In the News
ACE: Great art despite the cuts - A new National portfolio funding programme will, from April 2012, replace the Arts Council's current regularly funded system.
Central to this new funding system is ‘Achieving great art for everyone’, a strategic framework for the arts, which will provide the policy context for ACE investment in the arts with 5 clear strategic goals informing future funding decisions (in the context of an almost 30% cut in ACE funding from government).
The new system is open-application, with all organisations invited to apply online. Applications must be received by 10am on 24 January 2011 and decisions on the national portfolio organisations will be announced at the end of March 2011.
Newswire – LGA: A cheaper (but effective alternative) to personal care - High-tech gadgetry is saving £ms on care for the elderly while helping them stay in the homes they love. Pioneering research from one council shows modern technology could save its health system £7.5m a year. If expanded across England & Wales this would represent savings of £270m and extra years of independence & dignity for users.
DWP: Those that work & pay taxes don’t see why those who don’t, can’t, unless they are truly physically unable to do so - Launching the White Paper; Universal Credit: Welfare That Works alongside Deputy PM, Nick Clegg, Iain Duncan Smith set out how it will remove the complexities of the current benefit system which, at the moment, means it pays to stay on benefits rather than go into work.
The new Credit will provide a basic amount with additions for those with children & other caring responsibilities, people with disabilities and those with housing needs.
It will ‘be available for people both in & out of work and will replace the complicated & inefficient patchwork of existing support’ including: Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and income-related Employment & Support Allowances. In the long run the reforms are expected to lift 350,000 children & 500,000 adults out of poverty.
The new Universal Credit will ensure that support is withdrawn slowly & rationally as people return to work and increase their working hours, meaning that they get to keep more of their earnings for themselves and their families, regardless of how many hours they work.
Newswire – NHSConfed: There is no point in medically ‘saving’ them if their basic care is then neglected - Responding to findings that only one-third of elderly patients who died in hospital within 30 days of surgery had received good care, the NHS Confederation said there is absolutely no excuse for poor care, regardless of the person's age.
Responding to the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) report from last week, NHS Confederation deputy director for policy, Jo Webber, said: ……“The study suggests that there is more work to do on getting the basics like pain management right. Getting specialist teams in place can be difficult at short notice but it is clear that we need to do better".
CPAC: Even if Social/Health workers act in time, children’s futures are still ‘at risk’ - The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published a report on the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service's (Cafcass) response to increased demand for its services.
The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPAC, said: “Cafcass was ill-prepared for the very large increase in care cases in 2009-10, which followed the Baby Peter tragedy and caused chaos in the family justice system.
This lack of readiness was a direct result of the organisation’s continued failure to get to get to grips with the fundamental weaknesses in its culture, management & performance. It is still dealing with a legacy of low morale, unacceptably high levels of sickness absence and under-performance by some staff.
While judges are satisfied with the quality of the reports produced by Cafcass staff, it is a serious matter that an organisation whose role is to look after the interests of vulnerable children in family court proceedings is still not providing a timely service. This Committee does not share the Department for Education’s confidence that all will be well by 2011”.
Following the publicity around the Baby Peter tragedy in 2008, Cafcass experienced a significant & sustained increase in demand for its services, receiving around 34% more care cases in 2009–10 than the previous year. This led to chaos across the family justice system, and exposed Cafcass as an organisation that was not fit for purpose in dealing with the increased number of cases.
EC: Will we get another ‘lockout’ of voters? - Preparations are currently ‘on track for the proposed referendum and scheduled elections on 5 May 2011, but it will still be a significant challenge to make sure they are well run, according to the Electoral Commission.
Chair of the Electoral Commission, Jenny Watson, (who will be the Chief Counting Officer responsible for the conduct of the referendum) said: …. “But delivering well-run polls on 5 May will be a major challenge and it’s important local authorities have the right resources and staff in place to do this. Some members of the Steering Group we’ve set-up have highlighted the risks that could arise from the pressure local authorities are under between now and 5 May. ……
“We are also disappointed that the UK Government has not taken the opportunity of this (PVSC) Bill to implement our May 2010 recommendation to change the law so that Returning Officers can issue ballot papers to anyone who is at a polling station, but has not yet voted, when polling closes at 10pm.”
WAO: During his first week in office, the new Auditor General for Wales has set out his plans to improve the way the Wales Audit Office demonstrates accountability, transparency & open management. His recommendations for new governance arrangements are contained in a briefing paper.
SCUK: The International Space Science Institute (ISSI) has announced an opportunity for a post-doctoral position in space science at its facility in Bern, Switzerland. Closing date for applications is 15 December 2010.
STFC: UK scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider's (LHC) 'ALICE' experiment at CERN are celebrating the LHC's latest achievement which opens up an entirely new avenue of exploration.
The successful collision of lead ions in the accelerator at record energies allows matter to be probed as it would have been in the first moments of the Universe's existence. This new phase of the LHC's programme comes after 7 months of successfully colliding protons at high energies.
Newswire – CBI: The CBI has launched a new awards programme, the ‘CBI People Awards’, to recognise those organisations that have successfully adapted to change, while maintaining high-quality employee relations. Nominations are now being invited from UK companies and public-sector organisations across seven categories. The deadline for entries is 8 December 2010.
EA: The Environment Agency are making changes to their flood warning service. The changes are intended to make their service easier to understand and help you respond in a flood. They will make these changes on 30 November 2010 - but if there is a risk of flooding at this time they may need to postpone to a slightly later date.
FSA: Sainsbury’s has recalled its own-brand Cous Cous (500g) with a ‘best before’ date of July 2012, because the product contains small pieces of metal. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
FSA: Natural Balance Foods has withdrawn its Nakd Cashew Cookie bar with a ‘best before’ date of 2 March 2011, because the product contains trace amounts of peanuts that are not mentioned on the label, which makes the product a possible health risk for anyone with a peanut allergy. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
FSA: granoVita UK Ltd is recalling more of its Nut Luncheon, because of spoilage & possible microbiological contamination. Products with ‘best before’ dates of 28 June 2013, 20 July 2013 and 13 September 2013are being recalled. The Food Standards Agency has issued an updated Product Recall Information Notice.
HO: A project that led to the closure of 25 brothels & crack houses and visibly reduced prostitution in 2 residential areas of Northampton has won the national Tilley Award 2010. Operation Uncanny beat 10 regional finalists to take first place after introducing a number of innovative measures to tackle the problem.
CWGC: The Commonwealth War Graves Commission last week signed a historic Charter of Agreement with the Flemish Government, which sets out proposals for the two parties to work more closely together in the run up to the centennial commemorations of the First World War in Flanders from 2014 - 2018.
These are designed to encourage greater numbers of visitors to the many war cemeteries & memorials; to provide additional interpretation for those visitors; and to construct a new Commonwealth War Graves Commission visitor & headstone engraving centre in Flanders. It is proposed the new centre will be operational in time for the centennial commemorations of the First World War.
CQC: The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has identified a series of breaches in essential standards of quality & safety by Penn Hospital in Wolverhampton. A report highlights 10 areas of concern, which CQC says Wolverhampton City Primary Care Trust must address. The review follows concerns raised by Mental Health Act Commissioners following their programme of unannounced visits to the hospital.
FDA: The FDA has welcomed the Cabinet Secretary dispelling the ‘tired old caricatures’ of civil servants as "featherbedded pen-pushing bureaucrats...on Premiership footballer-style salaries".
CLG: A new mapping service to help make geography lessons more interactive & fun has been launched at a London school by Baroness Hanham and Ordnance Survey. 'Digimap for Schools' will give pupils across the country easy access to detailed digital mapping.
The new service will include access to the best Ordnance Survey's mapping available for Great Britain. The OS believe digital maps can help bring the subject to life and assist teachers to nurture & foster learning about the environment and location in which we live.
DCMS: The Extraordinary Heroes exhibition at the Lord Ashcroft Gallery opened last week at the Imperial War Museum London. The exhibition houses the world’s largest collection of Victoria Crosses (VCs), built up by Lord Ashcroft since 1986. The 164 awards, which range from the Crimean to the Falklands wars, will go on public display for the first time alongside 48 VCs and 31 George Crosses (GCs) already held by the Museum.
Press release ~ VC ~ GC ~ Imperial War Museum London
Policy Statements and Initiatives
Defra: The Myth – The Mail on Sunday reported that the flood budget will be cut by more than £700m over the next 4 years. The Truth – The previous plans hadn’t been given the green light by the Treasury.
No money had been committed to fund the plans, which means they couldn’t have gone ahead anyway. Defra expect to spend at least £2.1bn on flooding & coastal erosion over the next 4 years, only a slight decrease on the £2.36bn spent over the last 4 years.
WAG: An exercise programme to help people reduce their risk of developing chronic health conditions has proved to be cost-effective following a major evaluation undertaken by Cardiff & Bangor universities. The Welsh National Exercise Referral Scheme enables GPs and other health professionals to refer patients at risk of chronic disease to a structured exercise programme that will help them to improve their health.
Patients at risk of illnesses such as heart disease or those with mental health issues have access to a 16-week programme, where they can train with a fully qualified exercise professional who provides advice & support on becoming more active.
BIS: The Government has published a policy statement giving further detail on its plans to secure the long-term future of the Post Office.
10DS: The Prime Minister has published business plans that set out in detail the work of Government for the next 4 years. The plans include data such as financial information, Structural Reform Plans and departmental priorities. A searchable database of business plans has also been launched, along with information on departmental structures & salaries, ministerial meetings & hospitality and a range of other data.
DECC: The Government has announced that the carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration programme - the three projects that will follow the first demonstration - will be open to projects on gas-fired power plants as well as coal-fired power plants.
WAG: Fresh plans to improve sexual health services and reduce teenage pregnancies & sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Wales have been published.
The Assembly Government plan highlights the importance of prevention, education, individual responsibility, and access to healthcare services. It also aims to promote a culture where people feel able to discuss and ask questions about sexual health and relationships openly.
DfE: Education Secretary Michael Gove has announced a pioneering new 5-year partnership with China to train 1,000 more Mandarin teachers for secondary schools in England. Mr Gove launched the joint programme between the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and Hanban (the Confucius Institute Headquarters).
Mandarin is an increasingly popular subject choice for young people at GCSE but in England there are currently only around 100 qualified Mandarin teachers, and only 16% of secondary schools offered Chinese language teaching in 2009.
Defra: The Government has published ‘An action plan for driving sustainable operations and procurement across government’.
CO: 12 groups including Bolton Lads and Girls Club, the Football League Trust and the Challenge Network have been selected to run the first National Citizen Service (NCS) pilot projects. Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said that over 11,000 16-year-olds would benefit from the scheme next summer. The NCS pilots will trial a variety of different approaches to running the scheme.
NCS will be a 7 to 8 week voluntary programme including a 2-week residential element involving tough physical challenges and a community element, where young people will develop social action projects to help their communities. In the future, the Government wants every 16-year-old to have the chance to take part in this scheme.
MoD: Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox launched a new forum last week of 11 northern European countries to improve Britain's defence & security co-operation with our northern European neighbours.
The first forum of its kind, consisting of the Nordic and Baltic States plus Germany and Poland, will enable the UK to engage with countries who are not members of both NATO and the EU. This is a continuation of the UK's drive to deepen bilateral & multilateral relations with our European neighbours.
DFID: The public consultation (close on 31 January 2011) ) on the reform of CDC, the UK owned development finance institution, announced by the Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, began on Friday 5 November 2010.
The consultation will enable interested parties to submit evidence based ideas, via an online survey, on which approaches CDC should focus on to maximise its development impact, and how it can best catalyse private investment. The consultation will include 2 half-day technical roundtable discussions and a number of studies to inform the reform of CDC.
HO: Members of the public can have their say on a review into the UK's extradition arrangements. Extradition is the process which allows countries to make formal requests to each other for the return of suspects to stand trial for a crime in the country it was committed.
Defra: The Government is calling for the public to contribute ideas on ways to improve the way we care for one of England’s biggest assets – our National Parks.
Local people & communities are being given the opportunity to share concerns & suggestions with their National Park Authority, or Broads Authority, as part of a consultation (closes on 1 February 2011). Defra will consider proposals for individual parks, together with suggestions that will affect all parks, and publish a response in Spring 2011.
Defra: A consultation (closes on 14 January 2011) on proposals to replace or amend the Controlled Waste Regulations (1992) relating to certain non-domestic properties has been launched by Defra & the Welsh Assembly Government.
Any changes would affect all premises listed in Schedule 2 of the Controlled Waste Regulations, these include: self catering holiday accommodation/caravan parks; hospitals; schools/colleges; prisons; and care homes.
EHRC: The Equality and Human Rights Commission has launched a major inquiry into the human rights of older people requiring or receiving home-based care. Older people receiving home-based care are acutely vulnerable to human rights violations, yet the duties & responsibilities of those providing, commissioning, funding or regulating the care and support system are far from clear.
Currently, over a 1m older people receive care & support in their own home, with a smaller proportion – an estimated 173,000- in residential care. 81% of publicly funded home care is provided by the independent sector, up from 2% in 1992.
However, most independent providers are likely to be operating outside the direct reach of the Human Rights Act because they are not considered to be performing a ‘public function’. The Inquiry will publish its findings & recommendations in December 2011.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published a consultation paper (closes on 9 February 2011) outlining changes to the FSA Handbook following the Government’s confirmation of the workplace pension reforms. The policy proposals broadly fall into 2 categories:
* the use of group personal pensions (GPPs) for automatic enrolment
* protecting consumers in the changing pension landscape
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has begun a consultation (closes on 1 February 2011) on proposals to charge the UK meat industry the full cost of official controls on meat. The consultation includes a commitment by the FSA to further reduce the cost of these ‘meat official controls’ in Great Britain from £55.5m to £50m over the next 4 years.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published a consultation on the implementation of remuneration disclosure requirements based on those set out in the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD3). The consultation period closes on 8 December 2010 and the FSA intends to publish a policy statement on remuneration disclosure in mid-December.
EU News: The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the successor to the Competitiveness & Innovation Framework Programme 2007-2013 (CIP).
The CIP is the main EU budgetary instrument targeting competitiveness outside the research and skills areas. Its main priorities are SMEs, access to finance, innovation (including eco-innovation), take-up and use of information and communication technologies (ICT), energy efficiency and renewables.
Through the consultation, the public is invited to have its say on what the priorities of future competitiveness & innovation EU funding should be. The consultation will remain open until 4 February 2011.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
CLG: Housing Minister Grant Shapps has pledged to shut the door to squatters by making homeowners as aware of their rights, as those looking to take over their properties. He has launched an online guide for homeowners setting out their rights and what to do if their property is invaded.
Directgov: Last Friday the communications regulator Ofcom published a new consumer guide that can help you maximise your mobile coverage. The guide explains what practical steps you can take to maximise your mobile coverage and make sure you’re not left without a signal.
LSN: The International Network of Sector Skills Organisations (INSSO) and the Learning & Skills Network (LSN), both not-for-profit organisations, have produced a road map on how a successful network of sector skills organisations can be established, even in countries that currently have no such tradition.
CSEF: Bullying can make life miserable for children and young people of all ages. It takes many forms, from traditional physical & verbal abuse to more recent social & cyber bullying. National Bullying Week 2010 runs from 15 - 19 November 2010 and aims to send a clear and positive message that bullying is neither acceptable nor inevitable in our schools and communities.
To coincide with Anti-Bullying Week and as core members of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, CSEF has launched a new digital resource Anti-Bullying: The Young Person’s Guide. The anti-bullying programme has been endorsed by the NSPCC and provides a unique insight into both the tactics by bullies and the effects on victims of bullying and harassment.
CRUK: A new way of predicting how long terminally ill cancer patients have to live, has been devised by Cancer Research UK-funded research.
CLG: Over-65s are putting their lives at risk when it comes to the life threatening danger of a fire in the home, with almost 80% dismissing the possibility of fire, despite the fact that over half of all the people killed in an accidental fire in the home are aged 65 or over. On top of that, a massive 90% overestimate their ability to escape.
The Fire Kills Campaign is reminding over 65s that they’re not invulnerable to the danger of toxic smoke and asking them to become more fire-aware.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) last week launched a Know Your Rights booklet for bank & building society customers, to clarify the service standards customers can expect, and to mark the first anniversary of the regulation of banking conduct.
Defra: New support for farmers to help them deal with the impacts of bovine TB and reduce the risks of further outbreaks has been announced by Agriculture Minister, Jim Paice. All TB affected cattle farmers can now access free support from the Farm Crisis Network (FCN) on the financial & business implications of an outbreak.
Trained volunteers will provide confidential advice and information on where to go for more specialised help and support. For the worst-hit farmers, FCN’s new Business Support Group will work directly with farmers to provide tailored advice through the length of their outbreak.
A comprehensive & balanced bovine TB eradication programme will be published in early 2011. A consultation on our proposed approach to badger control is currently underway and will close on 8 December 2010.
LSN: The Learning & Skills Network, in partnership with the Woman’s Leadership Network, has published ‘Next generation of leaders: motivations and leadership in the FE sector’.
This research aims to inform succession planning across colleges in England by developing a deeper understanding of what motivates people to apply for senior jobs in FE, and what deters them. It also considers how the sector could increase the numbers & diversity of professionals in the sector aspiring to top jobs.
CLG: Housing Minister Grant Shapps has published an improved green rating for new homes that will help deliver the next generation of green properties, which are built to the highest standards of sustainable design and could reduce future utility bills by up to £2,250 a year in the most energy efficient homes.
NICE: GPs and practice nurses should not diagnose the severity of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) based on measurements of airflow alone, but should consider other factors such as breathlessness and BMI, leading lung experts have said. The call reiterates the updated COPD guidance from NICE which warns that disability in COPD can be poorly reflected by FEV1, a measure of airflow severity.
DH: More patients than ever before are going online to find health information and self-diagnose, saving the NHS £ms a year, according to separate reports published last week:
* A report shows the NHS website received over a 100m visits in the last year, while a separate study from Imperial College found a third of those logging onto www.nhs.uk avoided booking a GP appointment afterwards, potentially saving the NHS £44m a year
* The NHS Choices 2010 Annual Report shows there has been a 10% increase in the number of visits to the NHS website in 2010 compared to 2009, taking the number of times people logged on to the site to well over 100m.
* Separately, Imperial College research found 70% of patients use the internet to search for health information, with a third deciding not to visit their GP afterwards as they were able to find the information they were looking for.
CQC: Adult social care services have improved but the market must respond to meet future needs, says CQC in an overview report which has been compiled using data on council commissioning patterns, national minimum standards and registration data.
Adult social care services have improved significantly since 2008, but further growth in the market is required to meet future needs, according to a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report.
Newswire – TUC: The growth of home working has helped to cut average commute times to a 10 year low of 47 minutes & 48 seconds per day, a TUC analysis of official figures reveals. Using figures from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), the TUC has calculated that £339m worth of working time is spent travelling to and from work every day.
The TUC analysis - published to coincide with Work Wise UK's Commute Smart week last week (8-12 November) - finds that the average time spent commuting to and from work increased each year from 1998 to 2006, reaching a record 52 minutes and 36 seconds in 2006. The TUC believes that the growth in home working has been one of the reasons for the fall in commute times.
ScotGov: Scotland's Chief Statistician last week published a report using the latest Scottish Health Survey data to investigate the so-called ‘Glasgow Effect’ whereby higher levels of mortality & poor health have been said to exist in Glasgow beyond that explained by socio-economic circumstances.
NAO: A National Audit Office report published last week has found that the Department for Education has made good progress in improving take-up & achievement in areas such as A-Level maths and GCSE Triple Science. However, there has been less success in increasing the number of science teachers, improving take-up of A-Level physics and raising the standards of school science facilities.
Press release ~ Related CBI PR ~ NAO: Educating the next generation of scientists
General Reports and Other Publications
Defra: Defra has made public supporting data behind the successful licensing of the first tuberculosis vaccine for badgers (Badger BCG), which was licensed by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate in March 2010. The studies were carried out by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) and the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera).
Defra has also published the results of new computer modelling by the Fera, which has examined different strategies for controlling TB in badgers, including both culling & vaccination.
The laboratory studies with captive badgers demonstrated that the vaccination of badgers by injection with BCG significantly reduces the progression, severity and excretion of Mycobacterium bovis infection.
A key finding of the field study, conducted over 4 years in a naturally infected population of more than 800 wild badgers in Gloucestershire, was that vaccination resulted in a 74% reduction in the proportion of wild badgers testing positive to the antibody blood test for TB in badgers.
WAO: Special schools in Wales are making good use of available funds, but many councils have not reflected the changing circumstances that schools find themselves in when deciding on what funding and support to give. That is the conclusion of a report (published by the Auditor General for Wales) which was commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government as part of a review of Special Educational Needs throughout Wales.
RUSI: The UK’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) has just begun to identify how the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will be able to meet the challenging target for spending cuts that it has been set, according to a new paper from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).
Unbalancing the Force: Prospects for UK Defence After the SDSR, by Professor Malcolm Chalmers, points out that defence spending is now due to be cut by 7.5% in real terms over the next 4 years, even as the armed forces remain heavily committed to ongoing operations in Afghanistan.
In contrast to spending cuts at the end of the Cold War, the paper points out, 'This new round of cuts ... is primarily a response to a worsening fiscal environment, not to an improving strategic situation.'
HMIC: The criminal justice system is fragmented & bureaucratic, stifling innovation to speed up sluggish processes and raise confidence, HMIC found in a report published last week. The report (‘Stop the Drift’) finds that more needs to be done to explain to the public why some offenders never end up in court.
HMIC found that the system would work better if justice agencies stop it growing, improve wasteful processes, and make the most of innovation. But all agencies must pull together. The system has grown, with 14 pieces of legislation added to the criminal justice process over the last 15 years. It takes around 1,000 steps to deal with a simple domestic burglary.
NAO: Ofcom is doing more with less and, over the last 5 years, has saved some £23m, according to a report published by the National Audit Office. However, it is not possible to conclude on the extent to which Ofcom is delivering optimal value for the resources it uses. This is because, with its complex remit across the telecommunications sector, it needs a better articulation of the intended outcomes of its activities and how its work achieves those outcomes.
PX: A new report from think tank Policy Exchange calls for private operators to get the right to call themselves universities and award degrees. The recommendations in Higher Education in the Age of Austerity would pave the way for the biggest shake-up in how universities are run since the 1960s.
Newswire – CPA: The Committee of Public Accounts has published its fifth report of this session which, on the basis of evidence from the Department for Transport and the Office of Rail Regulation, examined the measures taken to tackle overcrowding and obtaining value for money from the rail network.
BHF: Women suffering heart attack symptoms delayed going to hospital for nearly 3 hours, according to the findings of a US study. Researchers found men also delayed - but sought help sooner than women.
British Heart Foundation senior cardiac nurse, Ellen Mason, said: “A delay of nearly three hours from the onset of symptoms is far too long. Heart attacks are often fatal, and they can cause irreparable damage to the heart muscle in some cases meaning it won’t function properly afterwards”.
Read about the BHF Angina Monologues campaign to find out why women need to look after their hearts too.
ESRC: Management & business performance, rather than technological innovation, is the main focus for companies collaborating with universities, according to major survey of businesses conducted by the Centre for Business Research at the University of Cambridge and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
The survey shows that collaborations are primarily based on problem solving, people- or community-based interactions rather than technology transfer.
IFS: Britain's tax system is ripe for reform in ways that could significantly increase people's welfare and improve the performance of the economy, according to a landmark review chaired by the Nobel laureate Sir James Mirrlees for the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
IISS: Tensions are growing in Lebanon ahead of the issuance of indictments, expected later this year, in the February 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister.
nef: We can build 1m new affordable homes over the next 5 years and still cut Government spending if measures are taken to reduce the cost of building land and the interest rates paid by social landlords, says a new report from independent think-tank nef (the new economics foundation).
nef's new report, One Million Homes, argues that the Government could make savings potentially even larger than those proposed by the Chancellor, while at the same time making serious inroads into the housing shortage. Under some scenarios nef believes that the National Affordable Housing Programme’s budget could be saved in its entirety if Government acted on the report's recommendations.
PwC: Advances in technology, changes in employee ways of working and vast increases in data storage capacity are leaving companies open to a new era of governance & legal risks, says PwC in a new report published last week.
The Future of E-disclosure 2020, shows how courts & regulators are becoming increasingly intolerant of inadequate or incomplete document disclosure and how many companies’ information, storage & retrieval capabilities no longer cut it in a world where corporate data volumes grow upwards of 40% a year.
ScotGov: Scottish Government Finance Secretary John Swinney has reacted to the latest Economic Commentary from the University of Strathclyde's Fraser of Allander Institute.
Newswire – CIPD: A new research report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) demonstrates the business case for putting soft skills at the heart of an organisation’s learning & talent development agenda.
The research puts soft skills firmly at the heart of the skills agenda and provides a practical insight into the issues surrounding soft skills, how they mix with technical skills and how HR can add value to the organisation.
HEFCE: The wealth of impacts of academic research for the benefit of the economy & society can now be assessed, described & rewarded, according to a report to the 4 UK higher education funding bodies, published last week.
A separate report from Technopolis Group on the lessons learned by the 29 pilot higher education institutions confirms the feasibility of the approach.
Newswire – Acas: Acas, the conciliation service, has published new research that shows that opportunities to resolve collective disputes by bringing in Acas at an earlier stage are being missed.
It also revealed there was some confusion on what conciliation means in practice which may be stopping union officials using Acas' collective conciliation service.
Legislation / Legal
EHRC: Many social housing tenants will now have greater protection from eviction after a Supreme Court ruling on the 4 November 2010.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission intervened in the case of ManchesterCity Council v Pinnock, arguing that under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, where the loss of a person's home is at stake that person should be able to have the proportionality & reasonableness of that decision decided by a court.
CC: The Constitution Committee has recently published its report on the Public Bodies Bill concluding that Parliament should not be denied the opportunity to fully debate and deliberate on proposals to abolish, merge, & modify a wide range of public bodies.
The Bill vastly extends Ministers’ powers to amend primary legislation by order. Such powers are commonly referred to as ‘Henry VIII’ powers. Where the use of these powers has been proposed in the past, the Committee has argued that the powers must be clearly limited, exercisable only for specific purposes, and subject to adequate parliamentary oversight.
WAG: Young children aged seven and under can now benefit from the Welsh Assembly Government’s advocacy & advice helpline, Meic. Since the service began in May 2010, Meic has received almost 4,000 calls from children & young people seeking advice & information on issues that matter to them. Supported by more than £450,000 of WAG funding, the helpline is the first of its kind in the UK to be rolled out on a national basis.
Children under the age of 7 as well as young people under 25 can get in touch with Meic by free phone (080880 23456), free text (84001) or instant message 7 days a week. Initially, Meic will run for 8 hours a day (12-8pm) before becoming a 24 hour service.
Newswire – Acas: Employees who settle their employment tribunal claim through Acas can now use a new fast-track service to enforce the terms of the agreement, if action is necessary. In 2009/10 Acas conciliated in over 85,000 (net) employment tribunal cases, helping to resolve nearly three quarters of them, but in around an estimated 5% of case Acas helped settle, action of some sort was necessary to enforce the agreement.
A fast-track enforcement scheme was introduced by the Ministry of Justice for employment tribunal awards in April this year. It has now been extended to include Acas brokered settlements. Employees who do not receive a payment agreed in the Acas settlement will be able to contact the Registry Trust to start the process.
ScotGov: Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has announced the Scottish Government's response to the Report of the Scottish Civil Courts Review, a wide-ranging review led by Lord Gill.
In the report, Lord Gill presented 206 recommendations for change, that are broadly endorsed by the Scottish Government as necessary for ensuring Scotland has an efficient and effective civil justice system for the 21st century.
ScotGov: Plans to reform centuries old property law by converting long lease properties into ownership got underway this week as a Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament. The proposed changes, introduced through the Long Leases (Scotland) Bill, could affect 9,000 long leases in certain parts of Scotland.
Leases would be eligible to convert to ownership so long as they were granted for more than 175 years; have more than 100 years to run and the tenant does not opt out. Compensation & additional payments would be payable to landlords.
ScotGov: The battle against Scotland's unhealthy relationship with alcohol took another step forward last week as MSPs approved the Alcohol etc (Scotland) Bill. But Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon was disappointed that the main opposition parties failed to back proposals to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol. As passed, the bill will:
* Ban quantity discounts such as 'three for two' or '25% off when you buy 6'
* Restrict alcohol promotions in off-sales
*Introduce a Challenge 25 age verification scheme for all licensed premises
*Pave the way for the introduction of a social responsibility levy to ensure those who profit from the sale of alcohol also put something back into the community
Newswire – ICO: Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said in an update report to Parliament on the state of surveillance, that there should be a legal requirement to make sure all new laws that engage significant privacy concerns undergo post-legislative scrutiny to ensure they are being implemented & used as intended by Parliament. The report also makes the case for the use of ‘sunset clauses’ where legislation poses a high privacy risk.
The report includes research findings by the Surveillance Studies Network, a group of academic experts in this field. This gauges how far privacy safeguards have kept pace with developments in surveillance and concludes that more still needs to be done.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: 10 EU airports are among the 20 top cargo hubs in the world. The security rules applied in the EU to cargo & mail thus have a considerable global security and economic impact. Recent events highlight the need for enhanced regulation and cooperation both at EU- and international level.
In the light of recent events, aviation security experts met in Brussels on 5 November under the chairmanship of the Commission to review whether further action was necessary. The Commission shall report to the EU Council of Transport Ministers meeting on 2 December 2010 under the Belgian Presidency on the follow-up to these measures, with a view to deciding further action.
EU News: Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Industry & Entrepreneurship, launched the Centre for European Union Small and Medium Enterprises (EU SME Centre) in Beijing on 5 November 2010. Funded by the European Commission, this new venture will provide information, advice, training and matchmaking opportunities for European SMEs wishing to export to or invest in the Chinese market.
EU News: New EU legislation adopted last week will bring down industrial emissions from large combustion plants across the EU, bringing several environmental & health benefits to Europe's citizens, like an expected reduction in premature deaths of 13,000 per year.
The Directive will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal, which is expected before the end of 2010. Member States will then have 2 years to transpose the Directive into their legislation and to start implementing the new legislation.
EU News: A person can be excluded from refugee status if he is individually responsible for acts committed by an organisation using terrorist methods. The sole fact that a person has been a member of such an organisation cannot mean that he is automatically excluded from refugee status
The aim of Directive 2004/83/EC is to lay down minimum standards as regards the conditions to be met by third country nationals or stateless persons in order to receive international protection and as regards the content of the protection granted.
In that connection, the Directive provides, inter alia, for the exclusion of a person from refugee status where there are serious reasons for considering that he has committed a ‘serious non-political crime’ or has been guilty of ‘acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations’.
EU News: The European Commission has adopted its Enlargement Package. This presents the Commission's annual assessment of the European Union's enlargement agenda. It outlines the current state of preparations, the challenges ahead, and the way forward for the Western Balkans, Turkey and Iceland.
EU News: It is time to acknowledge that military intervention in Afghanistan has failed and even led to a deterioration of security there, say MEPs in a controversial report blaming the coalition forces for ‘miscalculating their options’. A new EU exit strategy needs to be shaped in full co-operation with the Afghans, and including the Taliban at the negotiating table, adds the report, approved in the Foreign Affairs Committee last week.
MEPs propose to articulate the new EU strategy for Afghanistan around 4 key factors:
* improving the co-ordination of international aid
* fine-tuning the EU role & involvement of Afghan players in the peace process
* improving the quality of police training
* fighting for the elimination of opium cultivation
EU News: The citizens' initiative needs to be a simple & user-friendly tool, members of the EP Constitutional Affairs Committee were told last week. An earlier admissibility check, a lower threshold for the number of participating countries and an easier signing process were among suggestions made by MEPs who are drafting a report on the matter.
The citizens' initiative is a new instrument introduced by the Lisbon Treaty whereby 1m EU citizens may ask the European Commission to propose a new EU law.
The Constitutional Affairs Committee plans to vote on the report on the citizens' initiative at its next meeting on 29-30 November 2010. The plenary vote could then be held in December 2010. The Member States have asked for 12 months for national implementation of the new legislation.
EU News: The Commission's 5th Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion shows that the EU's cohesion policy has made a significant contribution to growth & prosperity and promoting balanced development across the Union. The report argues that cohesion policy planning and management cycles should be recast to ensure that these objectives are translated into investment priorities.
The publication of this report marks the launch of a public consultation process which will run until 31 January 2011. All stakeholders are invited to submit their views on the different questions raised in the conclusions of the 5th Cohesion Report on-line HERE.
The Fifth Cohesion Forum taking place in Brussels on 31 January and 1 February 2011 will provide another opportunity to discuss the orientations & options presented in the report. The Commission will table formal legislative proposals on the future cohesion policy by the summer of 2011 following the adoption of proposals on the new EU budget.
EU News: New EU-wide rules on the marketing of alternative investment funds overcame the final hurdle last Thursday when the European Parliament adopted the directive which will impose registration, reporting & initial capital requirements on these funds. Parliament successfully pushed through chapters on asset stripping & remuneration principles, as well as strongly influencing the rules on the passport system, depositary liability, capital requirements and the use of leverage.
The directive's rules are to take effect by 2013 and 4 years after this the Commission will undertake a general review of the rules. ESMA and the Commission will also have the considerable task of fleshing out the details of how the directive works, through guidelines and implementing legislation.
EU News: The European Commission has adopted its fishing opportunities proposal for 2011 setting levels of total allowable catch (TAC) and fishing effort for the Atlantic, the North Sea, and international waters regulated by a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation.
EU News: The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the successor to the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme 2007-2013 (CIP) – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: As the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) roles out a further £11.5m to good causes from its flagship Reaching Communities programme, it is also announcing a match-making new partnership with ‘The Big Give’ to help charities raise more funds.
Grant recipients from BIG’s Reaching Communities programme in England will have the opportunity to appear on theBigGive.org.uk as part of a new initiative. Potential donors will be able to see verification that the charity has successfully completed BIG’s thorough grant application process. The website helps donors quickly & anonymously find charities working in their areas of interest.
HO: A £250,000 fund for projects run by young people to tackle knife crime was launched by Home Secretary Theresa May and Brooke Kinsella last week. The new 'Ben Kinsella Fund' will be administered by youth charity The Prince's Trust.
50 grants will be available for young people to run positive anti-knife crime activities in their local area. Campaigner & actress Brooke Kinsella, whose brother Ben was murdered in 2008, will work with The Prince's Trust to select the successful projects. Call 0800 842 842 for more details.
CRUK: Women who have had the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine could need only 2 HPV screening tests for the rest of their lives according to new calculations being presented at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Liverpool. HPV testing is a more accurate cervical screening method than the current smear test, which looks for abnormal cells.
BIG: The Big Lottery Fund has announced its latest round of funding made across the country enabling veterans to embark on poignant visits back to the places they saw action over 70 years ago.
Business and Other Briefings
BIS: Professor Ian Hargreaves will lead an independent review into how the intellectual property system can better drive growth & innovation, it was announced last week. The review is expected to report in April 2011.
BIS: The British space industry has grown by nearly 8% through the recession and is now worth over £7.5bn to the economy, a UK Space Agency report (The Size and Health of the UK Space Industry) has revealed.
The report is the latest update of a biennial survey of British companies involved in the sector. It shows the space industry has grown by more than 10% on average over the last 2 years.
TfL: London's city-wide electric vehicle charging network, Source London, will launch in Spring 2011, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has announced. Source London, which will deliver 1,300 public charging points across London by 2013, is part of the Mayor's plans for London to become the ‘electric vehicle Capital of Europe’.
The Source London network will create a single visual identity for electric driving across the Capital and allow members to charge their vehicles at any one of these public charging points for no more than an £100 annual membership fee.
Currently electric vehicle drivers have to register in each separate borough they want to use charge points in. In preparation for this new network a website - www.sourcelondon.net - has also been launched providing a one-stop-shop of information on electric vehicles, including charge point locations across the city.
OS: After an intense weekend of planning, perfecting & pitching, 2 winners have emerged from the inaugural GeoVation Camp, both of which will now have a chance to win a share of £25,000 to help make their ideas a reality.
GeoVation is Ordnance Survey’s innovation network which seeks to encourage the use of geography to address specific needs. The GeoVation Camp, held at the King’s Cross Hub, was designed to take the best ideas from the How can Britain feed itself? Challenge, and turn them into prototype ventures & enterprises. The 2 ideas judged to have the greatest potential were City Farms and Food Nation, which will both now go forward to the GeoVation Showcase in May.
There are 3 GeoVation Challenges being run as part of the current awards programme. The second, How can we improve transport in Britain? is still open to submissions and thanks to support from the Technology Strategy Board’s Ideas in Transit Project, has an awards fund of £150,000. The third Challenge will launch in the New Year.
NA: The National Archives will be holding its annual Catalogue Day on Friday 19 November 2010 at Kew.
Tickets are FREE but booking is essential.
LSN: LSN, in close collaboration with NHS HR & clinical leads, has developed theInductionAcademy; a revolutionary model aimed at assessing & pre-assessing competence & capability in order to minimise risks to efficiency & patient care.
Following the successful introduction of the Induction Academy into Jersey Health & Social Services, they are officially launching the model nationwide and would like to invite you to their reception in London on Wednesday 8 December 2010.
EA: The Environment Agency’s annual conference, environment10, will take place on Wednesday 24 November 2010 at Central Hall, Westminster, London. It will be an opportunity for leading figures from government, business and the voluntary sector to come together to consider practical ways of addressing challenging issues such as climate change, flood, water quality, waste and energy.
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.