In the News
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PX: Education may be ring-fenced, but do the policies meet the needs of the most vulnerable? - Policy Exchange recently published a major report into improving education for pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN) – aimed at driving up standards and helping every child achieve their potential.
The report backs setting up independent panels to gauge what individual needs SEN pupil have – with parents given a guaranteed choice on what type of schooling their child should get.
Just 33.7% of SEN pupils currently reach the expected National Curriculum level in English & Maths compared to 84.6% of pupils with no SEN. Children with SEN are twice as likely to be persistently absent from school and are 8 times as likely to be excluded from school.
MoD: Just where does the frontline start in modern conflicts? - The Ministry of Defence has completed a review into the policy that ‘excludes female members of the Armed Forces from carrying out ground close combat roles’ and decided that it should remain unchanged.
Women play an active part in front line operations, undertaking crucial posts in areas such as logistics, artillery & engineering, but they cannot join the infantry or serve in small tactical combat arms teams where they are required to be in close contact with and kill the enemy face-to-face.
The policy was last reviewed in 2002 and the EC Equal Treatment Directive requires the UK to conduct a reassessment every 8 years. Since 2002, operations in Iraq & Afghanistan have generated considerably more evidence of women serving on the front line to be reviewed.
Newswire – OBR: Let’s face it, economics is hardly an exact science - The Office for Budget Responsibility published its Economic and fiscal outlook recently.
The report also contains an assessment of whether the Government is likely to achieve its fiscal mandate & supplementary target and offers a preliminary view on the long-term sustainability of the public finances.
DH: Improving the NHS, or just another round of musical chairs? - A plan to ‘go further & faster in tackling today’s causes of premature death & illness and reduce health inequalities, with a public health service to make it happen’, was unveiled last week by Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley.
Public Health England (PHE) will be created as a service that ‘gives more power to local people over their health, whilst keeping a firm national grip on crucial population-wide issues such as flu pandemics’.
The White Paper, Healthy Lives, Healthy People also sets out how funding from the overall NHS budget will be ring-fenced for spending on public health – a recognition that prevention is better than cure. Early estimates suggest that current spend on areas that are likely to be the responsibility of PHE could be in the range of £4bn.
“There is a strong case for public sector organisations having to comply with, or explain why they do not comply with, a maximum pay multiple, such as 20:1. This would demonstrate fairness by reassuring public opinion.….
Some of the arms race character of top private sector pay determination is also showing signs of reproducing itself in the public sector.….
Without clear principles there is every prospect of the rise and potentially irrational range in senior pay settlements continuing – which will accentuate already growing concerns about pay fairness…….
The public sector should be cautious about simply adopting ‘best practice’ from the private sector, as private sector pay practices and corporate governance have not delivered proportionality in pay”.
In its Final Report in March 2011, the Fair Pay Review will make detailed recommendations on the definition & implementation of a pay multiple and other elements of a wider fairness framework in the public sector.
Recent white paper
: Countering Advanced Persistant Threats with Cyber Forensics - Just as organized crime has become the main player in commercial hacking, terrorists and malign foreign governments are becominto dog the primary force in attacks on government systems. A recent paper argues that the public sector should invest in cyber forensics.
Many security teams have been caught unawares by recent advances in targeted attacks. Multi stage, multi vector attacks now steal sensitive and classified data, access privileged accounts, and spy on public sector organizations.
Independent analysts IT-Harvest explains the need for new security tactics and rapid response technologies to counter these advanced persistent threats, reaching three conclusions:
1. Advanced persistent threats are a real and present danger to the public sector.
2. Malicious adversaries are evolving increasingly stealthy techniques as they target the public sector and its private sector employers.
3. Government agencies must implement forensics-grade technology to completely eradicate malware and minimize the attack service of their sensitive data.
Click here to receive a free copy of ‘Countering Advanced Persistant Threats with Cyber Forensics’.
Newswire – TUC: TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has responded to the Frank Field review into poverty - The Foundation Years - published last week.
MoD: With just one week left for families to send Christmas cards & presents to their loved ones in Afghanistan, members of the general public are once again being urged to donate to charities & keep the postal system clear. The deadline to send post to arrive in Afghanistan for Christmas is Friday 3 December 2010.
The kindness & generosity of individuals & groups who send boxes of treats out to operational theatres is greatly appreciated. However, the sheer volume of such mail delays the mail sent by family members and loved ones. In addition, the unintentional inclusion of inappropriate items causes serious difficulties for those charged with distributing all supplies, including post.
ScotGov: Recent wintry conditions mean outdoor enthusiasts are being reminded to take care on the hills. Skiers, mountaineers & hill walkers are expected to flock to the nation's mountains & countryside to make the most of the early snow. However, anyone heading out this season is being advised to check the weather forecast before they set off and remember that conditions can change quickly.
DirectGov: If you're offered cut-price energy for a pre-payment meter, watch out - it's a scam. Only buy credit for your pre-pay electricity meter from official outlets such as the Post Office, PayPoint or Payzone, or you'll end up paying twice.
The fraud involves only electricity, not gas, pre-payment meters. It's believed that the criminals have cloned the keys for these meters, allowing them to top them up illegally. However, energy companies can identify homes using electricity, but not paying for it.
If you're offered cut-price electricity top-ups, say no and report it to Action Fraud by following the link below or by calling 0300 123 2040.
IPCC: IPCC Deputy Chair & Commissioner for London, Deborah Glass, has announced the detail of the misconduct allegations to be put to Police Constable Simon Harwood, the officer who struck Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests. The officer has been served with the papers requiring him to attend a hearing.
Deborah Glass said ….. “Because of the gravity and exceptional circumstances of this case I consider that it may be in the public interest for me to direct that the hearing be held in public. I have therefore begun the required process of consulting the necessary parties. These include the Tomlinson family, the officer himself, and any witnesses, before I make a decision. I am also consulting the Coroner and the Director of Public Prosecutions, who I know also have an interest in this matter.”
Monitor: Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts, has found that Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is in significant breach of the terms of its Authorisation. This decision is based on concerns in relation to the Trust’s financial position and its governance arising from:
* failure to meet its financial plan at Quarter 1 2010/11
* not ensuring appropriate resources & governance arrangements were in place to deliver the annual plan
* signing a contract which left the Trust with an unacceptably high level of financial risk
Having considered the available evidence, Monitor’ board decided not to use its formal intervention powers at this stage. However, the Trust’s performance going forward will be reviewed against specific milestones & actions. If it fails to demonstrate timely & sustainable progress towards full compliance with its terms of authorisation, Monitor is likely to consider formal intervention.
MO: Met Office scientist Dr Doug Smith, has been awarded the inaugural Lloyd’s Science of Risk Prize for his team’s work on long range hurricane predictions that will help tackle the largest single cause of insured loss.
NA: The National Archives’ education service has been voted the Best Content Provider at the Schools Videoconference User Awards 2010. The judges reported that The NA 'showed an excellent variety of workshops covering all age groups and a true commitment to remote learning through the numbers of students who have been taught through your videoconferencing workshops'.
DfT: Designated drivers will be rewarded in thousands of pubs across the country as part of the THINK! Christmas drink drive campaign, launched last week by Road Safety Minister, Mike Penning. THINK! has teamed up with Coca-Cola’s Designated Driver campaign to offer drivers free soft drinks in more than 8,000 participating venues across Britain as part of the Driver Friendly campaign.
If venues are interested in getting involved in the Driver Friendly campaign, they should contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
MoD: A £180m contract to build 200 Foxhounds, the Armed Forces' next generation of light protected patrol vehicle, has now been signed with Force Protection Europe (FPE). Light & agile, the vehicle will allow troops to carry out a wide range of tasks in environments that may restrict larger, heavier vehicles - for example, moving with ease through narrow alleyways or crossing bridges – while providing ‘unprecedented levels of blast protection for its size & weight’.
CRUK: Failure to get moles & skin changes checked out by a doctor has contributed to a steep rise in deaths from malignant melanoma among pensioners, experts have warned. The mortality rate in over 65s dying from the most dangerous kind of skin cancer has almost tripled in the last 30 years according to Cancer Research UK.
PCS: An influential parliamentary committee has criticised the government's plans to cut civil service redundancy pay as being in breach of human rights legislation, after evidence submitted by the PCS union. The Human Rights joint committee said the government had not made the case for imposing caps on payments under the civil service redundancy scheme, which governs the terms available to civil servants who are made redundant either by compulsion or agreement.
Demos: Lord Falconer has announced the formation of the Commission on Assisted Dying, which will review evidence from experts & the public and consider what system, if any, should exist to allow people to be assisted to die and whether any changes in the law should be introduced. The Commission will seek clarity on current legal ambiguities.
It is issuing a public call for evidence and will publish all evidence submitted on the commission’s website. The commission will publish a final report by December 2011.
MoD: The uk4u Thanks! 2010 Christmas Box campaign was launched at St John's Wood Barracks in London, home of the famous King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery on Wednesday 1 December 2010. The campaign sees some 22,500 boxes full of festive cheer being sent to servicemen & women right across the world who are working away from their families this Christmas.
uk4u Thanks! works with the Armed Forces to send the boxes, containing some 20 items, out to locations such as Afghanistan, the Falklands, and to ships & submarines across the world in time for Christmas Day. They do not use the British Forces Post Office system, so do not delay parcels from family & friends getting through.
WAG: The Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Dr. Christianne Glossop, has warned of the danger Chinese lanterns pose to livestock and other animals. The Welsh Assembly Government has received reports that the release of the lanterns are causing stress & injury to farm animals , whilst the flame produced by the lantern is a very real threat to buildings, structures and machinery, especially in rural areas.
ScotGov: A number of Scottish local authorities have been praised for using innovative teaching methods - despite their schools being closed. Aberdeenshire Council has arranged a number of learning activities through GLOW - the schools intranet - and West Lothian has also posted a wide range of work for pupils.
CO: A competition to create a new city to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubileein 2012 has been launched. Details of the Civic Honours Competition were unveiled by Mark Harper, Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, who is inviting local authorities across the United Kingdom to apply.
Existing cities are also invited to bid for the award of a Lord Mayoralty or, in Scotland, a Lord Provostship. The awards are a rare mark of distinction which are sparingly granted and will be made in honour of the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s accession to the throne. Closing date for both is 27 May 2011.
MO: The Met Office is the principal contributor to a new climate science exhibition at the ScienceMuseum in London that opened last weekend. Titled atmosphere: exploring climate science, it aims to deepen museum visitors’ understanding of climate science in an enjoyable, engaging and memorable way.
VSO: VSO is recruiting for 2 specialist short-term overseas volunteer placements:
* Resource Center Co-ordinator: 6 months - To train library staff so the library serving young people can better serve its users.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
HMT: The Government has published details of its Corporate Tax Reform programme consisting of a series of essential reforms designed to improve the UK's tax competitiveness. Measures include the introduction of new Controlled Foreign Company (CFC) rules and a commitment to introduce a Patent Box.
BIS: The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne and Business Secretary Vince Cable have announced a fundamental review of what all parts of Government are doing to create the best conditions for private sector growth. The growth review will start with an intensive programme of work, based on the evidence provided by business, to report by Budget 2011.
Departments will be required to present Action Plans to a Ministerial Ad hoc Group chaired by the Chancellor and Business Secretary, on what contribution they will make. This Group will meet 6 times between the launch of the growth review & the Budget, and will hold its first meeting before the end of 2010.
DWP: Ministers last week reaffirmed their determination to drive private sector rents for Housing Benefit recipients down, and ‘stop taxpayers paying over the odds’ by announcing discretionary powers for local authorities to make direct payments to landlords in return for reducing their rents. The announcement came as Housing Benefit Regulations were laid in Parliament.
To avoid families being disrupted twice, first by the Caps in April 2011 and then by the reduction in Local Housing Allowance to the 30th percentile in October 2011, they will now both come into force in April 2011 for new customers.
However, existing customers will be exempt for up to 9 months from the date their claim is reviewed by their local authority. This will allow them time to adjust to any reduction in Housing Benefit entitlement and in practice means many existing customers will not be affected until after January 2012.
HO: Migrants applying to come to the UK to join or marry their settled partner now need a good understanding of the English language. People from outside the European Economic Area will now need to show that they can speak & understand English – and for many this will mean taking test with an approved provider.
The mandatory test also applies to people applying from within the UK as well as visa applicants from overseas.
Overseas applicants required to take a test will need to do so before they apply to come to the UK.
HMT: The Government has announced that the top 15 banks operating in the UK have adopted the Code of Practice on Taxation.
WAG: Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, has outlined Wales’ response to the decision by the UK Government to increase tuition fees in higher education institutions in England. The increase in fees for Welsh domiciled students, whether they study in England or Wales or Scotland or Northern Ireland, will be paid by the Welsh Assembly Government.
If a student who was born & lives in Wales is going to University in anywhere in the UK in 2012 they will only pay £3,290 a year in fees (plus any inflationary uplift in fee levels) – the same as this year. So, Welsh students who go to university in 2012-13 will be paying the same in real terms as students who go to university in this academic year.
WAG: Education Minister, Leighton Andrews has shown his support for a Welsh language reading scheme especially designed to appeal to boys. The ‘Prosiect X' reading scheme includes reading books at a range of levels in both fiction and non-fiction to engage primary school readers, particularly boys.
The publication of the new scheme comes as the Welsh Assembly Government develops its four year National Literacy Plan. The NLP sets out how literacy standards are to be raised in Wales in the future.
Defra: An anaerobic digestion framework document has been published by the Government that sets out the steps it believes are needed to increase energy from waste in England through anaerobic digestion (AD). This document is an invitation to work with Government on the strategy and the deadline for expressing interest in participating is 12 December 2010.
CO: A new approach to supplier relations in Government began last week as, Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, hosted the first in a series of supplier summits with CEOs & senior representatives of 31 of the Government’s key suppliers.
As part of the Government's commitment to make it easier to do business with the state, a new online feedback facility has been launched to enable SMEs to share their experiences of public procurement.
Defra: A new partnership that will plant 1m extra trees across England in the next 4 years, was launched by Defra Minister, Jim Paice, last week. The Big Tree Plant is the first government tree planting campaign since the 1970s and will plant trees in urban areas that need them most, harnessing the Big Society to deliver benefits to local communities.
CLG: A single 'address book' for England & Wales is to be created, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced last week. For years business & essential services have had to pay for the 2 different national address lists maintained by councils and Ordnance Survey, creating a costly & inefficient system.
An agreement has been reached to set up a joint venture between Ordnance Survey and the Local Government Group to create a new single source of address data. The new National Address Gazetteer will be free to all public services including the emergency services that rely on it to get to people in distress quickly.
CC: The Competition Commission (CC) has recently published a draft Order for consultation (closes on 6 January 2011) setting out how measures to introduce competition into the Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) market will be implemented.
DWP: The Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) has been asked by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to consider proposals for The Social Security (Mandatory Work Activity) Regulations 2011. The Committee would like to hear from organisations & individuals who have views.
EU News: The European Commission is seeking the views (until 28 January 2011) on how Europe could scale up innovation to meet the challenges of the ageing population in Europe and, in particular, on a pilot European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on active & healthy ageing, as set out in the Innovation Union Flagship Initiative.
Between 2010 & 2030, the number of Europeans aged over 65 will rise by nearly 40%, posing huge challenges but also offering great opportunities for Europe's society and economy.
HEFCE: Schools, colleges, universities, student unions and a wide range of other bodies are being asked to comment on the information that higher education (HE) providers publish to help prospective students choose the course & institution that are best for them. Updates on this work will be shared via a dedicated page on the HEFCE web-site and at 2 consultation events on 18 February in London and 3 March in Birmingham (consultation process will close on 7 March 2011).
EU News: The European Commission has launched a wide public consultation on how the EU’s Value Added Tax (VAT) system can be strengthened & improved, to the benefit of citizens, businesses & Member States. The Commission invites all interested to contribute to the public consultation, which will be open until 31 May 2011. Based on the feedback received, the Commission will present the priorities for the future VAT system in a Communication at the end of 2011.
WAG: Environment Minister, Jane Davidson, is calling on Welsh local authorities to take part in a consultation on statutory targets for municipal recycling. The Welsh Assembly Government is consulting (closes on 21 January 2011) on the definitions of recycling, preparation for re-use & composting; the monitoring arrangements and the financial penalties for not meeting statutory targets.
Newswire – LGBCE: The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) has launched a major consultation of English local authorities. Its 2 consultation papers set out proposals for how the Commission could work with councils on major issues such as council mergers, council size and boundary anomalies that can hinder the delivery of effective services. Both consultations end on 31 December 2010.
DECC: The Warm Home Discount, confirmed as part of the recent Spending Review, will require energy companies by law to give a discount on energy bills to more of their most vulnerable customers. The plan is for older, poorer pensioners to receive up to £130 off their electricity bills. Other groups such as low income families and those with long term illnesses and disabilities may also receive this discount.
The new mandatory scheme will replace the previous voluntary agreement with energy suppliers to provide better focused help to vulnerable consumers. Over the 4 years of the scheme to 2015, the Warm Home Discount will be worth up to £1.1bn and projected to help around 2m households per year. A consultation has been launched (closes on 14 January 2011) focusing on the detailed structure of the support scheme, including proposals for who should be eligible for assistance and how they will be targeted.
LLUK: Lifelong Learning UK’s online review of the draft National Occupational Standards (NOS) for Career Development roles is now open. This new set of NOS covers a broad range of roles, including: career & educational information advice & guidance; and employability support within the lifelong learning sector.
HMRC: Modernising the PAYE system through real time information moved a step closer last week when HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) published a consultation document; “Improving the operation of Pay As You Earn: Collecting Real Time Information” (closes on 28 February 2011). PAYE real time information means employers will send HMRC information about tax and other deductions from employees’ pay when the employee is paid, rather than at the end of the year as at present.
HMT: The Government has published details of its Corporate Tax Reform programme consisting of a series of essential reforms designed to improve the UK's tax competitiveness - See ‘Policy Statements & Initiatives’ section for more information
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
DfT: New safety ratings for motorcycle helmets were published recently by Road Safety Minister, Mike Penning, ahead of the Motorcycle Show in Birmingham. An extra 16 motorcycle helmets have been rated by SHARP - the Department for Transport's Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme - taking the total number of ratings published to 218.a
CRUK: A powerful new cancer drug discovery database has been launched to speed up the process of bringing drugs from ‘bench to bedside’. The Cancer Research UK-funded database – known as ‘canSAR’ – has been set up by researchers at CRUK’s Centre for Cancer Therapeutics at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) to create a one-stop-shop for scientists worldwide.
The freely available database allows scientists & clinicians to search through cancer-related data and information across the spectrum of research – from genomics to clinical trials – in a fraction of the time it would previously have taken them to gather this information.
NICE: In its latest draft guidance, NICE has been unable to recommend everolimus (Afinitor, Novartis) for the second line treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma because it ‘does not provide enough benefit to patients to justify its high cost’.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched a national food hygiene rating scheme that will help you choose where to eat out or shop for food by giving you information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, hotels, supermarkets, and other places you eat out and buy food.
The bright green & black food hygiene stickers showing a rating from zero to five will soon be a feature of shopping centres and high streets, as the FSA, in partnership with local authorities, rolls out its Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The aim is to reduce the one million cases of food poisoning suffered by people each year.
CLG: Anyone looking to make their home more environmentally friendly can go to the new EPC Adviser, look up their Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and then click on the options available. These can range from low-energy lighting, which can cost as little as £2.50 for new bulbs, to larger measures such as installing wind turbines and solar panels.
A new report, Focus on Behaviour Change, has also been published that gives advice to councils and other organisations looking to offer help & support to homeowners looking to go green.
Newswire – RoSPA: As the big freeze continues across much of the UK, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is reminding people - particularly dog walkers - to be aware of the dangers of frozen rivers & lakes.
A RoSPA analysis of 20 frozen water deaths from recent years found that the victim had been attempting to rescue another person or a dog in more than half of the incidents. When a dog was involved, it was common for the pet to scramble out to safety when the owner did not. Other incidents involved children who had been playing on the ice.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued its first medical technology guidance, which supports the use of a device used in coronary artery surgery. The positive final guidance confirms the case for adopting SeQuent Please balloon catheter for patients with restenosis following insertion of bare metal coronary artery stents. A stent is a small mesh tube that is used to prop open or treat narrowed or weakened blood vessels. Restenosis is where the blood vessel becomes blocked again after previous treatment with a stent.
TUC: With large parts of the UK under snow & ice, the TUC is urging employers to adopt a flexible attitude to staff attendance and, where possible, allow employees to work from home. Communication between employers & their staff, and between workers & their managers is key when the weather takes a turn for the worse, says the TUC.
Good employers will already have 'bad weather' policies in place and will have told their workforce what is expected of them when snow & ice close the workplace or make the usual commute difficult or hazardous. Any 'snow' policy should also cover what parents should do if their local schools close and they have no alternative means of childcare.
HSE: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is supporting the European Chemical Agency's (ECHA) campaign to remind companies that new rules on classification, labelling, packaging & notification of chemical substances that came into force on 1 December 2010.
ECHA has published a Practical Guide which explains the role of the Inventory, the information needed in a notification involves, and how to submit it. To ensure companies do not miss the first deadline for notification, 3 January 2011, the ECHA recommends that notifications are submitted well before 24 December 2010. There is a helpline for queries: UK CLP Helpdesk - email@example.com
AgeUK: Age UK is urging older people to take extra precautions to stay warm & well and for everyone to check in with older friends, neighbours & relatives. The adverse weather may leave some older people facing difficulties to get out & buy essentials, while others will struggle to stay warm.
LLUK: The Forum has identified 12 steps to outline the aspects of tackling discrimination & promoting equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff and students in post-school education.
ScotGov: Children at 55% of primary schools are benefiting from at least 2 hours of PE a week, according to recent figures. This compares to only 5% in the in 2004-05 academic year. In addition, HMIE reported that 60% of secondary schools inspected in 2009/10 are delivering at least 2 periods of PE across S1 to S4.
Newswire - CIPD: Job satisfaction has shown a surprise increase across UK workplaces during the Autumn, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) quarterly Employee Outlook survey, suggesting that the ‘fixed grin’ phenomenon identified by the survey during the recession has returned.
NIESR: Last week saw the launch of the EUROFRAME Group’s latest report giving GDP & inflation projections for the Euro Area to 2012. It analyses the effects on the Euro Area of the fiscal consolidation measures to be implemented over the period 2010-2012.
Newswire – DF: NHS hospital trusts in England reported over 30,500 life-threatening blood clots and 32,300 other adverse medical events, such as obstetric tears & accidental puncture or laceration, however it is likely the true number is many more as the guide found that many trusts are not accurately recording the number of adverse medical events.
NAO: The Comptroller and Auditor General, Amyas Morse, has qualified the 2009-10 accounts of the Legal Services Commission because of overpayments made by the Commission to legal aid providers, estimated at almost £77m. The ISC is responsible for the provision of legal aid in and through the Community Legal Service Fund (for civil cases) and the Criminal Defence Service (for criminal cases).
CQC: The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) survey of women’s experiences of maternity services in 2010 has been published, showing some encouraging improvements since the survey in 2007. However, information & support still needs to improve to enable all women and their partners to be confident in caring for their babies.
General Reports and Other Publications
JRF: A new study, released by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, looks at international evidence of the role benefit sanctions can play in welfare reform, whether they are effective at encouraging people into work in the short- or long-term, and if they have unintended consequences. The report was produced to inform the debate on changes to the benefit system, and to provide evidence in the formation of sanctions policies.
KF: A call to reduce the unnecessary use of hospital beds for patients with mental health problems who could be cared for in the community is among the recommendations in a new report published by The King’s Fund and the Centre for Mental Health.
The report – published ahead of a cross-government mental health strategy due shortly – argues for radical changes in the delivery of mental health services to improve patient care & increase productivity.
HEFCE: A survey of the public carried out by Ipsos MORI shows strong support for public investment in higher education (HE) and that its benefits to the UK are clearly recognised. The final report on the survey was published recently following publication of a summary report in September by Universities UK.
BIS: The Innovation and Growth Team (IGT), which is drawn from the construction industry, was tasked by the government to consider how the construction sector could meet the low carbon agenda. Its report said lowering the net UK carbon account in 2050 to at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline will require a ‘quantum change’ in the industry’s response to this challenge. The report highlights 4 themes that government & industry need to engage on to rise to the carbon challenge.
Defra: New research has found that British businesses voluntarily reporting their greenhouse gas emissions experience benefits such as cost savings, improved green credentials, and better relations with investors & customers. Research found that businesses who measured their emissions were using the results to set targets for reduction and also in a much broader context to influence wider business plans.
Defra has also published a total carbon footprint of UK central Government from 1990 to 2008. This includes the emissions from sources such as buildings, vehicles and other equipment. For the first time, it also includes the ‘embedded emissions’ of the goods and services bought by Government.
Newswire – Unicef: Achieving an AIDS-free generation is possible if ‘the international community steps up its efforts to reach universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, and social protection’, according to Unicef’s ‘Children and AIDS: Fifth Stocktaking Report 2010’.
IfG: The minimum wage, devolution, privatisation and the Northern Ireland peace process were named as the most successful policies of the last 30 years in a survey of the UK's politics academics conducted by the Institute for Government. 150 members of the Political Studies Association from 69 institutions replied to the survey, part of the Institute for Government's Better Policy Making Project.
The IfG and the PSA are now holding a series of policy reunions with those involved in some of the 'successful' policies to understand in more depth what drove those successes.
CPA: The Committee of Public Accounts has published a report on government funding for renewable energy technologies.
NAO: The Comptroller and Auditor General, Amyas Morse, has qualified the Social Fund White Paper Account for the seventh consecutive year. The account has been qualified because of material levels of error in discretionary awards, which include Budgeting Loans, Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants, and in Funeral Expense Payments. He has also qualified his opinion on Sure Start Maternity Grants, for the first time, because of the level of error found in these payments.
nef: New research, published recently by nef (the new economics foundation) with the support of the Barrow Cadbury Trust, finds that Government plans to cap immigration will mean our ageing population may become acutely difficult to support by 2040.
nef predicts that the combined effects of the immigration cap, a decline in global migration and increased international competition for talent mean migration to the UK will start dropping off after 2030, falling dramatically by 2050. According to the report this steep decline in immigration will coincide with the peak in our dependency ratio, with adverse consequences for the economy and the welfare state.
Newswire – HAC: There should be a cooling-off period of 4 years if a former senior police officer decides to stand as a Police & Crime Commissioner in the same area in which they have served, says a report by the Commons Home Affairs Committee.
Newswire – ECCC: Coalition plans to introduce an Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) – to limit emissions from power stations – are necessary to meet the UK’s carbon budgets & develop new technology, but are likely to increase energy prices, according to a new report by MPs on the Energy & Climate Chamge Committee.
Newswire – WAO: Little progress has been made in improving the planning & delivery of housing services for people with mental health needs. That is the conclusion of a report, published by the Auditor General for Wales.
Despite clear expectations set out in the Assembly Government’s National Service Framework for adult mental health, the report found that poor progress has been made in delivering the WAG’s targets, strategic planning remains of poor quality, and joint planning between local health, social care & housing service providers was not always effective. WAG’s monitoring against the delivery of its housing targets has also been ineffective.
Newswire – TC: In its first report to the new parliament, the Transport Committee is calling on ministers to strengthen police enforcement of the drink-drive limit. They also call on ministers to retain the current 12-month mandatory disqualification minimum penalty.
Newswire - CSM: The 2010 Female FTSE report from Cranfield School of Management has revealed ‘another year of barely noticeable change in the number of women in leadership positions of the UK’s top 100 companies’. This year the report takes a retrospective look at companies who have consistently performed well on gender diversity and those that have failed to make any progress.
FSA: The Health Protection Agency has published a report of outbreaks of campylobacter food poisoning linked to chicken liver products. The Food Standards Agency is therefore reminding caterers to make sure chicken liver is cooked thoroughly.
Data provided by the HPA shows that 11 of the 15 outbreaks of campylobacter recorded this year at catering premises (such as restaurants and hotels) were linked to consuming poultry liver parfait or pâté. This is a substantial increase compared with previous years.
Legislation / Legal
EHRC: The Equality and Human Rights Commission wrote to Thames Valley Police and Leicestershire Constabulary recently warning them of possible enforcement action regarding their disproportionate use of stop & search powers. This follows the publication earlier this year of the Commission’s report, Stop and Think, which found that some police forces are using stop & search powers in a way that is disproportionate and possibly discriminatory.
The 2 forces have now been identified for further enforcement action because neither force was able to adequately justify & evidence the disproportionate use of their stop & search tactics.
ScotGov: Minister for Community Safety, Fergus Ewing, has welcomed new figures showing a rise in the number of convictions for crimes relating to domestic abuse in Scotland, up from 5,204 in 2006-07 to 7,101 in 2008-09. Mr Ewing said that the figures (revealed in a Parliamentary Question) demonstrated that those who commit such crimes were being punished by Scotland's law enforcement agencies.
ScotGov: The Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act ‘offers greater protection for victims and strengthens the justice system's efforts to deal with sex crime’, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said last week as the Act's provisions came into force. It modernises Scottish justice, by bringing together a complex batch of common law into one statutory framework to help combat offences that take place in today's society.
WAG: Wales’s plan to introduce a charge for carrier bags will now become law following approval by Assembly Members. The law, which will come into force from 1 October 2011, will see Welsh shoppers paying 5p per single use carrier bag.
LGO: There were flaws in Christchurch Borough Council’s handling of amendments to a planning application for a housing development, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Jane Martin. In her report, issued today (2 December 2010) she says: “I welcome the Council’s co-operation… I have decided to complete my investigation of these complaints and issue this report because I consider there are issues of public interest arising from my investigation.”
ScotGov: The principles of the Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill have been backed by the Scottish Parliament, bringing a new era for the management of the countryside a stage closer.
OFT: The OFT has urged businesses to review their use of common pricing practices to ensure they comply with fair trading laws, or risk enforcement action. The message follows the publication of an OFT market study into the advertising of prices, which established that certain pricing techniques used online, in-store and in adverts can mislead consumers, potentially breaching the law.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: Victims of crime who have been granted protection by the authorities of one EU Member State must also be protected if they move to another EU country, under new rules backed last week by the Civil Liberties Committee and the Women's Rights Committee. MEPs voted to broaden the scope of the rules, laid down in the new European Protection Order, to include all victims of crime, not only victims of gender violence.
EU News: Refugees & other beneficiaries of international protection could acquire long-term resident status in the EU, under new rules approved by the Civil Liberties Committee last week. These rules (to be endorsed by Parliament as a whole in December 2010) would give refugees the same rights as other third-country nationals with long-term resident status, including free movement within the EU and, under certain conditions, equal treatment with EU citizens in a wide range of economic and social areas.
This legislation, which amends an EU directive of 2003, will bring "direct benefit to all the beneficiaries of international protection who have been residing legally on the territory of the EU for more than 5 years, but currently have no entitlement to long-term resident status. It will bring an end to their differential treatment vis-à-vis other third country nationals, and will give them greater certainty about their situation in the EU".
EU News: Research Ministers of the EU Member States and Associated Countries, together with the European Commission, announced in Brussels last week 3 new pan-European energy research infrastructures. A wind research facility is planned in Denmark, a concentrated solar power installation in Spain and a nuclear research reactor in Belgium. The overall investment is about €1.2bn and they will be part of the Roadmap of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI).
EU News: The European Environment Agency (EEA) has released its fourth EnvironmentState and Outlook report — SOER 2010 — a comprehensive assessment of how & why Europe’s environment is changing, and what we are doing about it. SOER 2010 concludes that a fully integrated approach to transforming Europe to a resource-efficient green economy can not only result in a healthy environment, but also boost prosperity & social cohesion.
EU News: Drivers look set to be punished for traffic offences they commit abroad, including the 4 ‘big killers’ causing 75% of road fatalities – speeding, running red lights, failure to use seatbelts & drink driving – under proposals due to be agreed by EU transport ministers.
EU News: A new Europe-wide survey among employers shows that, when it comes to graduate recruitment, 'soft' skills are just as valued as sector-specific & computer skills. Almost 50% of companies with considerable international business identified knowledge of foreign languages as the most important skill for the future.
EU News: EU researchers, businesses and citizens can have free & open access to EU-funded research papers thanks to OpenAIRE (Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe), which the European Commission launched last week, at the University of Ghent in Belgium.
EU News: The European Commission wants to see e-invoicing become the predominant method of invoicing in Europe. In its Communication 'Reaping the benefits of electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) for Europe', the EC identifies a set of tangible actions to make the uptake of e-invoices in Europe easier.
EU News: The European Commission has launched a wide public consultation on how the EU’s Value Added Tax (VAT) system can be strengthened & improved, to the benefit of citizens, businesses and Member States - See ‘Consultations’ section for more information
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: The Big Lottery Fund in partnership with ITV, and with the approval of Buckingham Palace, is marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with a special roll-out of 60 Lottery grants. The £60,000 Jubilee People’s Millions awards are being made to go to new projects next year that will inspire or improve local communities. Groups have until 4 February 2011 to get their entries in.
Press release ~ The Jubilee People's Millions Opens new window
Business and Other Briefings
HMRC: HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have confirmed that during extreme weather farmers can use red diesel in their tractors to help grit and clear snow from public roads. Under normal rules any vehicle that is specifically constructed or adapted for dealing with frost, ice and snow – such as a snow plough – can work on public roads while using red diesel.
HMRC: Modernising the PAYE system through real time information moved a step closer last week when HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) published a consultation document; “Improving the operation of Pay As You Earn: Collecting Real Time Information” (closes on 28 February 2011) – See ’Consultations’ section for more information.
DECC: Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker, last week urged communities to grab the new opportunities to become more energy self sufficient and join the green energy revolution. At the Combined Heat and Power Association annual conference, he launched a brand new website called Community Energy Online to help communities find out more about how to generate their own energy.
Ofgem: 4 innovative projects that will speed up the crucial development of smart grids to meet low carbon energy use, will share £62m of funding from the £500m Low Carbon Networks Fund, energy regulator Ofgem announced recently. The lessons learnt from these ground-breaking initiatives will be shared with all network companies & interested parties, potentially benefiting millions of energy consumers across Britain.
STFC: Funding from STFC has helped IBM and researchers from the University of Edinburgh and ColumbiaUniversity to develop the most energy efficient supercomputers in the world. A prototype of IBM's next generation Blue Gene supercomputer has been named top of the latest 'Green500 List and STFC funded part of its cost.
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