In the News
Ofsted: They are people, not objects - The experiences of children placed into care are revealed in a new report. Among the experiences are many children not knowing that they are going into care until it actually happens and then having no choice about where they are going to live. Of 28 children who did not know they were going into care, 18 were emergency admissions.
Before care, the latest report by Children’s Rights Director for England, Dr Roger Morgan, is a small but significant survey of 50 children, from different authorities across the country, who recently entered the care system. It provides first hand accounts of children’s experiences before entering care and raises concerns about how ill informed and unprepared some children are when they come into care.
However, the report also shows that once children are in care, the majority (35) felt the right decision had been made for them, with 38 reporting that their life was generally better since they came into care.
HSE: Not quite the rosy image one imagines - A sharp rise in the number of people killed or seriously injured on British farms has wiped out previously achieved safety gains. New figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that in Britain between April 2009 & March 2010, the number of reported major injuries, such as broken bones or amputations, rose to 640, up from 599 the previous year.
The number of major injuries has now increased by more than 40% in the last 3 years. In June 2010 it was announced that 38 people died as a result of work on farms last year - up from 25 twelve months ago and above the average of 37 for the previous 5 years. With a rate of fatal injuries to workers in 2009/10 of 8 per 100,000, agriculture remains Britain's most dangerous industry.
Newswire – UNICEF: Learning ‘Right’ from ‘Wrong’ - Teaching children about their rights can ‘reduce exclusions & bullying, improve behaviour & teacher-pupil relationships, raise attainment and make for more mature, responsible students’ according to new research published by UNICEF UK. This evidence is highlighted in a 3-year qualitative study of UNICEF UK’s Rights Respecting School Award (RRSA), undertaken by researchers at the Universities of Sussex and Brighton.
UNICEF UK’s Rights Respecting School Award recognises achievement in putting children’s rights at the heart of all of a school’s planning, policies, practices and ethos. The aim of the evaluation was to assess the impact of the initiative on the well-being & achievement of children in 31 schools participating in RRSA across English Local Authorities.
At a Rights Respecting School, students’ are taught to distinguish between wants, needs & rights. Children learn that with rights come responsibilities and develop, with teachers, classroom and school charters of how to act within the classroom and school environment.
ScotGov: Scotland does have a lot of coast - A £70m investment fund to secure Scotland's place at the forefront of the global offshore wind industry was announced last week by First Minister Alex Salmond.
The National Renewables Infrastructure Fund - to strengthen port & manufacturing facilities and supply chain provision for manufacturing offshore wind turbines & related components - will leverage significant private sector investment in the next 4 years and help deliver an estimated 28,000 jobs and £7.1bn in value to Scotland's economy over the coming decade.
Mr Salmond launched the fund, which is being delivered through a partnership of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise until 2015, at RenewableUK 2010, the wind & marine energy industry body's annual conference & exhibition in Glasgow.
MoD: Forget 5 November, just remember those we owe so much to on 11 November - Members of 99 Squadron have been raising funds for the Hounds for Heroes charity that aims to match assistance dogs with injured personnel. Endal Junior - or EJ - is a highly trained assistance dog and for his owner, Allen Parton, who was severely injured in the first Gulf War, EJ is quite literally a life-saver.
In Mr Parton's words, EJ has given him back a quality of life after losing the use of his legs in an explosion during the war in Iraq: "EJ is able to put a cash card into a cash machine or in a chip and pin machine in a supermarket, he will press the button at traffic lights, post letters for me - and can put me in the recovery position if I collapse, and get help."
He could not write, walk or talk, but through the love of his family (he remarried his wife 4 years ago as he could not remember the original wedding) and EJ, Mr Parton is now raising money to train up more dogs like EJ to help other Service personnel who have been injured. So inspiring is Mr Parton's story that a best-selling book has been written about it, and a film looks set to be made about his life.
And, at RAF Brize Norton, personnel from 99 Squadron were on hand to give the Hounds for Heroes charity a boost. The charity's initial aim is to raise £100,000 for the purchase, training & support of its first 5 dogs - under its Puppies on Parade Appeal.
Industry News: - Vehicle Tracking Survey 2010 – Uptake Doubles Amongst Fleet Operators - The Vehicle Tracking Survey 2010, has revealed a significant uptake of vehicle tracking, with 55% of organisations now using the technology within their fleet operation. This represents a sharp increase from previous research conducted in 2008, which showed a market penetration of around 25%.
In addition, the findings suggest that vehicle tracking has become a valued fleet tool with 96% of operators using the technology stating that it has added benefit to their business. The Survey reports that improving productivity (41%) is the main reason for adopting vehicle tracking. However, fleet operators are achieving a much wider range of benefits from using the technology with reduced costs (77%), increased productivity (64%), added security (52%), and enhanced fleet and employee performance (51%) the most extensively highlighted.
Within the public sector, of the local authorities and utilities questioned, 50% were considering "green band driving" and other eco initiatives, and 75% of respondents have introduced safer driving and duty of care initiatives already.
Find out more….
Newswire – CIPD: The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) are partnering with Opportunity Now for the Directing Diverse Talent Award, 1 of 8 awards at The Opportunity Now Excellence in Practice Awards 2011. The ceremony celebrates outstanding examples of good practice, innovation & individual achievement of women in the workplace. Entries close 7 January 2011.
Press release ~ Find out more about the award ~ CIPD: Opening up talent for business success: integrating talent management and diversity
Newswire – CIPD: Cuts in public spending announced in last month’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) and the rise in the standard rate of VAT to 20% due in January 2011 will result in the loss of almost 1.6m jobs across the UK economy by 2015-16, with the private sector hit harder than the public sector, according to estimates released by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
The coalition government’s overall policy measures to increase economic growth will have to help boost net private sector job creation by an average of 320,000 p.a. by 2015-16 simply to keep unemployment broadly stable at around 2.5m.
Newswire – CIPD: A new CIPD survey, Employee Outlook: focus on the ageing workforce, has found that 41% employees plan to work beyond the state retirement age, compared to 29% of the 2,000 respondents who don’t. The survey also shows that many people are uncertain, with 25% saying they don’t know either way.
The survey, which helped inform the CIPD response to the Government consultation on its plans to phase out the Default Retirement Age (DRA) by October 2011, finds that nearly half of respondents are against the current right of employers to retire employees once they reach their 65th birthday.
PCS: Plans by the government to privatise up to half of Forestry Commission land would deny future generations of our woodlands and forests, PCS says. The union also fears that hundreds of jobs would be at risk as a result of the sell-off and vulnerable rural communities would lose out.
In 2009 a detailed study of the long term role of the public forest estate was carried out by the Forestry Commission. It reported that public forests were good value for money providing multiple social & environmental benefits and concluded that public ownership was essential in supporting the estate.
Press release ~ Environmental Status Report – the Public Forest Estate in England (2009) ~ Read PCS's alternative to the cuts
PCS: A memo leaked to the PCS union reveals the government is planning to close almost all local vehicle licensing offices in the
, threatening around 1,500 jobs. The document suggests that up to 49 local offices of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency could be closed, with the vast majority of the agency’s functions centralised at its headquarters in
The memo ‘indicates that DVLA enforcement staff, who have been responsible for massive cuts in road tax evasion rates, will be expected to set up the new rules on uninsured vehicles, before being replaced by a new, specially-recruited workforce’. The plans would mean more uninsured vehicles remain on our roads, the union says.
Press release ~ Download a copy of the memo
FSA: The Agency has updated its list of product ranges that do not contain the 6 food colours associated with possible hyperactivity in young children. Another 6 manufacturers producing product lines free of the colours have been added to the list: Central Foods Ltd, Dorset Cereals Ltd, Kent Frozen Foods, Norvik Foods Ltd, Stream Foods Ltd and The Authentic Food Company Ltd.
Press release ~ Caterers and restaurants with product ranges free from the six colours ~ Manufacturers with product ranges free from the six colours ~ Retailers with product ranges free from the six colours
FSA: granoVita UK Ltd is recalling its Nut Luncheon with a ‘best before’ date of 28 June 2013, because of spoilage and possible microbiological contamination. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
Press release ~ granoVita UK Ltd recalls a batch of granoVita Nut Luncheon due to spoilage and possible microbiological contamination ~ granoVita UK Ltd
MoD: Blogging is a communications phenomenon and there are an estimated 200m people who regularly record their thoughts & observations online for others to read & comment on. Among them is an ever-growing army of military men & women keen to write about their world, sharing their views on everything from Army food, to the fears & satisfaction of serving in a war zone.
It was the appetite of British soldiers, sailors, marines & airmen to share their operational experiences with the rest of the world which prompted the establishment of officially approved bloggers during Operation HERRICK 11 in Autumn 2009. In July 2010,
British troops in launched their first mass blogging initiative, with scores of men & women posting from the front line on Army, Navy and RAF websites. See Related Links to visit the Defence Social Media Hub and the 3 Service blogs.
Press release ~ Photos and related links
MoD: 4 teams of Armed forces personnel have set off on a 1,000 mile (1,609km) 'March for Honour' to raise £1m for the Royal British Legion. Each team aims to walk up to 250 miles (402km) of the 1,000 miles (1,609km) and is dedicating the march to UK Service personnel who have been killed in the and campaigns.
All the teams will pass through Wootton Bassett on Tuesday, 9 November 2010, chosen as a meeting point because it is the town where those killed in are traditionally honoured in a parade when their bodies are repatriated. The teams will pay their respects to the town and all the attending associations for their unfaltering dedication during repatriation ceremonies.
The teams will march into
London on 11 November 2010 to deliver the Book of Remembrance to the Royal Albert Hall for The Royal British Legion's National Festival of Remembrance.
Press release ~ Photos and related links
TfL: 60 public meetings between London Overground managers & passengers will be held across the network to explain alternative travel options during a series of upcoming closures, Transport for London (TfL) announced last week.
The meetings will be held from mid November to early December at stations on the
Stratford to Richmond & Clapham Junction lines, and aim to reduce inconvenience to passengers during the closures. The meetings will explain rail replacement services and ticket acceptance on alternative routes.
Press release (includes dates & locations of meetings).
ScotGov: A Rural Priorities-funded project which combines a range of farm business, environmental & educational benefits was opened by Rural Secretary, Richard Lochhead last week. The brainchild of farmer Allan Stevenson, the Luffness Mains project includes new energy efficient farm buildings for grading, processing & cold storing potatoes and storing & drying grain.
The buildings are 60% self-sufficient, using renewable energy from two on-farm wind turbines and include a public room where visitors can learn about Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF). Other developments on the farm include a mile of new hedgerows and the creation of species-rich grassland to improve local biodiversity and water margins to prevent diffuse pollution.
Press release ~ Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) ~ Luffness Mains project ~ Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF)
DSA: Facebook users can now get safe driving advice and keep up to date with changes to the driving test. The Driving Standards Agency has launched a page called 'I can't wait to pass my driving test' and wants learners to become fans.
Press release ~ facebook.com/mydrivingtest
Ofcom: Viewers who have a high definition service can now watch BBC One in HD following the launch of a new channel. BBC One HD is available on Freesat channel 108, Freeview channel 50, Sky channel 143 and Virgin Media channel 108. The BBC says the majority of peak time programmes will be made in HD while those shows made in standard definition (SD) will be ‘upscaled’.
Upscaling means the number of lines in the SD picture is effectively doubled – from 576 to 1080 – to fill the high definition screen, but, as the original material is still SD, the quality of the picture will not be equivalent to HD.
Press release ~ Communications Market Report ~ Freeview website
Policy Statements and Initiatives
WAG: Social Justice Minister, Carl Sargeant recently highlighted the action being taken to help community development workers acquire the skills they need to support disadvantaged communities in Wales.
The Welsh Assembly Government has joined forces with Lifelong Learning UK, Community Development Cymru and other key stakeholders to develop an Action Plan for the next 3 years.
MLA: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has confirmed it will not fund a new round of the £1.8m Strategic Commissioning programme – which links museums & schools – after the programme ends in March 2011.
CLG: Housing Minister, Grant Shapps last week urged councils & housing associations to help unlock their tenants' entrepreneurial talents and allow them to set up businesses from their homes. Research has suggested that as many as 96% of housing associations can require tenants to get written permission to be able to work from home - with many tenants believing that permission would be denied.
DfE: The Secretary of State for Education has allocated £110m to establish an education endowment fund (EEF) designed to raise standards in underperforming schools. The EEF will distribute money to local authorities, academy sponsors, charities and other groups that bring forward innovative proposals to improve performance in our most challenging schools.
Those bidding for funds from the EEF will have to outline how their proposals will raise attainment. Bidders must also demonstrate how they will be held accountable for the success of their proposals. Organisations will be able to apply to administer the EEF from 5 November 2010.
WAG: Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, has welcomed the launch of a new Welsh Medium scholarship which will help to engage more students in Welsh medium higher education. He has also reaffirmed the Welsh Assembly Government’s commitment to establishing Coleg Ffederal in Wales.
DfE: As part of a speech to mark National Adoption Week, Children’s Minister, Tim Loughton last week called on local authorities & voluntary adoption agencies ‘not to deny children a loving home with adoptive parents solely on the grounds that they do not share the same racial or cultural background’. Statistics show that the number of children placed for adoption fell by 15% in 2009/10 and that more children are waiting longer to be adopted.
To help break down barriers & reduce delay in the system, the Government has set up an advisory group on adoption to provide expert advice on a range of practical proposals. Local authorities should also be making use of the Adoption Research Initiative, which provides guidance to frontline practitioners on planning & decision-making, family finding, adoption support and the costs of adoption.
In addition, the Government will shortly be reissuing updated statutory adoption guidance, including advice on matching for BME community and mixed ethnicity children. The BAAF is also developing new practice guidance on promoting a child’s ethnic identity in adoption and balancing this against unnecessary delay.
DfE: All evidence & experience suggests stronger partnerships, greater integration of services and a shared purpose for all those working with and for children & families lead to better services for children, young people & families – especially the most vulnerable.
But the current system needs urgent reform and the Coalition Government is determined to let local professionals come together in the way that best fits local circumstances & needs.
Coupled with this is a programme of reform to devolve power & information to local areas, from councillors to community groups to individual citizens – ‘the people who together know what works best for their neighbours and their neighbourhood’. As of 31 October 2010:
* Statutory children’s trust guidance, which no longer reflects Government policy, is withdrawn
* Children & young people’s plan regulations are revoked
DWP: Details on how the State Pension age will rise to 66 have been published. A sustainable State Pension - When the State Pension age will increase to 66 follows a review and Call for Evidence on the timing of the increase in State Pension age.
MoD: In a speech to defence industry members, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support & Technology, Peter Luff, has announced that, by the end of 2010, a Green Paper will be published that sets out plans for defence industrial & technology policy.
MoD: A new programme of defence co-operation between the UK & France has been announced by British Prime Minister, David Cameron and French President, Nicolas Sarkozy. The programme is to be delivered through an overarching Defence Co-operation Treaty, a subordinate treaty relating to a joint nuclear facility, a letter of intent signed by Defence Ministers and a package of joint defence initiatives.
HO: In her first major speech on counter-terrorism, the Home Secretary has said that tough decisions will be taken to protect the British public from further attack. Speaking at independent think tank RUSI, she outlined her plans to deal with the threat of terrorism, which she called 'more diverse and more fragmented than ever'.
DCMS: Talented arts graduates from less affluent backgrounds will be given an opportunity to kick start a career in the arts or creative industries, under a new bursary scheme formally launched by Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey. The DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursaries Scheme for new arts graduateshas been developed and is managed by Jerwood on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
The programme will make careers in the arts more accessible by giving up to 40 recent graduates, who could otherwise not support themselves through an unpaid internship, the opportunity to take up posts with arts & cultural organisations for up to 12 months. Scheme will initially run for 2 years. A decision on continuing the scheme will be taken following full evaluation.
ICELP: The Independent Commission on Equitable Life Payments has published a discussion paper inviting views on how funding to non with-profits annuitants should be allocated & prioritised.
The Commission has been asked to provide advice (by the end of January 2011) on how funding of £775m over the next 3 years should be allocated among almost 500,000 holders of individual policies and 600,000 Group Pension policies, including whether the timing of any payments should be prioritised.
The Commission is seeking the written views of interested parties by the close of Friday 3 December 2010. A list of questions for consideration is set out in Chapter 3.
DCMS: The Government has launched proposals to consider two possible changes to the Gambling Act 2005 applying to ‘adults-only’ (B3) slot machines. Following extensive discussions, John Penrose proposes in a consultation (closes 25 January 2011):
* increasing the maximum stake limit from £1 to £2
* permitting a modest increase in the number of such machines in adult-only arcades & bingo clubs
SGC: On 13 October 2010 the Sentencing Council launched a consultation (closes on 5 January 2011) proposing changes to the guidelines that judges and magistrates use to sentence people for offences of assault. The SGC has published a draft guideline, a full consultation paper intended for criminal justice professionals, a shorter public consultation paper, a resource assessment & an equality impact assessment.
EU News: The European Commission has set out a strategy on how to protect individuals' data in all policy areas, including law enforcement, while reducing red tape for business and guaranteeing the free circulation of data within the EU - See ‘EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc’ section for more information.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
Ofcom: Children are often the first to learn about new technology and are embracing it at a younger & younger age. But not everything may be suitable for them – there will be programmes you don’t want them to watch & web sites you don’t want them to visit. The following Ofcom guides explain more about the various parental controls on offer.
WAG: Education Minister Leighton Andrews has welcomed new powers coming into force which clarify teacher’s roles when it comes to discipline & exclusions. The new powers under the Education & Inspection Act 2006 reaffirm teachers’ ability to:
* Discipline pupils on & off school premises
* clarify the powers relating to confiscation of pupil’s property
* use reasonable force to prevent pupils from harming themselves & others and in some cases of serious misbehaviour
QCDA: The 2001 key stage 2 Access arrangements guide is now available to download. The guide provides information on applying for & administering access arrangements.
NICE: Many men - whose fertility may be at risk from cancer treatment - are being denied the chance to store their sperm, as doctors fail to follow NICE recommendations, latest research suggests. NICE fertility guidelines state that men or adolescent boys who are receiving cancer treatment that may leave them infertile should be offered the opportunity to store their sperm.
But in a study funded by Cancer Research UK, found that only half of oncologists & haematologists across the UK agreed that information on sperm banking is readily available to patients, despite the presence of guidelines from NICE.
CO: Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, recently published examples of how local authorities can work well with charities, voluntary groups & social enterprises to minimise the impact of any spending cuts.
The examples, published jointly by the Cabinet Office and the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA), will provide a resource for local authorities making difficult funding decisions. They are accompanied by analysis of data to help local authorities in the decision making process.
Newswire – TUC: 49% of workplaces in the UK have never been visited by a health & safety inspector, the TUC revealed last week. This is despite evidence that inspection & enforcement activity is the most effective way to ensure that employers comply with health and safety laws.
The TUC's biennial survey of safety reps finds that 9% of reps say that the last inspection at their workplace was more than 3 years ago, while a further 15% say it was between 1 & 3 years ago. Only 27% say their workplace has received a visit within the last 12 months.
HPA: Cases of tuberculosis in the UK have reached 9,040 in 2009 - the highest number in the UK for nearly 30 years while the number of new drug resistant TB cases has nearly doubled in the past 10 years. The Health Protection Agency's annual TB report (published last week) also shows that the proportion of multi-drug resistant cases of the disease has doubled in the last decade.
Patients may acquire drug resistant disease either as a result of spread of a drug resistant strain from another person or as a result of inappropriate or incomplete treatment.
CEOP: The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre has received 6,291 reports in the last reporting year, an increase of 880 on the previous year, according to figures published in CEOP’s 2009-2010 Strategic Overview.
Public reports are made overwhelmingly through the ClickCEOP button. This is used by children, young people, parents & carers to access information about online safety and to report instances of sexual abuse, grooming and other problems online. By clicking on the link, children can also access a range of advice & guidance from organisations such as the NSPCC’s Childline, Beatbullying and GetSafeOnline.
General Reports and Other Publications
IPPR: Investment in clean energy, such as wind & solar, in developing countries – seen as critical by their governments if they are to maintain economic growth and bring power to poor communities – must double on average between now & 2020, a new report claims. But, the report argues, governments of richer countries must come forward with some up-front cash to help give the private sector confidence to make the transformational investments needed.
The new study, by the Global Climate Network (an alliance of think tanks) called Investing in Clean Energy, examines in detail the costs of large increases in clean energy projects in 4 developing countries. The GCN urges governments to set aside a proportion of the finance pledged at the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit to help attract private investment in this way.
EHRC: To coincide with Equal Pay Day, the day of the year ‘when women in effect stop getting paid because of the gender pay gap of 16.4%’, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has published - Equal Pay - Where Next? - in partnership with the Fawcett Society, UNISON and the TUC.
The report contains the main discussions & recommendations from the Equal Pay – Where Next? conference held earlier this year to mark the 40th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act.
It explores 4 key aspects of tackling the gender pay gap: making the business case for equal pay; how the structure and organisation of the workplace plays a part in the equal pay debate; the adequacy or inadequacy of the legislative framework underpinning equal pay; and attitudes & culture surrounding equal pay.
Newswire – CPA: The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, spoke last week as the Committee published its 3rd Report of this Session which, on the basis of evidence from the Department of Health, examined:
*why the NHS had failed to meet its health inequalities target
* the role of GPs
* and the lessons of this for the new NHS.
ScotGov: The final report of the Pack Inquiry into Future Support for Agriculture in Scotland was published last week. The Inquiry was commissioned by Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead, in June 2009 to examine agricultural subsidy and consider how best future support should be tailored to deliver a sustainable sector. The inquiry report contains 40 specific recommendations.
Ofsted: Strong partnership working across agencies, led by highly effective leaders with commitment & drive, can bring real change & improvement for children & young people in their area, finds Ofsted in its latest report.
Improving outcomes for children & young people through partnership in Children’s Trusts is a small-scale survey of 6 local authorities evaluating the impact of Children’s Trusts on improving the lives of children & young people, particularly those whose circumstances made them potentially vulnerable. The report identifies best practice and provides detailed case studies of effective partnership work within the 6 Children’s Trusts.
KF: 57% of GPs & other practice-based professionals surveyed by The King’s Fund said that providing continuity of care should be the main priority for improving the quality of general practice in England.
The King’s Fund commissioned the survey earlier this year among GPs & practice-based professionals to provide a snapshot of views from the front line to complement its Inquiry into the Quality of General Practice in England. The survey sought to gain the opinions of GPs & practice-based professionals on the extent to which general practice is currently providing high-quality patient care.
HoL: The House of Lords Leader’s Group on Members Leaving the House has this week published an interim report setting out some of the options available for introducing mechanisms to allow Members to permanently leave the House of Lords.
The Group does not at this stage take a view on any of the suggestions they received. Instead they call on the Leader of the House, Lord Strathclyde to publish their report and allow a debate in the House to give all Members a chance to air their views and to provide a forum for the suggestions to be debated. The debate will take place on Tuesday 16 November 2010.
IfG: The Institute for Government Director, Andrew Adonis, has written to the Chair of the House of Lords Working Group on Procedures setting out his proposals for reforming the House. Lord Adonis was invited to set out his thoughts by Lord Goodlad, who chairs the working group, following an article in The House magazine on 25 October.
In the article, he argued it was urgent to debate how the House can do its job better, as it "performs its functions haphazardly at best, not least because it makes such poor use of its members. I know of no institution which possesses so much talent, and makes so little use of it."
CHAC: Over 80% of long-term immigrants entering the UK would not be affected by the Government’s proposed annual cap on immigration, says a new report by the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.
Consequently, the Committee argues, to achieve anything approaching the reduction in overall immigration sought by the Government, other immigration routes - such as international students and those joining family members in the UK - will also have to be examined. And it is possible that in the long term the right to settle in this country may have to be removed from some immigrants.
OFT: New entrants to the retail banking sector face significant challenges in attracting customers and expanding their market shares, an OFT review has found. A copy of the review will be submitted to the Independent Commission on Banking.
MoJ: Louise Casey, the independent Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses, has published a new report on improving support for victims in the criminal justice system. ‘Ending the Justice Waiting Game’ proposes measures to speed up the justice system, including ending the right to jury trial in certain cases.
PAC: The Public Accounts Committee has published (without a press release) its report on;
iea: A new research paper released by the Institute of Economic Affairsargues that claims by the Fair Trade movement are seriously exaggerated. Fair Trade’s selling point to customers is that, by paying a premium and buying certified products, they will help producers in developing countries.
Although at the margins this may be true, research shows that fair trade is not a strategy for long-term development – conventional trade is often more effective. Even analysts sympathetic to the movement have suggested that only 25% of the premium reaches producers. No study ever produced has shown that the benefit to producers anything like matches the price premium paid.
IISS: The International Institute for Strategic Studies comments on how the UK cost-cutting review has shrunk military capacity.
CRC: Ofcom has published research on the causes of ‘not-spots’ – areas where there is insufficient mobile signal to make a call or send a text message. The Commission for Rural Communities have investigated the specific impacts of poor mobile coverage in rural communities and developed a series of recommendations. Their findings are due to be published later this month.
ScotGov: Fisheries Secretary, Richard Lochhead has welcomed the report from the Inquiry into the Future of Fisheries Management (IFFM): "In reaching the 24 recommendations contained in the document, this independent panel sought and considered submissions from more than 80 experts representing the industry, science, academia, NGOs, government, EU Commission, and individuals”.
JRF: Meeting the Government's zero carbon housing targets by 2016 will be extremely difficult unless major changes are made within the house-building industry, according to a new report out recently. Low Carbon Housing: Lessons from Elm Tree Mews (ETM) looked at the features & performance of a low carbon housing scheme in York, developed by the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust.
ETM was built with the aim of providing affordable, high-quality housing to meet proposed energy & carbon standards for 2013. Researchers found the actual performance of the properties was not as good as intended. Heat loss was much higher than predicted (54%) the solar systems provided hot water, but suffered numerous operational problems and the ground source heat pump system underperformed.
Legislation / Legal
Newswire – WWF: WWF-UK has warned that Britain’s position as a leader in offshore wind energy is in danger of being undermined by an institutional bias towards oil & gas. Highlighting an obscure legality in Crown Estate leases that continues to prioritise oil & gas exploration off the UK’s coast to the detriment of renewables, WWF urges the Government to stand by its commitment to a green economy and use the forthcoming Energy Bill to remove any barriers that could endanger future green jobs and climate targets.
WWF has uncovered a little known clause contained within Crown Estate leases which can terminate existing rights granted to offshore wind farm operators whenever the government declares a license for oil & gas exploration in the same area. Not only can wind farm operators lose their lease, but they face premature decommissioning costs when their lease is revoked and are not entitled to any compensation to recover any expected financial returns.
ScotGov: MSPs recently passed a new law that will ditch the right to buy (RTB) for new council house & housing association tenants. The RTB will also be abolished for all new homes built in the social sector.
The creation of a new Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR), and the introduction of a charter for social housing, aims to improve value for tenants & taxpayers by assessing landlords' performance. Around 1 in 4 Scottish households, about 600,000 homes, are in the social rented sector.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: While in general terms wind energy does not represent a threat to wildlife, poorly sited or designed wind farms can have a negative impact on vulnerable species & habitats. That's why the European Commission has published guidelines for wind energy development in protected natural areas.
The guidelines apply to the Natura 2000 network, a cornerstone of EU biodiversity policy and a key tool to achieve the EU target of halting & reversing biodiversity loss by 2020. They contain examples of best practice and show how wind energy developments can avoid damage to nature sensitive areas.
EU News: The Commission has proposed safety standards for disposing spent fuel & radioactive waste from nuclear power plants, as well as from medicine or research. In the Directive put forward this week, Member States are asked to present national programmes, indicating when, where and how they will construct and manage final repositories aimed at guaranteeing the highest safety standards.
EU News: Controlling your information, having access to your data, being able to modify or delete it – these are essential rights that have to be guaranteed in today's digital world. To address these issues, the European Commission has set out a strategy on how to protect individuals' data in all policy areas, including law enforcement, while reducing red tape for business and guaranteeing the free circulation of data within the EU.
This policy review will be used by the Commission with the results of a public consultation to revise the EU’s 1995 Data Protection Directive. The Commission will then propose legislation in 2011. The Commission is calling on all stakeholders and the public to comment on the review's proposals. Submissions can be made on the Commission’s public consultation web site until 15 January 2011.
EU News: Europe's cyber security experts last week tested their responses in the first ever pan-European cyber-attack simulation exercise. In ‘Cyber Europe 2010’, experts tried to counter simulated attempts by hackers to paralyse critical online services in several EU Member States.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
CRUK: Cancer Research UK scientists have found that non-dividing cells are able to kick-start some cancers, challenging a long held belief that only dividing cells, like stem cells, cause the disease, according to research published online in PNAS last week.
MoD: Members of 99 Squadron have been raising funds for the Hounds for Heroes charity that aims to match assistance dogs with injured personnel. Endal Junior - or EJ - is a highly trained assistance dog and for his owner, Allen Parton, who was severely injured in the first Gulf War, EJ is quite literally a life-saver – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
CO: A new £100m fund to help the charities, voluntary groups & social enterprises that are most vulnerable to public spending cuts will be opened at the end of November. The Transition fund was first announced in the spending review. Detailed eligibility criteria will be available shortly and organisations can express an interest in the fund by emailing their contact details to:
OS: Ordnance Survey staff last week helped Marie Curie Cancer Care launch its first-ever local Nursing appeal in Southampton. The appeal is fronted by local nurse, Eileen Mills - 1 of 7 nurses in Southampton who provide a free nursing service for terminally ill people who want to be cared for at home at the end of their lives.
To continue to provide the service to terminally ill patients in Southampton, the charity needs to raise £74,000 this year. The charity has been chosen by Ordnance Survey staff as their corporate charity, meaning that staff will undertake a range of events & activities to support the appeal this year.
nef: The Government wants the Big Society to pick up the pieces left by its public spending cuts, but the scale & speed of the cuts leave civil society with an impossible job to do and not nearly enough support, claims independent think-tank nef (the new economics foundation). The result will be a poorer, more hard-pressed society, not a bigger one.
Directgov: As part of a 1 year pilot scheme, 13 new ‘Veterans Advisory & Pensions Committees' (VAPCs) have been set up across the UK. The VAPCs replace the previous ‘War Pension Committees’, but have a much wider role, including raising awareness of the support available to veterans and the Armed Forces community. The VAPC’s will also help serving personnel, their families & veterans to access these services & other local support.
CO: Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, recently published examples of how local authorities can work well with charities, voluntary groups & social enterprises to minimise the impact of any spending cuts - See ‘Guidance Notes & Best Practice Guides’ section for more information
Business and Other Briefings
BIS: A simple new health check to help local business people spot early signs of decline in their High Street has been launched by Business Minister, Mark Prisk. The ‘Healthy High Street’ guide is the first of its kind: a practical aid to help local businesses, councils & community organisations spot the early warning signs and prevent further degeneration.
BIS: New plans to streamline development consents regimes for businesses in order to encourage development & stimulate economic growth have been announced by the Government.
Responding to Adrian Penfold’s review of non-planning consents, business minister Mark Prisk and planning minister Bob Neill said the Government will take immediate steps to free developers from burdensome regulation. It will also make sure that those responsible for these consents are sharing best practice.
BIS: Business Secretary Vince Cable has launched a call for evidence (closes on 3 December 2010) to inform the Government’s forthcoming Trade White Paper. The White Paper will examine Britain’s trade & investment policy in the light of changing domestic, EU & global developments, and set out the Government’s analysis, vision & strategy for the next 5 years.
The purpose of this Revenue & Customs Brief is to expose draft legislation which amends the Partial Exemption and Capital Goods Scheme regulations, to invite comments on it and to provide an explanation of the changes.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has reviewed its policy on the treatment of business entertainment provided to overseas customers in the light of the European Courts of Justice (ECJ) judgment in the joined case of Danfoss and AstraZeneca (Case-371/07).
STFC: Scientists & medics are set to test a unique technology which could help in the early diagnosis of conditions such as the painful brittle bone disease. The technology, which uses a novel technique devised by STFC's Central Laser Facility (CLF), is to be tested for the first time with NHS hospital patients.
The Spatially Offset Raman Spectroscopy (SORS) instrument, the first to be commercially available, was delivered on last week to the Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Science, UniversityCollegeLondon (UCL) on the RoyalNationalOrthopaedicHospital (RNOH) site in Stanmore, Middlesex.
If successful, this could lead to preventive measures being taken at an early stage of disease development and the improved monitoring of the effects of treatments. At the moment brittle bone disease, a genetic bone condition, is often diagnosed after multiple painful fractures have already occurred to newborn babies.
DCMS: The best of Britain will be featured in a new app on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab devices following a new agreement between the technology company and VisitBritain. The app will allow visitors to look at the best recommendations for accommodation, entertainment and day trips as well as providing maps and pictures.
No.10: Prime Minister David Cameron has set out the Government’s ambition for London’s East End to become a world-leading technology city to rival Silicon Valley. Vodafone, Google, Facebook, Intel and McKinsey & Co are among the leading companies that have said they will commit to invest in the long-term future of the area. A blueprint for technology was published last week.
Newswire - NHS Confed: Book your place for a regulation seminar on 3 December 2010 to discuss quality regulation and the regulation system as a whole. Alongside the proposals to radically reform the NHS & healthcare in England, the Government's health white paper, Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, promises a fundamental review of health & social care regulation.
The NHS Confederation seminar series is looking at what is needed to achieve effective health & social care regulation, particularly in relation to the proposals in the health white paper.
Newswire – AC: The Audit Commission has teamed up with the Institute of Local Government Studies to deliver a 1 day seminar (Wednesday 24 November 2010) exploring the financial implications of an ageing population for local authorities. This seminar will include a session on using the Finance Improvement Tool - a new product to support councils & others in understanding & responding to an ageing population.
The Audit Commission has published 2 studies to support councils in tackling the impact of an ageing population on local services: Under Pressure and Don't Stop me Now.
ICB: The Independent Commission on Banking will seek the views of consumers, businesses and other interested parties at 5 public events between now & Christmas. The Commission has been asked to consider reforms to the banking sector to promote stability & competition and wants to stimulate a wide debate on these issues following the publication of its Issues Paper on 24 September 2010.
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