective monitoring. Detecting anomalies and having the ability to quickly and easily ascertain their business impact is also key to identifying and taking appropriate action.
All too often however, the value of protective monitoring isn't recognised and where security budgets have been slashed in the wake of significant budgetary cuts, protective monitoring is often one of the first projects to be shelved. But the need to comply with GPG 13, which aims to protect sensitive data, is important and the public sector needs to raise awareness of protective monitoring as a means to cost-effectively manage their ICT environments by:
• Detecting unauthorised changes by authorised staff.
• SLA management - was the application available and working?
• Identifying non-compliance with build standards.
• Identifying users deploying unauthorised software.
• Listing and recording the attachment of external devices and new hardware.
• Identification of data change and alteration - who, what, when and how.
In this webinar, Ed Hamilton, Senior Manager of Analysys Mason, will outline practical, cost-effective actions that internal resources can undertake to improve the protective monitoring within your organisation.
Click here to find out more and download the GPG 13 Compliance webinar.
UKOC: National Get online week is set to take place 18 - 24 October 2010 and organisers UK online centres expect it to be bigger & better than ever. It's the fourth year of the 'Get online' campaign, which has grown from a ‘Get online day’ in October to a full week of activity. The first GO day got 10,000 people online for the first time and it's expanded to the point where this year the aim is to get 80,000 people into nearly 3,000 GO events across the country.
FSA: Following information received, via a sampling programme, the Food Standards Agency is informing local authorities that the non-permitted additive morpholine has been found on some apples imported to the UK from Chile. Food business operators have been advised that the apples should not be on sale in the UK.
Morpholine is used as a carrier for glazing agents applied to fruit and is permitted in various countries outside of the EU, including Chile, the USA and Canada. The Agency has undertaken an initial risk assessment based on information currently available. Exposure to morpholine at the levels detected on these apples is likely to be of low risk to consumers. .
FSA: Ada's Smoked Catfish is being withdrawn from sale because it has been labelled with an identification mark of a food manufacturer that is no longer authorised for use. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Food Alert for Action asking local authorities to make sure this product is withdrawn from sale and destroyed.
HO: The child sex offender disclosure scheme, which provides members of the public with a way to check whether people who have contact with their children are a possible risk, will be extended to a further 11 police forces in October 2010 taking the total number of areas covered to 24. The remaining forces will come onboard by spring 2011.
A new website - Parents Protect! - set up by Stop it Now! UK & Ireland and the Lucy Faithfull Foundation has also been launched to raise awareness of the issue of child sexual abuse.
BHF: Fat cells in our thighs multiply as we put on weight, where as the fat cells around our waist get bigger, changing the effect they have on our health, according to a new study. Researchers hope the findings may begin to explain why there are more health risks from fat around the waist compared with fat around the thighs.
WAG: A new travel card has been launched which is set to transform public transport in Wales’ capital. The Iff Card - launched by Cardiff Bus – utilises new technology and aims to encourage bus use around the city centre by making travel easier.
The card is linked to the SustainableTravelCity scheme - run by Cardiff Council and the Welsh Assembly Government - and aims to help the Welsh capital to become a Sustainable Travel City by encouraging bus use around the city centre.
Directgov: Next Step has launched a new website offering free careers advice to help people make the right choices about learning & work. It will help you to make informed choices about which skills & courses are best suited to you. With over 400 locations across England, there are 3,000 advisers who can give help & support to adults aged 19 and over.
Defra: Environment Minister, Richard Benyon, has launched a new website featuring images of some of the unique plants & animals that live in UK Overseas Territories habitats that most people have no idea the UK has responsibility for protecting.
The ARKiveOverseasTerritories website, run by Wildscreen, will help raise awareness of wildlife in the 14 UK Overseas Territories. The collection will eventually consist of over 200 audio visual profiles that will be available online and on a free DVD for use by people all over the world.
CQC: The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said last week that nearly 1,000 residential care homes do not have a registered manager in place, despite this being a requirement of the new Health and Social Care Act 2008, that came into force from 1 October 2010.
HO: The UK Border Agency has expanded its partnership working with local government by launching a new checking service for settlement applications, which builds on the success of the existing nationality checking service. If a migrant is applying for settlement (also known as 'indefinite leave to remain') using application form SET(M), they can now have their application checked by a LA officer before it is sent to the UKBA.
Form SET(M) is for migrants who are applying for settlement as the husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner of a British citizen or a person settled in the UK. The first LAs to offer the service are Brent & Barnet, which launched last week. Another 10 LAs will join the pilot over the next 2 months.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
No.10: Prime Minister David Cameron has recently unveiled a new group of industry leaders to provide him & senior ministers with ‘high-level’ business & economic advice. The Business Advisory Group will meet every 3 months and will advise on critical business & economic issues facing the country.
WO: Welsh Office Minister, David Jones, recently marked International Older Persons Day by launching a new initiative to give older people a stronger voice across Wales. The Welsh Senate of Older People brings together 4 national organisations to champion older people’s rights and provide them with one unified voice.
ScotGov: A sports initiative aimed at giving thousands of children in Scotland the chance to play golf has more than exceeded its target. During 2010, clubgolf expects to have 12,000 youngsters in coaching programmes in 322 clubs - well above target.
clubgolf emerged as part of Scotland's successful bid to host the Ryder Cup in 2014 and has been developed under a partnership between the Scottish Golf Union, Scottish Ladies' Golfing Association, the Professional Golfers' Association, the Golf Foundation and sportscotland.
ScotGov: An initiative to encourage people & communities to take up dancing has been launched. Get Scotland Dancing is part of the games legacy for Scotland Active Nation campaign, which is using the 2014 Commonwealth Games to inspire Scots to increase their physical activity and live longer, healthier lives.
ScotGov: A new strategy designed to make it easier for businesses & individuals to access advice & support on skills was launched last week. The Scottish Government has refreshed the Skills for Scotland Strategy, which aims to ‘simplify the skills system, empower & and employers to access help & support more effectively and better meet the needs of the key economic sectors & industries of the future’.
HMT: The Chancellor has announced 2 significant reforms to the welfare system (See Press release for details):
* Total household benefit payments will be capped on the basis of average take-home pay for working households (estimated to be around £500 per week in 2013)
* Child Benefit will be withdrawn from households that include a higher rate taxpayer
See also ‘General Reports and Other Publications’ section for related ippr item
ScotGov: Scotland's first national target to improve energy efficiency has been unveiled. Local councils are also to be given £10m in grants to offer free insulation measures and provide energy saving advice to up to 100,000 households. Scotland's Energy Efficiency Action Plan includes a headline target to reduce total energy consumption by 12% by 2020.
ScotGov: The First Ministers, Deputy First Ministers and Finance Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland last week issued a joint declaration to the UK Chancellor, George Osborne, ahead of the UK Comprehensive Spending Review.
The declaration outlines their shared concern that the UK Government's plans will cut public spending too fast and too deeply. The devolved administrations have urged the Chancellor to scale back the proposed cuts and phase them in over a longer period to ensure they do not put the economic recovery at risk or threaten vital public services.
WAG: The Welsh Assembly Government has set out exactly how it will manage its fight against climate change and achieve its ambition of a 3% year on year reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The First Minister, Carwyn Jones and Environment Minister Jane Davidson, were in the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth last week to launch Wales’ Climate Change Strategy. It is accompanied by two detailed delivery plans that set out exactly how the targets and aspirations will be achieved.
CO/PCS: The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, has announced that ‘the Government has concluded its negotiations with five Civil Service unions (FDA, Prospect, Prison Officers’ Association, GMB, Unite) on a new Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS). The scheme, which covers all civil servants, sets out the level of compensation that can be paid if they are made redundant’.
Key measures include:
* A standard tariff, where each year of service provides one month’s salary in the event of redundancy. The tariff would be capped at 12 months for compulsory redundancy and 21 months for voluntary redundancy
* All civil servants who are made redundant (voluntarily or compulsorily) would be entitled to a three month notice period
The Government is proposing to table an amendment to the Superannuation Bill. This will remove the ability of a union to veto any changes to the compensation scheme. For the future, the Government will still need to consult on any changes, but they will not require the consent of the unions.
The High Court (previously) ruled that it was unlawful to reduce rights under the scheme that had accrued through length of service without the agreement of all the unions affected. PCS’s ruling national executive committee today (7 October) agreed to demand further negotiations with the Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, setting out why the latest offer put forward is unacceptable. The NEC also agreed that the union will proceed with a challenge under the Human Rights Act to the current legislative attempts to cut redundancy pay.
NICE: Draft guidance from the new NICE medical technologies programme on a cardiac output monitoring device has been issued for consultation. Provisional recommendations are made supporting the use of CardioQ-ODM, when it's used in patients undergoing surgical procedures who would otherwise require invasive cardiac monitoring. For critically ill patients, however, there wasn't enough evidence for CardioQ-ODM to be recommended in preference to other cardiac output monitoring devices.
The consultation will run for 4 weeks, ending at 5pm on 1 November 2010. The consultation responses received will be fully considered by MTAC and final guidance is expected to be published in December 2010. More information on the consultation is available on the CardioQ-ODM (oesophageal Doppler monitor) webpage.
Newswire – ICO: The Information Commissioner’s Office has launched a consultation on a new statutory code of practice on the sharing of personal data (closes on Wednesday 5 January 2011). The draft code sets out a model of good practice for public, private & third sector organisations, and covers routine data sharing as well as one off instances where a decision is made to release data to a third party.
DH: ‘Cheating’ in the kitchen to make healthy dinners is no longer a sin, thanks to top chefs like Delia Smith, who have recently come out of the closet in their use of frozen fruit and vegetables in cooking. Frozen fruit & vegetables can be just as healthy as fresh produce, that’s why the Government is launching a consultation (closes on 31 December 2010) that will, if agreed, see the Healthy Start scheme let low-income families put their vouchers towards the cost of frozen fruit and vegetables, as well as the milk, fresh fruit and vegetables currently allowed.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
FCO: When travelling, it’s important to stay alert to the possible risk of theft, fraud and other financial scams. Not only is your money at risk, your travel plans could also be affected if you need to replace stolen credit cards or sort out problems caused by identity theft.
If you are a victim of fraud or theft, you should report the incident to the local police and contact your nearest British Embassy. You will need a police statement to claim against your travel insurance. If your credit card or travellers’ cheques have been stolen, you should cancel them to prevent their mis-use.
Defra: Britain’s backyard beekeepers are to be helped to avoid the problem of winter bee deaths by 400 Government-backed volunteer teachers. Soaring numbers of people are taking up the hobby amid concern over honey bee decline. But due to challenges from pests & diseases, inexperienced beekeepers are losing more colonies over winter, so better skills are needed.
400 experts across England & Wales are to be trained to teach beekeepers good husbandry as part of a new project under the Government’s Healthy Bees Plan. It will be run in partnership by the British Beekeeping Association (BBKA) and National Diploma of Beekeeping Board (NDBB), and jointly funded by Defra.
The partnership’s new “Course in a Case”, full of training materials, will be delivered through local beekeeping associations. Beekeepers will be trained in groups by the new teachers alongside government bee inspectors, who already offer advice to beekeepers on pests and diseases.
HPA: Clinicians who deliver radiation to the brain & heart are being urged to continue to minimise their patients’ exposure, while maintaining essential medical benefits. New expert advice to the Health Protection Agency also highlights a need for further research to better understand links between radiation exposure & circulatory disease.
Newswire – CABE: Creating high streets which are free from clutter and have a good strong identity should be easier from now on. The newly published Manual for Streets 2 shows how streets can be designed to support vitality, economic performance and safety at the same time.
NICE: In draft guidance published last week, mifamurtide (Mepact, Takeda), is not recommended for NHS use in combination with post-operative chemotherapy drugs for the treatment of high-grade non-metastatic, surgically treatable osteosarcoma.
HO: The UK Border Agency has published revised policy guidance for Tier 2 of the points-based system (version 10/10) – See ‘Business and other Briefings’ section for more information.
EU News: The European Commission has published new guidelines to clarify rules for extractive industries in protected natural areas – See ‘EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.’ section for more information.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has published the fourth annual Chief Scientist report, covering the Agency's scientific work from April 2009 to March 2010.
ScotGov: Rates of C.diff infection & MRSA in Scotland's hospitals have fallen to their lowest ever level, according to latest figures. The statistics, from Health Protection Scotland, show rates of C.diff have fallen by over 42%, compared with the same period last year, while MRSA rates are down nearly 45%.
Ofgem: National Grid has published the final winter outlook report for 2010-2011. The report is produced yearly to set out the availability of gas & electricity supplies for the coming winter.
General Reports and Other Publications
ippr: George Osborne's proposal to axe Child Benefit for every family where one parent earns above £44,000 a year is a crude cut and creates a 'cliff edge' that will hurt middle class families too much, according to leading think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr).
Instead ippr says a better idea is to tax Child Benefit, which would mean that there was a 'tapering effect', so that as families earned more the level of the benefit they received would be reduced. ippr argues that taxing Child Benefit is preferable to introducing a means test because it would raise the same amount of money – £1 billion – but would keep middle-class families in the welfare system.
KF: The King's Fund has called on ministers to reconsider the speed & scale of new health reforms if they are to deliver benefits to patients and improve NHS performance. In its response to the government's health White Paper, the Fund supports the need for reform, but questions the need to embark on a fundamental reorganisation of the NHS when evidence shows that health outcomes and public satisfaction have improved in recent years.
It argues that the scale & speed of reform will distract attention from finding the efficiency savings needed to maintain quality and avoid cutting services, as the NHS faces the most significant financial challenge in its history.
Newswire – CBI: The CBI has called for changes in the law to raise the threshold for industrial action and to ensure that, if strikes occur, disruption is minimised. In a new report (Keeping the wheels turning: modernising the legal framework of industrial relations) the CBI outlines ‘a package of measures to modernise employment relations legislation and keep the recovery on track’.
In its report, the CBI reiterates its call for the threshold for industrial action to be raised so that strikes can only go ahead if 40% of balloted members vote in favour of action, as well as a majority of those voting. Currently strikes can go ahead provided a majority of those voting support it, irrespective of the turnout. Other proposals focus on making sure unions keep up-to-date membership records and strengthen the enforcement of the law to prevent illegal wildcat strikes.
LBRO: LBRO is to work on fresh proposals to tackle the issue of sales to children of alcohol, cigarettes and other age-restricted products. The move follows publication of Better Regulation of Age Restricted Sales: A Retail View, submitted by the independent Age-Restricted Products Review Group, representing major businesses, trade associations and professional bodies with around 250,000 retail outlets.
LBRO has welcomed the report which calls for the law on underage sales simplified and made more effective, with the current 18 separate pieces of legislation unified. Its authors make 12 recommendations, including closer working between regulators and businesses and more effective test-purchasing.
Newswire – HPA: The Health Protection Agency (HPA) and the UCL Institute of Neurology have conducted a sensitive examination of tonsil specimens to detect the presence of the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) related prion protein and found results that are consistent with earlier estimates of vCJD prion prevalence in Britain.
The findings were published last week in The Journal of Pathology in a paper entitled; 'Large scale immunohistochemical examination for lymphoreticular prion protein in tonsil specimens collected in Britain'.
nef: Banks borrowing requirement set to double next year to £25bn a month to plug funding gap. Despite at least £1.2 trillion of taxpayers’ money being put at risk to bail out the banking system, many of the major high street banks may well be asking for another hand-out from the public purse in 2011, according to new research from independent think-tank nef (the new economics foundation).
A new report, Where did our money go?, uses Bank of England data to investigate what happened to the bail-out money, two years on from the credit crunch that sent shockwaves through the banking system and just ahead of the second anniversary of the biggest single bail-out in UK history on 8 October 2008.
Ofsted: ‘Employers reap the benefits of better motivated and more highly skilled staff when they get involved in work-related training such as apprenticeships’, according to a report published by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.
The report (Good practice in involving employers in work-related education and training) highlights that training developed by providers working closely with companies helps employees - and new employees - make greater contributions to the effectiveness of their business.
Ofcom: New Ofcom research has revealed that communications providers need to do more to publicise services that are available for disabled customers. Mystery shopping was conducted by Ofcom to see what advice prospective customers were given about these services by BT, Orange, O2, TalkTalk, T-Mobile, Virgin Media, Vodafone and 3.
Newswire – ICO: The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has responded to the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) call for evidence on the current data protection legislative framework. The ICO has highlighted the key features it would expect to see in any revised framework and welcomes the MoJ’s recognition of the potential for changes.
ippr: New analysis from the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) shows that long-term unemployment has doubled in the last two years to 797,000, while the number of vacancies has fallen to 467,000. This ‘jobs deficit’ of 330,000 threatens the ability of the Government’s flagship employment scheme to get people back into work.
Under the ‘Work Programme’, contracts worth up to a total of £3bn are to be awarded to private & voluntary sector providers. They will offer ‘job search’ support to anyone who has been unemployed for 12 months or more. The success of the scheme depends heavily on jobs being available, yet there are currently more than 5 people chasing every vacancy in the UK.
Newswire – CABE: Design plays a big role in giving people with low vision the confidence to use streets and public spaces. But a new study funded by CABE has found that some features which should help people with low vision are hindering them instead.
Sight Line: designing better streets for people with low vision investigated how 8 blind & partially sighted people navigate their local streets. Local authorities use blister paving differently, even in adjacent boroughs, to demarcate the pavement edge at both controlled and uncontrolled crossings. The study argues for national guidance to be clearer and for local authorities to coordinate across boundaries.
Newswire – CBI: The CBI has called for the Government to encourage the use of non-recyclable waste to meet the UK’s energy needs. Launching a new report (Going to waste: Making the case for energy from waste) the leading business group highlighted the important role that energy from waste could play in a broad-based energy mix, which improves energy security.
Technologies include using anaerobic digestion (where biological processes produce bio-gas from waste) and incineration, which provide consistent & reliable power supplies.
Legislation / Legal
ScotGov: A new law which has been fast-tracked by the Scottish Government to close a legal loophole in domestic abuse cases came into force from last week. The new offence ('engaging in threatening or abusive behaviour')will now give greater protection to victims of domestic abuse.
The move follows fears that a court ruling (Harris v HMA) last year may have created a gap in Scots law which could make it more difficult for prosecutors to secure a conviction in some cases of domestic abuse and other crimes, which take place in private.
The new offence states that ‘it is an offence for person to behave in a threatening or abusive manner where the behaviour would be likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer from fear or alarm, and that the person intends by their behaviour to cause fear or alarm or is reckless as to whether the behaviour would cause fear or alarm’.
ScotGov: Plans to raise the standard of private rented housing in Scotland have been unveiled by Housing & Communities Minister, Alex Neil. The Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Bill will protect the good reputation of Scotland's private landlords by improving the law on how they are registered. Councils will be given more powers to tackle bad landlords.
WAG: Schools & FE colleges in Wales will soon have the power to screen any pupil for a knife or weapon. Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, has signed an order which means the powers contained in the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 will come into effect on 31 October 2010. Institutions will also be able to search pupils who are suspected of carrying a weapon.
MoJ: Changes to the law on murder contained in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (see press release for details) came into force last week. These changes are based on Law Commission recommendations made in their review of homicide law in 2006 and were fully debated by Parliament & passed into law in 2009.
LGO: New powers have come into force for the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) to investigate complaints from people who arrange their own care. For the first time, these ‘self-funders’ will have the right to complain to an independent and impartial Ombudsman.
The LGO’s new role means that adults who arrange & pay for their own care, or have a personalised budget, will have the same access to the independent complaints service as those people who have had their care arranged & funded by local authorities (which the LGO has dealt with for more than 35 years). The Health Act 2009 amended the Local Government Act 1974 to give the LGO service its new powers from 1 October 2010.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has published a Bill to improve the administration of Scotland's local government elections. The Local Electoral Administration (Scotland) Bill is the latest in a series of actions to improve electoral administration following the publication of the Independent Review of the 2007 Scottish Parliamentary and Local Government Elections (the Gould Report).
The new Bill will establish a statutory Electoral Management Board for Scotland; and extend the remit of the Electoral Commission to cover local government elections in Scotland. It builds on legislation introduced last year to separate local government elections from elections to the Scottish Parliament.
ScotGov: New legislation, published last week, will scrap the £147 cremation fee and give greater scrutiny to the death certification process. Under current arrangements, cremation incurs an additional cost. The new proposals will create a consistency in approach between burial & cremation with a universal fee.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: The European Commission has published new guidelines to clarify rules for extractive industries in protected natural areas. As demand for precious raw materials grows, access to land available for mineral extraction in the EU is becoming ever more important. Some minerals are found on land within Natura 2000 (the EU's network of protected natural areas) and the new guidelines explain the procedures to be followed in such cases.
These guidelines relate to Non-Energy Extractive Industry and the potential impacts of extraction activities on nature & biodiversity. They examine how these can best be minimised (or avoided altogether) and highlight the importance of strategic planning, the appropriate assessment of new developments and the need for adequate mitigation measures.
The guidelines contain many examples of best practice and show how some extraction projects are ultimately beneficial to biodiversity, as they can provide highly quality ecological niches.
EU News: The European Commission's ‘Innovation Union’, tabled last week, sets out ‘a strategic approach to innovation, driven by the highest political level’.
The Innovation Union will focus Europe's efforts – and co-operation with third countries - on challenges like climate change, energy & food security, health and an ageing population. It will use public sector intervention to stimulate the private sector and to remove bottlenecks which stop ideas reaching the market.
These include lack of finance, fragmented research systems and markets, under-use of public procurement for innovation and slow standard setting. The Innovation Union is a ‘flagship’ in the Europe 2020 Strategy.
EU News: Smaller companies all too often endure severe financial problems due to the late payment of bills. For over a year the European Parliament has pushed to secure stricter & clear-cut rules on payment periods, including a general 30-day deadline. Last week, the Internal Market Committee voted to endorse the deal struck with Council on 13 September 2010.
The agreement with Council now needs to be approved by the full Parliament and is scheduled for a vote at the October II Plenary. The new directive enters into force 20 days after its publication in the EU Official Journal and Member States will then have 2 years to implement the new measures.
EU News: Non-EU nationals and their families who are legally resident in one EU Member State, but staying or working in another, will be entitled to social security benefits in the same way as EU nationals under new EU rules approved in plenary session last Thursday. Denmark and the United Kingdom have opted out of the new coordination arrangements for third country nationals.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: The Big Lottery Fund (BIG) is making a last call to urge veterans of WWII who have not yet taken advantage of the Heroes Return 2 scheme to apply for funding as the programme draws to its close. Last week saw 103 awards made to 245 Second World War veterans, widows, spouses & carers across the UK worth over £160,000. The grants fund trips to revisit the places they or their loved ones served in WWII and to commemorate their comrades who did not return.
The Big Lottery Fund is looking for any veterans who still have not taken advantage of the opportunity to apply now so that they can make their trips before the end of the year (31 December 2010) travel deadline. Grants can be awarded retrospectively until the scheme closes on 31 January 2011.
CSEF: The Children’s Safety Education Foundation (CSEF) is serving up a ‘bangers & cash’ initiative as part of a novel fund-raising drive to boost its vital work countywide. CSEF is one of the first charities in the UK to team up with Giveacar, a social enterprise which collects unwanted & unused cars for charity – turning scrap to cash.
Regardless of their condition, cars are collected free-of-charge nationwide by Giveacar and sold through an online auction, or disposed of at an authorised treatment facility. Proceeds from the sale are donated to a charity of the car owner’s choice, or one of the Giveacar’s partner charities, such as CSEF. Even if the banger is scrapped, it still nets the selected good cause between £40 & £160.
To get more details and start making a difference, visit www.giveacar.co.uk or call the Giveacar Team on 020 0011 1664, quoting CSEF as your chosen charity.
Business and Other Briefings
HO: The UK Border Agency has published revised policy guidance for Tier 2 of the points-based system (version 10/10).
EU News: For over a year the European Parliament has pushed to secure stricter & clear-cut rules on payment periods, including a general 30-day deadline. Last week, the Internal Market Committee voted to endorse the deal struck with Council on 13 September – See ‘EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.’ section for more information.
WAG: £13m investment designed to boost the growth & competitiveness of the strategically important digital technology sector in Wales was launched last week. Software Alliance Wales (SAW) will target support to ICT businesses & professionals working in the industry to ensure they keep abreast of the rapid pace of technological developments.
It also aims to increase higher-level ICT skills across all business & industry sectors. It is anticipated that more than 2,400 businesses & individuals will benefit from the initiative over the next four years.
ScotGov: A pioneering project facilitated by Scotland's Regulatory Review Group (RRG) will help realise the vast potential of Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) energy schemes. The group, which last week published its annual report, has looked at how the process of environmental planning applications to use the latest clean energy technology can be better managed & coordinated.
This innovative exercise, developed by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, brought together all the key developers, consultants, environmentalists, planners, academics and regulators, to test run & assess the current regulatory framework and identify pressure points.
The work will now be taken forward by the regulators in a new Project Monitoring Board to monitor progress of CCS demonstration project applications, promote effective engagement with communities and meet the demanding timescales required under the UK and EU CCS funding competitions.
Newswire – RoSPA: The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is gearing up for a new series of conferences designed to promote the sharing of good practice within industry. Two “From Industry, For Industry” conferences have been scheduled so far, both taking place in London at CCT Venues - Canary Wharf later this year:
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